I've always hated having my photo taken. Whatever I do or do not look like in real life I am one of those unlucky individuals (in this day and age) who is not photogenic. The planes of my face, my features, my nervousness, all the above...not good photographic material. In school photos I would usually have my eyes closed, more than once 'ruining' the otherwise 'lovely' picture of my brother as we sat together. Tall, gangly, shy and awkward, I was grim-faced in black and white, red-faced in colour.
And then in the last few weeks I started to like what I saw because I recognised her. Me. The lines on my face and the streaks of grey in my hair. Making the portraits a moody B&W felt totally right because I was trying to portray more than the physical. There was also a slight fascination with how much I am beginning to resemble family members to whom I've never before been likened. I am moved to see them showing up in these images now. My father's memory of me may be fading daily but his face is appearing in mine at an equal pace.
Most of all, I am claiming my self. I am staking my claim to this life, this experience, this place, this day, this moment. This face.
Like the magical Maya, I have a council of animal guides to whom I've always turned, even as a child. Among them now I identify hawk (as the European common buzzard), crow, deer, pigeon, badger and spider. Foremost, always, are the wolves. Within the council they have a governing circle and take precedence as my personal 'family'. It's the circle that calls me in when there's something special I need to be shown or told.
Recently, I was not so much called as summoned. It felt as if I were about to get a good telling off but I had no idea why. I was kindly asked if I was in agreement that I belong to the wolf family. Indeed. Then I should be reminded of a few things:
Wolves are known to be: loving, loyal, family-orientated, protective, affectionate, playful even. Deeply instinctive, they are the pathfinders, with a deep faith and understanding of life. They will fight tooth and claw to defend their own and are at times fierce, intense and, when cornered, extremely dangerous. Capable of inflicting deep wounds, even though they prefer flight over fight.
But nowhere has the wolf character ever been described as 'nice'.
So, I was asked, did I want to be 'nice' because if I did I might be better checking out the very nice rabbits next door. Or did I want to really stand up and be who I am.
Since I answered a fast and unequivocal yes to the latter, things have progressed. I'm feeling as if some kind of inner upgrade took place. Everything is more vivid, more...more...everything. My senses are sharper.
And when I look at myself I see who I really am, down to the brown/grey fur. I am happy to see her. Happy to see me.