Dark Innocence is now in print, and can be read for your enjoyment.
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About my work with Rahima
"I brought Naomi the first draft of a novel, which I wrote pretty much directly from the unconscious mind, with no plot or plan but what had evolved on its own. She helped me understand the true value and importance of my novel, as well as showing me the strengths and weaknesses of my writing. Both her gentle appreciation and detailed suggestions for improvement have been immensely helpful. She has inspired me to honor what I have written by doing the work necessary to bring it into the coherent and beautiful form it deserves."
Rahima Warren, on our working together
Rahima Warren is an Expressive Arts therapist who first came to me with a draft of a fantasy novel about a character who has been severely abused and undergoes a healing journey. She had never written a book before, even though she had read voraciously since shed been a child, and even though as a child shed experienced the kind of vivid characters, scenes, and descriptions in the book inside her imagination.
It was clear to me, at first reading, that this was a powerful story, and that Rahimas understanding of the healing process was intimate and ultimately inspiring. She had a gift for writing emotional and spiritual high adventure as well as deep self-discovery, and her passages ranged from mythic to horrific to poignant to sublime.
Nevertheless, as with almost all first draftsespecially first drafts by first-time writersthe nuggets of gold were partially obscured by the confusion that can arise when a writer has only herself to work things out with. In this case, the first draft was erratic: sometimes beautifully, lusciously described; sometimes overwritten; sometimes disordered, unclear, understructured, overstructured, and mysteriousnot in the sense of partaking of the Great Mystery, but of having to take the writers word for things, rather than getting the import directly on ones own.
Over the course of slightly more than a year, Rahima and I worked together to bring the clarity and beauty of the story into a form that was true to her intention. She was an extremely active participant in the process, asking questions, setting herself goals, revising and reworking her chapters with a passionate enthusiasm. As the real story came into viewthat is, as the initial pyrotechnics gave way to a more intimate knowing of the characters and their interactionsI found myself deeply grateful and highly moved by the story and the depth and beauty of its telling. What had begun as a remote fantasy novel became, for me, a profound and emotionally authentic guideline for my own healing process, as the main character, Kyr, underwent the journey from casting himself out because of having been cast out to belonging to the universe.
Quote from the book
At dawn, everyone who could leave their work gathered in the courtyard, then began to walk slowly toward Kyrs meditation garden. Rajani and Luciya followed the throng, wondering at the silent reverence of those around them. As they entered the sculpture garden, they discovered the reason.
Surrounded by masses of delicate, sweet-scented wild ilys, statues carved from the stone of the mountain were artfully placed in a large meandering spiral amongst equally graceful trees. The first contorted statues, seeming barely human, were of the lost souls who had been the Masters Slaves, vicious and depraved. The next expressed the fear and agony of the Masters victims. As one progressed along the spiral, the statues slowly began to reveal more and more humanity - kindness, gentleness, hope, compassion.
At the center stood Kyrs masterpiece, The Triumph of Love. The Goddess rose in a graceful dance, one hand outstretched from her heart, offering Love to all who would receive it. Her other arm held open Her mantle, offering shelter to all Her children. Her smile was serene and strong, Her expression one of joy tinged with sadness, as if the suffering expressed by the earlier statues could never be forgotten, nor forgone.
Multi-layered harmonies rose from gray-robes playing the chanoro. Once the crowd of participants had settled, the priestess of the Temple in their indigo robes filed in, carrying candles and incense, chanting "Zhovanya nara lo," interweaving their song with the music of the chanoro. Reaching the center, they placed their offerings around the central statue so that Love was surrounded by the warmth of flame and wreathed by fragrant smoke.
Now everyone joined the chant, until the forest echoed with the resonance of forgiveness. Luciya and Rajani both were brought to tears, wondering if they would ever be forgiven for what they had done and had yet to do. It was one of the hardest things either of them ever did just to stay there and hide their pain.
For his part, Kyr was immersed in the chant, deep in worship and surrender to Zhovanya. Watching the incense rise, he began to dance, or the Goddess began to dance through him, he couldnt tell which. Entranced, he was not surprised when Jolan and some of her sisters began to dance with him. Together they danced, encircling the statue of Love.
As the Sun rose higher, ethereal blades of light pierced the forest depths. When at last a feather of light touched the face of Love, everyone fell silent, and the dancers became as still as the sculptures. A reverent hush held everyone in thrall.
The light moved on, and Jolan came out of her pose, sinking down to sit upon the soft pine duff of the forest floor. There was a gentle rustling as everyone settled into meditation. Thereafter, the only sounds were the chorus of birds singing their gladness at the return of the day. The blades of light penetrated deeper into the forest, then evanesced in the spreading light of the day.
By twos and threes, people began to slip away, Rajani and Luciya among them. At last, Kyr was alone. Deep in meditation, he prayed, "This is my offering, Zhovanya. May it bring peace to all who come here." Her Presence, already palpable, became stronger.
"REMEMBER YOUR PROMISE."
Kyr knelt and bowed to Her, whispering, "Yes, I will. What is it you wish of me?"
"YOU WILL KNOW."
Kyr took something from a pocket and gently tucked it at the base of the Triumph of Love. "Thank you," he whispered. After a moment, he rose and stood looking at what he had placed there, then followed the others to join the feast.
A small figure of a boy crouched between Loves feet, hunched up, arms wrapped around his knees, the embodiment of loneliness and terror.
Rahima Warren, Expressive Arts Therapist and creator of SoulPlay, can be reached at www.soulplay.com.
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