I can barely remember where to rest my first wood carving tools. When I look at this kind of magnificent work of art I imagine what those cultures held so passionately must have been great. The ability to build a ship is not one for the faint hearted. You’d need to have a very special ability to get along with a crew of creative people with weaknesses and emotional insecurities of their own. You probably would need to get your butt to work when you see your colleagues slagging. When it comes to ships, you’re talking about a wild thing against another wild element, not so different from itself. But different in composition.
My hopes and dreams mature as I learn to care for my family. Owing to some aesthetics, I seldom procrastinate. Simply, I like organising tasks to maximise the energy I spend on activity, so I can do more and have plenty of time to enjoy relaxing or being outdoors.
I do admit that for my type of personality, according to Ayurveda, is mostly Vatta and a bit of Kapha. This means, that if I find it exclusively extraordinary to finish any task that did not involve eating, it might have something to do with my personality type, my dosha. And even then, I eat intermittently and always remain on the thin to athletic side of body weight.
At this point, I do not struggle for calm. Many years of training have taught me how to nurture my emotional needs, and to always put my attention to kitchen attitudes. I’m crushing over Sadia Badiei’s vlog to keep my mind body balance check and much inspiration:
Her vegan advice on nutritious recipes inspire me to remember how many amazing natural oils and fats exist in vegetables. Like olives and seeds.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, one should understand their unique dosha first. My nutrition requirements can be different from my husband’s mostly Kapha dosha. Ever since I began testing this philosophy in my lifestyle, I have had good results. In this blog I’m writing about how I personalise the Ayurvedic advice in my daily routine. It does not interfere so far with my Muslim philosophy, in fact it compliments it.
So, if you don’t already have a health journal I highly recommend it. Here’s what I do. Note down any helpful tips from Dr Neelesh Korde’s instruction on Ayurvedic Daily Regiment. Then I spend a week, slowly refining my habits to find a balance in the middle.
Still feeling overwhelmed or impatient? Settle in your little head, and simplify the day, the week, the month. Summer time is coming, we’re all anxious about body and all. Over to my Lavender romance fables, coming soon. A little unbranded, unlabelled, something for everyone.
Hey. The time has come again since the forest fairies called me back for the spring blossom. It seldom happens that the dream represents itself into life through new found friendships. But so it is with the magical forest of Isfjorden’s spring moon.
None the better for yearning for the knowledge about natural health and plant allies (and the offenders not to be forgotten). I wasn’t the only one to catch a series of colds and other epidemics. And so everyone else became a little bit hermit too.
I like being entranced in the spring’s transformative whip. Up here even the sol er sterk; in norsk to say: the sun is strong. Også, nursing the self is a learning experience. Du skal bli opprotet. No needle to google, it means you shall be uprooted. Oppe har, up here. Ja, if you pronounce it well, you may even feel the frost.
Mighty is the case for human survival. As by the florescent pink unicorn that Marta and Jorge showed me at their lovely cafeteria down my hilltop home, obrigada og obrigado. I got all kinds of good and tough, just to know what a captain I am of my ship through such a crazy storm. In my philosophy melt downs and crafty chats, I’m more so inclined towards those cupcakes for home.
Outside the window that peers out of the room halfway above the ground, yellow lilies jeer at the luscious greenery. planted today. May there be friendship between the deer and us. They hide and seek the sun, like we do. By all days, I look forward to the rest of it.
Earlier this month we witnessed a most incredible snow down. Vegard and I were out on long walks bedazzled, mesmerised by delicious white beauty. Even in this weather, people were training on horseback or simply out walking. How impressive it is to see nature loving people make the most of this land, even though it really is a monstrous beast if it wasn’t for the hopes and dreams of the people who make it cosy and, also rather wonderful. Only some people could be a little less serious about life. It’s true that if you’re not tough here you won’t get the drift of community. People sincerely value honesty. Alas, a sense of survival, of this sort, however, is more likely to disenchant the dreamer and storyteller.
Amidst the realist, practical aptitude that attracts mountain living, hints of magic still fall from the sky. And this winter, we’re lucky to be living amongst some great athletes who are also new dwellers in the mountains. Not to mention that this place is already famous for sports. Such exciting times. Suddenly Isfjorden feels like the Hollywood of athletic activity. Surprisingly I end up doing more regular stretch outs as I used to for ballet and yoga, that I haven’t been motivated to do in a long time. But what sort of way would I want to enjoy snow? I have yet to discover. Starting with stalking the youtube channels of all my heroes and personalising my gear.
Whilst walking through the snow decked fields, we could taste the salty sea in the air. Designs for my wood carving projects started coming to mind. I played with the idea of a board game or something fun to carve in the workshop. It makes a perfect winter hobby. My intention is to make it a collaboration, which is such a difficult thing to achieve. When everyone’s ideas show up in the creation process, I will be satisfied. However unnerving, I could brew the creative energy in the way that I’m used to. Swallowing a deep sigh, I brought myself into a middle space between the present moment and my desire. The ice crunched under our footsteps.
In this new life, the way I am is constantly challenged. To live here, I gave up power, and now I really am learning how to pave a new way that allows the groups I belong to feel a common power.
What is power, to be able? To be able to take or do something, or say something? To be able at all the challenging scenarios that life keeps on throwing at us?
Or is it something more? Is it a desire to listen and experience our time better, and to leave a legacy for others to find and feel greatly inspired…?
To pen down all of the answers to the question, is like having to stand before an enemy who I have been resisting with great strength. But now, responding, and a healthy desire to put ourselves out of our misery, that we have not been able to communicate….brings up a load of chaos, amidst a surge of fierce intellect, trapped behind warnings against bad behaviour.
It makes me very emotional. Which is why I prefer to write this when I am alone.
Yes, it is my anger towards the war that broke out in Syria, and the pain of neglect and lost chances that caused those other eastern Europeans to this ruthless, violent, cold place. For them, while there isn’t the time for reflection, and the ignorance that isn’t acknowledged by the locals, thereby expresses in a form of self-suppression.
And children who’s families take life for granted end up causing heartbreak and disrespect towards teachers in school.
But where I can do nothing makes me only slightly nervous at first. I leave a little prayer for the angels to catch and soon in a few days, the ideas arrive.
Creativity is a kind of power. But it is important to respect the energy, or the ideas are always going to pass you by.
Power is, dealing with confusion. It isn’t something to make a person look bigger or better than others. We are visual creatures and we want to realise our strengths as we grow.
In Norwegian a candle or light is called “lys”. Thinking in a new language is an incredible gift to experience transformation. I always believed in staying your ground when things are moving too slow or becoming stagnant. I had to persist a painfully long wait for almost everything to settle into Norway. But for the coming week suddenly my schedule has exploded and become jam-packed with commitments and activity. I’m so grateful, for having faith in the kindness of the universe, and for trusting the process because it is always better at teaching us how to be our best selves.
Today I’m walking you outside my home, in beautiful Isfjorden. I know you’re not a puppy, but believe me, this place can make you want to have a cute fluffy coat on with a waggly tail and get all excited about the snow. The most stunning, frothy crystals are falling as I write, piling up a crunchy floor with sparkly sprinkles over branches and bushes. Little yellow 'vinterfugler’ or winter birds are out and about. Finally my Norwegian lessons will begin next week as I wrestle the last days of my grizzly hibernation.
For this season’s reading, I’m enjoying the lovely book by a nature artist Lars Jonsson. His book Vinterfugler is filled with wonderful sketches and watercolour studies of the winter birds all over Norway. It makes a great way to learn both Norwegian and natural history, in a language that belongs to a very different culture if one has arrived here from London. It’s artists like Jonssen, and writers like Lars Mytting (who wrote The Sixteen Trees of the Somme) that have a wonderful way of shedding light upon the creative pursuit of happiness for seekers and lovers of nature and craftsmanship. This season I work simultaneously with 12 oracles, many books, woodwork, yoga and language learning. A fine balance with one more thing….
While pondering upon the fresh beginnings that this year is bringing about, I’m mostly silenced by the beauty of this place. What has shown up after an almost brutal self realisation, which my astral readings had even warned me about but could never give me the slightest clue just how real it would be. So here I am walking down the icy roads of the mountain, taking it all in.
A year ago when my husband and I left Oslo, we went through an ordeal before we could finally realise some version of our altruistic longing for community life. Thanks to the Grace of God we’ve not only been welcomed so beautifully by the generous and kind people of Isfjorden, we are learning a lot about opening up too, to become part of the community. That takes a lot of patience from both sides after formalities subside and hard work starts becoming habitual. Love thy neighbour is a wise saying, as it not only gives joy but is extremely rewarding in that it opens up strains we hold towards each other. Helping my landlord shovel the snow every morning is a simple way of saying thank you. And so I’ve decided to stay close to home in making good relations within the neighbourhood for some time. Intuitively I feel there is something great waiting for us. In having this positive outlook at our lives, we strive towards big dreams and a long way to go. From a meditation perspective, this is an approach I like to call Crystalis as I was inspired to illustrate it in my oracle cards in 2015, and this is how it has accompanied me on this particular journey towards manifesting a desire to live in these mountains.
There it is, little winter bird. Can you find it? Let’s walk silently through a few more pictures and then head back home. Make a pot of tea, light a candle and observe gratitude in silence.
You cannot have a fire without oxygen. In my experience of making art, something always lends to something. In light of this, I’m going to share with you a little clue into my holistic artwork, in which, I am part of a conscious, circular creative process, where plants, animals and my changing environments all participate.
It’s not always the plants alone that call me to the work. But when they do, I never know what to expect. This time, Salvia officinalis, commonly known as Sage, has nudged me to remember its calmness, which was much needed after an overwhelming end of summer. The point of my craft is to always open the mind, release self-doubt, and channel with honesty of heart, mind, body and spirit, in order to allow the truth to be revealed- within some amount of balanced integrity- for the wisdom to come through.
The Medicine of Sage Smudge WandS
Lately, more and more people are becoming familiar with Sage. In the past I’ve smudged her essential smoke in the form of a wand, a quiet and holistic practise, especially if you knew how to make one yourself. Its fragrant memory still lingers well in my veins. One can appreciate a lesson from the Sages here: how long a memory can last if it was gentle, creative and opulent at the same time. I’ve hinted in my blog before that plants are my allies and this is just one of the ways in which they step up to support me. This time, Sage is nudging at me to remember…
It would make me terribly unhappy if something made me put off the burning urge that a plant creates in my belly. I must create when the call surges. I was already doing Root Chakra Meditations the night before the memory of Sage began breathing life through me onto my new canvas, and this can spark a small flame, enough to cause a fire if not attended.
Here’s an example of what typically happens when I work:
The entire house gets a reorganising treatment, complete with setting of lights, snacks, music…and let’s never forget, skincare. This is all part of a flexible repertoire, to create context for the piece. Next, I consider the canvas where life begins to grow, as actually part of the wall, which is part of the room, which is part of the house and the neighbourhood, and so on…. I breath it all in. The most important aspect of my meditative exercise is to allow the message to come through and to manifest my desires holistically, mindful of the big dream that is to include the whole family I am connected to. I have to adapt a tiny bit every day to everything else.
Dreaming with a holistic attitude
One of the things that lend inspiration to my art is the windows in Isfjorden. They always hold some stunning perspective of the drastic seasons, even if they themselves are rusty and old. Outside these windows is majestic Nature, the light of which I don’t even try to reproduce. The sun dramatically paints the clouds, bringing forth a landscape for a poet. Its not so much the image on a wall inside a house that lets me experience the soul of the land. It’s actually the whole message that I am just a part of it all. In that perspective, it becomes possible to fill the day with achievable simple joys, like subtle strokes on my canvas, a balanced diet, and headspace for my family’s needs. I try not to let any one thing absorb my attention completely. And in this wholesome way, the artwork is a healing craft.
So, coming back to Sage, an uplifting plant, perfect for a creative personality. Truly one can work with it in more than ten ways! Just remember, that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. It is indeed, in everything, just waiting to be noticed and appreciated. Sage can help raise our chins to remember this beauty when we are down, and even help us create art.
This year, a sensual winter awaits. My husband has pulled down the curtain on our summer garden bed and brought most of our chillies and tomatoes to join the other babies indoors. I look forward to my favourite tree allies, Spruce, and also hope to find the perfect winter plants to grow inside the house. Now, time to practise yoga and I pray you find your spell :)
Now I bid your leave again, with this painting in progress that I will come back to after my trip to London in three weeks. Take care of yourself and don’t let anyone steal your self-healing power! Namaste.
Come harvest season, a silent creeping up of evening stars leave me awake. I've been out in search of medicine for the usually painful onset of my lunar last quarter. Should the illness be one of two ingredients that make my medicine, then I would even say, that I sought the concoction of two reasons in order to return to myself: my unique shade in a small crowd... May I present you the very feminine, self-contradictory and highly talented wild spirit of Isfjorden forest's early Autumn Raspberry Leaves. These clever rustling fairies bring out creativity for a woman who is observing her sacred moon cycle.
Raspberry Leaf Tea making is a sobriety venture in itself. Before Fall, her spirit comes together with her companions, who walk us into this episode of learning about the values and virtues of being a woman. Here are some lessons from the masters:
1. Adventure for Simplicity
Drawn to the dreamers, Raspberry aims for the humble spirit of the craftswoman, the natural herbalist in you. Leading straight to the faery folk of St John's Wort and Valerian Root this time of year. The mountain's winter worries kept me awake. Loneliness and depression had begun burying the green thumbs too early, stopping me from wanting to be social. Nevertheless, I also found out the reason why I felt that way, and decided to embrace the feeling...
Lesson 2. Listen humbly to the Elders.
"Surrounded by poisons, mainly hemlock, visiting grandma Valerian is a great retreat to her old fashioned foraging sensibility. She warns for caution: respect others, shake off those grudges and get on with the hard work. Good rest is earned."
If your imaginary antlers are larger than grandma's, her spirit comes not to reason with you. You know you need to be good to your family, are her teachings; especially the person who annoys you the most, needs your love the most at this moment in time. Stop holding grudges against them and get over the smelly socks, they belong to those working much harder than you. Get on your feet and when you learn to give back, you will find the flower of the medicine therein.
I certainly have a load of more respect now. My home is filling with humility, art, grace and so much thanks for this year's harvest, what more can I ask for? Valerian Root spirit definitely lends a strong tug. If you've been avoiding confrontation with an old bad habit, get ready for a reminder about stuff that needs doing, Valerian definitely knows how to pull you right back on track with solid grounding, whilst leaving her comforting presence in the notion that all will be well.
3. The work of seasons is change. Be gentle in your surroundings.
Only a fool tries to be clever by going foraging for Valerian without caution. She has four similar looking plants in her colony, including poison Hemlock, which will certainly kill you so don't even go near without doing thorough homework with regards to who is who in the wild. Before calling on Valerian, you definitely want to get to know Hemlock, Yarrow and Queen Anne's Lace. They look very much alike, but are not the same. Their whispers can help you find the stillness needed in the mind, so you are ready to listen to elder Valerian when you finally meet her.
One of the most potent wisdom of Valerian Root concerns the hard fact that (with luck) we all reach old age, and its highly likely to be surrounded by the smell of old socks. Correct, to prepare you for exhaustion, of course, Valerian makes us able to recognise how much old age can resemble granny's cabinet of pills, if we don't take good care we will depend a lot on medication. And who doesn't want to be in good health before it gets harder to fast the poisons out of the diet? Having a ritual session with Valerian opens the possibility for a quiet sit down and heart to heart with grandmother spirit to work deeply within your Roots. A load of listening patience, cleanliness and service attitude paves the healer's path. That is what Valerian shows you and motivates you to get moving, to get healthy.
Fortunately for Isfjorden, here St John's Wort has a wonderful symbiotic relationship with Valerian. So don't be disheartened if you're not ready for Valerian, take time, take the year. It's best to pay your respects when you mean it. We do not have anything to hide from the one who knows us too well.
St John's Wort welcomes you with an embrace of the forest's opulent fragrance, the kind that sends tingles down the spine. It has such an incredible ability to go deeply into working out what form of depression you have. It has a magical way of making you look well into your condition, and then in a rounded fashion, you go "never-mind that false notion"- diverting you towards the more relevant wishes in your heart. St John's Wort has a saintly fragrance, one that grabs your attention in a way to mean "hang in there", and literally stays with you for days, walking you through your habitual remake. I highly recommend St John's Wort in ritual work and meditations to reach the bottom of the blues, and know that its OK to feel that. To me its been a most comforting plant ally this season.
The mellow, playful personality of St John's Wort helped me set up a working playground to clear my head for a couple weeks as I prepare my Fall time materia medica. I was noticing how it softly starts to introduce itself while dwelling in my home.
By fall, you begin to feel the forest shuffling back with reserves and preserves for the winter. It's a good time to refresh the arrangement of the healing space. Make simple home improvements, for example: use the dried petals of any flowers you have to make some potpourri, caring for life's gifts is a conscious way to show thanks. While you're at it, St John's Wort spirit will inspire you to act in exactly the way you would to attract friendship, so don't put off any invitations to grab a coffee or dinner with a friend or someone who surprisingly shows up. And remember to stay calm, the right things and people will also come along to brighten the gloomy days.
Great news! My husband and I harvested our very first cherry tomatoes and cayenne peppers this August. So scrumptious! We started our tiny garden bed in early Spring along with some of my favourite herbs: peppermint, lemon balm, thyme, oregano. We grew some salads in separate containers, mostly from seed. Our landlord has been so generously caring for our plants whenever we needed to go on weekend exploration trips or to visit the family. This has been excellent help for us. Plants really are like children, and I'm so lucky to live with friendly people who love them as much as we do.
The tomatoes have turned up beautifully bright, juicy and bursting with flavours! The chillies are oh so spicy- I bet if I make a powder it will definitely be going in many meals in very small quantities. Inside on our kitchen window sill, we also have some lovely basil and coriander. Not only do they give off a wonderful aroma, they're really great company to have around. Gardening this year has been pure joy. Just the way in which everyone has been so enthusiastic for our little experiment has made it so meaningful.
If someone was to ask you, how do you like your breakfast? For me, I'd probably say: "I like it picked freshly from my garden." For my lifestyle, eggs in the morning have always helped me get going. However, I'm thrilled to have discovered that I would in fact be able to organically grow all the ingredients I cook my eggs with. From mushrooms to broccoli, tomatoes and spinach, chillies and a variety of herbs. One of the fun lessons about growing a kitchen garden in your home is that you cannot have the fruits of all your plants all year. You definitely have to log each plant's growth cycle, in order to plan your meals around these. A positive challenge designed by nature, so that we eat a variety of food throughout the changing seasons.
As part of this logging exercise, at this point I find myself regularly at my favourite spots in the forest. There's this little bench under a tree with heather and berries growing at its foot. As my herbal literature and references build up, I really enjoy coming here. There's still some organising to do, while I wait on some new plant potions I'm working in the sun. It's important to feel into the pace. Now that I've discovered around 8 wild herbs and many berries, I certainly have much work to do!
In the next post, I might be sharing a little sneak peak into my herbal. For now, I encourage you to go outside, take all the beauty, soak it all in. The symbiosis by which all other life participates in creation, is itself a wonderful healing process. Find your balance with every day, every hour spent in gratitude.
There's no final goal in this course, even though the aim is to temper any useless habits into useful energies. In this way we can spend them on harvesting nature's gifts, one fruit at a time.
The Nordic countryside took an exceptionally long time this year to let the sun in. We've been traveling a lot in the last few weeks, so now I finally have a chance to sit and write. Vegard and I spent our easter break at his family's cabin, this charming little gem, that was still buried a few feet under the ice then. On arrival, we had to grab some shovels and dig up a path to get inside.
On the way to the cabin, we stopped by a grocery store where I found this gleeful and shiny lemon balm. It was perfect for Vegard's mom so we brought it with us to the cabin. Something about this plant just made me so cheerful and felt like it was a great match for her. I can't get over its divine fragrance, and have already added it to my herb list for my summer garden!
This house is filled with sweetness, and really seems to have soul. We believe the house is alive, especially after seeing the wood cry.
After getting the cabin fire up and cosy, and munching on a delicious supper, I decided to take a stroll alone to catch the sunset light. The moon was two days before full. It was the most wonderful silence.
The next morning I woke up to find a really cool surprise in the bedroom. An admiral butterfly who happened to be hibernating there through winter had woken up! The best part was how I was wishing to see butterflies and make paintings of them and this little fellow just showed up, only to stay with us for our two day vacation. So I took advantage of the wood to make a garden for it, with some flowers and sugar water, decorated with pine cones. Just for fun. It did stay on it all night.
I don't know what it is really about pine cones, whether its the fact that they have been mentioned with such reverence in so many myths or that in nature they stand for the symbolic pine tree, maybe its all these things that add to my curiosity. I love to stare at the flowering pattern, what a work of art by nature it is.
It was time to start making my shells calendar, so I started with my mini spellbook which I always carry with me everywhere I go. You know, for protection, inspiration, anything that comes up :)
Vegard's mom is a proficient knitter, so we had lots of wool for the string. I have to say, it was fun drilling holes into the shells too! I think I'm going to make some more stuff next time I collect shells. Here's how it works, I lay them facing down. Then each of the seven shells help me to mark a day of the week I start the meditation, turning a shell up. The last one is round so I always know that is the finishing day of my meditation, to be observed with gratitude regardless of manifestation.
Now that I finally got to play with some wood and tools in the shed, I ended up roughly preparing some random pieces for future projects when I buy my own tools. I have some fun ideas what to make with these.
A little spider showed up while I was washing dishes. Reminds me to take joy in the Great Weaving of our interconnected story.
The second morning the sun was so beautiful, I took many pictures and simply relaxed into the silence. All the magical symbology that was surrounding me was enough.
We then went for a little drive down to this beautiful beach. All this seaweed washed up on the shore was intriguing, and the colourful rocks. When we looked into the water, we found bright life just lurking below the surface. I even found a few clam shells for my collection.
That night the full moon came out. It was time to return to reflect on the lessons of the month and return home the next day for some fresh craftwork with my latest natural collection.
Now that we are back at the farmhouse, we are relaxing with our firewood from the barn topped up in a beautiful brass container. I feel so calm knowing that Nature is giving us these basic luxuries. It's so enjoyable making a gentle fire in the inglenook stove to keep the heart of our house cosy. And now the coming of Spring makes these last fires even more precious. The element I found to be prominent on this occasion was Water, whose primary quality is flexibility.
Vegard's mom made us some of her delicious lemon cake, that I obviously devoured like a monster with my hot chocolate. She brought me two more priceless gifts, these sunny daffodils with violets and a super sweet handmade woolly cap with a matching set of cosy socks and scarf. It does get very cold up here and even when the summer sun comes out quite brightly, the weather still remains cool. My life is slowly becoming filled with the kind of beauty I once dreamt of. Its such a huge contrast to the harsh camping environment, and is truly making us feel our blessings.
Caring for our landlord's plants also fills my days of waiting for Spring so much easier. Meanwhile, its giving colour to my journal with newfound wisdom and creativity. Here is a poem I wrote for my dear my friend Oriol who has counselled me on my spiritual journey in a profound way. It is no ordinary thing that he started his conservation project nearly a decade ago, which is now the thriving community that he manages at the sacred valley of Irehom. Today you can see the fruits of such labour and love.
"In the Space
Between you and me,
We walk with a different shoe
In each foot.
One for the Time
To travel the Space
Who seems to be void of us;
One to variate between Matter.
Such energy is spent,
We keep falling asleep.
One of us keeps poise,
In our dance
Of waking each other up."
We found so much peace at the beach today. While we always tend to look at things differently, we know that it also compliments our different perceptions. Sitting on these moss laden rocks, drinking tea with cookies, the children played behind us, looking for shells. The moment took away all our burdens.
I've come to realise how the seaside has served so many artists and poets in the past to be a perfect place to look for soul. The ocean creatures and interesting rocks I found will now be excellent for my art projects.
Then we found a Gapahuken! It's basically a cabin built totally with natural materials, mainly wood, to provide a free sitting area in the woods for anyone who needs a shelter out on a walk alone or with friends. We also found a free cooking area next to it, again with free firewood chopped and stacked up ready for anyone who wanted to use it. People here are very respectful of nature, and so these public facilities are usually in pristine condition.
I'm particularly excited for Horsetail, it is one of my favourite herbs that I'm waiting for full growth this year. Did you know that this ancient plant is much older than humans? According to archeological evidence, it used to grow up to twenty feet above and below the ground. An incredible support for strengthening bones, Horsetail invites you into the forest to explore and get healthy. It lends its poetry easily through its physical form. If you're learning herbalism you'll find in the Doctrine of Signatures how Horsetail resembles our skeletal composition, which is a great source for natural philosophy. The more time you spend in nature, the signatures start flowing more lucidly through you.
Rain always meant forgiveness to me. Whenever it falls, it reminds me how small I am in life's great ocean, placing ease and flow back into my body, mind and soul. I've brought back some pretty little shells to make a magical craft. Unintentionally they're seven souvenirs, just perfect to create my little 7 day meditation calendar. I'll show it to you in my next blog!
Today was a blessed day. The elements smacked up before us and I'm truly overwhelmed with gratitude. My partner and I survived a terrifically rough winter and finally moved to a new farming town, where we can wake up before the most majestic ocean view and fjords of Norway.
While the snow is still melting in our area, we've come to spend the weekend in Molde, Vegard's parent's home. After a lovely dinner, this morning they left for the Canary Islands for their own little vacation, and we decided to take a hiking trip to the nearby mountains. The Herculean winds up at this coast have famously swallowed up many ships, and it was so, that we hiked up the steep mountain top against a blowing, smashing, ever-present wind that I have never witnessed to be so strong before. It was totally commanding my movement and I literally had to fasten myself like a mast on my feet, as Vegard lovingly encouraged me up through the damp mud and rocks that have literally just begun to dry up after the long snow winter.
My first encounter with such a severe element, the Northern Wind, has been ever so special and will be fixed in my mind for life.
Vegard had told me earlier this week to prepare myself, as one of the delights of being a Northerner was the oncoming of spring. He emphasised on observing the total transition and how it completely transforms the psychological and physical experience out of the winter mode. But truly, I was never prepared for such glory as I encountered today. He led me through the most captivating forest path, where we met some lovely and sturdy new plants, people, and trees, who had all survived the season.
Nature's artwork was everywhere, inspiring and resilient. It amazes me how the shrubs survive even though they bear such delicate petals when they blossom. Rosslyng has been my herbal ally in the past, and here it was glowing all over the place, returning in golden and rosy colours.
It has been well worth the wait, and I am gladly able to wait as long as it takes for the herbs to fully develop in good time to harvest. Today I simply wanted to take in the power of the elements with this powerful walk with Vegard and the Great Wind.
We discovered this absolutely charming cabin kitchen in the middle of the path. There was free firewood for anyone who wanted to use it to cook or make a hot drink, with many benches to enjoy a meal with friends and family. We met quite a number of people walking their friendly doggies too.
The mark of true spring, bright yellow happy Coltsfoot! The whole walk was enchanted by the delicious musky breeze of ocean. I found some pine sap to chew on, as we walked back, it tastes better than candy, a bit minty and foresty. We came home exhausted and cooked some juicy steak with heavenly sauce, Vegard's secret recipe that he won't tell me.
I am happy, fed, and blown down by the power of Nature. Thank you Nature for teaching me the importance of patience and love, how it blossoms in poetic fragrance!
In my upcoming blog, I will also share some photos from the farmhouse where the magic is slowly brewing at the moment. We intend to spend some weeks there before moving to a new place. That area is simply stunning, and with so much to explore when the snow melts, I will share the best stories of a very rich life that we are realising in simplicity. How beautiful indeed it is to take it slow.
Happy Spring Equinox to you!
Ever tried snow bathing? It's one of the coolest ways to enjoy the Norwegian winter. I've wilfully attested to a rough trial. It adds to the radical economic downsizing after being accustomed to the perfect luxury of my previous lifestyles in London and Lahore. Coming from the eastern end of the world, snow bathing at first seemed fascinating, though it was also nerve wrecking. Finally after immersing myself, I got to experience what a highly energising activity it is. The last two weeks have had a refreshing turn out. I'm so pleased to have made it to the near end of my pilgrimage, through which I've earned the strength of the mountain Wolf, the patience of Trees, and magical friendship through the call of Deer. Now looking forward to moving to a new part of the country, I'll soon be putting my caravan to rest and returning to my magical hearth with new recipes.
Respect your own traditions
For me this is the perfect time to work with crystals, bathing with them in crunchy snow, their heavenly cousins, through my delicious self minted ritual. And in this way I'm growing my connection with the Spirit of the Land, putting my intentions to the good future I wish for.
With my least favour for the over-harvesting of natural treasures, strictly due to respect, I do believe the Mountain Spirits come into our possession to remind us to be humble and forgiving. In my eastern spiritual tradition, we bare the ancient concept of "zikr" or remembrance of the Divine through repetition. The meditation involves first collecting simple beads or seeds of fruits on a string or in a basket, where an intentional count may be observed for the number of repetitions made in remembrance of the Divine. The idea is to honour the Mathematical perfection of the universe, and so you may choose to work with a special count, such as 7, 22, 111 and so on. There is a great deal of sophistication in the bridging of traditions, so its worth doing your background research in magic numbers. Devoted seekers always come through mystic circles for guidance, even through trial periods, where lessons are tested without any help of tools or instruments. Zikr is a tool of remembrance that is grounded in the essence of Divine Love for its own sake, not to obtain or ask of any favours, but is merely practised by the lover bearing witness to the Heart being spellbound in Divine Ecstasy.
To celebrate Divine Love, it was only natural for me to do zikr with Crystals, regularly reflecting on the fractal states of evolution. Each day, I am mastering the vibrational quality of my spirit, mindful of my challenges. And with this, I want to take you on a quick drive up north, for a little demonstration of the influence of Mountain Spirits.
The Spirits of Mountains remain with us as long as they want to, inside the beautiful crystals. Very rarely people with extra sensory perception can see how we are influenced by them, that is when they wish to remain in our possession or continue their journey with new owners. In this way, Mountain Spirits are very much alive in Crystals, not existing in the younger category of animated life form, such as humans and animals, nor slow growing like plants. But they are much more precious and ancient, and therefore the knowledge they can bless us with, is also precious and ancient.
If you want to work with crystals, pray for a dream. In that way the Mountain Spirits inside them are most effectively able to influence our lucid soul, as we are non-resistant or asleep.
During this episode, I was invited by a group of rare young people not so far north from Oslo, in a place called Hof. With respect for the sanctity of such a gathering, I am only allowed to mention the conclusive event of the call that this meeting was an important part of.
Opening the Circle with Truth Feather
The group was led by a young Dutch healer who was on a journey in the Maori tradition. We sat outside in the snow, with several blankets at first, until our bodies began acclimatising. The healer passed around a wand of burning sage for each of us to clear our thoughts, heart, and all negativities that we were carrying. He then passed around a Truth Feather to help us introduce ourselves to each other with honesty.
After singing some lovely hymns, we went inside briefly for some hot tea, to warm our legs and let our frozen toes come back to life! Then we made a beautiful ceremonial fire outside, with benches made of snow and sheepskin rugs. In this the healer lit the session within the rites of the Maori tradition, with some of the tools of healing as he had been taught. Finally at the end of our prayers, we were all invited into a creative discussion about forest dwelling.
A question was thrown at me that taught me an important point about myself.
With regards to forest dwelling, we were all trying to address our approach and our rights to land. Two people in the group suggested that ideally the land should be occupied within natural boundaries and entered via contract with the owners. One highly curious man then asked me: "How do you think we should enter the land?"
I've pondered this empirical question a million times and likewise have always obeyed the laws of the land, paid my taxes and am debt free. But on this occasion I didn't know how to express the abstract of my standpoint to these people whom I was meeting for the very first time. So even though I was in reverence of entering new lands with the invitation of the Spirits, my answer came out unexpected: "If you ask me.... my personal opinion is to occupy the land. However we do not live in such a time when war is necessary, and therefore think that there are legal ways to enter it."
Fair enough. This moment made three things clear to me: with the length of time I'd been in the isolation of wilderness, if I now wished to come into any new circle, I would need to work this area of arrogance in my thought over experience. Meaning, my personal opinion should never have any greater weight than my observation of socially embodied experience. Forest dwelling is a social enterprise. Mountain dwelling is less so. Hence, I also realised how much stronger and independent the Spirit of Mountains are. Intuitively, I sensed that this young circle needed more experience, albeit the people were warm and coming with great intentions and therefore needed more time to formalise. In any case I was heading to a town farther north in just two weeks. Thankfully the trial period had already prepared me for this.
After a lovely dinner with hot soup, we bid each other well on our journey. Many hugs in humility. I continue to be in touch with these lovely people now. The next day I was invited again by the healer himself to witness him healing a woman with Maori massage, in what I saw the woman go into convulsions. Screaming, crying and shouting at the top of her lungs, the poor girl had so much pain trapped inside her body that needed release- I saw gusts of fiery spirits torching out of her body. I did not know such a massage even existed!
If it weren't for the beauty of the sky captured in a crystal, such a simple metaphor of the great Spirit, could never leave the eye that beholds it.
Returning to camp, I continue to add these lessons to my journal. It's been most helpful that friends of my elder tribe have been able to communicate during this phase. These forest dwellers usually do not have access to internet or are very busy managing their community. We are also cut off across totally separate time zones. I was even visited by my new friend in Norway, the true healer Gustav, who never leaves without sharing profound wisdom and a total energy cleanse. This guy is not only gifted, he has been doing this work for a very long time. Every time I have been blessed by meeting him, I feel a deep shift of regal colours around me, and I'm certain that he's a true Lightworker. At the time I arrived in Norway I had a really beautiful healing session with him, that not only helped me, but it also helped my partner.
Inspired by these colourful energies, I felt a creative urge to do some botanical illustrations of the plants I have been working with lately. I'm also designing some crystal jewellery with some of the tiny gems I bought from Hunza mountains back in Spring 2017. I fondly remember drinking chai with the brother miners, and their stories. They pointed out of the window of their charming little shop to the exact mountain where they had harvested the crystals I was holding in my hands, inviting me to visit the mine. One brother was also a talented woodworker and gladly gave my friend and myself a free workshop in how to carve a large spoon. I am sure to visit Hunza again for my crystal collection, and to buy one of his musical instruments too; though he only makes Oud and several types of traditional percussion instruments. Now I've given away all of my Hunza crystals as gifts to friends, only kept four for myself to make the first pieces of jewellery I will own since 2015, the year I gave away my entire life's belongings as charity and embarked on this pilgrimage. I did it to purify my wealth, in spirit of Samsara. And now when I look at the tiny peridot to make my new ring, I see the entire valley inside it, with a very mystical memory that Hunza gave me.
Now it is my last week at the camp. I'm journaling, reflecting, doing some of these fantastic herbalism courses. Sajah Popham is an authentic modern day herbalist. If you ever get the chance to do one of his mini-courses, do. I compare notes with my hakim or sage in Pakistan, because I write to bridge the eastern traditions with the native, practical north and west. In effect, my recipe has to be authentic and must work. Thanks to Sajah Popham, recently the world of Astrology has blasted open for me. Some nights, the stars pull me out of bed and force me to stand outside. On such an occasion, I'm amazed that the sky is totally clear, no clouds, and the Big Dipper constellation is watching over me. I have recognised it with my naked eye for many years now, its right above my head. I'm certain, its a sign. As above, so below. I'm eager to know the unfolding of universal wisdom, but also very patient to wait the days that reveal it.
The cosmic influence of the Mountain Spirits does not Work on a small scale. But in such a way, it always leaves me in awe.
Wise one, how will you know that I traced your perfume
Over the seas to be with you?
That minty breath of our Mother’s water
Hides your wisdom from those who
Seek to drench voraciously
A godless thirst to know you
So you may obey... what a foolish desire....
I wait on you.
The tree with no shadows
Lends her medicine
When I finally sit next to her,
Looking away and taking in the morning blue sky
What rendering, this painting or poetry is only between us
Spirit animals are real. Native Americans in the Old World followed the tracks of the regional animals to learn what and where they ate. Bear medicine brought much wisdom to the old folk healers, who used its totem as a powerful tool to connect with a wild animal whose anatomy resembles a human when it stands upright. They also followed by honouring the Elk, the Wolf and the Raven as one amongst many Totems of the Spirit World.
For me, White Wolf began speaking to me in my dreams sometime around the year 2012. In those early days I was not even sure what exactly she was saying or asking of me. Now I understand and it is very obvious what she was trying to get me to do. I would never write about this because I am fully aware that people will think I've gone bonkers. But the truth is, those people were going to think so anyway. In the midst of my journey to the gate of the forest school, White Wolf came to me to warn me of this. I remember her growling, to get me to buckle up and put on some thick skin, like her own. She really wanted me to learn to accept being alone, for the journey was bound to be hard and cold. And this totally depended on how determined I was to stay on the Path.
True enough. It got cold. Freezing cold. I have arrived at the gate of my forest school, for orientation and training at this campsite on the outskirts of Oslo, Norway. I do not have winter clothing, but I do wear everything I have to go foraging anyway. Sometimes my fingers, toes and legs are frozen for hours after I've returned to the camp.
But, if this is White Wolf's test, so be it. Come on, let's go exploring.
The trees all around the campers have dispersed these leaves. I'll share my study on them in a separate blog.
You certainly can't expect the forest spirits to invite you into their medicine on the first walk. But maybe you will be lucky on some odd occasion, as I have been before. Just don't go in with that expectation. Go to honour the life therein, and walk softly. If its snowing, be prepared with the right gear! You'll definitely need a walking stick, I almost fell into a swamp I couldn't see, as it was all covered beneath the fluffy creamy white snow. Be assertive, says the White Wolf. And don't give up, the Wold medicine is about total change, and therefore requires total commitment to the shamanic magic that is impossible to predict.
This entire exercise is to show you, that your animal spirit guide can help you on your early walks into the wild. However, it is the medicine itself that will finally invite you, when the time comes.
Sacred Warrior. (2018). Animal Totems, by Matthew Wood - Sacred Warrior. [online] Available at: http://sacredwarrior.co/animal-totems-matthew-wood/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2018].
Wood, M. (2008). The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books.
Lupa. Nature spirituality from the ground up: Connect with totems in your ecosystem.
The heart is our temple. The soul our breath of life. Where there is essential chi (energy), life flows. Quite honestly, winter may well be the season of hot chocolate and drama. For herbalists, it spells work. Notice how quickly culture drifts out of the high stress at the end of year, as we enter into hibernation and self-reflection. The gravity of the weather strikes the clock of the beast, who has already examined the precise measurement of its body. The soul making drift finds pleasure in this privilege of reflection on the gentler animal repose, even sexual in nature. We will now see how this is so...
Winter brings out the herb lovers' secret journal, who's open chapters give rise to new possibilities drawn from experience. The crystal scent of the air resists the heat of over-analysis, clearing and unfolding the new year's inquisitions. The imagination is wildly reborn. Trust and beauty is restored by vital faith in upcoming adventures.
Decluttering noise, getting closer to nature
It's better to be organized and rested by this time. Follow up on excerpts of dreams and don't be afraid to make new goals. The wisdom matters most.
Nature does not necessarily have our back, especially if we know through mycological networks how effectively nature is proposing urgent communication. Paul Stamen's work is a great example of terrestrial realities we have yet to find courage to learn about. After a intense period of introspection and companionship, we inspire intellectual energy to manage depressive moods, encouraging creativity. Perhaps the subjective quality of romance is an energetic faculty for early tasters of herbs. Lifestyle preferences affirm the qualitative dosage and balance, leaving many topics for health and nature conversations. And many secrets yet come to surface for hermetic recourse.
Properly pressed herbs can be a great sample for studying the Doctrine of Signatures.
As new age herbalists, conscious of our needs and our culture's, we're finally finding our voice of collective silence and natural remedy. Together we redress stress following a revival of kitchen magic and sacred sexuality. It's no denial that the healing powers of plants have once again outlived our speculation.
The winning herbs are welcomed in the warm hearths of our homes, and cabinets yearn the old scent of traditional knowledge. The books of the sages return, as we wrap our cold fingers around a hot herbal tea that eases a return to our senses.
On my path, a fragrance of sensuality lingers through precious Northern symbology carrying the hermetic poetry home. Perhaps you are also experiencing a call to herbs, with the rhythm of the earth, a miracle may bring us together after all.
Karnes, Michelle. Imagination, meditation, and cognition in the middle ages. The University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Pinker, Steven. The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined. Penguin, 2012.
Mars, Brigitte, and Brigitte Mars. The sexual herbal: prescriptions for enhancing love and passion. Healing Arts Press, 2010.
As the year comes to its finality, mysterious energies have been playing in every corner of the world. Astrophysicists and meditation practitioners are not the only ones to acknowledge that the universe is beginning to learn about itself. Ordinary people like you and I are indeed waking up through self-evaluation to see where exactly we are today: though we see from this grand scale of technological perception, that humans have only arrived in the last hour of the knowable universe to acquire language. Let alone the most basic recognition of the universal connection we have to all life, our ability to sense and feel basic universal emotion is rekindling the sacred fire of transformation in our hearts, even as we are unable to express this.
This type of existential knowledge was sought by the ancient Greek philosophers, who called it gnosis: the art of knowing the divine nature of man and the cosmos as one. Historically, mystics have always been outnumbered by ignorant populations. And yet, the footprints left by our ancestral explorers of sacred knowledge have survived in the hearts of modern herbalists, hermits, nomads and even the last remaining indigenous tribes who still live in and near forests and mountains, where they work. This work in the mystic tradition is always an attempt to maintain the balance between all the elements of life. As soul seekers, we are able to physically feel the manifested reality of existence. This brings us to the mediation of inspired knowledge today, only small circles of healers are exchanging with no bounds their discoveries about life, because we now recognize and acknowledge that we cannot escape the gravity that governs us.
We arrive in the present age of languages, expressions of our experiences and complexities that separate us. Perhaps even so we can advance in our technical understanding of the soul, a preemptive measurement of the distance and time that makes the created laws of matter.
With this magnetic pull we feel and know, what words can't describe. It is an understudy that only some primitive languages of our ancient Northern ancestors have preserved the mystic tools of communication with the spirit for the modern generation. How afraid are we to look at each other in the eye and see the barrier we uphold between our limited exposure and unlimited imagination?
Let's begin by appreciating the utility of Northern spiritual expression. Up until now, it still holds the essence of our nature. From the vantage point of its languages, such as Runes, we can begin our healing and psycho-physical alignment by resorting to our original state of being here now.
William, Anthony. Medical medium: secrets behind chronic and mystery illness and how to finally heal. Hay House Inc, 2017.
Roob, Alexander. The hermetic museum: alchemy & mysticism. Taschen Bibliotheca Universalis, 2015.
Spurkland, Terje, and Betsy van der Hoek. Norwegian runes and runic inscriptions. Boydell & Brewer, 2010.
YouTube, YouTube, 16 Mar. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=_erVOAbz420.
Whenever I walk in the Norwegian forests, I love finding this humble community of little mauve flowers. I thank the winter fairies, who keep them protected under the snow sheets so that they keep coming back to sooth sore stomachs. Who are these little flowers? It's Røsslyng, also known as Heather in England, the discrete mountain herb of Scandinavia. These little shrubs love growing in clusters within a community of berries. The foraging method is to peel out only the flowers, letting the whole plant stay in its roots. By doing this, you take home no more than a jar filled with tiny petals to make a mild sedative tea, or something more advanced. As the spirit of Røsslyng teaches us how some plants grow best in the companionship of other herbs, we know that sometimes even we are unable to detach from our landscape. The winter snow buries it down, preserving it. And then it returns in spring.
What can we learn from foraging?
Foraging is not as simple as it looks, at least not for city dwellers. This is mainly because we're in the habit of conveniences, and therefore generally lack the patience that foraging requires. Early explorers and natural scientists would forage their specimens of wild medicinal herbs to bring back to a kitchen. This simple laboratory is not the only birthplace of magic, but its the time we began speculating our own ability to know the relationship between the elements of life. As such, we created alchemy, and later founded our modern field of chemistry.
The human animal is still haunted by its own existence, and has not evolved much since its caveman instincts cooped him up inside his den. Not so different from apartment dwellers. It was only when we made our early fires, was the real beginning of the magical hearth gathering, the birth of our relationship with the earth.
Our adventurous nature and a good degree of technological preparedness, is now calling us back into the wild. Intuitive herbalists bearing the spirit of the wild medicine are on a movement to revive the crafts of our forefathers who knew how to discern poisonous herbs from medicinal ones. It's no wonder that herbs like Røsslyng so clearly share our sense of attachment to the land. It's nature's way of letting us know, that it feels us, and is communicating with us.
There are countless herbs and mushrooms to learn about the creative nature of existence. Many herbs cure us and some even show us the exterior construct of our mind. On every walk and foraging trial, I am forced to wonder, are we not what we imagine? Foraging theories have been examined in birds to show that habits improve and develop. As such, it may be, that humans are also for the first time realizing the gap between their primal instincts and organizational (scientific) behaviors. In a way, we never loose touch with the magic of life.
Legend has it that the magical use of white rosslyng (heather), brings good luck and protection. You can wear it, or call the rain by dipping it in water with fern, then sprinkling it around you during your ritual. And just so you know, if you are ever going foraging and find fern, you are encountering a living fossil with a history older than our own.
Lincoff, Gary. The joy of foraging: Gary Lincoffs illustrated guide to finding, harvesting, and enjoying a world of wild food. Crestline, 2017.
Stephens, David W., et al. Foraging: behavior and ecology. University of Chicago Press, 2007.
Thompson, Janet. Magical hearth: home for the modern pagan. Samuel Weiser, 1995.
The cohabitation of natural species relies on conscious human imprints on earth. All architectural constructs of the age are symbols of human motivations and common inheritance. What internal and exterior features of our cultural stories tell us about the relationship human societies have had with their landscapes? This post is a contemplation on how we look at our landscape today:
Coincidentally, some indigenous plants at this site have highly beneficial medicinal value, such as for natural dental care and other remedies for pain relief.
My inspiration for Psyjov came from this visit. I was drawn to the idea of human disparity, whereas some destinations were based on a vision for spiritual freedom, that led to scientific discoveries. Katas Raj was a university and residence of some of the world's greatest known spiritual leaders and geologists alike. The local villagers that have remained here have always advocated for its care and protection. The rural area comprises of the Hindu minority of Pakistan.
In 2015, I moved to Pakistan from England. My childhood cook returned to work for me after the 12 years that I was away, and together with my driver I started training them how to look after my rooftop garden and spa. Gradually we came up with organic solutions to replace all plastic groceries, and began developing, testing and appreciating the art of plant-based household goods.
Jasmine is Pakistan's national flower, it loves the clay soil that is typical for Lahore, the city where we set up Psyjov. This creative gardening studio, spa and kitchen became the space where I could really let my creativity flow, but truly the collaboration and care that came from community work, was where we began to excel in our practise.
We now plan to continue experimenting and developing customised skincare with love.
I am now giving workshops in Norway on soapmaking, as well as taking orders for custom soaps and flower essence. We wish to remain unbranded.