Back to listen

Anna Murray:
the power of patterns

Anna sees and thinks in patterns. As a child, she carried around a notebook and recorded things that changed and how things were related to each other. She explores what it is like to live guided by patterns – of the moon, of day and night, of the seasons. How to open ourselves up to the flow of the never-ending spirals we find in nature; in seeds, on the down-like hair of a baby’s head and in galactic formations. Having created PATTERNITY, she tries to live and work according to her own cycles, as a woman, a night-owl and someone who finds grounding and meaning in the annual cycles of the earth.

Made by Jo Barratt. Conceived by Jo Barratt and Gemma Mortensen, with Iris Andrews and Lily Piachaud.

Music is made for New Constellations by Art School Girlfriend.


Hello, hello hello… I think this is working. So here I am. I’m in bed actually. It’s pretty late. It’s about, um, about five to two. Although for me, that’s not actually that late, I’ve been going to bed very late lately. Around about three or four, even five. I made it to five to the day. I basically am coming to accept in myself that I am a real night owl. There’s something unraveling in me at the moment, in a good way, around just coming to accept my own rhythms really, my own patterns.

In our lives we set patterns and we create patterns. These create modes or modalities and ways for other people to, to create those same patterns onward throughout time. And there’s lots of different ways that pattern can be described. A regular and intelligible formal sequence is one way to look at it. So it’s something that repeats. I like the ‘intelligible’ because there’s some sense of a consciousness or an intelligence to pattern. A way that something is done. So, again, that kind of denotes habits and behaviours and rituals, cycles – human, non-human. And then there’s also, this is a kind of definition (kind of Oxford definition) – to set an example for others to follow.

A shared awareness and understanding of pattern will positively shape the future. It’s firstly that we become more aware and we start to see with this, this “new” (in inverted commas) way of looking and seeing, and really appreciating and noticing the interconnectedness, and really seeing that visually. But also it’s this way of being, and this next layer which comes through an awareness, which is understanding, which is much more around how we can start to live through pattern and how can we start to live in a way that is interconnected, which then feeds into say, habit change, society, systems change, politics. You know, it goes into health, it goes into so many different areas when we start to feed through the awareness and the visualization of pattern into the implementation and change in our lives and in our wider lives in our culture.

So I’m actually just sitting in my allotment, in my community allotment. It’s a really, really lovely place to be. It’s evening time. It’s a kind of hubbub with people around doing their evening things.

Ah, it’s the clap.

So I’m holding in my hand a beautiful, um, it’s a piece of Ammonite. It’s a kind of quite dark ochre kind of wood-like color actually. And there’s all sorts of different colors and textures within the spiral. I haven’t really looked at it this closely as I am now. I am a spiral obsessive, but there’s something in the shape of the spiral that for me is just so powerful in that it really reminds me of life and how so many things in life grow in this spiralling pattern or shape, whether it’s a seed or coming out of the ground or a fern, you know, the spiralling crown of the baby’s head or the Milky Way galaxy. It represents this feeling of coming home to oneself and coming home to one’s place within this greater whole. They just remind me of the cyclical nature of life and how everything is moving in these constant phases of expansion and contraction and growth and dying down and going back and then emerging again. And we’re, we’re living in these constant rhythms, these constant cycles of expansion and contraction and everything, everything in life adheres to that pattern, that cycle, that rhythm. And I think the spiral can have quite a lot of negative connotations for many. I think when you mention a spiral, people think of going in a downward spiral. And I suppose there is that layer. We all go down downward spirals. We all need to spiral back down at times, but it can also be obviously an upward spiral and how we connect upwards, but the two need to be honored really. We’re all together in this. We’re all spiralling in the same motion and we have a spiral within our DNA. You know, I feel like we are all spirals. We are all fractals of the whole.

There is a path that we can take in life and we never know what’s around the corner. If you’re in a spiral and it’s 3D and you’re looking forward, you’re never going to see what’s around the corner. And I think that’s a philosophy in that in life of just trusting in the flow of life literally. It is for me the pattern of life, of nature. And if we can harmonize with that, I think there’s, there’s real power in that. The stripe, conversely, is, is more around structure. And it makes me think of very man-made constructs and senses of time. So like spreadsheets, things like emails or to-do lists and graphs and built architecture and the material world, perhaps the spiral is slightly more immaterial. And actually it’s not to disregard the stripe. The stripe gives us ways of doing and we need to, I feel, find a balance in our lives between the spiral and the stripe. And actually if we can start to, to navigate life with knowing when we were in stripey mode or doing mode, or we’re maybe in the, in the spiral and we’re in a place of creativity and maybe a bit more chaotic and we can start to dance between the structure and this flow, and find a kind of more balanced harmony with the two and a resonance. I think that’s, that’s the kind of future I’d like to see.

I’ve started learning to bake more lately, which is really nice. I mean, it’s, yeah, just the stuff that you’re able to do when you move to a slightly different rhythm. So I just saw a message which was actually from my business partner, Grace, my creative partner, business partner – business partner doesn’t often feel quite right. She’s my collaborator who I’ve created Patternity with. And she’s telling me that it’s her, the first day of her period today. We work cyclicly at Patternity. So for us like our cycle, as women, is a creative cycle that moves within us each, each month. So for her today, she’s on day one. That means, I knew that she was already coming up to her bleed. Um, that means that she will be taking a day of rest today and she’ll be laying her body and letting all the hormones that her body is releasing flood through her system and heal her. And she’ll go into this place that is a place of reconnection back to self, back to her creative core. Before we knew about all of this, we would just work through like most people do. I would, I would get awful pains. So I’d take loads of painkillers. And often I would get really low and down, and Grace would get more angry and frustrated, and that’s purely because our bodies were just calling for us to stop. And just seeing what emerges in me, what creativity wants to come through me when I don’t, when I’m not in a doing mode… You know, it’s been marketed as the curse. I mean, and it’s actually the greatest gift, but we just haven’t been taught, we haven’t been taught that it is. And I think we’ve got a lot of unlearning to do, a lot of unlearning and we’ve got a lot of repatterning. Um, and it’s the hardest thing of all to do nothing, especially impossible. And I don’t always do it. I can’t always do it.

I’d say these are probably done now. Perfect, wow. They look great – happy with that. So I’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13. Unlucky for some!

When I was a little girl, I used to walk around with a little notepad around my neck. And I used to literally jot down kind of when I’d see something that was different or I’d see a change. So I’d, I remember one was like, looking at the vicar and I was writing that he had new shiny shoes or his shoes were shinier. So I was always looking, looking and noticing a lot. My mum was a gardener as well and she always used to encourage me to just look so closely at say the speckles on the back of a ladybird or the dots on the back of a ladybird, or on a leaf, um, or really looking at, looking and seeing.

I look back at pictures of myself as a child and I had these kind of very open, very curious eyes. I actually had a period in my life when I felt like I was actually going quite mad because I was seeing pattern everywhere. I was seeing the beauty, actually you know, the inspiration of a pattern on a broken paving stone or in glass or an oil slick on the street or in an amazing cloud formation. But I didn’t have anywhere to channel that. And I didn’t feel I could actually share it in any one single discipline. So I actually kind of had to go though a series of meltdowns through my education. Cause I just was like, well, it’s not science. It’s not, it’s not, um, art, it’s, it’s not philosophy. It’s, it’s all of these things. And that was quite hard at one point, but now it’s a blessing because it’s, I’ve kind of found Patternity to be a channel to share how it is all these different things and they’re all interconnected.

So today is a new day. I’m a bit groggy. Watching the plant on the balcony, all the patterns of the leaves and the light and the floor shadows. There’s lots of energy flying around. Today is the new moon. Only for the last three months or so have I taken this day as a day of rest for myself, traditionally, this is again, or this is what our ancestors have done. There was no light in the sky at night and it was a time for rest and stillness and often a time for just coming back to self and the earth and embracing the void, really embracing the darkness. It’s just not about allowing the outside in, just for this one day or this one morning or one hour, even if you’re stuck for time, I wouldn’t watch things on TV or listen to podcasts because that’s more outside information coming in. This is a day of really attuning to what is in you, what needs to be given space. And I feel so many of us have so much to share with others, but we often don’t give that much space in our lives as they are currently arranged. I actually spoke to a friend of mine the other evening and, um, he spent, he spent a lot of time in Plum Village a Buddhist retreat that was, was started, um, or was led by, Thích Nhất Hạnh, one of my favorite Buddhist teachers. One of the things that the monks do there is greet each other and ask how they’ve been lazy today. And I just love that – as in laziness is key – and actually we need to laze now and again. There’s something very gentle in rest, but there’s something also very strong and powerful in allowing yourself that rest and not orienting yourself around the need to be busy, or the need to be seen to be busy. So I’m going to wrap myself up in some blankets and I’m just gonna be here, be here now in the words of Oasis.

I’m just sitting in Hampstead Heath. This is my favorite place to be. My happy place, for sure. Love being here.

There’s been a lot coming up lately. There’s been a lot of big questions in, in my life, in the collective, around inequality and just how deeply, deeply, deeply interwoven in the very fabric of our culture and our own biases and our own ways of being is. It’s such an important time for this awareness of interconnectedness, but also difference in how we have come to have these biases, and that we might not consciously feel that we have them, but there needs to be an acknowledgement, and acceptance that we, that we do and that we’re part of onward patterning that shapes the way we see, the way we act, and to really acknowledge that we are complicit. And even if we feel that we haven’t done anything wrong or it’s not our problem, because we’re not, we’re not racist, we might not think that we’re racist, we would not think that we ‘other’ others. It’s what I feel like is happening right now is this, this awakening to the power of pattern interconnectedness and that these systems and structures that have built up over many, many years are causing harm. There’s something of the intellectual that we can understand this stuff, but actually it has to be on a felt embodied layer. This is powerful stuff, and it’s recalibrating the fabric of our system, and that is super powerful. And I’ve certainly been feeling it the last few days.

I love you. Please forgive me. I’m sorry. Thank you. I love you. Please forgive me. I’m sorry. Thank you.

So I found the ho’oponopono through an article that was about the psychologist who his patient was having a psychological downward spirals and his therapist used the ho’oponopono by way of saying that, unless we integrate that we are complicit essentially in everything and everyone’s pain and discomfort and know that we are part of that person’s psychotic episode. We are part of that person’s depression. We are part of the homeless person on the street. We are part of racist attacks. We are part of white supremacy. We are part of mining in the Amazon, and maybe we need to go to those depths sometimes. Maybe we need to feel that pain and the anger and that sadness, but let it be fuel for change.

I love you. Please forgive me. I’m sorry. Thank you.

So I’m currently sitting on Hampstead Heath and the year is 2050. And this same spot has looked exactly the same the whole time I’ve been coming up here for over 50 years now. And the world outside of this patch of green is a very interesting place, so much has changed in the last 20 years. And there were some very significant moments in 2020 that really started to heighten people’s consciousness. And there was something in that moment that enabled people to sense unseen patterns. And in the years that came, there were many, many, many breakdowns in the system. People didn’t want to go back to normal when the lockdown was eased, people started to question the system, which they had been so autopilot within. They started to question what they bought and how they spent their money. People started to awaken. People worked less and people felt like they contribute. And they started to realise that the huge wave of depression and anxiety in our culture, and suicide, was linked and, and disease in general, was linked to a feeling of not contributing to something and not feeling in service to a greater whole. And our individualism had just gone too far and people were so unhappy. We started to re define what success meant. And we did that by listening to quieter voices, by repressed voices, making space and stepping back, we listened more. We made space for listening more. Communities became stronger and people started to do their work slowly, but surely people started to reconnect the disconnect that had hurt their souls for so long and caused them so much pain and a discomfort that they couldn’t really put into words. So there was a huge shift, and a real earthing into the earth, a real recognition that we are part of the earth. And though we are different and acknowledging difference and wanting to care more, we also realise our interdependence and interconnectedness.

And as I sit here now in the year 2050, I still wonder what the future will be like. I still wonder how future generations will feel. I still wonder if we’re sowing the right seeds for the future in this moment. Because we still have a lot to learn.