Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The First Gate of the Underworld

Having spent over a year in forgiveness, patience, and being gentle with myself, I have started to ask myself the harder questions.  Little by little I have rebuilt and art practice, and yet, I am terrified to take on the big projects, the scary dreams.  I am afraid to raise the stakes.  I am afraid of the terrible purpose that guides me that compels me to paint and write and find out what remains after the fear has passed. 

What remains looks something like this.  Would you read a book written in such a way?

Madness.  It isn’t alluring in it’s macabre strangeness.  It is no gothic, romantic prison.  Madness is a wretched oubliette with no center of gravity, no compass, and no map.

Losing your mind, however, is seductive.  What is titillating and different, dangerous is captivating.  But it bend you, little by little, warping your mind out of shape, pushing you further and further away from the normal safe reality you once trusted and depended on.  With pain, excitement, and fear, you lose yourself step by step in the unfamiliar, the strange, dark forest.  The curious abnormalities push you further away from your solar center and further towards the outer reaches of your reality.  You shift, infinitesimally, moment and moment, day by day, until you grow accustomed to the eccentricities and the peculiarities.  Month by month polar north shifts until unperceivably, the world has flipped upside down upon its axis.  You don’t feel the earth turning, do you?

There you find the uncontrollable forces of the Old Gods.  There, in the hopeless solitude of maladaptation, you find Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto.  There you drown in the ocean’s salty tears of uncontrollable emotion, the riptide and tsunami of outer poles of melancholy and mania.  You think you have stretched to the outer limits of heaven, and, in fact you have.  But here there is no light and beneficent bearded father with angels in unending exultation.  Instead, as if by bait and switch, here in the edges at the beginning of time, you meet Oranos, the monstrous Titan father who devours his children.  Feeling betrayed in your shredded, masticated state, you sink deeper, into the cold waters of isolation and despair.  Here you meet, the terrible, the notorious, Lord of the dead.  You meet the abductor, the rapist, the end.  Here stands Hades, God of the Underworld.

Once having crossed the river Styx there is no turning back.  You have taken the oath, drank the draught of life and death.  By your will alone, you stepped on the ferryman's boat.  Here, in the underworld, your initiation begins . . . begins with death. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gifts and gratitude

Getting home from my latest trip, I've been thinking about a few things. I've got a cold, so normally, I'd expect myself to be depressed, but I'm not. Normally I'd be crashing into the energy drop associated with the letdown of a social function with magickal people, but I'm not. Even my odd dreams make more sense. I have context to see them as creative rather than sexual, inner polarities rather than embarrassments.

I was bored today.  I am congested, so I didn't want to use my brain or hurt my eyes with reading a whole lot, so I went inward. 

For my Assisi Institute class I'm reading a wonderful book called the Gift by Lewis Hyde. It got me to thinking about the difference between selling and making art. I love making art.  I am sad when it sits around my house collecting dust after it's finished. I can engage in art and enjoy the process and give it away. I can find shows to participate in and do fund raising with it. I can share my art with others.  I am financially comfortable and can do art for enjoyment. 

I love teaching. I'm good at it. I don't get nervous about it and my audience gets something out of it too. Richard Tarnas spoke about choosing your audience and not writing for a watered down audience to be broadly accepted or be popular. Just because there isn't a market, doesn't mean you quit creating, you quit putting yourself out there.  I have a calling, a sacred charge, to share my perspective and insights.  I won't ever really know anything. I do have know the game that's being played but I don't have to play. 

To keep my mind alive, and my spirit engaged in the work of making art is enough. That will spill out in gratitude and abundance. Art making, rituals, teaching, relationships-- all of these things will fill my life with blessings. I look forward to the journey that make one's life work.