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Patience, Perseverance
and Presence

Maintaining our centre

Well, it’s here … or is it? Spring that is. I have to admit that April seems to have gone by in a similar manner as this past winter with cold wet days and blustery winds. And it has been a very strange month energetically with multiple eclipses, a Blood Moon and a Grand Cardinal Cross. What was that you say?

What we have been enduring (besides a darn good old-fashioned winter) also has an astrological explanation. Since February, three planets - Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto - have been arranging themselves in an oppositional formation. This cosmic tension has been building since December of last year making us feel irritable, spread thin, or at odds with just about everyone and everything. We wonder if we are truly going crazy… and if the whole world is as well. The closer the planets align, the more we feel their friction. The gift in this though is that it forces us to deal with whatever’s been stuffed down, ignored or is no longer serving us. When these things are courageously confronted, our life (and the world) can be transformed forever. Think of it as an astrological cleanse or spring detox for the planet!

A dear friend of mine always says, where there are three, look for a hidden fourth … and she is right. In mid-April the planet Mars entered the mix, creating what’s called a Grand Cardinal Cross. The height of this ‘squaring the circle’ energy occurred on April 23. So think back … have the last few weeks culminated in a breaking point of some kind for you? The rising energy was almost impossible to ignore, and quite likely forced each and every one of us into action, on some front in our lives, whether we were ready or not.

This is because during a Cross, we feel stretched between all the primary areas of our life at once – between our own needs, the needs of home, family, relationships and work. This tension has been brewing for more than a year and will continue into 2015. However, breaking points also have the potential to be major turning points … and this is the hidden gift of a Grand Cross.

If all that weren’t enough, along with the Cross we are also experiencing a rare lunar tetrad which is a series of four successive total lunar eclipses. The first one occurred April 15. As with most eclipses, the moon appeared red which is caused by sunlight being scattered through the Earth's atmosphere, similar to a sunset; hence the term ‘blood moon’. The onset of Four Blood Moons is considered by some proponents of apocalyptic prophecy as a sign of coming end-times. Well, hopefully those ‘end-times’ are only occurring on a much smaller scale as we each face our individual turning points!
 
So once again it seems that it all comes down to ‘as above, so below’ - a balancing act – sometimes precarious, sometimes stabilizing but always challenging us to push ever forward. Like the arrival of spring itself, we know the seasonal wheel will turn and that change is inevitable. Patience, perseverance and presence are the key to maintaining our centre.
 
For me personally, the 1st of April marked my third year of being at the Alton Mill. But right at the Blood Moon I came down with flu/cold/bronchitis. It sidelined me big time, which is why this newsletter is a little late getting to your inbox. It forced me to be away from the studio for over eight days and deal with all sorts of ‘stuff’ – most of it ancient history that just needed to be blessed, released or re-envisioned. And that is what these strange cosmic times are asking of us.
 
When I returned to the Mill I was delighted, as I am every spring, to see a pair of Canada geese sitting their nest on the edge of the millpond. They choose this same precarious spot each year, lay their eggs, then persevere through extremes of cold and heat, foraging foxes, rapidly rising water and sudden bursts of rain. Sometimes they lose the eggs or have to abandon the nest. But they never give up. They simply accept, start over and lay a new batch … and persevere once again. The first spring I was at the Mill they made three attempts before finally succeeding in hatching six little goslings. Their example is a bitter-sweet metaphor for us on how to accept, with grace, long winters, late-coming springs and challenging energies.
 
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” (Quote by Rachel Carson from The Sense of Wonder)
 
Although I was side-lined temporarily this past month there is still lots going on at the studio so be sure to check out my line-up of workshops and events. This weekend is our Annual Spring Open House at the Alton Mill and I am running a special Beltane workshop to celebrate May Day and the return of the light half of the year. There are also still spots available for my special Mother’s Day Art in the Round session on Saturday May 10 (Sunday session is full!). It’s going to be a busy spring as I turn up the creative heat so be sure to drop by the studio and check out new works in progress.

May you enjoy the dance!

CJ Shelton
Artist & Shamanic Practitioner

Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit ...

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THE STORY BEHIND THE PIECE ..."Message to Mother Earth"
This piece is what is known as a ‘word mandala’. During the Alton Mill’s Fire & Ice Festival this past January I painted a small ‘earth’ at the centre of a large canvas with the words “Beautiful Mother, You Are Loved” written around it. Throughout the weekend I asked visitors to add their own words and thoughts about what our Earth means to them.

The results were wonderful! Contributions were made by everyone of all ages and abilities … little ones particularly enjoyed expressing their love for our planet. Each time you look at it you see something new. My favourite word so far … “aweso-mazing”!

I finished the piece by adding sky, clouds and beams of light so that the words and messages radiate outwards as a prayer for our collective Mother. “Message to Mother Earth” is currently hanging in the hallway outside my studio so be sure to come by and ‘read’ it.

Mixed Media on Canvas 36" x 36" - $800 with 25% of purchase price being donated to the Canadian Wildlife Federation
SAVE THE DATES!

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 - 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-discovery this summer. www.grailsprings.com
Art in the Round Intro to Mandala Making
Special MOTHER'S DAY Dates Sat. May 10 (space still available) and Sun. May 11 (FULL)

Sat. May 24
Sat. May 31

Tree of Life Mandala Workshop
Exploring the Shaman's Cosmology
Sat. May 17

Drawing Lessons - "Seeing With New Eyes"
Wednesdays & Sundays.
Start anytime. Pay as you go. Ongoing throughout May (pre-registration required)
The Seasonal Cycle of the Year Workshop Series
Discover inspired and magical ways of engaging with Nature.

UPCOMING
"Beltane" May Day Workshop
Sat. May 3
- during the Alton Mill Art Centre's Spring Open House Event

Summer Solstice Workshops - Details coming soon!
Sat. June 14 & Sat. June 21 - during Art in the Garden Show
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' in a one-on-one self-discovery session. The MARI system provides a visual and symbolic snapshot of what's currently going on in your life, allowing you to access your own inner wisdom and achieve more clarity. You already have the answers within you. Sessions by appointment in my studio at the Alton Mill. Visit my website to learn more about this fascinating process.
May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed sunshine shine on you and warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire, so that the stranger may come and warm himself at it, and also a friend.
~ Traditional Irish Blessing
Copyright © 2014 Dancing Moon Designs, All rights reserved.


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