Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising ~ 16” x 20” oil on canvas $850.00 Copyright 2021, Tahirih Goffic (paper and canvas prints available. Send me a comment if you’re interested. )

I wish I could write like this, but she says it better than I ever could. Sometimes life burns you to ashes, and sometimes it’s the best thing that could ever happen…this painting came to me when my world as I knew it completely quit making sense. Suddenly everything I thought was true turned upside down…I’m on fire…and dancing (sometimes crying) in the flames.

Girl on Fire ~ poem by Jeanette Leblanc (www.jeanetteleblanc.com)

there is a girl

she knows exactly how to rise again.

she is wise, and wary of flames, but still, she knows
she will survive the fire…life scorches sometimes.
she has been a phoenix before and every time
she burns to ashes

she carries destruction, grief carved river deep in her bones
specializes in wrecking ball, knows how to bring the whole thing down
surveys the broken, claims it as wholeness
and names it all good.
she knows well the holy necessity of beginning again.

she has gone mad for beauty
found rapture in shadows, calls poetry her religion
she seduces uncertainty like a dominatrix
bows to no god, names herself goddess
builds alters to the divinity of heat and sweat and sex
and claims righteous ownership of the body she has been given.

she once held her truth in bone marrow,
locked deep.

but she was always prone to fracture
learned that words flowed best at the broken spots
she wrote splinter point novellas, told shatter stories
knit words into worlds, and worlds into heat, and heat into breath
and breath into medicine, and she learned her voice
had the power to heal.

she lives transparent now
welcomes the feel of air on bare skin
throws arms wide, holds out her heart
and says here, take this, all of it…
she figured early that far too much energy
is invested in veiling truth
in hiding bodies
in cloaking love
she refuses to cultivate shame
she saves her effort for vital things.

she knows that love is expensive
and always worth the price
she knows home is not where she lives
but something inside held and sometimes only found by leaving
she knows that walls are imaginary and that open doors are everywhere
and that eventually we will all make our way back to the sea
back to the crashing waves back to salt water truth

she does not believe in one day
no happily ever after or black and white hard truths
her forever is now
she finds her rapture in the fullness of this moment
humanity is her only dogma, kindness her communion
and church a mountain top

in the center of the desert while the city pulses below
she speaks amen in every holy fragment of existence.

she always knew she’d have daughters, knew she would mother them well.
she teaches them the value of their outside voice, their no voice, their yes voice
their my entire being is a temple voice
she teaches them that their spirit is truth
and their truth is strength
and their strength is vulnerability, and their vulnerability is a gift.
she knows too many girls are broken before they become
she has done battle in the name of rebirth
carries her scars with fierce grace
she finds beauty in the breakdown and wholeness in the shatter
strength in the fault lines and goodness in everything.

she is not afraid to name her gifts
knows the magic in her words, knows the spiral in her hips
she has a vital spark at the center of her longing
she has secrets behind her eyes, and will share them with anyone who asks
but she only wants those who commit to asking.

she knows that compromise is for vocations
and that spirit is non-negotiable
she accepts no labels or limits
build her a box and she will dismantle it carefully
use the pieces to create a stage and sing her own wild song
knows there is a power in the melody we carry in our bones.

She knows the lotus blooms in mud
she knows the phoenix goes down in flames
she knows the rapture of lust and the escape of captivity
she knows the center of the paradox is where the truth is found.

she is full of sky, full of starshine, full of goddess flame
bleeds words, speaks truth, welcomes it all, howls at the moon
she is a girl on fire

she is stoking the flames, she is lighting the world, she is burning to ashes

And always she is rising

And rising

And rising again.

-Jeanette LeBlanc

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. Joseph Campbell

Inner Wild

Inner Wild ~ 4ft by 6ft, oil on stretched canvas SOLD

“Some days, I’m more wolf than woman and I’m still learning how to stop apologizing for my wild” ~Nikita Gill

By about the age of the girl in the painting, our inner child is gone for good. Especially girls, are told to be quiet, be polite, you’re too wild, settle down, be nice, get good grades, don’t get dirty, quit messing things up, don’t be opinionated, don’t be too hard, don’t be too soft, don’t be too loud. Don’t dress like that, don’t make them look at you, don’t invite trouble….

Do you remember, if you’re a woman, the first time your parents made you put a shirt on? I do. I was so mad! It was really hot outside, and my best friend (a boy) and I were running around shirtless in the yard, playing, making mud pies, having a grand old time without a care in the world. I was about 8. And then my dad hollered at me to come put on a shirt. I was so confused! Why did I have to put on a shirt? I never had to wear one before! Why didn’t my friend? I was angry. It was just not fair. And from then on, the gulf between being a girl and being a boy widened. I was never allowed to run around naked again.

I am wild. Wild Woman. “When women hear those words, an old, old memory is stirred and brought back to life. The memory is our absolute, undeniable, and irrevocable kinship with the wild feminine, a relationship which may become ghostly from neglect, buried from over domestication, outlawed by the surrounding culture, or no longer understood anymore. We may have forgotten her names, we may not answer when she calls ours, but in our bones we know her, we yearn toward her; we know she belongs to us and we to her. There are times when we experience her, even if only fleetingly, and it makes us mad with wanting to continue.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves

Strangely enough, I had not read Women Who Run With Wolves…I had forgotten that the book even existed when I first sketched the picture. Since then, I’ve had countless people ask if that’s where it’s from, but it’s not…

Except really, it is.

My psyche was picking up on the same energy that I’m sure prompted Clarissa to write her book. I’m sure that this painting came to remind me that these were my people, that I was wild…not the woman who I had been striving to be…ambitious, driven, successful. That woman was exhausted, angry, resentful, tired of trying to fit into a box that squeezed too tightly: mother, wife, business owner. I was a definite people pleaser, a perfectionist, terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing, and I desperately avoided any type of confrontation unless it was in defense of someone else. The only shred of my true identity that I had left was “artist”. I have clung so tightly to her for my whole life, even though I’d been using her in the name of ambition, and she was finally reminding me who I really was. I knew after these last few paintings that there was no way that I could go back to painting bears and landscapes for tourists. I could no longer silence my authentic voice which was raging to be heard. I could no longer “be quiet”, shove my emotions, silence my truth.

I have since read the book, as it felt suddenly quite timely…

I had arrived at “…there is a time to reveal your incisors, your powerful ability to defend territory, to say ‘This far and no farther, the buck stops here, and hold onto your hat, I’ve got something to say, this is definitely going to change.’”

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes on rage and creation in Women Who Run with the Wolves, p. 363

I feel like the girl in the painting knows exactly who she is. She knows the pack are her people. She’s chosen them, and they’ve chosen her. But it’s not an easy path, following your wild. It’s not acceptable in our patriarchy where women’s gifts are squashed and silenced. So she is barefoot in the snow, and the forest is thick, misty and undefinable, hard to navigate. She holds a stuffed hare, last link to childhood or a symbol of her intuition? I’m not sure why the hare needed to be there, only that it did. My husband thought that it made the painting cliche, and too “sweet”, but I argued that it wouldn’t have been shown to me if it wasn’t meant to be there.

Again, since reading “Women Who Run with Wolves”, I discovered that oftentimes in myths, the heroine has a toy doll, or stuffed animal that she consults for advice, and that it is a symbol for her intuition…and it is said that Boudicca, the warrior Queen of the Celts, carried a hare in her dress that foretold if she would be victorious…so I’m glad that I kept the hare.

Strangely, the week that I started the painting, I saw wolves three times. The first was a pack that was howling in the woods above me on the hiking trail, so my dog and I made haste away from them. The second was across the river. I had gone for a walk and had just sat down, when on the other side of the river, a black wolf and a white wolf emerged, and sat down on the opposite bank and looked at me for awhile, before moving on down the riverbank. It was such an amazing experience! And the third time that week, on my way home from discussing my painting with a friend, a black wolf ran across the road in front of my car.

I’ve lived here twenty five years, and have only seen wolves one other time, over twenty years ago…

The Madness of Mis #2

The Madness of Mis ~ original oil on cradled panel 24″ diameter

So here’s the painting that emerged from the sketch in my previous post.

I’d been super busy ignoring all the physical signs of burnout. I’d started practicing yoga, and meditating every day, getting up super early, just to fit it in…I’d convinced myself that everything was fine, that it would get better if I just made me better. On the outside, my life was great. Sweet husband, awesome kids, successful business…it looked pretty perfect. So I thought it was my fault. I just needed to learn how to cope and I thought yoga and meditation would help. But the reality was that life was getting hard. I worked between 12 and 15 hours a day. On my days “off”, I forced myself to paint, because that’s my passion, and I started having trouble sleeping. I was having panic attacks in my sleep, and horrible nightmares. I ended up in the emergency room with crazy heart stuff. And then the Wild Woman showed up.

She will unravel you. She will strip away everything that doesn’t serve you and throw your own shit in your face. She is all about getting real, about truth, tears, rage, blood…all of the things. She won’t let you settle for less than who you were born to be. She won’t let you make lame excuses anymore. She won’t put up with anyone standing in your way. Everything you thought was real will be torn to shreds until you are naked and vulnerable, standing in your truth. Like her sister, the Full Moon behind her, she will force you to look into the deepest, darkest parts of yourself, to find the gold that is hidden there What have you been ignoring?

Sharon Blackie has a few incredibly insightful things to say about the Wild Women Archetype: ” … Mis is the original wild woman, that archetypal madwoman who lives deep within each of us. She speaks for us all: for the rage which we cannot express, for the grief which eats our heart out, for the voices we have suppressed out of fear. This old story shows us a brutal descent into darkness during which all illusions are stripped away and old belief systems evaporate, and in doing so it suggests that the extremities of madness or mental breakdown, with their prolonged, out-of-control descent into the unknown, might offer us a path through which we can come to terms with the truth. Like other legendary geilta (the Irish word for madwomen) Mis is driven to extremity in her grief, shape-shifting into bird form, flying away into the hills and woods, growing fur and feathers, eating wild and raw food, leaving the intolerable world behind her. But a geilt cannot emerge from her madness and come back to the world until she has achieved some kind of personal transformation. Through her ordeal – her removal from society and her time spent in the wilderness – she must find a way to reclaim a more authentic sense of identity and belonging. She finds it with the help of a man; she finds it in the union of the masculine and feminine.” She also has an amazing retelling of Mis’ story over here: https://sharonblackie.net/the-wild-woman-in-irish-myth/

I highly recommend it.

“You thought you were calling a wild woman, something beautiful — a goddess with sex-tossed hair and skin that glowed like the moon.

But you called La Loba. You called Baba Yaga. You called Kali Ma. You called Inanna. You called Pele. You called Hecate. You called the Crone.

You called the Dark Goddess to you.

She is the One who walks with sword and flame. Her face and hands are stained with blood and dirt. The earth shakes when she moves. The ocean swells.

You thought she would set you free. You thought she would give you power. You thought she would help you find something of yourself you lost.

Perhaps you did not know that first she would turn you to ash. First she would have to destroy everything that you think you are.

And when she arrives, most who called her forth will run away in fear, they will take back their prayers and wish they had never seen her face.

Only a few will stop, turn towards her, and in that secret place of their heart, whisper,

“Take me.” ”

~Sevapreet Hesser

#wildwomanart#irishmythology#archetypalart#visionaryart#themadnessofmis#goddessart#darkgoddess#oilpainting#nude#darkangel#portraiture

The Madness of Mis

Around 1947, renowned psychologist Carl Jung, defined a series of archetypes which represent the universal, inborn modes of people, behaviors, or personalities that play a role in influencing human behaviour. He had extensively studied the myths of many different cultures and came to understand that our ancestral roots and mythologies have a huge impact on the collective unconscious, which manifests in images with intense emotional meaning that express the relational primacy of human life. Even in modern times, these particular archetypes come up time and again, in our movies, our art, our books, and our own personalities.

Since starting to work from my imagination, or from the images that seem to be being presented to me, because it doesn’t feel like my imagination, I’m starting to understand that they definitely seem to be stemming from these archetypes and their timing is relevant to certain things that may be alive in me when they’re presented.

This image presented itself about a week ago…I’d been experiencing such a low time…HUGE menopausal mood swings, huge doubt about the path my life was on, intense brain fog, and a real inability to process stress. I was crying over everything, happy or sad, and was almost unable to work. In short, I felt like her. This picture of a crazy woman with sticks and leaves in her tangled hair, face stained from crying, covered in dirt and fur, raven’s feathers sprouting from her back followed me around for days. And then I read Sharon Blackie’s post, The Wild Woman in Irish Myth, https://sharonblackie.net/the-wild-woman-in-irish-myth/, and I realized, this was her. This was Mis. MIND BLOWN! The synchronicity of it was too much to be coincidental and I started to piece together the puzzle pieces between our own internal images, and how they can help us process trauma, work with our shadow for healing, and just deal with stress in everyday situations. This might just turn into an Art Therapy Project!

Danu

Danu ~ 24" x 30" oil on gallery wrap
Copyright Tahirih Goffic, 2021
Danu ~ 24″x 30″ oil on gallery wrap
Copyright Tahirih Goffic, 2021

After hanging this on the wall at my cafe, a friend asked, “Who is She?” I honestly had no answer for him. I wasn’t sure. She was just there, in my head, and I hadn’t put much thought into the who. So I sat down later that week and meditated on the question. I got this:

I am Danu, Mother of the Gods,

I am wild mother Nature,

I am your Creativity and Magic,

I am your Intuition and Wisdom,

I am Water and Wind,

Fertility and Death.

I was here at the beginning and I’ll be here at the end.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book “Big Magic”, talks about the possibility of ideas being their own “disembodied, energetic, life form…completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us.” She believes that the only way they can be “made manifest in the world, is thorough collaboration with a human partner…therefore, ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners.”

When it comes to this particular painting, I believe that must be true, because she was suddenly there, fully painted, in my mind. I wasn’t wondering what to paint or looking for ideas…she just presented herself. This has not been my typical way of working. I usually work from a photograph, and I would rarely paint something unless I was fairly sure that it would sell. I told myself that at least I was painting subject matter that I loved, and I’d at least change the lighting or layout, to make it my own, or look more creative. But more and more often I’ve been feeling that I’m missing the point, that something truly authentic wants to come through, and I’m finding this a lot less satisfying.

I had decided when I was only 6, that I would be an artist when I grew up, and I spent my days drawing fantastical images out of my imagination; of pegasus and dragons, unicorns, knights and princesses. But then one day, when I was still quite young, probably 15 or so, a relative paid me $100 to draw a portrait of his children. I realized that I could make money with it, and sadly, ever since then, my sole purpose has been to make a living with my art. It began as a possible escape from poverty, and then turned into a possible escape from the daily grind of working a 9-5 job.

At last, I don’t feel the need to make money from my art. I’m not so concerned if it sells right away or not. The cafe is fulfilling enough, and brings enough income in that I don’t feel that huge need for escape, and my mind is free. I’m letting go of a lot of blocks and fear, meditating and spending huge amount of time in nature. Finally, the messages are getting through 🙂

Fire in the Mountains

Fire in the Mountains 9″ x 12″ oil on canvas $200

One of the most striking features of the Bella Coola Valley, where I live, are the mountains. They soar up to as much as 9,000 feet surrounding us in a narrow valley only about  1.5 km wide at the most. (Correct me if I’m wrong, locals!!) On the valley floor it seems next to impossible to capture the magnificence of their high peaks, and I’m not one of those brave enough to scale their massive heights. I’m more of a day hiker! But the son of a friend of mine is one of those brave kids, whose Instagram is drool worthy. He graciously allowed me to use his photo. Check out his beautiful photos and adventures at @jortuck… 

This one is fresh off the easel and finally dry. Most days, my art making routine is very similar.  I first pull myself an Americano, light an incense, put on some weird Viking music from The Last Kingdom or Vikings, and then lay out my paint. I use a limited palette of Gamblin oils, usually titanium white, cad yellow light, cad yellow medium, cad red, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna (cuz I’m too lazy to mix browns and it greys down the blue nicely for mountain colours) and titanium white. I use brushes from Rosemary and Company, their set called Alla Prima. They have the BEST brushes. I then stain my canvas with a thin wash of burnt sienna, build a value map, and start laying in color.

This piece is for sale as part of the  Covid #ArtistsSupportPledge. We artists will put up works for $200 or less, and once we make $1,000.00, we pledge to buy a piece from another artist for $200 or less. I’m happy to say, I made my $1,000 and was able to purchase a piece from Dana Statham, an artist friend from Vancouver Island, who I actually met in Kenmare, Ireland! But that’s another story entirely. Make sure to go to and check out her beautiful paintings as well.

Cycles and Creativity

I’m grateful for this incredible Valley where I’m luck enough to live. This is from one of my daily nature walks.

Finally, the New Moon is here! It feels like the difficult time I had in May is over. A new cycle has begun. I’ve never really considered myself a New Agey person, although I’ve always been extra intuitive, have dreams that come true years later and I’m super sensitive to subtle energy shifts in people around me. For years I’ve struggled with being overflowing with happiness and energy for half the month, but then suddenly lacking energy, focus, and creativity, sometimes to the point of illness. In my twenties, doctors suggested that I was “borderline bi-polar” and I struggled with chronic depression. Finally, I started to journal and keep track of when this was happening.

I’m grateful for the peace and serenity here, and for that big, black dog, Captain, who forces me to get outside, even if I’m being lazy.

I thought a lot about cycles, how we’re really just animals living on this planet where every other living thing is influenced by the cycles. First I tracked the obvious, my own monthly cycles and researched about hormonal changes over the course of ovulation, etc…and things started falling into place. But then, I realized that my own monthly cycles were synced up more or less with the cycles of the moon, which led me to more and more research. To the point where I can now almost guess what sign the moon is in, and if it’s almost full or almost new, or if it’s gone void, without even looking, just by my emotional state. It’s liberating. I don’t feel damaged anymore, just human. A perfectly human animal, in sync with this amazing planet and it’s heavenly bodies. Does that make me woo-woo? New Agey? Or really, can we somehow all begin to accept that we are a part of something so much bigger, that we’re not separate from, but with which our lives are inextricably entwined.

I’m eternally grateful that the Creator gifted me with
my two amazing children…this is my eldest, Jacob. He’s so handsome!!

The New Moon is about setting intentions and letting go of what doesn’t serve you from the previous moon cycle. My intentions for this cycle are to get out of my own way. To stop being afraid of showing people who I am, through my art, or my business or otherwise.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson

…and my very own Faerie Queen, Rhiannon. She glows like this all on her own, and is definitely one of the Fae folk.

I hope that what I write and paint will inspire people to shine their own light, write down their thoughts and feelings, paint some pictures. I hope that we can all begin to see what a gift nature has given us, honour hers and our cycles, and nurture it and nurture each other. I’m so grateful to her, I’m so grateful for us. I’m grateful for the pause that the horror which is Corona-virus has given us all, at the same time as I’m heart-sickeningly worried for the people that it is hurting, either with the illness, or with financial instability, or their inability to escape violent parents or spouses. We’ve been shown our vulnerability. We’ve been shown our shadow.

May you all be happy, healthy and safe.

Help me pick a name!!

Help give me a name!!

I created this little guy as a request from one of my Etsy shop customers, but I can’t think of a name for him! I’m going to add him to the shop soon as a physical print, and I’m in the process of setting up a new section where you can buy my cute watercolour animals as an instant download. You’ll be able to print them yourself and don’t have to spend time sitting around waiting for mail to arrive! You can follow my shop here for updates.

A Little Sunshine for a Rainy Day

A Little Sunshine for a Rainy Day. 5″ x 7″ oil on panel $75 each or $200 for all three

It’s raining. Not just drips and drops…torrents. I’m feeling restless and antsy this month. Tied down and trapped. I want to travel and see new things and be inspired. I’m sick of corona-virus. At first I was happy for the extra time away from having to work for a living, to actually create, but the longer this strangeness goes on, the more I’m sick of myself and my moods, my indecision and my lack of ability to commit to any one thing artistically. My brain is everywhere now and I can’t decide if I want to paint mountains, or animals, or flowers, or my daughter…watercolour, oils, plein-air, still life…so here I sit. I’ve spent all day trying to learn how to build an online presence, how to promote my work.  I’ve ignored these things because I had to work.  Now I have the time, but my brain hurts from information overload. My butt hurts from sitting all day! I really haven’t gotten very far,  and all I really want to do is paint. All of the advice out there says to be real, to connect with others and be vulnerable, pick a theme and stick to it. Vulnerability and decisiveness…neither are my strong point. I was inadvertently taught to be invisible. To be quiet and not bother people with my problems. I was a bullied, shy and timid kid. The only way I knew how to get the attention I wanted was to shut up, make pretty pictures,  and learn how to do everything myself.

I don’t think many people know how many hours and days artists sit at the computer, tearing their hair instead of painting. It’s certainly not all romance and fairy tales. And I’m not usually a grumpy person!

April was blissful. Endless stretches of time off. Spring exploding around me everywhere, off the charts summer temperatures. I got outside and painted, I painted still lifes if the weather was bad, I took a course with Dennis Perrin. I planted a garden for the first time in years. It’s been productive and meaningful. But May hit me with a ton of bricks. I’m all over the map. Everything that I thought I knew last month seems to be flipped on its head. I wonder if it’s the collective consciousness, or the fact that a whole bunch of planets went into retrograde this month? Whatever it is, it seems like a lot of people, especially creatives, are feeling this way.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m so grateful for so many things: a supportive and wonderful spouse, brilliant and loving kids, a home in the country with hardly any restrictions due to corona-virus. I live in the wilderness enveloped by beauty with bears and wildlife at my doorstep, surrounded by waterfalls and mountains. I walk in the woods every day. These are definitely first world problems I’m dealing with! And I know that I’m my own worst enemy.

Marie Forleo, a fantastic business and life coach I have followed in the past says that “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” I’m finding this to be so true. As soon as I actually commit to a course of action, and absorb myself in it, all of the confusion goes away. Even writing this blog post has helped. How’s that for a dose of ‘vulnerability’. And yesterday, needing a little kick in the butt, I decided to do the “Paint a bunch of Sunflowers” Daily Paintworks Challenge.  So I painted these three little guys. They’re only 5″ x 7″ oil on panel and canvas board, respectively, but will easily pop into any little photo frame if you take out the glass. I’m only asking $75 CAD each or $200 for all three, and shipping is free.

I hope you all are finding some resolution and joy in these strange times, and that you’re all safe and well.

Is anyone else out there feeling like this? I’d love to hear from you!

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn ~ 6″ x 6″ oil on hardwood panel

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn, the epitome of woman, the bombshell…she always supported women and celebrated their successes. She’s been a favorite of mine to paint, and this is my second little painting of her. I’m playing with thick paint again in this one, which makes it a bit more difficult to scan. As usual, it looks better in real life! This painting goes up for auction at 12 am CST, at https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/1046367