"Treetops", watercolor on paper, 2011
A dark and wet morning. I come down to light the fire well before dawn, watching
as a misty November light slowly fills the forest. If I could fly up above the treetops
I would see the image above. We are in the dark and dying time, the ancient crone
looking straight at us, if we dare to meet her gaze.
"Ridges #4", watercolor, 2011
Many thought-threads have been spinning in my consciousness, inspired by Terri's
posts on creative burn-out over at The Drawing Board and the resulting conversation
in the comment forum. Worth taking the time to read the posts and comments, and
to visit A Mermaid in the Attic for a related post.
As is often true for me, my process is mirrored by the natural world, or possibly
that by paying close attention to natural cycles, I entrain with it. Looking around
me now, I see the brilliance of summer's fire being released in the turning leaves,
as if slowly bleeding out into the atmosphere.
In the garden, the architecture of decay is just as inspiring to me as the surprise
of spring flowers, revealing intricate forms and structures.
I almost never paint images of bright sunny days, a sky without clouds and mists
seems a less compelling story to tell. As people around me speak their dread of
the coming cold and the growing dark, I sink into my roots, release summer's fire
through my fingertips, and begin the composting of the year. Dreaming into the
dark, I tap the ancient well of blood-wisdom. In the spring, dreams will rise up
through my veins like the sweet sap of a sugar maple.
Learning to dance with the dark is not for the faint of heart, nor is it something
we can avoid. In a culture determined to find a cure for aging and death, its no
wonder we judge pain, illness and our dark internal journeys as wrong. There is
another way - to know everything as a teacher. It is the path of least resistance,
though embracing it is to know we must sit with the discomfort for as long as it
takes. Deep within the singing stones and flowing through our veins is an archive
of all the tools we could ever need to navigate life, placed there by each and every
one of our ancestors. I imagine countless life stories coursing through my veins,
there for me if I sit still and listen. If I lose my way with listening, there is a folk
story to show me the way - a myth embedded with animal allies, elder wisdom
and every imaginable challenge.
Driving home one day, I came across a turkey vulture eating roadkill. This great
composter will soon head south to warmer climates where her task of eating
death and disease will still be needed. Here, the freeze will keep us safe. Did
you know that the stomach acid of a vulture is strong enough to digest anthrax?
As she takes flight and disappears into the forest, I think of how little of her
story, or the importance of her daily meals to our health is known these days.
How might we move through life differently if we learned to sit with our
pain for as long as it takes? Might we find we can digest and transform it into
I leave you with two films I made recently to finally share some of my music
with you. I chose to upload "medium sized" movies as I wasn't sure how long
the best quality ones would take. So I'm not sure how it will go. The first track is
from my CD, Breath & Bone, the song is Into the Mystery. I used some of my
spirals for imagery, because the song and the spirals tell the same story. On
this track, I am playing with harmonic singing, only a little echo has been added
to the voice. My friend and producer, David Chandler, plays synthesizer. This
is an improvised piece which came out the way it is, not much was changed.
I have no idea how this will be, my first time using iMovie. This song, with just
voice and synthesizer is very different from what I thought I would be recording,
but it is now one of my favorites.
This second film has drawings and a recording from the Widow Jane Mine in
Rosendale, NY. Just my voice and drum, the amazing acoustics of an enormous
underground stone cavern, and dripping water. The track is called Rattling the Bones
from the CD Songjourneys, by BoneSong. Sadly we are no longer together.