Sphinx Spirit calls to us from across the eons to put down our worldly desires and take up our true calling, our soul contract. Like the Phoenix she burns away all that doesn’t serve us and makes us see our own faults, she burns away the fetters that have been keeping us asleep. With her three riddles, answered correctly, she claims to free us but finding our true calling always requires a sacrifice, and the sacrifice usually means the death of something that has been keeping us from living in our truth. Archetypally, the Sphinx is the Guardian of the 9 gates of Ascension. Before we are permitted to go through a gate, she asks us the riddles. If we don’t answer correctly, we can get lost in our own fear and drama and get thrown back into the previous gate.
The riddles are hard to answer and the Sphinx will try to confuse us. She uses the conflict between our wounded inner masculine and inner feminine as a way to keep us from ascension. (The woman vs. The lion) It is not until we find harmony between the two and answer the riddle correctly that we can pass. When the Sphinx appears in our life, it is time to hold ourselves to account. What questions have we been afraid to ask ourselves? How have we been denying ourselves our birthright? How can we make better, healthier physical and spiritual choices every day, to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and toward our heart’s desire? and finally, how can we live in alignment with all that we cherish?
What makes YOUR heart sing? What is it that raises goosebumps of anticipation? What makes your heart pound with anticipation and joy? Go there but be prepared to learn about what you’re truly made of. For if that which we pursue comes from a pure, untarnished place, if we can resist the urge to let fear overtake us, the Universe promises us success.
In the Welsh epic, the Mabinogion, Rhiannon, a princess of the Otherworld, falls in love with a mortal king, Pwyll. She is betrothed to another, and so their relationship has many difficulties. Eventually, they end up together, but the difficulties don’t end. Rhiannon’s story is a tale of resilience, hardship, and forgiveness. She is most often portrayed riding a white horse, accompanied by three birds, whose song is said to lull the living into slumber and wake the spirits of the dead. Rhiannon is seen as someone who “walks between worlds”, a woman who can confidently switch between the light of the mortal world and the dark mysteries of the Otherworld, her light and shadow, finding healing in her darkness and bringing it into the light as forgiveness and grace. The horse is a symbol of freedom and wild abandon but at the same time is a beast of burden. Could this symbolize the balance between our own Divine Feminine and Masculine, something that every human needs within themselves to thrive? The wind in the lower part represents movement, divine intervention, and the vital spirit of the Universe, and the peonies are a symbol of forgiveness, for it is forgiveness to ourselves for our past mistakes and forgiveness for those who have harmed us that is essential for us to heal.
This night seems the season of everlasting night. How long has she been here? It feels like a lifetime. Was there a battle? She can’t remember, but her body aches as if there had been. There is no moon to light the way. Frost covers the landscape in a thin, cold shimmer of icy sharp shards. It’s dark, so dark that the tangle in front of her is almost imperceptible from the darkness of the sky. The only difference is the pinprick lights of the stars, glowing out of the midnight blue, that allow the twisted leafless branches to show an even blacker black against the eerie backdrop. No matter which direction she turns, it is only this.
Tangled limbs, bracken, and thorns obstruct her way forward. She doesn’t know which way to turn. Tears stream down her face. She is covered in dirt and her hair is a snarled mess of dead sticks and leaves. Her clothes are threadbare and torn, and her hands are scraped and dirty. Her ragged breath puffs clouds of steam in the chill air. She wants nothing more than to sleep.
And then through the gloom, Aífe hears a soft sound and feels a soft breeze on her cheek. A white owl swoops past, its wings almost grazing the top of her head. Rising wearily to her feet, she follows it with her gaze. It swoops and dips through the branches, but in a westerly direction and she staggers after it. Soon, she begins to smell the unmistakable pungent smell of smoke and can see a thin stream, rising grey through the dark sky above the treetops. The owl seems to be leading her, so she continues to follow. Beneath her feet, the ground becomes yielding and soft, and she hazards a glance down to see a thick sponge of moss lining an almost imperceptible path. A soft light glows through the still thick maze of trees, and finally, as she ducks to avoid a low-hanging branch, a cottage comes into view.
Its immaculate whitewashed walls seem to emanate light from the stars and it sports a tidy thatch roof, topped with a rabbit, the signature of its thatcher. Its traditional split door is painted a merry red, both halves closed against the chill of the night. Even the shuttered windows with their deep sills are painted red, and Aífe can see that flowers must have been planted in the red flower boxes that hang hopefully waiting for spring. But it is winter now, and chill. Nothing is in them but cold soil and a few scattered nasturtium seed heads.
The owl has come to perch on a curved piece of driftwood, sunk deep into the earth beside the front door. Handmade decorations of stone and shell, feathers and branches hang from the driftwood like wind chimes in the dark. The owl blinks its huge yellow eyes at her as if taking her measure. Aífe stands shuffling her feet, unsure if she should approach, wary of strangers, and struggling to make a decision but is made for her. The owl turns its head, hearing a sound she can’t, and the door slowly opens on ancient hinges in need of oil. A face as old as the world greets Aífe with a raised eyebrow and a knowing smile.
Something about her is familiar and tickles Aífe’s memory, a story told by her grandmothers across a dimly lit kitchen or perhaps in the dark around a campfire, of the old woman of winter, An Cailleach, and suddenly Aífe is certain that this is who stands before her.
The woman has long, white, wavy hair, which cascades loosely over her bony shoulders, which are draped in a light blue and cream plaid shawl. Her skin is so pale, it almost appears blue, and one eye is a foggy greyish-green like the sea in the spring, the other, clear and bright. Her wizened hands are covered in snaking veins and accentuated by bird-thin bones. One grips a smooth walking stick made of a twisted piece of yew, its’ top a big natural knot worn smooth and gleaming over decades, and the other clutches a lamp which she now holds up, all the better to see. As the light shifts across her face she seems to change: ancient, mature, then youthful then back to old. She smiles a kind smile, and beckons Aífe forward, inviting her in with a wave of her hand. Aífe has to duck to enter but the old woman does not, her slight frame fits easily through the small opening. Inside the smell is winter: cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, with the scent of cooking food overlaying it all. The Cailleach, for indeed it is she, gestures for Aífe to sit at the long slab that serves as a table, and as if she was expecting her, takes down two beautiful blue stoneware bowls off a shelf. There is a large cast iron cauldron hanging by a hook over the open fire, and a rich stew filled with carrots and root vegetables bubbles merrily, making Aífe’s empty stomach churn in hunger. She goes to the stew and gives it a stir, tests it for flavor, and selects a jar from the rows of herbs lining the countertop. She pulls out a pinch, sprinkles it over the stew, and tastes it again. This time, satisfied, she dishes up both bowls and sits down to eat.
Uneasy with such silence between people, Aífe hesitates, unused to eating without the customary chatter of family. But the Cailleach seems to read her mind and with another quiet smile begins to eat her soup. Aífe can’t think of a single thing to say, except a mumbled ‘Thank you”, and turns her attention to her own bowl. It is as delicious as it smells; the fresh vegetables and herbs need no other accompaniment. With her belly now full, and her body finally warm, her eyelids begin to droop and blink. The merry crackle of the fire seems to be telling her to take her leave and find her own bed, but she has no idea where to go. Still, after a few mumbled words of gratitude, she stands to leave. Words still do not seem appropriate or necessary, but she offers the old woman her hand in gratitude. She rises and follows Aífe to the door, where outside, the owl waits patiently on its perch.
Once outside she slips her feet into some soft boots and steps out into the night. The owl launches itself into the air and disappears ahead, into the gloom.
Dumbfounded, Aífe follows. The dark only gets darker and she struggles to keep up. Despite the old woman’s age and small size, she moves easily through the bracken and interwoven branches. It seems as if they move aside to assist her, whereas Aífe’s hair keeps getting caught and the tree limbs themselves seem to be trying to hamper her way, catching at her clothes and limbs, tripping her up so that she falls to her knees again and again. It is all she can do just to keep the white of the Cailleach’s hair and the yellow glow of her lantern in her line of sight, for it is the only thing visible in the gloom. After what seems like hours, the old woman stops and finally, Aífe can catch up. New mud streaks her legs and her knees are raw from crawling under fallen trees and low branches. Dirt-stained tears streak her face from frustration and fear of being lost in this dark endless forest forever.
But there the Cailleach stands now, in a small clearing, the bracken worn down by circling feet. Beside her is a huge standing stone, its surface incised with spirals and swirls, starbursts, and slashes. Her face shows a glint of humor as she catches sight of Aífe, her mouth turned up slightly in a smirk. And then, turning to her right, she places a hand on the stone and begins to walk in a clockwise direction, muttering something quiet under her breath, her brow set in concentration, as if she’s trying very hard to hear something. She stops after the third spiral, closing her eyes for a moment. Turning to face Aífe, she begins to speak, as if in a trance.
“Lean mé tríd na coillte bhfostú, go dtí an taobh eile.
San imréitigh, gheobhaidh tú do chuid draíochta féin.
Ag trasnú ar ais go dtí an domhan atá ar eolas agat, lig do do chuid trioblóidí cur le do spiorad.”
A shudder ripples through her thin frame, and for a moment she seems to grow taller, brighter. Then she opens her eyes and she is once more a tiny, very old woman. She fixes Aífe with her twinkling blue eyes and a beatific smile cracks her wrinkled face. The foreign words ring in Aífe’s ears, and she feels a distinct hum of energy, a slight pulsing in the air between them.
When the Cailleach speaks again it is in English. Her voice is husky and low but somehow penetrating. “Don’t ye know lass, it’s been awhile since I’ve spoken to anyone but me’self. People of your land have forgotten me, and the language of the Gods is different than your own, still, what I said is this:
Follow me through the gnarly woods, to the other side.
In the clearing you will find, the magic that’s inside.
Crossing back to the world you know,
Plant those seeds and watch your spirit grow.
What have you learned from your struggles here in the dark forest? What can you share with others like yourself? What are the treasures you have found in the darkness? Those are the seeds you must plant.”
Once again she takes my hands in hers. She gives them a light squeeze and to my surprise plants a kiss on my forehead.
“Go find your true home now, my dear. It is waiting for you beyond your wildest dreams. What you long for also longs for you. Don’t disappoint it. You have struggled and fought for your entire life. There is no need. Fight for only that which is truly you, and home will be on the other side.” She gives Aífe a slight nudge on the shoulder as a signal to leave.
Aífe turns, afraid to face the dark forest again on her own, but then sees that the darkness has begun to lift and indeed she can see in the distance a faint glow of dawn on the horizon. With a deep breath and a shudder, she takes her first steps back into the maze but this time the briars and brambles seem to move for her as well. She still doesn’t know where she will find her home, but she knows that now she is going in the right direction. With every step, her fear dissolves, and soon she can feel the warmth of the sun on her face. Her heart swells with hope and somehow she knows that everything will be just fine.
~Tahirih Camelle Goffic, December 9, 2022
The Angels and the Furies ~ May Sarton
Have you not wounded yourself And battered those you love By sudden motions of evil, Black rage in the blood When the soul, premier danseur, Springs toward a murderous fall? The furies possess you.
Have you not surprised yourself Sometimes by sudden motions Or intimations of goodness, When the soul, premier danseur, Perfectly poised, Could shower blessings With a graceful turn of the head? The angels are there.
The angels, the furies Are never far away While we dance, we dance, Trying to keep a balance To be perfectly human (Not perfect, never perfect, Never an end to growth and peril), Able to bless and forgive Ourselves. This is what is asked of us.
It is light that matters, The light of understanding. Who has ever reached it Who has not met the furies again and again? Who has reached it without Those sudden acts of grace?
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 again.
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
“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.’”
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…
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,
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!
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 🙂
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.
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 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.
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
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.