Finding Lost Things

By Cheryl Renee Long

“Snowy Owl.” Watercolor by Cheryl Renee Long.
I see owls  as messengers between worlds. I call this space between worlds “parallel reality.”
This is my story. 


I went out of my way to see and hear popular poet David Whyte. I could read his poetry in his exquisite backpack book, but no, it was his voice I wanted to hear.

David Whyte’s mother was from Waterford, Ireland. and his father was a Yorkshireman. He attributes his poetic interest to both the songs and poetry of his mother’s Irish heritage and to the landscape of West Yorkshire. 

I fought rush hour traffic that day to see him and to hear him read his own work. I wanted to understand his internal path to his unique ideas. Perhaps he is informed by his mother’s ancient Irish tradition; I don’t know, but he takes me new places.

David Whyte arrived to a full house, and he read my favorite poems. For over an hour, his hypnotic voice filled the room. People paid rapt attention-writing in tiny journals, falling under his spell.

Excerpt from David Whyte’s poem, “Consolations”

When he finished, 300 people started to breathe again, looking at each other with amazement in their eyes.  After the reading, David signed books, standing to greet people close up, face to face. He had an exchange with each person including me.

I commented that the theme of the evening seemed to be children. He agreed, and I gave him a warm smile of thanks.

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.”

David Whyte, The House of Belonging

As I stepped away, my hand moved to the collar of my hooded coat. Precisely at the moment I left David, my hand found a long lost silver feather pin under my collar, a precious pin, given to me with love that I thought I had lost.

Finding lost things…like this silver feather pin…

I thought: a magical intended coincidence!

In the next moment my hand went to my pocket, and there I found a long lost turquoise bracelet.

Finding lost things…like this turquoise bracelet…

It might be easy enough to say, “Well Cheryl, you only wear this dressy Pendleton coat a few times a year.”

But I know, during the time with David Whyte, something in me slipped through into a parallel reality. My new year cycle initiated just then.  The old  year ended, and the new year began with recovering something invisible yet visible and sacred.

With his signature charm and searching insight, David Whyte meditates on the frontiers of the past, present and future, sharing two poems inspired by his niece’s hike along El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference.

The Heroine’s Mandala Journey Begins

On Friday, April 19, 2019, two lines of possibility crossed over out of the nowhere into the Now Here: my friend Merrill offered me the chance to join an emerging group which would be a women writers support group.

I was tempted, but then within a couple hours, I got a text from another friend, Sandy O’Brien, inviting me to join an on-going Heroine’s Journey Mandala Class.

This is a completed mandala by my workshop leader, Sandi O’Brien. Every detail has a story, a dream, a memory or reflection behind it. I particularly love the central iris image.

I’ve had a long standing love affair with all things Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey progenitor, and Maureen Murdoch, who wrote The Heroine’s Journey. 

I have done mandala and shield work before, but nothing as in-depth as this promises to be. I said yes to this opportunity because it can include writing but focuses on, as Jung says, “memories, dreams, reflections.”

I arranged to meet Sandi, and on the way, I saw I was following a car with the license “OBrien” on it. 

Robert Moss, author of The Three Only Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination, says that “the world is a forest of symbols” (113) and like Jung, encourages us to trust the unexpected coincidence and to allow “those patterns to reveal themselves” (114). 

The license plate that only flashed before my eyes for a few seconds, appearing then disappearing out of the chaos of traffic, seemed to me an exclamation point that I had chosen the correct path of the two that had appeared to me.

Gouache. Personal Mandala made in a Heroine’s Journey Class by Sue Teutschell Davis.The process begins with the outer circle, which is called “The Fire Ring.” If you compare the Fire Ring on all of the mandalas, you can see the wide variety of possibility with just this one element.

On Saturday, I met with Sandi O’Brien in her beautiful, art-filled home in Creswell. Oregon, and got to know her and the class materials better. 

The physical object to be created is a mandala like the ones by Sandi O’Brien shown here. The process is long–she says up to eighteen months or two years. 

Each ring and sub-section of rings is a separate meditation or inward reflection or dream recorded, considered, discussed,  distilled to its essence and added to the piece.

Each mandala is a journey by the artist through a period in her life where she is looking back, looking into the Dreamtime, looking forward and drawing all the threads of her life together.

At our first meeting, she and I split a large sheet of Arches watercolor paper. If you mingle blood and take an oath, two people become “blood brothers.” The two Sandies have split a piece of paper to make our mandalas on; we are “mandala sisters.” The two halves of the paper will continue to speak to each other over time.

The very last element to be added to the mandala is the centering image, which is called forth in meditation or dream by the artist at the end of the long process of bringing the piece into being.
Gouache mandala by Sandi O’Brien.

Threshold

For every change in my life, I have stood on a threshold, momentarily paused in my forward action. Birth is the first threshold, and death is the last. In between are a thousand moments of transition where I stepped from into a new stage, times when I left an old habit behind, or moved beyond old ways of understanding, experienced new gowth, or achievement.

I wanted to do a series of photos inspired by these threshold emotions. I knew I wanted some dreamlike effects, so I chose a lens that would be variably sharp and blurry (Lensbaby Sweet 80 on Olympus OMDEM 5 mio 4/3rds).

I also wasn’t up for any self-portraiture, so as I often do, I turned to my doll collection to see who wanted to stand in for me: a very old Apache woman with a dark, dried apple face stepped forward, as did my small carving of Dzonoqua, the Wild Woman of the Woods, my muse and mythic persona.

On a day when I was very tired, after a long drive home after Spring Break, I took dolls and camera out into the back yard. I had some ideas, but both the camera effects and the dolls themselves took over the shoot. Here’s what happened.

Inside every child is the full grown adult on the threshold of birth. (Detail of a painting by my husband Peter Jensen on the side of our house called The Anasazi Grill.)

She stands on the threshold of the Longhouse waiting to enter the Winter Dances, the Realm of Heightened Power.

After a long winter hibernation, she stands on the threshold of spring. She is stunned by the light, her mind still swimming in the shadows of dreams.

We are as children to the gods, and we caper on the threshold of Dream/Not-Dream (Image: Detail of house painting by Peter Jensen)

 

 

She is Very Old Age and waits on the threshold of the future. She has no face because the Very Old are not seen. Their faces have changed so much, they often don’t see anything of themselves in that murky mirror, behind which waits Death, that patient Black Dog.

 

This one is my favorite because she is most like me right now. She stands, as I do, on the threshold between the last spring snow and the adventure ahead. She is old yet still strong and eager for what is to come.

What threshold do YOU pause on right now?

The Mystery of Behind the Eyelids Images

The Mystery of Behind the Eyelids Images

By Cheryl Renee Long

Acid Green and Manganese Blue

It is not unusual for me to see full blown images behind my eyelids just as I wake up in the morning.

I am not sure if this has to do with the strong light that comes through my window, filtered by our Broad Leaf Maple. Maybe it has to do with an overactive imagination wanting to get to the colored pencils. Are these images teasers to push me toward my black pages and my idea book?

Black Pears

I do not know, but Salvador Dali said that he would not mind solitary confinement because he could spend his life painting the images behind his eyeballs. We share this odd phenomena.

“Acid Green and Manganese Blue” appeared to me as a fabric or woven disc, backlit with brilliant blue. Black Pears hearkens back 15 years to my “black things” series. Art has an uncanny life of its own, and it am amazed when it asserts itself. “Paint Me! Paint me now!!”

The Synthesis of Memory

Junipers, the Steens Mountains, Oregon – watercolor by Cheryl Renee Long

Cliff Swallows, Canyonland, Utah,- watercolor by Cheryl Renee Long

Many artists notice that their best work emerges long after a visit or an experience.  Two paintings above are a synthesis of my memories. I did not use a photo reference, preferring instead to see what colors, what shapes emerged just from remembering. I did not use just one scene, Junipers is a composite. The landscape shows a repeating pattern of dotted  sagebrush, always a good element for a composition. I have many Juniper stories.  I remember the Pariah Canyon country; a juniper loaded with opalescent pale blue berries fluoresced in the starlight. I see junipers as sacred trees and possibly sentient in some way.

Cliff Swallows continue to be a persistent image for many years. We call these long term pictures in our minds Source Imagery.  I seem to have a thing for repeating dot patterns. I have seen these nests in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Washington. I am not sure why they hold such appeal for me. Cliff Swallows are free and beautiful birds. Their flight pattern is fascinating and they build nests from  permanent materials, and high on the cliffs, far from predators. I resonate with that.

A Return to the Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal

Welcome Back!

Cheryl and I took a year-long hiatus from the Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal art, blog, and classes, but now we’re back.

Starting Jan. 2, 2018, Cheryl will teach a two week class The Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal. It is a two week online course in drawing memories, dreams, and reflections on black paper using gel pens or Prismacolor pencils.

In love with vivid color, we pursue the soul’s uncensored purpose.

To get back in the groove, we are each returning to our black journals and sharpening up our Prismacolors.

Sandy got started this morning with a drawing that began with a dream and then went from there. She wrote a poem that “explains” each step of the drawing.

“A Return to the Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal”
Derwent InkTense Pencils. Sandy Brown Jensen

Listen to hear Sandy read her poem "Return to the Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal"
A Return to the Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal

Now we return to teach and be taught

by The Mysterious Journal of Dreams.

Bright colors and a black field—

the gate between worlds swings wide.

As I drew the distant mountains,

I thought, ” A faraway friend.”

As I colored in the layered cliffs,

I thought, “Banded agate.”

As the petroglyphs emerged,

I thought, “Return to a seed, a star, a tree.”

A boat blew her sails into the wind,

And I said, “Now we’re on the water.”

The surf first, and then the wind,

and two swimmers, you and me,

The earth, the sky, the sea.

–Sandy Brown Jensen

Have YOU been dreaming or drawing or writing lately?

Rumi said,

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

What has been drawing YOU? Let us know in the comment field–it’s above, just under the headline where it says “Leave a comment.”

We’d love to hear from everyone!

Receiving Love From All Over The World and Beyond

Colored Pencil Sketch: “Receiving Love From All Over The World and Beyond”

Post by Cheryl Renee Long

 
I float in a starry sky.
On my left is the sun.
On my right is the Milky Way.
I open my body, my mind and my heart to the healing love and blessings I receive from people all over the world.
I sense the colors of their:

prayers,

attunements,

reiki,

shamanic healing and

enfolding good thoughts

I consciously switch my energy to Receive.

 
 I am very good at transmitting, but the current cannot be complete without receiving, a less familiar skill.
I bask in the healing love of my friends, my family and possibly entities unknown to me.
I accept their kindness and allow my body to become whole and well. 

Will She Come To Me Now?

–Sandy Brown Jensen

(This poem is about my unusual muse, who is a ten foot tall hominid who survived the Ice Age and still roams the Pacific Northwest. She is not to be confused with Sasquatch of urban legend fame or Dzonoquah of the sacred Kwakwakawak tribal pantheon except that in Dreamtime, she is both of those. I am working on a book of poems called Giantess.)

 

Will she come to me now when

the little creek of grief is nothing

but dark water in an old ditch

inching upward with the swell

of winter rain?

She is a creature

of the far North. All winter

She sleeps as the bears sleep.

She lets her dream body loose

to roam, held to her sleeping

bulk by the thinnest of silks.

When the winter nights

are tin cold and the stars

so far away that I may as well

have my head in a bucket

punched with holes, I look

for her between fir trees. I listen

for her in the gunshot snap

of a frozen limb. I try

to find her thread

and lead her to me here.

Now the March thaw

is breaking up the rivers

the way, long after a death,

the heart begins to rise again.

I know she is traveling

toward me now, the long

southward beaches still roaring

with open mouths their storm

surge songs.

She is finding

cockles among the seaweed,

and her eyes, if you could see them,

have twin catchlights

like inverted crescent moons.

Nude with Blue Birds

Post by Cheryl Renee Long
My body is ghostly, hardly touching. The missing breast is both wounded and healing. What is left is my white skin and the stretch marks from nursing like a gift I get to keep, after all. The diagonal blue scar in all its ugliness still seems like a clock. It is mending and it is ticking.  My life is on hold for now, but it will need tending.

Nude with Blue Birds by Cheryl Renee Long

Grief is like a filmy gray scarf, just brushing me lightly. The blue birds are actually black and wild, and they tend me as I rest. They offer me blue, and I think of the bluebird of happiness. They know I need blue, but I need their wildness too, like medicine.
I am resting, I am quiet. The clock ticks and wait for the day when I fly.