Hickory Stroogle. Chapter 4: Bear Claw Cove
Featuring handmade paper and pulp painting illustrations
"The Archetype of an Elder"
Savitri's article from The Mountain Astrologer, August/September 2012
Counseling Sessions with Savitri
Spiritual growth, dream work, meditation therapy, inner child, getting in touch with feelings, celebration!
Savitri is also an astrologer with 30 years experience and a Certificate in Medieval Astrology (traditional Western astrology).
All works on "Spirit Tapestries" website is under copyright. If you wish to copy anything from "Spirit Tapestries", please seek permission. If you copy only a paragraph or so, please credit.
This site is dedicated to my guru, Ammachi (Mata Amritanandamayi)
WELCOME TO SPIRIT TAPESTRIES: Yarns, Reflections, and Dreamtime
The symbolism and archetypes throughout Spirit Tapestries are cross-cultural, trans-religious, and often shamanic.
Bachelors in Art/Art History from Mills College. Peace Corps Volunteer working with weavers and spinners in the Peruvian Andes, 12,000 feet above sea level. Master of Fine Arts in Fiber Arts, University of Washington and a year-long teaching position there. A Fulbright Grant in Denmark, studying Prehistoric Danish textile techniques to use in my tapestries. Masters in Counseling Psychology University of Arizona.
A spiritual emergency while in Copenhagen led me to study yoga and meditation there, because I’d heard that through yoga one can learn all about the self.
Back in the USA, I taught fiber arts at Moore College of Art. A National Endowment for the Arts Grant awarded me the chance to study Tantric art, to delve deeper into this yoga that promises to bring a person to center of the self.
I left my college teaching position and took up the life of a monastic at an ashram in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, where I was also tapestry weaver-in-residence. We rose at four in the morning, 20 (or so) of us to meditate around the candle flame. Then hatha yoga, scripture study, Sanskrit, worship, gardening, cleaning latrines, scrubbing pots, baking bread, periods of austerities (fasting and silence), and learning to teach all that I was taught. This experience formed my spiritual life and not a day goes by without beginning with an hour or two of meditation and chanting.
After a couple of years, the ashram's American guru became abusive and the ashram lost many of its residents. What a relief when she booted me out; it was time for me to be out and on my way.
In Tucson, Arizona, I opened a yoga and meditation center, a branch of our Pennsyvalia ashram, in a large adobe home on three acres in the Catalina Foothills. We had a resident great horned owl, a Siamese cat that climbed giant saguaro cactus, and a jovial black old-English Sheep dog mix. I trained several yoga teachers, held workshops, worked with medicine women, hosted trance mediums and psychics, and took visiting friends on shamanic adventures into the desert.
While running the yoga center I studied for a Masters in counseling psychology and opened a private practice. Later I completed certification in Holotropic Breathwork, a powerful technique for entering altered states of consciousness, with Stan Grof.
At the end of the 80's, needing to move on, I sold my yoga center and moved to the high desert, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and opened a counseling practice, picked up weaving again, and led women's spiritual growth workshops for artists.
In Santa Fe I met the Indian humanitarian Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi), also known as the hugging saint or Ammachi. I had wanted nothing more with gurus, but there she was on tour in Santa Fe for a few days. A friend drove me to meet her at a program in a big top tent amidst the ponderosa pines. I was deeply moved to encounter a spiritual teacher who embodied values of universal truth and love, all the spiritual ideals I'd been seeking.
I cried for days after she left, unable to function, longing to be with her and learn from her. After praying to be able to study with Amma in India, my storage shed was broken into. From the loss of two European Oriental carpets, I collected insurance for the exact amount of a round trip ticket to India. My flying carpets. I put everything in storage and took off for Amma's ashram for four months. Thereafter I spent months at a time in India every year for the next twelve years, including following Amma's tours through Australia and around the USA. My 22 years with Amma as my spiritual guide and guru have been profoundly mystical, personally deepening, and psychologically healing on all levels.
In the midst of traveling to India every year, I eventually moved into Amma’s Santa Fe Center, a branch ashram in the foothills of New Mexico, site of the big top tent, and lived there for five years along with six to twelve other Amma devotees who came and went. It was difficult for me to continue living at the ashram when Amma's resident swami was transferred elsewhere. I felt a deep loss in his absense, without his spiritual guidance, his presence at meditation and chanting, and his classes on the Hindu epics.
A couple of years later, in 2003, it became time for me to leave, though I don't believe Amma wanted me to. But she knows I'm willful and determined when I get an idea into my head, and when I asked her to bless my move, she did. She sent me (yes, if feels as though her hand was in it) to a nature lover's paradise where I live a more contemplative life in my elder years.
My eleven years here on the coast of Maine, has continued to feel to me like a blessing from Amma. I live near Acadia National Park. Nearly daily I wander down wooded trails, past lakes and streams, along ocean shores and inlets. My experiences on the island inspired me to write an autobiographical fiction novel, The Sophia Secrets, about my life as an elder, which I recently published.
To back up a bit, not long after I moved to the island, I entered counseling with a psychologist of Jungian persuasion, who prefered to think of himself as an alchemist (and perhaps he was). In any case he was a perceptive, non-egoistic, gentle, no-nonsense fellow, who knew how to listen well, and used my horoscope as his map. I did sand tray work, dream work, art therapy, and down-to-earth, practical, behavioral psychology.
He felt to me to be yet another gift from Amma. I learned from him to free myself from the negative aspects of ashram living, all the ways it had replicated my negative early childhood experiences. I learned how to stop escaping through spirituality and the highs of it. He taught me how to stay inside my body, to sit and breathe into my feelings, no matter how painful or joyful, and to let all of life live inside of me and run through me like a river. How to integrate my spiritual life with all of life.
My subsequent studies of C.G. Jung's Works helped me to balance my Eastern spiritual path with my Western roots. Jung's notion of finding peace amidst the pairs of opposites (good/evil, moist/dry, dark/light, storm/calm, patience/anger), opened me to a view of very same teaching I'd studied at the Pennsylvania ashram in the 1970's in the Hindu scripture The Bhagavad Gita. Now I felt I had come to understand the meaning of these pairs of opposites, the paradox of them, the oneness of them. A joyous discovery of union of East and West.
And now here I am in Maine, no longer needing counseling (except for little "tune-ups" now and then), continuing my spiritual practices, and plumbing the depths of my connection to the Amma within, the Divine Mother inside my heart. Meanwhile, with Amma's Grace and guidance I continue to enjoy offering my counseling services, giving astrological readings, writing, and nature contemplation. My blog: "Crossing the Tidal River: My Life as an Elder" tells of my life here and now, as well as a few old memories.