Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Can I have too many oracles?

We traveled up country from our lush Kona coast holiday and went to Wiamea, Hawaii this afternoon, and I found a used copy of the I Ching, the Classic Chinese Oracle of Change. Although I have created my own oracle cards, and recently have been doing Destiny Card readings for clients, I could not resist such a complete translation of this masterpiece of divination that represents a way of knowing common to pre-technological and shamanic cultures, and to the guidance we contact each night in dreams. But can I have too many oracles?

Upon scanning the introductory pages, I came to this excellent explanation of why consult an Oracle.

The urge to consult the Oracle arises when you feel entangled with something that evades the usual methods of problem-solving. Resistance, reluctance, anxiety, strong desire, the sense of something hidden or confusing, the need for more information, the sense of an important opportunity, the need to feel in contact with something larger than yourself all indicate that you need to see-behind or see-though the situation. The Oracle can open this deeper perspective; the responsibility and decision remain yours.

In this edition Ritsema and Karcher describe the first most important step is making the question, so I decided to ask the I Ching: what is my use of the I Ching?

I have thrown my pennies, and created the primary and the related hexagram, and find myself in the maze of ancient roots that describes my present dilemma: arguing with myself about taking on yet another complex symbol language that would take years of study to master, and creating growth through learning whose sacrifice requires pushing beyond ordinary limits.

So the answer to my wondering about too many oracles is not a question answered by yes or no, but one responded to by choosing, or not, commitment and sacrifice. And I understand that this choice is the heart of all shamanic work. Am I willing to commit? Do I willingly make the sacrifice?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The magic of trees

Cortes Island is the site of great change in how we humans understand the magic of trees. In times past we mostly saw the magic of trees as they fell to the ground, their thundering death meant lumber and fuel; work for the many and riches for the few. Now we understand the magic of leaving trees standing in their moss deep, rain sparkling patches of intact forest. Perhaps this is because we are slowly remembering how to be intact ourselves. We are remembering how to leave more than what we take, how to manage other-than-human-life as a responsibility instead of as a commodity, how to determine value by considering something more than gain.

When we remember our own intactness—we can honor the integrity of the land that surrounds and supports us. When we kneel before a giant tree to give a gift of our breath; of food made for spirit with our hands, we rise up to the full height of our human purpose and beauty.

I understand that most of us rural folks live in wooden houses, and use wood for fuel and in a thousand, thousand other ways. Yet when a sense of shared “ensparkedness” pervades our relationship with the wild, this feeling generates community, and within community we find family. Here on this island, and everywhere, may we ask the plants that we grow, and eat and work with—to adopt us.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What are sources for art?

When I think of sources for my artistic inspiration, I sometimes discover a source for art in the middle of a painting, rather than at the beginning. I have been reading 101 Things to Learn in Art School, by Kit White, while at the same time working on this new painting named ker dupa, the giant fish of the Siberian folk legend whose action of waking up eons ago turned the world upside down and so brought the arctic cold to the high north. The 46th thing Mr. White describes he names ‘the happy accident,’ and at the end of his paragraph he says, “If you see it, own it.”

I have been working to see the giant fish in this photo-based painting of twigs over a shallow fast-flowing stream, and for a time I saw a small dark eye—that I developed by emphasizing the shapes that looked ‘eye-like.’ Then I discovered a second much larger eye that made the first one seem a mistake. But are there mistakes in Art? Perhaps there are if we name them so. For a time I felt quite despairing of the giant fish having two eyes…and then I realized, “Of course! I see this and so I will own it. This fish has two eyes. One eye which sees the polar shift from tropical to arctic in the ancient past, and one eye that sees the next polar shift coming.”

When I was working on the Journey Oracle card deck this image was the second I painted, and I thought it was a mistake. I was going to discard the picture but then I tried scrubbing into the strong diagonal lines and in so doing, I discovered a way of creating a stone-like texture that fit exactly the source for my artistic inspiration, a small ammonite shell. It was during that experience that I decided that no oracle card image could be thrown away once begun—and so began my contract with the Oracle to own what I saw.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finding my spiritual ancestors

I imagine I am like many middle-aged white women who have spent years finding my spiritual ancestors. I have read books and taken workshops and attended schools and participated in all manner of guided and copied and invented rituals. I meditate but am not a Buddhist, I do trance drumming but am not First Nations, I divine with thrown sticks but am not African, I see lights in the Sastun but am not Mayan. Where is my place and who are my people? Now I think sampling all these cultural versions of relationship with the Spirit world looks a bit like my cat Meisa trying on boxes. There seems to be something very intriguing and also not quite right about each one. How do I recognize my goodness of fit within all these ancestor ways?

What does seem to fit my spiritual roots are ways of the Oracle. I can look into the hidden present as revealed in tree bark faces along a forest path. I can receive revelation in the flight of birds and the shifts of the wind. The way a candle flame bends brings messages. I can receive answers to someone else's questions in my dreams. I have long maintained that we all can learn to receive meaning from every moment, but I am also beginning to understand that we each have a gift of spirit connection that not everyone may be able to access. Some people have inner sight while others hear voices; some folks can smell unhealthy energies while others are guided by lucid dreams. To my eye Meisa’s boxes all look and smell the same, but clearly she is receiving richer information from her ancestor way for locating just the right place to be.

I have recently discovered that a branch of my Father’s family lived in ancient Scotland; this happened at same time that a friend recommended Manda Scott's series of novels about Boudica, set in tribal Britain in AD 37. The first book opens with a map listing the tribes of Scotland: the Caledonii, the Vacomagi, the Taexali, and the Venicones—these latter people positioned in Ross, the highlands that hold some of my ancestor’s bones. It is intensely exciting to discover that in my decades long search for my ancestor’s way of speaking with the Spirit world, I am finding my place and my people.