I find that working with clay in my Astar class is always so enjoyable. Pressing my hands and fingers into the clay, working freely and intuitively often with eyes closed, can be very therapeutic and grounding.
We work with a big lump of clay that is air dried and never fired in a kiln, so there is no need to make your sculpture hollow or to worry too much about air bubbles. A variety of natural and found objects can be added to your sculpture and pushed into the clay. The focus, as always, is on the process and not on what the final piece will look like or how long it will last. Some sculptures, if cared for correctly, can last for years.
This sculpture is the result of me combining a portrait, with aspects of an animal oracle card that I pulled from a deck of Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson.
I pulled "The Turtle: Mother Earth". When I selected the card it was in reverse (upside down) which is important to note when reading the meaning of the card. I have included the card meaning further down in this post.
I included a small shell on her forehead with a spiral.
I added texture, inspired by the turtle's shell, by repeatedly pushing a piece of dried coral into the clay.
She was looking good. I was pleased.
After taking a couple of pics, it was time to remove her from the board I'd been working on.
But her head was heavy and I hadn't realised that, once she was 'unstuck' from the board, she would fall onto her chin! My heart sank.
And then I had the idea of including a rock onto her back.
I found the perfect rock in the plant pot outside my door. The textures of the rock worked well with the textures (inspired by the turtle shell) I'd created using a piece of dried coral. The colours went well with the colour of the clay and the grey wool I'd used for her hair.
After our closing meditation and reflection, we were asked to write a Haiku poem about our piece.
(Where is my friend Leif when you need him. He enjoys writing Haiku poems ... lol)
Well, there's a first time for everything. I gave it a shot (not very successfully).
I am Mother Earth
The source of Ancient Wisdom.
Source: Sams, Jamie and Carson, David. Medicine Cards (Santa Fe: Bear and Company, 1988).
Medicine Cards: Turtle: 10: Mother Earth
In Native American teachings, Turtle is the oldest symbol for planet Earth. It is the personification of goddess energy, and the eternal Mother from which our lives evolve. We are born of the womb of Earth, and to her soil our bodies will return. In honouring the Earth, we are asked by Turtle to be mindful of the cycle of give and take, to give back to the Mother as she has given to us.
Turtle has a shell which is similar to the protection that Earth has employed for centuries as her body has been defiled. Mother Earth's protection has come in the form of Earth changes, new plant growth, the creation of new land masses by volcanoes, and climate alterations. Like Turtle, you also have shields that protect you from hurt, envy, jealousy, and the unconsciousness of others. Turtle teaches you, through its habit patterns, how to use protection. If you are bothered by the actions or words of others, it is time to go inside yourself and honour your feelings. If you are attacked, it is time to give a warning snap.
If you have chosen the Turtle symbol, you are being asked to honour the creative source within you, to be grounded to the Earth, and to observe your situation with motherly compassion. Use the water and earth energies, which represent Turtle's two homes, to flow harmoniously with your situation and to place your feet firmly on the ground in a power stance.
Turtle is a fine teacher of the art of grounding. You may even by able to overcome some of your "space cadet" tendencies if you align with Turtle medicine. In learning to ground, you are placing focus on your thoughts and actions and slowing to a pace that assures completion.
Turtle warns of dangers of "pushing the river," as evidenced by the plodding pace it keeps. The corn that is harvested before its time is not yet full. However, if it is given the chance to develop at its own rate, in its own season, its sweetness will be shared by all.
Turtle buries its thoughts, like eggs, in the sand, and allows the sun to hatch the little ones. This teaches you to develop your ideas before bringing them out in the light.
Look at the old fable of the tortoise and the hare, and decide for yourself whether or not you would like to align with Turtle. Bigger, stronger, and faster are not always the best ways to get to a goal. When you arrive, you may be asked where you have been and you may not be able to remember. In that case, arriving prematurely can make you feel very immature.
If you draw the Turtle card, it augurs a time of connecting with the power of Earth and the Mother-Goddess within.
This is a reminder of the ally you have in Mother Earth.
It does not matter what situation you have created: ask her for assistance and abundance will follow.
Medicine Cards: Turtle: Contrary: (card pulled in reverse)
Pulling the Turtle card in the reverse means that Mother Earth is calling you to reconnect in some way. If you have become flippant and forgotten to place waste in its proper place instead of throwing it out the car window, she is calling. If you have felt alone in your time of need, she is calling. If you have been struggling financially or have little to eat, or if you have desired a child and see no pregnancy in the near future, she is your medicine - use it. You are not alone... ever. You are a child of Earth. All acts of pleasure, joy, and abundance are given by the Mother of the creative force. Use her energy to aid you, and you will be healed enough to share this energy with others.
The idea of a Turtle helplessly trying to right itself after it has been flipped upside down can also symbolise contrary Turtle. You are not a victim, and you are not helpless, no matter how much it may seem like this is the case in your present situation. To right the ill-dignified Turtle, you need only list the things you are grateful for, and from that grateful place in your heart, look for the abundance of alternatives that Mother Earth gives.
In Native American mythology, Turtle represented the Earth, the mother from whose substance the bodies of all creatures living on Earth were formed, and the nurturing Force that provides an opportunity for the human spirit to evolve.
As a power animal, Turtle teaches the need for protection. Although you should find expression for the creative sources within, and allow your thoughts to reach up to "heavenly" things, it is essential to stay well grounded and to be connected to the power of the Earth. In other words, you must keep your feet on the ground of practicality.
Turtle also stresses the need to keep the physical body in balance, and to remember that this is the vehicle through which we experience life on Earth.
Turtle teaches the wisdom of aligning yourself with the cyclic flow of life, and demonstrates that the fastest way is not necessarily the best, for it takes time for ideas to develop properly.
Turtle indicates Earth harmony, and draws you to all that is whole and good and abundant. Make haste slowly.
Connect to Earth Mother. Ask for her blessings. Fertility and manifestation will follow.