Loving, loving loving, as the artist can love,

The poet in love with the world- All the senses adoring

All that is alive, courting the whole world with song,

Dancing, poetry, music, a huge passion for life

In the heart.

-Anais Nin

It is truth for me, that the creative spirit that gave form to this world is the same spirit that flows through the creation of everything still being created, by using the hands and thoughts of everyone of us.  Fostering my creative thinking is what propels me forwards, what keeps me in my aliveness.  Creativity is used everywhere, not just in the obvious artistic sense, but in the considerations we face everyday.  How we respond to any situation depends on our creativity and our ability to express ourselves.  It is emerging as the new “education”.  The amount of ways that I see my children create everyday is astounding- in fact, it really is all that they do with the given time of our homeschooling environment.  They create worlds of imagination, then create things to use in those worlds.

It was with the forces of creativity that the elements responded when they intermingled in the very beginnings of life, and it is the quality that will get us out of the many desperate situations that we find ourselves and our human family tangled up in.  For me, the essence of my spirit is what leads my creative thoughts, and it is my thoughts that lead my actions.  When I hear music, or read words, or look at images, it is the feelings that these moments create in my heart that draw me in or not. When I create music, or go out with my camera, or knit, weave, or spin, dance, sing or think up something for dinner, it is my inner stirrings of spirit that a I look for to lead me.  Some call it the Muse, really it can be called whatever you like.  It is an emotion displayed, a heart string, an expression of the spirit that resides in us all.  We just all use different tools, depending on what calls to us and what we have had the opportunity to practice with.  It’s personal and universal at the same time, whether we share it or not.  I give my deepest thanks to the doors that have opened for me, allowing me to explore the forms of creation that give me full expression about myself and this world we live in.

Glass Circle Star

Stained glass window by Tracy Calvert

Glass Circle Star

Circle star

you hold me intact

through the blazing of colours-

of heart and throat,

of cooling blue and the

pangs of crimson

a sweeping tone of

shadowed orange

presses against my temples

and pulls me into the

outward dance,

blueness like sky

blends into expression,

dissolves the time chaser out

from under my feet

shades and hues

shifting, blurring

over lapping into the ripple

and warp-

this is the passing through of colours.

White circle star,

bringing me back in,

horizon clear,

valley shaped, and still being so,

by the sliding-by of the lake

into the river

sky orbited by the pure lure

of magnetism and evolution-

I am swept into your landscape

and then I am swept away

at these imaginings,

of the brilliance

of where these roads might take me if I let them,

this vast, jewelled path

gleams, glimmers,


as long as I am listening.

I fall into this submission

of colour,

sink myself in-

and from the other side,

the light

lights my way through.

Tracy and I created this collaborative combination of poetry and art for a Verse and Vision art show that was organized by my mother Margaret here on Pender Island this summer.  She was inspired by listening to the readings by Pender writers at Speak Easy, an open mic night held once a month, and she began encouraging pairs of artists and writers to collaborate and create a show celebrating the word and the image.  Tracy and I have been working together through natural building for the past few years, and it was wonderful to expand into our other passions and connect on a deeper level that explored the process of our creativity and how that place of creating becomes a timeless meditation within a world of shape, colour, patterns, and unplanned, intuitive journeys that teach us about stepping aside and allowing ourselves to be moved without structure or judgement.  Tracy and her partner Jude have a beautiful little cottage that can be rented on South Pender.  Information for the cottage as well as natural building and stained glass creations can be found here…

The Freedom of Saori Weaving

My first creation of Saori style weaving

As a child, I used to visit my Great Aunt in Summerland with my family during the summers.  Besides having a cherry orchard and a small sandy beach on the Okanagan Lake, my Great Aunt also had a living room full of looms with walls decorated with tapestries collected from all over the world.  We would spend part of our time there in the cherry trees, fingers and lips stained from the juice, and part of our time under the willow by the lake with small looms in hands, and the rhythms of weaving in our minds.

Fast forward twenty years or so, and my father and I are traveling again to Summerland with my 2 year old daughter to bring home one of those enormous floor looms that used to sit in the living room by the lake.  My Great Aunt by then had experienced a few strokes and was now living in the small cottage on the property, with a small loom to keep her hands busy when she was able.  Her daughter wanted to see the big loom, made by her father, go to someone in the family who would actually use it.  I had been feeling drawn towards weaving since my discovery of knitting, spinning, and felting, and so my anticipation of the floor loom from my Great Aunt was deeply embracing and supported by those memories from childhood.

Space was an issue, and I have to be completely honest in saying that now, 7 years later, it is still bundled up in storage waiting to be explored.  Building an art studio into our house was integral into getting the loom into use.  However, now that the art studio and the house (first half) is done, the floor loom is still too big while part of the studio is being used as a temporary bedroom until we get the second half of the house completed.  So my father found a small folding loom with the name Saori printed on it, and passed it along with the thought that it might be a good way to get started.

A fashion show of saori woven clothing

I discovered that Saori is not only a maker of looms and weaving accessories, but is a whole philosophy of weaving.  ‘SA’ of SAORI has the same meaning as the first syllable of the word ‘SAI’ which is found in Zen vocabulary, meaning everything has its own individual dignity.  And the “ORI” means weaving. In Japan in the late 1960s, Misao Jo, then in her mid 50s, decided she wanted to weave a sash (obi) for her kimono by hand. Her husband and sons built her a hand loom, and her 84-year-old mother taught her how to weave.  Later, an obi that she had woven was rejected from a weaving shop because of a “flaw”, but she liked the flaw, and decided to weave with more irregularities that reflected her unique individual expression.  This type of weaving was embraced by friends and finally by a high end shop, which requested more of her pieces of weaving.  She moved into teaching, beginning with just 5 students, and has now spread to countless studios, schools, and organizations all dedicated to encouraging the unique creativity and accessibility of weaving to people everywhere.

The SAORI Slogans

  1. Consider the differences between machines and people.
  2. Let’s adventure beyond our imagination.
  3. Let’s look out through eyes that shine.
  4. Let’s learn from everyone in the group

Misao Jo’s teachings were based on the idea that there is no wrong, that mistakes are the essence of design, and that beauty arises out of this freedom.  Often called free-style weaving, or freedom weaving, it holds a traditionally admired element of understanding beauty with lack of intention.  
 Japanese people have traditionally admired “the beauty with lack of intentions” in nature and adopted it into art forms such as gardening, ceramics and painting. They admire the beauty of nature leaving everything as it is, finding the beauty in the wild flowers, grass or trees in Japanese-style gardens built with as little artificial taste as possible.  In ceramics, for example, Japanese artists often make a cup in an irregular shape leaving a finger print and some designs accidentally marked while it is fired.  In SAORI,  the beauty of the cloth is admired in the same way.  It is the traditional view point of Japanese people who admire the “beauty with lack of intentions” in nature and art, that has developed the unique philosophy of SAORI.

“Waterfall” by Terri Bibby

I took a day long class with Terri Bibby, a weaver from Salt Spring Island, and fell into it like it was breathing.  Terri is a long time weaver who discovered the Saori style not so very long ago, and has happily settled into passing on it’s philosophies.  She helped me learn how to warp my loom, and then she beautifully allowed my own sense of exploring colours and textures lead me on my own path of learning.  She has sewn many of her weavings into simple and flowing clothes, which also appeals to my sense of usefulness in my creative pursuits.  Here is her site, offering workshops and retreats…..

Now I have the shuttle of my Great Aunt Mary to pass back and forth through my loom.  I am so grateful for such an accessable way to get started.  The idea of tackling the big floor loom was definitely a slightly daunting venture, and I am glad that it will be a few years yet before we are able to set it up in the studio.  By then I think I will be ready for the challenge of more, of bigger, of new possibilities for extending the saori philosophies.  I have already implemented them into many other places of my life, and I realize that this approach is intuitive and natural.  It fits with natural building, (so long as everything works!  We must remember that mistake making is limited, and what we are making still has to function properly).  It applies to a much larger picture of ourselves, and of our place within our community, locally and globally.  I have always felt a truth in the metaphor of the weaver at the loom, of the threads of life that cross and form patterns, that we are woven and we are the weavers of the world.  We weave and learn together in search of our true, hidden selves.

Dancing the spirit sacred


On Pender Island, we have just begun dancing again.  I am sure that, looking into the long past, there have been many days and nights of such dance in these forests. In the 5 or 6 years that we have been gathering to dance- through a few different forms and names and coming and goings of people and numbers- our intent has always been strong in holding a judgement free zone of sacred honouring through movement, writing, drawing, meditation, yoga, the many facets of creative expression.  It took awhile to get going really, in the beginning we were all struggling a little to find out what actually fit- music was a little off, or nobody would have a key for the hall, setting up the sound gear was hit and miss.  Communication and organization really- but when it came together we understood the greater reason for persistence.  What we needed was a leader, a guide, who had great music and themes of contemplation, someone to give us some ground to leap from, opening us up to the possibilities.  Our friend Nicola stepped forwards- she was only just beginning herself, exploring 5 rhythms dance workshops, and having a willingness to test her own waters about facilitating such a space.  She gave us inner explorations, and outer excercises like witness dancing, mirror dancing, spoken word dancing- she gave opportunities to really throw down the barriers and be exposed to ourselves and others in trust.  She also instigated the altar- candles, colours, thematic objects, cards, paper and pencils.  In and out of a few years,  Nicola led us through her own discoveries until just last year, when she moved to a neighboring island with her family.

A few of us knew at that point that dance nights would not end because or guide was gone- but that we were ready to step up with the tools needed to continue to offer the same space to those who would come.  While we are not offering the deep guidance that Nicola had, we are opening the space to a collective presence- much like we first envisioned but stumbled to achieve in the beginning.  We invite women and men, young and old, anyone who is wanting to be in this space and uphold the sacredness.  People can sit, lie, stretch, write, draw, paint, or just breathe.  We accept anyone who would like to put together the playlist for a night, with or without a theme.  Our music is always diverse with everyone’s individual musical style, and as we share, it expands us all.  We keep a “library” of past playlists available for copying, and it is not unusual to hear a song pulled from those past nights.  We are creating a wide foundation of music.  The building of the altar, which is usually taken on by whoever is doing the playlist, (but doesn’t have to be) holds us together in beauty and sacred meditation, and allows any discussion of revelations, epiphanies, heart murmurings, or places of shadows.  We have explored earth, air, fire, water, solstices, passion, joy, healing, forgiveness, innocence, gratitude, the cosmos, and whatever other energies develop throughout the year.  Recently I read an idea put forth by Dr. Masaru Emoto, which said, “E=MC2 really means that Energy = number of people and the square of people’s consciousness.”  I have felt this to be so true during dance many times, that our collective energies are more powerfully charged when we move together, when we feel together, when we love together.  It is infectious.  We have held healing circles for friends, sent prayers to far away places, and chanted sanskrit mantras together.  We laugh in shared stories of our lives.  It is a small island- we are all connected in ways outside of these nights- in other groups, in professional jobs, in the roles we hold in our community.  I think it is brilliant that another layer of our interactions is open in the sacred way of this creative space- may it lead to a deeper honouring of each other in every day.

We are not a huge group, by any means.  I have noticed though, that since december 2010, our regular average has gone up from around 8 to 25.  It is not many still, but it makes the community hall where we dance seem like a maze of bodies to weave through.  I think the foundation is growing.  I think there is an awareness that collective consciousness, stemming from our individual self care and love, is simply just a good thing to do.  Release and refresh.  Dance and be danced.

I would like to send gratitude to those people and forces that have helped shape these beautiful evenings along the way with such a natural procession of growth and evolution.  May the journey continue.

Artwork here is by Joanne Green, Pender resident and fellow sacred dancer.  Visit her site for beautiful mandalas and images of  spirit and nature.

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