Acrylic, Blue Corn, Sage, and Tobacco on Canvas
39 "X 63" X 2"
Grandmother is the wise woman the holder and the keeper of the ancient wisdom of times once lost to the modern age. She is seer and keeper of the law of One and she is the Elder Woman of all Nations. She has brought her children forth in guided wisdom so that they may walk a path in the light, and she has foster care for their dreams to come. She holds the wisdom the ancients in her womb.
“When the wisdom of the grandmothers is heard, the world will heal.” Hopi
The Story: The process of painting has been one of my greatest teachers. It consistently shows me how to live my life in a good way. There have been numerous times I’ve felt as though I’m making a big mess on my canvas. I claim, “no mistakes, Namaste’” and persevere, never to give up. Always a beautiful unfoldment appears in the painting and my consciousness. Learning to Trust is mostly likely the biggest for me. Trusting my self and my intention, trusting the process and knowing there is a perfection in every moment.
When I can, I like to reuse old canvas that I collect or am given by friends. The canvas I had planned to use for “Grandmother” had blown over in a strong wind, which tore a big hole in it. I thought I'd have to throw it away. In my meditation I heard, “use it anyway, this will be a painting about trust”. I bought some canvas material and cut out a circle to cover the hole.
The night before I began “Grandmother”, I had a dream. I was wrapping sage I had collected at a Sun Dance Ceremony in Southern Oregon. When I awoke I wrote down my dream as I have done for years. I am a dreamer and pay great attention to the gifts that come out of my dreamtime. I felt it was a symbolic medicine dream. I was sure I hadn’t any sage left from Sun Dance and so I didn’t believe it to be prophetic. But, when I went outside in the morning to begin my painting, underneath the flagstone table I often use to paint on when the weather permits, “magically” stacked in perfect order was a pile of sage. Enthralled and completely dumbfounded, I knew this sage had appeared out of nowhere, my dream had been prophetic. Spirit was giving me a message to wrap the sage and use it in the painting.
The same day that I started her, two women friends came over to paint with me. I like to share, have fun and encourage my friends’ creativity. Excited I shared about my dream and the stacked sage. I knew it was going to be a powerful day and a powerful painting.
We began by sitting all together and speaking from our hearts about how we feel about women’s power and how that affects everyone on the planet. We spoke about the feminine fully re-emerging into the world, as well as in our hearts and minds. We spoke about historical prejudices and how we have in the past adopted these prejudices as our own just as our mothers and mothers mother had before us. We spoke of our hurts and our prejudices about men and how this vicious cycle has the world caught in a vicious dream.
One girl began sharing very deep buried emotions of rage that were the result of a violent rape that had occurred several years before. She hadn’t spoken of this with us before and in our sacred space, held safe she was allowed to fully reveal her buried rage and her shame. Her openness to share set the healing in motion for all of our own tears in understanding.
We spoke about transcending these emotions and breaking the chain we have all been victim to for centuries upon centuries. We recognized the importance of our role as women healing the women and the necessity to then use our reclaimed ancient feminine power and wisdom to help heal the men. Creating again harmony and balance in our world today that is so in need of this beautiful healing spiral. For too long now women’s voices have been silenced, innocence denied, and her natural rhythm disturbed. Mother Earth is crying for us to listen to her rhythm once again remember.
We prayed and used some of the sage I’d found, burning it and using the smoke to clear and Bless ourselves, our intensions, the area and our canvas’s. I began with using orange and yellow paint, colors I myself have tended to avoid in the past. In the Chakra system, orange is the color within the sexual Chakra and the color yellow represents the solar plexus, our personal power. I had an aversion to yellow and orange for a long time, and I wanted to use these colors to help heal my own sexual abuse wounds from the past.
"Grandmother" came forth as we painted and shared our feelings. I cut the tear in the canvas a little larger to make a bed for the wrapped sage, which I then placed in the center of what is now her shield and drum. I used blue corn meal that had been blessed on the Alter from the Sweat Lodge on the land where I then lived. I put it around the shield I had created from the loose canvas. I used loose tobacco leaves over her Yoni, a plant sacred to the Native Americans for its ability to bless and protect. Later I added white and she became a beautiful pastel grandma.
A few weeks later, in my meditation before I began; when I thought perhaps she might be almost complete, I received a strong message to lay black onto the painting. Many people had already seen her and shared how beautiful they felt she was. I thought, “What will they all say? I may ruin her by making her dark. Was I always making my paintings seem dark? Will they think I’m dark too?” Self-judgments perpetuated themselves inside my mind creating fear and doubt. I silenced my mind again in meditation and again I heard, “Trust! This is a painting about trust!”
I continued to tell myself to trust and I randomly slapped the black paint onto the beautiful pastel Grandmother, oh it was scary. As I did this I stopped for a moment and breathed in deep excitement as I saw many tribal people emerging through the black paint. They look to me as though they are celebrating the return of the Goddess, and I knew the trust I was following was a powerful blessing Spirit wanted to show me. I then slapped more black in excited confidence that resulted from my trust. Creator wanted for me to bring onto the canvas, not just a pretty painting of a grandmother, but a powerful ancient Elder, a carrier of Light, an ancient wise woman, bringing healing to our planet.
In the ancient wisdom of indigenous cultures animals and their symbology hold much more power than they do in our culture. The elephant, is a symbol of great sexual power and ancient wisdom. The elephant and the whale sing their songs to the earth. A Kahuna once told me that the whale and the elephant are relatives and the power is in the tusk. It helps you reclaim your most primordial memories.
The snake brings about transmutation of the fire medicine and helps us transmute thoughts and energies that do not serve us any longer. The snake has long been a symbol of death and rebirth. Every time a woman bleeds she sheds another layer, like the snake shedding its skin. It is an organic death process that is natural to the female. When she reaches the end, the core, she no longer needs to shed; her wisdom has come into full bloom.
Dragonflies remind us that we are light and can reflect the light in powerful ways if we choose to do so. It brings the brightness of transformation and wonder; colorful new vision. It speaks to me of the sexual fire above the hips and connecting to that creative force and passion. It gives us the power of light to see through illusion. Beyond our gender I believe we are all just Light, One with God, with each other and ourselves.
The Grandmother marches as she holds the shield and drum of protection for the Mother Earth and Her children; the wrapped sage sits in the center. She is the Goddess of Earth, Fire, Water and Air; she is here to remind us to bring the full force of our wisdom into these times of change.
Her shield as a drum is among one of the oldest earth rhythms to guide the Shaman in attaining a sacred trance for healing and prophecy. In ancient days before the arrival of Christianity, the women would drum their prayers to the rhythm of the Earth. Our Spirits were united and strong. It was long ago, before we were cloaked in the veil of forgetfulness.
Grandmother holds the space for us to remember once again. In the painting she uses a branch from a tree to match the heartbeat rhythm of the Mother calling out to all her children, “Remember our rhythm.” Her body is tattooed with spirals of God and Goddess, male and female in balance bringing us all together united. With Grandmother we embark on a quest where the feminine is Sacred once again, where we live to our fullest potential, where we honor the seeds of humanity’s Love for each other as spirits living in harmony.
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