It’s interesting looking back on the various stages of artwork I’ve created over the years. I did a post on this recently in my general blog:
which was a bit of an overview at moving from mandalas, to Soul Song art, to shamanic type art to the digital art which is drawing my attention at present.
But I want here to talk about how I started working with what I call Soul Song art.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had a Tarot reading with a lady who predicted that I’d attend the mandala workshop where I realised I could actually create art. Well, I ran into her again when Yvonne and I went to a psychic fair on Mt Tamborine. I wasn’t booked to do any stalls but went to have a day out after being confined to home with my broken leg and ankle. Yvonne was holding a stall with her Auralight bottles and readings.
Lo and behold, I saw the same lady again doing Tarot readings so I wandered over to get another reading. I told her of the previous reading she’d done for me (if you’re a Tarot reader you simply don’t remember the details of each reading) and she looked at me and said: “Can you see colours around me?”
I looked at her in alarm as it had never crossed my mind to think about actual colours around people. So I closed my eyes, concentrated on what I felt around her and hesitantly I said: “I think you should be wearing more turquoise and lemon to balance your aura”. She beamed and said what I’d said made sense. I also told her I saw people as symbols with particular colours which I was doodling desultorily at the fair to while away the time while it ran its course.
Then I had a general reading with her again, the details of which I can’t remember now. But a short while later she came up to with a big grin on her face and said: “You’re on!” I looked at her quite blankly and then she said: “The spirit guide artist can’t come, her car broke down. So I’ve told the the organisers you can do your soul song art and they want you to step in to replace the artist”.
Well, I can tell you, I nearly fainted with fright. It was one thing to dabble in this sort of art with people I knew, but quite another to do it at a fair with strangers queuing up and paying. Yvonne cheered me on and so did the Tarot reader so I reluctantly shuffled to an empty table, got out my pencils and paper, and shook like a leaf when the first person approached me.
Amazingly, everything flowed – to my enormous relief. I found I could produce images and symbols quite easily while I nattered with the people waiting for their piece of artwork. But, as I mentioned earlier, the universe takes you by the hand when you’re ready, so one guy sat down and, while I was drawing, said: “Do you pick up any messages while you’re doing your work?” I stared at him and my mind went blank. “Ummm, I don’t really know,” I stammered weakly. He persisted. So I shut my eyes and concentrated. “Well, I’m getting the message that you should be meditating more, that you’ve been slack about it in recent times,” I muttered. “Spot on,” he said, much to my relief. And then said: “I’m the director of this facility and, yes, you’re right, I should be doing more meditation.” Now it’s a good job he didn’t mention his position before as I’d have have been too intimidated to say one word. He continued: “You’ve given me a timely reminder.” I stared at the guy and my jaw dropped, I was gobsmacked!
I continued doing Soul Song art on black cardboard with art pencils, much as I’d done with mandalas, and then dgot attracted to working with acrylics, pastels, stick-on decorations and glitter – never looked back after I hit the glitter trail! The first Soul Song painting on the right is one I really, really liked when I created it, and it remains one of my favourites. I swapped it with a guy who created ritual feather tools, as I didn’t have the money to buy one of his creations.
I really enjoyed working on it and then, right at the end, when I was trying to work out how to finish it, I remembered an agate slice I’d dropped and which had cracked in half. The two pieces slotted in neatly at the base of the fire, another piece of synchronicity because – without the agate pieces – I simply wouldn’t have been able to finish off the painting in an authentic way. And then, to my disappointment, I got no feedback from the recipient at all, which was a real let-down.
I have no idea who I did these paintings for, I didn’t keep records. I enjoyed creating these images but, again, packed it in after a while because I felt like I was back on the treadmill again. I also felt under pressure because you’re painting for an individual and you never know whether they’ll like the art you’ve created for them or not.
I’ve decided I’d rather be inspired by creations which come up from my intuition and imagination, which fire up my creativity in a spontaneous way rather than having to be somewhat constrained by painting for other people, if that makes sense.
Anyway, by then I’d got involved in a psychic circle which I found very enjoyable. I found to my surprise that I had a real talent for psychometry. We would each put something personal in a bowl and then pick out an item, hold it for a while and do a reading for the person who owned that item.
I found I could tune in, pick up energies and then channel information which was intended to offer advice to the item’s owner. I was pretty much 100% accurate with this and it opened me up to working directly with people in giving them information and messages that came through via some disembodied voice which used to speak in my head. Afterwards I started doing Spirit Guide portraits with readings from the guides to the individuals for whom I was doing the portraits.
It’s interesting when I look back over my life because at university I studied German and French languages, politics and history. But part of the languages course involved simultaneous and consecutive interpreting which I rather believe now got my brain used to listening and reading out comments at the same time.
I had, by the way, been quite cynical and doubting about the existence of spirit guides as I’m quite logical and the idea of spirit guides seemed a step too far for me. I had been told I had a spirit guide around me but didn’t really feel much. So one day I muttered to myself: “Well, if spirit guides exist, show me!”
Be careful what you wish for because you might get it!
A week or so later I was doing a Tarot reading for a lady in Beaudesert, a large town near Boonah where I was living, when a spirit guide burst out its energy like a firework exploding right beside her right shoulder. I actually reeled backwards because the energy hit me so forcefully. So yes, I got my confirmation of the existence of spirit guides but not quite in the form I’d expected. I guess I thought I might see a disembodied figure floating around or whatever, but I could feel the energy of the guide that turned up in the reading, and I could hear the message he brought the lady which, by the way, made sense to her.
However, I started going a bit bananas and New Agey with the spirit guide drawings. When I was using simple pencil and paper, spirit guides came through clearly and my portraits weren’t bad considering I’d never drawn faces and actual people before. But then I decided to get into colour and all soft and spiritual and sooky and I went right off the rails, I’m sorry to say. I carried on this path for a short while but an inner voice kept nagging me that what I was drawing was what I thought was spiritual but wasn’t, it was a reflection of seeing all sorts of wishy-washy, cutesy-wootsy images which were doing the rounds instead of listening to my own sense of what I needed to be doing and NOT doing!
Eventually I came to my senses and packed in the spirit guide drawings, I’d done my dash with them. And really I didn’t do much more in the way of art until we returned to Australia, after spending two years – from 2002-4 – in the United Kingdom.
I was stuck up Mt French with my leg in a cast for six weeks, as the broken bones were slow to heal, much to my disgust. I wanted my leg to be healed YESTERDAY! I used to phone my friend in Perth and she said she could hear my impatience burning down the wires. Unfortunately, impatience didn’t get me anywhere except feeling extremely frustrated.
When I had the cast off and put my weight on my right foot for the first time, it felt like I was walking on glass. It took quite a while before I could abandon the crutches altogether but I still had trouble with a recurring infection around the cut where my leg had been set and a metal plate put in place. I was not in good shape, got tired easily, my foot would swell in the evenings, and I had to rest a lot.
So I kept drawing mandalas. I used the technique taught at the workshop in Brisbane which was based on creating shaded white symbols on black cardboard, and then a layer of colours over the white, the idea being that you could show light shining through each symbol in the mandala.
As I got more mobile, I also started teaching mandala workshops in small groups. I have to say, looking back, that I jumped in the deep end with teaching. Prior to teaching mandalas, I had started practising Reiki and reflexology in Yvonne’s clinic, as she had bought a house with an area attached she was able to use as a clinic. But learning Reiki 3 really opened the door to my expanding the courses I taught.
A friend was going to attend a Reiki 3 course but it fell through for her so I phoned the Reiki Master to see if I could take her place. I told her I had no money and would pay her when I could and she immediately agreed. Another miracle and step forward in my life. I had an absolutely wonderful weekend, very intensive but very rewarding.
There were only two of us so we had very personal and intense instruction. On the second day we were taught an advanced healing technique where we looked inside people and worked with whatever we saw or felt. It was a form of psychic healing where you tuned into the emotional and spiritual energies of a person to sense what was required at those levels for healing to happen. It’s not an everyday occurrence. You would only do this form of healing with someone’s permission and when they had themselves done enough work on themselves to be able to participate in the whole process. So it’s not for complete beginners.
We were to be intuitive in our approach, our Reiki Master said. I was instantly alarmed – intuitive? Me? But something amazing happened. I saw exactly what needed to be done – it was quite different from acting as a channel in Reiki healing, more interventionist but at a psychic, spiritual level as I’ve described above. And for me it involved symbols which of course flowed for me as I love symbolic work. I remember describing the images to the other person doing the course with me, and knowing that I had to stop at a particular stage because he had to do the rest of the work.
And then out of nowhere came all sorts of knowledge flooding in which I passed on and now have no idea what I said. Of course I wouldn’t repeat it, if I could, as it’s private and personal to the person concerned. But I do know I felt stunned and he looked stunned. He stared at me for a moment, then stomped off to the bathroom and shut himself in. I really thought I’d blown it, but my Reiki Master looked amused and reassured me that I’d tuned in correctly and that I’d done the right thing in the whole healing process. It was a heck of a relief, I can tell you!
I’ve gone through a process of pooh-poohing Reiki a bit over they years, but now I’ve come full circle because I’ve seen it lead to miracles. For some it relates to spiritual, mental, emotional or physical healing. For others, it opens pathways to personal growth and heading in completely different directions. For me, it opened up the whole process of teaching. While we were still living up Mt French, I had opened a healing centre in Yvonne’s clinic premises when she bought a new house and started working from home. I started off doing Reiki and reflexology, something I’d learned back in Perth. But one day I thought I’d like to start teaching a course in colour, energies and healing.
I have no idea where this proposition came from but, as they say, it seemed a good idea at the time. I set up a billboard in the main street of Boonah, but then nearly had a nervous breakdown when someone appeared to say they wanted to attend. I must have looked like a headless chicken running around when the guy signed up, but it must have been meant to be because I met another lady shortly afterwards who also wanted to take part. I found I really enjoyed teaching. I was a good communicator and was able to sort out my ideas and get them through to people.
I also find it interesting that, if you’re heading in a direction which meets your life purpose, you’ll get help along the way. I started off with two people in my first class and I continued to do the odd class on chakras and creative visualisation with just two people but it expanded when we moved down off the mountain to the centre of Boonah.
One day I got hold of a book about focusing on your goals, and happened to mention it to a friend that I’d like to teach it. She said she’d like to take part, spread the world and, lo and behold, within a matter of weeks a group of seven had got together to work our way through the book. With me as the teacher.
I must admit that the first time I looked up and saw six faces looking back at me waiting for me to take the lead I nearly had a nervous breakdown. I felt quite inadequate, but took a deep breath and ploughed on. We had a ball and I discovered that I had a knack for creative visualisation and tuning into people as they described what they’d seen, heard or sensed.
We all have different ways of using our senses so some might find creative visualisation very easy and images popping up without difficulty. I know the first time I was able to visualise very clearly during a guided visualisation I felt my self-confidence go sky-high. I never realised I had that ability. My visual sense is very important for me. I can see parking spaces, or notice little details very easily. If I visualise, I can do so with no difficulty whatsoever.
Just don’t mention auditory ability to me. It’s pretty much low on my list. Bryan, my husband, on the other hand has perfect pitch, can listen to music and distinguish all the instruments and the nuances of singers, drummers and other performers. Whereas to me, it’s a nice noise, I’m not too bothered about the lyrics, I just like the overall, end result. I’m also tone-deaf which causes my husband to wince if I do sing as he can hear when I’m off-key and I can’t.
Other people sense or feel things. They might get a feeling of unease about something, or sense happiness, or smell scent or something like that. Then you find that some people can work well with more than one sense. There is no right or wrong, it just depends on each person’s particular focus.
I became aware of my ability to do creative visualisations when I was doing a mandala workshop with one of my friends while the rest were complete strangers. Up until that point, I’d run workshops but used the text of a book on mandalas word for word in guiding people into creating mandala art. On this occasion, however, I was particularly concerned about one participant. He created amazingly straight lines, so straight, in fact, I thought he’d got a ruler stashed away. But I gradually came to realise that he couldn’t access his creative side, and was working with his intellect all the time.
In creating mandalas you need to access your intuitive, sensing ability which arises in the right side of your brain and affects your left side. As I mentioned earlier, the left side of your brain, which relates to intellect, reasoning and logic, crosses over to your right side. You could say that your right side is your “doing” side and your left side is your “receptive” side, if that makes things clearer. The idea of contacting your intuitive side is that you sideline your intellectual side so that you can access your emotions, your feelings and your inner wisdom. So while this particular guy was creating beautiful mandalas, they had no emotional depth to them.
I was lying awake that night, pondering on this problem, when a voice said: “Take them into a creative visualisation and work with Mother Mary.” I nearly levitated. “I don’t believe in Mother Mary, I don’t do that sort of religious stuff.” The voice persisted: “Work with Mother Mary.” I sighed, rolled over and went to sleep quite quickly after this little exchange.
But the words remained in my head so I decided to take a punt. I sidelined the written material I’d been using, someone else’s text, in other words, and embarked on my very first creative visualisation. As I let go and trusted the flow, the words poured out as I started: “Mother Mary ……”. It worked a treat. The logical guy created a mandala which veered between emotional, intuitive images on one side and logical images on the other side. It was quite amazing to see the difference and at the end of this particular session, he walked outside, burst into tears and had a good, hearty cry. Ever after that, I simply asked for the right creative words to flow when I was doing creative visualisations, and it’s worked like a dream.
This is what I extended into my workshops in our new home. The numbers were small as I only had a limited space but I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
I was then asked to take part in other events and one of those led me to holding my Live Your Dream course at a nearby health centre. It was a big jump as I had between 10-16 women at these courses. Once again, I looked at all the faces gazing back expectantly at me, took a deep breath and jumped in the deep end.
This is what I mean by the Universe leading me gently by the hand, expanding my work slowly but surely so that I got confidence in handling larger and larger groups. It was a wonderful process and I loved my work.
The first course I held at the Women’s Centre was brilliant. The women were bright, courageous, willing to be open and honest, and very supportive of each other. I really remain honoured by their presence at that course as they were willing to jump into the unknown, face their challenges and take action to change their lives if they felt it appropriate. I say “appropriate” because through the course some people got a better handle on their personal situations and were able to take action to stay in that situation but work with it in different ways which made life a lot easier for them.
The first “Live Your Dream” course was repeated a few times and it also led on to courses in “Understanding Dreams”. I also incorporated mandala work in some of the courses because it’s interesting how focusing on the voice within and accessing intuitive images can open the way for deeper understanding in a self-development context.
As my confidence in art work grew, I contacted a new age magazine in Brisbane and asked if they’d be interested in my contributing an article on mandalas. I created my first bespoke mandala for the editor which was the first time I created images outside the inner circle.
I advertised in the magazine and ended up getting regular orders for personalised mandalas. In the beginning, I really enjoyed creating atwork for individual people. It amazed me that I could get such different images for each person. But gradually I found that I was on a treadmill and the joy of creativity began to fade until one night I walked out and showed Bryan the latest mandala I’d drawn. He looked at it and said: “It’s mechanical, Mo, it’s got no heart to it. It’s nothing like the mandalas you’ve created previously.”
I knew he was right and had put into words what I was feeling inside – that I was forcing myself to drum up images whereas previously the whole process had flowed for me. So I tore up that mandala, left it for a while and eventually found my inspiration returned to finalise what I decided would be my last bespoke mandala.
The relief I felt was enormous and a sure sign I’d come to the end of the road with that path.
If I sound a bit over-the-top about discovering a bit of an artist within me in 1996, it’s because I never, ever – right through my life until that mandala workshop I attended in 1996 – saw myself as having a shred of creativity within me.
My primary school in the early ’50s was a Catholic convent with nuns from Ireland, who taught embroidery and knitting. I was woeful at both and bored stiff with what seemed like completely unproductive skills (although I have to admit, I can still do a mean blanket stitch courtesy of Sister Veronica).
BUT I was very intelligent and so I was fast-tracked as the student most likely to pass the 11-plus examination, bring kudos to the school (where most of the girls were in training to be Catholic mums knocking out kids ad infinitum) and get approval from my parents.
I couldn’t have cared less about pats on the head from the nuns because I loathed being at the convent with a quite virulent hatred. I was moved there when I was six so that my father could fulfil his promise to the parish priest, when he married my mother in a Catholic church, that he would bring me up as a Catholic.
I was incredibly lonely as I had nothing in common with the other girls who were imbued with Catholicism. I was a rebel even at that age. I simply couldn’t mindlessly accept the rituals and rigmarole, and recital of catechism seemed utterly pathetic. From an early age I always asked “why?” and it inevitably got me into trouble. I nearly always missed Sunday Mass and when I did attend I got into trouble for having a punch-up with my friend in the front pew of the church or I sniggered at the wrong time and brought immense wrath down on my head. If we had days off for “Saint’s Days”, I used to view it as an opportunity to sleep in rather than rush off to yet another stultifying mass. I really got the evil eye from the nuns when the visiting priest turned up and I forgot the words of the “Our Father”.
But what was vitally important to me was the approval from my parents and it was a goal of mine until I staged my teenage rebellion in Australia in my mid-‘twenties. Late starter, you might say.
An incident happened when I was 4.5 which was quite minor but which my parents blew out of all proportion. I’m not going into the details because it sounds utterly pathetic, but ever after I was labelled a liar, I copped a hiding at the time and then felt the full weight of parental disapproval descend on like the hounds of hell in the ensuing few weeks and if I ever looked like kicking over the traces. My parents’ response triggered huge amounts of shame in me and, looking back, I can realise now that I felt that their love, from that time on, was conditional on my being a very, very good little girl.
So I always behaved. I always excelled academically. I was pretty much always top of the class and thereabouts and the time I came fifth all hell broke loose, with teacher-parent meetings, lectures and extra work. When I was 11 and passed the 11-plus examination, I chose the grammar school close to home and waved a relieved and happy goodbye to Catholic schooling.
The need for academic excellence persisted, however. Over the years from the early incident of my childhood, if my parents ever wanted to get me back into line, I’d be called a liar by my father or threatened with another hiding. The hiding threat stopped when I was 14 and Dad said: “You’re not too old to put across my knee and have a hiding”. I stared at him and then said: “If you so much as touch me, I’ll pack my bags, quit this house and never return”. He knew I meant it and never raised the threat again. Although he continued to love labelling me a liar at the drop of a hat even though, as I’ll explain later, it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black as he was an ace liar and manipulator.
Nevertheless, I stayed on the treadmill of always trying to be the best, mainly coming top or near the top in classes right through to going to university in 1966.
But while I was good academically, I never saw myself as creative. The fact that I could write stories at the drop of a hat was so easy, it didn’t seem like a gift or talent. And in those days, I guess creativity was defined by your artistic, musical or other arty-farty abilities.
This was reinforced when a guy I was going out with while I was at University in Bradford split up with me and later, when we’d got back together, I found a list he’d made of reasons for or against resuming our relationship. One of the “against” factors was my “lack of imagination”. I felt like I’d been sucker punched by this but had too little self-esteem or self-confidence in those days to tell him to get knotted which would have been the appropriate response.
A memo to anyone reading this: if someone doesn’t value you for who you are, don’t take it personally. It’s their problem, not yours. Concentrate on being the best you can be and honour what lights up your heart and soul. DON’T listen to naysayers, DO listen to your own intuition and integrity to sort out what is right for you. DON’T on any account give your power away to others to decide how you feel, it’s not worth it.
Bullies love it if you suck up their negativity, they feed on your fear. Stand up to bullies, as I did with my father, because bullies are at heart gutless and cowards. Picture them in silly clothing or doing stupid stuff, because ridicule is the best weapon. People don’t value you if you are simply a pale shadow of them or you’re trying to fit in by pretending to be what you’re not. Because when you do that, you dishonour yourself and you’ll find yourself getting depressed or spirit-less as you fail to honour the real you.
I suffered various bouts of depression over the years, starting with my first year at University when, for the first time, I mixed with people academically brighter than me. It left me feeling even more uncertain about myself as a valid person. I used to feel exhausted even though I was sleeping very heavily. So I went to see the doctor in the students’ sick bay who diagnosed depression. Tablets helped me recover but I’d still fall into a depressive state again further down the track where my head felt full of fog and I’d be dead tired all the time. Tablets helped but the malaise went deeper.
In the midst of one bout of depression just after we arrived in Australia, I was referred by the doctor I saw to a therapist who was immensely helpful. She managed to fish out how I felt about Dave’s comment. She suggested a Gestalt session, whereby I sat opposite a cushion on a chair and repeated what Dave had said. Then I occupied the cushion and told him how angry and upset I was. She repeated my comments to me. Then she told me to switch to being Dave and say whatever I thought he might say in response to my comments. To my absolute surprise, I heard myself say: “I don’t remember writing that list at all.” The counsellor laughed at my stunned mullet expression. I realised that I’d been hanging on to this comment and the only person it had hurt was myself. I could feel this huge burden of feeling unimaginative shifting off my shoulders and I felt so much lighter when I walked out. Dave commented how much happier I looked too.
It made me realise that when we hang on to negative stuff that other people have said about us, the only person we hurt is ourselves. Years later I saw someone comment in a newspaper: “I hate people who wear white shoes”. I looked down at my white shoes and decided that I was pretty damned good, and to hate people for a particular “crime” such as wearing white shoes was pretty pathetic. We are so quick to say: “I hate people who …… (and here you can put in your favourite prejudice) when in fact they aren’t aware that we hate them, the only person affected by the hate is ourselves, and it’s a complete waste of energy. Life’s too short to spend it in useless energy-wasting activity.
Although the therapist helped me unlock a few doors, it took a long time to pin down the recurring depressive episodes to the lack of confidence and self-esteem I’d felt since childhood. Later down the track I saw a psychologist who suggested I lacked self-confidence. I thought he was mad as a cut snake as I always projected confidence and a picture of myself as an extrovert. But he managed to dig deep and wheedle out of me how I really felt – how I kept up a face of competence, had a smiling face on all the time, never showed anger and basically presented a false front to people. He directed me towards a range of self-esteem books which I found incredibly useful. They helped me see patterns in my behaviour which I hadn’t realised existed.
I also had a really interesting experience when I was at a fair on Mt Tamborine. I saw a lady with a stall advertising healing work and I felt very drawn to her. So I decided to have a session with her. It was like no other healing session I’d had before or since. She took me back in envisioning the situation of my father’s family, and I could see my grandmother standing between my father and his elder brother, John. John had been the favourite son but had been killed in the D-Day landings and henceforth his memory was sanctified by my grandparents. In the vision I saw my grandmother stepping back and my father punching John in the face. And John faded away. It was as if John had been held back by, perhaps, his own regrets but by Dad’s feelings of frustration, anger and – most likely although it’s only a guess – guilt at his feelings. The vision seemed to set both of them free from the ties of the past.
Then this healing lady took me to the age of eighteen, when I was leaving to go to university. She asked me how I felt. I was surprised to say I felt dragged down. Then she asked me how my father felt. My immediate response was jealousy and lack of support. As a teenager, Dad had passed exams to go to technological college but hadn’t been allowed to go. His parents claimed lack of money but everyone knew that if it had been John in Dad’s place, John would have attended college. My father was very bitter about that. I realised as I connected with my feelings at the time of my departure to Bradford University that I’d picked up sub-consciously Dad’s feelings, jealousy and resentment that I had opportunities denied to him.
I have Neptune in the First House in astrology, close to my Ascendant and Sun Sign. They’re all bunched up in Libra. But what it does mean is that I can see into people, I can see below the surface, I can sense people’s feelings. So at some unseen level I’d picked up on what, I guess, was a lack of support from my father, and it dragged me down without my knowing why. I don’t remember all the details of the healing work I did with this lady on Mt Tamborine on this time in my life, but I do know that she cleared out all the lingering feelings from that time and I came out from her session feeling so much lighter and happier.
I – and Cathy who had come with me to that market – gave our names to the lady who said she was just establishing herself in Queensland. Neither of us heard from her again or saw any sight of her. And I wonder whether she was one of the angels who turn up in human form to give a helping hand to us mortals when we need help and we’ve reached the stage where we’ll accept that help. On the other hand, of course, there could be a very simple explanation. She didn’t like Queensland and departed for greener pastures elsewhere!
There were lots of different ways I received help in dealing with depression and releasing it bit by bit over the years. Looking back it rather reminds me of an onion, peeling away the different layers to get rid of the crap bit by bit.
But really the big turnaround in the bouts of depression came when I started painting, working with crystals and teaching women mandala art, crystal healing and a course I developed called “Live Your Dream”. I had come full circle to recognise myself as a very creative being. And in understanding that, I stood tall in my own shoes and never looked back. The last depressive episode I had was in 1996 and that was it. The final hurrah to the Black Dog.
While I was pursuing my crystal craziness, a couple of other newbies lobbed into my life too.
Around the time the crystals jumped my bones, I began to dabble in art and the Tarot.
First the arty-farty stuff.
In February 1996, my friend, Yvonne, and I decided to go to a mandala workshop at the Relaxation Centre in Brisbane. It was a non-profit enterprise which offered a range of courses, with a borrowing library and bookshop. The main reason I considered going was because it was within my means. The 2-day course only cost $60. But I had completely forgotten a Tarot reading I’d had in November in Ipswich. We – Yvonne, myself and a couple of young people – had gone to the town to take part in a market. It was a pretty dismal affair with few people turning up to look at the stalls. So in sheer boredom I wandered off, found a Psychic Fair around the corner and decided to have a reading.
I wandered around looking at the various readers until I found one who drew me through her energy. I don’t know if you’ve ever have had Tarot readings, but my experience has been that the best way to approach a reading is to do your homework and find one who draws you. Don’t be in a rush. And don’t get drawn into repeat Tarot readings. Also, beware of any reader who preaches doom and gloom and leaves you feeling dispirited and despondent. A good Tarot reader isn’t one who can necessarily predict the future. For one thing, if she does make accurate predictions, what exactly is the purpose? A Tarot reader needs to be able to leave you uplifted, positive, understanding yourself, feeling you’ve had spiritual guidance to walk into the future with courage and inner awareness. If she does that, fantastic. And if she doesn’t, let her reading go metaphorically speaking into the trash bin.
I once had a Tarot reading where the reader predicted the end of my relationship with Bryan. I was devastated. But Yvonne, who was at the same centre with me, pointed out that the reader had recently had a bad car accident. It was obviously still affecting her negatively. What the reader had picked up on was that Bryan and I were having some relationship challenges, as all couples do from time to time. The most constructive advice would have been to draw this out and give advice how to approach this situation positively for the highest, rather than the lowest, outcome. And, of course, since Bryan and I have been together for 36 years, her prediction certainly didn’t come true!
I did a Tarot reading for a couple once who were concerned that, in an earlier reading, they’d drawn The Lovers and the reader had told them they would break up and form new relationships. I delved a bit deeper and found out that, in one sense, the information was correct. They had each done personal development courses which led to a new relationship alright – with each other. Their relationship had been strengthened by the change and growth in each of them.
I once did Tarot readings with a good friend at another Psychic Fair in Ipswich a few years later. I did a reading for one woman who said in deep disappointment: “Oh, that’s pretty much what the other reader told me”. Rather than seeing it as confirmation of the information from each reading, she wanted one which presented her with the information she wanted to hear, not what she needed to hear. You’re wasting your time and money and the Tarot reader’s time and energy if you have your mind made up about what you want from a reading.
The same thing happened when I was doing Tarot readings in the UK. I was giving the readings in pubs in the evenings. Bookings were taken beforehand and readers just turned up to do the readings. It was right up my alley as I’m not a good organiser, so to turn up and have everything fixed up suited me to the ground. Then one night I received a phone call requesting readings for four people at a home. I accepted but, when I turned up, I realised I’d already done readings for a couple of the women. They were disappointed to receive similar comments but I could have told them that if they’d advised me they’d had readings recently with me.
So if you want a Tarot reading, decide to have one reading, and one reading only. It’s all you need if you take the time to tune into the whole process and find a Tarot reader who attracts your attention. I won’t do repeat readings within a year of a consultation, otherwise it encourages dependency on the Tarot reader – people living their lives according to each reading instead of understanding they have free will and need to stand on their own two feet. The Tarot can give advice and insight, but it can’t live your life for you.
Back to my Tarot reading in Ipswich. I had to wait an hour for the reader to become free but I really felt I needed to see this particular woman. I wasn’t wrong (although I thought I’d done my dash when I’d finished the reading). She told me, and this is about all I recall after all this time, that I would attend a short painting workshop which would open me up to seeing colours around people and I’d start drawing images for them. I sighed inwardly to myself. I had always been a cack-handed artist. Or rather – artist manqué. I had no talent at grammar school and I always believed that I managed to scrape through art exams by the skin of my teeth with the minimum pass marks out of sheer compassion on the part of the art teacher.
My art was, not to put too fine a point on it, quite pitiful. In fact, I really didn’t believe I had any creative talent at all. So a prediction that I would start painting for people seemed quite unrealistic and a complete waste of my money.
And then I attended the mandala workshop. When we got there and sat down, I was terrified because I thought I was such a dunce at artwork. If I’d been near an exit, I would have bolted, but I was too far away and had to stay. It opened up a whole new world of creativity and awareness that my artistic ability doesn’t relate to the world around me but to the world within, to symbolic art.
I couldn’t believe I’d created something like this. I was even more delighted when, after laying our various mandalas on the floor, one of the participants chose my artwork to photograph. I got home and showed Bryan the mandala and he asked who’d done it. He looked simply thunderstruck when I said I had, as I’d never in our whole life together drawn anything!
I carried on creating mandalas in a desultory fashion until the day I fell and broke my leg and ankle. Bryan used to leave early to drive to work in Ipswich but our car started playing up- breaking down and needing a tow back to Boonah. One day when this happened, he phoned me to let me know he’d give me a ring once he was back in the town so I could pick him up while the car was checked out at the garage. I started off up the slope to my car, decided to go back and pick up a radio to listen to the news while I waited, slipped on the wet grass and went down with a bang.
Unfortunately, my left leg shot out from under me but my right leg got caught in a small hole so my leg got badly twisted on the way down. I knew straight away I’d done some serious damage as I felt really, really weird, spacey and sort of detached, as if I was in some sort of bubble. I was also stuck out in the open in cold, wet weather, hidden from the road where there was precious little traffic anyway, so decided I’d have to drag myself back to the house.
Luckily I had my house keys with me and was able to reach up to open the door as I couldn’t stand at all. I slowly dragged myself to the study, where I was able to knock the desk phone to the floor, and phoned a young friend who – luckily – had just done a first aid course. He arrived within 20 minutes, got my right leg strapped up (with a supply of free, wrapped up community newspapers!) and helped me get up. I felt no pain but, due to the shock, my throat was dry and I was drinking water like there was no tomorrow.
Martin drove me to Boonah Hospital where Bryan caught up with me, as he’d heard what had happened from another friend. And there I found I’d splintered the bone in the fibula of my right leg. We hadn’t been able to afford ambulance fees as we were so broke, so Bryan had to drive me to Ipswich Hospital for my leg to be sorted out in an operation. Again, I felt a bit weird, was in no pain but was drinking gallons of water.
The lady doctor who greeted me was quite delightful, She stroked my arm to calm me down, turned to the male orthopaedic surgeon who turned up to check me out and said: “See, I told you how strong women are. This lady says she’s not feeling any pain, talk about being brave!” I felt a complete fraud! I kept denying I was in any pain and kept reassuring them that I was fine – that was, until the lady doctor noticed bruising on my ankle, felt around and I nearly fainted with the pain. I’d also managed to break my ankle.
My treatment at Ipswich Hospital was fantastic. I was whizzed off to a ward within an hour or so arriving, and was in the operating theatre within a couple of hours. It is really weird waking up with a heavy cast on your leg, plus I was informed I had a raging temperature when I was admitted and some sort of infection, so was on intravenous drugs for a couple of days. I used a walking frame at first to hop around but then got issued with crutches and told I couldn’t leave the hospital until I could get up a couple of stairs. Co-ordination has never been my thing and, after watching a few miserable hops on my part, the physio gave up and I was released from hospital.
I was stuck up Mt French all day on my own. Bryan had casual work at the time and left the house around 6am and got home around 5pm. So I sat there in solitary splendour all day, going slightly off my rocker with impatience and boredom. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was a real turning point for me. I slept a lot of the time as the accident had shaken me up big-time. I began to really focus on mandalas, and I started creating different ones for friends. I’d get Bryan to post them off for me, and then get the response that the symbols had meanings for the recipients.
I’d started on the path of drawing colours for people which was a complete surprise for me. And I loved it. In the night I’d wake up with the pain of the cast pressing on my foot which had swelled in the heat of the bed, so I’d get up, hobble out to the front room on my crutches and keep on drawing mandalas in the quiet of the night.
During the day, I’d doze and then get back to drawing mandalas. The days were those lovely winter days you get in Queensland – clear, blue skies, bright sunshine, not too cold, very dry, and I’d listen to the carolling of the magpies and the liquid, falling notes of the butcher birds which were plentiful in that area. A friend had left me a beautiful tape by the Native American Musician, R. Carlos Nakai, called: “Emergence – Songs of the Rainbow World” and I listened to this time after time, soaking up its soaring, and deeply relaxing, notes. It was a time of profound spiritual and physical healing, where I tuned in not only to artwork and psychic connections, but also to nature and my own inner voice.