I’ve just finished reading Environmental Arts Therapy by Ian Siddons-Heginworth who has a background in drama therapy and works in Devon. Environmental Arts Therapy (EAT) is defined as ‘ a practical ecopsychology that uses the locations, themes , cycles and materials of Nature as its therapeutic media.’ The book begins with the first chapter entitled November and invites the reader to go through the yearly cycle a chapter at a time. It will appeal to those with a Jungian background in particular as it draws upon archetypal figures of kings, queens, mythical creatures and such like. European mythology is heavily drawn upon as a starting place to understand processes in nature as well as psychological themes such as masculine/feminine differences and the cycle of human life. Specific trees are related to particular months of the year with reference to their Celtic mythic significance. Each month is recognised for its own natural qualities and the reader is invited to become creatively involved in various activities that will hopefully engage them in nature more deeply and assist them in understanding their own shifting emotions.
Undoubtedly we can see the metaphors from nature in our own lives: in spring there is a strong feeling of renewal and hope as the sun’s warmth increases, flowers bloom, and creatures engage in sexual activity; and in autumn there is a congruence of feelings with the lessening of the sun’s energy accompanied by a sense of loss, while fruitfulness can encourage us to reflect on we have achieved or need to seek out in order to survive possible harsher times ahead.
I found the book very engaging. It reminded me of work I had done in the past exploring nature based mythology and its possible origins and significance. I still remind people of the changing seasons and ask them to consider the lessons we can learn from seeing how nature deals with change.
The book contains many activities which could be adapted to be carried out on ones own, although the power of many of them is in the group rituals and sharing of experience. At the moment I am exploring in my work ways to enable people to connect more directly with nature and feel that I am less motivated to introduce mythology and the collective exploration of specific emotions. But that is not to say I could not return to exploring the power of myths and nature at a future date.