Ian Siddons Heginworth  

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Contact Ian: ian@environmentalartstherapy.co.uk




Environmental arts therapy and the Tree of Life guides us through the Celtic calendar to explore the relationship between the feeling experience of the human heart and the turning year. Practical, poetic, innovative and magical, it invites us to make environmental art and ritual a vital and healing part of our lives once again and teaches us how to take the personal issues that bind and oppress us out into Nature where they can be met, confronted and transformed.


Nothing contemplates balance like a mobile. Tiny, delicate mobiles made from the bones of birds, beech nuts and alder catkins bound with gossamer strands of silver thread. Vast and complex mobiles, turning like solar systems beneath the boughs of great trees, meandering shells and skulls, moss balls, seaweed and holly berries. Stones suspended like pendulums, hovering just millimetres from the ground. Fairy like figures made from lichen and sheep’s wool, with real feather wings, dancing like gnats upon the breeze. Individual features, holly leaf eyes, a fir cone nose, a mouth of split bark, all slowly turning within the outline of a face drawn upon the air with ivy. Watching us as we pass.


 As the days grow short the shadows creep in. The blanket of leaves grows dark and lies like a shroud upon the cold body of the earth as she draws back her fluids into herself. Winter sucks the life out of the land with a harsh and oppressive hunger, and all that is soft and warm recoils in the face of her advance. The woodland creatures hibernate, sealing up their dens to salvage and sustain the heat in the heart of themselves. They wrap themselves around it and sleep, little pockets of hot life imbedded in the cold clay. Secret dreamers among the black roots, spirits of fur and claw and snuffling snout, cave dwellers, fire keepers, as silent as grubs they hide from winter’s fierce and probing tongue.


 Standing on the threshold of death we can never know what lies beyond but we can turn around and see where we have come from. Do you remember the new beginnings of silver birch, the descent of rowan, the bridge of alder, the womb of willow, the alchemy of ash, the white track of hawthorn, the doorway of oak, the fire of holly, the dark pool of hazel, the harvest of apple, the block of ivy, the robe of elder? Each month has offered us the Tree of life in a different guise, twelve different faces of wisdom shaped by the season into metaphors that are meaningful to us then and only then. Learn about any one of these outside of their month and we may grasp a little with our mind but that is all. But feel our way into any one of these in their rightful time and the depth of the lesson can be profound and transformative for this is a teaching of the heart so the mind can only truly understand it when it has been felt in context with the turning year.


There is great magic in this. We can struggle and strive, seek, grasp and build, but if we are still bound subtly to the past then the chances are that we will not attain our dreams. We can waste a lifetime trying to get there this way. But if instead we isolate the strands of feeling that secure us like anchors to times gone, cut them with our anger and weep the tears that were waiting there, we leap forward and everything changes around us. This is because our natural state is one of flux. Only fear and clinging keeps us from it. This is the power of the feminine, its harnessing of natural transformation as a force that nothing can withstand.

 This is a book about therapy

 The feminine is by its nature a very fragile thing so a child can be easily broken. All our little souls are born with great hopes. The hope that we will be loved, held, heard, nurtured, allowed to thrive, allowed to be ourselves, allowed to grow without judgement, condemnation or shame. When these expectations are not met there comes a time in our childhood when hope cannot sustain us any longer and something breaks. We will always remember this time, the time that I sat on the stairs and wept, the time that I ran and hid in the woods, the time that I stood in the window and thought about jumping. They may seem like small insignificant memories now but we will never forget them, even though the rest of our childhood may be lost in a fog of forgetfulness, and when we explore them in therapy we find that they hold great feeling. For this was the point when something within us got left behind. Something wronged, something angry, something that could find no voice in childhood. In order just to carry on we bundled up this shadow and hid it in the dank and dusty cupboards of our heart. Or we left it on the stairway, up the tree or trembling at the window sill and we walked away. Now so many years later we must return to these places and find it again.

But it is not just for therapists

This book is for anyone who loves the human heart and wants to reclaim and honour this long repressed aspect of self. This book is for anyone who loves Nature and wishes to learn a practical ecopsychology whereby the issues that entrap and disempower us can be taken out into the woods, addressed and transformed. This book is for anyone who longs for meaningful ritual and seeks to make it a living part of their lives. This book is for anyone who loves the magical language of metaphor and is beginning to understand its boundless power to manifest change, and this book is for anyone who loves fairy tales, myths and stories and wonders at their possible meanings.