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7. Words From A Lemurian

For me, Lemuria is a vast creative landscape that is always what I need it to be no matter how much it changes. Every time I visit there are beautiful adjustments to the view, the details, the atmosphere, the lay of the land. There are always friends in Lemuria, continuing on their own creative journey and always welcoming to me, as I continue on mine.

In a land as large as Lemuria, I can always find a corner for quiet contemplation or more exuberant flexing of my creative muscles.

To help tend the land I need only visit often, plant a poem or reflection, give water to a friend’s offering, soak up the atmosphere and help spread the word about this wondrous place.
Soul Tide

Midlife is the perfect time to reinvent yourself. You have the hard-earned wisdom of aging, the kids are (hopefully) out of the house, and if you’re lucky, a tiny bit more money than you had when you were twenty. It’s time to stretch your wings and try something new, something exciting, something…creative!

“But I’m not creative,” you say. Au contraire. You just need some direction, some inspiration, and maybe a little support. In this three-part series, I will introduce you to some women who can light your creative fires. They will share some words of wisdom that will help you “Get your muse on!”

Part I: Queen of Lemuria

Heather Blakey lives in Melbourne, Australia. She is the acknowledged queen and mistress of The Soul Food Café. Soul Food is a gorgeous, sprawling, organic site of art and writing. One can get lost in its pages for hours. Blakey, a retired English teacher, began Soul Food eight years ago as a way to encourage daily writing practice. Initially, the site was designed as a resource for students, with writing prompts to provide a jumping off point, but soon grew into a cyber community of writers and artists interacting and journeying together.

 

“Winged Shoes” by Heather Blakey

“It really was a challenge for me to replicate the magic of my classrooms in an online setting. It took ages for me to find the right dynamic. Discussion boards opened the doorway and provided a forum for me to create a writing class environment but it was only when blog sites became more sophisticated that I was really able to create a salon style atmosphere.”

In this salon environment, Blakey, as the mistress “le Enchanteur,” guides artists and writers through amazing worlds — like the mythical land of Lemuria — that are drawn from fact and fiction. Participants might find themselves in a deep wood riding a flying donkey, traveling a stormy sea or standing at the feet of a mythical goddess. The site is loaded with links and pages, writing prompts and story seeds, and participants are free to interact with one another as little or as much as they wish.

Among the regular participants at Soul Food, there are some male participants, but the most avid users are women. Blakey suggests that perhaps more women are drawn to what she calls “soul work,” but she also says that many men are drawn to this kind of activity.

“In my imagination I like to think that the men come and visit and secretly keep visual journals; that they are like “sleeper cells” that will one day awaken and go out in to the world armed with all the information that they have gleaned from my site.”

She does acknowledge, though, that women seem to be seeking connection, particularly connection with other creative women.

“It is hard to estimate the impact of connections like these. A young woman with cerebral palsy at home in New Zealand can communicate with women in many countries, in a way that was previously impossible. In my own case, I could care for my husband while he was dying with cancer, yet travel and meet a fascinating array of individuals. At a time when I was vulnerable and feeling very alone, people entered my life via magical tools created by computer geeks who had little idea of what they were actually creating. All of these exciting applications: weblogs, message boards, and member groups, enable women to connect.

 

“Dream Seeds” by Heather Blakey

“I think of all these web tools, along with scanners and digital cameras, as essential items for my travel bag. I pack up my bag, lace up my cyber boots and wander all over the globe using these tools to connect women with one another.”

In this sense, Blakey really is a virtual travel guide, and others have noticed her travels as well. Her site was named one of the “101 Best Writing Sites on the Web” by Writer’s Digest, and has received kudos from such creativity gurus as SARK. This validation and the growth of the site strengthened her own creativity.

“As my sense of self became stronger and I found my authentic voice, my creativity leapt like a rising star. I am regularly told that my work as a specialist teacher of writing, a purveyor of creative stimuli, has impacted lives in the most positive ways. I have been privy to people reinventing themselves and claiming their true identity. It was exhilarating when I found le Enchanteur, Sibyl Riversleigh, the Amazon Queen, Baba Yaga and the Gorgons (various character incarnations she assumes) all living inside me, and they have taken me on an unforgettable journey of a life time.”

Her growing expertise led to a partnership with the Victorian Educational Channel, creating and nurturing virtual communities for teachers, and she is also working with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who wish to have a web presence to share stories and expertise.

 

“Atlas” by Heather Blakey

The site also became important in a very personal way, when Blakey’s husband Darryl died early this year, after a protracted battle with cancer. Members of Soul Food were privy to the couple’s journey through illness and death. For some time, Blakey has been making a drawing a day as her creative process, and these drawings took on an increasing depth and poignancy as she moved through Darryl’s funeral and her own grief.

While Blakey had wonderful support at home in Australia, she also had the support of the Soul Food community, who posted various memorial tributes to Darryl. Blakey feels that is precisely in these unexpected ways that virtual creative communities are proving to be of value. People are making real connections and sharing real events in a virtual world. These connections, she feels, can be transformative.

“When one gives oneself to art and is passionate about art, the awakening self is healed. It is not easy to explain the metamorphosis that takes place, any more than it is easy to explain the wondrous transformation of a caterpillar into a gracious butterfly. It is enough to say seeing one’s butterfly wings heals all, palliates any old scars or wounds.”

For those ready to discover their butterfly wings, Blakey invites you to explore her site enter into daily writing or creative practice, and consider joining her on an upcoming journey.

by Lemurian, Karen Roberts
Your Passport

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This Catalogue is, quite simply, a passport to Lemuria. All you need to do is contact Heather Blakey, creator of the Soul Food Cafe, by emailing her at heatherblakey at fastmail dot fm. Provide an expression of interest,  and tell her that you are a member of WordPress (it’s free to join) and she will sign you in to the online Creativity Catalogue and any other Lemurian weblogs you wish to contribute to. Of course, you may not want to do any of this, and that is fine too. You can use this Catalogue as a private workbook and never tell another soul what you are doing in your free time.

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