We have passed the Vernal Equinox, often associated with Ostara/Eostre and the Christian festival of Easter. Two months ago I explored a shorter version of this activity with a group on retreat at Imbolc/Candlemas/ Bridgid’s day. St Bridgit was the patron saint of smiths, and I guess that includes keysmiths.

Today I invite you to take a snapshot of how things are for you in the moment during Covid-19 lockdown, using as a gateway the symbol of a keyhole.

And first, in your ThoughtBook, start with this key-whole warmup

(which we needn’t ever share):

Write out and complete all these without a second thought: without editing, without any concern about what might emerge:

Today I feel…

Today I feel most concerned about

Today I am looking forward to (at least three items, on three separate lines):

As in the previous session, today we are using

  • writing implements of your choice (colours are good);
  • a large piece of paper or card, or
  • in your ThoughtBook, use a span of two facing pages , or adapt the exercise to consecutive pages, and
  • draw a large keyhole shape something like this, taking up about half the area of your page.

I’ve trod this mandala route to writing practice, on and off, for over five years. Not as an art form (although it may become that), nor as something that you necessarily want to share, except with your future self.

As a private journalling tool, it might become a record of this time of change in your life. You could do one of these every morning for a week, before breakfast or after lunch. Or you could explore this mandala several times in the day, as you ride the waves of change.

Emplacing the keyhole

First, we can set a context, by scribbling in each of the four corners of your sheet, things that are important to you in the long term, different aspects of your life, different needs (connection, shelter, nourishment, learning).

Or four colours or four compass points, the four seasons… A word, or a squiggle, or a sketch. (allow at least ten minutes.)

Now close your eyes and visualise a keyhole – in a door, or a box or treasure chest, or to a heart that needs unlocking – or whatever. Is the hole dark, to a hidden place? Or perhaps the hole is a window into a lit room which you are standing outside in darkness?

If you had the key, would you choose to unlock the door/lid and enter the room or open the box? Or perhaps to lock up the room or box, and throw away the key?

For a few more minutes I invite you to stay with these dreamy experiences as you come back into the room and open your eyes.

Now draw the keyhole and free-flow your writing into or around that shape. Whatever you want to say.

Keep the hand moving; no need to correct or edit; no holds barred; be as juicy as you like. You have ten (or more) minutes – writing big or small, in colour or black – writing your way homewards, writing your way whole.

Overflow activities if you wish to continue

Brain-dump: now try one, any, or all of these

  • if I had the key to the year…
  • where is the key to the golden city?
  • the keys to contentment

Key exercises

  1. select any of the keys illustrated, or imagine one, and write about it.
  2. now (with this key or for another, real or imaginary) describe the door for which it fits the lock
  3. now open (or lock? ) an imagined door, and write what that experience feels like.
  • remember to date today’s pages and mandala
  • either look over what you’ve done now, or put it away to review later &
  • meet at writingpresence.com in another week’s time for a more wordy approach to writing our way whole: at home

Finally I invite us all to copy and complete these appreciations, using a bullet point of your choice for three items, on three separate lines. Again use your ThoughtBook and put today’s date – we’ll find this helpful when we look back on this time from the long perspective. Meanwhile may we be well.

Today I am grateful for