Navigating the Maelstrom – a process

Swirling energy and emotion.

Over the past couple of years I have experienced, and attempted to express in my making, various forms of swirling energy.

The storm of grief
The swirl of steps and energy of tai chi
The ringing circle, cycle of method, energy gathered and released as the bells swing
Spiralling energy of new growth

My current and ongoing investigation is “maelstrom mind” – the overwhelming, destructive, swirling force of thoughts and emotions that can overtake us. It’s a response to lived experience, and a conscious use of the whole of life model of creative practice taught by Ruth Hadlow.

The vortex of maelstrom?

Some of the actions so far:

  • Formulated a research plan, with a range of different forms of activities and investigations
  • Instituted a weekly field report – for myself plus using the creative research group as an external touch point.
  • Developed a series of strategies that can be deployed as a preventative or response to maelstrom mind.
  • Researched the etymology of maelstrom
  • Developed an emotion recording tool based on Plutchik’s wheel of emotions, and trialled used. (Thanks to Riki, and also noting the impact of Richard Powers’ Bewilderment)
  • Based on those results and further research of many wheels of emotion/feeling, I’m in the process of developing a personalised wheel. The emphasis is on my own language, habitual emotional states, and aspirations, plus producing input suitable for creative exploration in data analysis and in making.
work in progress

The next step planned is a detail vocabulary of mild, moderate and intense variants within each segment (Tom Drummond has inspired here), which should also help confirm overall segment names (and yes, I need to be careful about adjectives, nouns, …). I’ve deliberately stepped away from any optical or light based colour wheel. Also there’s no sense of polar opposites, or a continuum of positive and negative across the wheel. For example an intense “invigorated” could be recorded as part the sensation of being thrilled and of being agitated. I see both as high energy, one replenishing the other draining. (OK, writing this clearly there’s a labelling issue). This suggests clusters or constellations of feeling (nautical, mapping and navigational analogies abound in this project). Perhaps:

high energy + different levels of (confused + angry + invisible/lonely + exhausted) = one form of agitation

I really want to get some trial data and fine-tune the tool. I can see myself weaving an emotion constellation, and perhaps a woven diary – full of the colours, texture and form of emotion.

1 Response to “Navigating the Maelstrom – a process”



  1. 1 Weaving emotions – work in progress | Fibres of Being Trackback on August 29, 2022 at 2:09 pm

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