Thursday, April 25, 2013

What is a stone teacher?

I have been writing about an upcoming Speaking with Stones workshop in Edmonton, Alberta where I will be teaching my way of talking to stone teachers.  But what is a stone teacher?  And how do we know we have one?  This shamanic painting titled Blue Rain is a portrait of my stone teacher and my story with it will give insight to these questions.

Stone teachers find us more than we find them. For me this often means that something about the stone captures my attention when I am not looking to be captured.  I also find that quite spontaneously I try to give away the stone in a significant way only to find that it comes back to me in a way completely unexpected.  In the stories that accompany my Journey Oracle cards, I wrote about this stone teacher in a story titled Giving Away what is Dearest to the Heart. If you have my Oracle card deck it is story

A stone teacher wants a house.  This might be a pouch or a basket, a small jar or an egg cup filled with powdered incense.  Any sort of container might be appropriate; and again it seems that the stone itself shows me in some intuitive or dream like way--what to make or arrange.

My stone teacher treats my attention as a kind of food.  and the time we spend together in ceremony nourishes it as well as me. Once a week I give the O'Kocho'la a special song while holding it in smoke, and a story while wetting it with spirits, and I sprinkle vibhuti into each mouth of its 6 faces.  The discipline of caring for a stone teacher is the tuition I pay for being able to receive its teaching.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring sailing in Cortes Island waters

Sometimes the day is just too fine to stay on land, and so instead of posting a blog about the Journey Oracle cards we went sailing in Desolation Sound, spending the night at the Copeland Islands Marine Park.  I had planned to write about another shamanic painting that is a portrait of my stone teacher, since last week I wrote about my history of talking to stones.

I'm hoping the stones, and you dear readers, won't mind waiting a bit longer to meet the O'kocho'la. It was just one of those days when we had to see you out there. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Shamanic painting and print: Ode to stones that speak

I am preparing to give a workshop in Edmonton on Speaking with Stones and find myself reflecting on this chalk pastel drawing I created titled: Ode to Stones that Speak.  This is one of those mysterious shamanic paintings that keeps its full meaning hidden even from me.

For many years I have been able to receive messages from stones--not in images but as vibrations that translate into Yes and No, and also into phrases that have the potency of poetry.  I first had this experience after attending a workshop with a student of Michael Harner who had attended sessions at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies.  We were supposed to receive images from the stone surface to translate into answers to questions we posed, yet I kept feeling a vibrating presence in the stone, and also hearing syllables that joined together to become phrases of archaic formality and beauty.  I have courted this stone speech for many decades, and sometimes honor the presence I feel by creating art inspired by my experience.

This shamanic art of chalk pastel is a visual song to the mystery of stones that speak to me. While I cannot explain why things appear as they do--I am delighted and emboldened knowing that a stone knows that fish and whales can soar in water filled with the flight of birds, and that moss grows with a human face.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How to make a backstrap weaving become shamanic homework

When I create shamanic homework for life lessons, I like to make the homework into a physical process, and then let my learning of the process also teach me the lesson.  I was recently given a doll as shamanic homework, and understood that I need to help her “wear the mantle” of sovereignty. I decided to make a little backstrap weaving that the doll could literally wear.  Although I found excellent instructions on line from a web article called Backstrap Basics by Laverne Waddington, I soon found myself in a terrific snarl.

My first lesson had to do with understanding the principle of weaving:  the ability to keep making an X by first raising one group of threads and then the other. Understanding the product of weaving—what I want the end result to look like and do—is not the same as understanding the principle that results in the product.  What a significant lesson about wearing the mantle of sovereignty.   The understanding of authority does not come from the look on the outside but from the wisdom on the inside.

My second lesson had to do with accepting mistakes from lack of experience.   As I proceeded, I became dismayed at my uneven selvage edges, which I understand are the indicator of a weaver’s skill.   The temptation to quit and start again has been overpowering at times—and yet the behavior of sovereignty is not about perfection, but about the certainty that comes from clarity.  However this little weaving progresses, it is wearing my story of its making with honor, so how can I do any less?

My third lesson had to do with the cost of my choices.  If I abandon this  backstrap weaving, I will no longer have the red thread to make into a second attempt, although I know that the red thread especially represents the bloodline of sovereignty that I am following.   The true tribute that is accorded to sovereignty comes from acknowledgement, rather than from enforcement.  The cost of my choice for expressing my learning in this form is my accepting my lack of skill in this form. 

When I think of my redesigning the form of my Journey Oracle divination cards, or my new shamanic painting whose surface is presently like a battleground between old and new ways of applying paint—I have new respect for how this simple backstrap weaving is teaching me to do my homework.