© Catherine Meeson 29.11.2015
Firstly, a little about why this work is important to me. I experienced what it was like to be uprooted throughout my whole childhood. From place to place, and then to a different country. I had to adapt and shift with every new location. In my life experience often the only source of deep healing I could access with unconditional holding came from the natural world. I always sought out nature to heal, I would walk and seek out what I could following the knowing of instinct without having the now proven findings of science to explain why it was good to do so. Such findings include affects on all body systems, neurochemistry, biochemistry, hormones, brain wave state, mental emotional harmonisation, spiritual kinship with the community of and foundations for life. The earth was my friend, her life forms, the plants, animals, minerals and elements, my friends, my allies. At the age of 12 I had my first conservation planting experience and from there, the love steadily grew, the commitment to be a voice for the community of life and to build bridges of understanding and empathy and relation became a core element of who I was. Earth was my teacher my instincts and intuition my guides. So I vowed to serve however I could and this is crystallising into unique arts eco therapy approaches, blending a diverse field of multi disciplinary findings and lived experience through creative methodology and transpersonal arts based research .
The great travesty of the 20th and early 21st centuries is that the collective carries wounded instincts and we are not largely allowed by our cultural models to live as natural human beings, for our created government and corporate legislations have bound us so tight we can barely breathe. People seeking to restore balance are prosecuted for daring to step outside of the control paradigm. Living off grid, walking the land; growing ones own food is not permitted in some places. Many are displaced from their ancestral homelands, the many being of all species. We are living in the era of the mobilisation of all life and the era of the anthropocene where it is penned, that humans have become as powerful, as major geological forces, leaving their imprint on the strata of future timelines.
Context aside. In term 4 my class expanded doubling in size, it is proving not just a creative outlet and nurturing space for the children, but a way to make friendships and build community as well, which is fantastic. I have penned a new sideline for Creative Therapeutic Encounters which is ‘ ‘Developing imagination and creativity whilst learning about ourselves and the world’.
Our theme this term, was Environment and pollution. My job is to guide the expression of feeling and thought and the embodiment in action by the children. We started with a site specific walk to immerse in the sense of place, of the sight sounds and the concept of an eco-system. Class room learning will only provide intellectual mental level connection, if at all. It will not inspire lifelong committed earthly citizens. So there is always an educational aspect to this work, but at a level they can understand. Eynesbury township is located fringing on an Old Greybox forest, the trees have sparse foliage and there are a few shrub type plants. Population is mostly birds, insects, and reptiles (one would guess) and maybe passing marsupials. No doubt there would have been many more species before settlement and the introduction of foxes and rabbits. The surrounding area was divided into farm land.
The children were asked to collect a gift that spoke to them from their nature walk. We used this as a starting point for reflection. We sketched out the basic concept of beginning middle and end following a stereotypical descent and rebirth sort of pattern, where the descent was the crisis and the rebirth the solution and celebration of new life. The children became the land, the animals and the river and spoke from the perspective of their new identities. It is my hope this helps to increase awareness, empathy and relation to and with the world around them.
Richard Louve is a well known figure educating about the benefits of nature and the affect that a loss of that same connection is having on our kids (If you remove life forms from the community that supports them, the community falls apart, community as in indigenous and systems thinking / ecosystem). Other prominent figures bringing much needed perspective to our western ways include Craig Chalquist, Amos Clifford and The Forest Therapy Association. There are many people in diverse fields of Eco Psychology such as Bill Plotkin, and many Indigenous practices and environmental ecological fields such as Spiritual and Deep Ecology rising up to remind us of what we so desperately need to remember, that our relation to earth goes way beyond economics, that economics really is an aberration and part of the problem of the consumptive mindset and base desires that is fast leading to the 6th great extinction. The same timeless utterances come down to us from the Ancients from practices such as Daoism, Buddhism and vanquished pagan and global shamanic practises. It is the nature of life that the timeless wisdoms have to be rearticulated in every age and culture over time. Out task is how to carry this knowledge over to the laymen and women in a language they can understand, where they can get it at the embodied level.
Now I do not discuss these former things with the children. But they do find their way into other therapeutic and educational work I have been engaged in.
Life in the Old Gum Valley- was the name of our play and it was a celebration of the life of the valley and what happens when something goes wrong. We wrote two simple songs together. I played guitar and sang and the children played percussion instruments and also sang. In our play we also had a Park Ranger, an Aboriginal man as teacher to the ranger, a Villain and a Police women; we are connecting into the archetypal nature of these characters and what they hold / represent. (What I often refer to as Archetypal Alchemy- embodying the archetypes or archetypal energies to serve intention- explore, express, heal). The valley experienced a poacher stealing all the animals and polluting the waters. We explored what this would be like in song.
These people these people
They’re polluting our Lands
These people these people
They don’t understand
These people these people
They’re polluting our lands
It’s like we are living
In a fantasy land
I helped the children articulate and craft the song and suggested a melody, the words were all theirs.
Our villain was tracked down by the ranger and the Aboriginal man and arrested, the waters were cleared up, the animals returned and life restored to balance.
Our home is happy in the Old Gum Valley
The water is pure our home is safe
Our home is happy in The Old Gum Valley
The trees are moving Our home is improving
Our home is Happy in the Old Gum Valley
We’re all together and we’re safe again
Our home is Happy in the Old Gum valley x2
At this moment I can only share with you a picture of the masks some of the children wore. I am seeking permissions to use/ access some photos.
The work was performed at the Rockbank End of Year Community Celebrations at the Rockbank Community Hall to Rockbank Primary school and other members of the Philippino and Islander Communities, Community Gardens members and other groups associated with the Neighbourhood House programs by Melton City council. We had a total of seven weeks to pull this off and we did it.
If this work interests you please enquire, I can facilitate and cater for Eco Arts programs for you or any other social justice /social welfare issues both creatively, and experientially with therapeutic and educational benefits to enhance well being.
Triple Ecology Collective Associated Inc Victoria is planning the second Triple Ecology gathering in the Yarra Valley region to explore and deepen work along these themes. I will be offering a workshop there in April. Stay tuned for details and tickets in January.
Triple Ecology- Arts Activism- Healing the tree of Life Workshop with Catherine Meeson
Experiential multi modal, guided response, media and presence. Co creating a Healing Ecology.
I will also be hosting The Open Mic at the Event and the Creative Visioning Space.
I am a girl from the North who lives in the South...a Minstrel of melody, a wordsmith, creatrix extraordinaire! I Compose sonic tapestries and create visual delights, and tantalize with tales from other times! Multi modal Artist/ Creator with Words, Pictures & Sounds. Ambient Music composer & singer songwriter. Artist/ therapist/ healer.