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.
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.
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.
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.
What threshold do YOU pause on right now?
Artist and urban chicken farmer Janet Barocco lives in Santa Rosa, California. She submitted this delightful image and haiku as a celebration of early spring.
The Mystery of Behind the Eyelids Images
By Cheryl Renee Long
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?
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!!”
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
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?
“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!
Post by Cheryl Renee Long
shamanic healing and
enfolding good thoughts
I consciously switch my energy to Receive.
I bask in the healing love of my friends, my family and possibly entities unknown to me.
–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
She is finding
cockles among the seaweed,
and her eyes, if you could see them,
have twin catchlights
like inverted crescent moons.
Post by Cheryl Renee Long:
Today is February 26, 2017. Thirteen days ago I had a mastectomy of the right breast. I am healing but it seems like a very long process. Some days I hurt enough to take pain medication, some days I think I can clean the entire house. Well I cannot, it doesn’t matter who is coming over to see me. The house has to wait.
Healing has its own schedule.