A Piper Called Them

9 08 2019

Come away, oh human child! To the waters and the wild (W.B. Yeats) … Experience a realm of mystical beings who are a part of the magic and beauty of nature. Dare to enter the wondrous Real of Faerie. There are many mysterious and fascinating paths to follow in this enchanting realm. Choose to the left and dare to enter a wondrous realm full of magic and beauty…
by Edwina Peterson Cross

When the piper called them artists and writers conjured many versions of the portal that led to the Cave of the Enchantress and Lemuria. What would you pack for the journey? How would you find your way into the fantasy world of Bancroft Manor?

Through the Enchanted Doorway
A journey of the Heart

My journey began long before I knew I was looking for something. One night I received an email asking me if I was ready to embark on a journey. I had no idea where it would go. It started with a list. Tired of carrying the weight of my life, I packed lightly with only what would fit in my little backpack.

At daybreak, I meet many travellers who were ready for such a journey as this. I found a hidden door in a tree and was whisked away by a night ride in moonlight. Mysterious gipsies drew me with a silent call in the night.

Some kind of enchantment made my dreams deep and meaningful. Before long, I woke each day excited to know what would happen next. The journey to an island brought memories I didn’t know I possessed. Ancient knowledge was revealed to me.

How can my life ever be the same now? I learned to proclaim who I am. I am no longer the invisible child! See me! Hear me! Understand my words! Slowly I have come to realize my own truth. That truth is to be free. Unburdened by my own past and my parents past. Just let it go and find what’s around that next corner.

I have met celestial beings. I have to meet wee fairies. I have meet warriors of great strength and feminine mystic. I have to meet talking donkeys and talking dolls. I have met known hell raisers. I have been reintroduced to friends of old who knew me long ago.

And now I have learned to be open in a completely new way. My heart feels lighter than I ever remember it being. I have let go of old cryptic ideas. I have found a new road. The Silk Road. It winds through space and time; thoughts and dreams; mystery and magic.

Somewhere along the way, I met myself. The child, the girl, and the woman I want to be. I was stunned to discover that I needed to make some changes. To hold my own hand and say, “Yes! We can do this.” Brick by brick I had to tear down my own walls and find an inner world rich with ideas waiting to be discovered.

At last, I am in a distant land with no water and no road. I have finally come to the last door. The one that was hidden away for safekeeping, so no one would find that brilliant light. The key is the secret that I hid in my own heart. It was a prisoner there that I bound tight. And through my journey, the ties loosened. And fell away, until I could feel an ache of joy and freedom coming close.

The key that spilt from my lips opened the door and released my spirit. Away I flew with magic wings. I saw a wildfire burning. The fire of my anger, my regret, my invisibility burning, burning, gone! – Luna Eternally.

A Wander’s Song

I found a hidden door —
was whisked away in the moonlight.
Gipsies drew me — enchantment made my dreams.
Ancient knowledge revealed —
how can my life ever be the same?

See me! Hear me! — I proclaim who I am.
I am not an invisible child!
See me! Hear me! — that truth is to be free.

I have met celestial beings —
and have danced with wee fairies;
warriors of great strength and feminine mystic;
newfound talking donkeys and dolls —
and friends of old who knew me long ago.

See me! Hear me! — I proclaim who I am.
I am not an invisible child!
See me! Hear me! — that truth is to be free.

The Silk Road winds through time and space —
of dreams and mystery and magic.
Somewhere along the way, I meet myself;
as a child, girl, the woman I want to be —
the secret that I have hidden in my heart.

See me! Hear me! — I proclaim who I am.
I am not an invisible child!
See me! Hear me! — that truth is to be free.

by faucon of Sakinel – for Luna.

Wandering

We have wandered roads together
played and learned and found each other
hand in hand the journey winds
through the back roads of memory
through the pathways of new learning
up the stairs where magic beckons
into caverns dark
and to the morning.

by Fran Sbrocchi: Secretary of Donkey Incorporated





House of Baba Yaga

4 08 2019

During the days when she ran the Soul Food Cafe, Heather Blakey was in the habit of taking on a range of avatars, as they were known at the time. It meant that she could be whoever she wanted to be. I’m sure her psychiatrist would be very interested in this particular period of her life.

As le Enchanteur, Mistress of Lemuria, she first introduced travellers to the crone, Baba Yaga when they set out in search of the Camp of the Amazon Queen.

Of course, everyone knew that Heather was taking them to yet another of the places she had set up and that she would undergo a metamorphosis and become Baba Yaga.  She had become well known for doing crazy stuff like this. But, when they thought about it, everyone agreed that this identity was a good match for Heather who is very fond of assigning tasks and labours for the unsuspecting travellers who stumble through the portal into the world of Lemuria.

The Instructions

Everyone gathers, expectant inside the Cave of the Enchantress.

The Enchantress comes and announces that everyone is to go to the House of Baba Yaga and help prepare for Halloween and All Saint’s Day. She says that to reach the House of Baba Yaga we will have to pass through the Mountains of Myrrh, which the writer of the Song of Solomon (1V6) said he wanted to retreat to.

The Enchantress provides each person with a small bag. Each bag contains spectacles, a candlestick, a tiny anchor, a medallion with the imprint of the Unicorn and a set of wings. However, the bag also contains something that has been chosen specifically for the recipient. It also contains a map showing where the Gypsies are currently camped.

Le Enchanteur stresses that this bag is very important. Should anyone become separated from the group these things will become essential. She says that travellers may choose to wear the spectacles for they are purported to have fairy-like qualities which reveal wonders to those who wear them.

The Enchantress also gives you a doll so that like Vasilisa they will be able to rely on the dolls wisdom. (Find a doll or make one) She says that if anyone should lose their way, or be in need of help, all they will have to do is ask the doll for advice. She says that the doll will assist, that we must keep her with us at all times, that we must not tell anyone we meet about her and that we must feed her when she is hungry and give her drinks if she is thirsty. She tells us that we must travel by donkey and that it will take many days before we reach the house of Baba Yaga.

Once travellers have arrived they will, of course, be assigned tasks.

 





A Nostalgic Exploration of the Dig Tree

1 08 2019

Celebrate being Australian, learn about Australian History and discover the essence of creativity all at the same time. The Dig Tree is etched into the Australian psyche as one of the greatest ironic tragedies. Dig and unearth some of the secrets of creativity. The Dig Tree at the Soul Food Cafe was designed by Greg Blakey, a talented design student, with flair, imagination and the ability to meet the needs of his clients. Greg has created, amongst other things, Soul Food’s zany Magic Writing Tram.
Link available in the Way Back Machine

You will find links to traditional indigenous remedies within the Dig Tree.

Anita Marie, a former member of Soul Food and a founding member of Bancroft Manor (a virtual sanctuary) told how the Ragtag Community had picked up and continued to run with the WordPress Daily Prompt concept. It is a treat to respond to an idea someone else has put out into cyberspace.

Today’s post asks participants to “compose a post on your interpretation of “nostalgia”. Wikipedia describes nostalgia as sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or places with happy personal associations. There is no doubt that my work on this particular blog, one of the countless I have established over the years, has induced a bittersweet longing for something that has long gone, for a time that has passed. I closed the Soul Food Cafe nine years ago but have kept it all online in the hope that people will continue to make use of the suggested prompts and projects.

These days I continue to work as a purveyor of creative stimuli, running workshops in my local community and, under the name of Georgina McClure, building small virtual sanctuary at Bancroft Manor. Bancroft Manor a place where creatives can take up residence and work on their own or in collaboration on projects like Danse Macabre. Digging away in the Way Back Machine and hauling out the treasure from old links within Soul Food has induced a burst of creativity.

As I sit in some reverie I recall making ‘The Dig Tree’, one of the many features that appeared during those heady days when Soul Food was fully operational. Because the site will eventually sail off into internet oblivion I am including links to find it all in the Way Back Machine.

Each shovel under the famous Australian Dig Tree has a hyperlink to a page of activities. The idea of this feature is that you dig by choosing a random shovel.





Colouring Stories

30 07 2019

“You have power over people Mrs Blakey. You can get everyone in the room to write. How do you do that?” asked Jason from Keon Park Primary.

“We belong to the force of Blakey” said Avril, a member of a small working group at Keon Park Primary School.

When writing or talking about the Soul Food Cafe one does have to keep in mind that its original purpose was not only to publish fun projects, for both primary and secondary school students that I was working with at the time but also to ensure that students had a readership. Primary school students who I met, years after I had worked with them told me that they still loved showing off work that had been published on the internet, back in the days when the internet was still youthful and uncluttered.

Colouring stories went down well with all ages. One favourite, which I located deep within the Way Back Machine involved colouring in Angelica from Cooltoons, cutting her out, pasting her into a scene, along with some other and then writing about the ‘Bad Girl of the Block’.

Colour her mean! Add some action to the page. Write down a list of seriously ‘bad’ action words. Make a note of the things she is in a habit of saying. Think about who she likes to hang out with, how she walks, how she talks to people. Contemplate and recall some of the past bad deeds she and her gang have done.

Write a story entitled ‘Bad Girl On The Block.

One sunny Tuesday morning when Angelica set off to her aunt Didi’s and uncles Stew’s house she saw a police car. She was thinking, did her aunt and uncle call the police for what she had done last night. When Angelica went there yesterday, she was up to mischief, she wrecked her uncle Stew’s new record and new record player. When she was leaving to go to school she called Chuckie, Phil, Lil and Tommy stupid little babies. Just as she was walking out the door she said, “Bite me” to her aunt and uncle. When she was walking to school she saw a police car driving along beside her. The policeman wound down his window and said come here right now. Angelica ran away, right down to the corner and went in the schoolyard. The police car went through the gate that was open, near where they play soccer. The police car ruined the soccer lines that were marked only two days ago. The policemen hopped out the car and ran into the office so they could call her on the loud speaker. Angelica ran into the office and saw the police. The police said we are going to put you behind bars for two years. After she got out of jail she was really, really, really nice to all her family, even the babies.
by Emma Gould – Primary School Student

There are lots of sites that provide downloads of templates to colour. Judy Clement Wall is just one of them. Images like “When in Doubt, Wear fun Shoes’ would surely fit somewhere into Angelica’s daily life.

 





The Imagined House

29 07 2019

The house often is a symbol of the self, one’s own personality. In this exercise, students are led through a mental imagery scene in which they explore a house in their imagination.

You are walking down a road…. As you are walking, you see a house. Look at it. Notice its details…. Walk towards it. What do you notice about it?…. You start to walk around the house, looking at it as you walk…. Now you are halfway around. Notice the details of the house as you continue to walk around it…. Now you come back to where you were when you started…. As you walked around the house, you noticed a way to get in. Now go into the house…. What do you see?…. Explore the house, what’s inside?…. As you were exploring, you noticed a secret door leading to a secret room. Go inside that room. What do you see?…. Now leave the secret room and go back into the main part of the house…. Now leave the house. As you are walking away from it, you look back at it one more time…. You are back on the road once again, walking.

After completing the imagery exercise, write down what you saw in your imagination.

Upon completion, when in a group situation, we discuss how the various characteristics of the house may say something about their own personality – similar to dream interpretation. We pay attention to such details as to how the house appears on the inside as opposed to the outside, what can and cannot be found inside the house, how one gets into the house, what’s inside the “secret” room, colours, textures, how space is experienced, etc. All of these details may have symbolic significance.

When shared in a group ask other participants to help you flesh out detail by asking questions. The feedback provided by other students is invariably eye-opening. In fact, I am always impressed by how insightful some very young students can be.

Students often are amazed at what the imagined house says about them.

This exercise also works well for exploring the identity/personality of a small group. After someone leads the group through this imagery scene, the group members discuss what they each visualized. Based on that discussion, the group together then visually “constructs” one house that seems to capture the personality of the group and all of its members. Comparing the houses created by different groups can result in some fascinating insights into the unique personality of each group.

 

Source: Suler, J. (May, 1999). The Imagined House





Dare To Be Artrageous

27 07 2019

The purpose of the Soul Food Cafe is to promote writing as a daily practice. The site is quite literally overflowing with healthy and tasty morsels for every writer. It’s full of tips, techniques, references and encouragement for writers of all kinds. Visit it often for inspiration for “listening to your muse”.

Follow the link and get some instructions about how to make an artrageous hat to celebrate your creativity and help you think like an artist.

Nothing is more ordinary than a paper bag, which is why these hats are so extraordinary. The Hawaii artist Moses (shown right, modelling Halley’s Hat, made to honour the astronomer) crafted more than 250 of them in a remarkable creative outburst that lasted almost ten years.

Moses says he “feels like the luckiest guy in the world” because he was given “The Paper Bag Hat Assignment.” He can’t explain why, but throughout the 1980s he was obsessed with paper bag hats. He saw designs in trees and in mountains. Some are quite simple — just a bag cleverly folded and shaped into a head covering. Others, like Anthurium and Gothic Knight, rely on the bag’s crisp texture to hold intricate pleats. Quite a few, such as Two/Flat Knight, are held together with vast quantities of white glue. Waiting for the glue to dry was the most tedious part of the construction process.

Local merchants gladly donated bags and Moses used thousands. The rays of Sun Rook were made from at least 100 paper bags, which were twisted tightly, bent in half and glued onto a form so that more than 200 points bristle from its crown. To achieve the soft texture of Beethoven and Dahling, bags were twisted and crumpled repeatedly until the fibres just gave up and the paper became like flannel. Moses did so much folding and twisting that he developed serious tendonitis. At the time, Moses lived in a Chevy van and used the project room of the local library as his studio.

Periodically, he’d fill his van with the current crop of chapeaus, drive down to Hapuna Beach with a borrowed camera and ask passersby if they’d like to be photographed wearing one of his creations. People’s reactions were always positive. Perhaps they caught a dose of Moses’ infectious enthusiasm. The bulk of his Crowning Glory collection is owned by the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, California. Martha Longenecker, the museum’s founder and director, marvels at these “imaginative, amusing, whimsical and timeless sculptural forms.”

Moses is one person who can suggest you put a bag over your head without your being insulted.

By Elizabeth J. Erskine
All photographs courtesy of Moses





Dream Imagery

27 07 2019

I had given up on writing a good while before I discovered the cyber-treasure Soul Food Cafe. Heather Blakey coaxed from me one last dying ember of literary inspiration, added her unique fuel and spark, and then graciously sat back to admire the fiery imagination she expertly fostered, though assuring me the magic is all mine. Heather taught me and continues to encourage me not to give up five minutes before the miracle happens
Stephanie Hansen

Gail Bixler’s Dream Imagery

As I patiently dig within pages of the Soul Food Cafe that the Way Back Machine snapped and visit internet sites that have long since been removed, I am finding material that reminds me of prompts I have found not only stimulate my imagination but have induced a flow of words in people I worked with.

Gail Bixler documented people’s dreams and their interpretations of those dreams. Dream Imagery is a great place to view pages that will not only give you ideas about how to record your dreams but use some of the material as you develop characters you are working with.

 

When I was working with some Grade 3 and 4 students at a local primary school last year I asked students and the two teachers working with them to take turns, to stand up and share a recurrent dream. Then I had other students listen and react as critics and ask for more information. I was, quite frankly, stunned by the ‘interrogation’ that took place and was inspired by the rich detail that emerged.

Then, having reminded students how to write in the third person I asked them to use this material to generate a story or a news report.

Perhaps you will use this technique and see what emerges.

In Writer’s Dreaming by Naomi Epel, Epel introduces us to some of today’s most important writers. As they discuss their dreams–both sleeping and waking– the 26 writers in this intriguing book create a portrait of the creative process that is more candid than most autobiographies and more inspiring than any guide to writing.

This guideline I relocated, tucked away within the endlessness of the Way Back Machine provides more ways to work with dreams.