Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Archetype of the Death Mother

There are fine lines these days between doing nothing, doing anything, and proceeding mindfully along the path of compassionate disinterest doing the next right thing with intention. As I sit at my writing table and gaze out on the Los Padres foothills, I have lots of mentors for the path of compassionate disinterest. The trees keep growing, the birds keep lighting on the branches, the late afternoon sunlight falls across the hills defining them in light and dark. Soon the sun with throw up the pink glow of the end of the day and I will feel fully instructed in the art of personal smallness in the big picture.

I finished painting the mandala on my studio floor. Really, what's the point? It's an act of faith in the Creative Process, the idea for the mandala came to me and I followed through. So what does this have to do with the Death Mother? She is an archetype that whispers to us "What's the use?" Why paint the floor? There's a war in Iraq. Why write stuff in a blog? maybe I'm only talking to myself. That, I have decided, is actually enough. If I have a place to wrangle my thoughts and feelings into consciousness and don't tar others with the brush of my unresolved anxiety, yes, that is definitely worth the effort. As it turns out, there are other amazing benefits. People write to me and commiserate from all over the globe. Another wonderful lesson of the art of personal smallness.

But, the Death Mother also lives in me and made a recent appearance. Her image was my fairly constant companion at the AATA (American Art Therapy Association) conference in New Orleans in November. She had a lot to say about trauma If you'd like to read more about that, go to the 'Writings' section of the website or click on

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Finally, the Creative Source has a great sense of humor. Here is a photo of the blossoming agave plants in my backyard. This is the plant that tequila is made from.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Getting my Studio Ready for What?

So I've been in California since Dec. 21 and now the holidays are well past and I am settling down to WORK. The CHASM (Community Health Art Studio Methods) class that Janis Timm-Bottos and I were planning to do did not fill up with folks and so we are off the hook. And yes, that is exactly how it feels. We were conceiving if this as a 5-day retreat for people involved in community building through the arts to come together. I was planning on reorganizing my studio here to welcome folks or maybe that was just an excuse to make the space (a three car garage attached to our house in Ojai) more habitable. So I went ahead and had the floor painted red, moved the furniture around, set up my altar space and began to stencil a mandala on the floor. Why? The two projects I have committed myself to for this stint in Ojai are 1. finishing a novel and 2. finishing a surrealistic film. Neither of these projects require the huge space or materials that the garage holds. Nevertheless, I am following the energy I feel such as picking up a leaf from my neighbor's grapevines and making a stencil for the mandala, gathering chewed out pomegrantes and imagining furnishing the interior spaces with little scenes. The spaciousness, both literal and figurative, that I feel in this landscape encourages me to trust the Creative Source and follow the clues. If I make the space ready, the work will appear? What about community? Maybe it's just me and Bina and the neighborhood dogs? If I choose solitary art like writing a book and making a film, what does community mean?