Hazel Evans is a force of nature – an incredibly talented artist, inspired performer and gifted facilitator of women’s growth. Her work helps women to tap in to our innate creativity – our divine essence – reconnect to our bodies, and show up as our true selves. You can check out more of Hazel’s work, including her gorgeous course I Am Divine tracking the energy of the year through the goddess archetypes, at Priestess of Creation.
Today we’re talking about spring energy, the maiden archetype, and how to battle perfectionism, people-pleasing and stagnation in the search for our truest self-expression.
Becoming the maiden with Hazel Evans, Priestess of Creation
Hazel: Spring comes out of the depths of winter. And in that depth of winter, in that space where literally death has happened, there’s this void: that’s where the seeds of spring get planted.
There’s fear there. Everything ended, and now what? Now we’re in the dark.
But that’s exactly what a seed is. It’s in the dark, waiting. Before a baby is born, the soul already comes into the body and is being created.
In its dark space, the soul is called into the body, which is like planting a seed.
That’s why I love spring so much. Because it’s the beginning of the growing of those soul seeds that were planted in that void.
Madeleine: I find spring quite challenging. The void is a comfortable place for me. I’m happy hibernating in darkness! The shift into action can almost feel quite brutal.
It’s birth. That’s literally what it is. And it’s asking us every year again: Are you willing to accept the challenge of a new rebirth of yourself for the next season?
We can go against that, and fight to stay a small version of ourselves — not grow so many leaves or extra branches if we use the plant as a metaphor — or we can really choose to take in all the energy that we have conserved over winter, and the visions that come within that void.
It’s a season of daring. Daring to choose life, and daring to be in life, and daring to say yes, I’m going to take another round. I’m willing to take that risk to be something completely different. Shed that old version of the self that died last year and really be willing to be what I am today, in the present.
That’s quite scary. I mean, if I lived on my own in the mountains, that would be just a beautiful experience (laughs). But when you’ve got people around you, with expectations of who you are, and maybe stuff that you said yes to when you were a previous version of yourself… Do you find that? It can be a bit bumpy?
Yes, actually, sometimes. But if you bring consciousness to it, you can always choose whether to follow through. Whether following through with what you committed to is part of that rebirthing and regrowing or if it really was a bad decision.
It’s about making those choices, so growth can happen.
The maiden energy
Doing that gracefully is kind of an ongoing challenge…
Or, how about not being graceful? And just accepting the messiness of birth? We can rebirth ourselves through the messiness, through the interchanging weather that’s going sunshine – rainy for days – really shitty cold – nice sunshine. And know that it’s part of our process.
We will be messy in it, as well as graceful at the same time, that’s the maiden energy. The wild, free-spirited energy that just goes out in the woods to explore the forest. That is where you’re completely innocent. And in innocence, you make mistakes. And that’s OK. So its about allowing that making the mistakes is OK, what is important is to take the journey, allow yourself to take the journey of discovering the new.
I’m glad you said that. Something I struggle with is being messy and making mistakes. I don’t think I’m the only one who has the two challenges: perfectionism, not wanting to mess up, and people-pleasing, worrying about making mistakes, or upsetting people. In your work with women do these things often come up?
Yes. And all of it is denying yourself freedom. Either limiting yourself through perfectionism, or limiting yourself through the expectations of others. All of that comes from the insecure impulse.
I’m learning bit by bit to stop doing that. Stop being a perfectionist and stop people pleasing. If I’m doing that, I’m not making anybody happy. Why? Because if I’m doing that, I’m not in touch with myself, and I’m not making myself happy.
So part of what I’m learning is to say “fuck it, what do I really want?”
And also to be in the unknown. Say, “I don’t know right now”. In navigating, I have to stop those mechanism of people pleasing or being a perfectionist about it, and just move forward with little steps.
Finding the essence of true wildness
I think that really is spring energy. I’ve thought a lot before about this way that we see all these seedlings coming up through the ground, and then we have a late frost and half of them are not going to survive. In nature, there’s no “oh no, that was a terrible mistake”. It’s just – throw everything at it – go at it in that moment – and that’s completely OK. I love that in the flowers and the blossoms you see. They’re not going to last, but it doesn’t matter. Go all out! All the colours!
And for me that really is a representation of the message to just try everything. Being expressive, discovering, finding, showing your pure beauty, in all these flowers and all these different colours and all these different ways of growing. Just choosing it all, in abundance.
And so that’s what the maiden is like?
Yes. Based on the goddess wheel, and in particular I’m more following the goddesses of sacred sexuality and Rhiannon, which is all to do with love and your body.
In this aspect, the wild maiden is all about finding the true essence of wild in yourself and allowing that to flourish and to be. Through discovery, and freedom, and innocence, and the pure joy of playfulness.
In winter you receive the soul song, and now you’re learning how to give voice to it, so there’s a lot of singing, and playing, and that kind of very joyful aspect to the wild maiden. I have this vision of my younger self running through the forest, and speaking to rabbits…
Like Snow White…
Yes! It’s also a very pure innocent sexuality that starts arriving in the body. All the animals are out there feeling all frisky, and that also happens in us. Our sexuality starts coming out, we’re starting to feel sexual again in our bodies. To feel creativity again. This kind of carefreeness and wildness.
At this age in our lives when we’re fully in our maiden energy, up to the age of seven, and this is also when lots of our woundings happen. That’s what we start repeating. Around this time your parents or your peers start telling you to not do things. Not to be wild. “Stop doing that” or “Don’t play there”. You’re full of energy at that age, and you’re being given these limitations. So often, in our society, we’re limited within our growth stage, emotionally. This can result in two distortions of the female essence:
The first is the Princess – you expect everything to be done for you. You’re not getting the love you need through your own true authentic expression, and that becomes distorted then into the Princess energy. “I need to get my own way and you need to give me this so I feel loved”.
And then the other distortion is what we call the Shield Maiden: that pushes away the world. Basically it’s a shutdown. Shutdown of the heart, shutdown of the body.
Those are the two distortions that come out of not allowing your pure freedom with the maiden energy.
So it’s interesting your talking about perfectionism or people pleasing. Because spring comes round again, and this time it’s not our peers who are doing this to us – it’s ourselves. We’re reinforcing another round of princess or shielded maiden behaviour, reinforcing those mechanisms within ourselves.
When it could be an opportunity – I’m kind of speaking to myself here as well, this is my own medicine – it can be an opportunity to really consider: I’m going to grow again, how am I going to grow?
How am I really going to allow the freedom of my expression to grow now, and use this season to support me?
So now is the time to just be a bit free. Find ways of putting down our shields and taking off our crowns.
Yes. And really feel: What is it really that I create from my soul? What is my expression of life? What brings me pure joy? What makes me alive? Seeing and feeling those, really deep inside your body, and using the elements to facilitate that.
Yesterday it was really sunny, and I knew “I just want to go out for a run again. I want to get fit again”. That is when we should take the opportunity to go “right, I’m doing it.”
That is such great medicine. When that happens, and we feel that energy, it’s so clear: that’s when the impulse is, and that’s when the growth wants to happen, to facilitate transformation.
I think spring is like that. The last really big energy shift we went though is from Autumn to Winter. For me that’s a beautifully slow process… it always feels like a kind of long exhale.
But spring doesn’t feel like it ramps up in that same gentle way. It’s more, impulses. Sudden bursts of energy. Maybe it’s not something we can plan or anticipate in quite the same way. It asks us to pay attention to those feelings.
And to feel that life force is like that heartbeat coming around. “I’ve got to do something!”
But it’s also the way children have growth spurts. They grow really quickly, and then they don’t for a while. That’s the spring phase of their life.
Yes, I mean there’s so much here about childhood. Do you think there’s something different for women in the way we’re raised? We’re told “sit down, don’t take risks, don’t get muddy?”
Yes. That makes us into princesses. It denies us of this longing for going in the mud and exploring and feeling… when that’s fundamental in helping us feel OK with ourselves. Knowing that it’s OK if I fuck up and take a risk, because I know how to get back on my feet and continue my journey. Otherwise, I don’t know how to do that. I’m just sitting there, prim and neat and clean, it just creates so much frustration.
We end up creating these masks for ourselves. When ultimately, when we really face it, we don’t want that. We’re not doing what we want, and we’re not letting ourselves grow. For me, I’ve had to go the other way some times. Just to feel it and sense it. In so many different ways.
Coming back to pure creation
Does that commitment to freedom and growth ever lead to things you later regret?
The only things I really regret, in a way, is when I haven’t really gone for it. Recent projects when I’ve had to meet funding criteria, for example.
Being funded to make art is a great and rewarding way of working, but somehow for me, it creates a limitation on my freedom of expression, as the project has to meet certain requirements set out at the beginning of the project.
When I work on my own projects I let the project lead me to where it needs to go by following the energy of the work and so there is an organic evolution.
And what I regret is perhaphs that in the process of moving towards only working on funded projects is that somewhere along the way I lost part of my essence of pure creation.
But the gift in this process is now that with reflection I see the value of both ways of working and am ready again to embrace the full freedom of my expression and to re-create myself anew.
And I guess for you that’s part of having art or self-expression as part of your work. Whereas, if I decide I’m going to do an art project it’s not going to be funded by anyone or sown in a gallery. It is going to be for me, in which case there’s no boundaries there.
That’s fantastic. What I’ve discovered over this winter is, I need to come back to pure creation. In order for me to inspire people like I want to, to be able to offer that, I need to come back to the pure creation within myself.
That’s so inspiring to me. Women quite often say to me “I’m not an artist” or “I’m not visually creative”. The idea of going into an art shop, and buying what I consider Artist’s Stuff, like a paintbrush or a set of pastels… They have this limiting belief in their head that says ‘I’m not trained, I’m not a professional, I can’t do that’…but of course they can.
Maybe spring is also a time of letting ourselves break the rules and play.
Absolutely, That’s absolutely the energy. “What are we going to do?”
Are there still ashes around where you are, after the fire?
It would be so amazing to just cover your whole body in ashes, go out naked, cover your body in ashes and do a ritual going from the darkness of winter, and just wash it off.
I love it. In my head I was thinking you would say I could get a piece of charcoal and do a charcoal drawing. (laughs)That would be perfect to do where I’m staying now, it’s right by the river. If I do it, I’ll send you a snapshot.
I can’t wait to see the pictures! No pressure. That’s the impulse. Inspiration. That’s what the Spring energy is. The beating of the heart, the surviving. You could make a really beautiful ceremony of it.
I love the way that in your you put things into rituals, containers. How you can honour things. Becoming your own priestess, and allowing yourself to channel that. It’s really powerful, and it pushes me beyond what I think I’m “permitted” or “qualified” to do.
We can do anything.