Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Origin of Oracle card images

All of the oracle card images in the Journey Oracle deck came from gazing into the surfaces of natural objects: discs of dried rawhide made with off-cuts from my shamanic drums, flat pieces of Brazilian agate and cross-sections of amonite shell.  Yet some of the images that appeared in these surfaces came from the other side.

Some time after our beautiful dog Hope disappeared, we were offered her sister by a neighbor who couldn't cope with a large young dog and their small child.  We looked and looked for our Hope, and then on Halloween night, this image emerged from the rawhide disc I was painting for the oracle card representing this earth holiday of Samhain.  There was our new dog Lochi with her bright gold nose, and fading behind her was her sister--almost out of view.  This gift of life during death was that I could not mourn the one without feeling the joy of the other.

One of the women who helped speak the magical phrases that accompany each oracle card came for a visit during the July full moon.  She is both blessed and cursed with the ability to receive messages from spirits.   She told me that once during a session to help a young man, she was visited by the Spirit of Disease.  Quite a shocking experience!  Soon afterwards, I was painting this oracle card image, and there was her story. In the heart of summer, the decay of autumn begins.

Perhaps the most dramatic oracle card image from the other side came when I was staying in my Mother's home to care for her cat after she had suffered a stroke.  It was Spring Equinox, and because I knew that if I missed the energy connection between the card and the calendar, I would have to wait a year, I decided to paint the card even though the situation was difficult. This is the oracle image that emerged from the dried rawhide.   I believe I learned from her that even when we cannot be physically present to those we love, we find a way to show ourselves.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Artistic challenge and fun

It is not quite warm enough yet to sit out on the deck, cup of tea in hand, and gaze into the garden. Having lunch in the garden is one of my favorite summer moments.  Yet this chalk pastel did not have its origin in that memory, but rather in the inside of a cereal box.

One set of flaps were cut off a cardboard cereal box with a plain interior, and then all kinds of art materials were used to make marks inside the box without looking inside.  The messier the process, the more exciting and unexpected the results!

The artistic challenge, and fun, of making a creative mess--is in finding shapes and figures that tell a story in the squiggles and splashes, and then in trying to replicate exactly those marks using just one material.  Chalk pastel is a great media for this project because its nature is boldly dramatic and intensely colorful--just like the surprising collisions of form and color found inside the box.

Of course it is also important for the eye to find a place of rest in an art piece, and this is an image of "lunch in the garden" so the hand and tea cup, by their recognizable representation, become the quiet place to sit and appreciate a never-before-seen flower. Happy spring from the Journey Oracle.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Understanding the meaning of animal signs

Sometimes I receive animal signs when I am driving alone somewhere--a bird flies by directly in front of the car windshield, the sun spotlights a vibrant new spring color in the growth along the roadside, a raven does a barrel roll in the air as I pass by. But how to understand the meaning of these animal signs?

The meaning of animal signs has everything to do with what I was just musing about--the animal or elemental action is a direct response to the thought; the reply in the conversation I think I am only having with myself but am really having with all the consciousness I am moving through.

I think that maybe its a mistake to have so many drums because I personally don't play them very often; maybe my drums are like horses left out in the pasture instead of brought in to be ridden...just then a woodpecker flies swiftly past the windshield from right to left and because I know the woodpecker is called the drummer bird, I  instantly have the thought, "My drums are voices from this world flying into the spirit world."

I wonder this constant looking to the other-than-human world for meaning is just something I make up--maybe nothing is really looking back out at me...and two ravens appear in the front left of my view and one does a lazy barrel roll just as I pass under their gaze.  Something is definitely "looking out to me."

I wonder about the wisdom of applying for a solo show of my shamanic paintings next year to a gallery I know will be hiring a new curator.  Maybe my work and the new person will not be a good fit.  Just then the sun spotlights a clump of red osier willow in the roadside ditch--the stems glow a vibrant orange--a color I understand symbolizes warmth, attraction and action.

So how do I understand the meaning of animal signs?  By first learning to notice what I am thinking at the moment something happens in nature that compels my attention.  Of course sometimes a wet cat is just a wet cat, and the understanding is between the cat and the fish--just before the cat tipped over into the pond.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to resolve conflict with Oracle messages

I feel much better now, but this afternoon I was pretty burned about a co-worker who came to me after a meeting to offer criticism about my participation.  I know its important to be a good listener and not cut off others, but this co-worker seems to come with his critique of my behavior after every meeting. So what to do?  Instead of be angry I decided to do a Journey Oracle reading about this situation.  The first card I drew is an image of the situation--its setting and protagonists--just like in the beginning of a dream.

I learned from this image: the Oracle of Samhain (Halloween), that this meeting was about a big situation with big energy. The themes being talked about in the meeting were about "red" issues; about values of basic survival. So of course we were all tense about making ourselves understood and being heard.

I asked the Oracle to show me my experience in this situation, just like a dream has a plot of increasing complexity and uncertain outcomes.  This card of the August full moon, named Corn, looked like I was trying to stay safe inside my talking, by holding my light close in and protected.  From this aspect of the Oracle I learned that the exterior support for me in this situation was loving kindness, which immediately began to change my anger into compassion for everyone wanting to stay safe.

When I focused on  change in this situation, which like in a dream is that moment when everything shifts and the story transforms, I drew the card for the January full moon: Ice.  This is one of the most powerful images to me in the Journey Oracle card deck, because I dislike it so much.  The image is full of unattractive insecurity and worry, which is just what I need to change.

The fourth card I drew shows the resolution of my situation, and represents the full moon in February: the Hunger Moon.  This is an image of the culminating moment in a dream when my unconscious mind grasps what will resolve the tensions and uncertainties that are unfolding.  In this situation with my co-worker, the meaningful aspects of this Oracle identity are emergence, growth, and survival.  I learned from the teaching story connected to this card that I must "go inside the bone" of my own council, and when there "stand still and receive" my own view of the situation, instead of speaking to cover up my insecurity.   

At the conclusion of this Journey Oracle reading, I find that my co-worker has given me an opportunity to see myself more clearly, and I really do feel better.