Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Paint animals to receive shamanic teaching. Part 2

All animals are shamanic teachers. All creatures are our elders, as they were here first, and so deserve our respect and attention to what they have to show us.  In Part 1 of this blog I wrote about how I created these paintings,  but it is not the painting that makes the teaching, it is how the animals appear in relationship with place, and with each other, that teaches us.

To receive shamanic teaching from animals I have to trust that what I intuit and feel from the interaction is true, and not something I am making up.  This is harder than it seems.  In this western culture we are trained from an early age to believe what our unruly mind tells us, and to not attend to the subtlety of intuition.

So how did these animals come to be in these relationships with each other, and with the places they inhabit?   These paintings are based on dreams I asked for as part of my creating the Journey Oracle divination deck.  The paintings are not illustrations of dream scenes, but composites of all the elements in the dream.  First and most importantly,  I have to trust that the parts are fitting together in a way that is necessary for the meaning to emerge, and not the result of my editorial manipulation. 

In this dream, the geese were definitely taking off to the right, and the storm front was moving from left to right, so the geese are taking off with the wind behind them which is not what they do in ordinary reality.  The woman's hair is blowing up, but the paper is falling straight down.  To me, these are not accidents, but lessons in noticing that we sometimes see what we think is appropriate, rather than see what is actually happening.

In this painting it is easy to see the snake as threatening the pine marten, and the pine marten as being vulnerable,

but a closer look shows the snake to be neutral--curious even--without any evil but what we humans assign to it,

and the marten to be quite animated and engaged, without attending to a threat.  Is the marten just stupid? Or is it we who have unlearned the cues that keep us safe in nature?

It seems we feel we must create barriers to protect us from harm.  Fences and ropes, and stories of their inferiority,  to keep animals where we think they belong.

Yet we are inside the enclosure with the charging horse, who appears to running from fright more than toward harming us,

and the dog may not be tied at all, and certainly has a unsettling curiosity in its gaze.

Do we see an intelligent mind in its investigation of how things are?

Are we willing to receive an appraisal of our valuing the human mind above all else?

These elder brothers and sisters are our shamanic teachers.

When we keep them trapped inside our mental judgments, while we occupy the more spacious terrain of self-importance, we forget the true nature of mind,

What Tenzim Palmo said of love without judgement is equally so of the mind, "it's totally impartial.  It's just love.  It's like the sun--it shines on everyone."

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Paint animals using pastel and acrylic. Part 1

Several years ago I discovered painting animals using both chalk pastel and acrylic paint together. I had blocked in this Northern Pike using acrylic and then was in a quandary about how to paint the fish in the water. I started dragging chalk pastel over the image, became uncertain about what I was doing, and so used a kneaded eraser to lift off bands of colour.  What a surprise! A fish inside the water.

I discovered I could reverse the process and paint the creature by first working the pastel--which is pure pigment--around the paper with water, and then when satisfied with the detail, enhance the complexity by painting over the chalk with acrylic.

The under-painting of acrylic allowed me to both add pastel, and lift areas of colour with an eraser, on the already lightly painted form to create lost and found edges, which is one of my favorite visual effects.

Lost and found edges allows the viewer 's mind to fill in shapes and spaces, rather than have the artist paint every feather in the wing.

Sometimes the two media go back and forth in many layers: the pastel dragged across the white space to create irregular texture, the acrylic painted as a soft wash to suggest shapes in the texture. Next the pastel is rubbed with a paper stump to further define the detail, whites are reclaimed from the pastel with the eraser, and then the acrylic refines the forms with dramatic contrast.


Of course, some paintings are composed entirely of layers of painted, rubbed and erased chalk pastel

and others have the main subject painted in sharp-edged acrylic and surrounded by rubbed and blended pastel to create drama.

I am not very nice to my painting surfaces.  I can overwork an area until the surface of the illustration board breaks down.  Yet in this combination of pastel, acrylic and eraser I made a discovery.  If the surface is wet the eraser will lift up the top layer of paper holding the acrylic paint. This broken surface then catches the pastel and creates a physical as well as a visual texture.  What a surprise! A bird wing  more complex than I could possibly paint.

This combination of pastel, acrylic and eraser has become more and more compelling in their process. But what has been more of a surprise are these creatures themselves.  Who are they? Why are they in these odd relationships with each other?  Where do these images come from?

These paintings are the result of dreams I asked for when creating the Journey Oracle.  How I work with my dreams, what process originates the creatures in each image, and what they have to tell me is the subject of my next blog: Paint dream animals. Part 2.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Healing power of animals

Are you willing to trade places with animals? 


Our feelings of losing the dream
of the storm expected,
 are not shared by the other-than-human world. 

 When we truly see their burst of forces, 

We see not the red of anger 
or the tangling touch of  greed
but the truth of life still going on


After all, the goose is dancing
not cooked, 

and nobody even notices the frog.

The power needed to shift our situation
will be a sound of contentment. 

Not the smell of sex
or the taste of famine.
But the skill of recognizing that-- 
like the animals know--
we have enough.

All the italicized phrases in this blog came
from pronouncements by the Journey Oracle
about oracle card #10
whose question, received in a dream,
 inspired this painting. 

Are you willing to trade places?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Free Journey Oracle reading for 2020

An Oracle translates a problem or question into a language of image and symbol like that of dreams.  It changes the way you experience a situation to connect you with the inner forces that are shaping it.  An Oracle dialogues with your imagination—the creative basis of experience we call the unconscious.  

This is a picture of

Describe your first impressions of this image using simple phrases.  Do not analyze, doubt or discard what your inner voice is saying.  When you feel inner quiet, go to the Oracle’s identity.

Identity of Oracle: Ruis  
Qualities of this Oracle: withdrawal, renewal, the threshold, the brink
Time of year associated with this Oracle: Nov 25 – Dec 22
Why this is the Oracle of your situation?

Message from the Oracle about your situation: unclear communication
Why are you receiving these message?


An Oracle reveals the forces that are moving beneath your situation.  These sentences are not statements of logic or reason.  Write brief first impressions next to the statement.  If a statement draws a blank from your unconscious, move on to the next sentence


This situation began by coming home.
The prevailing energy of this situation is lowering sky.
The core energy pattern of this situation is looking up.
The Mother of this situation is dark with the devil.
The Father of this situation is blood-colored.

Your relationship to the prevailing energy is fluttering.
Your perception of the situation is clear.
The impact of your perception is harsh.
The connection between the core energy pattern and the situation
 is felt as irritating.
The momentum of this situation is fed by no time to get ready.

This is a picture of

Describe your first impressions of this image using simple phrases.  Do not analyze, doubt or discard what your inner voice is saying.  When you feel inner quiet, go to the Oracle’s identity.

Identity of Oracle: Frogs Return (March full moon) 
Qualities of this Oracle: mysterious, restless, changing energy, fertility, rising
Time of year associated with this Oracle:  March full moon
Why this is the Oracle of your experience?

Question from the Oracle about your experience:  
Is there another way to get there?
Why are you receiving this question?

The Journey Oracle’s answers change the way you see things. Your anxieties, fears and desires emerge to be recognized and resolved, and hidden transformative energies are released.



into the matrix
journeying with vibrations
focused prayer

you’ve tapped into something from way back,
 green sprout, maturation
touch the earth, promise of spring in bleak winter


An exterior or support system for the situation is scurrying.

This is a picture of

Describe your first impressions of this image using simple phrases.  Do not analyze, doubt or discard what your inner voice is saying.  When you feel inner quiet, go to the Oracle’s identity.

Identity of Oracle: South
Qualities of this Oracle: the fire of will, desire, intuition action, courage  
Time of year associated with this Oracle:  all time
Why this is the Oracle of change?

Message from the Oracle about change:  an eye with two faces
Why are you receiving this message?


The power needed to shift this situation will be an inner sound.
Change will come by finding the way to proceed.
Your relationship to the change in this situation is floating.
The primary moment of letting go into the change will smell blocked.
The concern to be avoided within this change will taste of manna.


The wisdom of no one able to be here will empower the transformation.
Completed transformation will be felt as a quality of swimming in the air.


Why are you trying to get under it? 
Are you the one willing to undo it?



This is a picture of

Describe your first impressions of this image using simple phrases.  Do not analyze, doubt or discard what your inner voice is saying.  When you feel inner quiet, go to the Oracle’s identity.

Identity of Oracle: Muin/Vine
Qualities of this Oracle: generosity, vision, altered states
Time of year associated with this Oracle: Sept 2 – Sept 29
Why this is the Oracle of your resolution?

Question from the Oracle about your resolution:  What key are you using to open the door
that cannot be locked?
Why are you receiving this message?


The dense weave of meaning in a fairy tale provides insight into the hidden forces behind your situation, and points to the resolution sought by your unconscious wisdom.  In this fairy tale, your unconscious wisdom knows the names of all the characters, all the connections to your situation, and what is the happy ending.  

“It’s a school of tiny silver fish,” the woman said, as she and the man watched the water become worried with dimples and bulges that made creative connections of patterns across the surface near their boat.
Flashes of light leapt from the water about them as the school made a change of direction in elegant and abrupt unison. Each sliver of shadow beneath the surface was a vulnerable mark; the entire—a mass of supernatural powers with one aim: escape.
The woman wondered how the fish knew to move so precisely in unison. Surely the shifts were too quick and complete to be led or signaled. Perhaps the fish moved with one mind instead of many. Perhaps the whole school was just one creature of many bodies but only one voice. She sat very still and tried to clear all the words from her mind, hoping to feel the shiver of vibration from the fish through her fingertips trailing in the water. “If I did this long enough I’d know what was being said,” the woman realized.
The man said that is some places fisherman stand in the shallow waters of bays and rivers—like disciples poised for spirit-filled awakenings—waiting to fling their gossamer nets in shimmering arcs over the larger fish chasing behind the mass of little ones.
         “I guess we can never know what is coming from behind,” the woman replied, “perhaps what is best to know—is how to escape.”