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Meeting the falcon: new perspectives in times of uncertainty

Updated: Mar 27

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...

W. B. Yeats

Our world is afflicted in so many ways – wherever we look, it seems, there is hurt, pain, discord. What seems to accompany all of this is the chronic gnaw of uncertainty: we do not know what will happen, we do not know when there will be release and repair, we do not know if everything will be okay in the end. The truth of Yeats’ words feels truer with every news report that is published.

As children, parents, teachers, doctors, organisations, people: this can become unbearable. How can there be hope, within this uncertainty?

Unfortunately, I can give no answer to this question. What I can offer is a reflection:

A few weeks ago, just before the rains in the Cape began, I was sitting in the garden just outside my practice room. The autumn light was catching the leaves of the tree beside me. Suddenly, in a flash of wings: a majestic falcon landed in the tree. I held my breath, awed. It preened its feathers and looked out at the world, taking its time. When it was ready, it spread its powerful wings and flew on. This moment felt magical: an unexpected, beautiful thing. This falcon’s visit stayed close to me for the rest of the week, and I saw the world in a slightly different way because of it.

Sometimes we are visited by chance by a falcon, but sometimes the falcon cannot hear our call in the midst of it all. Sometimes it is up to us to seek it out, so it does not become lost “turning and turning in the widening gyre”.

What I notice time and again in my practice – both in my individual work, as well as group and organisational work – is that the arts therapies have a certain power to facilitate these ‘falcon moments’: exploring that which lies beyond words, as well as inviting new perspectives.

The intentional practice of using symbol, metaphor, story and movement encourages expression, insight and integration – often in ways that are beyond words. The falcon did not speak to me, but through her physical presence, the symbol she held for me, and the story she evoked in me - the beyond-words experience sparked real reflection and powerful shift in my perspective: I felt connected to myself, the living world, and the capacity to coexist and thrive amidst adversity. This capacity to communicate deeply held truths, ways of being, challenges, and internal experiences through intentional, process (not product)-based creative exploration, is the beating heart of the arts therapies.

So often, my clients share with me that through the intentional creative exploration they encounter meaningful new perspectives: “I’ve just never thought of this in this way before!”. Looking through the perspective of a story, a myth, ritual, sandtray, movement or creative mapping, we can gain perspectives that lie outside the fast-held narrative we so often hold about ourselves and each other. We can witness these parts of self as they alight in a flash of wings, we can invite them to bask in the autumn light and stay awhile so we can get to know them better.

Yes, we can become stuck in the uncertain, chaotic world as Yeats describes. Or, we can create opportunities and strengthen our capacity to call in the falcon: finding the beyond-words insight, the perspective, the connection - and maybe even a little bit of magic - that they offer.

If you are wanting to meet and access these experiences, please get in touch with me. I work with finding reconnection and exploration of self, meaning and health after experiences of grief, transition, loss, trauma, or challenging life events. I work with adults, teens and children. I also hold these spaces for teams, schools and organisations.


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