A strange passion is moving in my head.
My heart has become a bird
Which searches in the sky.
Every part of me goes in different directions.
Is it really so
That the one I love is everywhere?
Over the last couple of weeks I have found myself in more than one conversation which has led to reflection and sharing of my experiences and the roles of religion and spirituality within and throughout my life. For me, this has been a winding journey and path of discovery which has led to many forks in the road and many stops and visits in temples, churches, and caves along the way. I believe that in many ways I will always be a traveler on this winding road. I also know that in this human walk I was blessed to find my home very early on.
Before I ever stepped foot in Catholic school or in church, I grew up wandering the woods, the stretching and waving fields, the thorny thickets and along the edges of lakes, brooks and streams. Fields of milkweeds and stone altars and the delights of oozing mud after a rainstorm, well, these were my first holy places of mystery and awe. Nature was my first experience of ecstasy and remains where I find myself on my knees with tears in my eyes over the beauty and divinity that is the fabric of this world. My artistic and spiritual practices are inextricably linked and both are born of places and lineages that honor the experience of life as a great weaving of time and a layering of multiple worlds.
As your footsteps continue tracing mine along this journey there will be times when the “tense” or “time” seems to slip or move to the past, present, future, and the unknown – if this seems confusing and slightly disorienting, then you too may have entered into the great spiraling Ouroboros with me. It is, after all, the name of my studio and its meaning is woven through my artistic practices and creations.
Just as the Ouroboros spirals around through time with the mouth always seeking the tail and the tail always seeking the mouth, my creative process is the same. Images and expressions rising to the surface of my awareness at a particular moment in time will return anew or live again in relation to the ongoing Story or in relation to another image sometimes painted years later. My life and my Story are alive within these nonlinear communications - it is how I have come to live my life. I am following the images, whispers and clues in an attempt to thread them back together, to remember them, to remember the Story of my creation and the creation of our human kind.
Each image and word that passes through me is dancing on a web; their relationship to each other and the worlds that they are born of in many ways exceeds the importance of an isolated image removed or excluded from the unified whole.
When I was a small child, I believed in the power of magic and the world of enchanted beings. I walked in the woods and was certain that the swaying of the tree limbs and the rustle of their leaves were meant to announce my arrival. “She has returned. She has not forgotten us.” I was certain the trees spoke to each other, and I was certain they spoke to me.
When I was a small child, I spent time lying on my back on the surface of the Earth, looking up into a sky that painted stories with the color and form of clouds, the sun, the moon, and the stars. I was certain that those stories were being told for me. I was certain that whatever or whomever was the storyteller, they knew that I was content when in their theatre.
I do not remember when the magic ceased to exist. It took a while before I thought about the magic again. At first I thought that I had hidden it away so that I could no longer see it. Then I began to think that perhaps I did not hide the magic after all, for it was never mine to hide. I kept wondering, I kept asking and slowly, oh so slowly, the magic began to come back. It would visit me in my dreams. When I started to think as a child again, I realized that the magic could never be hidden, for it is far too powerful to be put away by any one human being. I began to understand that it was I who had gone away to hide. I was hiding from the magic. I was hiding from myself.
Now that I am a not so small child, I believe in the power of magic. Now that I am a not so small child, I walk in the woods and I am certain that the trees can talk. Now that I am a not so small child, I look at the sky and know that the storyteller has many more Stories to tell.
I have come to understand that there are Stories that Call. Ancient Stories that whisper and speak through symbols, messages, and dreams. Stories that remember ancient agreements and the meaning and purpose of our existence. Stories that are Medicine in the truest sense of the word. I believe that these Stories find ways of reemerging and being born again into our modern society so that we as a people may remember who we are and consciously move towards who we are becoming.
We are the magical and physical realization of our ancestors. Whether we know it or not, I believe that we are carrying the medicine bundles which have been passed down to us through generations. Whether we are aware or not, I believe that we are seeking to fulfill a legacy of our ancestors’ grail quests and dreams. We are a walking legacy.
In our “modern” society we have been conditioned and trained in the externalization of power and in this training, we have suffered a deep loss in ability to internalize power. We have sacrificed our internal power and our nobility as human beings and in this ongoing sacrifice we are in danger of losing something even bigger, our luminous planet, our Mother, our home. I believe that in this disjunction, there lies the potential in finding meaning at the moment of
losing it again.
The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. It is a symbol that represents the perpetual cyclic renewal of life and of coming full circle. It is an ancient whisper that speaks of the eternal return: the cycles of life, death and rebirth leading to immortality. Like an old and ancient beautiful thread, the colors of the Ouroboros are woven throughout time in the Stories of phoenix, dragons, serpents and snakes.
I have come to believe that inside the belly of this ancient snake who eats its own tail, lies the ooze of primordial unity. Primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting before any beginning with such force and qualities it cannot be extinguished. Within that ooze lies the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual. The ooze from an ocean from which all is born and where all is One.
As I followed the trails of this Story, I found myself wondering; could our lives, our personal Stories, our collective Stories, the Stories of all mankind, the Stories of all kind and beyond be from the vast waters of this primordial ocean, from this place which, like the Ouroboros, has no beginning or end? Is it possible that the waters from this ocean swell and rise within us giving rise and fall to our memories and the memories of our origins? Do these waters direct the rhythm and flow of our Stories and our lives? A perpetual pumping of liquid memory that flows through the vessel of our beings in a way that allows us to be continually reborn. If we are reborn in this manner does our birthing hold the possibility of remembering the source of our origins and the agreements that we have made with the source of our existence? Could this liquid, this memory, be a form of Medicine that could benefit humanity and the magnificent world that we all share and which is in desperate need?
I wondered if it is us/we who navigate the rivers and oceans of our lives or are the rivers and the oceans the captains of our sailing and sinking ships, navigating us on a journey that reveals our individual purpose within the Story that we are all a part of? Are we like that ancient snake, both swallowing and disgorging ourselves in an all consuming yarn: each of us following our individual threads in order to be lead to our collective and shared story; a beautiful, expressive unraveling? If we become aware of our relationships with these waters, if we become aware that we are not separate from these waters, are we then able to see its and our own passage through time and space? Are we then able to see that we are all swimming in the same primordial water?
I began to think that perhaps the answers to these questions were unimportant. Perhaps what matters, what is of importance, lies within the seeking of these questions and their answers? Perhaps what matters is being willing. Willing to enter into the mouth of the serpent knowing that you will eventually become the tail that will spiral its way back around and enter into the mouth once again. Willing to become part of the food and part of the Story. Willing to acknowledge our individual responsibility and part in an eternal return. Willing to live a life that
is an honoring and remembering of the cycles of life, death and rebirth that leads to the feeding of an incomprehensibly beautiful dance.
The creation of "In Transit" began in 2012. I believed this image to be completed on 2 separate occasions. The painting would come down from the wall on 2 different occasions as her story continued to unfold. She currently hangs on the entry door to the studio.
“Our whole business in this life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen.”
In love, beauty and art,
Heather J Geoffrey