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...as I turned the corner, she was waking up in the garden of spring.
A playful swing, the round circle of blessings
an ancient call to infuse magic in all she creates
a longing to bring back life from exile.
A vision of all that had been
A hope now...... a dream....
An ancient table for feasting
a humble seat for resting
The harvesting season has come.
From 'An Uexpected Welcome'
My name is Paola Ferretti Pontiggia.
I was born in a village in Northern Italy, the fourth of five daughters. I have always been passionate about foreign languages and cultures. I remember my uncle, my mom’s only brother, often visiting when I was small and pretending to talk some language or another, and although I had no clue as to what he was saying ( now I know he was just making things up) I was spellbound by the strange sounds he could create. Needless to say, when it came to choose what to study after high school, the choice was easy. I graduated as an interpreter and translator. At the end of that year I came to South Africa on a holiday, visiting the young man whom I had met in Italy a year earlier (he was born in South Africa of emigrant parents) and who would become my husband a few years later. Before my first child was born, I decided to make South Africa my home where I have now been living for over thirty years. I have raised two children: they are part of the work of art my life is becoming.
My inner world was thrown into chaos when I became a woman and the experience of having been figuratively abducted into another realm was far more real than I could comprehend at the time.
Over a period of 35 years, thanks especially to the guidance and mentoring of many relevant books, the quiet company of travelers on a similar path from a distant past, and extensive personal work, I came to realize how I was being trained and initiated, through the Dark Night experience, into a complex, multidimensional and sacred understanding of Life. This special and profound path of inner revolutionary healing and metamorphosis has accompanied, taught me and held me in its womb like a fierce and protective mother, a mother I struggled to recognize as such for a very long time. I have fallen on my knees more times than I care to remember; I have intimately known the befuddled sense of being lost within a vast space which was simultaneously undoing me as it was calling forth the essential and sacred in me. The Dark Night has been my profound teacher, my most intimate friend and it has painstakingly slowly prepared me for service.
The pandemic gifted me with the opportunity of delving deeply into understanding and unpacking personal and collective trauma, both through training with an international organisation headed by Thomas Huebl , extensive reading and online seminars led by leading somatic trauma experts (i.e. Peter Levine, Gabor Mate', Jeffrey Rutstein, Deb Dana and others) and, more importantly, by way of a profound awakening of my own trauma history. The content, which surfaced via physical symptoms, led me to access areas of my past I hadn't fully comprehended until I unpacked them and metabolized them through the information provided by my nervous system. This is now an ongoing area of study and personal exploration: the fruits of this journey are constantly being integrated with the psycho-spiritual accompaniment I offer to people.
I am deeply sensitive, caring, compassionate, patient and soulful in matters of the heart. I carry a profound hunger for truth and liberation from the suffocating layers which conditioning, culture, and history impose on people’s spirit, both individually and collectively. I am also intense, engaging, emotionally intelligent and articulate, able to key into the big picture of a situation and offer a bird’s eye view perspective when a person's story or a situation become too loaded to be processed calmly and clearly.
I carry within me many opposites and learning to understand them and hold them in a dynamic tension without being ruled or overwhelmed by them, without running away or shutting down, has been a lifelong practice. I am quirky, multilayered. I move slowly, deeply, creatively.
Africa has been both the stage and the activator of an incredible spiritual and creative revolution in my life. Art, writing and spirituality form the foundation of how I express myself, together with a solid commitment to daily silence, solitude, contemplative living and practices, yin yoga and breath-work to name a few, which assist me in navigating an autoimmune disease my body has carried for 20 years. Paradoxically, next to my love of silence and solitude, I also hold the space within me for authentic connection and soulful, transformative friendship.
A peek into my female world
I grew up surrounded by a predominantly female presence yet my own female world has been a difficult one to decipher. Recovering my feminine voice has been a labour of love, profoundly aided in this by transiting through menopause.
Perhaps this is why I have become particularly passionate about creating spaces for women of all ages to come home to who they really are.
Four years ago I ran a project called ‘I, Woman', (for more info- check 'I -Woman' under 'Past Projects') inviting women to connect with each other by connecting to themselves. This initiative reinforced in me the desire to collaborate with other women who are passionate and committed to the liberation of the feminine voice and the unshackling of human beings from the enslaving effects of the patriarchal template.
My story and history
I believe, at this point in history, we have to start looking at life through the lenses of change and transformation and not those of comfort, security and personal gain. Life has truly excavated me. Where before there was trauma, unprocessed, unconscious content and conditioning, there now is a deep capacity to hold space for others: for what is hidden to come to the surface, for what is unseen and forgotten to be welcome and recognized, for what is buried and unlived to be named and called back to life. I listen. I observe. I hear deep beneath the layers of verbal interaction and patiently help people to unravel their narratives and see the truth of who they are and whom their soul may call them to become.
I work with people who are cognitively functional.
I don't provide psychotherapy nor life coaching although layers of my work may yield similar results.
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