Special thanks to Jane Johnston for the cover art, a ritual Mandala entitled “Surrender.” Jane writes:
Jung observed mandalas, or sacred circles, depicted in art worldwide are representations of the self, and that drawing these circles assist in the containment and integration of life events.
Engaging in a deep inquiry requires a large container, and a year long meditation of painting a sacred mandala while holding a particular question is challenging, surprising, healing, truthful, connective and transformational. This form of self inquiry disrupts binaries, deepens self-awareness, and knowledge of the relationships between all things is gained allowing for a more realized wholeness.
The mandala is structured in such as way as to allow the painter access into progressively deeper levels of awareness, consciously moving through personal obstacles/defences. Both the inner and the outer world is engaged and unfolding synchronistic events speak to the question held. The goal is to free up the energy used to suppress and repress unconscious content through integration of experience.
The sacred mandala structure and meditative processes was taught to me by my spiritual mentor, Madeleine Shields (died November 16, 2005). Shields was a student of Jack Wise, a well known BC artist who made a lifetime study of the mandala. Shields enlarged on his work by engaging the images that arose in active imagination, forming a bridge between the conscious and unconscious, in aid of individuation. She mentored students on a one to one basis, and I was her student from 1995 to 1998.
Unlike traditional mandalas, in these “Western forms” the images are not predetermined but rather arise out of the paint/unconscious. The thick and textured water colour paper is pre-wetted thus the paint is immediately pulled in and as it moves along the fibres, images emerge, much as they do in clouds or puddles.
The brain makes patterns and the mind makes meaning of these patterns.The images are then carefully painted in, and this is part of the meditative process in bringing full attention to the end of one’s brush. At a later stage, the images are worked with consciously, amplified in written dialogue, much as a dream would be tended.
Ultimately, the work is about deliberately entering the experience of what arises and holding the tension consciously in order to transform. It is about creating sacred space for all parts to be held in non-duality, bringing forward a more realized, empathic self with which to meet the world.
Jane Johnston, mother and grandmother, lives with her beloved husband in the forest, by the sea, on the West Coast of Canada. Her background is in midwifery, Nursing and Clinical Counselling, with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. She can be reached at email@example.com
Life in the Hands, Cry in the Heart
By Catherine Baumgartner
I am being handed a chisel by the world
forced to carve out my own features
sloughing limestone and granite
grit in my eyes and between my teeth.
I hack away, now flailing, now caught
in the cadence of some finer move
that defines a hand or thigh. I am
chopping and scraping not just at stone
but at the layers of indignation that arise.
Why must I do this work upon myself?
Where is the watchful, masterful eye
to size me up and know exact
the strikes that will release my form
from the density of this hull? Why must I hold
awkward these instruments at the risk
of eyes and the certainty of scars, without
blueprints, with only the perspective
gained by standing back and surveying
the outline I make against the world in shadow
and in light. What do I do with the fire
that drives me towards the heart
of this stone, knowing even as I’m chiseling
and chiseling that a work of art
needs a body if it wants a lasting home.
There is salt and sweat and yes blood
mixed in, my patina hard-won, desired
not as armor but simply as a sense of my own
surfaces. There is hope yet that I will come
to hold this chisel not as a knife I turn against myself
but as a gift, revealed in the end as an assent
that I can indeed be the masterpiece that I am called
to make of this material I have been given -
so raw, so stubborn, yet so wanting to be made.
By Sharon Galliford
I am the one
Who sees through the facade
To the reality within.
Speaking of truth
With an open heart
I reveal to you
That place from which you hide,
For it is where your fears reside.
Yet here the jewel of your
Sacred inner being,
Buried beneath the
Dank and musty earthbound duties,
Still pulses with vital light
Awaiting the dawning of the day
When courage rests as a crest
Upon your forehead
And a mind focused by a
Resolves to dig soul deep.
Photo ©Kathryn LaFevers Evans (Three Eagles)
By Kathryn LaFevers Evans (Three Eagles, Chickasaw Nation)
How many days have the Islands descended
from the night at dawn
to float upon the horizon,
these Islands in the sky?
I heard of them from an old friend.
And now I see them, daily alighting,
upon the misted sea-sky.
How many people, barefoot and brown,
have watched them descend,
from ancient times?
Do they think of shells, buried in piles and white,
beneath the wild boars’ feet.
Are we thinking still,
of the sunsets from the Island shores,
the shellfish meals,
the seal pelts.
I can see the Island safely from these hills.
No need to tar my canoe.
I can sit in an old wind cave
and be glad for animal skins in winter.
How many grains of this sandstone rock have blown out to sea,
to rise up upon the Island shore?
How many more?
Will I watch every evening,
to see these Islands in the sky
rise up into the Heavens?
I will tar my canoe,
And ride up upon them to meet You.
Ariadne’s Back Yard
By Dennis Patrick Slattery
I stand amazed at the glowing
web across the eaves of our back door.
Puzzled by the spider’s labor
in the night
feeling some intricate design stir
in my belly.
I am hungry and alone
yet tied to this web that catches
the morning sun in its dew.
Wet by the welded air of
morning sticky filament
Born of the womb of the mother
who hovers now midweb—
Second story perch.
I can see there in the pattern of coil
in the labyrinth of solicitude
the whole of my life
anchored to a gutter,
then over to the branch of a
entrapped, full of force of cable
in mid-air, close to its body.
I race the design and
feel uncoil in me a life,
a day, a moment of clear
pattern—spun from so many
road lines that lead to a
center full of thin legs where
web and her marker slip into
the skin of the other—
Contained held still arrested.
I dream today into the filament of
repeated renewed replenished.
Origins stir in their wet fur.
Today perhaps only today
in the labyrinth of my journey
I will feel in my belly energy
so central so focused
disentangled from all desire
all repetition all interruption
that disturbs the threads of
so many lost yesterdays
line by tinseled line.
She loves me knot.
Dennis Patrick Slattery, November 2012.
What She Sees
By Brian Michael Tracy
I once saw a girl standing in the rain,
the umbrella in her hand closed.
Closed to the moonless night, the unlit houses,
the cats wet underneath their wicker chairs
and the cars and tires hissing by.
When I recall her there, motionless, there is no color.
Sometimes I think that if I pull back far enough,
open my memory wide enough,
more light will come: vulnerable, elapsed,
to land on her and what she sees.
As it is the image has become so bold in its monotone,
so dense, each gray detail dissolving into the black of the other,
that the cars have stopped, the cats stilled,
the rain no longer wet.
And so it comes to me now
that I stand next to her
as close as one can
When Dreams Were Chanted
by Hadley Fitzgerald
When dreams were chanted
and easy purple beauty
into the night
Now we lie frantic
so little music
hiding in dream water
under the moon
for her prayers
and gardens long
for our breath
By Laurie Corzett
Created from the Milky Way shining into Mother Moon,
Reflections from that ancient light emerging from her womb.
A sad guitar, a raging sax, emoting through the sea
Of stories sung through ages all, what was through what will be –
Were you the Lady of that lake, were you the piper’s reed?
Were you the luscious, sacred fruit fulfilling every need?
Yes, you the child dancing in the fullness of the night
To ring the rune and cast the spell to make the darkness bright.
Of goddess born to keep us safe and sing our lullabies
Till we emerge as sparkling stars to light the dreaming skies.
The Yellow Butterfly
By Thali Bower Williams
I walked along the shore yesterday
A powerful ocean
Falling melodiously upon itself.
Then to my surprise
A small yellow butterfly
Crossed my path,
Heading determinedly out to sea
In its own rag-tag butterfly way.
Delicate and fragile wings
Fluttering with great purpose,
Driven by instinctual desire,
To be above magnificent, thrusting oceanic swel
With only the endless, pulsating,
Shifting, watery depths
To meet its journey’s end.
What courage, this little creature!
I wonder if it knew that Autumnal death awaited,
Out, over that vast ocean.
I wonder if it cared.
Perhaps fulfilling soul’s dreamings
Was all that really mattered?