I'm feeling anxious and grouchy today.
It's a beautiful summer's day, I have my partner and my dog here at home with me, I have a larder and a fridge full of food, but still, I feel anxious and grouchy.
It might have something to do with having woken up at sunrise (which here in southern Scotland was at 4.30am, today). It might have something to do with me being 46 years old and almost certainly in perimenopause. Or it might have something to do with the fact that the summer solstice has come and gone, and from here on in, the year becomes darker.
Whatever the reason, the anxiety and grouchiness is there, so an hour ago, I stepped away from social media, and began a new artwork. It's called Grief is a knife, and I'll share it with you soon, but what is significant for me in this moment is what I discovered through the process of beginning to create.
As I sat in front of my sketchpad, and began applying lines, then precise swirls of coloured pencil, an overlay of white pastel, a wash of watercolour, I noticed my feelings: I noticed a peeling back of simple anxiety and surface grouchiness, and began to feel the rage and despair simmering underneath, where they always live.
Lying near the bottom of my emotional well, rage and despair are my constant companions; below them, at the very bottom -- rock bottom -- lies loss, with which come grief and apathy.
The image above is of an artwork I completed last year, called What is important. It is a triptych, in oils, watercolours, appliqué, embroidery, and wild herbs. It is an expression of the emotional experience I tasted today: rage and despair; loss, grief and apathy.
But this work also proclaims hope.
Because as well as being an artwork, it is a work of magic. The herbs attached to it, combined with the words in the central panel ("Stretched across the stars, in freedom: radiant, complete.") make it a spell for wholeness, balance, and integration.
On the right of the artwork, in the section devoted to loss, grief and apathy, is St. John's Wort, well known for its action against depression, and magically for its use in exorcism of 'dark' spirits.
On the left of the artwork, by the section devoted to rage and despair, is oakmoss, which is an emollient, as well as being effective in grounding excess energy.
In the centre of the artwork, around the section devoted to balance, integration, and hope, are umbels of wild angelica, which is used as a stimulant for various systems of the body, and which has a light and heavenly protective energy.
Just as beginning to work on what will become Grief is a knife helped me to become conscious of what was happening in my emotions, so simply looking at What is importanthelps me to find a more centred space within myself, one from which I can think, speak and act in connection, and with integrity.
To create is important: it is powerful and magical.
What are you creating today?