Tropical Dreaming (On Such a Winter’s Day)

NOTE: The next Color Your World two week class begins Jan 4, 2016. What makes this class different is the one-on-one daily interaction with an empathetic instructor and with a supportive community of fellow artists. Only $50.00. Click this button to learn more and to register:

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Tropical Dreaming (On Such A Winter’s Day)

By Cheryl Renee Long

Dream_of_Tropics

December 28, 2015

Hello! I’m looking forward to meeting many of you Jan. 4 when the colored pencil online class starts.

Yesterday I purchased sturdy rubber boots with a confetti pattern to enliven gray days, rain and  wading across flooded trails. After-Christmas shopping for myself included warm fuzzy mittens and wool hiking socks. It is winter in the Pacific Northwest – wet, cold, and flooding. We are delighted, of course. Last summer we fought a forest fire in our local Hoh Rainforest. Water is essential to maintaining a rainforest with its giant cedar trees and acres of hanging moss. Rain is a must.

However, desert rat that I am, my paintbrush longs for sunshine, palm trees, blazing orange and pink sunsets and enticing cenotes.

Cenotes are small lakes or pools of fresh water in the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Today, I drew my imaginary go-to place to relax and meditate. People swim and snorkel in the cenotes. The trail across the landscape is populated by two cars and people walking. The gulls are ever present along with the colorful sailboats in the Caribbean.

What is YOUR go-to place?

Dreaming in the New Year

NOTE: The next Color Your World two week class begins Jan 4, 2016. What makes this class different is the one-on-one daily interaction with an empathetic instructor and with a supportive community of fellow artists. Only $50.00. Click this button to learn more and to register:

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If you would like to experience a free class, click here:FreeClass3.fw_-278x300

Dreaming in the New Year

 

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Cheryl Renee Long MNVJ entry December 27, 2015 Woman In Bubble Bath Dreaming of the New Year She is deeply relaxed, immersed in the turquoise and white bubbles. Her pink curly hair drifts and morphs into a white bird and her dreams slip into an astral journey. She sees and knows her 70th year. It will bring life, color, and abundance.

During the holidays, it’s sometimes hard to even hear yourself think. These are joyous family times for most (though not all, I acknowledge). But eventually visitors leave or you travel home. You become aware in the northern hemisphere of the short days, the long nights, the rain or the snow. In the southern hemisphere, dog days of summer keep temperatures hovering around 100 degrees F.

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Cheryl Renee Long–After Thanksgiving 11/28/15, heading home north on I-5

Now is the time to find your own quiet place, go deep into a kind of dreaming trance and let some other spirit speak quietly to you. It’s true that this healing mental and spiritual drifting has an affinity for water. In the Mysterious Night Vision drawing above, Cheryl has drawn a bubble bath. In my household, it’s the hot tub with a glass roof and the sound of the constant rain. I’ve been in warm climates this time of year, and there we are drawn to waterfalls and the warm sea.

One December, I found myself at the end of the year in a cave on the island of Kauai.
Sandy Brown Jensen. One December 2013, I found myself at the end of the year in a cave on the island of Kauai, a perfect place to lose myself in the timeless flow of the islands.

Give yourself to those private moments, and then find a place to curl up and draw in your Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal. If a white bird seems to flow out of curly pink hair–so be it. The Night Vision Journal is never about “learning how to draw”; it is first and foremost a place to bring the images and colors behind your eyes to the black paper which is so much like the drawing board of a dream.

Dreams

All night
the dark buds of dreams
open
richly.

In the center
of every petal
is a letter,
and you imagine

if you could only remember
and string them all together
they would spell the answer.
It is a long night,

and not an easy one—-
you have so many branches,
and there are diversions—-
birds that come and go,

the black fox that lies down
to sleep beneath you,
the moon staring
with her bone-white eye.

Finally you have spent
all the energy you can
and you drag from the ground
the muddy skirt of your roots

and leap awake
with two or three syllables
like water in your mouth
and a sense

of loss—-a memory
not yet of a word,
certainly not yet the answer—-
only how it feels

when deep in the tree
all the locks click open,
and the fire surges through the wood,
and the blossoms blossom.

–Mary Oliver


 

Note: This blog entry has been cross-posted on http://toucancreate.com/mysterious-night-vision-field-journal/141/

Remembering Childhood Art

Remembering Childhood Art

 By Cheryl Renee Long

Somewhere far back in my childhood, a visionary teacher asked me to draw around my own hand and color it. I remember feeling delight when I drew my hand and frustration with the blunt and wimpy crayons. Even then I longed for intense color and precise drawing tools.

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This morning at 3:20 am, my art naturally gravitated to black paper and gel pen. December 6 is only 17 days from winter solstice and the longest day on planet earth. There is something translucent about winter art. The barrier between waking and sleeping seems sheer. The conscious and the subconscious talk to each other more clearly under the blanket of a dark and rainy night.

Tonight I draw my hand as an elder, many years from the kindergarten art class. I think of it as a secret letter to myself. Who am I now? What have I become since 5 years old? Is this a life well lived so far?


DRAW YOUR HAND EXERCISE

Sometimes the simplest, most childlike art-assignments-to-self can yield the most piercing insights into ourselves. I don’t need to tell you for that for this one, place your hand on your black paper journal and draw its outline. Do you see how that looks like an image on the ancient cave walls? This is a really old art exercise!

Hand_negative

This is modern air brush art reproducing the mouth-blown-paint images on the famous cave walls in Europe.
This is modern air brush art reproducing the mouth-blown-paint images on the famous cave walls in Europe. Art by Victoria Airbrush Art

Now enter into the drawing trance of childhood, adding words and images to your hand.

DRAW A MAP ON YOUR HAND

Because there is a little cartographer in each of us, an evocative variation of this exercise is to draw a map on your hand, as Gretchen Jones does here:

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This pencil drawing is courtesy of Gretchen Jones.

DRAW A DREAM IMAGE OF YOUR HAND

This is another approach to the hand exercise by Sandy Brown Jensen. This hand appeared to me in a dream where I dreamed the late Tibetan dream yoga master Tarab Tulku placed a very ancient blue agate eye in my palm.

image

Have you tried drawing your hand and then “entering” it with words and images? What was your experience? Tell us in the Comment field above.

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Heron Keeps the Secrets of Magical Writing

 

Heron Keeps the Secrets of Magical Writing

Yesterday was a day of dark storm clouds broken by sudden sun openings. Although I felt weak from a lingering flu, I picked up my camera for a short walk to see for myself what all the drama was about.

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From the bridge over the Willamette River, still golden cottonwoods lit up with sunlight while thick, black clouds roiled behind. The light quickly changed to shadow and then the sun came back again, so my vision seemed to move between the everyday world and that Otherworld always waiting for a turn of the head, the shift in light that would reveal that world where every object is imbued with its own spirit and is waiting to speak to you about whatever is in your heart.P1200932

As I was crossing the boardwalk between two ponds, I stopped to frame an image of leaves, water, and reflections when I was startled by the banking flap of enormous wings. Great Blue Heron had flown directly into the focus place of the photo I had framed.

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Instantly, I thought of a fragment from Ovid’s Heroides I had read earlier on the morning:

“Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish.”

Great Blue Heron Flew Into My Cards Today

Back in the 1980s during the Human Potential Movement, my friends and I liked to play with Animal Cards.

Medicine Cards

Each card had a different animal on it, and its qualities translated into human terms in a little accompanying book. When we had a chance encounter with an animal in either the real world or through dream or another chance encounter such as the logo on a truck that arrested our attention, we would say that the animal “flew into my cards today.” We would look up the meaning of the card and through drawing and journaling think about the lesson or insight the animal was bringing. I consider this to be High Play.

animal_cards_imageWell, Great Blue Heron had certainly flown into my cards–smack into the intense focus of my camera.

I didn’t actually know anything about the symbolic or shamanic meaning of cranes or herons in Western traditions, so I did due diligence when I got home and looked it up.

I learned that herons and cranes were important in Celtic mythology. One reason was because those bird species lived in a misty environment between land and water–the marsh. Just as an hour of quick-changing sun and shadow shifted my seeing between worlds, so does the heron live in that liminal place at the doorway to the Otherworld.

blue-Heron_preening

I really love the other reason, too, which I learned from Anna Franklin’s excellent online site, Power Animals, Allies and Totem Animals, “The Celtic god Ogma was said to invented ogham [an ancient British and Irish alphabet] after watching the flight of cranes, the shapes of the birds against the sky giving him the idea for the angular letters.” As a poet and writing instructor, the idea of my writing springing from the shapes of birds against the sky is deeply satisfying.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have been thinking pretty much non-stop lately about the Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal and the classes my sister and I are creating. The appearance of the Great Blue Heron literally flying into my focus tells me we are on the right track.

Your Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal is your Secret Book, your Book of Dreams where you draw and journal in that numinous space between land and water where the heron lives and feeds. We look at the outer world with our inner eyes, and when the heron flies, we understand the writing their stick legs and archeopteryx shapes make against the sky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Science of Shivers

Robert Moss, in a book of his I’m reading right now called Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life, says we must develop the Science of Shivers, “which involves learning to recognize and respect what is going on when something exceptional is in the air and your body responds even before your mind can make sense of it.”

When the heron flapped giant silver wings into my lens, folded up and settled on his log in the pond, I got goosebumps all over. I definitely felt the necessity of responding to this vivid visitation in my Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal; this time as this blog post.

Moss says, “Feeling is your clue to meaning.”

Do you know the poet Mary Oliver? What she doesn’t know about the Science of Shivers doesn’t need to be known. Most of her poems creep up on me and give me the shivers–including those about Great Blue Heron:

Heron Rises From the Dark, Summer Pond

By Mary Oliver

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

Great Blue Heron_Huston
This beautiful watercolor sketch is by one of Cheryl Renee Long‘s art students, Lauri Huston.

 

Watch carefully then tell me: who flew into YOUR cards today?

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BOOKS I REFERENCED IN THIS ARTICLE

Note: I have personally read all of the books I referenced in this article and can recommend them to you as good companions on your Journey.

 




Finding the Doorway to Mythtime

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“The Doorway Between This World and the Other World” Prismacolor on black art paper by Sandy Brown Jensen

Finding the Way In

Your Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal is not like any other art you’ve done or seen before. Because the soul is always dreaming, awake or asleep, the stream of images is always available to you. Just as the stars are still out in the daytime, Dreamtime is always with you. However, the bright sun of your awake mind dims them to view. You need a reliable entry point, a way in,

In all shamanic traditions, there is a gateway to the spirit world. It could be a crack in a cave wall or a burrow under an old growth tree. Maybe it’s at the bottom of a lake or a back door to your own home you never noticed before. Whatever it is, you can draw it and come back to that drawing over and over as your own unique doorway to your imagination.

Prepare a quiet space to work in your Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal. Make sure you will be undisturbed. Leave your technology in the other room, turned off, so you won’t be distracted. That includes cats, dogs, and kids!

Spread your tools out before you: black paper, gel pens, colored pencils. Light a candle if you want. Now, breathe and center yourself.

Let the image of a doorway, gate, or other portal form in your mind. No judgment or editing! Let it be what it is going to be. Stay with it a while. Do you need a password or special key to get in?

Now, wait for it to open. Be patient, and when it does, go through.

“Finally, your patience is rewarded: the ancient stone door creaks open, the drawbridge is lowered, the boulder magically rolls away from the mouth of the cave. However you visualize your portal to the mythic realm, see it as inviting you to adventure.”

–Jill Jepson Writing as a Sacred Path

Now, quietly pick up your pen and begin to draw. Become as immersed in your drawing as you did when you were a kid.

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“The Blue Door” Prismacolor on black art paper by Cheryl Renee Long

This is important work, this building a portal to the world of waking dream.

Report back here with a comment: what was your experience? Describe your portal to your imagination.