170 years ago in Ireland people died by the side of the road in their thousands.
The main potato crop repeatedly failed. A people already on the margins starved.
The authorities stood by. Concepts such as welfare and human rights were yet to be born.
They continued to export crops - in heavily guarded convoys - back to the British mainland.
Those that couldn’t pay their rent were not only evicted from their homes. The roofs were torn off their cottages so they couldn’t return.
People walked for days to workhouses where they laboured under terrible conditions for meagre meals.
A million people died. Another million fled the country. 25% of the population disappeared in a few short years.
I share this not to scare you.
But to highlight how much has changed in our world.
Now we have welfare benefits, food banks, health services and non-profits designed to support the most vulnerable.
Now we are willing to sacrifice our daily liberties to help others.
Now we are...
Stop the world, I want to get off!
How often have I heard that cry from myself and others over the years.
We’ve been living in the time of crazy. For decades.
The relentless do-do-do. The never-ending to-do lists. The endless days of grind.
Waking up with daily dread. Never feeling good enough. The silent shame.
Perhaps we are long overdue for a correction.
Perhaps once we’ve overcome the shock, the panic, the adjustment to our current circumstances …
… we can turn towards this part of ourselves whose wish has finally been granted. (For some of us at least.)
This poem could have been written for this moment.
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
I sat at my laptop, my mind utterly blank. Aargh. It was like walking through toffee.
I knew what I wanted to say. So why was my brain frozen? Why was there a fist-sized knot in my solar plexus?
The temptation to distract was compelling. I could check Facebook. Fold the laundry. Put away those dishes. And what about that cupboard that needs decluttering? Now might be a good time.
I was writing a webinar called Healing the Invisibility of Feminine Wisdom. On the wounds of silencing and persecution that have been passed down through generations.
Witch hunts. Suppression of women. Slavery. Destruction of indigenous cultures.
About how they still underpin much of the fear of speaking up experienced by women, intuitives, conscious leaders, holistic practitioners.
I’m preparing to step out and speak publicly about this for the first time ...
… and the treacle tension I’m in is getting thicker and stickier by the minute.
Coincidence? Possibly not.
As I munched my salad, the familiar shrinking feeling came over me. A knot in my belly. A small sad voice asking: ‘What about me?’ The pain of not feeling seen.
We were having lunch with friends. They knew my husband well and I was getting to know them too.
The last time we’d met I liked them, but came away feeling invisible. They were outgoing, talkative and didn’t seem that interested in me. Or so my stories told me.
I’m generally quiet, a good listener and ask questions so I can get to know people. Others often feel very seen in my company.
These are qualities shared by many of us with an ‘I’m invisible’ pattern.
But the habits of hiding sneak in. At times I avoid revealing myself. Wait to be invited to speak rather than come forward with my opinions or the things I’m excited about.
Since our last gathering, I’d done deep work on my invisibility patterns. Now I spotted it quickly.
Without leaving the table or...
As her words sunk in, I felt tears prick my eyes. I just wanted to disappear.
I felt hurt, angry and confused. What had I done to provoke such sharpness?
I got away quickly. Weeping quietly in my bedroom, I held my tender heart as I pondered our encounter.
She was a friend and precious to me.
And I was really upset by how she’d spoken to me.
I knew we’d get through it. But first I needed to start with myself. Do the deep work.
First things first. I released her energy. Her anger, her reaction, her projections. I cleared my energy from her. My expectations, control, neediness.
Yes. That felt lighter.
But I sensed there was more.
Why had this happened? What was it showing me? How was it serving me?
Often insights come easily. Other times I have to dig deeper.
I turned towards my tender self. This was a familiar pain.
I remembered harsh words exchanged at the dinner table, my 4 year-old face crumpling, too soft for my siblings’ verbal swordplay. ‘Cry baby...
Recorded on International Women's Day 8th March
Hello and welcome to Poetry Alchemy Infusions. We're celebrating International Women's Day today!
Hi, I'm Rionach Aiken, and I'm a Visibility Coach and Poetry Alchemist.
I'm delighted to be bringing you poems by women poets this week for women's day. Today is a very special poem that I want to share with you.
This is a poem that changed my life six years ago when I worked with it.
If you've been following these Infusions for a while, you'll know that there are some poems that I speak that are really deeply embodied in me, that I know really well. And others, that I read that I love, but I haven't embodied so much.
There's a process that I go through in embodying a poem. I work with it deeply over weeks or months, and it changes me. The poem I want to share with you today is one that really changed my life when I worked with it six years ago.
I've got a process of asking my intuition: 'What poem should I work with...
On this day 19 years ago, it was also a full moon in February.
I’ll never forget that day.
It was the day I married my beloved.
Being with Altazar always felt like coming home to me. To a deeper home than any I could have imagined. Soul-deep and eternal.
My unconventional heart had never dreamed of a white wedding – dress, church, flowers. Or any wedding, come to that.
But then I watched the movie Rob Roy.
When Mary McGregor said to her husband: ‘Do you know how fine you are to me, Robert McGregor?’ something changed inside.
Next day I said to Altazar ‘We could get married.’
He said yes. :-D
The vision came. Go to a sacred place in nature. Create our own ceremony. Declare ourselves married.
I quickly knew where and when.
Full moon. February. Hill of Tara (an ancient sacred site in Ireland).
Now the scary bit ...
It felt intensely vulnerable to share this vision with our families.
We thought about heading off somewhere with a couple of...
Hi, I'm Rionach Aiken, visibility mentor and poetry alchemist.
I help visionaries - practitioners, coaches, creatives, change-agents to bring their voices into the world and to show up, to grow their visibility so they can share their message.
The poem I want to share with you today, I've chosen because I've spoken to so many people - clients, community members – recently who've really struggled with visibility, in terms of having a sense that they've shown up and been visible in the past and it hasn't gone well.
They've encountered criticism, projection, judgment - painful experiences - and it's easy to hide away, to retreat, to put up a shield and to think it's not safe to become visible.
Sometimes we show up and shine and are visible and vulnerable, and we still don't get the results that we might be looking for in that particular context. People don't engage in the way that we would like them to. And that's painful as well.
So this poem is for you if...
Start Close In
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
way of starting
Start close in,
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
This is a poem (a part of a poem) called Start Close In by David Whyte. I'm sharing this poem with you today because I want to talk to you about the strategies that you use to become visible, to become known, to get out there.
Hi, I'm Rionach Aiken, Visibility Mentor and Poetry Alchemist, and I'm here to support visionaries becoming visible. I work with coaches, practitioners, healers, change-agents, creatives, pioneers, leaders, to support you to become seen, known and valued, and overcome any visibility fears or...