Messages From the Muse

musea-entranceI started the Muse painting at the gathering at Musea Sophia in Sonoma in March. It was such a delightful experience for me to be at the in-person gathering with others on the Red Thread who were beginning the Color of Woman training. I was excited. The room was full of energy. It was a “now” moment to absorb as much of the 13-step process as possible. It was a time to feel my own insecurities, explore my own story and to be stirred in my passion for using creativity for transformation. My original word from the opening circle was “present.” Be present to the now, not the past, not waiting for the future (for when things change.)

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The time went by very quickly. I am used to taking the time I need to accomplish each step and this was an accelerated version to get the painting “done” in 2-3 days. I did work through all the steps, yet my painting was unresolved. I took it back to Colorado to flesh out things like symbols and illumination. I was inspired by the variation in the results of all the others there. We all got the same instruction and we each painted something totally different. That is one of the things that confirms that the process works. Each person goes on their own journey for insight and brings a unique expression of it into form.

Stepping through my process
My muse speaks to me within an inquiry about access to my own information and that of the Divine which wants to be revealed. It is an exploration into the hidden domains of my being. The muse empowers me to address each day’s part of the journey and to be able to use alchemical means to be proactive and ready for the unfolding.

Access
From what directions do I detect information coming to me?
Certainly from above or from God, my Divine Source. From my eyes as a primary source, from my ears, my hands, concepts to my mind that shape my thinking. But what about my heart as the main organ of perception? I think my contemplative outlook and practices help me to involve the heart to a greater extent than if I had a non-contemplative lifestyle. I am thankful that I am accustomed to listening within and pausing to notice things. I look forward to becoming much keener in listening as I continue on this deep-diving journey through Intentional Creativity.
Do I know how to decode the things my heart wants to show me? This is what the muse wants to teach me.

Visioning
In the first visioning the cosmos is my portal and spiral stardust is my path. There is an old retro stone building (perhaps made of individual rocks) and it is a studio. It is like a printmaking studio and I know I will work in there. It is clean and ready. Over the door is “Beloved are those who enter.” I enter a warm welcoming space with a smile. My name is called liltingly like Aunt Ida would, “Jenn-ni-fer!” I sit at a very small table for good coffee with cream with my muse. She has dark hair and and her eyes sparkle. She has been waiting for me and looks at me lovingly and at some point takes my hand. She has a resemblance to my friend, Juanita R. She wants to know how I am. I feel loved and that she really wants to hear me. She is dressed in layers and color and jewelry.

Intention
My intention arises and I write it on the canvas in charcoal:

“I hear you call my name and I am here to be known, and to discover what is mine to know.”

Portal
I chose 3 colors for the portal. Yellow, thinking the muse had a yellow jacket on in the visioning, then green and turquoise. One of the new friends I sat with at lunch said maybe my portal was a yellow rose. I hadn’t thought of it looking like that before, but the rose is a symbol that is significant to me.

Her simple form appears
I followed Shiloh’s demo of bringing the simple form with access lines and the iconic face, leaving space for other elements later. My idea is to follow her templates closely to learn them well before I launch out on my own brand of it or take on it. I pay close attention to what she is saying while she is doing the demo. I want to catch it all and absorb it so I am not hung up on getting it right, but just have it downloaded on the inside to work with naturally.

Time to journey. What are my own unique ways of knowing and access?

In this visioning I had an impression of energy flowing and swirling around me. There was a heightened awareness and response (even physically like the hair on the back of my neck standing up and the sides of my neck being brushed. I felt my heart swelling up, having an epiphany. There was a release or letting go intentionally or unintentionally. There was a sense of being loved, both a calming and a quickening.

These are the phrases that I think of about where I find access:
-Inner stories. Deep heart space and realizations that arise from this spacious realm which contains knowing from experience
-Spiritual access linked to clouds and sky and open spaces. Spaciousness of the daytime or nighttime sky which is a reminder of the greater mystery
-Holy Spirit guiding
-So much is happening that I detect, but can’t actually see with my physical eyes
-Listening
-A word or phrase, a sentence, a concept that I hear that strikes me, or that arises and occurs to me
-Reading those who speak to me in their writing
-Pausing—perhaps that’s where that space is created or at least noticed
-The space between 2 hearts (Richard Rohr talks about the space between the Trinity in their circle dance, the space where relationship happens) Maybe space is not all rest and pause and wait. Perhaps it requires a certain energy or contains a certain energy.
Perhaps it’s where the energy exchange takes place—the giving, the receiving, the witnessing, the little adjustments in the path. Perhaps it’s when the deep heart space connects to the really real. Perhaps there’s a space in the heart where there are realms of knowing from experiences contained there.
-Setting aside time for something like a creative practice or spiritual practice
-Showing up to the unknown in a small to a big way
-Even joining a group, signing up for a class or an event, and being all in—making space for it and for the people
-Noticing something, really noticing mindfully
-Prayer and listening
-Reminders like breathing, eating, drinking and physical metaphors
-Gardening, the physicality of it as well as all its metaphors
-Walking the labyrinth—unique each time for a different experience
-Places of wilderness, barrenness in my soul and in the season
-Rituals and experiential reflective stations
-Liturgies
-Symbols
-Colors
-Candles
-The dark rudimentary elements of earth and soil
-Nature in every way, mountains, ocean, trees
-Unexpected occurrences
-A connection with another person or group
-Seeing beauty
-Creating
-Seeing faithfulness or fulfillment after all

Source and Spirit uses every avenue I know of and ways I am not aware of, to connect me, to bring me back to knowing my own preciousness and my simple beingness.

What does this muse embrace?

  • The season
  • The wind (even the wind of change)
  • The present year of age
  • The body
  • The next step
  • Allowing something to happen-not controlling it
  • Inner knowing
  • Flexibility
  • Wherever the moment of sweetness is
  • Light when it breaks through
  • Warmth and its comfort and freedom
  • The buzz of bees that make the honey
  • The earth
  • The trees
  • Inner terrain to be explored
  • The mystery
  • This very moment

What does she want to say to me?
She tells me:

“Things are unlimited. You are unlimited. Keep going. Pause and be present to the space where things happen.”

After the long drive home to CO, I looked at my Muse anew to observe her. She seems to be looking more inwardly than outward. Perhaps there’s an equal focus, but it shifts from one to the other. She is very quiet, noticing, listening, contemplating—waiting for illumination.

I believe she is giving me more of a needed connection to the earth. Her golden rivers go through and over the top of the helmet/hive shape on her head. She wears a beehive full of honeycomb. (There is a pun here about a beehive hairdo. No need to take myself so seriously!) Honey is pouring on her head and face. There is sweetness to be noticed and to be had. There is spaciousness above her head suggesting greater realms to connect to.

Grandmothers appear to help her, along with written words that sink deep into her heart. In her heart is the rose of her own self opening up, and as a symbol of deep revelation happening.

I found that a couple of times I dreamed about paintings and Color of Women stuff. It is so on my mind. I think I dreamed the idea of walking through an alchemical forest. It was a powerful experience. It’s a place that is full of mystery and filtered light. When you come through to the other side change has happened. I wanted to include it in the Muse painting as a symbol of revelation, discovery and transformation.

She is surrounded by the alchemical forest. I wish I could make it (in paint) as powerful of a symbol of potentiality as I see it to be. It is a place you would gasp as you walk into, but soon you are seeing filtered light and following a path. The trunks of the trees have become paint brushes indicating the importance of the 13-step painting process in the alchemical transformation. They drip blue paint, a metaphor of bringing the past story into form.

Winding through the sacred triangles and circles of her earrings there is a line dropping down from her mind into the deep lake of unknowing. Or it could be that it is the lake of what she does know within, but doesn’t realize yet. She must bring inquiry to it. The question mark of inquiry is the hook on the end of the line lowering into the water.

She glows in sunset colors, but she has cool translucent gossamer bee wings. What will it take to lift her up so that she soars? This is almost a sad question for her, as though it is wishful thinking or wistful.

Releasing
One thing she is doing is releasing the house of disappointment and the dancing figure of longing. The wispy smoke rises from the house of disappointment and floats upward in a spiral, part of consciousness, but dissipating. The bare tree limbs reach into her heart as more of a reminder of her story than an active current pain.

Realization
Se has what she needs to feast on the sweetness of life that is all around her— and that comes to her as she dwells in the spaciousness of the places of access to her knowing and her Divine connection. She lives here instead of dwelling in the past hurt of broken relationships and what never happened and the losses She trusts that this journey into the alchemical forest is a special gift—a journey of transformation, even though it can be dark and mysterious and sometimes daunting.

 

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I give her the pen and she says:

There is a place of knowing that is part of you and part mystery. It needs to exist in the present for that is where true life happens. The past has shaped you, but it does not shape your future. You do. There is sweetness in this moment.—sweetness to experience, with your soul, your senses, and your mind as your brain is rewired. Have courage to walk through the alchemical forest, knowing there is a shift that will happen by the time you get through to the other side. And know it is not a one-time experience. It can happen over and over as you choose to enter. The path of inquiry will carry you to deeper understanding in all that is yours to know. You have teachers, guides, your collaborators and friends, and there are those you are yet to meet. There are bees busy in your bonnet. They are producing something sweet. Some sweet things come as ideas. Let go of the sadness so that your natural gift of equanimity can assist you in the things you think are too hard. You are designed to lift off the ground and see far distances. Your visioning of the big picture has been a gift in service to your community. You have more than one realm, though. You also deep dive into Source and sometimes dematerialize into spaciousness. You’ve wondered what is real your whole life and how these realms work. They all connect you to the Really Real. Do not grow weary. You need to pace yourself in a sustainable rhythm. Care for yourself so you can keep pace. Your sadness will be transformed as you move through. God is with you. Let yourself go and let the fear go. You are learning to walk with even more intention and focused purpose.

Upon further reflection
I’ve worked more on finishing her now (after months of being away from home while caring for my mom) and I’m ready to let her rest. I have some final reflections:

Most of the time the unseen world is the Really Real. Sometimes the outer world reflects it in a portion or in a metaphor or in a flash of insight or in a sensory impression. Emotion often cannot always be trusted, but can be followed to find the story attached to it. All of the ways of access provide what I need to know to move into more and more freedom. Freedom offers the choice to live from love—and the choice to receive love. I hope to partner with my unlimited Divine Source and my own wisdom to live freer and freer, to partner with my Beloveds in offering a process of access, and to joyfully continue this journey of bitter and sweet and choosing joy in the midst.

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Banner Ideas

Creating or defining my “essence” in language, color and image is a big assignment. This essence seems to be evolving or crystallizing all the time as I interact with doing my work through painting, writing, and just listening within. I find deeper and deeper resonance with the material and have epiphanies and feel that I am changing. Of course it’s hard to put that into succinct words or a single image that captures it. I expect this to be an on-going challenge as I prepare to make my offerings public.

Here are a couple of samples of ideas I am working with. I have purchased several domain names related to ideas about the Muse, the heart, and creative soul-tending, so I am ready to ease forward as I define and refine my thoughts.

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My Vision Statement

speed-globe-spaceIn thinking about a one-sentence statement describing the clear and inspirational long-term desired change resulting from my business and work, I think about how my piece fits into a larger picture. I am passionate about instigating and helping to facilitate personal transformation that ultimately impacts the healing and transformation of the world.
What I value working toward with my business is something that would be in conjunction with many others who also have a passion to see and help create a strong creative feminine giving rise to conscious choices for the good.

  • I want to continue to walk alongside people in areas of spiritual transformation involving experiential contemplative processes.
  • I want to help develop the practice and expression of creativity as an essential vehicle for transformation.
  • I believe that elevation of the understanding of the Feminine is necessary for bringing a mindset of love and community for the well-being of our planet.

I see my part in this desired change as combining creativity, spiritual formation, and interdependence through creating sacred contemplative experiential spaces and offerings in Intentional Creativity.

To amplify and personalize this in relation to my work with my Beloveds, my vision statement is:

producing and teaching creative explorations that are so transformative
that each participant is strengthened in the feminine and to
their connection with the Divine,
giving rise to conscious choices that affect the world for good.

Philosophy of Intentional Creativity

muse-ptg-class-cropIntentional Creativity is a step by step process which gives access to deep insight using inquiry, image, imagination, and mindfulness. This method leads to consciousness about our own experience and what story we might be bringing to each area of our life and over all. When there is exploration of the old story, opportunity arises for conscious choice about bringing a new story into form. This is a journey of intuitive painting, writing, and intentional inquiry. We can create to discover what we need to know.

By activating the right brain and left brain in service to the heart, we bring into form a part of who we are using symbol, color, line, and image. This results in a kind of message to self (and the viewer) that was not previously available to us. Bringing form— the creative act, becomes the vehicle of transformation as mindfulness infuses it with communication and invitation. The healing and restoration that can happen are powerful in reframing our concept of who we are and what we are here to do. This naturally leads to bringing that renewed self into service for the world.

Art truly becomes a healing tool when it is used intentionally to know oneself.

Alchemist – Soul Fire Painting

I watched the Soul Fire Sessions video series to inform my Alchemist painting. I found it to be a dynamic series of rituals which I could enter into to connect with myself and my “mission.” I built my substrate out of birch 2’ x 4’ plywood with a frame support on the back. I gessoed and sanded it (just like I did for the Talisman painting) in preparation for painting. I liked creating my and tending my own painting surface.

After the first few steps I brought her into view with a large brush, not lifting it up, and drawing as freely as I could. I do like the continuous line look like Shiloh is able to do. I wanted to keep it organic and raw without confining it. I usually struggle with this as my graphic designer self steps in to perfect and tighten things. This time I wanted to find freedom in working through the steps without that perfectionistic attitude.

I had a conversation with my muse after the glazing step. I asked her, “How can I become more free? How can I free you?”
“You are free in the flames in your mind. Be free in your body. Get up and move freely. Anywhere you don’t feel free while moving, you need freedom.”

What story am I still running that I need to get rid of?

  • that I can’t teach as freely as I want and express myself verbally as easy as I want to
  • that I can’t paint as freely as I need to to be effective (and not be a poser)
  • that my content doesn’t come easily
  • that my creative ideas don’t show up for the painting

I released these fears and insecurities and reaffirmed: “I will make this my own. I will find my way.” I shed these layers of comparison, insecurity, and resistance to risk. I acknowledged as I added dots on the painting, “I have my own content and information and I can access it, and moreover, the world needs it!”

Her symbols continue to come forward. She holds a bowl, a container of Soul Fire. The vine growing from her mouth suggests her words are life-giving. There is cosmos in her belly area where a baby is forming. The new life is connected to her Soul Fire. The pendulum clock speaks of there being enough time, even though I might think I am too old, too tired. She wears roses near her heart. She is illuminated by the sun and moon together in the cosmos. Her hair is formed in braids, but still wild and flowing. Her signet ring speaks of ruby red royalty. There is an eye in her heart area. Her energy is stirred. Her sparks are released.

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What she says to me:

If you keep the flame within you hidden inside, it is likely to burn you up. When it is offered, it provides warmth, light, passion, inspiration, invitation and ignition to those around it. It could be dangerous, but you are not burned by it when it is in its container. It is in the vessel shaped to hold it where it can be held carefully for its intended use.

You tend to always be looking forward— looking out ahead, longing for whatever. But now, make sure you are looking through your Soul Fire so as to stay focused and to sharpen the image of what you are seeing. Your soul fire is a lens to look through for planning, for setting parameters, for visioning.

You are still roses and you know what they represent in beauty, sweetness, unfolding and so on. Wear the roses at all times (figuratively), and sometimes literally on the outside.

There is a void in you, but this means there is space for containment of something. The mystery of the cosmos and Divine mystery reside within. There is a pregnancy also, something growing in its proper time. Make ready. Tend and nurture. It is held and surrounded by fire.

The signet is your special dedication to your own sovereign work in the world. The work makes way for the Soul Fire to be shared. It opens doors. Your Soul Fire is yours, yet your Soul Fire can spark others to realize and live from their own. Your speech will be life-giving as your voice deepens.

You want to fly through the cosmos (and dance on the astral plane), but you will need to keep your footing here so that you walk both planes. Contemplation will help you to be rightly aligned with God, your Source, your creator and sustainer and guide, and to earth where you reside in body. The eye of your heart is centered and open. A pure heart is necessary to walk this path. There will not be understanding or agreement from everyone, even with those you have been close to, but you will have a tribe and a few special ones for encouragement and collaboration.

Go with God. Don’t abandon your first love. Think about and be curious about what’s growing inside. When its time is right it will be birthed into action—each one as it comes, because there will be others, too.

She is very brightly colored, wild, and possibly scary, though she is really just intent and has a steady surety in the face and eyes. She is quite different than I expected. She is a bit untamed. But that is a good thing.

My Creative Bio

sm-jen-cam-smJennifer Herrick received a BFA degree in fine art from the University of Georgia. Her area of expertise was photographic design, primarily in black and white and hand processes. This was a slow and mindful analog version of photography which she delighted in. Subsequently she studied intaglio printmaking at the University of Wisconsin. She taught university level photography in CA and has been a creative on staff with several non-profit organizations. Since 1995 she has had her own business in print graphics, web design, and photography in the Denver, CO area where she resides.

She had a large show of her photography in 2012 based on abstractions of graffiti and vignettes of small town Americana. Among her influences are the abstract expressionist painters, DaDaists, surrealist and symbolist artists, and the medium of collage. She is attracted to imagery that has multiple levels of meaning with an eye toward the spiritual. She creates in mixed media, photography and acrylic painting.

As a contemplative she uses the creative process in conjunction with practices of spiritual formation to discover and express insight. For over 10 years she has created and curated experiential reflective sacred spaces for groups. She also facilitates art workshops and classes with intentional healing focus in a format she has developed, called Art Lab.

She is in training to be a teacher of Intentional Creativity. This is another form of serving and facilitating that focuses in on what she believes in and wants to be doing: being a divine connector and facilitator of transformation. She invites people to explore their inner life, and creates a space for them to practice expressing themselves which creatively allows for their unique experience to unfold. This is a process of personal transformation which spirals out to bring healing and change to the world.

Artist Painting and Message

The Talisman
I am called to move beyond where I’ve been and into my next state of being.
My intention for my canvas:

“I want to journey to my next step of awareness and freedom and to deepen my connection with my internal compass.”

Each of the nine key and doorways in the process of this painting and journaling journey are different. I’ll highlight a few. The first key given to me through visualization is much bigger than a normal key. It is to a much bigger space in which to work, to serve, to lead and to cause and create change and healing.

  • I’m no longer willing to be ashamed of being me, being myself, different, gifted, quiet, opinionated, smart, spiritually inclined.
  • I am no longer willing to be intimidated into giving up what matters to me.
  • I awaken to the “I can” part of me- able to dream, vision, and make it happen.

With the third key and visualization I am calling my creations, my personal work, my beloveds and my communities into my present realm of vision.

tal-symbols1My three symbols of early wounding are now transformed with revelation that my story is made useful:

  1. Where being ashamed of being me has been true in the past, I now throw open the blinds and shutters to let the light shine out. I am unashamed that you see me.
  2. I am not confused by life and circumstances, but clearly see with my heart and process all through love.
  3. Whereas I often couldn’t breathe and felt fear and rejection, I now appreciate breathing into the moments as they come. I may have a respiratory weakness, but I am not weak. Life and beauty are being brought forth. I am nurtured by the energy of Divine flow that breathes into me.

I embrace the self of the past and listen to the critic’s story about it:
“You set yourself on a course of protection and defense through withdrawal and not being receptive, and not being expressive with your body or your words. You missed so much, you lost so much. You became like the ugly parts of your dad.”

But now something else needs to happen, so I turn and declare,

“I am no longer willing to lose expression and connection. Thank you for trying to protect and guard me, but now I will be aware and present to myself and others.” I am in concert with the Divine and am heard and witnessed. I declare that “I am unlocking the receiving and expressing what I need to in the moment.”

paisley-wingeyeWho am I? I am a being that has piercing eyes who knows what her name really is. Her creative paisley winged eye is viewing things from a possibility perspective in a non-linear way. She has epiphanies and creation bursting forth with flourish.

Meaning of some of the symbols
Paisley seems to represent exotic beauty and pattern, but more. I found that paisley is significant as it represents the totality of life within a teardrop.It has Persian or Indian origins as a floral element, signifying a time of harvest, and all of what is necessary to bring something into being. Fertility, creation and abundance are represented in an entire plant from seed to root to blossom within their shape which is essentially a spiral. It is also an ancient Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity. The bent cedar shape is a sign of strength and resistance, but with modesty.

The symbol to remind me that I can access the world between the worlds anytime is a monkey. It is a personal symbol to me as I was fond of monkeys as a child and even wanted to have a chimp as a pet. I found that the monkey symbol can mean playful, mischievous, agile, honor, community, authority, laughter, happiness, jokester, liveliness. monkeyThere are spiritual messages of wisdom, intensity, and contribution. It has understanding, bonding, and compassion. It also reminds me not to forget that entertainment and playfulness make the soul sing. The monkey speaks of using our ingenuity to solve both our problems and the follies of others. That the journey through life is not a solitary one.

The at sign, “@“, in other languages means “monkey’s tail.” I found references to South African, Dutch, German, and Polish. I put this monkey tail “@“ symbol in the middle of the seeing heart at the bottom of the painting. Within that sign is also a shining sun.

My archetypal self goes with me into my future life and no longer am I allowing woundedness to stop me, but I am living the legend. I can practice feeling embodied and integrated so that Life can take on a different quality and be an adventure.

Receiving a message from the Talisman

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She Guides Me Through Deep Waters and Into Other Worlds

I’m almost afraid to sit back and look into her eyes. They are penetrating. She may want more from me than I am expecting. As I look into the eyes and heart of the painting, she says,

“When you look into my eyes what you hear is ‘You know. You know. You know. And you know that more is coming. You’ve just scratched the surface. You can choose to dive into the current and find yourself and find your way. Don’t worry about the beloveds. Dive deep. It becomes clearer—and you really can breathe underwater. Do you see me struggling? No. You will flourish. You will have so much more revelation and be surprised by what you see. You will have so much to offer others as you learn to swim in the flow for longer periods of time. Keep your heart pure. Listen to the Spirit. That’s where life and comfort, guidance and healing come from. What you have been through will just help you connect with the struggles of others. You are moving out of being held back by shame and fear of disapproval and failure. You have what it takes to meet the challenges of health and disappointment and grief if you stay on your path. (It would help if you would exercise more and sleep more!) You need to be strong. You are going to make a difference especially in those areas you care so much about. Pray into these and listen for answers and images to help light the way. You are a transforming being. Use your keys. Take joy.”

The Talisman painting is the most potent one for me so far. I have completed the Alchemist/Soulfire painting and several others since, but this remains one that I will look at and look to for a long time.

Vision Plan

Dreams and visions in 8 folding panels

What is my sacred work in the world?
What form will the expression of my own unique voice take?
How will it attend to the great need that I see in the world?

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These are important questions, but not ones that are usually part of any sort of business plan. This bottom line has more to do with calling than with finances. Calling does not automatically unfold without fear, though. The fear that has followed me around and eats away at my self worth is the fear of being shamed and invalidated. It wants to hold me back from my calling. If I want to feel that I matter and my unique work in this world is needed, I will have to tap into something real that’s been with me from the beginning, the things that are important to me, and the things that light me up.

I believe three things dear to me are creativity, connection, and mystery. I enjoyed spending time coloring or doing any art-related activities as a child. I liked the natural world and learning about science. I loved my animals. Though I spent a lot of time alone, I also enjoyed sports and friends. By the ninth grade I was creating things (crafts) and leading others in creating projects to sell as fundraisers. I designed a winning homecoming parade float in high school. In college I took art and eventually majored in photographic design. After graduating I wanted to use my skills in outreach for something that had purpose. I had experienced finding a spiritual path that made so much difference for me, and I wanted to be involved in helping others grow in the same way through a Divine connection. These are some pieces of my story that reflect who I am.

I am one who creates, curates and facilitates Beauty as invitation to dance with Mystery, the Divine, and true self. Beauty heals, art heals, inquiry enlightens, and the right and left brain connect to the heart, creating capacity for making choices to move forward from a heart of love. This ultimately fosters transformation that reaches outward. I intentionally featured or included a heart on each page of the plan to declare that love must be at the center of all I do each step of the way.

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Medicine Basket Red Thread Session

–A long story about the joy and pain of collaborating, and a very hot time…

 Where are my Beloveds?
While still away from home and staying with my mom in GA, it has been a little daunting thinking about where the Beloveds are going to come from to start filling workshops I could offer. I am committed to trying to stay on schedule with COW training, so I wanted to get a few people together for a practice session with Medicine Basket or House of the Heart. I looked at several local venues and inquired about renting or using a room for a workshop. I thought about the people I know here locally and am connected to on Facebook primarily. I wondered if someone would be willing to host something for me.

There was an art opening I wanted to go to to possibly connect with some art people to see more of what was happening, too. I asked a friend I thought might be interested to ride together. She said “yes.” I happened to meet her for the fist time only last fall at a church office. She was with a friend pricing items for a garage sale and I was inquiring about walking the labyrinth on their property. In conversation we connected over the desire for racial reconciliation and healing for this community. We corresponded a few times, and when I arrived in town after a severe tornado ripped through the neighborhood around her church, I went out there to consult on how they might repair and restore the labyrinth.

med-b-wrists-smSince then some things have happened in totally unexpected ways to connect me to new folks down here. None are previous friends from high school or college. I am developing a new circle of like-minded individuals who are interested in the arts and justice issues, and some are more interested than others in a spiritual path. The friend from the church labyrinth was the original connector to all the others since my arrival here late spring.

She introduced me to some folks at the art opening and on the way home made a call to connect me on the spot with another friend. Four of us went out for a delightful evening which started with dinner and ended back at my mom’s place with me sharing my Talisman painting and the I.C. training and my hopes. Their interest was really piqued.

Possibilities
One of the friends shares such a similar vision to mine to bring healing through creativity, as well as community development, and we started getting together regularly to see how we could collaborate. She set up individual lunches with several people to introduce the idea of some kind of artists teaching co-op. She wants to involve all the voices in the community. She has a couple of properties with potential for gatherings. One is a vacant house she owns that has a large sunroom with lots of lovely natural light and looks out onto grounds and a pool. It’s a beautiful location. The other is a somewhat dingy downtown storefront building with an upstairs apartment that was formerly used as an artist’s studio. It even has a painted graffiti mural still on one wall.

She is the one who eventually invited about 10 people to come to an art workshop/red thread session with me. We decided the house would be where we would hold it. We agreed on the price being $25/person for this introductory gathering. I originally wanted to have only 4 people since it was practice for me and then I could see what changes I wanted to make before offering to a larger group and setting a higher price. I compromised since she was hosting and doing the inviting personally to select the people she wanted to bring in.

However, making it happen wasn’t without effort! In order to get the room ready, my husband and I helped a few days before to mop the floor, scrub walls, and clean tables and chairs that had been stored, etc. I’m thankful he was here this past week! My friend and her helper worked additional days giving attention to the bathroom (even re-installing a sink), trimming shrubs and cleaning the pool. Our collaboration has brought new energy to her vision to use the property for teaching, art, groups and therapies. I love how the energy is going back and forth!

I created a quick flier to attach to email invitations.medicine-basket2
Workshop day
When the day of the workshop came, I got there a couple of hours early to set up all the supplies and create my altar with the Medicine Basket display. I got my music ready and speaker placed, thanks to my husband remembering a cord in the car which could work for a speaker cord. He also helped me get the tables set up, find some extra chairs and clean them, and cut some flowers from outside for me to put in a vase.

It was a very hot muggy day in south GA—the kind of weather which zaps my energy and distracts from anything but staying cool. I had prepared throughly and spent many days writing up notes, making lists, gathering what would be needed and trying to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I was a bit nervous as I didn’t know most of the people who would be participating. I like to set up early to have time for settling, focusing, and being totally ready to welcome people. After an hour of setup I was overheated, completely wet with sweat and irritated. I sent my husband on as he had done what he could. The cooling system was not getting this part of the house comfortable and I couldn’t imagine leading a workshop here in an hour. If you knew me, you would know this was very discouraging. Hospitality is important to me within the space I’m preparing for people to enter. It needs to be part of the invitation to engagement with what the day is about. Also, my host was delayed an hour meeting us for setup, but she did have time to run back to her house for a fan and some other supplies, which helped.

We set out the drinks and snacks in a side room for people to access at any time and just before 2 p.m. the first participant arrived. Then a group of people arrived at the same time. I noticed a man with them. I assumed he was just dropping off his wife, but it turned out he was going to stay to participate! We didn’t know the final count and had set up places for six with an extra table to pull in for the host to use after the Red Thread circle. Neither of us knew if we would have enough spots now if everyone else came. We invited them to all sit in the circle where we would begin. I started reviewing content in my mind to see if it was going to be appropriate for the mixed group we now had! Here I am now trusting my Source to lead the way. The total of those gathered was seven plus me.

Red Thread Ceremony
rthread-smAfter introductions I was glad I was starting with a centering exercise to become grounded, aware, and present. Everyone was quiet and collected. Then I picked up the Red Thread and began to talk about the meanings and legends. I noticed the woman sitting next to me was from India and I figured she knew a lot more about it from her culture than I did! I offered an inquiry to relate to the Medicine Basket and to share about what might be holding you back from using your gifts and offering all that you are and all that you bring. I started to set the example about using only a word or two. Before she shared her answer she shared how the red thread is used in her culture and spiritual tradition. I was thankful she did. Each person shared around the circle while wrapping their wrist with the Red Thread. The man was last and said he didn’t know what might be holding him back. He would think about it. I thanked him and took the ball of thread from him, thinking, “uh oh.” (However, he did his painting along with the group and entered in to the rest of the chances to share.) I shared about only being responsible for your piece of the Red Thread. We sent the scissors around and helped to tie the thread on each others’ wrists.

Medicine Basket
I led the visioning to find the Medicine Basket. Each person around the circle shared one thing they bring in their basket. One part I added to the original workshop guide was to share the objects I had placed in the basket on the altar and asked a question with each. For example: a hammer-do you build with what you have available?, a bunch of basil—do you add the needed flavor or healing?, gauze and tape—do you bind up the broken?, trowel—do you shovel through the b.s. around you?, etc.

up-front-smWe then moved chairs to the tables which were set with the 22×30 watercolor paper, water, a paper plate, a couple of brushes, pencils, and chocolate for each participant. Someone said they were excited. The host and I pulled in the extra table and set it. I would be up front with the easel. The group took a few minutes to write about the items they discovered from the visioning. Then we were off with the painting part. They chose a couple of colors to squeeze onto their plate/pallet. First I had them write their intention for the day on the paper and then they watched as I demoed spraying the paper with water and blessing with hands. I painted a simple basket shape. I emphasized they had the freedom to style theirs the way they wanted to. They did. It was fun to see the different colors and shapes.

IMG_5290Through the steps of journaling and turning their words or symbols into affirmations to collage, etc., I watched to see if most people were about done to move on to the next step. It flowed pretty smoothly, A few people asked for instructions to be repeated, but no one needed help in brainstorming the affirmations or over-arching statement.

A woman came in after we had done the Red Thread Circle and the visioning for the items in the basket and we were starting to paint. She didn’t join in the painting, but listened and sort of drew a bit on the plain paper. She ended up talking to the host over snacks in the other room, but left after a while. I think she felt too intrusive having come in so late. I wish she could have jumped in, but hope she at least is someone to connect with for the future. This is the kind of thing that can’t be predicted or controlled, but instead I need to trust it was okay for all.

med-b-art-smWe finished in time for a good round of sharing about the paintings and affirmations, taking photos, cleaning up the brushes and visiting a little. I was so happy the timing worked out for all I had planned for the 3 hours. My host reminded people to pay before they left.

We were hoping to have more of a casual time for everyone to visit a little more afterward, but people needed to get going. So the two of us sat down to chill, have a glass of wine and talk about it. We felt really good about the workshop and how much everyone enjoyed it. Each person signed up for info on future workshops.

Responses:
“Thank you so much for the workshop you offered creating medicine baskets. Your ability to work with novice and accomplished artists simultaneously, creating a space for personal reflection, creativity and community was impressive. I enjoyed participating and especially liked the many layers that you incorporated into the workshop. Your presentation was well organized, and effectively led participants to experience self connection and to explore how one connects to the world bigger than one’s self. Thank you for sharing your gifts.” -B.G.

“I am pleased to let you know that I consider your workshop which I attended to be thoughtful and caring , and well designed.” -W.F.G.

IMG_5298Reflecting now a couple of days afterward I realize the content is more a part of me, whereas it felt before like it was more Shiloh’s content that I was assigned to practice, so I was a little nervous about the delivery and covering everything. I feel that way about more and more of the training material. It is settling into deeper places that I can share from.

Dream Theme Worksheet

journal-sm
I’m thankful for these assignments which cause me to make space for journaling and looking within. It’s hard to imagine formulating this information without them. My journal is just about full. I found another blank sketchbook on sale today so I am set for the rest of the vision quest. I started listing workshop topics a couple of months ago and  reviewed and added to them for this worksheet.

Overarching Themes

• The over-arching message I want to communicate in my workshops is:
Through Intentional Creativity we can listen to our inner voice of wisdom, connect our mind to our heart, connect to our Divine Source, and make choices about how we want to move ahead.

• The healing or transformation I want to see in the world is:
Each of us committed to our personal transformation so that we can work together in community on issues that affect us all.

• The issues I see in the world are:

-Inequality especially based on gender and race

-Fear-based extremism which polarizes and separates

-Disconnection from God/Creator/Source and a spiritual contemplative path

-Lack of understanding and care for the earth and environment



Specific Themes
• The different themes I can see connected to what I care about are:
-Connection with Source

-Connection with Self

-Connection with Others

-Connection with Earth

-Living with Purpose

-Living Consciously

• The workshop themes that correlate to that might be:
-Moments as Sacred Spaces: finding, creating, and living in Presence
-Hearing My Own Heart: the wisdom story keeper
-Women As Life-Givers
-Transitions: weathering difficult seasons
-Divine Touch: the part of God you need right now
-Being Free: a soulful journey through creative expression
-Shame is not My Name: unfolding a new story
-Empowered for Purpose: accessing your piece of the Red Thread
-Beauty Keeper: celebrating your part in the natural world
-Awake: walking consciously on your path

• The people that are my Beloveds are dealing with issues like:
-Not knowing their purpose

-Not having a voice

-Not taking time to explore and reflect

-Not expressing themselves

-Needing healing from past wounds that hold them back

-Feeling shame and lack of self-worth



Dream Theme
• If I could teach or cause anything it would be:
-A connection with the Divine and development of a spiritual path

-Empowerment for each to be who they were created to be

-Connection to others


Personal Theme
• If I was known as a teacher, I would love to be known for or remembered for:
Creating environments where Beauty is experienced, where connection to self and the Divine are facilitated, where healing happens, and where creativity is used as a vehicle for transformation.