Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wood Art Therapy to Calm the Soul

An artist friend recently introduced me to wood art therapy. She was distraught by the election results and other things. She needed something creative to help calm the soul. She chose wood therapy as a form of meditation.

Wood therapy can be a form of mental therapy by losing oneself in the creation of something with wood. In the past, I have seen the benefits of working with wood. I lose myself in trying to create something unique. It does not have to be a masterpiece. It is the mental process of creating something with wood. Wood art is also fun to create with kids.

The easiest way to start is with simple things - random pieces of wood like driftwood or forest scraps, some twine, some glue, some wire, maybe some nails, a saw, maybe some rocks or shells, and paint. You don't need woodworking equipment or expertise for this. Simply an open mind to make something, regardless of how it looks. Take the blinders off.

Here are some examples of wood creativity using driftwood:

A great resource for ideas is Pinterest. Just search for driftwood, wood art, etc.

Ok, now that you might want to try, where do you start. First off, you need the wood pieces. Walk the beach to find driftwood, especially if you live in the NW. Walk thru a forest, picking up different types of scrap pieces. After a storm on large lakes like Superior or Michigan, check out the beaches. Look in your garage for old wood. Visit a saw mill to buy some unique wood scraps.

Then look around your house for odd "things": corks, wire, fabric, utensils. These can be incorporated into sculptures. Again, who cares what it looks like. The funkier the better.

Enjoy this simple form of therapy. It costs nothing, just time. Who knows what will evolve from it.

Have a great time. Mother Nature is awaiting your visit.

John Gabrielson
Natural Creations.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Old Mystical Beliefs on Warding off Bad Spirits

"Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite
In the church-way paths to glide.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream"
If you believe that haints, or spirits or other ghostly apparitions come out at night then you may need to build a bottle tree or dream catcher for protection. 
The first belief is the Bottle Tree. The belief in the bottle tree was believed to have been brought to America by the African slaves many years ago. 
Bottle tree colors can range from blue, to clear, to brown, but cobalt blue are always preferred: in the Hoodoo folk-magic tradition, the elemental blues of water and sky place the bottle tree at a crossroads between heaven and earth, and therefore between the living and the dead. The bottle tree interacts with the unknown powers of both creative and destructive spirits.
The bottles are placed upside down with the neck facing the trunk. Trees need not be thickly populated with bottles. Malevolent spirits, on the prowl during the night, enter the bottles where they become trapped by an “encircling charm”. It is said that when the wind blows past the tree, you can hear the moans of the ensnared spirits whistling on the breeze. Come morning they are burnt up by the rising sun.
Today, the bottle tree has entered the realm of folk art. Companies now market bottle tree armatures meant to serve, once clothed with milk, wine, or milk of magnesia bottles, as colorful garden ornaments. The poor man’s stained glass window, you might say.

The second mystical tool to ward off bad spirits is the Dream Catcher.

Dream catchers are one of the most fascinating traditions of Native Americans. The traditional dream catcher was intended to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams, while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught up in the web, and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.

The dream catcher originated as an American Indian belief to help ward off ward off bad dreams.
The Ojibwe people have an ancient legend about the origin of the dreamcatcher. Storytellers speak of the Spider Woman, known as Asibikaashi; she took care of the children and the people on the land. Eventually, the Ojibwe Nation spread to the corners of North America and it became difficult for Asibikaashi to reach all the children. So the mothers and grandmothers would weave magical webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants. The dreamcatchers would filter out all bad dreams and only allow good thoughts to enter our mind. Once the sun rises, all bad dreams just disappear.

Even infants were provided with protective charms. Examples of these are the "spiderwebs" hung on the hoop of a cradle board. These articles consisted of wooden hoops about 3½ inches in diameter filled with an imitation of a spider's web made of fine yarn, usually dyed red. In old times this netting was made of nettle fiber. Two spider webs were usually hung on the hoop, and it was said that they "caught any harm that might be in the air as a spider's web catches and holds whatever comes in contact with it.

Traditionally, the Ojibwe construct dreamcatchers by tying sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame of willow (in a way roughly similar to their method for making snowshoe webbing). The resulting "dream-catcher", hung above the bed, is used as a charm to protect sleeping people, usually children, from nightmares.

The Ojibwe believe that a dreamcatcher changes a person's dreams. According to Konrad J. Kaweczynski, "Only good dreams would be allowed to filter through... Bad dreams would stay in the net, disappearing with the light of day." Good dreams would pass through and slide down the feathers to the sleeper.

Pleasant dreams everyone. Don't let the boogey men get you.

John Gabrielson
Natural Creations.

Happy Thanksgiving to All.