Tag Archives: healing

The Labyrinth Lady – Sylvia Senensky

Sometimes you sit in a coffee shop and, even though you don’t really mean to, you overhear the conversation going on at the next table. That happened to me last week. And I truly believe that I was in the right place at the right time.

The group at the next table were engaged in conversation and all of a sudden my ears perked up when I heard the name “Sylvia Senensky”.  I turned to the woman and interrupted. “Did I hear you say the name Sylvia Senensky, the Jungian analyst? “

Yes.

Back in the mid 1990’s the idea of the labyrinth had come into my consciousness.  A friend showed me a copy of a newsletter of the Jungian society in Canada which had an article about labyrinths. It was written by Sylvia. She and I were both native Winnipeggers. And that connection and my newly sparked interest in labyrinths possessed me to contact her, hoping that she would let me read her thesis on labyrinth work. After some initial questions, she wanted to know who I was and why I was so interested, she mailed me a copy.

Sylvia had a profound influence on my journey. Through her I discovered the Divine Feminine, the hidden feminine face of God which I had never experienced. I found it in the centre of the labyrinth.

Ev & Sylvia Senesky

Ev & Sylvia, 1995

She opened a new way for me to engage in my theology and spirituality.

“In our lifetimes, we undergo multiple journeys in and out of the center… A journey into the dark can entail facing our own destructive capabilities as well as acknowledging and dealing with others’ conscious or unconscious destructive feelings and acts toward us. Equally important, it can connect us with repressed talents, with our latent creativity, and the open, loving hearts that are our birthright. The more we work with our inner demons, the more we open ourselves to the larger story of who we really are and what we can become.”

I attended workshops which she held in Toronto, early offerings which she was developing in her Jungian practise. She was committed to sharing the power of the labyrinth as a tool for personal and community transformation.

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laying out the Chartres design labyrinth with masking tape on plastic, Toronto, 1995

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labyrinth by candlelight

She spearheaded one of the earliest public labyrinths in Toronto in High Park in 2001.

HIgh Park Labyrinth, Toronto

HIgh Park Labyrinth, Toronto

In 2003 when she published her book, Healing and Empowering the Feminine: A Labyrinth Journey, I drove to Toronto for the launch.

book cover

Healing and Empowering the Feminine A Labyrinth Journey, Sylvia Shaindel Senensky, Chiron Publications, 2003,194 pp.

In the book she “probes the inner depths of the labyrinth as a source of archetypal feminine energy—the womb, the cave, the domain of the Goddess, the core of the earth, the encounter with planned chaos and the consequences of the ignored shadow. Senensky draws on powerful personal experiences, the stories of women she has worked with as clients and workshop participants, and a rich literature of myth and fairy tale that includes Theseus and the Minotaur, Demeter and Persephone, Inanna, and Vassilissa the Beautiful. Poems and quotations also serve as examples.”

“The Feminine is about process and relationship. It is about playing, experimenting, doing several things at once. It is not goal-oriented, although there may be a goal towards which we are heading. It is the process of getting to the goal that is all important. The twists and turns, the forward and backward movement of the labyrinth, the dancing between the quadrants, the act of allowing the unexpected to affect your journey, the still point at the center – that is static and containing while honouring the rhythms and movement of life and death – all form an exquisite portrayal of how Feminine energy manifests itself.”

Many years later I had lost contact with Sylvia and tried to find her on the internet. Her website was not to be found. She seemed to have disappeared.

That day in the coffee shop I found out why.

The lady had been a childhood friend of Sylvia’s. She told me that Sylvia had moved from Toronto to BC, had fallen in love but then tragically developed dementia. She is now in a personal care home.

Sylvia’s eyes were very unique and I often wondered why she always looked so sad. The woman in the coffee shop unlocked this mystery. Sylvia was born without eyelids, a genetic trait for which she had had many surgeries. It was because of this that she chose not to have any children.

I felt glad for the update about my mentor and thanked the woman very much. I told her of Sylvia’s profound effect on my life. It seemed to make the news of her mental demise a little easier.

Thank you Sylvia for your wisdom and insight. You held the thread for me as I traversed the labyrinth of my own personal healing. You had the courage to share your discoveries with the world in person and in print. I’m grateful that I have a signed copy of your book to study and which to refer.

I am also grateful for your deep personal journey and how I walked with you for a few brief steps of it.

“…We have lost touch with what it means to live in the mystery of existence. Most of us get caught up in the ebb and flow of daily life, following paths laid out for us by social structures we have come to accept as the norm. We forget that life is not lived in a straight line. We forget that death is always sitting on our left shoulder.”

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth woven mat, Evelyn Ward de Roo

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth woven mat, Evelyn Ward de Roo

Sylvia has 24742_apa bachelors degree in Occupational Therapy and Masters degree in Adult Education and Applied Psychology. She is a Zurich- trained Jungian Analyst and a graduate of Jean Houston’s training program in the Cultivation of Human Capacities. She spent the first part of her career working with physically handicapped and emotionally disturbed children, followed by many years teaching at community colleges in the Toronto area. She has lectured internationally on Jung and the labyrinth and its connection to the Feminine as well as being an experienced workshop leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Odia’s Forgiveness Offering

Today I crocheted.

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Three little vessels.

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And I’m mailing them to Odia Reimer in Manitoba.

In 1984 Odia’s 13 year old sister, Candace Derksen, was murdered when Odia was only nine years old. Read her story. This is a famous Canadian murder case.

And it has been recently re-opened.

Odia Reimer is a Canadian installation artist, sculptor, photographer. I have witnessed Odia’s work at one of the most beautiful small town galleries I’ve ever visited, Gallery in the Park in Altona, Manitoba.

In the same way that Odia has dealt with her sister’s murder, the grief and the trial, she is dealing with this new twist in her family’s history, with her art.

Seventy times Seven represents the inward journey through emotion. It is 490 crocheted tears suspended from a frame, 7 X 7, hung 7 feet off the floor, to create a perfect cube symbolic of the natural attempt to contain the pain. Each tear is crocheted by hand without any pattern making each one unique, a reflection of the moment of its creation. The color white symbolizes the purity and simplicity of the falling of a tear. The tears also portray an understanding of the answer to Peter’s question… “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who has sinned against me? Seven times?” Christ’s answer was seventy times seven, 490 times. This is one day.

Seventy times Seven represents the inward journey through emotion. It is 490 crocheted tears suspended from a frame, 7 X 7, hung 7 feet off the floor, to create a perfect cube symbolic of the natural attempt to contain the pain. Each tear is crocheted by hand without any pattern making each one unique, a reflection of the moment of its creation. The color white symbolizes the purity and simplicity of the falling of a tear. The tears also portray an understanding of the answer to Peter’s question… “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who has sinned against me? Seven times?” Christ’s answer was seventy times seven, 490 times. This is one day.

Her latest project is called “The Offering“.

The Offering, Odia Reimer

The Offering, Odia Reimer

Here’s how she describes it….

Nov, 2013. As some of you know my family and I have been going through a trial. Literally and figuratively, we have just heard that the perpetrator who has been accused of murdering my sister almost 30 years ago might be getting a re-trial. …These recent developments have stirred up old emotions and has brought me to places where I again have to look at forgiveness and loving my enemies to heal from wounds these events have inflicted and continue to inflict.

I have also realized that many individuals that I have shared my story with, have similar elements of pain. I would like to invite you to join me in taking the pain of hurt, anger, and bitterness of whatever you have been through and offer it as a sacrifice in a step of overcoming, releasing, and turning your face towards forgiveness.

“The Offering” is a community art piece, a physical act of taking our hurt sometimes blood, tears or pain and giving it as an offering, I believe this act of giving away our hurt releases our need to hold onto the pain we feel and opens us up to receive the healing and wholeness we are searching for.

After reading Odia’s blog I wanted to participate.

Something drew me to create these little bowls and offer them to her. Not so much due to my own pain, which in no way mirrors hers. But to participate in a corporate sacrificial offering of forgiveness.

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I used a combination of threads in earth tones, representing community. One has some bronze metallic representing the unfulfilled life of a murdered teen girl. The little red dots represent blood.

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Odia has created a marvellous tutorial. So even if you have never crocheted you can certainly learn.

Here are the written instructions. Download.

Feel free to use any colour, texture, or weight of wool you wish. Use colour and texture as a way of expressing the pain and hurt your bowl represents.

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Why not join in? You have until Feb 28th, 2014.

The Good Wife … Re-visited

My best friend re-wrote the famous Old Testament passage about the perfect wife. Proverbs 31: 10-31 is an expose of the Good Wife, or The Perfect Woman. “It is the fulfillment of the roles in the home assigned to her by society that causes her to be praised in the very gates of the city where Woman Wisdom first raised her cry”. *

Jenny & Ev at Threadworks

Jenny Hurlburt says,

The review of Proverbs 31 on Mother’s Day has been almost unbearably difficult for me over the past few years.  I had been interpreting the proverb as a list of “supposed to be’s” from two perhaps self-centred perspectives: one – an impossible list of my own shortcomings as a mother and, two – in my experience, a disappointing list of lack of being acknowledged and appreciated.  

It wasn’t until last night, in a conversation with my daughter when I said, “I should write my own Proverbs 31,” and she said, “Yes… Mom… Do it!”  So, with that encouragement I wrote a modernized version and found that Proverbs 31 is not so much a list to measure against, it’s a description of a woman’s life, full of the typical, everyday activities she does that reflect what a wonderful woman she is.  

Proverbs 31…. Revisited

Some say, “A good woman is hard to find, she’s worth far more than diamonds.”

But I say, “No wonder it’s hard to find her, she’s not exactly standing still!”

If you were brave enough to matriculate to the world of a “good woman” you would, no doubt have to tango with the best.

If she has a husband, she does his books, washes the car, and cooks his frozen pizza on Friday nights.  And he’s lucky she does.  He trusts her to come home at night and do the laundry and he has never regretted this arrangement.  She shares her dreams, her fears, and her pay cheque with him.

She shops for bargains, ensuring the children have something to wear for all occasions and she has fun doing it; she happily dumps out her bags at the end of the day boasting about her prowess at the superstore.

In the mornings, she drags herself out of bed, puts the cereal box on the table for the ‘Help-Yourself’ breakfast and drives the kids to school in her pyjamas.  Upon arriving back home, she lets the cat in and the dog out, feeds the hamster and gets out the vacuum cleaner.  Before sucking up every Webkin and Polly Pocket, she kindly puts all the toys in the hamper and shoves it into the corner.

She makes a honey-do list for herself while savouring a whiff of her vanilla-flavoured coffee and then gulps it down: time is flying.

Turn on the dishwasher, throw a load in the dryer, straighten the beds, stick the chicken in the slow cooker, push down the toaster.  Hop in the shower, blow dry the hair, dress, shoes, grab the toast and run for the car.  She hurries to work where she walks in with a smile, choosing her attitude!

Over the lunch hour she delivers the tax return at the accountant, picks up allergy pills for her husband, drops the overdue books in the slot at the library.  She wolfs down an apple and 2 squares of cheddar cheese in the car.

Four more hours at her work, pouring herself into her job, she tries to be efficient, considerate, creative, supportive, and helpful and, oh yes, she remembers to smile.

Time to pick up the kids, she gives them each a healthy snack in the car and they head over to the soccer field for practice.  She volunteers to organize a fundraising event, balances her cheque book, plans menus for next week along with the grocery list.  Soccer’s over and she drives the kids home.

They disappear to the TV room while she sets out dinner for them, along with feeding the cat, the dog and washing machine.  Her children love her and bring her breakfast in bed once a year on Mother’s Day.  She is a good woman – to be admired and praised however, she rarely sits still long enough to receive it.  She IS the diamond, with many facets and sparkles.  She is priceless!

 by Jenny Hurlburt

Jenny IS a good woman and a good friend. Not only does she write, but she found time to support my art exhibit too. She is a diamond to me.

What is your experience of The Good Woman?

*The Women’s Bible Commentary,  p. 152,  Newsom & Ringe, Eds., SPCK, London, 1992