Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What is wearable art?

As someone who has always made things, whether paintings or objects, art for me is in the details. When I remember that "every part, and every part between the part is whole," I realize that anything created with complete focus is art. Usually for me that focus comes in the form of a limitation. By this I mean something in the work's materials or construction takes on the status of a requirement; everything in the creation of the piece must be a result of conforming to this requirement. This coat, commissioned by a member of the Klahoose First Nation here on Cortes Island, became more than performance regalia, it transformed into wearable art.

The coat is made from three smoke tanned deer skins, embellished with hawk and one eagle feather, plus tuffs of mountain goat hair. As I began working on the basic construction, I understood to use no knots. This became the focus that transformed the coat into wearable art, into a medicine coat whose art could protect the wearer from any negative projections. Tangling, heavy energy--such as envy or jealousy--can stick to knots because these stop the flow of the vibrations constantly moving around and through us. From the moment I realized this limitation, the coat became a mysterious puzzle: How to fasten the skins, and also the ornaments to the skins, without knots? I discovered the Solomon Bar knot, a decorative square that isn't really a knot, because if the central cord is pulled through, the entire length just unravels itself. This, combined with a running X stitch and the use of rabbit skin glue created my art-filled focus.

The Journey Oracle cards that I created are a kind of "wearable art." The cards and stories had mysterious spirit world limitations for how they were painted and written, and learning how to read oracle cards for revelation creates protection from the vagaries of time and personal fate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spiritual meaning of winter solstice

Although for many years I have celebrated winter solstice as the returning of the light with the rebirth of the solar king, this year I had a profound experience that revealed another aspect to the spiritual meaning of winter solstice. The stoy began with a buck deer that entangled his antlers in our garden net fence. I could not imagine how I could rescue him by myself and so I went looking for some "man help." When I asked my nearest neighbor if her man was at home and explained my need, she replied with, "Is he really necessary?"

We decided not and so armed with wire cutters and scissors we approached the frightened and understandably aggressive two year old deer. As we tried to get close enough to cut the fencing, and he tried more frantically to escape, he became more horribly tangled in wire and net. My neighbor did manage to get one side of the fencing cut free, which gave the buck much more mobility--making it impossible for us to get close enough to cut the other side. After he charged me while I was holding a piece of plywood as a shield for my wire cutting attempt, and fortunately hit the wood before knocking me several feet back into the salal, we decided release was not going to work. There has been increased wolf activity in our Cortes neighborhood again, and leaving him snarled to become easy wolf food seemed unacceptably cruel.

Thank Goddess for young country women who have guns and know how to use them. My neighbor returned with a 22 and after exhausting, again, all the other versions we could think of, killed the deer with one shot. What tragic and intensly spiritual moments passed as we witnessed his death. With great care we cut him free in death from what we could not help him escape in life. We skinned and field dressed the body, proceeding slowly and offering gifts of sweetgrass and hand-made beads to his spirit to please forgive us for not being able to save him. I held his still warm heart in my hands and offered prayers of thankyou for this opportunity to receive this understanding of sacrifice as the deeper meaning of winter solstice.

It seemed inappropriate for us to take any part of the deer as food for ourselves and so yesterday, on the solstice, we took the carcass by boat to one of the islands outside Gorge Harbour so that the eagles and vultures could have a winter feast--maybe the wolves would also swim over from Cortes and Marina Island and be able to eat well without being drawn near human habitation. As my neighbor and I stood on that rocky outcropping, looking back into the now unseeing eyes of the young deer, its forehead covered with unbraided strands of sweetgrass and tears, I thought about how the deer's death was useful sacrifice, so that like the sun, it will be reborn in many life forms.

The three days of winter solstice 2010 also encompassed the three days of the December full moon. This experience happened on the first, or Maiden day. The full moon day of the Mother was the time of taking the deer to all the wild creatures trying to find food in this dark time. This third day of the Crone belongs to the Oracle, and here I tell this story as an oracle speaking of the sacrifice of death that feeds life--the spiritual meaning of winter solstice.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meaning of winter solstice decorations

It usually takes me some time to get the holiday decorations underway; yet when I do I especially love watching the birds feeding outside, seen through the lights circling the window. This year I spent some time researching the meaning of my winter solstice decorations and discovered many interesting correspondences.

I use golden garlands twined around colored lights because this holiday is originally the birth of the solar king, who brings the growing light to a new year. In the Greek Myths the present year king must die to make way for the new, and the Moon-Queen offers him an apple, which is his passport to Paradise. And also present as a counter-charm to the apple is the holy egg of rebirth. Therefore I hang in the upper space of my solstice decorations the red apples of death in life, and place bird nests containing the eggs of life in death in the lower space.

Hanging in the center of my solstice decorations is a silver coated pine cone. I discovered that the pine is dedicated to Dionysus / Bacchus and its cone is a phallic symbol of the god's fecundity. I also found that in Europe druids burned great fires of pine at the Winter Solstice to draw back the sun. It also interests me that the Bach flower Remedies recommend pine to treat despondency and despair--which often seem to be associated with the winter and Christmas season.

In the left corner of my winter solstice decorations is my Genius Loci, or spirit of place. This is my beaded representation of the year king who grows and fruits and sacrifices himself for our well being, and knowingly serves the Moon Queen in life and death and life again. So from the home of the Journey Oracle, every blessing to you as the light grows into life, again.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Finding a balance between work and play

The wind has been roaring all morning and I am not working on the oyster rafts but inside cleaning house. No matter how much I try to think of vacuuming and dusting as Buddhist meditations or energy repairs, I still don't like doing them. I want to be in that right brain trance I so enjoy when I create shamanistic paintings, or musing about how to expand the Journey Oracle deck instructions into a larger book of correspondences for deepening oracle card readings, or just watching the juncos outside the window scratching for seeds.

I know that "naming it makes it so," and when I resent the time spent keeping my space orderly, this spills over into resentment about all kinds of things that keep me from having what I think I want. Certainly many spiritual paths teach the importance of letting go of wanting, but maybe my Mother's advice, from many years ago, is the most practical--"Make time for what you do not want to do, instead of the other way around, this way you will always have time for doing what you do want."

I decided to draw an oracle card to show me what's most important to consider in my complaint about housework. This card fell from the deck. I find the image looks quite like my mind feels when I am telling myself grumpy stories about having to do something less than magical. Lots of blurry, aggressive thought forms that feel like a weight against my forehead. The question seems right on the mark as well. I'm understanding to stop complaining about the results of my choices. If I don't like what I'm doing, I'm blessed in my life with the ability to choose something else, and that's maybe the most magical state of all: having choices.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finding truth in an Oracle

I recently purchased a small book by Colin Mallard titled Something to Ponder: Reflections from Lao Tzu's 'Tao Te Ching'. It contains many beautiful passages to contemplate which speak into the quiet stillness of heart knowing, rather than to the chattering mind. I have also recently been puzzling about next steps for bringing the Journey Oracle into prosperity;about how to create the links that bring those who are curious and the oracle cards together. And the book opened to this page titled Truth:

A bowl filled to the brim soon spills
An over sharpened knife soon dulls.

When money and security are sought
The heart is ill at ease.

When wealth and strength are flaunted
Disaster soon follows.

Care for the approval of others
And you become their prisoner.

When work is done without concern for results
Peace of mind is at hand.

What amazing truth there often is in a spontaneous oracle found in a casually opened book. I suspect we have all had the experience of working and reworking something precious until Mystery escaped out through the last polished detail and only something overdone and dull remained. When I try to detail the many layers of possible insight found between the cards and their elemental and calendar correspondences, there is no room for the reader to research and construct her own correspondences.

I also believe that when we listen for others approval, instead of hear our inner guidance--we dampen our creative fires with the ashes of uncertainty. Creating something never before seen--like the Journey Oracle--means being able to let go of what is already known, and find certainty in what is at hand.

Perhaps the better question is not "Can I take my fire to the group" but "Am I dressed for the weather?" Can I wear courage and perseverance like a good coat with a hood that keeps out the winds of doubt.