Spirit Houses

If you want to create a Spirit House or learn about the tradition, see Steve Kinne's article.  

Here's how one of us did this.  We will call her Barbara, who didn't want to build a spirit house from scratch (some people will) so she looked around for an appropriate structure.  Nothing there in her house but while walking in the pasture she found/remembered a birdhouse...perfect, that would do.  Only not that specific bird house. It was occupied and she didn't want to evict the birds that were already living there so she took the idea and went to yard sales and feed and garden stores and looked on line until she found a bird house that fit for her Spirit House.

the idea of how this worked before she tackled the more difficult themes, events,  or people, etc). She gave herself the Freak-out test that we ask people to take for themselves -- the one to ten -- to give her feelings a rating: 1 being the lowest level of pain and anxiety and 10 being the most difficult. She was a veteran of a different kind of war and had lost innocence as a result.  She built a house for her Innocence to live in, to return to her.  She made a list of all the events or conditions where she lost innocence and a piece of herself.  She worked from this list, one at a time, first finding the least charged event, the one that didn't totally freak her out.  She started with an event that rated seven on her Freak-Out scale.  It was an early event in her life.  She had the choice of either writing it up on a slip of paper or finding an appropriate symbol  stones or beads -- she used beads. Then she took her bead to the Spirit House and spent 10 minutes a day thinking of nothing else but this event which she could allow to go to fifteen minutes if needed but absolutely not a minute longer than than that. Then she put it out of her mind as best she could -- blocking it with good images from her past for the rest of the next 24 hours until her next meeting at the Spirit House. Then, Barbara returned the next day for her ten or fifteen minutes on this event.  She retold this one event until her Freak-out scale was between a 1 and a 2.  At this point she quit and moved on to the next event.

Over a few weeks her toxic stress nightmares were more intermittent and then resolved back to dreams.  (We have people who will show you specific methods  to work with dreams -- you can give a call -- we believe that dreams speak to us like a long lost relative who cares about us  -- to plot our psychological tasks, our progress, balance out non-productive attitudes, talk of our spirituality and will speak of our future. Barbara had already begun a dream journal and continued on with it after she had used the Spirit House for her healing.

Barbara elected to have someone she trusted to be with her while she began her Spirit House work -- some people prefer to work alone.  Barbara found a grounded intelligent friend, another Narrative Arts Facilitator to be there with her and the friend may not interfere at all in any way.  Barbara was in charge.  The friend has to be quiet and very present. Barbara told her friend at the beginning she, the friend, could ask questions if she needed clarity or fill in information but that is all. 

Hope this helps.  Write us. And there is a lot of joy that pops out of this work as it moves along.  

Mission Statement

Where the personal story can be safely explored and expressed.

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is an arts driven non-profit organization designed to serve the Personal Story. In our workshops people create their narratives in various media. Additionally, we have a selection of easily adapted self-care practices that are necessary to foster resilience. 

We have learned over the years that  the most powerful and underused resource in our communities are its "ordinary"  people. So, our goal is  empowering  people to create the means to tell and share their stories in a culturally relevant way -- a collaborative model one in which we are all students and learners. Learning about and respecting cultural practices is very important and is our  growing edge.  We are very interested in how different communities and  cultures meet the challenges of being human. We, community members and Ashlar associates  come together to create supportive and sustainable life affirming models based in telling and honoring the personal story. 

 Our goal is to nurture relationship, encourage learning and teaching through community involvement. We are committed to creating a climate of  well-being and providing  lay people the means to become Narrative Arts Facilitators where it would best serve them and their communities.  

 Stay tuned and continue to look through the site.