I am walking alone down a wash, a dry river bed in Southern Utah. The sun is low enough to cast a vermillion glaze of color over the highest rock formations.
My route takes me along an increasingly rocky dry river bottom. It is late in the day and I walk in the shadow of the canyon walls. My husband and dog are well ahead of me. I can hear only my own breathing and silence.
The canyon walls are gouged and violently ripped by recent flash floods. Ten foot piles of dry mud and piles of sharp shale, ripped off the canyon wall block my way. I navigate crossing with my alpine poles with relative ease. I am careful. A fall on the sharp rocks would not be good.
But… I have a feeling memory for a moment. I recapture the feeling of being twelve years old again and full of unconscious faith in my own body. I feel once again that I am strong, confident and capable.
And I remember that I was raised for this connection, this integration with nature. My family spent every available hour in wilderness. I was born to this. Rare, lucky, visionary parents.
I continue walking the canyon riverbed. The cerulean blue banding in the cliff looks like clay. I touch it and I distinctly feel the presence of a native woman harvesting the clay for body paint. I can see the red earth and the blue clay on her face and on her pony. They prepare for a ceremony.
The canyon opens into an amphitheater, lit vermillion by the ever lower sun.
The air in the canyon begins to chill and I pause to add a sweater. I hear the jingle of Juneau’s tags on his collar. He has come to herd me more quickly toward Tom.
I can see the white rock forms near our truck. There it is. We pile in, comparing the rock collections of the day. Our trailer is only three miles away. The sun is nearly down.
A year or two ago, I returned from a trip to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico with a head full of ancient Native American history and a mysterious sensing that then is still now.
While I was in that wild place of ancient civilization, I saw and photographed the flowers of the Sacred Datura. They were growing in a dry, weedy area in an alley behind a small town restaurant. They didn’t look like much, but I was beyond excited to see them.
Sacred Datura carries both myth and fact. It appears to be deadly poisonous to contemporary humans and animals, yet it was used extensively in puberty rituals by the tribal people of southern California. It is said that Lucrezia Borgia was the last Westerner to be able to control the dosages of datura accurately. Witches were said to apply datura vaginally with a broomstick, so witches “flying on broomsticks” derives from this ancient practice.
However, the ancient ways of controlling datura dosages seems to be a lost art. For 21st century humans, Datura is deadly, and kills hundreds of people a year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Thousands of others, the group says, are treated for Datura poisoning each year. Consuming Datura is something you do not want to try at home…or anywhere else.
And of course, no discussion of Datura, no matter how brief, would be complete without a nod to the great painter of the West, Georgia O’Keeffe.
Sacred Datura blooms at night when it is pollinated by the Hawk Moth.
Today as I began my open-ended journey across the American West with my husband Tom and dog Juneau, I hiked along the American River and spotted large white flowers in full bloom among the bike trail.
I knew what they were right away, but, I wondered to myself, how could it be that the Great Spirit was showing me a night blooming flower in the morning? My guess is the smoky October skies in California reduced the light enough that the flower was running late.
This is my original watercolor done after that now far-away journey to Chaco Canyon, and I feel it only partially expresses my fascination with Sacred Datura and its companion the Hawk Moth.
Now I have begun a new painting to ask myself, “What secret is Sacred Datura still trying to say to me?”
These are some images from my emerging process with a new painting exploring the powerful source image of the Datura flower.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to Your Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal Online Class
Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal began one day in Eastern Oregon when sister Cheryl gave sister Sandy a black paper artist’s journal and a handful of gel pens and Prismacolor pencils. Both of us started first to do scribble art.
Out of the darkness of the page emerged the figures of dream and imagination. I was as if we were cave painters putting our hands to the dark cave walls and blowing paint to mark our passing there. Spirit figures emerged from the dark pages of the cave and began to move in living color.
In 2008, we began posting our Mysterious Night Vision Field Journals on our blog. Memories, dreams, and reflections arose spontaneously from the Well of Soul.
In our Mysterious Night Vision Field Journals, we see the outer world in reverse, as if in a mirror. Slightly disoriented, in love with vivid color, we pursue the soul’s uncensored purpose.
We are so glad you are joining us!
In this class, you will be given a short lesson and a drawing assignment or challenge every other day. Videos and examples are provided for direction and inspiration. There are also bonus assignments for those who have time to explore more deeply.
Some of the assignments are:
- Draw a Dream Animal
- Draw a Volcano, Tsunami or Other Dramatic Natural Disaster
- Draw a Jungle
- Draw a Soul Portrait
- Draw a Dream
You will write about your images, then take a photo (with your cell phone, for example) and add to the class. There you will be able to give and receive imaginative, supportive feedback.
Cheryl Renee Long is the instructor for this course. She’s the blonde in the photo.
Her sister, Sandy Brown Jensen, will be taking the course alongside you. Sandy is also the resident techie, so feel free to consult with her with any tech related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
We love our Mysterious Night Vision Journals, and we are excited to be sharing this passion with you.
On March 5, 2016, Daniel Smith Artist Supplies in Seattle, WA, sponsored a Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal workshop by Cheryl Renee Long and Sandy Brown Jensen. This video captures that event and the spontaneous art produced by the 13 participants. The pool is still open–jump on in! The registration button is on the home page of this blog post.