Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Meaning of the full moon in August

The full moon in August is a special time that feels like the early beginnings of rest and renewal for the earth, and for ourselves. Of course, the beginning of something usually happens because something else has just ended, and this time in August feels the most full of intense activity, which must slow to quiet, even if the slowing is from exhaustion.

The card readings at my Journey Oracle table at the Market here on Cortes Island have reached the peak when no more will fit into the allotted time, the planning for my art show of shamanic journey art and painted drums have gone as far as preparations and setting up will allow, there is no more time to take on art commissions until the leaves are turning color, and harvesting and canning are beginning to reach the limit of freezer space and jars. It must be time to go sailing.

We came back last night from a holiday on the water--where it is very difficult to be in intense activity of the earth-based sort. We participated instead in a Full Moon Regatta which gave us the opportunity to watch sunsets and join in cruising races, visit over potluck suppers,and especially, lie in our bunks in the shimmer of moon light on water and feel the slow rise and fall of Mother Ocean. Even now--if I close my eyes and go very still, I can feel her breathing echo through my water body.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Preparing an art show

I am preparing for an art show of my shamanic drums and journey art, to open at the Old School House Gallery here on Cortes Island August 27th. Almost a year ago, during the Gallery selection process to determine the 2010 calender, the exhibition offer was a compliment and also felt easy to envision. Of course I would have lots of drums by then--or certainly I would have plenty of time to make them. And I remembered that I had a number of graphite and watercolour images in my shamanic journey notebooks that had not yet been seen on the island. This would be easy.

Now the exhibition of my shamanic art is little more than a week away, and I have a sore back and feet from standing over the cutting table, reformatting and mounting pages of journal sketches. There is a line of drums on the swing chair in the living room, hoping for the attention of my altered gaze as I seek their paintings, and a number of half dressed drum sticks that look like soldiers fallen out of dicipline for want of receiving the rest of their uniforms.

I did make a list this morning, because I read somewhere that this helps you feel better, and I do, I think. I managed to cross off five items in the two colums of tasks, so maybe the list is just helping me focus on the details of the tidal wave overwhelming me. I remember Martin Prechtel teaching about how our relationship with spirit is in the details, and this certianly is true. When the idea was general...just an idea--everything seemed easy. Now that it's physical action...effort following effort--everything must be constantly negotiated and adjusted then renegotiated. Just like life. Just like art. Still, it did feel better to make a list.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where to find shamanic teachings

For me, shamanism means having a direct experience with the more-than-human world. It is being awake to messages coming all our teachers, whether they an oracle speaking through divination cards , the flash of a bird swooping close by that accents a sudden insight, or a shift in the wind just as we are thinking about changing the direction of our thinking.

I had just finished wrapping a shaman drum for mailing and had left the room for a moment. When I returned my cat Meisa had found a perfect new place from which to survey the room, and suddenly, I saw the shamanic teaching she was giving me. Us humans try and control most everything--especially those forces and events we cannot keep within our sight. When we instead let go and surrender to trust, we are given an opportunity to experience what the natural world is constantly showing us: that all will be well when we are able to stay awake to its messages of support and warning.

The interesting thing about these shamanic teachings is that they do not respond to the scientific demand to "show the evidence." They only respond to the felt experience of revelation in the moment. Like this moment of insight from my cat: everything can stand a little weight on top.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

When is art finished?

Sometimes it seems we need an oracle to tell us when to stop working on a piece of art. Whether this be a painted drum or a special sauce for our salad, when do we stop adding and adjusting?

My paintings on deer hide
are created much like I painted the images on the Journey Oracle cards--I gaze into the surface of the dried drum skin and wait for something to appear. I usually look first for the eyes, and suddenly, out of a mottled but unmarked surface, someone is looking back at me. And yet the greatest skill seems to be knowing when to stop working.

Before I painted this drum I call "Keeper," the creature I saw was quite haunting and undefinable. Maybe it was a bear but also maybe a wolf or dog. Each of these has its own power and as I painted the creature came to be a bear to my eyes. And yet I was never satisfied with the eyes in the drum painting. They actually seemed to not be there. As if what I was seeing couldn't see me. This drum was even sold and then came back to me--as I have written about several of my other blogs. So I tried painting the eyes again and the creature became a wolf, yet this didn't fit either. And so in a moment of inspired risk, I took a damp cloth and started wiping off everything. Of course these raw earth pigments stain into the deer skin like a tattoo so only a little of the color moved--and suddenly there was that haunting, undefinable creature again--appearing when I stopped trying to make it appear. I believe all our work with the spirit world has this quality. When we stop trying to make something appear according to our vision--we are able to see with different eyes.