Thursday, July 23, 2015

How to bury a bird in the air

When my cats follow their natural instincts and catch birds, I understand to bury a bird in the air instead of the ground, based on dreams I received while creating the Journey Oracle deck.  First, I find a significant "grandparents"tree. These two massive fir are joined at the roots and trunk, and create both protection and energy for lift off.

I used to put a flat-topped stone in the notch between the trees but of course the trees continue to grow around the platform, embedding the stone into the bark.  It doesn't make sense to me to honor one life form by damaging another, so now I put the stone platforms off the ground but still touching the Grandparents.

Although  the larger bird wearing soft grey feathers dusted with yellow might be a female Brown-headed Cowbird, I don't try and spend too much time in identification and study.

 The smaller one with the long beak and and mottled breast feathers is certainly more unusual, but both deserve my respect and attention, rather than my using them as a way to satisfy curiosity.

As I lay their bodies on the stone, I breathe on each one five times, because I am honoring the loss of their breath through each of the five layers of time, which I learned about from Martin Prechtel.

I learned from a First Nations man here on Cortes Island that Cedar is also a Grandparent tree and brings forgiveness, and so I "bury" the birds under cedar brackets that I find on the forest floor to say I am sorry that animals in my care cut short their lives.

Because I understand that all animals and birds know with vision and feeling more than with thought, instead of a prayer made of words I try and send the most beautiful sky I can imagine.  A prayer of lifting off.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cougar spirit drumming for the rain

I’ve just finished painting this new native style frame drum with a spruce wood hoop and blacktail deer hide. The hoop is 12" in diameter but the voice is deep and strong.  A perfect drum to play outside because the smaller drum head size will not easily slacken in humidity or warp in heat.

This drum was first called "rain" because spirits always come in the rain, and our drought here in British Columbia was ended (briefly) with two days of rain just before I painted this great cat touching a pool of rainwater.  It has been so dry and the fire danger extreme, and I kept wondering, "What do the animals do?  How do they find water to survive?" 

The painting itself was inspired in the brief moment I drew a faint black line across the light area in the drum head which at first I thought was entirely the cat’s paw.  Suddenly the lower half of the shape became a reflection, and the faint squiggles in the deer skin’s surface resolved themselves into lines in rock and edges formed by water. 

The cedar ring is fitted with an interlacement pattern of the 7-pointed Mystic Star, which is considered effective protection against evil influences and rival magicians.

The star design is repeated twice, with the outer pattern wrapped in a decorative hitching of sailor’s knotwork made of doeskin.   In the Tarot, 14 is the number of Temperance—the quality of being moderate; to restrain from extremes. 

Perhaps the life-saving rain came in that world as well as this world, and the spirit of cougar is showing me that for this moment, the extreme has been moderated and all is well. 

For more information about this drum please visit my web store

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Why is art a mystery?

Sometimes I feel compelled to paint an image that is more than just 'mysterious'.  It is like the image itself has a task, a something to do that is not of this human realm. The composition and title may push me further into the depths of confusion, rather than bring me to the surface of comprehension.

This painting is named Grief's true reckoning.  When I think of these words their meaning seems to just slip pass my sensation of aha! into a darker place of what?  Webster's Dictionary says to "reckon" is to consider, to judge, to estimate.  Grief's true consideration, judgement, estimation.

The image came as I was walking about in the garden looking for some photo ideas that might make a new painting.  Suddenly I felt compelled to return to the house and take the bear skull from above my altar and return to the little waterfall that flows into the splash pond.  This is it.  I put the skull in the pond without considering any of the art qualities of arrangement, balance, form or color in the scene.  Just take the picture.

I don't remember how the title came, or why I call it this, or what my action completed for the bear skull so long separated from its body and the earth.  Art may be the only thing that makes us pay enough attention to know there is mystery.   As I quote from Diane Schoemperlen in the book that accompanies my Journey Oracle cards:
The opposite of knowledge is not ignorance, by Mystery,
the opposite of truth is not lies but Revelation.


To purchase a print of this painting, please go to my web store.