Sunday, 28 June 2009

Labyrinths & the 3 worlds of Shamanism


After the 3 Gates of Enlightenment I talked about in my last post, I come to another 3 - The 3 Worlds of Shamanism,  the Upper,  Middle,  & Lower Worlds.  The Middle World is like a Spirit layer of our everyday reality,  where the shaman  goes for help with issues that have a direct presence in daily life now; the Upper & Lower Worlds are other worlds where different kinds of help are sought, depending on the what question is being asked of the Spirit Helpers  by the shaman.  The shaman acts as a go-between between the Worlds & a catalyst for  the help, healing,  or power the Spirits bring .

When I painted this picture I was alone at home over the Winter Solstice.  I had become interested in the ancient symbol of the Labyrinth,  which I often work with as a meditation ceremony.  Walking in to the labyrinth,  following the path to the quiet place in the middle,  stopping & being there,  then coming back out to the rest of the world...   sometimes I go with a particular thought I need to make space around...  sometimes several of us gather & witness each other's walks in the sacred space of ceremony ...   sometimes its a simple thank you to the earth...  like an inbreath & an outbreath ... 

The painting grew in slow gentle layers as I sat by my woodburner in the dark  of the year.  The figure is standing in a heart-shaped labyrinth & is also in 2 more - above & below.  It relates both to the 3 realms my Chi Kung movements flow through,  the Heaven, Human & Earth realms  (yes, that's a 3rd  3 )  and the 3 worlds the shaman visits.
As with many of my paintings ,  it is on a deep sided canvas,  & so the picture goes over the 4 edges too.


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Sea and Chi Kung...

Its a real hot summer day out here in West Wales & I was lucky enough to have a swim earlier.. which set me thinking about my painting  Shell Fish  above..  
It came from working with a oyster shell I found on a local beach,  I loved the shapes in it & wanted to draw it,  looking at it in different ways,  with different sets of eyes, so to speak.   I used my Chi Kung practice for this. The system I work with (its one of very many) uses gentle movements to move chi or vital energy round the body,  along the meridians,  or pathways, that acupuncture uses.  So different sets of movements nourish different parts of the body,  and the layers of energy our bodies are part of.   There are 3 key areas  which correspond to those recognised in many other ways of looking at the  mind-body-spirit too   -  and the poetic name for them in Chi Kung is The 3 Gates of Enlightenment.   One is in the centre of the head,  one is  in the chest - the heart centre,  and one is in the belly - the dantien,  or hara .   I have experimented with doing the Chi Kung forms (thats the name for a group of movements)  that feed each of these areas,  and  looking at, for example,  this shell just after working with each area - with the eyes of that gate. I find I see/feel/know differently each time & it can completely change how a painting is developing.   Its something I would like to develop further & explore with other people.
The painting above had quite a hard birthing - some of them have to be lost & found again.  They seem to be going well & then I do something that doesn't work Aaaargh!!  But if you don't take the risk you probably stay somewhere too safe & bland,  so I take the risk,  & sometimes I blow it, & sometimes,  like this one,  I end up somewhere unexpected.  I didn't know that the scribbles,  the movements, the mix of media would end up giving me the fish in the shell or the movement of the sea either.
So I thank the Spirits who help me & work through me,  just as I thank them for the joy of swimming from a busy beach round to deserted one today,  & the gift of having some time being the only human there with the sun, the expanse of sand, the cliffs,  & the birds   before the tide dropped & others walked round to enjoy it too.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Summer Solstice thoughts..

I have a stone in my pocket which I met at the Summer Solstice on the Isle of Coll several years ago,  when I was on a course up there with my shamanic teacher, Jonathan Horwitz.  The stone has stayed with me ever since & given me many teachings -  a great gift from the universe.  Last  year it gave me this painting ,  which is not  "of " it but rather "about" it.  Several other stones have now given me paintings too,  so this painting became the first of an ongoing series and I may share others on this blog on other days.  I had a strong feeling that this stone had a wish to teach me in this way,  so I sat with it,  talked/dreamed with it, and used Chi Kung to open to seeing it in new ways.  The painting has gone on to a new home,  and I am still learning from the stone..
Today I walked  on the Preselli ridge,  not far from here, with our local Wildlife Trust,  and a geologist showed us some of the different rocks, including where some of the stones at Stonehenge are thought to come from.   Right now radio 3 is on & Stephen Johnson has just commented on the warmth of Cotswold stone...  I dont believe in coicidences..    
Like many people I have a collection of stones from different places that have come with me from walks ..  as my shamanic practice deepens I am careful to ask them whether to take them,  & they often say no...  but I do wonder what paintings the stones that have come to live with me may give me,  several have intimated they would like me to work with them.  
So here is another facet of my work.  I have made my 1st entries here varied to show you that I work in a variety of ways ,  and on this lightest, longest day,  I look forward to continuing the different threads I have started as the year stretches on.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

And All The Rest

And All The Rest      is the title of this painting.  
(And this is underlined because I cant find any way of stopping it,  & believe me, I have tried everything...)
As you can see by the section I have enlarged, the girl who is reaching to the moon is dressed in a collage of consumer ads,  & her shadow is made up of objects too..
I don't know who she is but she waited in my sketchbook for a long time before being painted,  & I think she's a bit desperate,  reaching & reaching ...   
I don't want to speak for her,
What do you think ??

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Listen to the Earth..

I took this photo on a woodland walk in mid-Wales. Looking back at it today it speaks to me of the Earth , of the land we walk on every day, often so unaware that Mother Earth is always  - yes, always  - supporting us.  When I allow my shamanic practice to slow me down enough then I can know this more deeply. Then I give myself the chance to feel a bigger, slower, more ancient way of being..  
How slowly this root grew... what a great system its connected to...  what a different time-scale it inhabits ... and yet it seems to move,  to spell movement, to refer to other things...  a snake ?  a fluidity  like the sap somewhere within ?  ...
It reminds me of the practice of Chi Kung,  long slow movements with long slow breathing, which allow the flow of chi, the body's vital energy, to move more freely ...  and through this slowing down  I glimpse a more effective way of  my body being & being able to move, whether fast or slow,  and when I'm really in practice the glimpses join hands , and time spreads and there's more room in my life. 
So why do we lose that knowing, again & again ?  that's being human  -  but what matters is to keep allowing it to open our hearts again & again  -   
Listen!  its calling right now....    

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

you gotta start somewhere...

...and this is my 1st ever blogpost.. 
& I want to speak about  this painting which I did  a while ago after a shamanic journey ( more about that process below). 
 What I wanted to share was that I became the height of the grasses & met the Spirits who run through the grasses & flowers , up the trees & along the branches...   and where they run, beautiful plants grow from their footprints..  They took me running & dancing with them, & there was such joy & healing in their passing, & the interweaving energy spreading out from them..

My Spirit Teachers give me pictures to paint,  I also do journeys to ask for help & healing for people,  & I enjoy creating ceremonies for people , to mark a significant moment, perhaps, or as part of healing the energy of a place..

I'm blessed with living out here in a beautiful rural place, and the wisdom of the land,  the rocks, the trees, the sea,  the animal & bird life will inform all this..

I look forward to writing more about all these things,  and posting pictures of my artwork, which includes drawing,abstract pieces & installation work too..  

This is just a taster for what you may find on this Blog,  so come back soon....