Looking through the Johari Window

It’s been a month since I started consciously choosing to go gently into the world, instead of going out there wearing my armour of aggression and rudeness. 

My exhaustion is palpable, or at least I think so. I am relearning different automatic responses; tampering down my initial reaction, so that I can give a reaction that I choose. I am so very tired, however, I think it is worth it. I don’t want people to avoid me because I behave in a way that does not align with my values. 

A fortnight ago, I was briefly introduced to the “Johari Window”, a tool for improving self-awareness.

Basically, it covers what you know about yourself and what others know about you in a lovely 2 by 2 grid. 

  • Open/Arena – where what you know about yourself and what others know about you align. 
  • Hidden/Façade – the things you know about yourself that others do not know. 
  • Blind – the things you do not know about yourself that others do know
  • Unknown – the things you do not know about yourself and others do not know either

Forgive me for the simplified explanation, as the idea is new to me and I haven’t looked at it in detail, but this little introduction hit me hard. The work I have been doing recently fits into this model in a very helpful way. I am internally struggling with the conflict between my hidden self and my blind self.

My blind self is the “scary” person, the one who meets the world with hostility, the one I didn’t see until people (especially one person who I fully trust) pointed it out. My hidden self is the “scared” person, who feels threatened by the world and doesn’t want to be seen. 

The work I am doing to find a middle way between these two selves is hard, but I think it is worth it. Only a few people in my day-to-day life are aware that I am doing it, though I think people are responding to me differently and positively. Even though I am exhausted,  when I stop to reflect on how incrementally better my human interactions are I feel much more comfortable in myself. 

Here’s to synthesising scary and scared into something new that can come out into the Open. 


From IG @hopehealingarts

I’ve had a week. A fortnight, really.

Once a week or so, I have someone comment that I am “scary” in a half-joking way. I smile, take it as a compliment, and continue to try and get my work done.

It’s not a compliment though, is it?

Last week, end of April, I had three people who I respect make that comment to me, and I took it to heart.

I always seem to make a choice to fight, to be angry, and to show aggression to get things done. I meet the frustrations of my life with hostility and rage. It gives me the energy and the will to deal with the things thrown at me, and it has been noticeably so over the past few weeks. I use the word choice; I make the choice to behave like this in response to issues, though I have been doing it for so long that it no longer feels like a choice.

I don’t want to be scary.

I’m not scary, not really.

When I roll over, I expose my soft underbelly and the spikes are so brittle they crumble to dust. I am delicate and vulnerable, I am passionate about my work and I am in love with my friends. I care so much, and for so many, but I can’t make the choice to be this raw and exposed because I am scared. I am scared all the time. I am scared of people thinking I am a fraud, or incompetent. I am scared of being rejected and avoided. Hell, I’m even scared of being good at something, or being accepted. Fear of the world runs through my body like ice, and I keep choosing to be scary than face being scared.

I am exhausted. This has to stop. I want to feel, and be, who I really am without hiding behind abrasiveness.

For this week, I am making a different choice. I want to be honestly and authentically me. I’m not quite ready to be vulnerable, but I have been choosing to be less scary. I am choosing not to go in fighting, but just to be neutral in my interactions and observe what energy comes to meet me. I’ve had some really beautiful moments already, but choosing to change is hard.

This is an extended version of a Facebook post I made earlier in the week.

Give me a reason

Content warning: Self-harm, and the possible “glamourisation” of self-harm.

As of the time of starting this post, it has been 4 days, 10 hours, 21 minutes, and 48 seconds since I last self-harmed.

Prior to 2022 it had been over a decade since I felt compelled to hurt myself. In that time I have been through so much including the death of both of my parents, unpacking issues related to that, and spending eight hours watching someone nearly die while fighting to keep them alive. I took all of that in my stride, lacking grace and stumbling a lot.

2022 though, I was carelessly exposed to the idea of self-harm at my volunteer work and now it is all I can think about as soon as my stress levels get slightly too high. I can go a couple of months, and then a switch flips and cutting myself seems like a perfectly reasonable option.

So here I am, trapped in a cycle of building emotional pressure and using a razor blade to release the valve for a little bit.

My latest lapse took place on New Year’s Eve. Normally I set myself a deadline for the following morning – I need to wait till 9am the following morning and if I still feel like I need to cut, then I can do it. December 31st was different though. Time is a social construct, but I really didn’t want to start 2023 by cutting so I gave myself a deadline of 9.30pm.

I journaled, distracted myself with cartoons and conversations, and tried to sleep it off. The urge remained, and I could not come up with a single reason not to. Other folk didn’t give me a reason either, but I recognise that it is not their responsibility.

So I did it. But before I did, I found an app to track the time that passes between lapses. As soon as I finished cutting, I started the timer.

4 days, 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 22 seconds.

I’ve been told not to condone or promote self-harm, but you know what? It feels good. I like the pain, I like the feel of blood on my skin. I like how the scars look. I like how it feels when the scars are touched. I like it.

I am under pressure, implicit and explicit, to stop self-harming; to get back on the proverbial saddle, and to consider this year a blip in my mental health recovery. Fine, whatever, but give me a real reason not to do it anymore.

I’ve been on Google trying to find inspiration for reasons not to cut again, but there isn’t much there which seems to vindicate my stance. The closest I found was a blog post by Amanda Smith called “101 Coping Statements for Self-Injury and Self-Harming Behaviours”, and it has not helped me.

There are hollow platitudes or a focus on what other people think rather than what the self-harmer thinks. Fine. Then there are the ones that I rail against almost aggressively.

“I don’t want scars.” – Yes, yes I do. Scars are attractive, especially when they are fresh.

“I don’t want to hide my body.” – And I don’t, not because of self-harm.

“I hate the guilt that comes from self-injury.” – What guilt? Why should I waste energy feeling guilty? I’m surviving, and I am proud of that.

“Self-harm is embarrassing to talk about.” – No it’s not. You might not want to hear it, but I am happy to talk about it. The shame of not talking about it is ridiculous.

“Blood smells awful.” – Blood smells awesome. I paint with it. It brings me visceral joy.

So, as you can guess I have yet to come up with any real reason, a reason just for me that doesn’t rely on other people, to stop self-harming. I am not cutting today because I don’t feel the need to. When the need arises again … well, that depends if I can find a reason not to.

4 days, 11 hours, 3 minutes, 15 seconds.

Brown Bear

“Brown Bear” (2023)

Materials: Photoshop

Categorized as visual art

2023, what’s up?

So 2022 happened, but this blog and website did not. Ooft.

New Year always presents an opportunity to start again, so here I am. What do I intend for the next 12 months?


I am struggling to remember what, if anything, I made over the last year. The only thing I can think of is a moonpainting which I appreciate is not to everyone’s taste.

In 2023, I want to keep it simple. I’d like to add four pieces to my portfolio. That’s just one piece every three months. I am confident I can work to that pace, especially if I do not get caught up in what those pieces have to be. I was most prolific in 2021, which is when I streamed on Twitch. Having that scheduled committed time for creating really helped, so 2023 may be the year I livestream again.


I didn’t realise how badly I was broken by my “shamanic” training, so last year I severely neglected my practice and as a result my physical and mental health declined.

To get back into the flow I have signed up for a wheel-of-the-year style course focused on the Antlered Doe/Deer Mother, the goddess I work for. It has already been good for me.


I’m still a volunteer with everyone’s favourite environmental protest group, and I am getting more and more caught up in “big picture” things. I said last year that I would try and look at “small picture” things that impact me and my community. I want to try again.

What’s in store for 2022?

I still haven’t recovered from 2019, but here we are! 2022 can’t be any worse than the last two years, amirite?

My plan for littlewolfgoat for the next 12 months is to focus on three themes; art, animism, and activism. I’m not sure entirely what this will look like, but I have some ideas.


My art has taken a back seat for the past few months due to my activist work and ongoing illness, but I want to get back into it again.

I have ordered a small number of prints and cards to sell locally. I am looking for a UK-based print-on-demand service that has a minimal environmental impact for other products such as t-shirts and journals, but I haven’t had any luck yet. I want to move away from Etsy as their fees are just ridiculous.

I am looking into taking commissions, but I need to find a way to make it less demanding on me. I am planning on returning to my Twitch stream on Thursday mornings too; I’ve been missing my Twitch peeps!


Since walking away from my shamanic practitioner training my personal spiritual practice has been minimal. It’s like my heart has been broken repeatedly, and I am not able to get over it.

This is the year I reclaim my practice. I was an animist long before I discovered core shamanism. and so I remain an animist. I won’t be doing client work this year, while I work on my own healing.


I want to continue in my volunteer role with everyone’s favourite environmental protest group. The past year was super stressful, what with COP26 taking place on our doorstep, but we did it and nothing was fixed so we have to keep going.

In my post-COP26 reflections, I realised I was focused too much on the “big picture” and have been neglecting the “small picture”. Looking at the big picture is important because we are trapped in systems that are destroying the planet and we need systemic changes to fix things. But there are things I can do personally and locally to improve things too; a bottom-up approach to things, rather than top-down.

So here I am, with a map scribbled on the back of a napkin, getting ready to make my way into 2022. I’m feeling good about it. 🙂

Categorized as journal

Transitions: My Sidhehound Tattoo

I have been wanting to write about my Sidhehound tattoo for some time, but I felt awkward about it because it is so heavily tied up in shamanic practitioner training I no longer stand by. In that context, please enjoy this report on it from November 2020. The tattoo was part of a personal ceremony representing a transitional point in my life, though at the time I didn’t realise how big the transition would be!


My original intention for this ceremony was to mark my completion of our two-year course in my own way – with a tattoo. It was supposed to be a celebration! Of course, the spirits give you what you need rather than what you want. Instead this ceremony became a time of deep personal reflection, and for making some decisions about my future as a shamanic practitioner. 

The ceremony was originally planned for June, but due to Covid-19 it was postponed twice. In that time things had changed for me, which will be covered in the transformation part of the ceremony. 


To outsiders, my separation may have appeared non-existent. Internally, there was a lot going on. I took a long bath, both to cleanse and because it will be some weeks before I would be healed enough to soak in a bath. I quietly prayed, and gave thanks. I thanked Twobirds for facilitating our training, the Clan for their friendship and solidarity, and Standing Stone for gifting me my name, Hound of the Sidhe. 

I then had to travel, safely, to the tattoo studio. This is the first time I physically separated myself as I spiritually separated. This was a new, and highly recommended, studio to me. As I entered the space, the separation was further heightened. The reception was fantasy themed, mostly around the film “The Dark Crystal”. I used to work with pop culture magic, so having Aughra (the voice of Thra, the world) watching over the proceedings was a magnificent surprise. 


This was possibly one of the most powerful transformations I underwent, as it touched my mind, body and soul simultaneously. All of my tattoos have spiritual significance, but there were so many changes between planning and execution with this one. 

As my tattooist, Gillian, inked me, I told her my story. 

I began with my spiritual experiences, my mental health diagnoses, my struggles at art school before a classmate pointed me in the direction of the spiritual section of the local bookshop. Discovering shamanism, working alone, in a group, then alone again. Encountering a shamanic practitioner as a client, and then being pointed towards Twobirds and Anam Cara. How each step helped me understand who I am, little by little. 

I told her about my design, much of which came from our first gathering. How I was gifted a name that resonated with me deeply. How when I was out to journey on the land, I chose to sit beneath an oak tree (a tree I associate with my mother, whose death allowed me to take the course). How after the journey, a ladybird (my mother’s favourite animal) was climbing on my drum arm. How at that moment, everything felt right. 

I then told her about my doubts. About my struggles with being part of a spiritual community, about my doubts about my ability, about my conflict between my practice and my mental health, and about how I wasn’t sure if I even want to be a shamanic practitioner anymore. 

One thing I was certain about was the tattoo though. The pain was excruciating, even with pain relief. It helped me focus. No matter where my path goes, that moment beneath the oak, with ladybird, and embodying my new name was perfect. I will always be a Hound of the Sidhe, no matter what track I follow. 


Aftercare is an important part of both shamanic work and getting a tattoo. 

I took a moment of silence to let some relief wash over me. The physical and emotional pain had stopped. Time had too. Aughra’s eye was on me and I felt safe. 

Gillian and I shared some sugary drinks and snacks as she brought me back to Earth with her aftercare routine. After a clean up, I looked down at my tattoo and smiled. Moments can’t really be captured, but they can be memorialised. 

I am journaling a lot to clarify some things that came up during my eight hours of inking. My attachment to the result (qualifying as a shamanic practitioner) isn’t there any more. I will be delighted if I can catch up on all of the work, but I will be okay if I can’t. It doesn’t change who I am, it just changes the avenues in which I can express it. 

Each time I care for my tattoo (which is several times a day), I have a moment of prayer and reflection. I feel inspired to practice again, something I have not been doing for several months. 

Reading over this now, I can see that I knew then I wouldn’t be completing the course. I just didn’t want to admit it, because of the money I had invested in the training. But I did eventually trust my intuition.

Tattoo artist: Gillian Turner at Aughra’s Eye Tattoo & Piercing


Badger (2021), Photoshop

About Badger the spirit teacher

Badger can help you unearth mysteries buried deep within and without. He can root out problems and solutions. A gruff personality with a tenacious. He prefers to keep to himself, but you can build a relationship with him with time and effort. 

About the art

This portrait of Badger was created between May and July 2021. The original is a digital piece created in Photoshop. Inspired by my spiritual work with Badger as an animal spirit teacher. 

About the artist

I am Wolf Saanen, an animist artist from Dumbarton, Scotland. I create bold and vibrant animal spirit portraits using digital and traditional media. I primarily use Photoshop, but I enjoy working with lino prints, acrylics and ink too. I am inspired by my animistic practice; I want everyone to share in the beauty and magic of the natural world, and perhaps make their own connections.

Purchase prints and products

Every purchase helps support me and my work ❤🐺🐐

Generic update

So much for my plan to write daily! Hello!

Is me

Life has been … interesting lately.

The 5th anniversary of my mum’s death has just passed. My sister and I went to scatter my dad’s ashes at their memorial tree in Balloch Park. He passed less than two years ago. Is it weird to think of yourself as an orphan at 38? The daily pain is less, but I have bad dreams about it all still.

I should be away at a spiritual training retreat right now; my final one before qualifying. I opted to throw all of the time, money and energy away and quit. It was a hard decision, but it was a long time coming. Between a lack of guidance during our forced pandemic break, a lax attitude towards the pandemic, the infestation of anti-vaxxers & right wing BS, and my personal understanding of cultural appropriation … I decided that it was not a qualification I wanted any more. What saddens me the most is that my course leader didn’t even respond to my e-mail saying I was leaving; my part in the community was that meaningless.

I’m planning a ritual to gain some closure over the whole thing. I’m not quite sure what form it will take, but I think it will focus on fire.

My art and spiritual work doesn’t bring in much, and I am not considered disabled enough to get support, so I am now working a conventional job for 1 day a week. That takes up three days of my week though, thanks to my fibromyalgia, which means I have less time to work on creative and spiritual things but I do have a small guaranteed income. Swings and roundabouts.

In general, I am feeling good though. I’m happy that my sister and I were able to finish putting our parents to rest, I am glad I made the choice to leave my spiritual training, and having a stable income is a good thing. I’ve been able to get my haircut for the first time in 10 months, I have my first Covid-19 vaccination, I get to play D&D, I am able to start seeing my bestie again … things are pretty sweet overall.

Categorized as journal