Thursday, August 31, 2017

How to set a group intention

I have been part of a shamanic mentoring group for many years and finding the intention for our group’s work is a kind of shamanic work in itself.  I have been reading “What the Robin knows” by Jon Young.  In the introduction, he says that every living being has "a purpose, a mission, a life strategy, a set of gifts, and a set of weaknesses". I thought I would do a different kind of Journey Oracle reading this week, and apply these 5 categories to an oracle card reading for finding an intention for our group’s work.


This is the oracle card I drew to represent the group’s purpose.  I see a face streaked with red, perhaps blood.  The face appears made of stone to me.  The red eyes are looking left—which to me means toward the spirit side. The expression is more determined than alarmed.

Oracle card #35 is the Hunter’s Full moon of October.  It represents finding balance, slowing from growth, protection and release.  Why is this the oracle card of our group purpose?  I receive a hint when I read the Oracle statement for this card: enter at your own risk.  Shamanic work does require balance and protection; a determination to go into the blood pulse of a situation, rather than stay on the surface of the story. 


This is the oracle card I drew to show the group’s mission.  I understand a mission is more overarching than a time- and place-based purpose.  In this oracle card, I see a horizontal figure, reaching down into water and up into fire, with a yellow power center covering most of the body. 

This is the oracle card of the Summer Solstice.  It is the energy of the South, Fire, Birthing. What a powerful life force for a group of women who have been together for many years.  This Oracle card asks a question.  Two questions, actually.  Have you graduated?  Why not be both? What excellent questions to begin our work together.

This oracle card represents our group strategy for accomplishing our purpose.  I see other-world flowers growing through confusion toward the light.  In the same way, I believe we will grow through initial confusion about why we are together and what we are to do, arriving at a light of resolution.

This is the oracle card representing the Moon.  Its qualities are deepening relationships, the cycles of flow, entering the dark.  I especially feel a resonance with the deepening relationships among us.   The Moon’s oracle card also asks a question: Are you creating a hollow space?  My first impression of “hollow space” is of a safe space to inhabit, rather than a space that is lacking and needs filling.


This is the oracle card of our group’s gifts.  The horizontal figure has its right arm under water and seems to be climbing out and up into a clear space.  The heads of two black birds with large eyes are calling to the figure.  There is a sense of concentration in the image. 

This oracle card represents the Ash tree and brings the qualities of initiation, patience, expanding awareness.  We certainly cultivate the strengths of patience and awareness.  I wonder if “initiation” refers back to the question of the Summer Solstice: Have you graduated?” This oracle card has a message about strength: endless dancing.  It is so heartening to be with women who keep showing up, year after year, always willing to ask what needs doing.


Oracle card #7 represents our group’s weaknesses.  I see a strange, parrot-like bird, rather sad looking, surrounded by lots of red. 

This is the oracle card of the Rowan tree and brings psychic protection, boundaries, integrity.  Psychic protection is so critical in this work because it is difficult to sometimes know what needs protecting. Ourselves?  The other?  And often it is the integrity of our boundaries that is the protection.  These are strong messages for paying attention.  This oracle card also has a message for the group:  spirit journey work

In a way I can’t explain, it seems that this message is our intention, our way to strengthen our commitment—do spirit journey work.   

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Guidance for finding love in your future

Here is a recent Journey Oracle reading that came as guidance for finding love in your future. Imagine that this reading is for you and we begin by my telling you to draw a card and describe what you see without editing or doubting your inner voice.

You see a face with two eyes, a red circle where the nose should be, and no mouth.    I say that this oracle card of your situation represents the August full moon so this reading of your desire to find love in your future is very current.   I read some phrases associated with this oracle card, and you especially resonate with "warmth of the sun" saying you would like to meet someone warm, rather than cold and distant.

This oracle card has the message for you: a safe place, and we both laugh that a good relationship build on trust and shared interest is just that, a safe place.

You draw a second oracle card, this one representing your experience of this desire to find love in your future.  This time you have a harder time describing the oracle card image, slowly turning it around and around trying to find an image that feels correct.  Finally you see two eyes again, in what looks like a snail shell.  

This oracle card has a question for you: Why do you keep dreaming that you've lost your wild soul?
What a powerful, provocative question!  You describe how when you were younger you were not so cautious; you were willing to just jump into an experience without trying to over-control it. We think this might be a good memory to reflect on.  Perhaps when we are younger we don't guard our heart quite so much, but how to learn to do this when we have more maturity and experience with some relationships that go well, and others not so much.

The third oracle card of this reading brings quite a change in direction. You see a figure lying down, arms raised, holding fire.   The qualities associated with this card of the Celtic tree month Holly catch your attention: warrior energy, protection, valor, vitality.  You say that recently you have undergone an experience when you could certainly have used these qualities.  We feel that these qualities may be good homework for you.  This oracle card of change has refocused the reading on building inner strength, rather than looking outside of yourself for fulfillment.

The fourth oracle card, the resolution, is also an image of an eye, but this time you think it is an "I."
This oracle card representing the moon is associated with deepening relationships, the cycles of flow and entering the dark.  We talk about how important it is to enter the dark--and realize that the dark doesn't have to mean the negative but rather can represent the inner journey to one's own true self.

The message from this oracle card is Spiraling into the center.  What good advice for finding love. Spiral into balance with oneself.  Find the true center of self-worth, and others will feel that contentedness, and be attracted to it.

So we conclude this reading by wondering again about finding love in your future, and discover the Journey Oracle has guided you to Love yourself.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tips for setting up an art exhibit

 What an adventurous learning experience it is to set up an art exhibit! My acrylic paintings are currently on display at the Old School House Gallery on Cortes Island, and here are some tips from that picture hanging adventure.

Bring what you think is too much work for hanging, so there would be options for displaying and editing.

Bring friends who have a good sense of design.  More than one opinion is invaluable when creating a flow of color and mood along a wall.  Besides, it is difficult to hold a painting up and look at it from a distance at the same time.

Be willing to change the arrangement of works, and your choices about their placement, many times.
Sometimes a piece has to move everywhere, jostling its painting neighbors, until it finds a home that is a perfect fit.

Find themes for groups of pieces--art works that have a level of technical detail or of subject matter in common.The viewer may not consciously recognize that one wall focuses on water and another on earth, but the sensation of connection will be felt.

Set a title for the exhibit that creates an intriguing curiosity for your viewers.

Help your viewers enter a mental space, as well as a visual space, when they approach the exhibit.

Think of the art exhibit as a gesture of gratitude to the work itself, for being willing to come through your hand and eye into the world.

May every moment have art-filled blessings from the Journey Oracle.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Help your child become an artist

Art empowers children, and all of us,  in so many ways.  Here are some things you can do to encourage your child's creativity, confidence, intuitive and critical thinking--all the best parts of art making for the child in each of us.

Start young and don't stop. When we keep drawing and painting--our ability to articulate our world, and our feelings about it, keeps pace with our growing.  When we stop manipulating with our hands, and later want to begin again, our initial attempts will be at the level of skill where we stopped.

Encourage direct observation of nature. Create games of looking more and more deeply into the surfaces of forms.  I wrote a story for my Journey Oracle divination cards about a special way of looking:

As she grew her mother encouraged her to be a student of stillness, and taught her a special way of looking at things. “Do you want to see this eye?” Her mother would ask, which meant do you want to see this object in a way that belongs to the object and not to the human looking at it. She would show her how to look at the surface of something, and then find a smaller space on that surface and look into it, and then find a smaller space in that smaller space, and to do this smaller and smaller looking until finally the young girl was seeing cells of wood and hairs on plants and dust on butterfly wings.

Be wild sometimes. Self-discipline is necessary for an artist of any age, or one will never make time for doing the work of making art. But if your child doesn't go wild sometimes, she won't find a new way to say what is important.

Display your child's art in important family places.  Put the work on the refrigerator, a closet door, on the walls.  A statistically significant number of adult practicing artists cite seeing their paintings on the refrigerator as a factor in choosing art as a career.

Sign up for classes at a local museum, art gallery or artist's studio.  It is good for your child to have a widening view of what is possible in art.  This comes most easily when the art making experience is shared with others.  However, do choose an instructor who is willing to give honest critiques to students.  Even small children know when a passing comment of  "that's fine, dear" is disingenuous.

Encourage your child to have a relationship with a mentor. Perhaps the most powerful relationship your child can have is with a practicing artist or art teacher who lets them work along beside them. The camaraderie and easy flow of ideas and tips is priceless.

Purchase the best quality art materials you can afford for your teen artist.  A fine quality brush doesn't just paint, it performs. Materials that respond with beauty to the hand and imagination are part of a life in love with art.

Even though these 7 ways to help your child become an artist take time and some planning on your part, one day you may discover that something very mysterious and compelling has started to enter your child's visual vocabulary and way of making marks.

And from there, the journey is interesting enough to become a lifetime in art.

These art works are all from a wonderfully varied and dynamic show at the Old School House Gallery on Cortes Island, mounted by the Children's Forest Trust and curated by Krista Smith.
Although it is right effort in the present to empower children to contribute to such a worthy fund-raising cause, it is also a gift to the future to empower children in art.