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The Groundhog did try to warn us ...
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Seeking Equilibrium

Late winter reflections on Nature's balancing act

Here we are at the end of February, on the backside (finally) of what has been one of our harshest winters in years. And as for spring … are we there yet?
 
Between ice storms, polar vortexes and frost quakes it’s beginning to sound a lot like a bad sci-fi movie! But seriously, the extremes in Mother Nature’s moods are likely the result of her simply attempting to gain homeostasis, the method by which a system or organism adjusts their internal environment to maintain stable equilibrium. In short, our collective Mother is engaging in that elusive process known as ‘finding balance’.
 
I am often asked why I use the circle as a focus for my art. Well, there are many answers to that question but my first response is usually that it's because Nature is my inspiration. And everything in Nature is about equilibrium. From the smallest atom, to a flower, to a swirling storm, most things begin with a centre point surrounded by some form of circle. Science proves this fact, but so too does the ancient practice of sacred geometry, the study of the mathematical proportions and geometric shapes underlying all created matter… and that all begins with a circle too. The ‘sacred’ part refers to the ‘Great Plan’ or laws that keep everything in balance. Ah ha, there’s that word again.
 
Many earth-based spiritual traditions intuitively understand and follow the principle ‘as above, so below’. It just makes sense. When we look at Mother Nature we realize that just like her, we are the centre of our own circle because our physical bodies have a front, back and sides equivalent to the four directions of North, South, East and West. So when we ‘sit’ inside our circle of the Self, we are the point at its centre. From our centre point ever widening circles ripple out connecting us to family, friends, other life forms, our environment and the greater community. We also have a vertical axis linking us down into our past history and upwards towards future goals and aspirations.
 
This intersection of the four directions and the above/below is the ‘Within’, our Sacred Self. And this Self has a pretty good perspective - 360 degrees to be exact. From its central vantage point it sees the total picture and this is knowledge essential to our ability to maintain balance.

Of course, as we go through life we sometimes become polarized. “I’m being too emotional,” we might say, or “I’m thinking too much.” We may swing wildly back and forth between extreme thoughts and emotions. It is our Centre that can give assistance when we feel off kilter, by allowing us to see, to know, and to approach things from its unique perspective. Easier said than done, I know …
 
A good starting point though is simply asking yourself, what are my strengths and weaknesses in any given situation? Be sure to answer as if you were an impartial observer with no judgments or pre-conceived ideas. Connecting to our ‘watcher within’ in this manner can help us develop self-awareness, the first step toward learning to recognize out-of-balance patterns, behaviours and reactions.
 
Now try categorizing your answers elementally (earth = physical, water = emotions, air = thoughts and fire = willpower). Naming these things symbolically helps us realize that these ‘things’ are not us, but more like clothing we are currently wearing (or perhaps have been wearing a little too long!). But clothes can be changed… so we can choose to rethink things, seek deeper understanding, speak different words, take different actions and shift disruptive energy. And the more we develop this ability the more it becomes a consistent and reliable point of reference in evaluating everything else around us.
 
When we look to Nature, we realize she is a great teacher, (whatever her mood!) because she is modelling, all the time, how to self-correct and reshape our world by applying certain elements in order to balance ones that have run amok. Just look at our current winter: the extreme ice, the storms, the wind and bitter cold… then look at the global shifts in our climate. What imbalances is Nature self-correcting? How can we assist the ‘above’ by mirroring the balancing act in the ‘below’ of our personal sphere of being?
 
Hopefully these questions will provide plenty of food for thought to get you through the remainder of this long season. And as we all eagerly anticipate the arrival of the natural balancing energies of the Spring Equinox in March, be sure to check out upcoming workshops and events at my studio to see what might help in balancing your own ‘elements’. Creative pursuits always work wonders at helping us back to centre.


Late Winter Gifts .... late winter marks the ending of the ‘frozen’ cycle and the first sparks of life being set in motion. Click on the live links in this email to learn more about upcoming workshops in my studio. How about treating yourself to drawing lessons ... check out my new offering "Seeing With New Eyes". It could provide a whole new way of engaging with the wonder of the spring season. Or come learn how to create simple Celtic knotwork patterns and the symbolism and sacred geometry behind them in my upcoming Four Worlds Workshop. All ways to engage creatively with Mother Nature!

May you enjoy the dance! See you next month.

CJ Shelton
Artist & Shamanic Practitioner

Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit ...

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THE STORY BEHIND THE PIECE ..."A Promise of Spring" I created this piece for Imbolc, one of the festivals on the Celtic Wheel of the Year. For the ancient Celts 'Imbolc' (meaning 'ewe’s milk') was a sign that the sheep were beginning to lactate in preparation for birthing their lambs.
 
Imbolc is also the origin of our Groundhog Day, a time for rejoicing because warmth is soon returning. Although February is still the heart of winter, if you look closely, signs of spring are in the melting ice and lengthening daylight which triggers the germination of seeds underground.

In this piece I chose to feature the often over-looked female cardinal (she’s not as ‘flashy’ as the male) to 'midwife' new life waiting to begin. Her softer colouring is a reminder of the feminine energies about to re-emerge after a long harsh winter.

Prints and cards are available for purchase with this image
 
MARCH MADNESS SHOW
Headwaters Art Gallery - March 5 to April 6
OPENING RECEPTION Sat. March 8

Two of my pieces will be on display throughout March in the Headwaters Art Gallery at the Alton Mill
SAVE THE DATES!
Here's a preview of some exciting summer events I have in the works:

Art in the Garden
Two weekends, June 14/15 and 21/22 in Inglewood An exhibition of new work with fellow artists Lucille Weber and Bridget Wilson.  www.lucilleweber.com

A Weekend in the Woods - Experience the Elements of Nature in Hockley Valley - August 16/17
An inspiring holistic event to empower mind, body and spirit. www.weekendinthewoods.com

The Quest Within with CJ Shelton - 5 day Retreat at Grail Springs Wellness Centre & Spa in Bancroft - August 24-29
Treat yourself to a week of peace, pampering and self-dicovery this summer. www.grailsprings.com
 
Art in the Round Intro to Mandala Making
Upcoming Sessions:
Sat. March 8
Sat. March 29
Sat. April 12
Sat. April 26

Special Mother's Day Dates - Sat. May 10 & Sun. May 11

"Seed to Seed" - Sacred Geometry
Sat. April 5
Four Worlds Celtic Knotwork
**NEW DATE** - Sat. March 22

Drawing with CJ - "Seeing With New Eyes"
Morning or afternoon sessions available Wednesdays & Sundays.
Ongoing throughout March and April (pre-registration required)
 
The Seasonal Cycle of the Year Workshop Series
Do you know the origins of some of our current holdiays? Discover inspired and magical ways of engaging with Nature through learning about the eight Celtic festivals on the Wheel of the Year.

UPCOMING
Spring Equinox - "Ostara"
Sat. March 15


May Day - "Beltane"
Sat. May 3
Shamanic Sessions
By appointment Wednesdays through Fridays at the Alton Mill and twice monthly at Breakthrough Centre in Brampton

**NEW**  MARI® Mandala Interpretation
Explore the 'language of your soul'. Private sessions using the MARI system let you match symbols and colours to give you a snapshot of what's going on in your life. By appointment in my studio at the Alton Mill. Visit my website to learn more.
“The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.”
~ Gordon B. Hinckley
Copyright © 2014 Dancing Moon Designs, All rights reserved.


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