I can hear her calling. Hardly there like a whisper it is carried by gentle wind. There is no force or vigour in that call, just a brush on my being making awareness known that she is waiting, she is there. There is comfort in knowing somewhere hundreds of miles away there is a place that exists and willing to accept you just as you are. It comes as a song, as the land sings in tunes that can be heard amidst its beauty. Every time I am alone in the wilderness, particularly near water, the song comes alive on my lips. It is such a natural feeling that I can’t help but pick up a tune and carry it through the land. It is an act of participation in the land’s dreaming, in its being state just as it is. I feel belonging in a way I can’t explain. It is a modest, humble way of being present; behaving in a way that does not possess, disturb or claim any rights to it and that is how the land wants it. It opens up in ways unexpected revealing the simplest, but the most stunning corners of its soul, be it in a rain drop on a blade of grass or a blanket of mist over loch in early hours. It is truly feminine on the whole, I feel, particularly in certain places. It is so on the Isle of Mull where I am going. There is no rush or anything planned, it is in the flow of any given day that the land is there for me to participate in and there is so much to discover through being with her.
It can be overwhelming so I feel nervous once again as the day of reunion approaches. It is that feeling of meeting a lover, someone utterly dear to your heart that you’ve been separated from for a while. It is the feeling we are all familiar with when we finally step into their embrace and it is both ecstatic and overwhelming and it takes time to ground in being together in the same place. I never know what to expect and try hard not to have any ideas preconceived by past experiences. My mind creates these states due to nervousness within me, which is completely natural. It is hard not to rush into feeling either and get swept away with it before the journey even begins, but again, that is also natural when going to a place that although non-human is animate to me in every sense. It has a distinct smell to me and it sounds in a particular way. Visual alone is all consuming and touching its skin being it stones, moss, heather or a surface of a loch often threatens to swallow me up through overload of emotions. It is fully alive within me and it is no surprise containing it all within little old me is difficult, but year after year I go, I participate, I learn and will continue for as long as I hear the song distant, but loud within my heart.
What we are experiencing is a crisis on many levels and what’s at the centre of it is a breakdown of the ‘whole’, a psycho-spiritual crisis of individual and collective. We are facing a long and dark night of the soul. When things no longer make sense, our minds race uncontrollably and feelings overwhelm our every day, fear-based behaviours flare out of control and our safety is compromised. When personal and collective fall away what and how transpersonal can help us get back to ourselves, get back ‘home’.
What are we left with? What else is there?
Transpersonal approach to psycho-spiritual work deals with the idea of human innate potential and bears witness to personal transformations through engaging with or experiencing something beyond ‘self’ when in crisis. Hope reawakens, inner potential begins to shine through and strength previously seemingly inaccessible comes back. As a therapist I have been privileged to be a witness to profound shifts in individuals when working in a transpersonal way. Working with life transitions and crisis is one of my favourite areas due to an openness and beauty of experience that can be had once transformation occurs through awareness, reflection and application. The beauty and resilience of the human spirit is profound. Transpersonal way of working for me, first and foremost, is an interconnectedness and the quality of being with another that holds the key to an effective recovery of all that matters.
When we are faced with crisis we can look at losing something as a way of gaining something else; an opportunity, a ‘welcomed’ surrender without resistance. In breaking down we break through. The crisis becomes a golden opportunity to self-actualise, a path towards what one always wanted to be. Crisis becomes a road ‘home’ towards inner wholeness.
How can transpersonal view help in a time of crisis? Transpersonal psychology ideas were birthed out of humanistic movement of the 1960s and have been widely used in psycho-spiritual work and incorporated in a field of psychotherapy. The actual term ‘transpersonal’ was first used by C Jung in 1917. I see transpersonal approach to healing and life in general as an active, purposeful engagement with ideas such as, hope, meaningful life, human innate potential, divine nature within us all – all of which create a ‘whole’ of life experience. It includes interconnectedness between earthly and spiritual, cognitive and emotional, physical and sensory, person and interpersonal, inner and outer, individual and collective. We have an opportunity to start with ourselves and extend our essential life-force and divine energy outwards. We can do so through nourishing thoughts and meaningful actions, emotional intelligence and awareness, intentional creative life, honouring of the body, practicing enchantment of life and spiritual awareness in a way that makes the most sense to us.
When all structures around us collapse, pillars that held our earthly lives in place, where do we turn for help and containment? What happens to our identity and personal concerns? Through history we have seen individuals, as well as, nations collectively ‘rising from the ashes’ when a surge in consciousness comes forth and personal diminishes. We access our strength, hope and potential in a place beyond personal. We can call it faith, spiritual awareness, experience that has no words, yet its power cannot be denied and transformations are inevitable.
Better knowing your nature one can be more effective in the world and seeing that we are not just one or the other, thoughts or feelings we are the whole experience of life in all its spectrums. In dropping into the dark we discover the light and with light taken away darkness serves as a lesson towards change.
As a result of a crisis what we ultimately look for is:
A path to consciousness through harnessing the unconscious
Inner and outer transformation (individual and collective)
Coming to awareness of the interconnected reality
Joining back in with the individual and collective ‘whole’
Spiritual connection to the divine
What we can do:
Turn within with love, compassion and trust
Have faith in knowing that our potential is limitless. Potential within us all is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. When all the external noise, defences, unconscious actions no longer dominate we can clearly see what really is available to us from within.
Become conscious of your unconscious through paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Focus on your personal (with yourself), interpersonal (with others) and extra-personal (transpersonal, spiritual, divine) relationships.
Self-reflect with every step paying attention to words you speak
Be present through the body either through grounded visualizations or other activities that connects you to the physical. I find digging the earth, planting, gardening, walking or running very revelatory, cantering, meditative and often spiritual experiences.
Care-take your insights and implement into life as a way of practicing change, growth and transformation
Know what brings you joy and pleasure; what makes your passion burn; what actions make your life fulfilling and meaningful
“Everything living thrives for wholeness” (C. Jung) and it is wholeness we need to reclaim and rebuild following multiple fractures, isolation, disconnection and loss on a huge scale. Use the crisis to begin the work of rebuilding earthly and spiritual reality based on what matters to you. Spiritual to you might be finding meaning in life or creating a practice that allows you a space where you are most productive, loving, and compassionate. Through individual healing and awareness of the transpersonal, whichever way you choose to access it, use it as a helping hand, a reminder of ‘something more, something better’, we can weave threads of consciousness, however, small at first, as long as there is intention and inner belief in what we can truly do when we commit to healing and recovery.
When all falls apart what’s left is the extraordinary spirit that shines within us all, the innate natural capacities to do things unimaginable that often come force when we are faced with crisis. Through the light of consciousness step-by-step, piece-by-piece we pave the road ‘home’, back to ourselves, a road back to wholeness.
Being a fan of poetry and also Scotland… (I live here) I had to read Soul Land.
Perfect for anyone who is after a quick read, who wants to find some peace and tranquil and who loves poetry and nature.
This poetry collection really was a love letter to Scotland and how the author feels about Scotland. There was some beautiful imagery and wonderful phrases that painted a picture of the wildness and beauty of Scotland.
I did really enjoy the poems and language, but wished it was a little longer. I would have loved to read more since I did feel it was a bit short. Still, a lot of the images inspired by her words were wonderful and definitely make you feel like you can see the landscape she’s describing.
I have just picked up a copy of Soul Land and just the first poem gave me shivers. That’s powerful and emotional. I am looking forward to reading more. Great work.
by Roy, UK
The book was a gift and is such a beautiful and lovely read. Brave, raw, honest. It got to me… I could not stop thinking about Scotland for days after. As I also love Scotland it resonated deeply with me and touched my soul. Powerful words.
As an avid reader of poetry, I found this collection to be completely different from anything I’d previously read. This was my first time experiencing transpersonal poetry and at the very talented hands of Natalia Clarke, I’ve found it a most enjoyable one!
I’ve read a decent amount of poetry, especially in the last couple of months, and Soul Land was very unique from all the others I’ve read. I really enjoyed how descriptive the poems were and the beautiful picture the author painted with each poem.
Calming nature poetry about Scotland that will make you want to pick up a walking stick and wander through Scotland’s beautiful landscape and relax your spirit.
Thanks so much for sending me a copy of your book!
I love your introduction and I can feel how much Scotland touches your soul through your words! I’m truly honoured that my painting connects with that feeling!
I love how you write! You write the way I feel!
Congratulations on your book and your poems are simply beautiful!!
by Ann Fullerton
Soul Land spoke to me and my love of Scotland. The pictures that Natalia Clarke’s poems paint in my eye made me long for a trip out into the Highlands.
My relationship with Scotland has been profound over the years, as many of you will know. I have travelled north, south, through central parts and inner and outer isles and in each place I discovered a part of myself that showed me various truths about what life and love means to me, reminded me of profound grief and loss and soothes me into a sense of peace and quiet. Most of all nature understanding within and without is something I will always see as a priceless gift I was given in this lifetime.
This year things have broken down literary on this path of my relating to the land and lessons have been huge. I felt as if the land spat me out all ragged and wounded with a sense of self lost and disintegrated. My heart broke and I disconnected from everything and everyone as a result. I left the land exhausted and ill not wanting to look back.
Now the storm is over and I have grounded into the earthly quality of autumn once again I am beginning to reflect on my journey so far and clear a way forward in this profound connection I feel to the land and to myself subsequently. I am setting an intention to redefine this connection, fine-tune it. I am evaluating and comparing my experiences and looking at various sides of myself that have come forward as a result of my journey through the land. Where the wild North torn me to pieces and stripped me of the ground beneath my feet, isles got me in touch with a quiet of my internal possibilities and the central part always held me steady I am clearly defining places that I want to engage with going forward. It is almost like I am creating healthy boundaries for myself like with any other relationship. I know where to go and what not to engage with necessarily for my own peace and vitality as well as for maintaining balanced relationships with significant others in my life. In terms of the elements I know that woodland (Earth) vibrates on the closest level to what I am deep down, whereas the sea is quite far from my essence, although lakes and rivers (water but on a gentler scale) are singing the song my soul recognises. It’s natural. Mountains are incredibly supportive and holding to me and with their spaciousness (Air) I find the balance in my breath (this took time).
I now know that after surrendering to the utterly wild side of myself and the land where there is no mercy on soul or body I now seek balance, warmth and gentleness instead. I want to feel safe and contained. Those are the qualities I want to cultivate further and one particular place I feel can support me in that. Interestingly enough it is a place where I visited Scotland first. So I have come a full circle, one might say, and returned to the understanding of myself on a much deeper level and what truly matters to me in this life.
I am publishing my poetry collection Soul Land soon as a tribute to my spiritual love affair with the land over the last few years. Watch the space.
I said good bye to the land yesterday and this time it is indefinitely. I need to rebuild myself from, what feels like, ground up, as I am completely broken and exhausted from love. Yes, that is possible and I have been here before with another previous love, a human kind. The land has always been like a living breathing entity to me. Our relationship now needs a break and I hear everything it had ever said to me clearly. I cannot go on for the time being. My edges need softening, my rage pacified and my soul needs peace. All love eventually, I believe, leads to pain after an ecstasy of experience.
Rest in knowing I have given you my all without leaving much for myself, but life needs sustaining, nourishing, building and rebuilding if all is to co-exist in balance. It is hard for me to write this, yet I recognise an immense need to release it out of my being, awareness and constant swirling of it all in my mind.
The land is wise. It knows what needs balancing and often we come to realisations through hardship, illness, losses or experiences that are confusing and painful. This time the land spat me out. Like a wild animal that did not want to be domesticated. I dreamt of walking away with ravens and black roses bleeding out of the tips of my fingers and winds howling. Like a horror movie with my heart in my mouth I felt like a curse was in place and it was about to exclude me out of its working finally, for my own benefit. Too much pain and too much love. The two old friends of mine. Intensity had become difficult to bear and I am tired. Misunderstanding, confusion has occurred in this relationship. I have come to understand the reasons behind what had happened and patterns I entangled myself in. I started experiencing loses, threats to my security, family, health, financial losses and my mental stability and peace began to suffer. Confusion, grief, sadness, intensity, apprehension and fear had all been present in me for far too long with my association that rooted in this relationship. It was a warning for my own good and on reflection I am grateful for that ‘rejection’ that really stemmed from mutual love and understanding.
For now I want to be released and something inside me has broken on this last trip, which feels completely necessary. I have also gained awareness of the outside perspective and how others had viewed the situation for many years, which I had been blind to. It is as if I gained a fresh sight and overview of what’s been happening. “Love, indeed, is blind” would be the right description here. I now crave something softer, gentler and kinder like one does coming out of a storm whether in nature or from an internal emotional one. I would like peace of a different kind where loud sharp spiritual messages come as soft whispers instead and where my body feels warm and intact rather than torn to pieces. Sometimes places call us for a reason and my work is nowhere near done, but huge lessons learnt from this deep relationship of unconditional love, destruction, transformation and personal growth. For now I am ‘kicked out’ and I am glad of it, as it is exactly what is needed.
Writing gives me this rich, luxurious, extremely pleasant feeling that buzzes through my arms and into my fingers (just like magic does when I am in that dimensional self) and then the feeling settles right in my heart and in my throat and everywhere in between those areas. For those of you who are familiar with chakras you know what I mean about the heart and the throat areas. I think it is a simply perfect alignment and manifestation of the whole thing what is writing for me. Encapsulates its meaning wonderfully.
I can not tell you just how incredibly grateful I feel to have tapped into this dimensional self that had always been there but asleep for sometime now and this summer it’s reawakened. It happened amidst difficult silence that came into my day-to-day when suddenly clients disappeared, things got easier around me and I was staring into an empty space uncomfortably and then boom, it washed over me like a familiar scent. I never grounded it before, I realise now, and just kept it in my awareness but not engaging in any way other than observatory. This time it feels different as the feeling is very present and every day it is reaffirmed and amplified like a beacon of light that is shining from within. Truly wonderful experience.
This coming September I am planning on releasing a book of poems and I am excited to speak the words of my heart into the world. This is what my soul wants and I know it well and the last few months it has all been about what my soul wants. It is going to be my precious gift to my soul, to my craft, everything and everyone I love and the universe that I have experienced differently lately. The main heroine of the whole undertaking is, of course, Scotland.
What a roller coaster but at the same time it feels such a grounded something that suddenly slotted into place. Divine timing they call it and I am so on board with that.
I look forward to more writing magic that is here to stay.