Category Archives: Myths

Inspiration Monday: GalGael

GalGael carving ef

GalGael carver – I am mortified to think that I never got this lovely man’s name. But my talk with him will linger in my memory always.

Now, you’ve heard me banging on before, probably ad nauseum, about how CREATIVITY HEALS.

Now here is the proof.

GalGael is a charity which teaches people in difficulty ancient skills such as carving, boat-building, spinning and weaving, and by doing so, gives them a chance of a new start in life.

“We provide a space that serves as something of a safe harbour for those whose lives have been battered by storms such as worklessness, depression or addiction. “

So says their website, and I have seen the proof.

GalGael is supported by the whisky distillery Lagavulin on Islay, where we recently had our holiday, and I met some of the craftsmen and women they have trained there.  Producing beautiful carvings in the ancient styles of the Norse and Celtic races whose cultures come together in native Scottish arts, these men and women are making gorgeous, tactile and useful works of art, working with natural materials, getting in touch with their national cultural history, and and crafting new lives for themselves in the process.  Lagavulin supplies old wood from nolonger wanted casks, which GalGael make into covetable furniture and home goods.  Each item has its own charm and idiosyncracies, both from the craftsman who made it, and from the varied history of the wood itself.

I had the privilege of chatting at great length with one of GalGael’s fine representatives (pictured above), himself a survivor of the worst storms of life.  As we talked about the Celtic and Norse myths that lay behind his carving, and the pleasure of making something with one’s own hands, I learnt a lot about the personal story of this proud man, nolonger bowed by his suffering.  He attributed his renewed joy in life and self-respect to what he had learnt at GalGael, and I felt honoured and touched to have met him.

Handmade Scots artifacts reproduced by the craftsmen and women of GalGael.

Handmade Scots artifacts reproduced by the craftsmen and women of GalGael.

GalGael is living proof that creativity saves lives.   I’ve been through a few storms myself, and have learnt through practise that it really works, but nothing brought it home to me like seeing these wonderful people talking so enthusiastically about their work and how it had helped them survive the worst that life can fling.

If you are going through a storm yourself right now, I encourage you to have faith in some act of creation that you can undertake.  Make something, however simple.  It doesn’t matter if its not any good in your eyes.  We all have to start somewhere.  Try.  Practise.  Lose yourself in the flow of making.  In the Charm of Making.  And it will heal you.

You can learn more about the wonderful work this charity does through their website, where you can also buy their goods and make donations.  And you can get more inspiration for your own work from their creativity and their hope.

Happy Creating,

EF

 

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Postcard from the Underworld

There is some weird and funky stuff going on with my energy levels at the moment.  And some strange synchronicities keep happening.  Too many to ignore.

The Universe is sending me messages.

Let me explain:

Since Christmas I’ve been struggling with low energy, pain and brain fog.  Being creative has been an uphill struggle.  Most of the time it has not been happening at all.  I mean, who has the strength to be creative when every step feels like walking on broken glass, or when it’s all you can do to keep your eyes open for an hour at a time?

Then there are the synchronicities that just keep on popping up.  Seriously, it is like the Universe is jumping about and waiving it’s arms, trying to get me to notice.

The Persephone Myth.

Bears.

Hibernation.

These stories and images keep arriving on my desk, my desktop, in magazines, on Facebook, in books and on the TV.

‘The only way out is through.’

Today, I was working with my therapist on all the OUGHTs I have piling up inside my brain.  Nigel has been shouting pretty loudly lately, so the first thing to do was to kick him firmly out of the door, SHOULDS and all.  No more SHOULDS or OUGHTS for me, at least for an afternoon!

I talked about the pain and exhaustion I’ve been experiencing, and then I mentioned the fact that bears have been on my mind lately.

‘Let’s look them up,’ says my ever-resourceful therapist.

Bears, according to Native American theology, are about intuition.  They are about being true to yourself, and trusting your instincts as you go in search of the honey of inner truth.  They are about Shamanic inner journeys, visiting the Dreamlodge, the Otherworld, about contemplation and hibernation and ultimately, rebirth.

Not far away, then, from the myth of Persephone’s journey into Hades, her sojourn in the darkness comforting the souls of the dead and learning inner wisdom, and her return to the surface world in Spring, older and wiser.

Bears are animals that hibernate.  In the depths of winter many beasts, seeds, roots and bulbs in the ground are sleeping in darkness, recharging, waiting for the surge of renewal that comes with the returning sun.

Well, you may not be into New Age symbolism, but these are ancient archetypes of the kind favoured by Jung, and it is not hard to extrapolate from these metaphors to the period of hibernation that my low energy suggests.  Human beings were once small, furry creatures that may have hibernated, and who is to say that some of us don’t still carry the imprint of that behaviour somewhere in the primitive vestiges of our primate brains. Anyone who has suffered from even the mildest symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) would certainly agree.

So here I am, dug deep in my cave, wrapped up in the comforting furry arms of my bear familiar, letting the energy of hibernation circulate around me.

It is not static energy, oh no.

I may be resting, contemplative, still, but here in my snug little fug, stories are gestating.  Sometimes we need these times of hiatus to feed our creative souls.  It is not just my exhausted body and drained mind that need rest.  My Muse needs to sleep too.  And while she sleeps, babies grow in her belly.

I have realised that pushing myself to climb out into the sun too soon will be a mistake.  All the plans and intentions, those things-I-am-not-calling-goals, will have to wait until I am ready, physically, mentally, and creatively.  I must remind myself not to rush things.  Don’t birth the babies until they are properly ‘cooked’!

Are you in a time of hibernation too?  Were you propelled into 2014 with renewed gusto, or are you like me, groping your way like a blind mole, struggling to hold your head up in the pale wintry light?

If you are the latter, try to forgive yourself.  We cannot make ourselves energetic if the juice just isn’t there, no matter how much Society nags us that it should be.  Tell your Nigel to take a hike.  Snuggle down, like me, in your burrow and nurture your bear energy.  Find out what the stillness of hibernation has to say to you, how it can nourish you for future months.  Don’t force things.  Wait it out.

Spring, with all its creative renewal, will come soon enough.

Happy hibernating,

EF