Change- The Painting

Last summer, I had a reading from a very gifted Tarot reader named Marcy at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.  She explained that if one wants positive change in one’s life, one must break the old patterns and do something new.  Anything new.  To paraphrase– If you always eat a ham sandwich for lunch, eat something different.  It doesn’t matter if it’s tuna fish or pastrami on rye.  Just try something different.

I’ve used the analogy before of sledding down a snow-covered mountain.  We are so used to doing things one way, seeing the world one way, and responding in one way.  Like a sled going down the same well-worn path, we go down the same path with friends, co-workers, & our significant others.  Even though this path no longer suits us, it’s hard to break free.  But consider this, by lifting the sled out of the rut, even slightly, a new path will automatically be taken.  All it takes is a slight adjustment.

Change: a mixed media piece on canvas.

I’m making a real effort to do that in all aspects of my life, including my art.  Change, a mixed media piece on canvas, exemplifies that for me.  My previous work is known for bold blocks of color or pattern and solid outlines, usually black. With Change, I’m loosening up and allowing greater energy and movement in the piece.  Who knows, this energy and movement could translate into something wonderful in my life.  It’s worth a try!

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The Ultimate To-Do List

1.  Listen to my heart more & my brain less.

2.  Give myself unconditional love & acceptance.

3.  Say “Yes!” to the Universe.

Say Yes to the Universe

Say Yes to the Universe

Kundalini Rising

It started as a dream.  No, it started with an escalating restlessness, an adult version of “growing pains”; then came the dream…

I went up to the counter to buy a snake.  The salesperson grabbed a large one, as wide around as my forearm & shoved it into a white plastic shopping bag.  This took considerable effort as the snake coiled tightly around her arm, struggling against its confinement.  I reluctantly took it & held the bag against my body as I walked to the car, the entire time thinking, “I just wanted a cute little garden variety snake, why am I bringing home this 6-8 foot long powerhouse that could strangle me or even eat my dogs?!  They scare the hell out of me.  Why am I doing this?”  I felt both the weight of that snake as I walked & it’s restless movement inside.

I set the bag on the passenger car seat and stood there staring at it in amazement; the bag wasn’t even tied shut!  I could see the snake’s head, the size of my open palm only narrower.  Again, the doubts banged around in my brain like a ball in an old-fashioned pinball game.  “I don’t have a tank and I wouldn’t want to give it a life trapped in a tank anyway.  Snakes should be free to slither & roam.  I don’t want to confine it.  What am I thinking?”

As it writhed & heaved inside the bag, I decided the only thing to do was take it back to the store.  Quickly, I snatched the open top of the bag, holding it at arm’s length away as I ran.  As I handed the bag back to the salesperson, the snake lunged out of the bag with all its power.  It stayed stiff the way my arm would if I pushed it out straight from my body, parallel to the ground.  Here was the snake, half out of the bag– straight & strong– and half coiled in the bag, ready to push out at any moment.

I pushed the bag forward, in a way trying to contain the snake & trap it inside.  It didn’t work.  I knew then that this was not something to play with.  Holding this snake humbled me.  I should not have this if I don’t know how to take care of it & dare I say, “control” it.  I felt remorseful because I know I take very good care of animals.  I just didn’t think I could manage this.

I’ve been studying the work of Robert Moss, founder of Active Dreaming, and he suggests giving a dream a title upon waking, for the title is often a clue as to its meaning.  I woke with the words “Kundalini Rising” in my head.  I know what kundalini energy is (Shakti energy, the divine source of all energy, the Holy Spirit within) and I know the snake is a symbol of it.  But what is “kundalini rising”?  The term was vaguely familiar but I had to do a little research.

When interpreting a dream,various meanings may come to mind but you’ll know when it’s the true meaning by the way it stirs your soul.  Honestly, it will just feel right.  The description on kundalinicare.com resonated deeply within me.  “… some form of sensitivity and yearning and a talent or quality that stands out to some degree.  Such an individual is more aware of the subtle aspects of life and is unsatisfied enough to seek more from life.  This may develop into an intense longing that urges the individual to find purpose, meaning, and spiritual life, if they are not unduly distracted into less satisfying temporary substitutes in the mean time.”

At this stage in my life, I recognize what’s happening.  I am going through growing pains of a sort. I can either rebel against it, fighting change every step of the way (a technique I’ve tried with immense failure over the years) or I can honor it & go with the flow.  Change is inevitable.  In fact, I desire change right now so I need to embrace it.  And more importantly, not get distracted by trivial concerns.  Be still.  Listen.  And worst of all… BE PATIENT.

These feelings and the accompanying messages in my dreams & awake life signal a time of important growth.  The snake represents my energy and as my boyfriend pointed out, even though I tried to contain it, the snake got out.  Kundalini energy was released.  This is a true calling.  When dreams like this occur or when you experience coincidences (which are, by the way, NOT an accident but synchronicity at work), you must honor them and work with what’s happening as its for your highest good anyway.  Notice I say “you” but actually mean “me”, too.  I’m learning all of this by trial and error.

I’ve finally learned that an important aspect of profound change is saying “Yes” to new opportunities as they arise.  We may know we are on a path but none of us can predict exactly where that path may lead.  It’s our job to stay open to possibilities and accept whatever happens as necessary for our individual evolution.

 

Portrait of an Artist

This piece is dedicated to artists, songwriters, poets, & all others who create from a deep place within their soul.  

For, I believe, creation is a sacred act performed in collaboration with the Divine force that inspires & co-creates with us.  

I hope you see yourself in this portrait.

 

I enter the passageway, regal yet humble, confident yet scared- bare feet purposefully connecting to the cool rock beneath them.  Moss cushions one footstep while jagged rocks poke savagely at the next.  No right or wrong… just being.

There is drumming but no drummer.  The heartbeat of the earth itself.  The heartbeat of this cavernous temple.

Long skirt, bare arms- warm there, cool here.  I continue to be pulled in deeper & deeper.  The drumbeat-heartbeat echoes in my ears, pounding in my brain until thoughts are blessedly mute.  There’s just the pounding rhythm.

Small torches give life to shadows that dance on the walls.  Spirits are here.  I am the priestess, the High Priestess, of this temple, standing in the power of connecting and belonging.  A larger light beckons from deeper within.  I walk up to the shallow copper bowl on its pedestal, coals glowing inside.  Such heat blows the hair back from my face, drying my lips & eyes.  I shut them both & raise my hands to either side of the bowl, moving them first closer to the heat then into the coolness before settling comfortably in the warm middle space.

I peer down into the embers, where more spirits dance.  Such power- an energy that dances in me, too.  What is the message?  “This cannot be rushed.  Demands & impatience have no place here.  Look & listen.”

I genuflect, hands before my face, palms pressed together in prayer position.  I touch them to my core- a place of right action, my heart- right emotion, my throat- right communication, between my eyes- right thought, and the crown of my head- right connection.  This sets the intention for sacred work to take place.

Drumbeat-heartbeat no longer a sound, now a feeling.

One knee senses the small pebbles beneath, grounding me to this place and time.  When ready, I rise and bow to the fire- giver of life, destroyer, and transformer.  I proceed to the dark recess where torch and ember cannot reach.

Wetness… bare feet slip on rocks and hands slide along slick walls.  I smell the dampness that blankets my skin and fills my nostrils.  I drink with every breath.

I notice the small pots on the stony ledge and pick one up.  It’s half full of russet paint, the color of dried blood.  I push my finger into the warm thickness then streak the bridge of my nose and under each eye.  I hold space for a still moment before I take that pot to the place where dark meets light and magic takes place.  I dip a crude brush into the paint then hover above the place on the wall where I want to put the image.  Wait.  Keep waiting as long as I’m thinking “I want.  I want.”  When “I want” becomes “thy will”, place the brush on the rock and let it move.  It will be what it will be.

Back- long and strong, around the haunches- muscular and determined, shoulders- curved and coiled for action, neck- supporting the regal head, and face- alive and knowing.  What else?  I wait for it to come.  If nothing comes, I stop for stopping is all I can do.  This is a collaborative piece that I can never own or dare to take credit for.  My body, like my brush, is a channel.

I stand in the silence… feeling the blood course through my veins and pound in my ears.  All the pounding- my heartbeat, the drumbeat, and the animal spirits stampeding on the wall.  I know this is all for now and I am at peace.  I return the bowl to its place on the dark shelf and I return to the light beyond the embers and the torchlight to the fiery radiance of the sun.

Sensory overload as macaws scream, monkeys screech, insects rub legs and wings, birds chirp, and the waterfall roars.  I cover my ears with my hands.  Too much to take in.  Too many objects… too many sounds… too many scents vying for attention, rushing me all at once.  I long to return to the cave, that place far removed yet more deeply connected to all that is.

This, too, is my world.  Men feeding elephants.  Women feeding babies.  I take from the cave and bring to the village as a gift.  I take from the village and bring to the cave as a gift.  All of life committed to being an offering.  An expression of gratitude for the light and the darkness, the noise and the silence… gratitude for all that is.

Heaven on Earth is a Choice

“Heaven on Earth is a choice we must make,

not a place we must find.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Choices.  We’ve each made a million of them.  Some choices are inconsequential… tuna fish or ham for lunch?  Some affect us deeply, leading us either closer to our authentic selves or further away.  Even something as monumental as recognizing heaven on earth is a choice… a shift in perspective… a change in attitude.  What this means is that it’s in our power to choose.  It’s in our power to see heaven on earth, not a select few of us who belong to a specific religion but each & every one of us.

To get the meaning of those words to stream out of my head & flow down into my heart & bubble in my soul takes something more than acknowledging that this logically makes sense.  It takes a decision.  It takes saying, “I choose to focus on other things.  I choose to let go of what isn’t mine to fix or change.  I choose to put my energy into things that bring balance, peace, love, & joy into my life in greater quantities than ever before.”  For you see, when I fill my mind with worry & my days with negativity, I have no space for the positive.  There is no way to see heaven on earth when I’m worried about people & experiences that can cast dark shadows over my life, IF I LET THEM.

Before it sounds like I’m oversimplifying this, I know we all go through dark nights of the soul, genuine times in our lives when tragedy strikes a loved one or ourselves.  We’d love to blink our eyes or click our heels together like Dorothy Gale & escape.  Sometimes, the only way to get through a challenging period is to just get through it.  I was in the room when my father was dying, holding his hand & literally feeling him cross over.  I’ve experienced divorce.  I’ve lost sleep over a stressful job.  I recognize that it’s not easy & that change doesn’t necessarily happen over night.  However, the only way to move upward or outward is to first make the choice to get up, dust yourself off,  & do it.  See that things can be different.  See that you aren’t stuck.  See that while you might not be in heaven on earth, it still exists & you can get there from here.

Decide to make a decision.  Choose to make a choice. 

 

Restoring Balance

I need creation to balance destruction.  I need nurturing to balance power.  I need love to balance hatred & intolerance.  

How do I find balance when bombarded with information & technology every waking moment?  I quiet myself & dive ever deeper into my spiritual practice to bring to the surface valuable pearls of wisdom from wherever I can find them– native traditions, poetry, art, mainstream religions, & most importantly right now, goddess faiths– beliefs that enhances my spiritual life with the sole purpose of making my entire existence more spiritual.  I don’t cling to the past; I make it relevant in my present.

As I drove to Alexandria VA on Saturday for an art date with my sister, I listened to Sally Kempton’s audio CD titled Shakti Meditations.  On the first of 4 CDs, she explores such topics as the feminine face of spirit, the power of the goddesses, & experiencing goddess energies.  While Kempton’s CD focuses on Indian deities, I consider all those I’ve studied from around the world– Yemaya, Lakshmi, Arianrhod, Brighid, Diana, & Oshun, to name a few.  I’m not called to worship them, per se, but I feel called to honor them as symbols of the attributes women possess at various stages of life.  I study them to better understand myself.

For example, I’m going through a rather long period of “nesting”.  I’m tending my home as if preparing for something sensed but yet not seen on the horizon.  Like Hestia, I’m keeping the hearth fire burning as well as the flame within myself, as I’ve described in a previous post.

There are moments when I embody the compassion of Kuan Yin, the passion of Pele, the love of Aphrodite, & the intellect of Athena.  I’m a creator– painting canvases, experimenting with a new recipe for dinner, & designing flower beds that will bloom in the spring.  I’m a nurturing mother figure– caring for my dogs every minute of every day, nourishing Jim with a hearty Irish stew on a frigid winter evening, & supporting women through my sacred work.  I’m a warrior– standing up for myself in situations where I must, speaking up for those whose voice goes unheard, & protecting what matters most to me.

From all this study & meditation, I have come to believe with all my being that truth, beauty, & wisdom can be found anywhere, if we look with openness of heart, mind, & soul.  And when I say “everywhere”, I mean outside of ourselves & within ourselves.  Or, to put it another way, Rumi wrote, “I looked in temples, churches, & mosques.  But I found the divine within my heart.”

Recognizing the divine within myself restores much needed balance.  It’s not about the job, the possessions, & the little dramas playing out around me; my spiritual practice (yes, it’s always PRACTICE) acknowledges the divine spark in each of us & the sacredness of the world around me.  And it’s that understanding that brings peace, allows creation, & infuses my life with light & love.

New Painting: Divine Light

The up side to all of this snow & ice is plenty of time to stay inside where it’s warm & create new art.  This acrylic painting is symbolic of the Divine Light that is in each of us…. I deliberately kept her faceless so we could each see ourselves in her image.

Divine Light:  It flows through each of us & radiates from us.

Divine Light: It flows through each of us & radiates from us.

Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan to see this painting & my other work.

 

 

 

Sacred Smudge Sticks

Like people, each plant has a purpose.  Some provide nourishment, while others offer shelter or have healing properties.  In addition to its use as a culinary herb, Sage is known for protecting one’s environment & healing the energetic field (aura) of the person who uses it.  Some even call it the “Spirit Caller”.   For early Egyptians it promoted fertility & for the Celts, it represented immortality.  At 47, I have no desire for either of those!  Instead, I focus on this aromatic plant’s ability to banish evil & unwanted influences, create sacred space, heal, & inspire wisdom.

I use smudge sticks of Sage (sometimes combined with juniper or cedar) for a variety of reasons, most often, to bless my home.  I light the stick & use an owl feather to direct the scented smoke to the corners of each room.  As I walk in awareness, I say a special blessing for this space to be full of light, laughter, love, & warmth.  I also pray that my family & friends feel welcomed, nurtured, & loved when they enter my home.  Other times, I use sage to prepare for meditation or to dispel the negativity that can follow me home at the end of the day.  I imagine the day’s stress floating on the smoke & eventually disappearing.

Sage 2

As the chance of frost threatens my herb garden, I decided to harvest the varieties of sage to make smudge sticks for my friends. Before I cut the silver green leaves from their woody stems, I said a prayer of gratitude.  Once my basket was full, I brought the sage inside & selected 7 different colors of embroidery floss, representing the chakras, to wrap my sage into bundles.  I grasped a handful of sage, cut the stems evenly across the bottom, & secured them with the floss.   I set the intention that each smudge stick will bring healing & wisdom to the person who uses it.  There is exactly enough sage for the 7 major chakras.  Perfect!  I hope they enjoy the smudge sticks as much as I enjoyed making them.

I Succeeded Because I Tried

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”

Elbert Hubbard

IMG_0658 (2)

Last weekend, I debuted my new business venture Pure You: Awaken Your Authentic Self at the New Visions Celebration of Life Expo in York PA.  This popular holistic health expo attracts everyone from reflexologists to Reiki masters as well as vendors selling products including crystals, jewelry, essential oils, & books.  It was the perfect place to share the philosophy of Pure You & the services I offer.

I’ve often described the idea of birthing a new idea to birthing a baby.  A mother doesn’t give birth expecting a child to come out fully formed as a veterinarian or fashion designer; she knows it’s a baby who will develop as it grows.  Ideas are exactly the same.  They, too, evolve over time.  I kept that in my mind as I set up my booth, arranging the banner, business cards, & flyers promoting my upcoming workshop “Light in the Darkness:  How Dreams Illuminate Your Soul”.

I’m not going to mislead you.  Putting myself out there in a new way was scary.  There were feelings of vulnerability, a fear of acceptance, & moments of self-doubt.  All I could do was reject the negativity & stand in the knowledge that no matter how Pure You was received, at least I had the guts to try.  I had the courage to make my dream a reality.  I know myself well enough to know that if I didn’t put my heart & soul into this venture, I’d have a lifetime of wondering “What if…” in addition to the understandable feeling of failure that results when I don’t even try.  That’s not my style.  I’ll always be a dreamer & I’ll always do my best to make my own dreams come true- being the hero in my own life story.

My best advice to any dreamer longing to make the dream a reality…Don’t let fear paralyze you.  So what if something you try doesn’t turn out the way you want?  By trying, you are opening the door of possibilities that remains forever closed to those who “settle” for what is.  Stand in your own power.  Be the co-creator of your life.  Success comes with trying.

Summer Solstice 2013

Where I sit is Holy,

Holy is the ground.

Forest, mountain, river,

Listen to the sound.

Great Spirit circle,

All around me.

                                                           Anonymous

Let the Sun Shine In

Let the Sun Shine In

There are two expectations I have for anyone participating in my workshops on the Divine Feminine, earth-centered spiritual beliefs, or self-awareness through intuitive arts–

1)  Approach everything with an open heart & an open mind

2)  Take what resonates with you & leave the rest.

(Within the next month, I’ll share how those two desires have formed my new venture called “Pure You- Awakening Your Authentic Self”.)

Summer is typically a time to celebrate our achievements both individually & as a culture (graduations, June weddings, Father’s Day, etc…).  We come together to recognize a lifetime of study through high school & college graduations, join in the joy of a new union represented in marriage, & pay respect to the fathers who have helped raise us, making us the people we are today.  In that way, we aren’t so different from people of ancient history who also saw this as a time to give thanks for their blessings & humbly acknowledge their failures in order to learn & move forward.  Summer Solstice is officially the beginning of the astronomical summer but it’s traditionally celebrated as midsummer because it’s the mid-point of the growing season & the pinnacle of daylight.

How did we honor Summer Solstice in days long ago?

Sacred, ancient sites around the world use the solstices as markers.  Stonehedge in England, the Angkor Wat temple/observatory in Cambodia, Mayan ruins, & what may be a sun temple in Israel where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered have stones or openings where the sun perfectly aligns during the Summer Solstice.  Taoists in China recognize the Summer Solstice as the birth of yin (the Divine Feminine), a time of bounty as the literal & figurative seeds we’ve planted come to fruition.

So how do we honor Summer Solstice now?

Contemporary cultures tend to replace ancient bonfire rituals with campfires & fireworks.  Feasts of food ripening in June have been replaced with picnics overflowing with hotdogs, potato chips, soda, & beer.  Is this our 21st century bounty?    Forgive me if I sound cynical but I’m tired of the commercialism & shallowness of what have become “typical” American rituals (consider what we do for our graduates, brides-to-be, & new mothers to name a few).

I regrettably understand how we tend to “honor” Summer Solstice so a new question emerges in my consciousness… “How can I make it more meaningful?”

This year, I’ve designed a ceremony for women who want to reconnect to nature & one another.  We’ll dress boldly to honor the height of daylight, meditate while lying on the earth to feel the living energy housed within, connect with each other through a non-traditional ribbon cutting ceremony, share our  achievements & failures from the past year so we can learn from one another, & partake of sunflower seeds & orange juice- symbols of the sun.  Any leftover seeds will be scattered for the birds so wildlife can join our celebration.

Do I expect everyone to honor Summer Solstice this way?  Of course not.  You’d be missing the point if you simply adopted yet another ritual without personalizing it.  Here’s what I wish for you…

1)  Approach everything with an open heart & mind.

2)  Take what resonates with you & leave the rest.

Blessings & happy Summer Solstice!!