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Mary: work in progress

22 Feb

Monet refuses the operation

26 Sep

Doctor, you say there are no halos 

around the streetlights in Paris 

and what I see is an aberration 

caused by old age, an affliction. 

I tell you it has taken me all my life 

to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels, 

to soften and blur and finally banish

the edges you regret I don’t see, 

to learn that the line I called the horizon 

does not exist and sky and water, 

so long apart, are the same state of being. 

Fifty-four years before I could see 

Rouen cathedral is built 

of parallel shafts of sun, 

and now you want to restore 

my youthful errors:  fixed 

notions of top and bottom,  

the illusion of three-dimensional space,  

wisteria separate  

from the bridge it covers.  

What can I say to convince you  

the houses of Parliament dissolve  

night after night to become  

the fluid dream of the Thames? 

I will not return to a universe  

of objects that don’t know each other,   

as if islands were not the lost children  

of one great continent. The world  

is flux, and light becomes what it touches,  

becomes water, lilies on water,  

above and below water,  

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow 

and white and cerulean lamps,  

small fists passing sunlight  

so quickly to one another 

that it would take long, streaming hair 

inside my brush to catch it. 

To paint the speed of light! 

Our weighted shapes, these verticals,  

burn to mix with air  

and change our bones, skin, clothes   

to gases. Doctor,  

if only you could see  

how heaven pulls earth into its arms  

and how infinitely the heart expands  

to claim this world, blue vapor without end. 

Lisel Mueller  

When Life happens – and a nod to Pope Joan.

6 Sep

The worst sin is ingratitude, which is a forgetting of the greatness, beauty, truth and goodness of the Source that is constantly creating us – in other terms, a forsaking of Being, and the Good.

My favorite Leloup quote today, from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

Today I had my day all planned out, my hours spoken for, so I sat down to my desk to focus on the geometries of the Josephine knot. Which I still haven’t grasped. I found a vesica, but that is a story for another day.

I was deeply in my head, probably frowning with confusion,  when all this carefully arranged bliss was loudly interrupted by Rosie, next door’s 11 week old beagle, escaping her yard,  Ellen and I chasing around like crazy people trying to corner her. Eventually, Rosie was found, the escape route blocked up, and I returned to the drawing table, my perspective blown wide open.

And this leads me to the legend of Pope Joan.  And really, just how often do things lead you there? Well, once upon a time (during the early Middle Ages to be precise), it is told that a woman, disguised as a man, rose through the church hierarchy and was eventually elected Pope. Life went along smoothly, more or less, until during one particularly solemn processional,  all hell broke loose as the Pope went into labor and produced a child on the spot. Whoops.

Forget wasting time arguing whether it’s true or just another urban legend. That’s not the point. It’s never the point.

For me, today, Joan happily reminded me that even with the best laid plans, the most carefully arranged rituals, Life still happens, unplanned, unannounced, unexpected and often showing up at the most inconvenient time.

When the Divine came crashing into my carefully constructed schedule,  disguised as an exuberant beagle wanting to play, I had the opportunity to allow everything-as-it-was to become Life-Happening-In-This-Moment. My attention, my intention, my blood, my body, unified in a way my habitual/’usual’ self has never been fully conscious of before; opening me to an idea of another way of being fully present. It’s like a huge breath of fresh air expanded into my complacent habits, my structured ideas of how things ‘should’ be and reminded me again, that I am alive.

So now when I am here typing, I am also being aware of being alive. Of being animated by a Mystery I will never understand, flowing through me with an agenda that I can only guess at, holding me closely in gratitude and delight.

The take away for me?

Life is not meant to be ‘convenient’, bent and warped to suit us and our crazy made-up lives.

Life is meant to be lived, to be wondered at, to be expressed through us. To be experienced consciously, as a tremendous gift. Life holds us tightly so that we may live wide open, allowing it to flow through us unrestricted, out into the world.

sketch for mary magdalene



sketches for mary magdalene

Research for Mary Magdalene

30 Aug

mary magdalene 828This August, I have read through piles of books, weird and not so weird, factual and conjectural, both fantastically and poorly researched.  Here’s my research for this picture so far:

 Jean-Yves Leloup’s Gospell of Mary Magdalene. (I was so wrong when I felt I hadn’t encountered Mary Magdalene before. She is all over my bookshelves already). I love Leloup. The French have a very different attitude and conception of The Magdalene than we do (here in the American Midwest) and it is refreshing and lovely to hear his passion for this woman shine thru his writing.

I had also forgot I read The Woman with the Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird at the same time I read Leloup. A great read, but she can be incredibly lax about footnotes and references.

Starbird’s Magdalene’s Lost Legacy and The Goddess in the Gospels. This gets deep into the gematria supposedly occurring in the greek bible. If you are willing to play along, this is a fascinating read. By playing along, I mean being able to be open minded when beliefs and opinions are challenged. I found it fascinating.

I learned Sacred Geometry from Lars Howlet and Richard Feather Anderson this summer at Veriditas. I added Sacred Geometry by Miranda Lundy. This is a really simple introduction that gets you up and drawing in seconds. Get a good compass! Robert Ferre’s Classical Labyrinths explains more of the feminine in sacred geometry as it applies to labyrinths.

Lauren Artress Walking a Sacred Path. I read this in ’96 gave that copy to my dad this summer, and received the fancy updated version from Lauren herself this summer. Lauren is a Episcopalian Priest, psychotherapist, and writer, and founder of Veriditas. If you need to start from a religious standpoint, this is an ideal place to begin your adventure.

Mary Magdalene

30 Aug

Unexpectedly working on a beautiful new picture. I returned from a Labyrinth Training Workshop at Veriditas, to find that my mom had cancer again. This is her 4th time; each prior time she has been successfully treated and her cancer resolved. She has a truly fantastic team of doctors and feels very safe in their care. So I’m glad for that and thankful that she’s fine. Again. Or as she says, ‘for now’.marymagbalene822

And soon after, somewhere in all the time and space that was this summer, Mary showed up. I wasn’t sure which Mary, so I just started sketching what I could see the day I felt inspired by her. My guess it was all the mom energy, the feminine energy of the Labyrinth, the deep stirring of the feminine in our society, and my need to connect even more profoundly to Mother Earth and my body/temple that prompted her visit. I didn’t find it weird because my work always shows up with a vague concept that needs drawing out. Literally . I was surprised that it was Mary, because I’m not Catholic, so she never really played a large role in my consciousness. Certainly I know of them, actually all three of them, and am aware of the confusion over which Mary is which. Will the Real Mary Magdalene please stand up? Well she did, for me anyway, and what a surprise to see, looking back, that the day I first drew her was July 22nd. Even a little research shows that this is traditionally the feast day of The Magdalene. She continues to evolve. My mom continues to be well.marym826

Our Feminine Divine

12 Jan

The Feminine Divine

For all of us who feel a little lost, a lot frightened and afraid to come home to our own inner feminine…The metaphorical Divine Mother has all the patience and time in the world to love you, exactly as you are, every day, whether you know it or not. Whether you care or not.

Our adventurous, questing and brave Masculine Spirit, riding out into the material world will find its equal partner in our holy, receptive, sensual, delight-filled divine bodies – the container of our Soul; our Sacred Feminine, who has never been lost, just ignored at great cost.

Learning to trust, to come home, to have faith in the wisdom of our magnificent bodies is what all this return of the feminine is about. Feel your place, your center in the vessel that is you, the broken yet strong container that holds your life.

Our united inner masculine and feminine, our Spirit and our Soul, create the wholeness, the Holy, the healing taking place quietly, within each of us. Listen to your body. Dance quietly in your living room. Be present to the tremendous energy that surrounds you. As your Spirit has been seeking you from the outside, now your Soul calls to you from deep inside.

Have courage and faith in your Self. Relax into your body and allow your Soul to heal the terrible split in our minds and bodies. When we become one in ourselves we can feel the world as one radiant light emanating in a billion forms. You are loved. You are love. You are awakening from that 100 year princess beauty sleep. The Queen has arrived. Wipe the sleep from your eyes. She is you. She is us.

This is not mother-love I’m talking about. This is the Divine Mother taking up her rightful place in our inner world. Powerful, compassionate, giving because she is receptive- softening the hard places in us, breathing life into our desperate lives. Bring her flowers. Open your heart.

Bronze Age Moon

18 Oct

Bronze Age Moon


The Moon. The subtle guide of our nights, the soft glow of our inner light. Revered and worshipped from time out of mind. The Moon, the symbol of reflected light. Humans too are magnificent symbols of reflected light. Not our own light, but the eternal, vast, unending light of untold universes that does not depend on any sun for its fire. Understanding, recognizing this inward source of our own eternal light, we can delight in the question ‘Who am I?’ – knowing that we play a game -the only game that matters – the game of awakening to who we truly are. Once we have mastered the rules of this game, we find we must leave them behind, gratefully and lovingly discovering the absolute necessity and relevance they held for us. Ultimately we must walk free, untethered, unchained into our holy night – illumined  by the steady light of our soul, the reflection of that greater fire. Trusting, knowing, we find the game becomes: I am.  And life becomes about using everything you’ve got to reflect the Light of Lights, however you choose to conceive of That, or Him, or Her. There is no other game. Everything that lumbers across the stage of our life has meaning and relevance only as it relates to our deep connection to eternity and the degree to which we embody that here. Game on! May you be full, may you be bright, may you be a great light in the darkness.

Bronze Age Sun

18 Oct

Bronze Age Sun

The Sun. The bright light of our skies, the radiance of our inner fire. Celebrated and worshiped for as long as humans have walked the Earth. The Sun, the fire of our solar plexus; our power center; our will. The place where we feel that gut reaction, the space within that can answer the question ‘Who am I?’ The answer intensely personal, exclusively our own, always begging another question: – ‘Who do you want to be?’ The choice is ours, always. We may push this question outwards, expecting someone or something else to provide the answer, to make our choice for us. There will come a day, when no other answer than the one that thunders up from deep within your being will do. And you will know, beyond all shadow of doubt, who you are. And the trick- the real magic-  how to live this magnificence in the world- how to contain this fire without burning up, will slowly come, with many fits and starts, but gradually you will burn bright and steady. You will know. This is it. This is my life. I am.

The Wanderer

12 Oct

The Wanderer/ Janet Balboa

You are it. You are on your life’s journey. It doesn’t get any better than this- so make the most of it. Each day, each hour, each second, counts for all of eternity.  It’s not ‘out there’. It’s right here – in the relationship that you have with the smallest moments of your life. The glance you catch. The color of someone’s tie, the sunlight on water, the feel of your own skin.  When you stop and let yourself be struck dumb by the beauty of life as it is, you discover yourself immersed in it, supported by it and loved immeasurably. Your open heart guarantees moments of astonishment, bliss and wonder. These create a path where there is no path. And you may just find a life where there was previously a wasteland. 

On being an artist

22 Sep

Today is a lovely day to be in the studio. Some days are hard- nothing is flowing, questions of color and form are asked but not answered. Self-doubt and fear are easy companions. But not today. Today is dark out, rain and damp, but bright and joyful in spirit inside. I always light candles and burn incense when I work, and Pandora (radio) today; Brunch Café. George Ezra singing ‘Budapest’.

I met with a fellow artist this past week, and we lamented the crazy, alone, truly struggling with our work days and celebrated the bright sunny everything-is-working days. Both glad that we do not get depressed easily. Nice to know we are not alone in our work or in our practice.

It is nice to know that I belong to the sacred sisterhood and brotherhood of artists, writers, poets; The Creatives- that are leaving their beds, headed to their desks and easels, facing a day of creativity. Bringing something into the world, something new, something as yet unnamed. Bringing to life this image/idea they feel, rarely seeing it fully formed. Relying on talent, perseverance, trust and plain hard work. We do this for the love and necessity of bringing forth something new. Not for a boss, or a guaranteed paycheck, or status – but simply for the need to express whatever it is as it moves within us.

Not the hard work of the corporate world, or the hard work of day laborers, but the hard work of birthing. No mastermind group, strategic planning team or other such midwives sit waiting with me in these quiet hours. It’s me and my process. It unfolds with me, and often in spite of me. Decades of just showing up, have formed themselves into a practice, a discipline of sitting and just doing the work in front of me.

Don’t misunderstand, I am certainly not alone in this birthing. Besides the much sought after and unreliable Muse, I have my Crazymakers, who attend the bringing forth of my creative child. Boredom, self-doubt, irritation, excitement, interruption, anger, financial worry, incredible joy, intense pleasure, pride – often fall over each other in the sheer hope of getting my attention. The Discipline of Showing Up has had the benefit of informing these clowns that I am the master of my attention – all these feelings still show up, but they kind of sit quietly off to the side of me as I work and discuss things amongst themselves. Their bickering and murmuring is nicely covered up by Brunch Cafe today.

I’m not whining. I wouldn’t choose any other way of life, although I denied myself the right of being an artist for many years, for many truly stupid but hard to overcome limitations. Our society doesn’t approve much of artists. We are barely tolerated when we live out of our studios or cars, venerated when we are ‘successful’ and worthy of being seen. Kids are still discouraged from being an ‘artist’. I get it. But maybe the ‘Civilians’ as one of my friends calls her non-artist friends, are the ones who don’t get it. Maybe they don’t get the inner pressure that builds, the ideas that form, the visions that just don’t go away, demanding expression. They don’t get the years spent refining this internal and external dialogue that happens between you -and whatever that ‘other’ is. They don’t understand the crack high of an idea that comes out, thru you, that you as the proud parent get to see walk out into the big wide world with a life of its own bringing joy or understanding to a hurting world.

Of course these feelings aren’t just limited to artists. Entrepreneurs feel this, as does anyone that creates first and foremost for the love of the acts of pure creation and expression.  Yes, if you’re good and persistent and ready for it, the money will come. And the fame. But these are ego territory and can quickly cause the Muse to fly and the Crazymakers to flee.

The Artist’s Dance is to keep the Muse and the humility provided by the Crazymakers alive and well. Not the loudest voices in your head certainly, but they do provide a mastermind of sorts. The Muse provides inspiration and profound guidance, while the Crazies keep me grounded and well in touch with my humanity; the suffering and the joys of others. Balance. I try my best to be the master of my mind, making decisions based on all the guidance and terror dished up by the voices. (ok, no, I do not actually hear voices, that would freak me out.)

You know what I mean. I give this feeling a chance to be expressed and instead of going crazy from the irrationality of it, I stay with it and trust that the most basic act of all humanity, creativity, will take care of itself. I just give it space and time to be. So I sit alone, and yet profoundly not alone today, connected to all artists past and present, doing what we have always done- struggling to manifest the reality we see into shape and form. A noble calling. You have to be awfully brave to be an artist in this world today. Truly being in this world but not of it. Be true to yourself today. Let something move you. You are in good company. You can’t see us when we are struggling in the studio, but we are here. We got your back.

For my latest work- see my Tumblr

or my Instagram

Tree and Stone

8 Sep

Tree and Stone

For I have a message I would repeat to you,

a word of tree and a whisper of stone

the sighing of the heavens to the earth…

From the The Baal Cycle, 13th century BC.

We are separated from the land, and from our own nature. This is a choice. The truth is deep, unfathomable belonging. The truth is that we are the ancient, conscious, intelligent expressions of all- that- is. We belong. We are part of all creation. We are the song of humanity.

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