I finished another spirit doll yesterday. Her message is simple yet powerful: “When facing the dark shine your light.”
This weeks The Lens Artists Challenge asks us to post photos about something different – https://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/lens-artists-challenge-40-something-different/
A while ago I found some leather offcuts at a recycling depot. I purchased some but it wasn’t until I got back home that I noticed one thick piece of hide had the words “Crazy Horse” written in thick black marker pen on the back.
One thought led to another until I searched for information about Crazy Horse, the Native American Chief, online. I found this prophecy he made four days before he was killed.
“Upon suffering beyond suffering, the red nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for the sick world. A world filed with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations, when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred tree of life and the whole earth will become one circle again. In that day, those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come, to those of my people to ask for wisdom. I salute the light within their eyes where the whole universe dwells, for when you are at the center within you and I am at the at place within me, we are as one.” http://www.earthwisdomfoundation.net/Crazy_Horse_s_Message.html
Here’s what I made with the leather:-
photo by Sue Vincent
The search had take so long – most of her life really. Born in tumultuous times to passionate and volatile parents, upheaval and dissonance had been Christine’s story since earliest childhood. Searching for a some place to call home – some place that offered her a sense of security and stability – had taken her across the globe and deep into the mysteries, legends and stories of other cultures.
Now, as the years added up and her hair greyed at the temples, Christine retreated behind the closed door of the little flat she rented downtown. Her forays out were of an essential nature. Going to work, buying food and supplies, getting out for a walk in nature when she could – these events marked the passage of her days. Beyond this she did not bother with going out and about as she had once done. No, she told concerned friends, she was not depressed. She just needed to be alone for a bit.
Sitting in her flat mulling over her life she came to see that what she was looking for was an inner centredness. She’d called it a quest for a home and a sense of belonging during those years when she’d looked here, there and everywhere in the outer world but really, what she was looking for was a sense of belonging inside herself – a sense of coming home to herself. What she was seeking was an inner foundation – a place where she could stand strong and secure within herself regardless of outer events.
Some of the things she’d learnt on her travels assumed a greater significance to her now. Certain meditations and visualizations carried her into inner realms that nourished and sustained. Some of the sacred objects she’d crafted in workshops with other women embodied spiritual energies she sought to integrate within herself. Although the objects – the wands, drums, medicine bundles and spirit dolls – had their origins in other cultures, the women had fashioned their own meanings and contemporary applications into these ancient tools. Looking at them now as they sat on her altar she saw they were still potent receptacles of ancestral, archetypal and spiritual energies. These days too she often turned to the spiritual books she’d acquired and, increasingly, the online blogs and websites of contemporary spiritual practitioners. These sources offered her guidance and reassurance that the inner journey she was undertaking was both profound and necessary.
Using these diverse spiritual tools drawn from many faiths and cultures she shifted through her personal memories and plunged into an investigation of her bloodline inheritances. As time went by she found too that she began to unpick the cultural stories she’d assumed to be unassailable facts but now saw to be constructs erected to promote conformity to capitalist agendas and limited social structures.
As the months went by Christine began to wrestle some kind of treasure from her inner dross and darkness. Her state of mind shifted and she began to experience extended periods where she felt illuminated by an inner lightness of being. She had occasioned upon these feelings before for brief moments during the drug highs and sexual bliss of youthful experiences then later, in deep mindfulness meditations. Sometimes at sacred sites or sitting in circle with indigenous teachers similar states of consciousness had uplifted her temporarily.
Now as her mental and emotional landscape cleared the lightness of being became stronger and more stable. Uncanny synchronicities and intuitive flashes of understanding occurred more frequently as she began to circle around an inner locus of being that was unassailable and immutable.
It was at this point that Christine realized integrating this new sense of self was, in fact, her life’s work. Everything of any value flowed from that. Even while she was still in the process of building this new inner structure she felt she needed to go back out into the world. While there was a part of her that was quietly appalled by this idea (some people were so damn scary these days) she came to understand that it was only in interactions with others that she could test her new found way of being. Any places where she still needed to do some inner work would quickly become apparent that way. On a deeper level there was too the emerging knowing that knowledge gained meant little if it was not applied to real life situations.
photo by Sue Vincent. prompt: https://scvincent.com/2019/03/28/thursday-photo-prompt-bright-writephoto/
Helene Vaillant asks “What do you see?” https://helenevaillant.com/2019/03/19/what-do-you-see-march-19-2019/
The universe spinning
energy flowing like a river
– standing off to the side
thinking that somehow
watching makes you part of it
The currents are moving fast now
flowing in all directions.
Some are clear
noble and brave
Some are depraved
Some are fearful
Some are hate filled
Some are ugly
Others are just plain mediocre.
Standing off to one side
thinking that somehow
watching makes you part of it.
It’s time to jump in the river
it’s time to stand for something
Native American Prophecy
There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word ’struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
I made another spirit doll this week. It felt incomplete until I saw Sue Vincent’s prompt – https://scvincent.com/2019/03/14/thursday-photo-prompt-sign-writephoto/
Of course! What my doll needed was a hat. I made him one from green leather then put him in the fork of a tree to take his photo.
While I was making this doll I was thinking about the mythical figure of the Green Man. It is perhaps a sign of our times that the Green Man is coming back into our awareness. The archetype has particular relevance to men as an alternative to toxic masculinity.
I found a really good explanation of what the Green Man represents for men on https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/meet-green-man-archetype-wild-soul-dg/
“he models a different kind of manhood and strength, one that is based on relationship, caring, and true husbandry or stewardship. He gives us a powerful metaphor and depiction of the Sacred Masculine.”
Writing of the relevance of this model of masculine for our times the author describes the Green Man archetype as “a strong and compassionate masculine who respects the hidden laws of nature and interconnected relationship. In a modern incarnation, he stands for environmental awareness and action; he symbolizes cooperation with nature rather than dominion over it for resources, wealth, and power. In a sense, he is the original eco-warrior.”
I really like these ideas but feel the Green Man has a relevance for us all regardless of gender. We all embody both masculine and feminine qualities to some degree. On the website https://www.tlc-uu.org/awakening-the-sacred-masculine-introducing-the-green-man/ I read:
“As the Goddess makes her return, we must also resurrect the Green Man so that both feminine and masculine are united in a healthy balance of head and heart, intellect and imagination, intuition and reason, force and flow. Cultivating a healthy sense both of our masculine and feminine sides of ourselves is the only way we will ever be able to usher in an era of new balance so desperately needed in our world today. When a healthy masculinity is established both men and women will rejoice. And so too will animals, plants and future generations. The stakes for establishing a Sacred Marriage of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine have never been higher. Our survival hangs in the balance.”
As I sat beneath the spreading branches of the ash tree in my yard I wondered what it would be like to go inside – to find a little door hidden in the shadows and slip in. Of course I’d have to be like Alice and have shrunk but details aside, what would it be like?
Would I slide down into the roots and plunge deep into the Earth or would I rise with the sap and sigh and sway with the leaves in the wind?
It was then I felt myself sinking. Not into the tree but into deep reverie. My feet planted on the grounds seemed to be growing roots. Earthed I was, grounded in my physicality, my body.
The wind in the tree top grew louder and I raised my eyes up to the branches. I saw the ragged scar of an ancient wound where a large branch must have sheared off in a storm long ago. I looked higher still and saw that the crown of the tree had once been pruned out. Thick branches now terminated abruptly. Just below them thinner branches had sprouted and now reached skyward. Some were so spindly they hung from the tree in tangled curves of dying wood. Others were strong and healthy and flung themselves out away from the trunk into the clear blue of sky above.
In that moment my mind merged with the beingness of the tree and I felt myself both planted in the ground and soaring upwards – transcendental yet of the Earth. Solid yet ethereal. Enduring despite the scars, the sometimes brutal experiences and the dreams of growth that had not survived. Going on anyway – finding new ways to be and ways to grow despite setbacks.
I felt then the presence in the heart of the ash – strong, benevolent yet detached. So old now and having seen so much – a grandmother of a tree – a wisdom keeper.
Gently, oh so softly, the tree released me and I came back into my human form. The sound of a truck bumping and roaring along the highway pulled me back into my own time and place. Like the wind in the tree tops I sighed. Endure, I thought, despite all the chaos and drama of life, find new ways to be – keep on going.
I was scrolling through my WordPress Reader when I came across Sue Vincent’s latest #writephotoimage.
When I saw it I did a double take for I spent hours yesterday making this collage –
What a strange imaginative connection links Sue’s photo and my collage. I have no idea what motivated Sue to post that particular image but the inspiration for my collage came from thinking about the life and work of the 11th century Christian nun, Hildegarde of Bingen.
I find Hildegarde inspirational for she was an accomplished writer, herbalist, mystic, composer, artist and environmentalist back in an age where women were too often voiceless and powerless.
The brilliant colours of her manuscript art inspired my own collage –
Her music is hauntingly beautiful.
One of Hildegarde’s most enduring ideas is the concept of Viriditas, a Latin word which loosely translates as vitality, freshness, lushness,greening, or growth. In Hildegarde’s philosophical writings the word is used as a metaphor for spiritual and physical health. She celebrates the sacred energetic force that animates all life and actively sought to connect with the natural world for she saw it as a source of creative and healing power.
“O most honored Greening Force,
You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.”
– Hildegard von Bingen, Viriditas
Hildegarde experienced visions from an early age but it wasn’t until she was 42 that she felt compelled to share her visions with the world despite the disapproval of patriarchal church authorities. Later on in life she undertook four preaching tours where she told her male superiors that they would fall from grace if they didn’t change their attitudes. Huffington Post – why Hildegarde matters Her words have relevance today as the male clergy that control many Christian churches are being held to account for their role in covering up child sexual abuses.
There is so much to learn from Hildegarde’s life and work. What came through for me yesterday while I was working on my collage was an understanding of the energy and inspiration found in having a sense of purpose that is greater than personal self interest.
Hildegarde’s voice speaks loud and clear down through the centuries. I hear it in the calm pure notes of her music and in her writings. I see its imprint in her art. “Take your time,” she says to me. “Celebrate life. Create with clear intention. Discipline the will and seek to serve the greater good. Speak your truth.”