Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Painting dream animals on drums

Dream Animals, by James Hillman, is really shifting my perspective about animals that appear in my dreams. Instead of treating them like figments of my inner state whose purpose is translation and self-applied meaning, he suggests I recognize that dream animals are always displaying themselves in a scene and bringing a mood.  He states that "anything that comes at you in a dream wants you."

My frame drum paintings are like dream images.  I paint the shadows behind the creatures more than the forms of the birds and animals.  I let appear what is appearing and do not shift a pose or edit a mood.  So what do the dream animals in my painted shamanic drums want from the drummer?

Bears often come to my drum paintings.  
There is such warmth in their presence.

A mood of loving kindness whose wisdom seems 
touched with such sadness.  
As if we humans have forgotten our place,
 and the bear is waiting, still, for us to return.

Birds come to my drum paintings with intensity.

They seem to demand a focus that requires being really present.


The great cats do not often appear in the drum painting, 
but when they do it is with an air of watchful stillness.  
As if their presence on the drum is but a fleeting moment.

The canines have a different energy.  
Outgoing; boisterously engaged in joyful praise.

Even when the creature comes with a sense of menace,
 there is a playful quality to the bite. 

The fox and the snake go together in my impression of the mood they bring to a drum painting. 
 Both are accused of being deceitful because we attach
 a moral judgement to their slink and slither.  
Yet both are truly masterful in their unwillingness
 to be corrupted by the meanings we assign.  

I consider it the greatest gift to have 
one of these animals appear on a drum.  
Perhaps they want the drummer to learn
 to disappear into the vibration,
 like a snake or a fox down a hole into the moist dark earth.  

Sometimes a presence is so real, so "itself," 
that there is nothing it wants, 
and nothing for the drummer to give.   
Just be together. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What does imagination require?

I finish another Oracle dream painting 
based on my Journey Oracle deck

In 1996 I asked for a dream for each Journey Oracle card--a dream, please, that contains a question.  47 dreams later, the questions became part of each Journey Oracle reading, but the dreams were put away and forgotten.  Until February past when I decided to paint an image based on each dream.  And this recent painting has led to a conversation in my head with James Hillman and his book, Dream Animals.  The passages in italics are his, the rest is mine.

The dream is there and not there. Just as this might be a ceiling,

 or just as easily a floor.

The imagination is itself a great animal, or an ark of images that are all alive and move independently.  The imagination requires the absence of  orderliness, of sensible goings on.  It demands de-formation on its own terms.

We get obsessed with the literal facts that can block the imagination.   What is this need that wants to explain?  Why try to get under it?

The secret of the imagination is the disappearance of the actual.

The invisible is as important as the visible. you have a crow to live with,
 and you need to keep an eye on each other.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

Do you have spiritual intelligence?

Spiritual intelligence is not about religion--it is a way of experiencing that is close to the earth. As the creator of the Journey Oracle, a set of divination wisdom cards, I have often wondered why some people have an ability to access a larger, deeper wisdom--a spiritual intelligence.   Here are several qualities that I think characterize spiritual intelligence, illustrated by images from the oceans and mountains of the Olympic National Park.

Spiritual intelligence is a special seeing 
into patterns and connections.

For example, do you notice an immediate response from nature to a mental question or puzzlement?    If you were thinking about making time to meditate, does the Buddha appear?

Spiritual intelligence reveals a power beyond the self 
which will speak to you. 

Do you feel the presence of elder wisdom in its many guises?  Do you trust the answers that come from this "silent talking?"

Spiritual intelligence is attention to experience that is 
beyond the ordinary, 
yet within the ordinary. 

Does a moment of silent contact feel charged with kinship?

Spiritual intelligence is characterized by humility.

Do you recognize that you have earned a gift, rather than possessed a power, when a moment of shared connection happens?

Spiritual intelligence is revealed by feeling your own truth, 
and not by proving or measuring that truth 
according to what others do or say. 

Spiritual intelligence creates a radical questioning 
of one's world view.  
It is no longer possible to hold on to assumptions 
of common practice. 

There is deep value in this vulnerability, 
in giving up control
and walking on the edge between the worlds.  

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Support your local artists

Art is about vision.  About understanding our experiences in the world.  Art is about being human, and sometimes more-than-human.  Here is a tour of the artists who participated in the annual members show at the Old School House Gallery on Cortes Island, arranged with some of my favorite art quotes.


I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say 
any other way--things I had no words for. 
Georgia O'Keefe


The purpose of art is mystery.
Rene Magritte


Art doesn't have to be pretty. 
 It has to be meaningful. 
Duane Hanson



Art is about paying attention.
Laurie Anderson



I like to make an image that is so simple
you can't avoid it,
and so complicated
you can't figure it out.
Alex Katz



True art lies in a reality that is felt.
Odilon Redon



I want to die painting. 
Paul Cezanne

Go to a community gallery.  
Support your local artists.  
Tell them the Journey Oracle sent you.