Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The color of the Moon

This image of the January full moon was found by gazing into a piece of Brazilian agate. Its central area of crackled transparency was surrounded with circles of dark and lighter turquoise, all within an outer rind of chalky white. Some areas were suffused with a delicate tint of brilliant purple. At least these were the colors I translated onto my paper when I used a “local color” painting technique I taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Local color means the color of an object as it actually appears in ambient light, rather than the color the mind knows it to be.

I prepared a card of stiff, hot pressed drawing paper by cutting its outer dimension to a size that completely covered the slice of agate. I then made a second cutout of a small slot from the center of the paper. I laid this slot over the agate, making sure I could see all the colors of the stone in the narrow opening. After taping the paper lightly in place over the agate, I began the fun part of this color mixing exercise: using whatever combination of colored inks and application techniques I could think of to paint the paper surrounding the slot to be so exactly like the agate showing through it, that the hole in the paper ‘disappeared.’

Sometimes the unexpected accidents of one puddle of ink running into another on the palette would create a color with perfect fit, at another moment the addition of more water across a not yet fully dried surface would leave streaks and stains of ink in unpremeditated patterns. When creating the final painting for this full moon divination card, I searched over the slotted card, choosing those colors, lines, and applications that best translated the surface of the agate, in ink, to the matte board disk.

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Doing the work

I recently asked “What part of me can best help the Journey Oracle go out into the world?” For advice I obtained a Kinder Surprise, which is a hollow chocolate egg, wrapped in foil on the outside and containing a plastic bubble on the inside filled with pieces of a small toy. To conduct a Kinder Surprise divination, I first ask my question and then assemble the toy to receive my answer. I got a blue jug spilling milk, atop which were sitting two grey mice—balancing at the ends of a red teeter totter. Although the symbolism of the blue jug was clear: the Journey Oracle itself—in the color of spiritual seeking—spilling nourishment to all who drink from the cards and stories, I was stymied by the mice until I remembered that one of the stories is about mice. It is the story of the Sun card, called “Doing the work.”

There was a couple who found a mouse in their house. How it got there, they didn’t know, but they decided it could not be just hanging out, and must be trapped. The couple used a box baited with peanut butter crackers; and after their success they drove the little mouse a long distance from their home.

The next day, the couple was surprised to find three tiny mouse babies under the tail of their old dog—they had apparently crawled there to avoid energy loss from the morning cold. The couple realized that these were the children of the mouse they had trapped and although they could toss them outside, they decided they were not going there. The couple thought “Through our actions Spider Woman’s web be broken.” They wondered how to mend the net of this broken family? In a burst of forces marshaled to nurture these creatures so new in the world, the couple built a moss soft nest in a plastic tub, and fitted the top with a screen lid.

At first the three babies dined on eye droppers full of warm milk; days later they feasted on bird seed and hard boiled egg. At night the three mouse children would run laps upside down on the screen lid of their home and then sleep in a puddle of tiny feet and pink noses during the day. At last the couple took the plastic tub to the forest, and offering peanut butter crackers as rewards, encouraged the mice to enter their rightful world.

Years later the woman found herself in exhaustion and pain from the discovery of a childhood trauma. She closed her eyes and asked for help. In her inner sight she saw a little mouse nose wiggling toward her face, and felt a spirit energy communication. She understood that this was the mouse mother, come to repay the gift of her children’s lives. The mouse indicated she would be doing the work—helping the woman find her way back to her family—because the memory of wild things is as long as forever.

For me this story is about choosing to do the thing that takes effort, rather than choosing to do what is easy. It is about doing this effort-filled thing for perhaps a long time without a guarantee of success or even acknowledgement. The mouse children balancing on the red seesaw are a symbol of my choice to do the work to bring this Oracle into the world. And like caring for the real mouse babies, this choice will take my passion as well as my effort to keep feeding the Oracle’s growth with my energy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Will the rim hold if the center falls out?

In the center I see a face with two eyes—thoughtful, perhaps sad. Lines like rivers, or cracks in ice, join at the top of what might be a nose. There is only the smallest indication of a mouth, as if the face will not, or can not, speak.

There is a turquoise blue circle near the sixth chakra in the forehead—or perhaps this is a figure in profile with arms outstretched from a white cloak. Surrounding the face is a warm red earth color, which also shades onto the rim of the face, as if the latter were attached to, or emerging from, the earth color. Beyond this are two irregular wavy blue lines—more like a hole into another place, but also like water. A sketchy brown line navigates around the blue, which is in turn surrounded by a densely detailed rim of combined blue and brown, looking like lichen growing on rock, or maybe a desert vista. The faintest wash of lavender blurs the edge of the face, and of the encircling lines, and of the entire image—like a warm breath softens frost.

Who is this face in my life at this moment? Who is gazing out to see me, mute, from circles of earth and water, wearing ice and soft shadows? Is this face the center of awakening spring? Is this face in the center of a story I am telling myself about my life right now? What part of me is this face? What part of me is awakening, emerging from my own jagged rims of winter?

I see many rims. Rims are separations, or sometimes they show what is beneath, or beyond. They say “here is one thing, and over here is another.” The lines that trace the rims in this image are sometimes lost and sometimes found, moving in and out of clarity. Am I feeling the earth season whose approaching rim of warmth brings sprouting and new growth? Am I making rims? Am I focusing on the rim? Will the rim hold if the center falls out?