Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Painting dream animals on drums

Dream Animals, by James Hillman, is really shifting my perspective about animals that appear in my dreams. Instead of treating them like figments of my inner state whose purpose is translation and self-applied meaning, he suggests I recognize that dream animals are always displaying themselves in a scene and bringing a mood.  He states that "anything that comes at you in a dream wants you."

My frame drum paintings are like dream images.  I paint the shadows behind the creatures more than the forms of the birds and animals.  I let appear what is appearing and do not shift a pose or edit a mood.  So what do the dream animals in my painted shamanic drums want from the drummer?

Bears often come to my drum paintings.  
There is such warmth in their presence.

A mood of loving kindness whose wisdom seems 
touched with such sadness.  
As if we humans have forgotten our place,
 and the bear is waiting, still, for us to return.

Birds come to my drum paintings with intensity.

They seem to demand a focus that requires being really present.


The great cats do not often appear in the drum painting, 
but when they do it is with an air of watchful stillness.  
As if their presence on the drum is but a fleeting moment.

The canines have a different energy.  
Outgoing; boisterously engaged in joyful praise.

Even when the creature comes with a sense of menace,
 there is a playful quality to the bite. 

The fox and the snake go together in my impression of the mood they bring to a drum painting. 
 Both are accused of being deceitful because we attach
 a moral judgement to their slink and slither.  
Yet both are truly masterful in their unwillingness
 to be corrupted by the meanings we assign.  

I consider it the greatest gift to have 
one of these animals appear on a drum.  
Perhaps they want the drummer to learn
 to disappear into the vibration,
 like a snake or a fox down a hole into the moist dark earth.  

Sometimes a presence is so real, so "itself," 
that there is nothing it wants, 
and nothing for the drummer to give.   
Just be together.