Friday, October 30, 2015

Hiking in the Palm Springs area

While hiking in the Palm Springs area, I am discovering that every landscape is about being water in the desert.

Walking into the painted canyons in the Mecca Hills means moving where water was moving. Even the stones appear still suspended in the tumble of the current.

Fingers of water sculpt the Box Canyon walls,

and carve some heart-stopping moments of drama and beauty when climbing the ladders in the slot canyons,

where the stones flow as if from a water birth.

When water does appear in the shady depths of the Indian Canyons

 even the shadows seem made of splash.

The height of mountains in Joshua Tree National Park look to be but a rim of shore above an ancient sea. Take a moment to bless the water in your life.  Happy hiking from the Journey Oracle.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A drum for dreaming

This new drum from the Journey Oracle is called “dreampipe” and how it got its name is a good story.

A friend called to tell me that a beautiful sailboat was in her bay that looked like our Bristol 29.9.  She thought the make was a dream pipe. While I was talking to her, I was also putting the final leather thongs on the reverse of this drum.

I turned it over and was surprised to see a pipe in the patterning of the blacktail deer skin.

I went on line and discovered the sailboat is a Pipe Dream 36’ which does indeed look like a bigger version of our Pearl.  But by now the drum was showing me images in the white streaks of smoke rising from the bowl of dreams.

This 14” frame of British Columbia Spruce wood also has a special task: stabilizing the drum skin around the bullet hole that is positioned on the rim.   When a thin, clear skin has the bullet hole as part of the drum, I consider this a doorway.  For this drum a path to the dreamtime.

This drum for dreaming also has a beautiful teaching in the Octagram tied into the cedar withy ring for the hand-hold of the drum.  This is the sign of regeneration.  The two squares that make the central motif can be seen as a square and a diamond.  That which is hard and clear from the past combined with that which is solid and grounded in the present.  

I will paint this drum, but first I like to offer a drum with its own face, just in case you want to see your own dreams in the patterns of light and shadow.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Best source of names for paintings

The unexpected comment is one of my best sources of names for paintings.  Just like a Journey Oracle card reading singles out images, aspects of nature and dream-like pronouncements that empower forces to speak that are beyond one's conscious control--chance is my favorite origin of painting titles. A name that both conveys a sense of my intended meaning and also provides insight into the mystery behind all art.

usual magic

This large acrylic painting completed during my tenure at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design had one of my favorites sources for painting names: the television.  While watching TV one evening I was suddenly brought to attention by an After Eight chocolate advertisement.  The announcer's voice said, "Catherine worked her usual magic at the dinner party...."  That's it!  A title that both captures my sense of nature, and also opens to the sensation that just beyond reach there is something more.  

What time is this?

What story is this?

These two drawings in colored pencil were completed as nature lessons for a young art student.  The titles are literally two assignments.  Can you look out at nature and say what time of year this is just by identifying the presence and condition of the plants you see?  Can you tell the story of the plants you see: their First Nations lore, medicinal uses and local mythology?

not an exit

While attending Martin Prechtel's school of spiritual ecology in New Mexico, I would go for walks to sketch the area cemetery. When standing next to the fence gazing at possibilities for a composition, a local man mistook my interest for trying to find a way through to the road beyond and said," There's not an exit from here, you know."  

no more waiting

Later I was telling a friend about my work with Martin and how the study was changing my sense of purpose, especially with my work on the Journey Oracle divination deck, and she said, "There is no more waiting for the time to be soon, or better, or whatever.  Just do it now!" 

nothing is coming

My favorite name for a painting in this cemetery series is the one that I completed after I returned back to Cortes Island.  I asked my partner John what he thought would be a good name, and he said, "nothing is coming."  

The true magic of these three sketches is that no one title carries the full impact of the three pieces together.  When taken as one statement these three names certainly open to the sensation that something deeper and more thought-provoking is afoot.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What is an Oracle?

An oracle sits in the space of veils and mist, of glimpses that disorient as much as reveal. An oracle does not tell us our fortune or our future so much as it speaks from our hidden present—revealing unconscious hopes and fears, unseen views within our present perspective, traces of choices and motives that cross and parallel the ones we are presently following.

            An oracle leaves the responsibility for our choices and actions with us.  An oracle does this by unveiling mystery more than by offering advice, by prompting revelation more than by providing answers.  We must still choose and act within this expanded knowing, this expanded truth.  We must make our own connections between the oracle and daily life.


A journey moves us through the space between what we already know and what we have not yet experienced. Loss of comfort, heightened awareness and unexpected discoveries characterize a journey. 

We may begin with an intention to change a view, a routine, a situation—and find a journey’s end that it is ourselves who have changed.


The Journey Oracle guides us by showing images of a situation for which we want advice, and then by showing images of our relationship to this situation.

Like the I Ching, the Oracle makes pronouncements about the origins and prevailing energy of the situation and about the impact of our perceptions, and how the momentum of the situation is being fed by our actions.

 The Oracle reveals how to recognize the moment of change, and what to avoid while within the change. 

The Oracle tells us a story within which is hidden the resolution we want for our situation.