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Merilee Bennett is a maker, artist, creator.


Workshop report

Merilee Bennett

Recently, I was asked to run a private Wisdom Doll workshop for a small group of women who were in the midst of a particularly intense circumstance. It became a fully customised workshop. From our first emails and text communication I was aware of their astounding and exquisite vulnerability and I felt honoured to work with them. It was an invitation into a sacred place.

I decided to work with the Sumerian story of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and her descent to her grieving sister, Erishkegal, Queen of the Underworld. It's a story big enough to give a road map to the very human experience of deep grief. As with every great archetypal story, every character can be read as an aspect of ourselves: we are the beautiful, powerful, joyous Queen of Heaven, and we are her dark sister whose grief is so painful it consumes her and all she looks upon. We are our own allies, and we know how to sit with ourselves and others in the dark, with sweetness of heart, with compassion and empathy. We are also ordinary men and women who descend and rise up, descend and again rise up, taking our turn in the darkness and our turn in the light.

It was a beautiful workshop. Stories were told, dolls were made, and I had the great pleasure of meeting these wonderfully sensitive and robust women, whose friendship with each other was rich and honest and a delight to be around. The quality of conversation around the table, over the making, as they refined their ideas and we worked out together how they were to create what they envisaged, reminded me of the aeons of women of every culture, working together, sewing or cooking or problem solving or building relationships, building community. I spent a day once with Fijian women as they pressed coconut to extract the oil, scented it with fresh ylang ylang, and bottled it, all done in the most relaxed way possible under an enormous mango tree, with kids running round in the background. There was an element of that feeling as this group stitched and painted and constructed, all the while talking in that free wheeling, looping manner, where technical questions give way to moments of deep emotion and intimacy.

Afterwards, I kept feeling, and saying, that I felt honoured to have done this work. I used the word 'honoured' so often I started to question what I actually meant by it. Why 'honoured'? What does it mean to feel honoured?

So here is my thought - to be invited into that place of vulnerability demands that I bring my best self to the encounter. It's an invitation to be my best: my most empathic, most intelligent, most intuitive and present, my most loving self is called forth. This invitation to be my best, is what I name as 'feeling honoured'.

So yes, I feel honoured to do this work, and can't wait for the next worskshop.

(The photograph I've used for this post, is a thin slice of apple held up to the sunshine. Stars are everywhere!)