Ceramics for the Soul

I went to my first ever ceramics class last night, and I really enjoyed it! As it may be obvious by now, I've been trying to get back into making art recently. I have tried the online Creative Every Day '09 initiative, and I was doing fine for a week or so, yet it still felt too forced and I was far from inspired. I was finding it too hard to not be critical of my work.

I have spent some time thinking this over, and how to overcome it. Because in the past I have made 'good' drawings and paintings, when I don't do ones that meet up to my expectations I simply stop drawing or painting to avoid the failure. So, I thought that if I try something totally new, then I wouldn't be able to judge the work by any past standards. Boom, I join a ceramics class.

And I have to say, I'm glad. It's a lot of money, but I already believe it's worth it. It's a two hour session per week, for eight weeks. The people there are really nice, and the teacher Sue, who owns the shop below the studio, went to Camberwell College of Arts, where I did my degree! So it was nice to have that in common. She had me make a basic vase (and believe me, I need the basics!). I spent the whole two hours on this vase, learning how to roll the clay, making it into coils and then using the coils to make the shape etc. I was so absorbed in it. Working the clay is so relaxing, I can understand why it's used in art therapy!

Whilst making the vase, it was almost like I was meditating. No, more like mindfulness. Just being totally aware of what I'm doing whilst my mind is void of interfering thoughts. I've come across this word a lot, and have only had small experiences of what I would call mindfulness. Funnily enough, these have been times when I've been totally absorbed in drawing, lol. So to have that feeling return to me last night whilst doing something totally new is great =D.

So, no more ceramics until next Tuesday. But until then, I can already feel the creative impulse slowly being rekindled . . . and I thought I did a pretty damn good vase for a first-timer to boot ;).

There's hope yet!

Let's just say my efforts for Creative Every Day '09 have borne no fruit. Mainly because I haven't been doing it. Bleh. I think I've just hit a general slump in my energy and feelings recently, and I just need to ride it out. This happens now and then for no apparent reason, and doesn't usually last for too long. But, I have stumbled upon a local course in ceramics, and signed up today! I have never done anything like it before, most of my work has been 2D, and I'm hoping this new approach will ignite some kind of creative spark. My first lesson is tonight, so I'll let you all know how that goes!

I'd also just like to say thanks to all who commented on my last post. Your wise and considerate words have not been ignored, and they have given me a lot to think about. I'm still confused in my head, but I'm not going to be hard on myself for it anymore. Many thanks again =).

Struggling with the Warrior Goddess

This is a post that has been festering in my mind for quite a while now, but I have been putting it off. The main reason for this is because I still have no definitive answer or conclusion for it, and I find that difficult. The reason why I'm posting it now is because of a dream I had last night, which has brung these thoughts to the fore. Anyway, I shall try my best to articulate what I'm trying to say for you. I'm afraid that it is intricately tied in with some life story, so sorry if it's going to bore you!

There is a large part of me that identifies with the 'warrior aspect'. Ever since I was little, you'd be more likely to find me scrapping with the boys and climbing trees than playing pretend tea parties or nurse. In my secondary school years, it continued. I had a few fights (actual fist fights mind you, always with boys), played sport as good as any of them, refused to be treated as the damsel in distress. Back in my teens, I identfied with Artemis - wild, independent, tomboyish and untouchable. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, this was challenged.

I ended up joining the army when I finished school under the encouragement of my mum. I had just turned 16, and was off to a military base for 6 months to complete training as a trainee soldier before joining permanently for 5yrs if I passed. The corporals and higher ranked all had high hopes for me, and I thought I was up to the challenge. How wrong I was. I hated the discipline, the mindless orders and institutionalised bullying and homesickness. But, I didn't want to let my family down, or be thought of as weak. But I was weak - the rest of the trainees considered me the wimp. I ended up in the military hospital with an injury for a month, two months into training, and it turned out to be a blessing. The solitude gave me the opportunity to consider what it was I was actually getting into. I had mindlessly joined because I wanted praise and respect, to be feared a little even. How juvenile. I left as soon as I was well. Unfortunately, my return was not welcomed by my parents. My mother thought I was throwing my life away. Without going into too much detail, the next few years were very hard. It still is, though not as much. I came back from the army a very hurt person, which had more to do with the time after it than during it.

I went to college and tried to get on with life. My experience though had changed me somewhat. I now considered myself weaker, of less worth. So during my college years people only saw a shy, friendly, quiet girl. This continued until one day when I got into my biggest fight to date. At college with some friends, a group of young men came over and tried to take something from us. I took it from my friend, told them they couldn't have it, and the main guy pushed me really hard, I almost fell over. That was all I needed - I kicked off. I started fighting with this guy, had him up against the fence, hit him to the floor, shouting, everything. He tried to punch me back, but he kept on missing (thankfully). His friends tried to then hit me with their belts, but it didn't deter me. Thankfully, someone from my class got his bike chain and scared them all off before I got well in over my head. Once they had left, I couldn't calm down for hours. None of my friends had tried to help me fight them off (considering they were tough, large guys, I was slightly disapproving!). They told me they had just been in shock. I was the reserved little goody-goody up til that point. That soon changed, for good or ill.

Thankfully, since then I haven't had any more actual fights. That was 4 years ago now. Whenever I meet new people, I'm always conscientous, quiet, helpful, nice etc. It isn't a front, I'm actually like that. But then little things will set me off, like a drunk at the pub, or a yob in the street, and they see a new side to me. Nowadays though I have so much more patience, and my anger now never really rises.

The problem for me now is swinging between being a doormat, and being too aggressive. And internally I really struggle with this. I'm much happier with who I am now - I'm more thoughtful, sensitive, allow myself to be more vulnerable, and much more peaceful. But when I hear people regard me as someone really nice, who wouldn't hurt a fly, I hate it. I feel like a pushover, underestimated. When I'm with my older friends, who know about what I have been like before, they talk about how no one should mess with me or that I'm tough, I really like it - I feel empowered. But amongst all this, I feel disgusted with myself for feeling good about it. What kind of a person feels good about fighting?

These feelings all come into play when I consider a matron Goddess. As I've said before, in the past I've identified with Artemis. But in recent years I wanted to connect to a Goddess of my own celtic heritage. Eventually, Morrigan found her way into my life. The raven is one of my totem animals, and led me to her. A lot of her aspects resonate with me. Shapeshifting: I work a lot with animal totems, and do a lot of it in my dreams. War: From this post, you can guess! Death: Something that always fascinates me (not in a morbid way), because only with death can new life and change happen. But I think to myself "Is this a Goddess that I should be working with? A Goddess of war? Is that really something that is good for me?" Yet, I don't really feel anything when looking at the other Goddesses - I respect them, appreciate them, but I can't connect with them.

So recently I have pulled away from the Goddess. I feel frustrated and confused. I don't want to be violent or aggressive, but I don't want to be underestimated or weak either. Sometimes I just get the urge to start a fight! How terrible! Part of me really craves the thrill of 'battle', but the rest of me thinks how barbaric. But also, I can be quite a pushover now. I'm overly emotional and doubtful a lot of the time.

As I said, it's been a long time now since I've kicked off. Last night though, in my dream, I was back in secondary school with my two friends (who seriously wouldn't hurt a fly!), when a whole bunch of pupils tried to beat them up. I dealt with them all effortlessly, and protected my friends. But I didn't have a kind of 'battle rage', it was more of an unshakeable conviction that they wouldn't get by me. And it felt great - I felt like the 'real' me, if that makes any sense.

I don't know. I really have rambled here, and not made a lot of sense. I just wanted to vent my frustration, and get some feedback. I just can't seem to move beyond this paradox. Do I embrace the warrior Goddess, or do I reject her?

More snow pictures!

I can't help myself. I enjoy making art (when I actually do some), but I know I can never surpass the beauty already inherent in nature and our surroundings. That is why I take so many photographs! Here are some photos that I took from our local country park, a place I often go to reconnect and rejuvenate. It was so beautiful covered in snow, such solemn silence.

I promise my next post won't just be a matter of posting pretty photographs. Thanks for bearing with me!

Silence and snow on Imbolc

What a lovely thing to happen on Imbolc. Within minutes of it starting everywhere was covered in a thick layer of snow. I decided to go for a walk in it and experience Imbolc in the gentle, enveloping silence of snow. Here are some pictures I took whilst on my ramble. Hope you all had a wonderful Imbolc.

About Me

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I am a pagan, special needs teaching assistant, BA Hons Drawing graduate, artist, amateur tarot reader, half-welsh, big sister, eldest daughter, lover, volunteer, bookworm, intense dreamer, nature and animal lover, over-protective friend, ex-barmaid, fledgling activist and general eccentric. Nice to meet you =D.

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