Imagine a Purple Feather

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“Imagine a purple feather,” I instructed the participants who nestled into the cafe’s old chesterfield lounges; eyes closed, breath slowing.

“What does a purple feather look like?”

It was the first One Good Thing Storytelling Circle, and I was telling the group about my passion for shamanism. I’d started my shamanic training in 2010 when I lived in Manly, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Along my shamanic journey I discovered the works of Hawaiian shaman, Serge Kahili King, and loved his tale of the purple feather.

At one of his weekend workshops, Serge wanted to show his students how easy it is to bend reality. So he asked them all to agree upon an unusual object of focus. The group of 14 chose a purple feather.

“What does a purple feather sounds like?” I asked the group as the other café patrons lowered their voices, listening in to my instructions. The energy of focus and intention expanded the longer our circle of storytellers imagined their purple feather.

As Serge King explained in his tale, he asked his students to imagine and focus on a purple feather for several minutes, reserving any form of judgement or expectation. They were then to simply forget about it and go on with their day. The aim of the exercise was to see how long it would take for each of his students to have a purple feather experience.

“What does a purple feather smell like?” I asked, as the café owner delivered my piping hot coffee, its pleasing aroma gently wafting its way to my nostrils.

The first of Serge’s students had a purple feather experience later that night when they found a purple orchid with feather-shaped petals. Another student discovered purple feathers printed on their hotel bedspread. One student found large purple feathers in a decorative stand on either side of the hotel’s escalator the following day. When she returned home, a fourth student – a feather collector – was given a purple feather as a gift from her daughter. Another student found a purple feather on the floor of her apartment as she stepped through her front door. In just over three days each of Serge’s 14 students had some kind of purple feather experience.

“What does a purple feather taste like?” I asked the circle before sipping the smooth coffee, washing away the spicy sweetness of the ginger beer I’d not long finished.

“And finally, what does a purple feather feel like?” I gave the storytellers a few moments to imagine what a purple feather felt like against their skin before asking them to open their eyes, welcoming them back to ‘reality.’

The storytelling circle wound to a close. I bid the participants farewell, asking them to let me know when they had their purple feather experience. Within an hour, one woman contacted me to say, “I was upstairs in the shopping centre and a woman walked past me wearing a t-shirt with stylised feathers in a vertical pattern across the front of it. I can’t testify under oath that they were purple but they looked it. I was stunned enough to stand and debate chasing her to ask if I could take a picture, but I chickened out. She was walking swiftly and with purpose. I decided surely it couldn’t be that easy…” But it is! Even I found a purple feather in my bathroom when I arrived home that day.

Over the next few days I received photos, stories and videos of the purple feathers that participants had found. I was even contacted by the café owners who’d found purple feathers on a bushwalk, and a friend’s hairdresser – who I’d never met – sent me photos of her purple feather earrings.

If all it takes is a few minutes of relaxed imagining to bend reality and draw a purple feather into your life, what else could you draw in? The possibilities are endless. And with this knowledge, it’s important to now consider any negative thoughts that play like a broken record in your mind day after day. Are they really things that you want to call into your life? As the saying goes, ‘Where focus goes, energy flows.’ So, choose your thoughts wisely, and let me know when you find your purple feather!

~ ~ ~

This story first appeared at The Triple Sifted Word Refinery.

 

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Um… Hello? Can You Hear Me?

 

Open Mic

Is this thing on?

In pursuit of storytelling inspiration, I grabbed a my friend, Xenia last night and headed to the Art House Hotel for a storytelling slam session. ABC’s Radio National holds a bi-monthly open mic night called Now Hear This! And I wanted to hear what This was all about. Being a storyteller with an ENORMOUS fear of public speaking, I thought I’d also challenge myself to get up and tell a story. Next time. Last night was all about research!

So, what I discovered is that you need to be really amazing at maintaining focus, not allowing yourself to be distracted by the live music being belted out in the adjoining bar. If you want to score big on the points, you need to tell a love story if you’re a guy, or tale of tragedy if you’re a girl. If you go first, you will never win. And if you’re an 8 foot tall Amazon woman with the inability to keep still, you shouldn’t sit in front of me because I’ll remember you next time and I’ll make you pay for your misdeeds!

But back to the stories. There were tragic tales of Nullabor Plain crossings, and several stolen goods stories (luggage, computers, unpublished manuscripts). Prose on picking up chicks in the Sistine Chapel. The memoir of a 10 year old Philippino boy who wanted to be a tall skinny Bond girl, and my favourite tale about a smelly ghost. I didn’t have the heart to tell the smelly-ghost-storyteller that her house up on North Head was probably not haunted by a ghost from the nearby Quarantine Station. But the likely culprit was the sewage treatment plant down the road, which was very generously sharing the fragrance of Sydneysiders’ insides with her!

Shhh! Do you smell something?

Shhh! Do you smell something?

As the storytelling slam came to a close and the ferry beckoned to carry me home across the harbour – past the Quarantine Station, in fact – talk turned to something with a much finer fragrance: coffee. Xenia let me in on a little secret of hers when it comes to ordering coffee. It’s something that makes the whole coffee experience that much more delicious. She uses a coffee name.

“What the hell is a coffee name?” I asked.

“Well, you know how they ask you what your name is when you order your takeaway coffee? It’s really annoying because they always get your name wrong because of all the noise, and they never understand my Hungarian accent. They end up calling me Zena or Anya, and I can’t be bothered trying to spell out X-E-N-I-A because they’ll get it wrong anyway. So I tell them my name’s Vicky. Now, every morning when I come in to buy my coffee, it’s all ‘Hi Vicky’, ‘Here’s your coffee Vicky’, ‘Have a good day Vicky’.”

“That’s hilarious!” I said. “So, what’s your boyfriend, David’s coffee name?”

“Guido!”

And with that, I boarded the ferry, safe in the knowledge that when I heard the barista call out “Heidi” in the morning, my coffee would be good to go.