Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Visioning and Reflections on Visioning

 "Vision that responds to the cries of the world and is truly engaged with what it sees is not the same as the disembodied eye that observes and reports, that objectifies and , enframes. The ability to enter into another's emotions, or to share another's plight, to make their conditions our own, characterizes art in the partnership mode. You cannot define it as self-expression - it is more like relational dynamics.......Partnership demands a willingness to conceive of art in more living terms. It is a way of seeing others as part of ourselves."

.........Suzi Gablick (The Re-Enchantment of Art)

Entering into a meditation the other day, I was blessed (and that is the appropriate word) with an influx of Visions.  This is not something that happens to me often - not lucid, sequential, vivid visions.   There have been times in my past  when I was blessed with several significant  visions (by visions, I mean visionary experiences had while in a conscious or voluntary trance state, and not while asleep, although of course dreams can be lucid and profound as well).  Even decades later these images are potent in my mind, and continue to inform my life and my art.
“I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore
As a visual artist,  when I get a "download" from the Muses, I tend to feel that it's a job opportunity.  So what I saw was a series of life-size paintings, done with reference to  traditional and historical Church icons of saints.  Life size figures, with gestures of offering or blessing, would confront the viewer, painted on a gold leaf (well, gold paint) backdrop, perhaps framed with words and/or symbolic forms that relate to them specifically.  The figures would be clearly archetypal Goddesses, but they would be painted in contemporary terms, from real people, and wearing contemporary clothing.  Because the Goddess is returning to the world, and manifests in today's world, in the forms and language and guise of today.  If She is not within us and among us, where else could She be?

Lithograph from 1986
Except.............the first painting, which I saw and felt quite clearly, would include the Tree of Life - and the Goddess would be a human form within the tree.  Roots below, canopy and crown above, as above so below.  The energies of the Earth and the light of the Sun and the Stars, gathered into the tree to the level of the heart, and the hands both taking in and giving forth, which, by the way, is exactly what trees do.  They are nourished by the earth and the sun, their roots are connected to every other tree in the forest, and they make oxygen, exhaling our atmosphere.  Trees make oxygen.  Trees eat our CO2.  And so might we conceive of ourselves doing, participating within - taking in sustanance, and giving forth life-sustaining breath in our own lives.  Inspire and be inspired..........

.......Should keep me busy for  a while......

A friend asked why not Gods as well?  The answer is not that I don't love men as well as women, and recognize that the Divine is both male and female, but I, like many of my colleagues, have devoted myself to "restoring the Balance", to empowering women and bringing the symbols and energies of the Divine Feminine throughout religions and mythologies back into the world.  That's been what I said I would help out with, and it's for others, men and women,  to do other things that restore Balance and Sanctity.  

I look forward  to experiencing some of that diversity at the Parliament of Religions in October.

 "Everything was made for the greater meaning and use of the the tribe. A spoon was more than a spoon, and a sacred pot was also used to store grain in - because they understood that there had to be a weaving between the material world and the other worlds in order to live right and well. An artist was one of those who did the weaving."

 ...... Sarah Mertz
Among the Lakota, long preparations were made  to invite visions, and when a vision occurred it was often shared collectively, discussed, and determined if it had prophetic or ceremonial significance for not only the individual recipient, but for the entire tribe. Consider the great visions of the "Hoop of the Nations" of Black Elk.  There was an understanding that the Medicine Person was also a great dreamer,  a visionary who could in some way receive information from the other worlds.  This understanding of the mediumistic nature of human consciousness is found in all traditional cultures, from Native American to African to Sami.  And in the origins of western cultures as well - from the Seers of the early Hebrew tribes to the masked Oracle of Dephi (who began as a priestess of Gaia, the Earth Mother, before the Pythoness was supplanted by patriarchy and the Sun God Apollo) .

Respect for the "mediumship" inherent in everyone, and made especially  potent, intelligible, and useful by certain talented or highly trained individuals, is  something we have  lost, or if not entirely  lost, become naive and superstious about, to the great loss of the general population.  Indeed, we often cannot differentiate between someone who has had a true vision (which, in native wisdom, would be considered a gift or a warning), and a schizophrenic.  (You see Mandalas and Ancesters?  There's someone in the room no one else can see?   Quick, give that kid drugs!)

I remember a conversation I shared in 1989  in Brooklyn with Alex and Allyson Grey about the shared vision they had while taking LSD. Their need to communicate that vision resulted in "THE SACRED MIRRORS". And the  need to understand their shared visionary experience  set them on their life long spiritual path.   And since I'm talking about that extraordinary interview, I think I'll post it in my next post as it deserves to be shared again. 


I believe that  visionary experience is a gift, very often meant to be shared.  Because when we vision we participate in a communion that  is  both contemporary and  archetypal, personal and collective, existing on multiple layers of meaning and contemplative depth.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”

Ursula K. Le Guin


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

How wonderful to have visions that inspire you creatively. I can't wait to see what you produce!

Roll Cage Mary said...

Now that we are receiving visions of Pluto (front-page newspaper in
my country), I think we shall all be getting muse-bothered.