Practice is a frame into which I pour my mind. It is a method of alignment, a point of orientation. My practice sessions have a score: I mark the edges, define the area of inquiry, lay out aspirations. Yet an equal measure of unguarded territory is necessary. A door must be left ajar for unexpected visitations. In every session, I reserve time for improvisation. Improvisation is where seeds of the best work are dropped. When expectation is abandoned and agendas are replaced with listening, waiting and attention, this is when beauty that I could not have planned emerges. (From Voicings from Underground; The Slow World p 60)
Sit. Sumi Circle. Sit. I remember the instruction from a Contemplative Art class I took fifteen years ago. Sitting motionless, eyes soft, feet on floor, and the blank, white paper, ink, brush. Pause. Lift arm-brush. Dip. Inscribe circle, unfurl line onto white space. I am revealed in the mark: a collapsed edge, unmet ends, a blob, a waver, a dwindling scratch. Everything is in the weight of hand meeting substrate through brush. This is marriage. Commit.
What is at stake, in this circle, in this line? My great success? My immanent failure? The voices yammer on, yet, almost imperceptibly, they also begin to recede. There is so much in that ragged little mark, the quavery and dented circle.Read More
This morning, I opened Orion Foxwood's book, The Faery Teachings* and found yet again that it is so often my conceptual orientation to language that erects barriers in my mind. The terms “Upper” “Middle” and “Lower” are frequently used to describe shamanic cosmologies. Yet Upper, Middle and Lower are–in my mind’s eye and sense–linear and remote, informed irrevocably byRead More
An intimacy I did not realize, accumulated over hours and days passed by, as I felt around for the missing piece–sometimes cursing, sometimes crying, sometimes in a quiet joy–listening for the right color or word. Will this wax fuse to this oil? Will this image bond with this substrate? Will I use acrylic and sacrifice the luminosity of wax or use wax and sacrifice the dexterity of acrylic? Each piece took days, weeks–most of them–months, to come together. I have not, do not count the hours spent. They take the time they require. And through this process the intimacy developed, unbeknownst me.Read More
As a child, like most children, I was not much interested in designating the differences between ‘real’ and ‘not real’, (not to mention that much of what was considered ‘real’ by the adults around me seemed positively distasteful). I longed to know, to validate and discover, to make real and to follow the beauty, mystery, and luminosity that emerged unexpectedly in glimpses, at moments when the motivation to avoid punishment receded or the teacher looked away. This longing did not loosen its grip on me.Read More
1000 Jupiters could fit inside of the Sun.
Last night I discovered the Edge of the Universe series on Netflix. I usually enjoy having my mind blown and oftentimes a good science documentary will do just that. Watching this one, I realized with awe and glee how absolutely inaccurate my roughly collaged concept of planet and star relations was.Read More
Walking on the levee
in a frozen
a white wolf
lips drawn like curtains
Two owls call
across the river,
sliding like a glacier
as Sappho’s silver hums in close
and arms of ocher fall away
between threads of milk and crystal.
About a mile and a half down the path from my attic rooms, (home since March) is Grey Matter Books, a maze of a used bookstore. I am feeling for threads, listening for the emergence of the voices that will guide fresh work, as winter descends upon the aftermath of my frenzied graduate studies.
The art section that I thought I was headed for is two rooms deep past multiple corridors of books, but I barely get past the register today.Read More
Being an effective reader is contingent upon the quality of presence with which one positions oneself in the constant stream of information and texts. That stream is wherever you are, all of the time, in every grand place, and in every suffering pit.
Above, the sky slides and folds upon itself. It is a mass of rolling cloud in a greenish-purple grey that at first appears opaque; still as a winter pond. I go to the bridge that yawns from one bank of the Connecticut to the other, extending out over the water; fading into November's cold melancholy blue. Beneath the bridge is sky, greenish-brown and thick with cloud that tumbles over and under; a looped film in sepia.Read More
Today, for the second time, my work table performed the miracle of resurrection. B brought me a giant wasp nest from a work site, (it is a thing I like to incorporate into pieces). I asked him if he was sure nothing lived within.Read More
The Tarot cards, particularly the 22 Trumps represent a number of familiar and potent archetypes: symbols of human experience that arise again and again across cultures: the old sage, the fool , the emperor-king, the mysterious priestess. The minor cards, otherwise known as ‘pips’ might be said to offer a symbolic view of ordinary human experiences over the course of a lifetime. By way of imagery and symbolism, the cards are a tool capable of drawing together the unconscious/mythologically-oriented mind and the reasoning mind.Read More
I do not know yet when I will die, or how or why, but I was invited, a number of years ago, to spell out the details of what might contribute to the picture of a good death. What do I wish to be done with my disrobed flesh? What grievances have I harbored that beg forgiveness? What resentments ask to be released? How shall I bequeath my possessions? How would I like to be remembered or celebrated? Three years slipped by, before I, on this November eve, sat down and wrote on the subject of my good death. The process, which I undertook in three 20-minute sessions of free-writing, was a reckoning with my mortality: an acknowledgement of the inevitable and a practical consideration of baggage – where, how and what I would like done with what is left of me when I leave. Such a basic and natural thing I don’t think should be left unconsidered on the principle of youth and good health. Because I do not know when death will take me.
Why is it said that in Autumn the veils grow thin? Its a folk truism: this is the best time to contact the disembodied. And here, in New England, I am watching the trembling leaves, I am eating sugar and fat, I am looking for my thick socks. I am preparing for a long journey. Or a long sleep.Read More
Shamans return to the world of the living with conscious knowledge of the inner realms.
Shamanic line drawings trace a path through ‘swaying places’ (trials and obstacles) marked by water, sand & clouds.
The Book of Symbols 430
Ascent origin = ascendere (latin) to climb, or freedom from weight. oft paired with descent. May signify the volatilizing of a solid / the spiritualizing of matter / making conscious unconscious projections. Integration of polarities: ladder, tree, stairs…in alchemy ascent must necessarily be followed by descent (shaman returns to body).Read More
I tend the dragon lair : the solar plexus, so that she will visit often. She, silver and moss-scaled with copper-plaited claws. I call and she rises like a strange burnished planet, with blue-gold fire that arcs like a comet. Up from subterranean caves, up from glistening stalactites and the reverberating voice of water, up from salt and emerald weeds. She rises, coiling and uncoiling again.
She unfurls her jade wings, twisting and roving with her serpent's neck: transparent, veined and scored with deep vermilion branches. She enters me. Fills me. Expands beyond me, rippling like ocean waves under a midnight sun. She casts herself in ten directions, radiating mist and heat. I expand with her. Rearing up, silver and moss and copper plates hung with emerald, flashing jade.
When I am shrinking, I call her. When I am fearful and overcome with shame, I summon her. I feel her rise within me and I move as she: swinging with seaweeds, scintillating, radiant, potent, head aloft like the crest of a sail, amber eyes gleaming with the wisdom of the ages.
By Mark Strand
Not the attendance of stones
nor the applauding wind,
shall let you know
you have arrived,
nor the sea that celebrates
nor the mountains,
nor the dying cities.
Nothing will tell you
where you are.
Each moment is a place
you've never been.Read More
Last week, on the Autumnal Equinox, I led this immersive installation as part of my final graduate presentation at Goddard College in Port Townsend, Washington.Read More
i walk the path between. to my left four lanes of traffic. traffic. traffic. sometimes it rushes. sometimes it is a black clot of oil. always it is impatient in its pursuit of destination. art is like a levee: on one side, this irritated flow of metal and mental, and the other:
the other side is ravens over cornstalks yellowing and an indigo sky full of storm.
at my feet is an exodus. an envoy from the mythic mind? there is satisfied beauty in the burnt umber wings with black bars, the domed head like the globe of a frog’s eye. they appear confused, made frantic perhaps by the mid-September heat or the crushed bodies of their allies nearby. many die on this humble bicycle road.
the envoy make their journey, adorned in colors that speak jungles and remind me that size is relative. they pull like a gauze veil, the empty, ominous, windy quietude of the wild lands behind them. they whispers, softly penetrating my racing mind.
As the March sun begins to set each evening, I go for a run on the local golf course near my Providence home. And each evening, a red fox arrows across my path. My heart erupts when I see her, feline/canine in this little island of wild. She is messenger; untamed, silent, horizontal, tail extended, moving across the landscape like an arrow.Read More