I’ve decided I need a little bit of a social media break this week. My mind needs soothing. To be cleansed of the agitation of algorithms and the senseless stream of scrolling that comes to my mind when I try to drift off to sleep. I so love creating the content for my Instagram account, it’s become a real joy for me. I see my account as an alter, and what I put on to it is reflected on hugely. Made me love. This is gorgeous and beautiful and all that stuff. But it also eats my time. Time time time. I never have enough of it. And, as a result, I am EXHAUSTED!
So, before I get to a point where I need to be scraped up out of bed with a giant spatula every morning I am going to activate self-care mode. I am taking on something of a personal challenge to find more silence in every day, and doing a social media detox feels like a good thing to take on at the same time. So, if you don’t see me popping up quite so much on Instagram this week, you will know why. I’m going to catch up on several books I have been desperate to read, take more baths and, I hope, find a few more opportunities to get out for a run. Running through the autumn leaves is my ultimate feel-good pastime. Every year. And I feel as if I’ve been missing out on that this autumn so far, and it’s only on offer for a few weeks a year. I cannot miss it entirely! If you’re local to me, then running through West Park when the rainbow of Acer trees are at their peak levels of wow is just so incredibly uplifting. Its a huge gift to yourself to do it. Then do a walk around the park at the end. Flooded with endorphins. The best!
Aphrodisiacs by the Kilo.
When I opened the door to my postman a few mornings ago and he handed me a huge, soft and bulging envelope addressed to me I was a little perplexed, having no idea at all what I had ordered. My days of late night eBay regret, I believe, are long gone (letting go of that particular habit along with alcohol – funny that!) So what had I ordered that was so enormous? When I saw the label on the package I laughed. It was herbs. A lot of them. A lot more, in fact, than I had intended.
As part of the series of Prayer Workshops I recently attended with Carolyn Cowan, we explored many different tools that may aid in facilitating prayer, presence, connection. And one of them was a magical herb I have never used before: Damiana.
Damiana is said to produce a small emotional uplift that can last for up to ninety minutes. It is also said that, if taken before bed, Damiana promotes pleasant dreams. It’s been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac – for which it is commonly smoked. My interest is in how it can induce dream states. Lovely ones.
We used it to make tea, and not only did I really love the taste, but, for me, the stillness, softness, dreaminess, it helped to fascinate was quite magical. So, when I ran out of the supply Carolyn had provided us with for the workshops I decided to stock up. Perhaps just a little too much… when you consider that the instructions are to use one heaped teaspoon no more than 4-5 times a week, I somehow ended up ordering a kilo. It didn’t sound like too much at the time but, on reflection, considering how light a dried herb is, it really is a lot. I’ll be bathing in the stuff for years, I think.
Classes this week
As always I am teaching my three classes at the regular times this week. Monday evening at 7pm, Wednesday morning at 10am, both online, taught via zoom. For these online classes the first one is free.
I am also back at Bantock House Museum and Gardens in The Coach House at. 10:15am on Tuesday. Pre booking is essential for this class due to COVID restrictions so make sure you fill out the booking form if you’d like to come so I can ensure I can contact you for the screening questions on Monday.
The Invention of The Self
I can’t remember, actually, ever being called to read a book more than I was to read this one.
I have been lost in The Invention of the Self by Andrew Spira for three weeks. I am not usually such a slow reader but, quite honestly, this book opened up so much for me, so many interesting rabbit holes to jump down, so many new ideas to consider, read around, explore, although I finished reading last night, I am not done with the book. I absolutely adore this work.
The Invention of the Self, Personal Identity in the Age of Art is a completely magical examination of personal identity. When I read, in the preface, about Andrew Spria’s beguilement at the at a Cathar concept of Angels invading earth in raindrops, I knew I was going to be taken on a exploration that would fascinate. I find that idea most beguiling too. In fact, I haven’t been able to let it go, at all, since.
I feel as if this book has in many ways shifted how I think about history, particularly considering my study of cultural history at University, radically. To consider how we construct the sense of ourselves through art is something I am now completely obsessed by. The idea that our personal identity is a social construct may not be new, but to look at this concept through the lens of how our sense of self has been unconsciously left behind in art, in paintings and sculptures and furniture and sundials and… I just find the entire concept resonates with me in a way I am struggling to put in to words right now (perhaps I should paint my response! In fact, I think I will!)
Whilst this is an academic text, published by Bloomsbury Academic, I found it to be extremely accessible. I do not know a lot about Art History, but that just made it all the more wonderful. I had so very much to explore. So much, still, to learn, to read about to reflect on. This will not be the last time you see me write about this book. It’s one of the best books I have ever read. Fascinating beyond words. It has lit up my brain so much I wish I could take a month off just to go deeper in to it all.
Exquisitely well written, with just the most magical images, illustrations… beyond words. Just fantastic. And a very beautiful object too. Will be treasured.
Do leave a comment or send me an email to let me know you’ve been here and what you’ve been up to too. And I look forward to seeing some of you in class this week.
Remember the first online class is free. If you have any questions or feedback or just want to say hello you can always email me.