An art and hobby festival highlights the benefits of creative play; I offer attendees opportunities to fiddle with their experience of reality.
“I’m sorry, I had such a hard time getting here,” said the woman who looked a bit frazzled as she walked into the room. I was sitting at my workshop table arranging journaling prompts. I could tell that she had physically arrived, but she hadn’t really mentally arrived yet. “Well, now you’re here,” I replied. “And that’s all you need to be.” She sat down on an adjacent empty chair and looked at me with a face that said, “I’m listening”. I explained that Pluto, the planet and archetype of primordial energy and deep, slow-to-process transformation, was transiting and it might be making things a little hard for everybody right now. Difficult emotions and situations could be demanding attention, ultimately asking us to rise to challenges. I live for moments like this, where the injection of new ideas alters the way a person looks at a situation and changes their experience of it.
The woman and I were at the Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival, held in Marbletown, NY. The event, dreamed up by Allison Braun of Smell the Damn Roses, is meant to give people options to “try new things” and play. Presenters are display their hobbies, aka offerings, through hands-on activities at tables. The presenters are also given a time slot to do a workshop featuring their hobby aka skill. Allison invited me to showcase EVOL because my offerings are a gateway to exploring inner worlds and applying play to self care. I ask, “Who are you?” and often, the straightforward, unexpected question cause people to reflect. During the Fall 2018 Art & Hobby Festival, I set up my table to be a reflection workshop. I provided prompts, paper, and writing instruments for people to spend a few minutes having a conversation with themselves.
I know how important reflection, especially journaling, is to self care.
My definition of self care is inclusive, too. I say that it is a practice that brings awareness to a state of consciousness. Self care as a hobby can improve your mental health because the practice plugs you in to the power of presence. Being present means you acknowledge the factors that are affecting your momentary experience. That could mean knowing (being informed) how environmental factors affect you physically or mentally.
Astrological factors and their related insight can have a major impact on your experience. Evolutionary astrology, which is soul focused and emphasizes the ability to transmute experiences through spiritual growth, is a body of knowledge I love to study and implement! Evolutionary astrology considers the framework that we incarnate at the exact moment that energies in the cosmos are going to give us the opportunities to challenge previous courses of actions (cause and effect, aka karma). Evolutionary astrology says that through transmuting aka integrating the lessons of the things that happen around us, we move toward different expressions of actions and reactions. The more aware we are of our tendencies, the more informed we can be to make conscious choices. If we choose differently, we break karma.
Jeffrey Wolf Green’s book Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul is a foundational text in the body of knowledge of evolutionary astrology. He writes that
Pluto’s house and sign placement describe two simultaneous phenomena. One the one hand, the natal position of Pluto describes the … individualized patterns in identity … on the other hand, … Pluto points to the evolutionary desire.
Pluto was active in the astrological weather during May, which was a serendipitous coincidence with mental health awareness month. It provided a brilliant circumstance to be sitting at the table and having honest and authentic conversations with people during the Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival, like the one with the woman.
“Let’s look at your chart,” I told her. We looked at the placement of Pluto, and, considered aspects, aka how the mix of energies of Pluto and the other planets moving through the sky at that moment were working off each other and giving her a certain flavor of experience. We talked about what her comfort zone (the natal position of Pluto) was and how to gently step outside of it, take mindful action, and grow (the sensation, force of evolutionary desire). It’s a psychological process that can be stressful as well as beneficial.
“Wow,” she said at one point. “I feel better knowing that I’m not crazy.” Her mood shifted and she left in a different mental place and with many things to reflect upon.
Astrology is a science of mixing and experimenting; each sign, house, placement (of celestial bodies) produce unique reactions when considered with other celestial bodies. The woman, by learning about her natal Pluto placement, was able to let go someof the “Why?” and move toward “What now?” as in, taking informed action. The reflections cause by our conversation will inform her self care if she sticks with and applies the practice.
I call EVOL offerings “self care practice” because that’s all we can expect ourselves to do—try it. Each time we bring awareness to our mental state, we can interface with the factors that might be influencing our experience. An understanding of our unique astrology within the larger cosmos can help us understand where thoughts are coming from. When the inner landscape, mental health, is more understood, movement toward peace, ease, and acceptance is greater. It all takes practice and it can change the way you look at yourself and reality. We learn to EVOLve through self care.
NOTE: Seek out a mental health professional when necessary. There’s no shame in getting help. Self care supports movement toward wellness, but no one does self care alone, and anyone can benefit from mental health care.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.