Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Meaning of 2013

So what happened?  The meaning of 2013 seems lost in the anticipation of polar shifts and asteroid strikes that didn't happen, so what is the meaning of 2013 after the apparent lack of anything happening on December 21, 2012?  In my life at least, seems there is a lot happening.  These three chalk pastels that I did while attending Martin Prechtel’s school in New Mexico from 2004 until 2007, capture for me the meaning of 2013 in shamanic art.

Nothing is coming is one of the most perfectly realized shamanic paintings I have ever completed.  The diagonal pattern of the visual elements, the balance of the colors, and rhythms of dark and light create the perfect juxtaposition to the message of the work: nothing is coming from the outside of us to save or condemn.  The change of this time is all within us.

Not an exit captures as a visual image the message that there is no way out of the situation our current choices have created.  There is no road up and out of the cemetery created by our inattention, lethargy and lack of caring.

There is only No more waiting.  We can either choose the high side of the situations within which we find ourselves: being willing to bring compassion and emotional healing to our daily dramas, or we can go to the low side.  We can feel anger and frustration and righteous indignation at another’s lack of seeing the right of our particular view.

The meaning of 2013 is for me in this choice of high or low.  Everything is extreme now. I can find medicine for my energy or I can resist knowing I need to shift as the universe is shifting.  I can stay holding to the wire of my usual responses, or I can lift into the vast unknown with only the Oracle of my journey to guide me.  What is certain in 2013, is that there is no more waiting.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What is a dream sign?

I am preparing to give a Shamanic dreaming workshop with organizing help of Jay Saka,  in Edmonton, Alberta, during the long Easter weekend, and have been finding some interesting reading in a book by B. Alan Wallace titled Dreaming Yourself Awake.  He describes a “dream sign” as “typical objects, characters, situations and moods that appear in your dreams.  Once enough material has been gathered in your dream journal, an analysis is made to discover things that repeat frequently and to categorize these phenomena.  You then familiarize yourself with them, making them the target of prospective memory.  If one of your dream signs is, say , the repeated appearance of a white rabbit, you train yourself with the reminder, ‘The next time I see a white rabbit, I will ask myself whether or not I’m dreaming.”

I realized that I had already put these dream signs to use in the images of my Journey Oracle card deck.  When I receive a dream sign, I understand that the dream message can be understood through what this dream sign signifies, like an Oracle coming in the night to reveal meaning.

When I dream of birds I am dreaming of my children, even though none have come through my body to me in this life.

When I dream of a bear I am seeing the presence of my most sacred teachers and advisors.  When Bear comes I wake with the sober chill of being in the presence of majesty.

I have had for many years a dream sign of a black man—usually in some creative role as a chef, or thief, mobster boss, or jockey. This is my art, and also my artist within.

When I dream of singing I believe I am being shown that I have done something deeply correct, like lead a community event from discord to harmony.

One of the most unusual, long present and unsettling dream signs I have is of my eyes suddenly blinded with a white light, accompanied with a sensation or images of scars through the left eye. I do not understand what this dream sign signifies, so I also am looking forward to this Shamanic dreaming workshop, when I can also be a student of the dream time.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How to make a good change

We all want to make a change for betterment when shown that we need to shift in our way of thinking or feeling.  But how to make a good change?  I have been watching my brugmansia plant wake up from spending the winter season inside—and this seems a good image for understanding how to make a good change.  First we have to wake up.  The trigger that says “AWAKEN” can be a jolt of insight from an Oracle card reading or divination, or from a session with a counselor.  A friend’s recommendation of a book about energy medicine can reveal a next step in our own healing. An instruction DVD  about a Qi Gong that has lain beneath a layer of dust for years can suddenly fall on our foot and cause us to explore a whole new way of moving.  I think these forces that help us make a good change are like the slowly growing urgency of spring.   At first the movement is almost imperceptible; the stirring is beneath the old bark and scars of past ways of being.  Yet soon enough we cannot deny something is going on.

At first the change is easily dismissed.  We may find ourselves pushing back down the new in favor of the comfortable, but what we have learned cannot be denied, and when we do not resist then good change can grow.

The experience of change is a dialog between the plant of our desire for change, and the soil of our lived experience that nourishes or impedes that shift.  Support that gives time for gradual assimilation of new ways of thinking and feeling, help that reveals more than covers over our assumptions about the unknown, information that opens more than restricts our dreams of what is possible: these are the allies of good change.

And yet I suspect if we ask a plant working its usual magic for reaching toward the sun, we would hear that while change is natural it is not easy.  I think we would be told that true beauty requires a throne of grief to sit upon.  We would see in the mature towering stalk and translucent blooms the beginning of age and decay and death, which is again the beginning of the next cycle of good change.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Choosing a subject for a new painting

Choosing a subject for a new painting is like waiting for the sun to rise.  The anticipation grows with the light that is seen first in nature and then imagined as color and texture on paper with brushes. 

First there is the quiet, the hush that accompanies a stirring of wonder, and then there is the awareness of more formal qualities--of composition, contrast, rhythm in line and space.

The smallest detail becomes an Oracle of revelation for translating a living surface into a painted illusion.   

What is seen becomes a gesture for what cannot be known.

A possible subject for a new painting turns the artist into the shaman--negotiating with the elements and forces of nature to come and show themselves in their finest regalia, to come singing their power songs.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Make a New Year's resolution

Instead of plan to make a new year’s resolution before January 1st, 2013, I decided to ask the Journey Oracle to show me a resolution.  This resolution would no doubt require translating from the magical correspondences in the Oracle deck that uses the Celtic tree months, full moons, Wiccan wheel of the year and Shamanic journey to create links between the card images, text pages and my lived experience with magical meaning.

When I decided to ask for instead of make a new year’s resolution yesterday, the first number I saw, while riding on a bus, was #4—so this is the oracle card with which I will work.  In the new form of the Journey Oracle, this is now the text  accompanying the phrase of this image.



I am interpreting this to be the resolution for 2013: to take the chance of being an eye with two faces.  But what does this mean? I look for insight in the oracle card image. First I see a fox face with two eyes—just the reverse of my instruction.  Yet the eyes are not looking in the same direction.  One looks up and the other out.  A dog face in profile seems to emerge on the left.  I relate immediately to these particular two faces: many years ago I read a book about shamanic familiars and learned that in shamanic teaching, a totem is a force or creature that is your family in the unseen world, and not the same as a helper or ally.  One of these creatures is my totem, and the other is the way my most mysterious stone teacher—a Sastun—presents itself in my dreamtime.  So each face has one eye, and each face is partially composed of the other face.  Seeing with the eye in the face of self, and seeing with the eye in the face of Sastun, is my resolution for 2013.   But what do I change to become this way of seeing?

This is the Oracle card #4 text describing aspects of change in my situation, so next I must decide what is my situation with this resolution?  Although I have had a Sastun since 2007, I have yet to understand how to bring its wisdom into my spiritual practice and into my helping others through shamanic counseling.


The power needed to shift this situation will be an inner sound.
Change will come by finding the way to proceed.
Your relationship to the change in this situation is floating.
The primary moment of letting go into the change will smell blocked.
The concern to be avoided within this change will taste of manna.

I am especially intrigued by the first two and the fourth sentences.  I am in the process of clearing some karmic traces from past lives that I believe are the cause of my not having a sense of smell. I have been exploring the origins of this hidden handicap for many years and understand that our ability to smell is also connected to our ability to see inner images with the mind’s eye.  I was told in a dream that to work with the Sastun I “must see spirit / no other door.”  All of these little fragments of mystery are becoming connected in this resolve to find a way to proceed through that door. The subtle meaning of the other phrases are the puzzles to be solved as my resolution unfolds.

When I turn the Oracle card over I am met with the heart of the mystery in this resolution to be an eye with two faces:


Why are you trying to get under it?  
Are you the one willing to undo it?