Posted on June 9, 2021
Posted on May 3, 2021
It’s still Beltane ! It’s more than just a day and probably not on the 1st of May anyway.
Its been a strange one this year but I’ve been out in the woods quite a lot.I love the energy of bluebells – the way they forma a carpet of colour all over the floor of the woodland and the wild energy they exude.This year ,I thought I’d try to capture it in this artwork.It’s seems a,most impossible to capture the feeling of this energy with a photograph.
There’s this kind of wild energy which presents itself at this time like a trigger for the sap to rise and Summer to start.
Bluebell feels like the blue touch paper for the fireworks of Summer.
Posted on April 14, 2021
Posted on April 10, 2021
Re-birth.It’s hard to remember it’s Spring as it’s so chilly today but Beltane is less than four weeks away. Beltane – welcome in the Summer !
Posted on April 9, 2021
Last night I dreamt of crumbling walls and the futility of trying to keep them up.Let them fall – we don’t need them .Then I dreamt about seeing in the dark and how the unseen is wilder than you might imagine.
Within some animistic practices we say we can see better in the dark – I think this may be true.
Posted on April 8, 2021
Posted on April 6, 2021
Posted on February 2, 2021
The feast of Imbolc sits around the first of Feb and is the first of the three Sping festivals that sit on the Celtic Wheel of the year . Imbolc is associated with both the Goddess Brighid of the Tuatha Dé Danann, (Gaelic: “People of the Goddess Danu”) and the Christain Saint Brigid. In Celtic mythology the Tuatha Dé Danann were a race inhabiting Ireland before the arrival of the Milesians (the ancestors of the modern Irish).Brighit is known as the Goddess of healing as well as of the ‘flame and well’ ( the forge ) in fact all crafts and creativity, poetry and childbirth-she liked to multi-task ! The Christian Saint Brigid the patron saint of childbirth-herself said to be the daughter of a Druid in some folkloric versions of her story – who is also honoured here.
This is the perfect time in the wheel of the year to think about the seeds of our lives and what we should like to see and what we would like to be in the coming year. Can we plant the seeds of unity so our fractured, divided communities may come together? Can we plant he seeds and intention for a better world where we cherish what we have, celebrate the earth and our communities and foster equality for all?
During this time we can tune into the stirring earth , the rising sap, the catkins, birdsong , early shoots and although it feels like deep winter the signs of early spring are all around us if we care to look.
As seeds harbour the ultimate act of creativity ,life itself and Brighid is very much the nurturing feminine archetype of creativity. It was said in Irish mythology that he God Ogma gave the people Ogham script (the original Gaelic script) but it was Brighit who taught the people how to make the art poetry with it. I think this is a great time of year to actually create , make art , poetry as a way to both tune into the energy of the year and to express love for the Goddess and life itself. Within this process we can make creativity a sacred act of honorific spiritual expression which honours the energies of the earth and the Goddess and our true-selves.
It was in this spirit I created his image -as an expression of the season , celebrating the energies of new life stirring in the earth itself…of creation. I don’t see he Snowdrops as delicate symbols of the scared feminine – I see them ( as I do the sacred feminine ) as in possession of raw power – able to push through frozen soil and concrete with grace and ease.Within the ephemeral beauty of the Snowdrop we can also see a symbol of strength, determination and most of all hope.
Without hope …we have nothing.
To hope is to dream.
The season of Imbolc is a space to dream and dream again.
A space to plant positive intentions and plans so our future selves may reap the harvest of the seeds we planted.
What seeds will you plant ?
Posted on December 19, 2020
I always connect deeply to the work I am lucky to be able to do. Earlier this year, I was commissioned by a Kambo practitioner I know to paint a Giant Monkey Frog, aka a ‘Kambo frog’, for her new treatment studio space in North London.
It was a special journey for me and as I’ve just delivered the painting to her I thought I’d share a little of the painting process. Kambo treatments are best described by the practitioners themselves but, in short, they involve a ritual during which the secretions of the Giant Monkey Frog – which is indigenous to parts of South America – are applied to small burns on your body in order to induce a purgative experience which is said to cleanse the body and reset its natural defences. The treatment has a host of other benefits but I’ll leave you to research those for yourselvesNominated for the Nobel prize, Italian scientist Vittorio Erspamer of the University of Rome wrote that this secretion contains a ‘fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications, unequalled by any other amphibian’.
It’s neither illegal, nor does it have any psychedelic properties. I’ve been receiving this magical medicine over the last four years (the last time was this February just before lockdown) and can vouch for its incredible therapeutic qualities, which I must say work for me. Ironically, I haven’t yet received the medicine from Anoushka, who commissioned the painting, but I wanted to capture the process of how the image came into being and how I made the painting become medicine in its own right, in order to support, enhance and enrich the treatments it will be witness to and hopefully help create.
Had it not been for the pandemic, I would have received Kambo prior the creative process but as this wasn’t possible, I had to find other ways to connect to the medicine. The process started with a couple of hours on the phone with Anoushka during which I doodled and sketched – free styling whilst taking in the conversation. During our chat she told me of her experiences with what I will call from now on ‘the Frog’ when referring to the ‘spirit’ of the frog. It was amazing how we ‘vibed’ off each other, sharing stories of our experiences and our common connection with Greg at Sacred Tree Frog – who has facilitated my deep experiences with the Frog and who has also worked with and served Kambo to Anoushka along her journey.
The below images are just a few of the initial visual thoughts and meanderings – a kick off of sorts – that I made during my initial conversation with Anoushka.
Anoushka never asked to see any preliminary images, trusting in the process and understanding that I wasn’t just going to copy a photo of a frog from a book but that this was a co-creation between us and that I intended to ‘channel’ the image without knowing what was going to come.
I remember Anoushka saying that she just wanted to receive what the frog wanted to show to us. The way we worked allowed me ultimate freedom to create and to trust the organic process. What followed was several weeks of drumming and mediating on my own connection with The Frog as well as contemplating the information and stories Anoushka had shared.
Whilst journeying I would tune into some of my experiences including a mammoth Triple Kambo session (three treatments in one day) I had received from the expert hand of Sacred Tree Frog two years ago. Anoushka kindly sent me the Kambo stick (a piece of wood the Frog secretions are dried on for transport) she had used during her training and several other things she thought might support the process, including a piece of her chakapapa (a piece of the medicated incense stick used to make the burn marks); some Rape (a kind of sacred Shamanic snuff made of tobacco, ashes and herbs); some Paulo Santo wood (burnt as incense) and some ceremonial tobacco. This got lost in the post for a few weeks – which gave me time for contemplation, mediation and journeying.
The next stage involved the creation of a few coloured images to ‘feel’ where the Frog might take me. I sent one of these preliminary sketches to Anoushka but regretted it as she loved it! I, however, knew there was more to come, so that was the last image Anoushka achieved until the painting was delivered.
Rough image an elaboration on my notes ..
Playing with images as patterns – accidentally or sub-consciously creating what Anoushka would later comment on was possibly a portal into Kambo consciousness.
Then something more literal – closer to what I wanted to bring the inspiration into .
Initial image making .
This method of working came with some risk of course: In the back of my mind there was a little voice that whispered ‘what if she hates this?’ Here is that initial image, along with a few others I played around with. By this time September had arrived. I’d also been working on several other paintings and made some drums during that time. The canvas sat there staring at me…
The next thought I had was to use some of the Kambo medicine on the canvas itself, mixing it with paint so it became an integral part of the painting. I put some drops of water on the stick and mixed the Kambo into some paint. Doing this really changed the atmosphere of my workspace – I instantly felt ‘woozy’, despite taking care with the medicine. I felt a faint nausea but also a connection to The Frog. Burning some Paulo Santo and using a rattle eventually led to the creation of a base layer. I just let it happen.
Several journeys and layers later it looked like this …
Then a gap of some weeks elapsed as I sat with the canvas and asked The Frog how it wanted to appear. I knew the initial image I had shown Anoushka was to be part of the canvas – The Frog felt universally wise, mischievous, knowing and protective. Anoushka had mentioned that during her training she had felt a kind of supernatural wisdom she described as like ‘Yoda’ the popular archetypal wizard of Star Wars fame. But I also knew there were many more stories to tell and this was to be a canvas of storytelling, albeit abstract and meandering – I didn’t know where the stories were going or if they were ever to end.
I used drums, rattles and an amazing Chakapa a friend made for me, which is now covered in the paint as I used it on the canvas in the process to attract and channel the images within the painting.
There are many, many layers, and each one represented a painting session which lasted anything from 2 – 6 hours. I would drum, rattle, dance, sing, laugh and cry with this master. About halfway through I decided to burn some of the items Anoushka had sent me and mix the ash into the paint to further strengthen the bond she had with The Frog and the painting. At every point it was my ambition to create a painting that would be medicine in its own right – a tool that would help people on their own journeys with Kambo.
Next came the second Frog – one that emerged from nowhere but who wanted to be shown peeking through the forest and gazing into the future with supernatural vision. He came really quickly, and I was worried he was too bright, too dominating. I tried to kind of ‘knock back’ the image with some darker colours but it was like there was some kind of force field around him! At one point I was flicking thinner paint at it and it was like it wouldn’t hit the canvas – so I had to trust that it was here to stay. That little Frog wanted to be seen! Another interesting thing happened when the silhouette of Anoushka started to show itself under the larger Frog – an abstract portrait of sorts.
Creating this painting was a real journey for me over a period of five months – with too many stories to tell – stories which should be left for the viewer to extrapolate anyway. In early December I finally got the chance to drive up to Anouska’s practice and deliver the work.
The rest of this story can only be completed by Anoushka. Here is what she has to say about the painting: “Seán is in a different league! The photo doesn’t do it justice to be honest: He’s creating medicine through art.”
I’m so happy she feels that and I cannot wait to hear the stories that will hopefully come in the future and my wish is that this painting assists in healing, inspiration and transformation for many years to come.
The finished article temporarily in my kitchen for a quick picture before delivery .
Seek the advice of a professional before contemplating any form of Kambo treatment
Anoushka can be found at
Greg can be found at
All images ©Seán Ryan The ShamansHorse 2020
Posted on August 26, 2020
I was really delighted that the story of this painting was featured on this months DRUID CAST podcast read out beautifully by Damh the Bard. I’ve been listening to this podcast for over a decade and it’s wonderful to be featured in one. This is the official podcast of O.B.O.D (the Order of Ovates, Bards and Druids) which is the world’s largest Druid Order.
All the profits for print sales of this painting are going to Hedgehog charities – the print run is limited to 50.
To listen to the the story click on the link below.
This painting is inspired by a real life Hedgehog called Susan. Here is her story…
Words by Lee Kynaston.
A hedgehog called Susan
There was a time when hedgehogs were believed to be witches in disguise. That may, or may not, be true (and it certainly shows Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle in a whole new light if it is true) but that they are truly enchanting, magical creatures nobody can deny.
Living in a village in rural Wiltshire Seán and I are used to hedgehogs snuffling around our garden after dusk. I’ve been witness to many a noisy standoff (when two males meet an almost comical game of huffing and puffing ensues, reminiscent of two beady-eyed boxers squaring off at a weigh-in) and once, while I was gazing at a small Beltane bonfire, I looked behind me to see two curious prickly visitors seemingly as transfixed by the ceremonial flames as I was.
Being lucky enough to have these most characterful of creatures in my life I’ve become accustomed to the annual hedgehog life cycle: the tentative emergence from hibernation in March or April; the noisy mating season (hogs are notoriously ’vocal’ when it comes to love-making); the appearance of late-summer juveniles trundling across the lawn in search of slugs, worms and the hedgehog food I put out for them and, finally, their customary disappearance come late autumn when they root out toasty leaf-covered hideaways in which to hibernate.
So it came as a shock when Seán spotted a small hoglet (yes, that’s what baby hedgehogs are called) chewing on a fat ball that had fallen from our bird table on a cold early January morning just after New Year.
Having read several books about hedgehog behaviour over the years I knew this was not a good sign – a hedgehog who ventures out in mid-winter, in broad daylight, is a hedgehog in trouble.
These increasingly endangered animals need to reach a certain weight (ideally around 600g) in order to survive hibernation and clearly this hoglet, small and obviously starving, had not. Left to fend for itself there was little chance it would survive so we quickly rushed outside, scooped it up in a towel (hedgehogs aren’t as prickly as you might think but they’re still pretty tricky to handle), popped it into a box and took it to the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital – a local charity who look after sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in our local area.
On arrival the staff quickly ascertained our foundling’s sex (it turned out our little hoglet was a girl), weighed her (she was barely 300g) and logged her in as ‘Hedgehog 3’. Presumably she was the third arrival of the New Year and if you’d seen how many hedgehogs were there already you’d appreciate why numbers are the best way to identify new arrivals. To us, though, she was ‘Susan’ – the name we’d given her on the way to the hospital. (Hey, what can I say? She looked like a Susan.)
After a tour of the hospital and a voluntary donation of £25 – an amount the staff assured us would buy a lot of food for the patients – we left our new-found friend in the care of this amazing charity in the hope that come the spring, when she was fit enough, we could return to collect her and return her to our garden so she could live out the rest of her life snuffling through the undergrowth and munching on slugs and woodlice. Perhaps, we thought, she might even witness a Beltane bonfire herself one day.
Sadly, that wasn’t to be. On calling to see how she was doing late in February we discovered that Susan had passed away the day after we brought her to the wildlife hospital. She had simply been too weak, too malnourished and too small to survive, even with our best intentions and the staff’s dedicated care.
Whilst much of Seán’s artwork is inspired by the animals he encounters when journeying with the drum, occasionally it is inspired by transformative, real-life encounters. ‘Hedgehog and the Moon’ was painted as a celebration of the beauty of one such encounter on a cold morning in January. And in appreciation of the work that organisations like the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital do, 100% of the profits from sales of this print will be split between the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, who provide advice about hedgehog welfare and fund research to find the best ways to assist hedgehog survival.
Back in the 1950s an estimated 30 million hedgehogs trundled their way across night-time Britain; today it’s thought there are less than a million of these beautiful, reclusive creatures left. Sadly, no amount of kindness was able to save our little Susan but, in purchasing this print, your kindness could help hundreds of (truly magical) hedgehogs just like her.
I have included a photo Of Susan here too as she was when we took her to hospital .