art as therapy

Art As Therapy

When I was in full time employment, one of the things I always said was that I wish I had more time to dedicate to my craft. For me, “my craft” referred to my Pagan Spirituality, researching esoteric history and practices, the observation of nature’s cycles and the incorporation of allegorical concepts into practical applications.

It also referred to general artistry, craft work and performance arts.

My mind had always been quite gyroscopic, I used to be able to focus on a great number of tasks, multi-tasking had never been a problem for me and I used to thrive in high paced working environments.

After my brain damage in 2010, my capacity for the things that used to come easily had altered somewhat leaving me feeling very diminished. The gyroscope of my mind was no longer working. Ultimately, I still do not fully understand my brain damage. The information I got from hospitals I found lacking when told that the scar tissue on my brain “looked normal”, for me the very scar tissue itself was the abnormality for which I was not receiving, in my mind, any proper or full explanations into the implications of the scar on my brain.

I was still being “treated as epileptic” while my instincts and every fibre of my being were crying out “it’s not epilepsy”

Between 2010-2014 my mental health continued on a downward spiral, I didn’t feel like I was being listened to, I felt all that people were doing was repeating platitudes, which was what led to the multiple attempts on my life, culminating in my being signed off work.

After the attempts on my life, I had been dealt with by the crisis team on a couple of occasions, leading to a two-year stint with Psychiatrists and Psychologists. Two years sounds like a lot of therapy, when in truth it was 8 appointments with Psychiatrists which were very often cancelled and rearranged on multiple occasions which drew the process out. I also had 6 sessions of Cognitive Analytical Therapy with one Psychologist running concurrently with sessions with another Psychologist focusing on the new problems I was having with my memory and general mental capacity. It was during the memory work that the diagnosis of N.E.A.D. as a possibility for my seizures was first brought to me, which I then brought to the sessions of C.A.T., if not for the assessment of these two Doctors, I would to this day still be “treated as epileptic”.

After the C.A.T., with N.E.A.D. being a new focus of investigation, my psychologist told me that I needed to start living for myself and getting back to the things that were most important to me and no longer focus on trying to please those who gave little thought to my own core values and principles, which was the behaviour that led to seizures manifesting in the first place.

During these two years I was having very vivid nightmares which was leading to poor quality of sleep.

The nightmares themselves weren’t always particularly scary per say, I’d always had reoccurring nightmares in my past but these dreams were different, they were very busy kaleidoscopic bursts of geometry, fractals and paradoxes which always led to me waking feeling unrested.

I was unable to find the words to best express what I was going through with my GP, so I started to draw my dreams.

Historically I’d always been a big reader which gifted me with quite a full vocabulary, the brain damage that had stopped the gyroscope of my mind led to an inability of always being able to access the words I was trying to find to best convey my thoughts, which persists to this day.

It seemed to me that this inability is what led to the geometric dreamscape, my thoughts were trying to come out of my damaged brain in new ways other than speech, it was only when I started to draw my dreams that I was able to understand this, my thoughts were no longer trapped in my mind plaguing me during sleep, they were now on pieces of paper in front of me that I could understand upon reflection, it was my mind responding to the advice of getting back to what mattered to me most.

Given that “my craft” covers a wide base, in the interim between medical appointments, I was already in the process of revisiting and expanding upon my Esoteric research and reconnecting with my Pagan practices. The new direction of esoteric study led me to The Hermetic Corpus and Sacred Geometry, my nature worship was leading me back down the path of herbalism, and my newfound artistic expression was of great therapeutic value to me, but I still felt as though I was missing something, that there were still ways I could better express myself artistically that I just hadn’t yet thought of, but couldn’t quite put a finger on, until one day while walking through a park on the way to visit my mother, I came upon a flush of Liberty Caps, I saw this as a gift of mother nature, thanked her for them and accepted them as such.

Liberty caps

I’d had experience with Psychedelics in the past, there was a time in this country that you were able to buy mushrooms over the counter in niche shops until changes in the law ended this.

The mushrooms I found in the park that day were the equivalent of a micro-dose by comparison to what was once available to buy, but they were exactly what I had been missing. It was the advice given by my psychologist to “get back to what was most important to me” that brought back “the mushroom voice” to my mind, which is how I then interpreted my dreams and the drawing of them.

It was the Liberty Caps that led me to bringing the drawings from 2 dimensional scribblings into 3 dimensional creations, the first being the image at the head of this page.

With further study of Platonism and Hermetic Sacred Geometry, I was able to incorporate these into my artistry, this led to the development over time of my own 3-dimesional weaving technique. Living on benefits didn’t afford much toward art supplies, it took canny resolve and pound shop items, but I was able to achieve quite a lot with only a little, paints, pens, Q’tips and car tow cables were my starting materials, I’d spend days taking the cotton buds off Q-tips leaving me with platonic vertices to work with, I’d also spend days unravelling the car tow cables into there myriad individual strands, leaving me with 4 meter monofilaments, the development and refinement of the weaving technique was then, and still is of great therapeutic value for me which gives me a very practical form of meditation.

To this day I continue seeking new practices of craft to add to my mounting repertoire of skills, all of which act as meditative or therapeutic practices.

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