Monthly Archives: January 2010

Drawing What Makes Us Unconfortable

I’m linking this post to the one right before. I think they make sense together, but what do I know.

This last weekend, I participated in a workshop, Awakening Creativity Through Spiritual Practice, taught by Sylvan at Reflections Mystery School. You know you’re in trouble when your response to a trance is, “Whoa! Deep! F**k!” The big message I took away for my artistic work is to draw the pictures that I am afraid to draw, that I am afraid to be seen by others.

I even committed–outloud and in front of others–to do just that.  I have experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety over this for years and kept myself to positive, beautiful, uplifting, and safe subjects. But that doesn’t seem to be what I need to draw and paint. The thought terrifies me, and yet there is so much energy here, which usually means there is much power waiting to be released and used. That is one of the lessons I have learned in working to integrate my Shadows. That, and “to attend to where the energy is”–a corollary of “energy follows attention.”

Today’s post over at Seth Godin’s blog deals with the resistance to actively and successfully moving toward our dreams. He talks about the lizard brain, or amygdala. From scholarpedia, I learned that the amygdala has been implicated in the processing and memory of emotional states, such as fear, aggression, maternal feelings, sexual urges, and ingestive (eating and drinking) behaviors. And yes, all of those are subject matter for the images that are bumping up against the surface of my conscious wanting out.

Last night I took the first steps by looking for stock photos for reference, taking some of my own with my little digital camera, and doing some sketches. It wasn’t as bad as I feared. The anxiety is lessened but not gone.

How does this relate to my last post? Perhaps this is a boundary I must cross to follow the holy man on fire. Perhaps that is just one aspect of my animus. Perhaps this crossing and expanding of my personal boundaries is necessary to grow both in my art and my spirituality.

I don’t know exactly. Maybe it doesn’t make rational sense. But as the BlissChick wrote today, I will follow the breadcrumbs.

Following the Man on Fire

I have delayed posting this as I tracked down the “perfect” image to illustrate it. I’m not finding it, which may be a clue that I need to create it, or that finding that image is not the point.

Last week, I had a dream. Actually, I usually dream, but every once in a while the dream image is very clear, clear enough to remember, clear enough to stick with me. This is one such dream.

I am walking through a marketplace that looks much like a medieval fair, but dirtier. People all around me are sick and dying. I am slowly walking and watching them. My heart goes out to them as they shuffle in the shadows of alleys and doorways. Occasionally, one will cross my path and make me stop in my tracks. There is a moment of awkwardness before the other shuffles off, and I continue.

At the center of the marketplace, I find my teacher elder, a wizened old woman with a round face and eyes. She is tiny, wrapped in cloth to stay warm by a small fire. She may be old, but she is not one of the sick. She is timeless. I sit across from her, and we talk.

A man about my age comes and sits around the fire between us. He is wearing a roughly woven, brown robe, much like a monk’s. He has dark brown, curling hair and a kind, yet compelling eyes. I feel a flash of connection when our eyes meet. We don’t speak much to each other, but both listen to the elder.  A spark from the fire flies out and lands on his sleeve. A small fire spreads over his arm and hand, but doesn’t seem to burn him. He reaches over and taps out or covers the fire with his other hand. He gives me an embarrassed look, as if I have seen something that he usually tries to hide. He is surprised that I have seen it.

Unhurriedly, he rises to leave and walks away. I follow him. I know in that moment that I will always follow him, no matter at what cost–to my life or my reputation. And I know that it will be OK.

Early in December I made the intent to begin a conscious relationship with my animus. I believe this dream is saying that I am on the right track, but that I will have to take risks. My life is pretty “safe” right now, but sometimes I feel that I am on a knife’s edge, that I want to play with fire.

Yet, I am afraid. Afraid of losing control of my mind. Afraid of losing the respect of others, of losing my good name. Afraid that my work (especially my artwork) will make people seriously question my sanity or good spirit. So, I am usually “good” or “pleasing” and sometimes “inspiring,” or so I’ve been told.

But I think that may be changing, which I’ll talk about in my next post.

Magic of Breath


Ghost of the Spirit by Chris Luckhardt, http://www.flickr.com/photos/motionblur/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Today, I am reminded, not “to breathe,” but to bring my awareness to my breath.

Breath is life.

Breath is magic.

Breath is both body and spirit.

As I have learned from various teachers including my mother, energy follows attention. So, if I attend to my breath, I am attending to life here and now. I am attending to my body and my spirit. I am bringing energy to life and magic, body and spirit.

Just by paying attention to my breath.

I notice that as I am writing this, Pandora is playing “Breathe” by Telepopmusik. “Just breath. Just believe.” How synchronous is that?!

Winter’s Daily Practice

At Reflections Mystery School, we have seasonal daily practices that correspond to the element of the season: Earth in Winter, Air in Spring, Fire in Summer, and Water in Autumn.  These daily practices are meant to connect us in a physical and energetic way to the element of the season.

In the Winter, we ground energetically and we massage our feet.

Our Feet Touching Means We're Married

Grounding brings us back to the present, back to our bodies. Here and now, we are effective agents of our Work. We are only able to answer the call of our vocation by being fully present. When our minds and our energy is scattered this way and that, like tangled yarn batted about by a small kitten, nothing makes sense. Threads that look like they lead somewhere double back on themselves and leave us feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Taking the time to bring our awareness back  and finding that still point inside of us gives us the space to listen and move with intent and purpose.

Massaging our feet further focuses our attention to the parts of ourselves that actually move us around this physical plane. When we practice an embodied spirituality, being aware of and taking care of our bodies is a holy act. Our bodies have a great deal to teach us, if we take the time to learn. Our bodies have a great dealt to tell us, if we take the time to listen. Massaging the feet communicates to the body that we do value its messages, that we consider it sacred and worthy of our attention.

Every year, someone asks of our teacher “how is massaging my feet a spiritual or magical practice?” She has her own answer, and mine may be quite similar. There is a saying about magic that energy follows attention. When we pay attention to our feet (our bodies) and care of them as holy, then the energy of healing and love flow to them and to all they do and represent to us: mobility, foundation, support, strength.

Our feet are the foundation of our bodies much as daily practice is a foundation of our spirituality.

Related posts that inspired me to write today:
Katrina Messenger on Radical Self-Care
Ketzirah on Sustainable Spirituality
Christine Valters Paintner on The Exquisite Tenderness of Bodies

Photo of my feet and my husband’s feet on vacation at the Delaware seashore, 2008.

2009 Creations

2009_art_mosaic

Just a little mosaic of some of the artwork I did this last year. Clockwise from upper left: Happy Buddha mala, Bastet shrine, photography that I plan to use for artwork in future, Chango shrine, healing altar, Ganesha and Hanuman altar, Strength, cosmic building blocks, touch drawing, beaded necklaces, Oggun shrine.

Looking at this is making me excited about creating more this year. And I am in love with bold colors! Wow!

Now if only the house sprites would return my portfolio of Touch Drawings from this summer’s Gathering and my black knitting bag with all my needles.  Please!  I have two projects that I desperately want to work on now.  Maybe a little butter offering is in order.

Co-creating 2010

The Star Goddess Dances Creation

It seems everyone is writing the intentions they are setting for 2010, whether they be in the form of goals, or dream decrees, a word for the year, or vision boards.

I have a hard time with goals. I often feel indecisive about formally writing anything down out of fear.  Fear of failing. Fear of changing my mind — yet again. Fear that I may miss a great opportunity. Fear of being constrained.  I am continuing amazed that I actually get anything done because I have this aversion to “putting it down on paper.”

But I do.  Funny that…

But lately, I have felt blown about by the winds. Not sure which way to turn, which path to trod, which choices to pick on the buffet of life.  So, I decided to try this goal thing this year, after reading a bunch of wonderful blog posts and talking with my BFF, Ketzirah.

Artwork/Creativity

  1. Finish the three paintings that have been knocking on my mental door for a while.
  2. Learn a new jewelry making technique.
  3. Embellish my Touch Drawings from the Gathering to show at Artomatic.

Community (In addition to the regular commitments I have, I want to do these very specific things.)

  1. Increase enrollment for Reflections classes by 50%.
  2. Find a year-round location for Becoming monthly circles that meets our needs and is within our budget.
  3. Offer 5 Touch Drawings sessions in Baltimore and DC each.

Career (I have been hiding at my job over the last 2 years. I want to shine again, feel confident, and enjoy my work.)

  1. Coordinate an interpretive writing workshop for SI writers featuring an outside speaker.
  2. Focus on being present in my work and enjoying my work everyday.
  3. Put together a literature review, standards, and guidelines on interpretive writing for my museum.

Family and Friends

  1. Go out with friends at least once a month.
  2. Entertain friends–as a couple– at least once a month.
  3. Go out with my husband on a date night at least twice a month.

Finance

  1. Pay off 50% of my personal loan, and 25% of my personal credit card debt.
  2. Save any extra money coming in from art sales or workshops toward. . . (I’m really starting to feel fear creep in on these goals.) buying a hot tub.

Health (I started Weight Watchers in July and have lost 48 pounds. I am feeling great and want to continue toward looking and feeling HAWT at 40.)

  1. Lose 45 pounds by my 40th birthday.
  2. Run a 5K race.

Home

  1. Have my current list of improvements done by July 1, 2010.
  2. Design back patio w/ hot tub.

Spirituality

  1. Deepen my relationship and understanding of Hanuman.
  2. Deepen my conscious relationship with my animus.
  3. Step forward to meet my growing edge and to keep my eyes open to my work and my worth in the world.
  4. To trust in myself and that voice that wells up from within and beyond.

And that brings me to my word for 2010: TRUST.

Trust in myself. Trust that if I trust myself that things will work out fine. Trust that I will make good decisions. Trust that I am shiny. Trust that I do bring value to the work that I do.

And if at the end of the year, I am able to trust myself and the universe more, then I will count this year as a success.

Much love and many blessings from an open and strong heart,

Angela

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photo: The Star Goddess Dances the Universe into Creation, digital collage by Angela Raincatcher