Forage: The Rose and the Hip

What is Forage? A kind of inner tracking, a wild wander, observing how the gifts in the wild or garden reflect the gifts within.

I realize now, that the idea for the name of both my photography business and my educational business comes from a  kind of ‘forage’ experience.   In what ways does a ‘fruit’ or example from Nature mirror or symbolize a human process?  The Apple Star, is the core revealed, not cut out, the seeds of future creations intact, the beauty honoured!

The Rose and the Hip

It’s easy to admire the rose, in full glory, full sent and splendour, isn’t it? but not so easy the haw, the seed, the hip. Hard, blood red, seedy and itchy to boot, this little bounty has it’s treasure well hidden. She’s thorny too, marking territory, entwined in an never-ending dance with the Black Berry Briar, we watch those once juicy black nuggets drying on the vine, and marvel at their simple giving of themselves to us, compared to the complex extraction needed to taste the healing of the rose hip! A what is this weird, puff of a hairy nest? Is it true a wasp lies within? This is what Rose hips bring up for me:

“When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.”

Kahlil Gibran

Thank you Omi Grace for walking with me, listening to me, and gathering with me.  Thank you too, for standing your ground and expressing your boundaries, and making the tea, that I couldn’t make!!  Belinda White

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#forage #wildwander #wildwomen #rosehip #innertracking #pinions #Kahlilgibran

Wild Self – of Scars, Skies, and Water

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”

— Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D (Women Who Run With the Wolves)

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I am so honoured to have photographed such a stunningly gorgeous, honest, vulnerable and powerful wild woman!   Most of us struggle with body image, I know I do.  What is it like as we grow older, post child rearing, as the years go by, still keenly aware of emotional or physical injuries lodged deep in our skin, our bones, our hearts?  It is hard to stand naked in front of ourselves and shout ‘Yes!’ to the skies, Yes, to ourselves.  Yes to our beautiful bodies, pain and all, age and experience and all.  It is hard, isn’t it?  And yet, if we go there, if we walk tentatively down our own steep, crumbling banks, noticing how life persists in clinging, in growing, in reaching, down towards the cool pool within, where the gentle sun warms….If we gingerly approach that edge…we can find that place of release, of self-acceptance, and of profound beauty.

“I was taught from a very young age that my body was not my own. Told in subtle and not so subtle ways, by both my parents… by a trusted elderly neighbor… and by society… that this body I was born into was for a man’s pleasure. And so the abuse began.

I went into this photo shoot with the intention of facing some of my darkest places and dislodging the stuck parts inside. I loved the idea of entering the water to wash away some of these old stories…. These outdated thought patterns that kept me held in abuse and self- hatred.

And now, as I look at these beautiful photographs and observe the effects that two years without almost any yoga has done to my body…. I try my best to breathe through my inner self critic.

I feel inspired… to let go of the self-hatred and love my body back into the shape I feel more comfortable with.

Most important of all… I choose to reclaim my birthright… This body… This body is my own.

Thank you, again for the opportunity you have given me.”

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Wild Woman at the lake ~ exploring her edges of vulnerability

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the cool waters at the centre of our body
can we find that forgiving patient self love here at the lake, the trees cling to steep banks,
roots exposed, hard rock and soft earth crumble
trees fall, all feeds and is fed, death, life, transition

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Injury and healing
earth body mirrors our body
as we learn to love and cherish our core
we become stronger

in awe, Belinda

#wildwomanproject #rewildingphotography #wildwander #wildself #scarsskiesandwater #deepscar #beautifulbodyproject #bodylove #selflove #thatisadoor #clarissapinkolaestes #shiningfromtheinsideout

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” To love my body fiercely is truly revolutionary.”

“oh, my breats are uneven! Mama breats!” Even when her youngest daughter is not here beside her, that bond of breast-feeding is present in the body of mama Omi Grace as she embraces her own power feet washed by the river, our great earth mama’s breast, nursing us with the waters of life; arms stretching high like the Cedar trees to the sky, Goddess rising! You are so beautiful Omi.

 

#awildwomanproject #wildwomanproject #rewildingphotography #goddessrising #lovemybodyfeircely

Beautiful, Wild, Searching Naomi

“All of us are wild deep within.” A Wild Woman Project

What can I say about you, sweet Naomi?  Meeting you changed my life.  You ‘saw’ me. you ‘heard’ me, you ‘knew’ me.

You witnessed, named and honoured my deep sharing and vulnerability.  You thanked me for my tears, and cried with me at our first gathering together, and in so doing cracked open a space in my judgement:- haha, I thought you were perfect, young, beautiful, partnered, happy.  Our meeting, the time, conversations, and visioning we’ve done since has contributed so much to my understanding of A Beautiful Mama Project and A Wild Woman Project.

Walking down to the river to pray, play, cry and work through shame, fears, lost dreams, deep desires, and new hopes and visions with you…hands and feet in the mud, searching, probing, the constant trickle of flow, the rich earth, Cedar growth and death, constant.  The rich, rich smell of it all, loamy, wet, so incredibly female….thank you for your vulnerability, thank you for you questing, thank you for your gentleness with yourself and with me, thank you, Naomi, for helping me understand my wild craft, my wild photo wanders.  I can’t wait until the next time we create together, we hold space together, we cry and love and love together.

I love these words you have written on rewilding.

“Rewilding to me is a remembering, a tuning into the Earth & her sacred, ancient ways & energy.  Of beginning to match our nature with Nature.  To allow ourselves to listen to our heart beat & the heart beat of the earth, air, water, fire & begin to bring balance back within ourselves & so then without us as well.  To allow there to be seasons within our lives & to allow shame & guilt to melt away as we listen to our inner knowing & learn from others who are walking this path & who have walked this path before.  To unlearn all that does not serve & begin anew.  Being mindful with our choices, our words,  our food.         But also being gentle with ourselves in the unfolding.

I find it amazing that now rewilding is a movement.  Yet I have always felt that deep connection to be connected with the earth & it is always there.  All of us are wild deep within.  We have just forgotten the old ways.  The most basic of ways.  To flow with our own seasons within the seasons.  To be unwavering in our strength & to above all be connected with all beings.

By slowing down & spending time in nature, gathering food, preparing our own food. Remembering that all food is living & that we must take life to live and yet we can give back and so the circle of life continues.  That, in the end our own lives will end and if we allow return to the sacred circle.  We all need to be humble and we all need to accept and embrace our innate power and light as beings who are here to protect and live as one with this earth.  We are here to create a new way.  Together.”

Rewilding photographic wanders take us on a  journey through a wild and natural landscape that we love or are drawn to, and in so doing we travel inwards, searching for lost or broken parts of ourselves, our wild selves, “collecting the bones” of our personal stories so to speak.  The forest, trees, roots, rivers, shoreline, caves, stone, sand and mud draw us towards them.  Perhaps we tune in to one or another element more, the river forever running, bringing life and taking it away, a babbling brook of women’s voices, tears, laughter, wisdom of ages, perhaps the mud, rich and mucky covering our hands, feet, bellies….there is healing here, on this journey, this process, of wandering over the road, away from the garden, towards that untended self, tracking a wild woman hiding in the shadows, foraging for sweet berries, sweet truths of self, delicious intuition, flashes of realization, there is release here, in casting off domestic shame, slowly peeling off layers of preconception, and allowing Mother’s embrace, Mother’s example embodied in Tree, Flow, Root, Soar, Release, Compost, there is love here, self love, self embrace.

Thank you for your courage Naomi.  Tender Love, Belinda

Naomi and her partner Dante and their two children live in a beautiful, semi wild setting on the land in Sooke, BC, where they offer, facilitate and hold space for rewilding, community, healing, play, spa and wild food events.  They are an amazing, inspiring couple.  I have learned so much from them, recieved so much love and hope. I am ever grateful. <3 Belinda

#awildwomanproject #abeautifulbodyproject #rewildingphotography #bodypositive #downtotheriver #wildwander #rewild #innertracking #wildwoman #collectingthebones #remembering #unlearning #forage

forage

At first I wanted to call this ‘food porn’, but then I had to pause, why ‘porn’?  What is it about my / our relationship to sensuality that causes me / us to debase this incredible fruit of the sea?  Why not honour and celebrate this luscious, miraculous, delicate and delicious gift from our Mother Earth, or Mother Sea instead?  And so here she is, hand-picked and photographed by me, Belinda White of Apple Star Photo and steamed, shucked and presented by Andria Green of Real Good Food, an oyster naked and glowing for all to see.  This is where Rewilding revives and reconnects our intimate entwinement and sensual bond with the our giving Earth, our nurturing Mother.  Rewilding excites us, invites us to bask in beauty and in bounty, reminds us who we are  and how we belong.

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#rewild #wildfood #foragetofeast #awildwomanproject #sensualoysterphoto #wildfoodphotography #applestarphoto #realgoodfood

Spring

Death-in-life, Life-in-death

A personal exploration into grief, loss, and gratitude

“When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.”

from ‘On Love’, The Profit, Kahil Gibran

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This is a photo of a drawing by Lori Ann Latremouille https://www.facebook.com/loriann.latremouille

Not long ago, I found myself at a resting place on journey to understand love.  I had found companion like no other, a friend and lover with whom I could share anything and everything.  He held me like no other, he accepted me, he sheltered me while I collapsed after years of longing, fighting, loneliness. The love I feel for this man still, is indescribable.  I am trying to make sense of all that has happened.  It is over now.  He is gone so completely from my life, it is as if he had died.  I am stunned, and groping through the mud of my devastation trying to make sense of it, trying to find the gift…trying to find the lesson.

 

During a walk on Filongley, Denman Island / Salish Sea in the company of a great friend, I walked back through time sifting through the rubble, the sand, the stones, the branches, looking for treasures: why do we cleave to each other?  Why does the Love that brings so much joy, so much life, such richness, also tear us apart?
“As he is for your growth, so he is for your pruning.”  Why is that cleaving so good, so good that we never want to let go?

This is a sacred time of year, a time of death and rebirth.  Much has been torn asunder. What can be sourced form all this death?  On my walk, I noticed the buds, the new life, the young eagle circling above, gulls feeding on herring row, the boys carving spears, and running hollering through the woods, life abundant emerges, doesn’t it? out of the hubris of death….and there, suddenly, at the edge of the clearing, a young dear, felled in its young-just-budding prime, just barely alive, and now already food for the circling young eagle above.  Wow. “Spring is here, why doesn’t my heart go dancing?” by Nina Simone, plays now on my radio…Spring is here indeed, with all its newness, its excitement, its birth.  But death is close by.  I am trying to source gratitude for the gifts, even the dead baby dear.

We went in the cold rain to harvest the fruits of the land, nettles, clams and oysters. Always, paying attention to these gifts of food, we acknowledge that we are taking life, like the eagle, finding life and nourishment from death.  Death-in-life, Life-in-death.  Its the way it is, right?

I am so very grateful for this chance to walk, to wander, to sift through it all, to bear witness to the gifts, the sacrifices, the losses, the transmuting of life force.  But I am struggling with it all, my friends, I really thought I had found a resting place.  Is there ever a resting place?  Why has this man, to whom I gave so much trust, so much energy, all of my love, and tenderness, and forgiveness; why has this man forsaken me?  It may take me a decade to unravel this one, to grow from this destruction.  Friends please be patient with me, I am hurting, I am in pain, so much pain…but I will find a way, I will keep looking, keep treasuring, keep sifting.  I will continue to open my heart, though the North Winds have laid waste my garden.

#deathinlife #lifeindeath #wild #sift #griefandloss #personalhealingjourney

 

A meditation on seeds

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As I walk around these days, watching leaves float and seeds tumble and spin, I spin tales. Tell stories of the tough “conquer” (Horse Chestnut) battles of my childhood, the miracle of helicopter seeds….as always I’m taking pictures of mamas feeding their babies at their breast….I am teaching children, I am leaning into and learning daily more about that beautiful entwinement of love and attachment….it is not all loveliness, is it?
There is pain, there is loss.
Our baby is a gift, we have sprouted, there is new life, there is harvest, Thanksgiving! But how do we hold a space for what is lost, what is broken, what hurts?
When we have a child, we are cracked open, we are broken.
Tell that story!
Have you noticed all the armor, all the fuzz and fluff, the wicked fast wings and strong anchors seed pods have!! We women have all that armor, that prickly or soft fuzz, we have those wings and anchors…..until….crack, we give birth, or miscarry, or FAIL to get pregnant, or FAIL to carry a child to term, or FAIL to be lovable.
It cracks us right open, it empties us out.
It breaks right through our armor, it clips our wings, dethorns us, plucks our fuzz, it rips our anchors, like roots in their clinging to the earth.
Huskless we fall to the ground, the wet mud….
Unteathered we fly spinning, terrified, forgotten?
Who am I?
This is giving birth
Or giving death
Or standing barren before the storm
Of judgement
Tell that story!
We generate, we regenerate.
We have incredible power, and yet we feel so broken, so ripped open, so emptied, so exhausted, so alone.
We have incredible power, and yet feel often so powerless, so terrified, so ungrateful, even angry at our child who has torn apart our whole being and left us an empty husk.
We have incredible power, and yet that power is not honoured, not told and retold, not upheld, not painted and hung in spangles for all to see, the incredible power and beauty of the pregnant, the birthing, the breast-feeding, bottle-feeding, the stretch marks, the Caesarian marks, the empty womb, the broken heart, the single mama, the sea mama, the childless longing mama, the sexless marriage, the withered breast, the saggy belly…..all in us that is wholly generative and regenerative, this incredible power….of life and death we hold within these armored, winged husks of ours.
Tell that story.
A child at the breast is attached to the pulse of life.
A child held in the arms with a bottle, a child against your chest mama, papa, uncle, auntie, grandma, grandpa is attached to the pulse of life. In that hold, the heart beats synchronize, the message is exchanged, we belong. We have incredible power, and yet, we are told an image of a mother nurturing her baby is revolting, unseemly. I’m so sorry if the pan sexual, or deeply sensual nature of that connection offends your delicate senses.
Tell that story!
Instead, I will bind my breasts in satin or leather, push them together, bend over, shake it all up for your pleasure. Instead, I will encourage the pre pubescent girls and boys in my community to shake their booty, learn lust, sexualization, commodification….oh why get angry now? Perhaps that’s exactly it…sever that commutation, make sure the message doesn’t get through, make sure we are disconnected from that pulse of life!!
Today, I post two images of my gorgeous, strong, broken, regenerating friend A. as she holds her babe to her breast. The first is so uplifting, so telling, so much of the story of life is there: as a mother we face that over-powering ocean, as our babe at once clings to us and pulls away. The other is the same, only edited, cleaned up, blurred, censored. Because we all know that the nipple is disgusting, right? Because it is sexual, it cannot possibly be linked to nurturing a child, right? It must be reserved for the erotic, the lovers, for the advertisers….not the pulse of life.
Mamas, like the Ocean roar!
Tell that story.

 

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