Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Learning to draw is learning to see with your hands

When the weather keeps me from making drums outside, this is a great time of year for more practice learning to draw.  When the dark clouds gather and rain beats against the windows--spend some time teaching yourself to "see" with your hands. These 6 exercises come from Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern.  

2 pencils taped together
This exercise produces a range of unpredictable marks and allows you to break the habit of using a line to draw the outside edge, or outer contour, of the subject first.  After your first mark-making, go back into the drawing to adjust, re-structure and play with the image.

A feeling response
Blindfold yourself and touch an object with one hand while making marks with the other hand that the first hand feels.  What is important in this drawing is that the hand that makes the mark and the hand that feels the object move simultaneously--as if your hands were talking to each other.

Hand/eye synchronicity
In this exercise you are looking only at the subject and not at the drawing on the paper. You are "feeling with your eyes" and responding with your pencil.  Try not to peek!

Superimposed drawing
This exercise will superimpose 3 different views of a subject in an overlapping drawing.  Do not look at the paper too much; just take a "sneaky peek" from time to time. This drawing will help your eye begin trusting your hand.

Selected tone
This drawing uses both line and selected blocks of tone.  Create a balance between line and tone. Work with busy detailed areas and loose empty areas, and the unmarked white of the paper.

Subtractive tone
This drawing is the opposite of the other 5 exercises in which dark marks are added to white paper. Begin by rubbing charcoal or graphite over the surface of your paper, and then rubbing into it with an eraser to reveal the white paper.  Create a range of mid-tones by rubbing out more or less charcoal. Now you are drawing with light instead of dark--just right for a gloomy afternoon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Understand karmic lessons with the Journey Oracle deck

While it is interesting to glimpse my karmic lessons by working with the letters in my name, I have recently discovered a way of looking deeply into a situation to understand karmic lessons in this life from their origins in my past life.    I understand from my Buddhist teacher Ajahn Sona that "This is the after-life. This life is the consequence of my before-life.  In this life I took rebirth as a human.  Because of that life I have this life." I am using the Journey Oracle deck to create a four card reading about a situation in my past life that has created an experience in my present life. The reading then shows me what changes will create good karma in a future life.

27 years ago I moved to Cortes Island and became immediately involved in efforts to create a community forest. Now I am retiring from these years of volunteer work and wondering why?  I have no obvious complaint or requirement for my time elsewhere; the community forest is a reality and others say my experience as a director is valuable.  So why do I feel now the right time to leave?

The first oracle card of this reading represents my actions in a past life situation that have resulted in my present life experiences.

My first impression of this image is of dramatic but unstable power.  The male figure reaches out and up with his arms while balancing on his toes.  His solar plexus (manipura) chakra is expanded over almost his entire torso.  When I read the pronouncements from the Oracle about my past life actions I am startled by two sentences. "The core energy pattern of this situation is created in fire." Fire is the element of the navel chakra.  It would appear that in my past life this chakra of personal identity and individual will was exaggerated. "The momentum of this situation is fed by knowing when to stop."  Wow. This second sentence seems to say it all.  Now is the time to leave a situation that has required me to need a strong sense of self  identified with a strong sense of purpose.

The second oracle card represents my present experience, how I am expressing this past life karma though my actions right now.

Yikes! In this card image the solar plexus chakra area is still expanded, but now is a dark void from which an unpleasant looking creature is peering out.  The old woman appears to be crying blood tears.  When I read the Oracle's pronouncement about how I am expressing this past life karma, two phrases draw my attention: overextended and not connecting with allies, reclaiming.  Reclaiming gives me pause.  Perhaps this is the action I need to focus on now, in order to find resolution for this karmic lesson.

The third oracle card represents the change that will create good karma for the future, due to my present actions and awareness.

 I see a remarkable bird with its piercing gaze looking up.  The crown area of the bird's head is aglow with vibrant colored light.  The image feels like a message about both the intensity and the result of focusing inward.  Again, there are two sentences in the Oracle's pronouncements about change that create a frisson of energy.  "Change will come by letting others do the work. The wisdom of not being stopped by an illusion will empower the transformation."  These two sentences seem exactly about the community forest and my sense of my contribution being too valuable to let go.  On reflection, a third sentence catches my attention.  "Your relationship to the change in this situation is aggressive."  Perhaps this is advice about what to specifically change in order to create good karma.

The fourth oracle card represents the resolution of this karmic lesson. The pathway to deep transformation.

I don't like my first impressions when looking at the image on this card.   I cannot see a way out of the stone passages.  What may be a tunnel near the center of the image looks claustrophobic and unreliable. What could be an opening inside a spiral on the right doesn't feel certain.  There may be an opening with fiery yellow light shining through a dark rim at the top, but how to get there?   I suddenly remember that yellow is the color the solar plexus chakra, and "getting to it" may not be what is needed.

The bits of impression and advice seem to rush together.  Just stop.  Reclaim an inward focus.  Let others do the work.  Do not hold on because of the illusion of being irreplaceable.  There is no need to be aggressive.

The Journey Oracle offers a fairy tale titled "Waiting for the tide to turn" as insight about the resolution of this karmic lesson.  It's last sentence is one of my favorites in the whole collection of teaching stories.  "No creature on the beach expects delays; waiting for the tide to turn is not empty hoping, but inner certainty."  Now I feel my leaving the community forest is unfolding as it should.  The karmic tide expressed in those years of strong purpose is turning. The result of this Journey Oracle reading is the certainty that I am becoming more inwardly balanced, and less dependent on external sources for my identity and sense of personal power.

If you have a Journey Oracle deck try this new reading format and understand a karmic lesson in a situation that is currently causing you confusion or discomfort.  If you don't have a deck you can order one in my webstore.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Should I paint my shamanic drum?

Every drum carries a story in its making.

The muse comes in numbers, in shapes and symbols.  The cedar, the snake, the star all contain meaning for the drummer who has a spiritual companion in the form of a shamanic journey drum.

Symbols must be translated. The meaning shifts and slides according to experience and the ability to listen.

The drum's inner face belongs to the hand of the drummer.  The voice that comes through the ring enters the hand and speaks in the body.

But what of the drum's outer face?  This is the voice that goes into the world.  Think of a song. Martin Prechtel taught me that when a song has words that we and others can understand, when this is sung, it only has this flow of words and meanings.

But when a song has sounds we do not translate as words and meanings, then every time it is sung it carries the meaning of that unique moment--in its emotional tone, its intensity, its surrounding.  Every time the song is new.

This is true when painting a shamanic drum.  If I paint a drum then its power is in this image, and not in any other.  When a drum remains unpainted, then its power is in every moment unique. In every turning of direction it has a new face.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year reading with Journey Oracle cards

A friend came several days ago to have a new year reading with the Journey Oracle Cards.  The energy felt so clear and valuable that I am sharing the four cards, and a fairy tale, with everyone who is wanting guidance for 2017.

The oracle card of your situation right now is this:  a young deer being lit by the sunrise while resting within bushes .  There is some wisdom here.  Even though you may think you should feel energized and inspired to begin new projects at this time of year it is prudent to remember that all of nature is resting.  Your plans benefit when you let them warm and grow in the rising sun of the coming spring,  

This oracle card is the image of your experience of this situation.  Its name is "next steps" and although the first impression may be one of confusion, this image confirms the promise of spring in bleak winter. When you  focus your prayers to touch the earth and be in the sun, you become the green sprout reaching toward maturation.

This image is the oracle card of change.  The change that is calling you in this new year is the sound of community.  Can you bring a feeling of mothering to the change you seek?  Even better if this ability to mother your transformation is wearing red lipstick.

This oracle card is the image of resolution for your situation at the beginning of this new year.  And what creature is this!  Maybe your first reaction is colored with fear.  "Is this something I am going to have to face in 2017?"  The Journey Oracle fairy tale that accompanies this card tells a different story about being afraid.

A Journey Oracle fairy tale
There was a woman who was afraid of bears. She loved being close to the earth and went hiking and camping, but once in the wild she experienced a loss of balance, focus, power and reasonableness—imagining bears around every turn in the trail. It seemed not to matter to her fear that when she saw a bear it was in the far distance going about its business in a reasonable way; her fear would come like coyote again and bite wounds in her joy of nature.
And then something happened. Someone gave the woman a bear skull. It was burnished gold with age; its teeth worn to a flattened ledge of mottled ivory; its cranium cracked around a large hole where the bear’s life had flowed away.
“This is a familiar soul,” the woman thought. “Perhaps it is bringing me strength with the bears.” And at that moment a canine tooth fell from the skull into the woman’s hand. The woman felt an idea not fully formed, evolving toward this healing, and so she put the tooth into a leather pouch instead of back into the skull.
When next she was going for a hike, she sat first with the bear tooth. She lit a twist of sweetgrass and passed the tooth through the smoke so its spirit could eat the blessing. She offered the bear her most eloquent words to invite it to come inside her as she hiked. She put the pouch around her neck and started up the trail. And suddenly the fear was gone. She did not see the dappled sun as camouflage for bears lurking in the shadows; she did not hear the sound of water cascading over pungent green moss as covering for the click of their claws.
“Do I trick my thinking?” She wondered, but no, the fear was gone.
The bear and she were family now, and so she climbed to a wide meadow and asked “Where do we go here?” The bear she brought inside led her into the sparkling sunshine and lay down with her on the warm soft earth. 

May you feed the Holy in your own nature with simple ceremonies and long walks. May you lie down without fear in the wide meadow of your highest self during this year 2017.