Monday, 17 February 2020

The Heart of All Knowing : The Alchemist

Dear friends and readers, 

Paulo Coelho's magical book "The Alchemist" has been an inspiring North Star compass point for my life and journey ever since I first read it back in 1996. 

The fable held within the pages uncannily mirrors my own path... 
I too once set out on a voyage right across the world seeking adventure and my heart's desire, to ultimately find myself coming around full circle and finding the treasure I was seeking was right there in front of me, at that starting point, there all along. 

So when I need a little nudge to remind myself that everything is on track and exactly as it should be, and the motivation to hold on tight and keep following my dream, this is the book I return back to. I hold the imagery and lessons close in my heart.  

I love this interview -- click on the link here>> Paulo talks to Oprah about "The Alchemist" 

And I love remembering back to the day I met the Paulo Coelho myself. In my own words : Blog post Part 1 >>

Love and blessings on the way to following your personal Legend...

Catherine Athena xo

Friday, 24 January 2020

The Art Heist...Valuing ourselves and our work and how I became Mark Rothko

Dear friends and readers, 

This time of year is great for getting cosy-warm and storytelling by firelight. 
...And for reading, dreaming and remembering...long walks at nightfall and running in dark woods with wolves wearing our favorite cloaks. 

Yesterday I thought about my mother. And remembered something about her, something she did I found very strange and almost unbelievable. Something she did with one of my paintings. 

Sometimes the best way to understand things is to write about them, journal them out in expressive ways, share our stories and raw truths can resolve, complete cycles and close chapters - nail lids on their coffins - remember and let go, but never lose the lesson. 

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better."  ~ Anne Lamott

Here is my story. 

When I was in New Zealand in my mid twenties, I created a very unique, original piece of art work. It was a large oil pastel painting of a Crimson Phoenix, raising up from ashes and flames, set against a graduated dark royal purple and bright aqua-turquoise background. 

After many, many hours, and long days of intense focus, this vast artwork was finally completed and I set about placing it under glass inside a very clean-looking white wooden frame. A recycled frame. 

This lovely square frame once contained an art print, of quite a famous painting by an American artist called Mark Rothko - 'untitled' - but known as "Purple, White and Red".  Painted in 1953, it can be seen in the Art Institute Chicago collection and over here:

My ex-partner (who I owned a house with at the time) had been given this framed print as a gift when he left his accounting job in the City. He didn't care that much for it so he gave the frame to me. The print was taken out and the frame left empty to be re-used. 

And so my Crimson Phoenix found it's way into that huge white frame, where it hung on the wall, over the fireplace for several happy years. 

I never thought to take the sticker off the backing board on the frame - it still had Mark Rothko named and the painting title on it, as the painting within was personal to me and was created solely for myself. 

A few years later we sold the house and I was leaving New Zealand to head out into the world looking for adventure.  I left the Crimson Phoenix in safe keeping at my Mother's house to be collected later. Or so I thought. 

My mother and sister didn't believe I would be gone for long, six months or so maybe at most they said, and then I'd come back home again after a 'long holiday', with my tail between my legs, so they didn't bother even coming out to the airport to see me off or say goodbye. 

I travelled up via Buenos Aires, and on again up to Rio de Janeiro, finally arriving in England where I settled in a tiny town in Somerset. Two years passed I decided it was time to pay a visit to the old homeland once more... so back to New Zealand I went on Christmas Eve 2003, for a three week stay. It also felt like a good time to collect my Crimson Phoenix on this visit, to roll it up and take it back to England with me. 

Only the oil pastel painting had now mysteriously disappeared. 

When I asked my mother where it was, she absolutely refused to discuss it. How curious (?!?)

My sister finally revealed the truth.  She filled me in on what had happened - that my mother had seen the sticker on the back-board of the painting saying 'Mark Rothko - Purple, White and Red' and proceeded to telephone around various Art Galleries to enquire as to the value of this original Mark Rothko work of art. How much was it worth?

When she was told, "He never painted phoenixes" she was adamant and simply refused to believe it saying, "it IS an original! She could see the strokes and marks of my pastels through the glass. 

As far as she was concerned it was definitely an original Rothko.  
and having now gotten some idea of what the value of this 'original' might be, she then advertised my artwork in a free-listing paper and sold it for a small fortune.  

Apparently the buyer was a flamboyant same-sex orientated gentleman who owned a hairdressing salon on Parnell Road (or perhaps Ponsonby Road) both up-market areas of Auckland and wanted it for his salon. 

To say I was flabbergasted by the whole thing is an understatement. 

Never once had my mother thought to check in with me and ask if this painting was still wanted by me.  She could find the inclination to ring around art galleries of course asking for a value, but never once flicked me across an email or a quick phone call to check in with me first. 

And any questions as to the purchase price paid and the 'presumed value' of this Crimson Phoenix were brushed under a rather large magic carpet. This was simply never going to be allowed to be discussed again. And to this day there has never been a single word of apology or financial recompense.

I never imagined my painting could be misinterpreted as someone else's work. Imagine selling someones handmade art without their consent? 

It draws some interesting questions about how we 'value' ourselves and our artwork, how that is measured and by whom? And what happens when your value is based on the premise that you are (or might be) someone else entirely? What are we worth to ourselves? What healthy boundaries need to be set, and maintained for the safe-guarding of our artistic life?

As many of my readers will already know, I have been on a long journey of exploring Jungian depth psychology, archetypes and the hidden messages from the subconscious and in fairytales and how these show up and appear in our waking lives. 

There are some interesting things to ponder if I look below the surface of this bizarre situation. A Phoenix that rises from the ashes for one. And my mothers relationship to my art... and how I noticed she would always change the subject immediately to something else whenever I would mention some small success I was having - like a painting of mine having been commissioned/licensed for publication in an article for a popular American health magazine.  That sort of pattern repeating became very noticeable over time.

I have looked in and out of, skirted around and delved deeply into lessons of archetypal 'Mother' and how that manifests and plays out when she is the shadow mother; the unacknowledged mother, the forbidden, disowned, disavowed destroyer mother, cruel and neglectful mothers, narcissistic mothers, jealous, competitive mothers, evil step mothers (stepmothers get such a bad rep in fairytales don't they? Along with wolves and witches). Our society has a tendency to make it forbidden to criticize the 'mother'.

And then there is the mother wound, and the 'un-mothered daughters' and the un-mothered children who came from mothers who weren't ready to be mothers, or didn't really want to be mothers at all, or who were just sadly going through the motions, 'conforming' to what they thought societies expectations were, and had children because that was "what you did in those days".

Watching the tv series 'Mad Men' really helped me understand the culture and kind of society my parents came out of in the late 1960's and into the 1970's. For the main part, you got married and you had children. It was the more radical, non-conformists who went against that flow. 

These days I am more interested in the healing, nurturing mothers, supportive kind mothers, gentle and wise mothers, the compassionate caring mothers, creative mothers,  generous-loving mothers, passionate, holistic mothers.  The wolf and horse mothers, coyote and crow feather mothers, the eagle-claw mothers, the paint splashed, wild-haired, herb growing witchy mothers... Remembering... and the healing blessing ways of Mothering (and re-Mothering) ourselves to wholeness.

Stepping it up as I Self-Parent myself from my own safe and loving, wise inner Mother.  

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood but of respect and joy in each other's lives. Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof." ~ Richard Bach.

Here's to making art and expressing ourselves (with or without encouragement and support) and knowing the Sacred Mother in ways that are nurturing for us. 

Love and blessings, 
Catherine Athena xo

• • •My journey through the senses• • •
taste:: Hot buttered toast and Pumpkin soup - Fairytale-worthy winter day nourishing.
smell:: Cinnamon and violets
touch:: Needle and thread gliding
see:: "Little Women" (written for the screen and directed by Greta Gerwig) = Psychic Soul Food
hear:: Heather Nova -Oyster
think:: I can see the first signs of Springtime approaching!
feel:: LOVE and letting go.
read:: Untie the Strong Woman : Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul - Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
intuit::Telling the truth, telling our stories is healing on so many levels

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Word Of The Year 2020

Hi Dear readers and friends, 

Another year has just flown by.  I find I didn't blog at all last year! I had so much going on, I was naughty and let this little journal slide. 

Anyway without further ado, here is my One Little Word - Word of the Year 2020 : LOVE! 

Love Collage -  © Catherine Athena Louise 2020

It really is where I want to be focussing my attention. As they say, where awareness goes energy flows! 

I have some big plans afoot for this year. I'm looking forward to sharing the adventure with you here. 

Wishing you all a beautiful 2020 ahead! 

Love and blessings, 
Catherine Athena Louise xo

• • •My journey through the senses• • •
taste:: Red rose petal tea and honey - heartwarming on so many levels!
smell:: Rosa Damascena - Damask Rose oil close to my heart.
touch:: My wildish silver hair - enjoying how much it is growing.
see:: Amélie inspired photos of Paris and the Sacre Cœur Basilica, Montmartre, Paris.
hear:: Clarissa Pinkola Estés audio book 'The Dangerous Old Woman'
think:: The 8 glasses of water I drink to start my day is making changes I love. Discipline!
feel:: Slow and steady wins the race
read:: Star Signs by Linda Goodman
intuit:: The most powerful year (we've known in years!) is up and running. 

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Word of the Year 2019 : Luxury

Hi dear readers and friends,

I haven't done a word of the year one-word mantra for a couple of years now... But with 2019 just a day away I feel strongly called to set a theme.

I know from past experience how powerful setting intentions are, and what happens when I run with a guiding word for the year. It really does unleash a way to explore my inner and outer life.  Things happen that show me all sides of that word-theme, like a magic spell. So here goes : 2019  - LUXURY

That word, that feeling. It gets me thinking.... What are my own personal luxuries? What feels luxurious to body and Soul? (as self care) What are my 'luxury items'? What feels like a complete luxury to me, decadent, indulgent even? 

In a world where so many are going without daily on even the absolute basics - like clean water, air and basic shelter, the word 'Luxury' also has me also thinking of all the things the rest of us take so readily for granted that could be deemed lavish, frivolous and priviledged from a first world perspective.  It's good to sit with that too and step into the accompanying feeling that can't help but come up for me : GRATITUDE.

To me they go hand-in-hand. I just can't seem to feel into one without the other appearing. I'm finding it's such an important time on Earth to not take anything for granted.

To me, this feeling of Luxury can be anything from a bottle of beautiful Organic Buckwud 100% pure Canadian Maple Syrup, to a Vitruvi essential oil stone diffuser from Goop, to smashing right out through glass ceilings into all kinds of things I never thought possible for myself.

This all started when someone close to me described the Sacred Drumming Practitioner Training course I was taking in 2017 as a 'luxury item'. That really got me thinking. It's something not everyone who would want to would get to do, for sure... and that naturally led me into feeling a huge wave of gratitude for how I was able to allow this and give this to myself.  To work with the drum this way has felt like such a gift - I'm absolutely blessed and very lucky.
And so in 2019, I'm going to be exploring Luxury....while keeping one eye firmly on being grateful all the way...

Love and blessings,
Catherine Athena xo

• • •My journey through the senses• • •
taste::  Tangerine oranges - my whole body is reveling in a good hit of natural sourced Vit. C!
smell::  Dusk essential oil blend billowing from my Vitruvi diffuser
touch:: Strong leather gardening gloves have proved to be a must-have for reclaiming brambley land.
see::  Fanatastic Beasts - The Crimes of Grindlewald - Surprises me to say it, but seriously one of the most magical films I have seen in years!
hear:: "Yes, that is possible."
think:: "I can do this."
feel:: Excited
read:: The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
intuit:: Another powerful year of changes ahead. Happy New Year 2019! I'm ready for you! 

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Birthday Visit to Roald Dahl Museum

Dear Readers & Friends, 

I was blessed to be taken along to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre as part of my Birthday treats this weekend.  I grew up with Dahl's dark humor and quirkily whimsical characters as a child, so to get to visit this museum felt like a fun sort of inspiration as I push deeper into my goals of writing & illustrating published Children's books.

The little village of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire (England) was the home of Roald Dahl and his family for some 36 years and now it is the site of the museum dedicated to his work.  

As you walk along the High Street you'll come across a tall pastel purpley-blue building adorned with outlines of characters from his famous stories. Upon entering a small entranceway, you'll see the Willy Wonker Chocolate Factory gates, donated to the Museum by Warner Brothers from their film set.

I delight easily, so my smile widened instantly by the zany wrist tag we were given in the gift-shop-entrance, with the quote "Never grow up... always down." along with a little "My Story Ideas Book" and tiny pencil - just in case we were struck by a moment of genius there and then, that needed quickly capturing.

Of course I had to take the height test to see where I measured up against various characters - in the Solo Gallery - which told the story of Dahl's time as a pilot during World War II and images of his family and home life.

I particularly adored the photos of the Gipsy Caravan he had in his garden....

....and the backstory of how he collected photographs of celebrities' and politicians' eyes in cut-out strips and kept them on a scrapbook page to help him describe his characters eyes in detail.  All magic and intention he felt could be seen through the eyes. 

 This idea formed the basis of his short story "The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar" about an Indian Mystic who could "see" without his eyes, based on the real-life tale of the Pakistani Mystic Kuda Bux.  This story was first introduced to me by my extremely clever brother Geoffrey back in the 1990's, so it held a special significance to see this book in the display case. 

Dahl was interested in how to portray magic and the unknown, and was greatly influenced by the folklore and fairytales from his Norwegian parents' lands, where he holidayed every year during his childhood.

I couldn't wait to see the famous chair.  I was thoroughly charmed by this video which for me, portrayed what a wonderfully British eccentric Roald Dahl sounded to be, as he talks about his work space and his daily routine / ritual (the sleeping bag, chair, the thermos) :
[these are Facebook videos - but I don't believe you need to be a Facebook member to view them - simply click on the link]  

(way to work in his hut)

The entire interior of his hut has been carefully moved into the Museum gallery.  Including pieces of geode agate crystals, photos, notes and memorabilia from family, the heavy molten-pewter, silver ball of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate inner (wrappings) he had squished together - he ate one chocolate bar a day, every day, while working. 

Here is an amusing short clip where Roald Dahl talks about chocolate - he is known as a 'Chocolate Historian' in his author bio and clearly it's the kind of impassioned obsession that made Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so beloved.

Then, finally, it was my turn.

... not for the chocolate, but to sit in the replica chair. 

This wonderful box set was gifted to me for my birthday (along with paints and red roses) How lucky am I?  And so the magic and the stories continue....

Till next time...... Catherine Athena xo

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Bach Centre Part 3 :: Meaningful Pilgrimages and Healing Journeys

Dear Friends,

This is the final part of my three part blog-journey, around the garden and home of Dr.Edward Bach, creator of the World renowned Bach Flower Remedies.

For the links to the two earlier posts - please visit here: Part 1
And here for Part 2

So on we go….
As you come through the front door of the cottage, there is another room off to the right (the staircase in the middle divides them - and leads up to an office and space that is now a small museum displaying Dr.Bach's belongings. At the time of my visit this museum was being prepared but not yet open to view)  

This room on the right is the lounge or sitting room, leading through to a small shop and administration office at the back of the house. 
The room has a small fireplace, some glass cases on the wall showing some older Bach flower bottles and a book case full with many different books on the remedies.  Most of these can be purchased from the shop, along with wall charts, boxed kits of the remedies and other gifts. 

Some Vintage Bach Flower Bottles

No pligrimage to learn more about a beloved 'teacher in Spirit' would feel complete without seeing where he rests eternal. I heard that Dr Bach is buried in the village churchyard, 50 yards or so from the Bach Centre. 

I was the only person in my class who took the opportunity to wander the lanes and seek his final resting place. This I must admit surprised me, as there were many other like myself from other parts of the world, some having travelled in from as far away as Canada and parts of Eastern Europe to be here.  

After wandering the churchyard I found him.  His headstone reads 'Edward Bach 1886 - 1936    Behold I am Alive for Evermore'  - and with the legacy he has left us, yes, that is indeed the case.  

I stayed there for a while musing the impact on my life this man's work has had, the debt of gratitude I feel for this alternative healing method (that in in such ready harmony with my body and mind) for the sacrifices he made, which were not inconsiderable,  to commit to the creation and public use of these remedies - no small thing in 1930's England.   

I placed an Apple beside the candle I found already there. A biodegradable offering befitting of one now in the Otherworld. 

…And lastly,
My books and Certificate…. And my own set of boxed remedies

Having my own remedies to hand has allowed me to go much deeper into experiencing the healing levels of these plant spirits.  I have found many ways of applying them - internally, and externally on pulse points, and on meridians and acupuncture points like *Floral Acupuncture* - psychic healers have described 'seeing' the changes to someones' aura after a remedy is placed on an acupuncture point… watching the change in color and the sealing over / healing of tears in the subtle body. Using the flower essences this way begins the healing of the etheric field - the energetic body where illness and disharmony enters into the physical body, working inward through a blockage imprint in the luminous light body. 

Bach Flowers are a beautiful and holistic way of taking charge of our own healing and emotional, spiritual, physical wellbeing

Me, wrapped in winter coat on the path to Mount Vernon.

I hope you have enjoyed this tiny window into the Bach Flower Centre.  Perhaps I will visit it again one day in the high Summer when the garden is at its zenith of color and radiance. I am told it is a very different garden when all the plants are in bloom and full of life-force and vitality! 

If you would like to learn more about the Bach Flower Remedies I highly recommend these books:
and this wonderful book (an essential guide!):

Blessings of Beauty and Mystery, Catherine Athena xo

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Bach Centre Part 2 :: Meaningful Pilgrimages and Healing Journeys

Dear Friends,

This is Part Two of a Three part blog-journey, where I visit the garden of the internationally famous Bach Flower Remedies, and the last home of Dr Edward Bach who created them.

In todays post, we are outdoors in the rustic, untamed garden surrounding the cottage, where some of the actual plants and trees that are used to make the remedies are grown.

Walnut - The link breaker that helps you move forward in times of transition, adjusting to life changes
- helping protect against sensitivity to outside forces and influences.
The sky suddenly clouded over, not unusual for this time of year, serving only to further imbue the silent, still garden with a deeply introspective feel. It was like all the plants and trees were continuing to dream even after the end of the long, cold winter months. Their vital energy pulled inward. Resting, waiting for the tide of new life to begin rising in them again. 

Clematis - the fuzzy-headed scatterbrained daydreamer, (just like the plant seed heads) - refocusses attention and connection to the real world of here and now.

Aspen - Vague fears of unknown origin, anxiety and apprehension.  

Cherry Plum - Fear of losing control, losing one's mind, having a breakdown, doing something terrible you can't come back from, fears own actions in desperation, sudden uncontrollable behavior.

Mimulus growing in the pond. 
Mimulus - for fear of known things and hypersensitivities of all kinds

The gardener showed me another pond, located at the back of the garden, and carefully lifted the plastic covering to show me several species of rare newts hiding there… (I didn't take any photos of them to show you sorry… They are Salamanders, like small black Axolotl-like creatures - some crested with red bands on their tails) 

           Holly - For anger, jealousy, revengefulness, envy and feelings of hatred and suspicion - opens     the heart back up to Love

Elm - temporarily feeling inadequate and overwhelmed by responsibilities  

I must say, it is a wonderful feeling to see these plants and trees, to touch them - the actual ones - here in this garden. To know that their energetic stories and healing help go out from here, to people all over the World. 

The Litre-sized bottles used to store the Mother Tincture. 

The tinctures themselves are produced by placing pieces of the plant material (usually flowers) in a bowl of distilled water, set out in the sunlight.  The suns rays allow the plant to 'discharge' it's subtle innate, energetic wisdom - the vegetal vibrational frequency into the water.  
Water as we know, is a wonderful conductor and conduit of energy and storehouse of memories, and used in this way, it holds the vital imprint of the plants code (healing signature) within it. 

Science is only very recently (in the last few years) starting to acknowledge and agree with this fact…already known to shamans and herbal healers for thousands of years.   

To learn more about the vibrational changes to water (effected directly by our thoughts and words, which are extremely powerful) please look at the works of Dr. Masaru Emoto  - 'The Hidden Messages in Water' , 'The Healing Power of Water', 'The True Power of Water; Healing and Discovering Ourselves'.  

Please call by here again tomorrow, for our final part in this series…

Blessings of Beauty, 
Catherine Athena xo