This month I’ve asked my class participants to create a visual image of their Touchstone word. Mine is “Tranquility”.
Right after our class meeting I woke up with a pretty clear idea of what I wanted in the final image. I knew that I wanted to make a collage. I am not particularly fluent with collage and because I already had my vision I knew that hunting through magazines would be a waste of time. I decided to go directly to the internet for the images from my mind’s eye.
During class I shared a visualization strategy I use of floating on a river, I started searching for images that reminded me of this idea. I gathered a few, put them in a folder, and then working with Power Point, I began to arrange the images until a pleasing juxtaposition appeared.
I really love the final product. It is simple yet has a nice flow. I printed it out and framed it. Then I placed it in a prominent place across from my studio table. Now whenever I might feel frustrated with the creative process, I can now look up and breathe.
I had a deadline I wanted to meet for a show about the islands of the Pacific. Located in the Southwest Pacific is the island of New Zealand. I was fortunate enough to travel there when my daughter turned 15. We went to visit her second grade teacher who had moved there with her family. Walking around, I was frequently mistaken for Maori which was equally surprising and pleasurable. I admired the beautiful women delineating their familial lineage through their facial tattoos.
I wondered what my facial tattoo might look like and made this painting. I knew I needed to offer something about my ancestral ties and heritage. I chose to replicate a Mesoamerican butterfly design that was found and predates the Spanish colonial invasion of the Americas. I love this work. It connects me to the symbols, customs and practices of indigenous people across the world from me and with whom I feel a special connection.
Further, and probably because of this work, I refined my touchstone word for the year. Instead of PEACE, it is now TRANQUILITY. Tranquility is exactly how I feel when I think about my time spent in the sacred land of the Maori people; the spiritual place in the world they call home. I have titled my piece “Spirit of Rotorua”. Rotorua being the heart center of the Maori located on the North Island.
I think that I am off to a good start this year with this word. It has already put me in a good frame of mind looking toward the future.
With the start of class came much intensive learning (I had at least 12 objectives for the first class, a 2 hour session!) and several assignments to be completed over the course of a month. The most important of which was to begin to become familiar with the creative aspect of self. We will, after all, be making a White Bear Medicine Shield. The shield will tell a story. The story will be about the power of the individual who crafts it.
I know how I first felt submitting to the incredible void of creativity, this power of the feminine. It was daunting even as I wished to commit myself to its mystery. So I decided that we needed to have an entry point that was doable and non-threatening. I chose to have each participant color a pre-formed mandala from Susanne F. Fincher’s book, Coloring Mandalas, Circles of the Sacred Feminine. The book has 50 designs to choose from.
Each participant had about 10 minutes each to select one or two pages that spoke to them. They needed to be able to work on it in the first week (and, hopefully complete it). One of my participants shared with me that even though she had selected an “easy” design, the execution of it was challenging because she wanted the colors to imbue meaning (from within her) to the coloring page. From the teacher’s perspective, this is precisely what I hoped would be sparked from the assignment.
Hello. Today is the Full Moon. In the spirit of this wonderful Grandmother, I’ve been thinking about the symbolic “kinship” that I feel with all of the Natural World. When I allow myself space to honor all of Life and the Sacred Fire that exists within each living being, my heart and spirit expand. During these moments that may last only as long as one breath, I feels as though I am able to stop time.
This last week, an opportunity to submit a printmaking piece from my new animal series into a community show appeared. Carving linoleum is akin to sculpture and my interest in the infinite space of carving impeccably gives me lots of time to consider the “medicine” ways of each animal.
This last week I focused on the “Sweet Medicine” of Lizard: Keeper of Dreams. I was taught that the dreams lizard holds for us are dreams of sorcerers. They are power dreams full of intent, symbols and magic. My original design for Lizard intimidated me for many months. Finally the Sacred Fire within Lizard could no longer be contained and she helped me find the way to express her spirit. My heart is full.
Believe it or not, I am still in the process of organizing all of the projects that I want to diligently work on this year. Having launched into the second new moon of this year, I questioned my ability to stay on track as it sometimes is overwhelming to juggle all of the myriad considerations of being a woman. Happily, progress has been made and I feel renewed in my commitment.
“The Sacred Fire of Love Exists Within All Life” is the second feminine truth. My revelation from last week’s comtemplation of that truth is that I have begun to honor, as I have intended, the Sweet Medicine Animals of my ancestors. I began a linoleum cut series of animals and their symbolic meaning from my experience.
This series incubated in my imagination about 5 years ago but printmaking was prohibitive to me at that time. I either had to travel a great distance to study with someone of my choosing and the expense of owning a press and housing it was impossible. The dream came true when a printmaking cooperative was recently established in my home town. Now I am content carving away on linoleum twice a week and learning from the wonderful individuals who gather there and share their skills.
Indigenous wisdom “saw” the Sacred Fire of Love contained within all Life. I hope that my new series will ignite a connection between the symbolic power of each animal that I complete. My hope is that you see their “Fire”. I want to share the first one I did about 3 years ago.
It is Butterfly whose symbol means “Keeper of Sacred Places”. I hope you like it. 🙂