Rage,Terror and Grief in America

The beautiful central mandala is surrounded by kinetic geometric figures who protect it from defilement or corruption. The large “X” shaped rays leading to the center is another symbol of protection. Just as protectors arise to keep the earth from desecration, so too we have invisible protectors for our soul. No matter what happens to us from the outside, our core can never be damaged.

The beautiful central mandala is surrounded by kinetic geometric figures who protect it from defilement or corruption. The large “X” shaped rays leading to the center is another symbol of protection. Just as protectors arise to keep the earth from desecration, so too we have invisible protectors for our soul. No matter what happens to us from the outside, our core can never be damaged.

Rage, Terror And Grief in America

As I read the news reports filled with rage, terror and grief, of corruption and violence, I am tempted to fall into a kind of hopelessness.

When I see how many people are hurt, crying out in pain, who are invalidated, mocked and attacked for asking for a right to be heard, a right to thrive, I want to despair. I witness our institutions in a state of collapse, how the way our economic system is at war with our own constitution, how cruelty, torture, war, and the crushing of dreams has become accepted and synonymous with leadership and American exceptionalism. It is easy to want to give up. Looking how rigged the election process truly is, how our major candidates lust for the Ring of Power, I want to recoil in disgust and shame. I’d prefer to go numb, zone out, give into the impulse that says there is nothing I can do that will make a difference. During those times my little self looks for someone to pin the blame on, some evil force out there. But soon it finds a closer target, some evidence that maybe it’s me, that I’ve failed, turned the wrong corner, been lazy or irresponsible, that I’ve offended God. Truthfully, I want to cry with pent up feelings and frustration. But really, maybe we are all enduring a hell of a lot of grief, terror and rage right now. It’s pretty intense to just remain present on earth right now during such an enormous transition and retelling of the Great Story. Many of us have endured a lot of loss and while some parts of life get better, other parts seem to get worse. Bottom line; things aren’t going to be the same. I’m not so innocent now and I suspect most of us aren’t. Loss of innocence does have its cost and I often find I find I must consciously breathe, to a count, just to keep the panic at bay. During these times when it can be hard to sleep, hard to get up, hard to keep going, I journey down to the garden and sing praises to the zucchini, talk lovingly to the tomatoes, and marvel at the beauty of the beans. In the old model, I thought I was supposed to be a great hero, a brave activist, a back-to-the-land pioneer, an eco building contractor, a brilliant psychotherapist. None of that was the “me” I came to be. Instead, I spent most of my life learning firsthand about the experience and the effects of trauma. I was the subject, the object and the experiment. This year I turned 70 and faced renewed health challenges. I also found that selling art in the marketplace was more challenging than before. I had to work at telling myself that everything that has showed up at the doorstep, even Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, has helped me to evolve and grow. FRUSTRATION AT GOD Sometimes I’ve been so frustrated that I have wanted to smash my art, like Moses smashing the 10 commandments. I get scared and insecure because things don’t always happen the way I want them to. All my old conditioning and imprinting surfaces with those little nasty voices that basically tell me to quit being an artist and get a real job. Fortunately, talking to myself like a prison guard doesn’t work anymore. Sometimes I have to go out into the mountains, set up a chair by the creek and yell and scream at God for being such an asshole, for being so intractable, so far away, and so difficult to please. I hate it that I don’t get rewarded for trying to “do good.” I hate feeling like God is against me because I can’t get what I think I need. So I have to sort of vomit up all this stuff and vibrate it away from me with sound or breath or visualization. In the end, isn’t this confrontation with the God I image still me? Isn’t the consciousness that is screaming the same one that is being screamed at? Almost always, I wind up having to release old judgments and repressed feelings that well up like geyser. How often is it me I’m disappointed in, projecting and blaming God instead? How many times do I find myself still carrying the old ancestral load of shame and guilt? SHOWING UP Nowadays it’s a chore just to show up. But I keep telling myself that if I can keep going, even if it's a crawl, I can stay awake with respect. To me right now, that is everything. I think that it takes a lot of courage to stand steady while all around there is chaos brewing. I don’t mean the kind of courage that urges one to pick up a gun; it’s the kind of courage that keeps one’s faith in love, connection, forgiveness and compassion. For me, that translates into being authentic and honest about what I feel. Not so easy to do. When I meditate or do journey work, I get very strongly that no matter what I lose, what I don’t get that I think I absolutely need, no matter what I have or don’t have in terms of recognition, money, a home, or anything material at all, I am still loved and I am still love. I still have dignity. Although sometimes I am flooded by waves of feeling alone, that I’m no longer on God’s radar, still, there is that love in me that is with me always. Like a mandala, it is the center point from which I can re-flower myself. PROJECTING OUR STUFF I write this because I am conscious of the fact that whatever I deny, whatever I reject in my consciousness, comes back to me in a form of a fate I cannot control. This seems to me to be a spiritual law of creation, no less potent than the law of gravity. I have this odd feeling that whatever rage, terror, grief and shame I suppress will find its way into the empowerment of demagogues and false prophets who are only too willing to project it out on designated enemies in the form of violence and revenge. That’s the power of the Shadow, the power of projection.  Deep down I am convinced it’s not global warming that is the real problem, it’s loving ourselves, which would take care of just about everything. WHAT TO DO So while I have no global answers, no heroic stances, and no wondrously insightful solutions to our problems, I do have a response to myself. Go plant a tree, help a friend dry apples, lend a drill, share my true feelings. Dispel the darkness by lighting my own light. Hold myself with love and tenderness. Reach out when possible. I can’t put the bankers in jail or fix the rigged voting system. I can’t stop fascism in America. But I can write this post, get out in the garden, make a rock mandala, take a walk, display my greeting cards at the local art store, and forgive myself for judging myself for not having enough, doing enough and being enough. I can also thank the divine intelligence for gifting me with consciousness and this earth, for loving me, caring for me, and helping me through every step of the way. And maybe for today, that will be enough.  

The Great Awakening

BeaconThere are those among us now, many I think, who increasingly feel the urgency and the power of a “call,” a beckoning to become something more than we are. There is a sense of something invisible and awesome pulling us in its tractor beam, accompanied by a feeling that we must attend to something essential and if we do not, we may sicken or even die. This feeling may have a variety of antecedents. Perhaps there was a period of physical, emotional or spiritual pain, loss, panic and anxiety, or sudden states of ecstasy. Perhaps we once felt in control but now we are not. Maybe we sense the presence of angels, spiritual beings, or ancestors trying to get our attention. Maybe we have spontaneously entered a dark night of the soul and experience ourselves in a state of disintegration, enduring a long ordeal in whose grip we cannot imagine emerging from whole again. Maybe it’s the experience of finding ourselves in a world in chaos with the barbarians at the door. We know that something has shifted and life will never be the same. Whatever the origin of this call, whatever we call it; shamanic, visionary, spiritual, transpersonal, God…it has the effect of placing us beyond the limits of conventional reality because it alters profoundly what we have believed to be true about our relationship to the universe. There is a sense that something unknown is bending our awareness far beyond the trance of the shopping channels to the perception that we are in fact, divine beings. However we arrive at this awesome awareness, once it has started, we cannot stop the process. We have not so much been chosen as we have been magnetized by the gravity of the great Attractor. We are heading with increasing speed into the center of the cosmic Mandala, the black hole in our own universe through which we are being reborn as a new species. Part of the urgency of this call seems to come from sensing ourselves not as an isolated microscopic entity powerlessly stranded on a random rock in space, but as a vibrant jewel of light interconnected in an awesome neural net that is at least 4 billions years old. This “net” seems to exist as a spectacular species mind utterly intent on remembering not only its entire evolutionary past but in manifesting its yet unrealized future, all in the context of some inscrutable cosmic purpose. It is this plan and the divine intention that created it that we are now becoming conscious of. How did it happen that this enormous Being began to awaken? I don’t know. But it seems that the entire species is being awakened from a collective dream, all at once, at this moment in history. And this mass awakening is unprecedented in the experience of the species. Everything we see, the violence, the collapse, the chaos, the collective terror, the world wide tyranny, is all an indication that some new Great Story, some new Myth (in the Joseph Campbell sense of the word) is emerging into the collective consciousness bringing with it the power to renew our decaying world. In a word, we are becoming conscious of our own metamorphosis. The awe of feeling ourselves part of a vast intentional evolution for some mysterious purpose not yet realized can cause one to feel completely overwhelmed. The huge jolt of cosmic energy surging through tiny wires not designed for this kind of download can create heat and resistance that in turn can translate into somatic symptoms, illness, panic, anxiety, disorientation, despair and even a kind of divine madness. Is this like the shamanic sickness of old morphed into a newer more collective form? I wonder how many people are having the experience right now of this kind of call? What would be the effect on them if they knew how many others were having a similar experience? How would it help to renew within them a new image that more accurately reflects their own true identity? I bring this up because I am sharing such an experience with many others. In my personal case, the reason that I’m an artist at all is because nearly 7 years ago, I experienced a rapid chaotic psycho-physical/transpersonal crisis that we now call a spiritual emergency. And fairly early on a series of mandala images started to pour out of me like a fountain. Each one of them seemed to symbolize concepts like “the unity of life”, “the order behind the chaos,” and the fact that we are love, beauty and magnificence beyond our wildest imaginings. They indicated an intelligence that is “purposeful” and inscrutable. The images indicated that far from being an accident and a mechanical chemical process, our consciousness was beyond the brain and filled with the divine expression of love. That much seemed obvious, even though it contradicted the most ardent assumptions of our science. The process that caused me to release these images from inside me and change the story I was telling myself about who I am nearly did me in. It involved a psychic crucifixion and entry into a dark night in my soul that I feared I would never emerge from. I felt helpless and paralyzed, sure that I was going mad. I experienced being crushed, deconstructed, and shattered almost beyond what I could endure. I was filled with dread, panic, despair, grief, and a feeling that I was ruined and utterly abandoned by God. There were physical symptoms as well: enormous head pressure, ear ringing, shaking, jolts, extreme muscle tension, intolerance of noise, people or TV’s. For a time I couldn’t eat and for a much longer time I couldn’t sleep. I was reduced to taking medications just to get rest. I could easily feel the ears of whales and dolphins being shattered by the Navy’s use of low frequency active sonar. The violence and denial of our society became intolerable. But after more than two years, there were some turning points and I started to get up again and return to myself, albeit once through all that ordeal, I thought I should be done, that I should heal and the trouble recede far behind. But now, 7 years away from that initial crisis, a new round of symptoms have returned, this time in the form of chronic pain, paralyzing fatigue, intolerance of inauthenticity in myself and others, and the sense that I simply must come out. I have become interested in shamanism, in how to enter non-ordinary realities and contact healing spirits, in how to heal myself. I have felt an urgency to integrate the reality of an emerging new great story. My evidence for the fact that something incredibly significant is happening in the collective consciousness is the response I am receiving to the images I have painted. For the past several years now, as I show my paintings at the Santa Fe Society of Artists art market, I have noticed that there has been a steady stream of people who have “recognized” something in the images that reflects the process they themselves have been going through. They have wanted to talk, to share their own experiences, to somehow validate that they are not alone. Like myself, they have craved some new way at looking at the chaos, hopelessness, powerlessness and grief that we are all experiencing in the collapse of our institutions, our natural world, and in our own world views. We are wandering now in a new territory. We are like children, Hansel and Gretel; no breadcrumbs to throw down, no string to mark the return path. We are together now in crisis, which is marked by danger on the one hand and opportunity on the other. It is the signature of The Great Awakening that is happening now. In ancient myths, the archetype of the hero’s journey begins with the loss of their familiar surroundings, which leads to the “ordeal.“ The hero or heroine finds themselves in strange territories, magical circumstances, and arduous encounters with danger that tests their courage and endurance. The ordeal is the prerequisite for finding magical helpers, mentors, allies, animal guides and divine assistance. The hero or heroine is forced to go beyond their own limited boundaries in order to get gifts they need to survive the uncertainty and danger and bring back to their communities so that the people can once again thrive. Like them, we have been dragged or tricked into in a collective underworld, with strange hands reaching out to grab us even as we try to escape dark corridors of uncharted territory. Even though there is the world of politics and TV, of newspapers and shopping, of traffic and work, there is the terrifying sense that we are no longer in a world we know. There is climate change, blatant political corruption, institutional collapse, unspeakable violence, economic cruelty, torture and endless war. Our culture has lost spiritual and moral power and compensates with delusions of exceptionalism. There is no way out. We are in a box canyon. We cannot go back, terrified of going forward. We live in a collective schizophrenia: On the one hand, our science tells us there is no God, no spirit, no healing energies, no life after death. We are “random accidents.” On the other our religions have reduced God to a homophobic, irrational, scripture-thumping tyrant obsessed with abortion and filled with rage, violence, retribution and damnation. The collective belief system about who we are and why we are here that has been cobbled together with 400-year old scientific assumptions and 2000-year old religious dogmas are collapsing in conflict and impotence. Instead it has become a tool for tyrants and vested interests to preserve their own power. No wonder we are afraid! At times we ask, “Why me?” We may feel despair. Yet we know instinctively that we must continue onward, that we cannot live there. We must endure and dance with the pain that comes from living in these times. To stay sane we must listen to the cosmic music and find a way to communicate with the healing spirits that await our presence. The reality of our times is bringing forth the voice of not just our individual souls but of our collective soul. The soul’s emergence is a call to become more authentic and listen not to second hand religious stories or societal threats to conform but to our connection to a living Spirit that is now returning to its own creation. The reward of attending to this call is to release a great gift within us, one that perhaps we never even knew we had. It is the gold we are given when we return from the ordeal of being refashioned, which is what happens when we wander in this new uncharted territory. It is how the new great story manifests in us with the power to assist in renewing a world dying from lack of vision and leadership. The Great Awakening is the dawn of a new great story about an entire species emerging from the earth-spell, away from the conviction that we must somehow escape into the light this hellish entrapment of physicality and into the realization that we belong here, that we have a right to thrive and shine, that we are here to embody heaven on earth! We are in process. No matter how strongly our body’s clench or how many times the old traumas surface, we are healing. What is happening now is a blessing, even if it is a crisis of unprecedented proportions. As unfathomable and as ruthless as this process seems now, still, it is guided by a profound love and compassion for what we are being asked to endure. Perhaps we are doing so for the sake of realizing a grand purpose and pattern set forward at the beginning of the Creation itself by this divine being of which we are an integral and indescribably loved part. For without our willing participation, how can it ever know Itself? As Rumi writes of God telling Moses, “I was a treasure and I desired to be known.”

The Function of Evil

The function of evil is to rekindle in our awareness the presence of the Divine in all things and in all situations. It is to bend our attention towards the conviction that  LOVE  is the premier force of the universe.

The New Great Story

Too Big To Fail-72ppiIt’s been extremely difficult if not frightening to try to paint lately, during this incredibly potent , magical and nightmarish time. Like so many others, it is overwhelming to be witness to a time in history when the barbarians are not only at the gate, they are in the gate. It has been noted that during times of great upheaval, when the entire edifice of our shared collective belief system is threatening to crash at any moment, that is the time when the artists, visionaries and writers arise to help us navigate and name that momentous pivot point in our evolution that can be called “The Changing of the Gods. Perhaps it is not so much a literal changing of actual Gods, as it is a reimaging of the Great Story that has defined us. The Great Story is really the culture’s myth about who they are and why they are here. In our western culture this is called the Judeo-Christian myth, and it reflects a certain image of God the Father with a long list of manly attributes. For the last 400 years this myth has been modified by the scientific revolution, which it seems has given religion a rather material and mechanistic bent. Even so, for millenniums this myth has been a vital if not brutal face of who we imagine ourselves to be, what we collectively believe to be reality and where our place in the universe actually is. But now this Great Story has lost its power. The function of any cultural myth, any Great Story, has always been to renew and heal. But slowly, over hundreds of years, it has fallen into a cynical view of power that justifies harming and killing. The visionary power of Christ that electrified human beings has been organized, diluted, institutionalized and dogmatized into impotency. Thus, the Great Story is no longer capable of renewing itself or the people. It has increasingly fallen into the hands of those who want to rule the world. When Great Story becomes co-opted to serve the petty needs of tyrants it becomes deathly ill. No one can save it. This is the meaning of the phrase, ”Where there is no vision, the people perish.” What happens next is the onset of decay. We can witness the rise of fundamentalism, the justification for torture, the mass incarceration and the consolidation of wealth into the hands of a few. There is crime, depression, anxiety, terror, suicide, and addiction. The entire web of mutually benefiting relationships begins to break down, and brother turns on brother. This is the metaphorical story of Cain and Abel. As in the myth of the Fisher King, the earth goes fallow and the people begin to die, spiritually and physically. All this points to a time of chaos. Although the function of chaos is about course correction and not about punishment, it can certainly feel like punishment. But if we look at our present predicament like a spiritual emergency, that is, a rapid, chaotic psychological and spiritual transformation, then the symptoms have a trajectory, one whose potential leads to healing and a more expanded awareness of the unity of all life. The manifestation of chaos in our time has some potent shamanic elements. We are collectively being dragged kicking and screaming into our own collective underworld where the entire image of who we are is being dismembered and deconstructed by forces we are powerless to influence. Practically overnight, we find ourselves on the path of the ordeal. This is the realm of the archetype of the hero’s journey. It’s about the soul finally stepping forward in order for its needs to be acknowledged and attended to so that a gift might be released. Because when the soul steps forward, the limited ego has no choice but to step back and this can be extremely painful. The soul wants to have a say now in what is most true, beautiful and magnificent about who we are as human spirits. So first, there must be a death, an end to the old story and to the illusion that we are separate beings. That can feel like a Dark Night of the Soul. We can feel lost, utterly abandoned by God, angry, confused, and horribly alone. We no longer care about the things that used to distract and entertain us. Our relationships change. We feel despair and unspeakable grief. We long for the presence of comforting Spirit in our lives. Yet, even as the old story within us is dying, a new story is on its way. It is being birthed right now, even as we speak. This is like the myth of the Phoenix. In the birthing of the new Great Story that I see, we are the co-creators of it. By definition, the new Great Story informs us that we are not alone in the universe but are in fact altogether linked into one cosmic web of intelligence, one unity of life. We are in partnership with the divine intelligence and that source is in us. War becomes unthinkable. The idea that some beings are entitled to rule the rest becomes ludicrous. The new Great Story is a conviction that what we do to the other we do to ourselves. It is about living the truth that everything is alive and therefore sacred. Overpowering the earth with pollution and exploitation in the name of private profit is seen as a form of insanity. The new Great Story is about each of us allowing the Divine Intelligence to return to its own creation, not as religious dogma, but as a living presence in us. God is no longer “out there” but in here. And one of the signs that the Divine Presence is returning is that all the rules about what is possible start to change. And then we do too. So as an artist, how does one express this? How can one express the unseen presence of Spirit that is our essence? My own purpose in doing art at all commenced more than six years ago after a personal spiritual emergency that forced me to find some sort of order in the chaos, some sign that behind my own personal pain there was loving intent and not punishment. It forced me to try to grapple with the ancestral conditioning of a vengeful, wrathful, insane God who cast people into hell for even looking wrong in the lineup. The art that emerged for me during this time in the form of the geometric mandala was a kind of personal proof that there was a living presence of beauty and love in the universe that was beyond my limited understanding and conditioning. I viewed the art that emerged as actual evidence of our divine origins and the fact that we are already saved. If God is us and we are God, how can God cast himself into hell eternally and not die Himself? This was no easy insight. For me, with my own entrenched ego, it has involved a long ordeal of terror, anxiety, panic, body somatization, and painful doubt. It has involved moving through the conditioning of my own traumatic past and the religious conditioning of my Mormon ancestors. For me at least, it has been no small matter to stand before the inevitable confrontation with death that seems built into accepting the true power of our own spiritual nature. So how to face the burning bush, like Moses on the mount? How can something be so beautiful and terrible at the same time? It is true that my practice of art right now is really difficult. It’s hard to put into an image what I’m saying here and yet, I feel I must try. Like many others, I get terrified. I have my sleepless nights. I have my illness, my chronic pain, my doubts. And like many others, I have that experience of my heart permanently breaking at the senseless violence of our times. The purpose of this post is to share with you that the art that I do, that was born out of an intense and almost unendurable crisis of the soul, has been urging me lately to speak in words about this process and share what my experience is of living through these times. It is all about the reimaging of God and thus ourselves, so that peace, renewal, prosperity and life can once again return to this planet we call our home. It is about the right to thrive and claim the gifts awaiting us when we attend to the needs of the soul. It is about love, pure and simple.

Metamorphosis

  Metamorphosis 72 dpi The butterfly is the image of metamorphosis, the mysterious process by which the entire human species is transformed from a limited isolated state of consciousness to a more expanded awareness of the unity and sacredness of all life. At a pivotal point in our evolution, we spontaneously enter into an internal trance-like “cocoon” in which our old identity is radically refashioned. When we emerge from this protective enclosure, we have new-found wings, renewed purpose, joy and unimagined beauty. Our own metamorphosis stimulates this awakening process in others, unleashing dynamic new possibilities.

Why I Paint

I am often asked, “Where do you get your inspiration for these images?” “How did you name them and produce the commentary that goes with them?” “It must have taken a such a long time to produce such detail, how do you find the focus?” I am unsure of how to answer these questions because the truth is that the source of these images is the same for me and for you. All creativity comes from the realm of the soul, a place that is beyond the brain in a mystical domain that binds us all as a species. Because my painting was born out of the experience of a dark night of the soul, out of such a profound healing crisis of consciousness, each painting is essentially the same painting over and over expressed in a myriad of different ways. Every painting expresses the idea that we are all one being in a unity of life, that there is a divine order behind the apparent chaos, that we are loved and ARE love beyond what we can even imagine, and that there is a major sea change now underway in our collective belief system about who we are, why we are here and what is worth doing. This “paradigm shift” is now accelerating at an exponential rate and involves a collective shaman’s journey into our own underworld. This means that our prevailing Judaic-Christian and scientific myths are breaking down. We are moving away from centuries of believing in a vengeful, jealous, angry, male God who resides “out there” in heaven and moving toward a new image of God as love, joy, mercy, compassion, prosperity and redemption that is inside each one of us. The old Calvinistic story that only a select few of us have been saved while the rest of us are damned no matter what we do, is dying, along with the hierarchical notion that there are a few superior chosen beings entitled to dominate and rule others by virtue of their wealth and power. For 400 years science has assumed that all life is a random accident. It has insisted that the physical universe is completely devoid of intelligent design and that the only way of knowing reality is through objective observation and reducing everything into its component parts. In doing so it has cleaved reality into parts, extolling the objective, denying the subjective, elevating reason and demoting intuition. It has asserted that consciousness is a product of the brain despite challenges from quantum physics, systems theory, Near Death Experience, noetics, and age-old spiritual traditions that the entire universe may be the result of consciousness. Science like religion has become dogma, blind to its own assumptions and increasingly powerless to prevent us from destroying ourselves or to address our most noble spiritual and visionary experiences as anything more than pathology or fantasy. It can tell us how to do things but it cannot tell us whether they are worth doing. Just as I experienced a personal dark night of the soul, where I felt utterly without hope, completely abandoned by God, totally bereft of all comfort, consumed with the greatest of spiritual agony, my identity utterly destroyed, I now feel that all of us, collectively, are similarly entering a dark night of the soul. The rise of religious fundamentalism, the relentless attacks on the earth, the rapacious greed, the dependence of the economic system on violence and war to maintain it, the political corruption, the extreme polarization and focus on terror are all symptoms of this entry into the dark night. As a species, we are in a hall of mirrors. Everything we see now is a reflection of ourselves. We cannot escape the reality of our own shadow by controlling things, by changing forms but not the essence, by manipulation, by force, by having temper tantrums and smashing all the dishes, or by blaming the evil others and tying to exterminate them with endless wars. We cannot excuse ourselves from the cultural collapse now taking place by imagining that we will be lifted in rapture while the heathen be damned or that we are exceptional beings exempt from the fate of rest of the world. This collective descent means that the old stories and myths that have for so long informed and revitalized our culture are decayed and dying, without the power to renew, guide or inspire us any longer. Yet like the Phoenix, a new story, a new myth, is preparing to arise from the ashes. A descent into chaos is not simply because we are being punished but because we are being blessed! The intent behind such a journey into darkness is healing. It is the great corrective that we need in order to see who we really are and to become spiritually authentic. The purpose of all journeys to the underworld is to die to what we thought we were and become reborn to who we truly are. That transformational process leads to a spiritual emergence; a return from the darkness into the light bearing the exact gift that is needed at this particular moment in our evolutionary history. That is what my paintings are about. The gift. They are images that reflect the magnificent love and beauty of what we are. They express the perception that even in the darkest times, there is a divine order behind the chaos and that that order is in us. They express the Great Awakening, the unprecedented moment in history when an entire species awakens from millenniums of slumber. I am not a trained painter nor did I paint from childhood. I did not go to art school. I paint because I yearn to somehow give voice to the soul within who could not, after so many incarnations, contain and repress itself any longer. That is why I paint and that is where these images come from.    

The Art of Watercolor Mandalas: Healing Images of the Soul

Mandala Class at Artisan's in Santa Fe, NM

Mandala Class at Artisan's in Santa Fe, NM

Introduction to the Presentation

You have likely heard the saying that “where there is no vision the people perish.” And certainly it would appear that we live in a time where vision a pathology and blindness a virtue. Many observers over the past few decades have noticed that
  • in times of cultural change and shock,
  • when the stories religion and science tell us about who we are , why we are here and what we are supposed to do become too constricting to our questing human spirit,
  • when the culture’s teachings omit something absolutely vital
  • and when some aspect of the dominant doctrine deeply injures the soul
THEN, in those times, the prevalent myth or story about who we are and why we are here will ultimately lose its power or degenerate into fanaticism, violence and various forms of chaos. When that happens, the society becomes demoralized, fragmented, and defeated and there is decay and collapse into fear, poverty, and polarization. Metaphorically the land becomes barren, a lot like the myth of the Fisher King. However, it is precisely at that time when certain kinds of visionaries, artists, poets, musicians, and heroes re-emerge. And they have a task to do. That task, is to bring forth a new image and vision, a new story that in some way explains more deeply who we are and why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing  in such a way  that it renews that culture’s relationship  to the cosmic order & the sacred patterns of the earth. If the culture can ACCEPT & RECEIVE these new images then a new shared collective belief system, a new paradigm,  can be embraced and the society can evolve and thrive once again and thus become fertile. So what does this have to do with mandalas and how are they healing images of the soul? The basic thesis of this demonstration is that the creation of a mandala is, by its very nature, a potent way of accessing the images of the new paradigm. This is by definition,  a healing process for the soul. It seems to me that mandala painting is a way of focusing our consciousness on a deeper, more authentic and more expanded version of our greater identity that subordinates our limited ego and thus, helps re-connect our awareness to the whole. That focus automatically takes us “out of the box” as it were, and moves us closer to a greater awareness of our purpose…that is, who we are, why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing. It is interesting to note that the root of the word mandala comes from the Sanskrit and means circle and center. In a variety of cultures the term mandala represents the geometric or circular pattern or plan of the cosmos either symbolically or metaphysically. It also represents the microcosm of the universe from a spiritual or enlightened perspective. In many traditions, it represents the divine intelligence made visible. In psychology it represents the SELF. From the art as activism perspective, it represents a kind of spiritual lighthouse. Mandalas have been used for thousands of years in many cultures in ritual, healing, worship, astronomy, calendars, sacred architecture, initiation, meditation, focusing and concentration, trance induction,  communication with the divine and in spiritual instruction to name a few. A mandala implies  love, wholeness, unity, oneness, the quintessential, the pattern behind the form, the order behind the chaos, timelessness, the great cycles, Spirit, Divinity and much more. Thus, mandalas have become linked metaphors for the unity of all creation and the individualized soul as it is connected to a divine and sacred SOURCE. Although few of us have ever seen a soul directly, we all feel it  to exist. And feeling is clearly another form of seeing, one we often invalidate. So by “Soul”  I mean the sense of something central, something in the center, something that is THE immortal, non-material individual essence of each person that is indelibly  connected to a much larger divine pattern. It feels to me very much like a mandala, a magnificent pattern of who we are. It seems to me that the primary language of soul is imagery and feeling. This includes dance, music, poetry and high art. Fortunately, mandalas by their very nature, are perfectly suited to enabling the soul to speak in its own language of its relationship to its own divine source, without judgment, censorship  or the looking to outside authorities for validation. So, the creation of a mandala becomes a ritual act of deep listening to and then expressing this message from the soul. That in itself takes us beyond the boundaries of our conventional reality. It is that experience of moving beyond our own boundaries that is visionary, transformative and healing. I have come to this way of thinking because a little more than 3 years ago I passed through a crisis of soul that was a sudden and overwhelming psychological transformation that at first appeared pathological but that in fact, had a trajectory that led me towards healing and an expanded awareness of the unity of all life. At the time I did not think I would survive nor did I imagine that I could possibly endure the pain, grief, and loss of the dark night of the soul that overshadowed my life during that 3-year period. Nevertheless, I did survive. And out of that chaos emerged this process of painting mandalas that helped me so much and which I have been doing ever since. And so, here I am. I hope that by sharing this process with you, you too may utilize this wonderful form of soul healing. -Richard Welker, Santa Fe, NM  March 16, 2013            

Aboriginal Healing: The Blessing at Doubtful Creek

Aboriginal Healing 600x600 The painting above is entitled "Aboriginal Healing: The Blessing at Doubtful Creek." Copyright 2013 by Richard Welker, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. It should rightfully be called "Githabul Healing" in that the word aboriginal is a European designation that does not honor the way native Australians refer to themselves.   This painting was inspired by Ydo and Jarmbi of the Githabul nation and all of the protectors at Doubtful Creek, near Casino in the Australian state of New South Wales. Doubtful Creek is the site of a fracking pad located directly in the heart of the ancient land of the Githabul people. This land is now shared by many European Australians who have transformed much of this place into some of the most beautiful and rich farmland in Australia. This fracking for natural gas, all to be sent to China, is sanctioned by the state, and now threatens an entire community; their water supply and air, the food supply, their sanity, their way of life and 40,000 years of aboriginal harmony with nature.   The painting signifies to me the profound meeting of the light skinned and the dark skinned as One. It is an acknowledgment that the fate of the one IS the fate of the other. It represents a healing and a humbling of the European/Anglo assumption of innate superiority prevalent around the world that is destroying the very fabric of nature and threatening all sentient lifeforms on earth.  

A Letter To President Obama

The letter below was sent to Barack Obama along with a 5 x 7 greeting card entitled "Divine Intervention" by Richard Welker copyright 2012

A Letter to President Barack Obama

Dear President Obama, I am one of the some sixty million people who voted to give you one last chance to stand for love, for economic justice, and for the environment. I voted not so much for you but for the hope of the world. It would seem obvious now that a new paradigm is being birthed: one whose main question is, “Is this act loving? Is it kind, is it compassionate, does it cause pain and suffering to the other who is myself?” I ask this of you because the base that elected you, progressives, women, Latinos, people of color, Native peoples, unions, working class, and youth, do not support drone killings, Keystone pipelines, GMO foods, endless war, reductions on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, persecution of whistleblowers, and the appeasement of the far right in favor of increased wealth redistribution to the top 1 %. We want you to champion the desperately needed dialogue on climate change before we are extinct, as the World Bank now reports is a very real scenario. We want you to champion the saving of our environment while advocating, funding and empowering an earth-friendly economic system. We want you to bail out the people and punish the banks, not the other way around. And we want you to stop shaming our country with slavish and demeaning allegiance to Israel no matter how egregious her government’s conduct. Above all, we want you to read the handwriting on the wall: We Are All One People. There is no other. Our collective purpose is transformation and justice. Thus, it is not just your last chance personally, it is our collective last chance as a country to align ourselves with truth and  hope.  Either we choose love as the way to save this world or we choose politics as the way to destroy it. I pray you choose love. Sincerely, Richard Welker / PO Box 31704 / Santa Fe, NM  87594

Hand Writing On The Wall

Hand Writing On The Wall A new mandala image entitled, "Hand Writing on the Wall" by Richard Welker, copyright 2012. At this posting, we are now 25 days before the end of the Mayan calendar long count and the end of a long age. The old and decayed image of a wrathful, punishing God who sends the vast majority of his children to hell to be tortured for eternity is dying. All around us we can see the collapse of this ancient belief system. We are entering a new paradigm characterized by universal love, cooperation, equality of feeling and reason, and respect not only for each other but for our Mother, this earth. A new awareness is growing that contrary to the dogma of scientism, it is consciousness itself that is the fundamental cause of matter and not the other way around. The writing on the wall is the inevitability of a new global mind change, a new collective belief system, and a new vision for humanity to emerge. The title of this image recalls the story in the Bible in the book of Daniel of the handwriting on the wall that was witnessed at a banquet hosted by king Belshazzar. As those at the feast profaned the sacred vessels pillaged from the Jerusalem Temple, a disembodied hand appeared and wrote on the palace wall the words, "Mene, Mene, Tekel, u-Pharsin." The prophet Daniel was summoned and interpreted this message as the imminent end for the Babylonian kingdom. That night, Belshazzar was killed and the Persians sacked the capital city. (from Wikipedia)