I want to write about faith,
about the way the moon rises
over cold snow, night after night,
faithful even as it fades from fullness,
slowly becoming that last curing and impossible
slither of light before the final darkness.
But I have no faith myself
I refuse it the smallest entry.
Let this then, my small poem,
like a moon, slender and barely open,
be the first prayer that opens me to faith.
What does it mean to have faith? Faith in god(s)? Faith in science? Faith that our elected officials will indeed make choices that benefit all citizens of this country while passing legislation to protect our ailing planet and all her creatures? Or closer to home: faith that my father will walk without pain and the assistance of a walker? It has been an excruciating few months for us all as both he and my stepmother have been in and out of hospitals, rehab, and seeing countless specialists for one ailment or another. This is a world that most of us, including myself, are ill prepared for and I have ridden every emotional wave one can imagine. Walking a spiritual path is certainly easier when the way is smooth but how do we navigate the physical, emotional, and psychic landscape of our being as we hit the inevitable bumps in the road on this human journey? On a good day, when I’m not exhausted, I know from my history that I am standing in a threshold and that on the other side is, ultimately, transformation. How to keep faith in that?
First. Knowing that we are not alone. That most of us collectively, and globally, are experiencing similar upheavals in our lives and on a much larger scale than my scenario. That we are all standing in a common threshold amidst one of the largest evolutionary periods that has occurred in our human history. According to the Andean prophecy of “The Eagle and the Condor,” we are living in a time known as the Fifth Pachacuti, meaning world turned upside down. I first learned of the prophecy when I was preparing to go on pilgrimage to Peru in 2006. Since then, we have been witnessing what social thinker and visionary David Korten has coined the great unraveling in the larger context of the current global economic, political, and ecological crises. As this prophecy plays out on a microcosmic level in our personal lives, how can we find ways to support one another as we go forward? In my workshops and retreats, participants practice compassionate listening and I have seen the power of this seemingly simple act time and again. Listening with an open heart. Out of our own discomfort, we often feel an impulse to give advice or share our experience when the person we love is going through a painful transition. But being silent, listening deeply, is the greatest gift we can give to one another. When we feel heard, we can heal the wounded heart.
Second. Keeping faith in human creativity which I have written about often here. And a profound belief that art in all its forms contributes to the healing of our hearts and our world. Though my time in the studio has been limited over the past few months, I am excited to share that the short-documentary (10 min) “Journey into the Creation” is complete. “Like” Sacred Art Studio on Facebook to learn more about the symbolism behind the “Lovers of Creation” triptych and watch for opportunities to view the painting and the video.
Sadly, I may not have faith in our political system to change, but like Whyte, I have faith in the moon. Faith in the ability of the earth, Pachamama as she is known in South America, to heal and regenerate herself. Having faith in the wisdom of the earth is a coming home to our place in the web of life and what the prophecy is asking of us now at this time. To remember we are all of the earth and to make those often difficult choices to live mindfully and sustainably on this beloved planet. May it be so.
What or who do you have faith in? As always, I welcome your thoughts.
For love of the EARTH!
The month of May slipped by without my monthly newsletter taking form. I love painting portraits through language as well as through visual art but felt at a loss for words this past month, so I flowed with life and simply rested in the heart and less in the mind. I have been reworking the painting shown here adding vines to the cool, stone wall, giving it more life while reflecting on the Andean “Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor,” on which the painting is based. It was five years ago in May that I went on pilgrimage to the Andes and spent time in ceremony with the local, indigenous peoples of that sacred landscape. (Read more here) Our journey was indeed a meeting of the eagle and the condor.
The prophecy story relates that in the beginning all the earth’s people were one, but long ago they divided into two groups, and each one followed a different path to development. The people of the Eagle became highly scientific and intellectual, indicative of a masculine energy. This would represent those of us living in the industrialized West. Whereas, the people of the Condor became highly attuned to nature and the intuitive realm, or what might be the feminine energy. This refers to the indigenous peoples-or the people of the heart.
The ancient prophecy also speaks to the time we are in now when civilization is on the brink of collapse as seen in the economic, social, and ecological crises.
The prophecy says that at this time in the earth’s history, the Eagle people and the Condor people will rejoin. Remembering that they are one people, they will reconnect, remember their common origin, share their knowledge and wisdom, and save each other. The eagle and condor will fly together in the same sky, wing to wing, and the world will come into balance after a point of near extinction. Neither the eagles nor the condors will survive without this collaboration, and from this rejoining of the two peoples, a new alloy consciousness will emerge that honors the Eagle people for their remarkable accomplishments of the mind, and honors the Condor people for the deep wisdom of the heart. Together-and only together-the crisis will be resolved and a sustainable future will emerge for all.
I’ve been noticing where the spirit of the Condor is showing up and where it needs to weave its way more fully into our rationally-minded Eagle consciousness as well as into the activism many of us are engaged in on behalf of life on Earth. I recently attended the “Washed Ashore” gala fundraiser at PCC Sylvania. (Click here for more information.) The sculptural exhibit is centered around huge sea creatures made entirely from plastics washed ashore on Oregon beaches. They are beautiful yet clearly reflect back to us our role in this crisis. We see our shampoo and water bottles, flip flops, toothbrushes, etc. It can feel overwhelming. Many representatives from environmental organizations spoke during the event and while the data is essential, I believe that until we can bring these issues into our hearts and remember our interconnectedness with all life, change will be slow. I was honored to lead a water blessing ceremony with several women from my spiritual community, People of the Heart, which allowed those present to express their love and gratitude to the oceans and ask for forgiveness. Drawing on a Hawaiian chant, Ho’oponopono, this simple ceremony opened the hearts of the people in the audience to the crisis of plastics in the oceans. Many were moved to tears. For me, this is an example of how we can bring the wisdom of the Eagle together with the compassion of the Condor, both of which are needed to inspire us to move towards action.
Art and ceremony are two powerful ways to open and inspire the heart. What are the ways in which you are seeing the energies of the Eagle and the Condor coming together in your life and/or work? As always, I welcome your thoughts.
For love of the EARTH!
FROM THE WATER CEREMONY:
In Praise of Water (excerpt)
Let us bless the grace of water:
The imagination of the primeval ocean
Where the first forms of life stirred
And emerged to dress the vacant earth
With warm quilts of color.
The courage of a river to continue belief
In the slow fall of ground,
Always falling farther
Toward the unseen ocean.
Let us bless the humility of water,
The buoyancy of water
The innocence of water,
Flowing forth, without thought
Of what awaits it.
Water: voice of grief,
Cry of love,
In the flowing tear.
Water: vehicle and idiom
Of all the inner voyaging
That keeps us alive.
Blessed by water,
Our first mother.
On Saturday, June 19th, a group of us in the Washington/Portland area met at a clear cut near Lake Merwin damn to honor Mother Earth and celebrate Beauty as part of the worldwide effort that was envisioned by Radical Joy for Hard Times. This is from their web site:
Radical Joy for Hard Times introduces a new, more intimate environmentalism for all citizens of the Earth. Together we go to wounded places to bear witness to what has happened, share the stories of our experience, discover beauty even in the midst of wound and waste, and create Acts of Beauty there.
Our local gathering was organized and facilitated by Judy Todd of NatureConnect Excursions and Julie Doll. Sacred space was created by prayer flags and silence as we walked into the clear cut area. Once there, with a stunning view of the valley, a drumming circle invited us in to being present to this holy land. With the discarded gun shells, the empty beer cans, the garbage, and the Beauty. During our time together we walked the land, sang together, shared our stories, drummed, read poetry, and made offerings to Mother Earth for her healing. We picked up trash (including a car fender) as you can see in the photo above. We bore witness to this wounded place and created radical Acts of Beauty. I was surprised to discover that although there had been violence perpetrated upon this hillside, there was life emerging amidst the ruins. The very smallest of creatures and wildflowers were finding there way back. This gave me hope. I brought this poem by Wendell Berry which always moves me to tears:
by Wendell Berry
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we will never know it,
and over, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be
green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground. They will take
nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting. Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is it possibility.
I thought I’d share the symbolism around my logo and the inspiration behind it as it directly reflects the intention for my work, my spiritual journey, and the vision that I hold for the world during this transformative time in our history. I painted this icon when I returned from a pilgrimage to Peru in 2006. Dear friends from Canada—Terence, Carol, and Jim, who are also spiritual teachers for me—lead small groups to Peru in order that we may experience this sacred landscape and learn from the indigenous peoples the ancient spiritual teachings of the Andes. The intention for our pilgrimage was inspired in part by The Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor. There is a lot on the web around the prophecy but in brief:
The prophecy story relates that in the beginning all the earth’s people were one, but long ago they divided into two groups, and each one followed a different path to development. The people of the Eagle became highly scientific and intellectual, indicative of a masculine energy. This would represent those of us living in the industrialized West. Whereas, the people of the Condor became highly attuned to nature and the intuitive realm, or what might be the feminine energy. This refers to the indigenous peoples—or the people of the heart.
It was foretold in the ancient prophecy that during this period of time, or what is referred to as the Fifth Pachacuti (world turned upside down), civilization would be on the brink of collapse which we are now seeing in the extensive ecological degradation of the planet as well as the recent breakdown of our economic structures. The prophecy says that at this time in the earth’s history, the Eagle people and the Condor people will rejoin. Remembering that they are one people, they will reconnect, remember their common origin, share their knowledge and wisdom, and save each other. The eagle and condor will fly together in the same sky, wing to wing, and the world will come into balance after a point of near extinction. Neither the eagles nor the condors will survive without this collaboration, and from this rejoining of the two peoples, a new alloy consciousness will emerge that honors the Eagle people for their remarkable accomplishments of the mind, and honors the Condor people for the deep wisdom of the heart. Together—and only together—the crisis will be resolved and a sustainable future will emerge for all.
As a small community, or allyu, we visited the holy sites of Machu Picchu, Tipon, Ollantaytambo, and Pisaq where we spent time in ceremony and learning from a native community—dear friends/family of our leaders—who are bringing back the ancient ways under the tutelage of the Q’ero shamans. This wonderful community of men, women, and children opened their hearts to us, invited us into their world, and shared their great wisdom (and music!) with us. I felt a profound connection to all the people of Peru as well as to the Earth, or Pachamama as she is known in South America. This truly was a sacred encounter between the eagle and the condor. What a gift to undertake this journey as so many others who are now being called to this holy land. Our allyu was additionally blessed to encounter His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Cusco while he was there making a visit to meet with the Q’eros people, who continue to live high in the Andes and live in reciprocity, or ayni, with Pachamama.
When I returned I was inspired to begin a series of artworks around this journey and am continuing the project at this time. I also felt called to create an icon or logo that would integrate the wisdom of these teachings to represent the long term vision for my work in the world and the studio. The result is a synthesis of the Inka Cross and the mandala (see Shri Yantra Mandala post for more information on mandalas). The Inka Cross (or Chakana) traditionally has wider sections in the north, east, south, and west quadrants, but I felt inspired to emphasize the symmetry throughout the piece to symbolize the balance between the masculine and feminine—as represented by the sun/moon and the yin/yang symbols. The spiral in the North represents the deepening spiritual journey that is needed for all beings to bring about the new emerging consciousness that the prophecy speaks to. The three-stepped quadrants in each of the four directions symbolize: the places we meet or the three realms (upper, middle, lower), the spirit helpers for each realm (condor, puma, serpent), what we bring to community (mind, body, heart) and the three ways we come together in community (labor for all, connection, reciprocity). The Inka cross essentially represents a spiritual and ethical framework for living in harmony with each other and the Earth. And at the center my icon is the heart of the world—love—which is my vision for a world at peace and one that honors the Earth and all life upon her. May it be so. Aho.