The arts, whose task once was considered to be that of manifesting the beautiful, will discuss the idea only to dismiss it, regarding beauty only as the pretty, the simple, the pleasing, the mindless and the easy. Because beauty is conceived so naively, it appears as merely naive, and can be tolerated only if complicated by discord, shock, violence, and harsh terrestrial realities. I therefore feel justified in speaking of the repression of beauty. -James Hillman
And from John O’Donohue’s Beauty: The Invisible Embrace:
“When we awaken to the call of beauty, we become aware of new ways of being in the world. We were created to be creators. At its deepest heart, creativity is meant to serve and evoke beauty. When this desire and capacity come alive, new wells spring up in parched ground; difficulty becomes invitation and rather than striving against the grain of our nature, we fall into rhythm with its deepest urgency and passion. The time is now ripe for beauty to surprise and liberate us. (7) And “In order to become attentive to beauty, we need to rediscover the art of reverence. . . . A sense of reverence includes the recognition that one is always in the presence of the sacred. To live with reverence is to live without judgment, prejudice and the saturation of consumerism.” (11)
“Beauty will save the world.” —Dostoevsky
Some things to think about on these rainy and blustery Autumnal days. Slowing down, honoring the rhythm of the Earth, the cycles of the seasons, while creating Beauty.
Within the circle of our lives
we dance the circle of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the season,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.
Above is my Harvest Moon: Autumn Mandala
The harvest moon is the moon at and about the period of fullness that is nearest to the autumnal equinox. The Fall is the time for going inward. Here, the bears represent the hibernation or inwardness of the spirit as they march to the west which is the cardinal direction associated with the Fall. The dream catcher in the center adds to this theme where the jeweled net of Indra (from the Buddhist tradition) invites us to remember that all phenomena are intimately connected.
Yesterday, around the world, people got creative and took a stand on behalf of global warming. This is from the 350.org website. “On 24 October, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.” Check out the web site for more images. Very powerful! I participated in an art event sponsored by Greenpeace in SE Portland. I was selected to be the ‘featured artist’ for the event but I can tell you that everyone in that hall was/is an artist and they did amazing artwork on behalf of our beautiful, beloved Earth—Pachamama. Thank you, Portland! I facilitated the creation of the community mural shown at the top inviting people to draw, write, or collage something they love or something they are sad about losing as a result of global climate change. This despair and hope mural is the result and it was an honor to bear witness to those who created it. I even rocked out to “Notes from the Underground” (shown here) which was a blast from the past. I live amidst silence for the most part these days, so although it was hard on the ears, they were great as were all the musicians. So much creativity and art with heart!
For Love of the Earth!
A friend recently loaned me Paulo Coelho’s The Valkyries. It’s always interesting the synchronicity in which relevant insights or messages show up in our lives via books or other means just when it is needed most. As I close out this decade and prepare for the next chapter of this amazing journey called life, I have been spending time in reflection as is natural when crossing any threshold that brings us to another level of consciousness or growth. While in the same breath, I wrestle with my Buddha nature that insists that I remain in the present moment. So, I surrender the battle and allow to be as it is and trust that some pearl of wisdom will come forward that needs to be expressed through me. It’s not terribly comfortable in this place—this liminal space, betwixt and between—where there is potential for a symbolic death before a rebirth. Like the quintessential symbol of transformation, the butterfly in the chrysalis, awaiting its emergence to the light. Butterflies have always been a spirit guide for me (long before I knew what that meant) and always appear during times of transition whether through my drawings as a teen, more recently in this mandala as seen above, or like today in my meditation. So, I wait…I reflect. I believe Kierkegaard was correct that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Which leads me back to the Coelho book.
The Valkyries is an autobiographic account of his 40-day pilgrimage into the Mojave Desert to find the answer to: “Why is it that we destroy the things we love most?” The Valkyries are spiritual warriors in the guise of a motorcycle gang made up of leather clad women, led by Valhalla. They are messengers who ride through the desert preaching of a new world to come, one that is grounded in love. (The book is rich with symbolism and I highly recommend reading it.) According to Coelho, we enter into pacts with ourselves and the world around us that keep us from pursuing our dreams.
Ultimately, he adds, out of fear we end up sabotaging our relationships and our potential for success. While reading, this also reminded me of Marianne Williamson who wrote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” The story unfolds like that of an indigenous rite of initiation that includes a tripartite process of separation, transformation, and return. In the book, there occurs what appears to be a ritual cleansing of sorts at the start of the journey where he and his wife go into the desert and nearly die from heat stroke. Separation from reality into non-ordinary reality.
Coelho and his wife then enter a cave (the chrysalis of transformation) with Valhalla and recounts the pact he made with himself when he was in his twenties to stop believing in magic, love, and his gift. He emerges into the light and later receives forgiveness during a ritual theatre encounter. By the end of the novel, Coehlo makes a bet with his angel—a blue butterfly—to believe again. Acceptance and return. A symbolic death/rebirth occurs and the initiation process is complete. We often hear this referred to as the heroes journey to the underworld and his/her triumphant return bearing gifts for the world. In Coehlo’s parable, we discover it is love that is our greatest gift.
He writes: “We, at this moment in history, must develop our own powers. We must believe that the universe doesn’t end at the walls of our room. We must accept the signs, and follow our heart and our dreams. ” And, “The day will come when love will be accepted…..Our defects, our dangerous depths our suppressed hatreds, our moments of weakness and desperation—all are unimportant. If what we want to do is heal ourselves first, so that then we can go in search of our dreams, we will never reach paradise. If, on the other hand, we accept all that is wrong about us—and despite it, believe that we are deserving of a happy life—then we will have thrown open an immense window that will allow Love to enter. Little by little, our defects will disappear, because one who is happy can look at the world only with love—the force that regenerates everything that exists in the Universe.”
A deep soul immersion, or pilgrimage, to the Utah desert has been calling me for some time but taking 40 days out of my life right now isn’t an option. So, I ask myself, how can everyday be a pilgrimage towards opening more fully to love—right here, right now. Love is at the heart of all spiritual traditions. Love for the beloved, the neighbor, for God/Spirit. And for me, love of the Earth. Twenty years ago, I underwent a journey to the underworld and returned transformed out of the darkness. Since that time, I have broken the pact that had prevented me from living my life as an artist but I wonder where are the places in my life where I have prevented love from entering amidst my ambitions, my fears? How do I sabotage my own happiness at times? So, I wait. Sit in the unknowing of this threshold time. I reflect on my life. Learning to accept, to forgive the past, and open more fully to love in the present moment. As Valhalla says, “There is no sin but the lack of love.” What is the pact you have made that prevents you from living your dreams? What is the pact you made that prevents you from believing you are worthy to love and be loved? These are the questions that I am asking of myself these days. Never give up on your dreams or love!
The Truelove by David Whyte
There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.
I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.
Years ago in the Hebrides
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of baying seals,
who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water,
and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them,
and how we are all
waiting for that
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly,
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love,
so that when
we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
us, and everything confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don’t
after all this struggle
and all these years,
you don’t want to any more,
you’ve simply had enough
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.
I’ve been reflecting on the Hopi message today and watched an interview with Joanna Macy from the Pachamama Alliance. Powerful messages of hope, love, creativity, and imagination! We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Aho
Message from the Hopi Elders
We have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour
And there are things to be considered.
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in the right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold onto the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, and push off and into the river,
Keep our eyes open, and our head above the water.
See who is in there with you and Celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all ourselves.
For the moment that we do,
Our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over, Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that you do now must be done in a sacred manner
And in celebration.
“We are the ones we have been waiting for…”
The Elders, Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona 2000