An art and hobby festival highlights the benefits of creative play; I offer attendees opportunities to fiddle with their subjective experience.

Flyer for the Art & Hobby Festival

“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. 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 has invited me several times to showcase EVOL because my offerings are a gateway to exploring inner worlds and self care. Taking a play-filled approach eases the exploration for those who might think that self care isn’t their “thing.” I ask attendees, “Who are you?,”  and the straightforward, unexpected question often causes people to reflect on something they might not be thinking about. I set up my table to be a reflection workshop. I provide prompts, paper, and writing instruments for people to spend a few minutes having a conversation with themselves.

Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival

My definition of self care is inclusive, too, because I say that it is a practice that brings awareness to a state of consciousness. Self care doesn’t have to look or be a certain way–it only has to serve your growth, wellness, and evolution. Self care as a hobby improves mental health because you can determine what brings you joy–like taking time to try new things–it’s the practice of checking in and noticing how your experience is while you’re doing the activity that matters. It’s you plugging in to the power of your presence. Being present means you acknowledge the factors that are affecting your momentary experience.

Another reason I like to do the festival is the opportunity to talk to people about how environmental factors, including astrological ones, can affect mental well being. Often, it’s the first time people hear about evolutionary astrology, which is soul focused and emphasizes the ability to transmute experiences through spiritual growth. Evolutionary astrology says that what’s happening in your life is set up as a lesson, ie, give us the opportunities to challenge previous courses of actions (cause and effect, aka karma). It also 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.

A seminal work in evolutionary astrology

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 considered at the placement of Pluto that was specific to her, and together we 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 some of 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. We learn to EVOLve through reflection applied to a self care practice.

NOTE: Seek out a mental health professional when necessary. Changing your subjective experience isn’t always as straightforward as the example in this post. 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.