In 2018 our teacher, Shiloh Sophia revived the medieval practice of gathering those who have developed proficiency in an art of trade, into a guild of Journeywomen. Our preparation includes the yearlong Color of Woman Teacher training in Intentional Creativity, completing our thesis, and creating our initiate book summarizing assignments and offerings we’ve given. There are now over 250 Guild members worldwide. Check our Directory for someone near you!
Nearly 20 Guild Gals currently live in Oregon and Southern Washington, and several of us met for the first time in classes, at graduation, during travels, or in an in-person gathering. In November, I invited the local gals to a gathering at the studio in MECA Gallery, McMinnville Center for the Arts. We set it for the afternoon, and Jan from Southern Washington, 3 hours away, chose to stay overnight!
While we use red thread in circles when gathering with students and beloveds in our broader community, we use a Purple Thread of Leadership when meeting with other Guild members. I’ve shared purple thread with several SiStars as they traveled through Oregon, weaving strands of connection. It is always a delight when we gather, and this was no exception!
We shared chocolate and tea, warmth and SiStarhood. Our Muses must have consulted, as our the colors we wore were delightfully coordinated! We passed the thread, shared insights from our year and dreams for the future. We planned to share a Metacognitive drawing practice, (Uma is taking the Motherboard Training), but after our check-in round we just kept talking! We talked, laughed, commiserated, until we finally said our find goodbyes, with a stronger sense of connection and sisterhood.
We’ve made plans to meet again quarterly, likely in Portland or Olympia. Each time we’re together, in person or virtually, the connections strengthen, We’re just a thread away…
I used the purple yarn from this and other circles with my Guild SiStars to crochet this little cuff bracelet. It’s both decorative and a wonderful reminder I can just give a tug, and the support and love from my sisters is on the other end!
In December of 2019 I participated in Art Basel! I was excited to have been invited by the Art Basel Miami Gallery to join several other African/American, Caribbean and Latin American artists to show their works.
Art Basel Miami Gallery is located in the neighborhood known as Little Haiti, rich in Haitian culture and language. I met so many incredible young artists who painted on a variety of substrates and various mixed media. There were gatherings, interviews and camaraderie, food and fun!
Though I wanted to get to many of the other galleries around Miami Beach I didn’t make it that far because of the crowds, traffic and my not knowing where the heck I was all the time! I did get to see much of Little Haiti and other satellite exhibits. All the while there was something I kept wondering, Why isn’t Art Basel more inclusive of other, not so prominent, local galleries? It seems ironic that art fairs/artists come from everywhere outside of Miami yet Art Basel rarely includes galleries or artists local to Miami.
There are many established Black, Caribbean & Latin American cultured/owned galleries that spend 2/3 of the year raising money to be able to showcase the work of these local artists. Yet little, if any, publicity is given by Art Basel and/or the mainstream galleries.
Mention of Black Art or any initiative to highlight artists of color or art exhibits in Miami’s heritage neighborhoods was relegated to the last page (back of the bus) of fair brochures or omitted entirely.
Unfortunately most of the artists included in the Black art fairs were not represented at the main Miami Beach Art fairs. The vast majority of Black contemporary artists occupied venues on the periphery of the main fairs with little to no publicity.
These satellite galleries create spaces that value community more than capital. This presents the question of how to sustain these vital spaces for future shows?
I loved every moment of being present at Art Basel Miami! Though I didn’t get to view some of the million dollar plus paintings on display at Art Basel (Miami Beach) I wouldn’t exchange my experience of viewing the art by local, relatively unknown artists I did see!
Creativity abounded everywhere!
It was my first time traveling to Miami and I am thankful to and grateful for Intentional Creativity Teacher Marcela Segal opening her home to me as her guest! It was a week of true excitement and exploration!
Phyllis A. Taylor is an Artist and Intentional Creativity Teacher based in Orlando, Florida. She teaches an array of class offerings to seniors and women’s groups, as well as co-creating workshops with other teachers in Intentional Creativity and Expressive Arts. Visit her website to learn more! www.pannetartstudio
It is with great joy that we share Virginia Masson’s up and coming December 2019 opening of the Great Lakes Center for Intentional Creativity, the mid-west affiliate for Global Musea – Intentional Creativity Foundation.
The Musea collective is a curated gathering of unique voices committed to telling stories that inform, educate, and uplift our collective evolution in continually emergent way. The stories are told through diverse mediums including but not limited to image, language, object and sound – all experienced by our senses. We create with respect to the ancestors and hope for our descendants. Founded by Shiloh Sophia McCloud, the Collective reaches up to 15,000 people globally every month, with both free and paid offerings, as well as representing women in the arts at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
We hope you will dive in or simply dip a toe into our whimsical workshops and heart-opening Red Thread Circles. Our vision is to re-ignite the creative fire in each of its beloved clientele, offering tools and support to find their own voice and rediscover their innate creativity. Our beautiful Great Lakes-inspired space will also be open for community gatherings and events hosted by like-minded teachers, holistic practitioners and non-profit social support groups.
The space is a part of the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Cooperative (PARC), a non-profit that supports artists of all disciplines, environmental groups, experimental kitchens and is completely focused on bringing the arts to the surrounding community. Tenants include the Michigan Philharmonic, Friends of the Rouge, Bees in the D, Center for Creative Studies, glass blowers, potters, opera, dance and theater groups and several visual artist’s collaboratives.
I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey, and most importantly, I want to thank Bernie… he is the reason I believe this has become a reality. In life and in death, he has given me the courage to step off the cliff and trust that my wings can carry me. And it doesn’t hurt to know his angel wings are lifting me too. Don’t wait, life is short, live it now.
Virginia Masson is a wonder-filled artist and Intentional Creativity teacher specializing in guiding transformational change using the enchanting method of Intentional Creativity.
I hope you will follow the journey of creation as the Great Lakes Center for Intentional Creativitybecomes a reality and consider joining in one of our soul-expanding workshops, or connect with your beloved community at a heart opening Red Thread circle.
The fine art group exhibit LAYERS featuring members of the Women’s Caucus for Art, Peninsula Chapter, will be on display at the Los Altos Hills Town Hall from September 2019 through March 2020. The expression of this exhibit proves that works of art have many layers: layers of interpretation, meaning, emotion and sometimes layers of color and materials. The women who create these works have underlying layers of understanding that are revealed in the process.
One of the artists in this exhibit is our very own Annette Wagner. Annette is an IC Teacher as well as one of our Art Doctors in the Color of Woman Training. She teaches Earth Prayers – a mix of Intentional Creativity with the ink practice of sumi-e. Sue Hoya Sellars first put a sumi-e brush in her hands and she continued to deepen this thread by working with Taiwan artist May Shei. Annette has three paintings in the show, two of which are from her Grandmother Ocean series.
The artists’ reception, free and open to the public, will be held on Sunday, September 15, 2019, from 2:00 – 5:00 pm at Town Hall, featuring live music by Rebecca and Gary Lee Parks. Refreshments and wine will be available.
An art walk-and-talk tour of the exhibit, also free and open to the public, will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at Town Hall.
Los Altos Hills Town Hall 26379 Fremont Road Los Altos Hills, CA, 94022
CODEX, the 13 Moon Painting Journey led by Shiloh Sophia, Founder of Cosmic Cowgirls and Intentional Creativity®, started in September of 2018.
Little was I to know HOW this experience as a Cosmic Pilgrim on a Flight of Fancy was to turn my life upside down and impact my business and my life and how it would support me when I packed the whole house ready to move interstate and it never happened!
Awakening can be curated by choice ~ Shiloh Sophia
It was during the 4th Moon of this wondrous adventure, both on the canvas and in the journal that I danced with the Critic and the Muse one auspicious evening and “awoke” to a painting I had done nearly 9 months earlier, Called PRISM. In fact I had done this painting in the presence of Shiloh when she visited Melbourne, Victoria in Australia earlier in 2018.
Suddenly, I could SEE the message of my painting SOOO clearly. At the time, I had simply called it THE OBSERVER, but now with the new Cosmic Map I was wearing, the light that I was inviting in with the expansion of consciousness and being present to my Muse and entering into the domain of my hidden mysterious self through CODEX, I saw for the first time, that this image represented a SEER in fact, a SEER of my own HEART…..
I LOVED the play on words with this realisation and it wasn’t long after, that I realised, in a whole body feeling kinda way, that I needed to change my business name to this: SEER OF THE HEART. And rather than being an oracle for others, it was my piece of the red thread to SHOW my beloveds how they can be the SEERS of their own hearts too – through the magical process of Intentional Creativity®
OMGoddess! In just over a two week period, I changed the name, the colour scheme, the vibe and wording on a website that had taken me 4 months to birth and create!
New perspectives spilled out everywhere – within me and around me!
Ohhhh this is what I had been waiting for all this time! The wrestling I had been doing with my Critic over whether or not I had been procrastinating, what was I fearful of, why hadn’t I started fully immersing myself into creating and running classes? The answers all spilt out during the Moon Chapter of CODEX called : The Observer…..
I felt sooo SWITCHED ON and kissed by the moon! – I could feel the vibration of energy I was conjuring and how I had, fallen into a river of love that was the current of my own Soul ~ Clare Dubois
Nearly immediately, I started filming my first online class called, Curator of Curiosity – embracing the Intentional Creativity® teachings of creating and designing the life you truly wish to live, creating spaciousness and consciousness for thinking and having presence, and accessing the sacred information that the Muse holds for you to hear – when you are ready to practice that DEEP LISTENING to your Heart’s whisperings……
Through the ALLOWING and SURRENDERING to this flow, the “current of my Soul,” I was able to step into the beauty of myself as a Creative Being but also to “let go” of being so caught up in my thoughts on the canvas too. I found myself following the brush more rather than directing it, and rather than building and construction my painting, I found myself consciously de-constructing and fully immersing myself into every stroke I was making. As I witnessed the canvas, I could see and feel it witnessing me!
During the first 5 months of 2019, my husband and I had decided we were going to make a move of residence, not just shift house but to shift interstate, up north to New South Wales in Australia. By May, I had the whole house pretty much packed and we were living around piles of stacked boxes and had the one plate each, one set of cutlery and one bath towel etc that we were managing on. The only art I still had out was my paints and brushes and my CODEX painting…. I had been trying for weeks to apply for part-time jobs and had filled out so many rental’s for applications for rental houses – I felt like our personal information was spread out across the whole of the Coffs Coast area.
At the end of May I just broke down in tears – I couldn’t do it anymore. I was exhausted, it was dead end after dead end, I was sick of not having my things out and it was doing my head in seeing a sea of cardboard all around me all the time. I had put on weight and was starting to have associated health problems.
The re-orientation I thought I was doing to be able to make the move of course, came up in my CODEX process….in Moon 9 – when I summoned forth my WISDOM and distilled this from my cosmic well of alchemy, I realised that my idea of “moving forward” was not a physical move but rather one of perception….and I soon found myself unpacking all the boxes! Ohhh the relief!
Resilience requires rigour ~Shiloh Sophia
Through my CODEX process I realised I was right back where I started my journey, but, in fact, I was no longer the same person that I was when I started!
In amongst these feelings of disappointment, resentment, second-guessing my intuition and feelings of being stuck came….the beautiful Rose of Resilience – as I painted this big pink bloom on my canvas, I felt these feelings melt away and found myself moving from longing to Be-longing to the place where I am now, feet planted firmly on the ground.
The healing of the rose energy, literally (bathing in the essence) and metaphorically was incredible…..as I know without this process called Intentional Creativity®, it could have been quite easy for me to, fall in a heap.
Instead I rose, I rose through the pain, the confusion and blossomed on my canvas and in my sense of place.
This journey has been one of the biggest adventures in my life. I feel like I entered the Colour of Woman Teacher training as a Maiden, I used my Mother/Creatrix energy to birth my business and website but it is with CODEX that I fully claimed my Sovereignty!
By “making my mark” in my CODEX process, I have been really able to feel into and claim my cosmic address of, “Who lives here!”
My hands created magic as I danced across my canvas, from my mind I felt totally open to new possibilities and expansion, celebrating that I was made from stardust and I can choose to cultivate my consciousness, as informed by my heart……and that from this experience I now carry a higher perspective and use imagination and creativity as keys to unlock all the potential I hold inside of me….I am forever in gratitude for Shiloh Sophia and the lineage of women before her, for this way of living called Intentional Creativity®
Welcome to A Cup of Tea with the Universe, a video blog by Intentional Creativity Coach Svetlana Pritzker with creative collaborator Alexandra Isaievych. Their visual journeys guide individuals on living actively, while involved in the universal flow of co-creation. This episode is about finding the freedom in the splashes of paint and the importance of intentional layers within the creative process.
Svetlana describes how the weaving of Intentional Creativity Art and Coaching reveals a direct link to the Cosmic DNA code, a Personal Cosmology hidden within. Students receive both the language for communicating with and about it, as well as practical applications for the creative expansion within every dimension of their life.
Discover more of their incredible video blogs and classes www.insightfulcolor.com
An incredible three-day Group Show show featuring Intentional Creativity Teachers and Artists, was held at Mirada ART, a gorgeous gallery space in Half Moon Bay, California.
Color of Woman Teachers, Neesa Mills and Jane Sanguinetti curated their show as a way to introduce their local community to both their Intentional Creativity paintings and Art as Medicine classes.
To complete their group, the two then invited Color of Woman Teacher Erica Starks, long-time Intentional Creativity student Paige Sawyer, and local student Karenna Lynn. Neesa shares that Karenna, an accomplished painter, is loving the personally transformative approach taught in our classes.
Creating everything as a team was a wonderful experience. The event was a huge success, with streams of people moving through over the weekend, both invited guests as well as public viewers. Visitors appeared to truly enjoy the powerful and integrated show. We grew the interest for our Art as Medicine classes due to the positive response to the transformative work we showed.
Check out more art and class offerings from Neesa Ginger Mills, Jane Sanguinetti and Erica Starks in the Intentional Creativity Foundation’s Teacher Listings
I responded to a call for Hungarian Artists and submitted 5 of my Color of Woman 2017 paintings (Legend, Artist, Alchemist, Visionary and Black Madonna) to participate in an art exhibit at the Baltimore Washington International Marshall Airport. I felt very excited about this opportunity. The exhibit is organized the BWI Marshall Static Arts Program and the Arts Council of Anne the Arundel.
People can immerse themselves in art while waiting before their flight departure.
Many American airports display artwork, but the level of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport commitment to making their customers travel experience more memorable and less stressful through its art displays is unparalleled.
The BWI airport features local, regional, and even international art year round in its art galleries located throughout the facility .
On May 9 a very festive artist reception was held at the airport and remarks were delivered by Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan, Adjunct Faculty, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and Ricky Smith, the Executive director of the BWI airport. Other dignitaries from the Hungarian Embassy and Kossuth Foundation also attended.
It was very lovely to meet other Hungarian artists living in the area and to share the healing energy of my sacred paintings with potentially millions of weary passengers.
The show is hanging in the International Art Gallery (Concourse D/E Delta Departures) April 23-July 23.
In May, I ran my first Intentional Creativity residential retreat in the south western region of Western Australia at a lovely airbnb. I have been teaching my Inner Wise Woman Workshop in day classes for nearly a year now and it is very popular. The theme of it being that we connect with our own voice of inner wisdom for guidance in our lives.
Why do we need this?
You may spend most of the time second guessing yourself. Or perhaps you see things quite clearly for everyone else, but not so much for yourself. If there’s a loud internal voice telling you all that you’re not doing right, while faintly in the background you hear a soft voice, your inner wisdom, calling you, pointing towards adventure, I think it’s time to make a change.
The retreat was absolutely wonderful. Having a whole weekend with the ladies gave lots of time for unwinding and relaxing as well as learning. We had home cooked meals and two cosy wood fires. There was time to meditate, do some Chi Kung and we even had a belly dancing class to get us all moving. In the evenings we did tea leaf reading and played with oracle cards to keep working at listening to that inner voice.
All the ladies loved the process of Intentional Creativity. None of them had painted before. ‘ I never thought I could paint, but I can!” Selva said to me.
I am racing to gather my thoughts for you before the words fall away. I have just returned home from a week in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I co-facilitated the “Awaken the Great Mother Within” journey, and I am so filled with images and impressions, colors and sensations, that I wonder how I can gather them all to share with you. I will begin by saying that Oaxaca is a blessed land, a rich fertile land, a land of art and an innate creativity that seems to grow from the soil itself like corn for tortillas or agave for mezcal. It is a powerful but sweet energetic vortex. The people are noble, proud indigenous people who dignify their roots, their traditions, their languages, their beliefs, their ecology, their culture and their artwork. I have never seen a people so peacefully and lovingly present and grounded in their identity. The lilting sounds of Zapotec sing through the market place as braided women in embroidered aprons and woven huipil dresses sell their creations and negotiate their wares.
As we sat in our opening circle for the journey, and the women who had gathered shared stories of their lives and what had called them to journey to Oaxaca to explore their connection with the “Mother” (physical, real, earthly, imagined, divine), I listened to my own story. I heard myself say that I struggle with the discipline of a practice. I have trouble keeping up with a regular way of maintaining my devotion. All my best efforts to pray the rosary or to meditate or to chant mantras end up falling by the wayside after a few days or weeks. Even as those words fell from my mouth, I realized the frequency with which I call a deep circle of women together to pray and explore Life and the Divine Mother. Every three months or so, I create a journey or retreat like this, and I realized that this is my practice. This is my body of work as an artist. This is my way of keeping my connection alive, of reconnecting, of cultivating my devotion and fulfilling the Mother’s mandate for me, the mission She has given me – to live in Her embrace and to help other women find their way home into Her arms.
We entered into the dark underground chambers of the 2000 year old Zapotec temples at Mitla. Mitla was created as a representation of the Underworld, where the Lord and Lady of Mictlan ruled over death and the afterlife. I had never been to Mitla before, and my co-facilitator had told me that one of the chambers was tomblike and had a dark heavy energy that was hard to shake. As I entered the tunnel leading to the chamber, I was struck by the fetid odor and the pressure of the air. My friend was choking on her breath, and whispered “isn’t it so heavy, like death?” I felt into the energy and while it took me a moment to put my finger on it, I suddenly had a sense of recognition and certainty. This was the energy of birth. This was the stain of amniotic fluid, blood, labor pain, tears, piss and shit, placenta, the pushing of life through a dark passageway toward a point of light. The energy of birth and death are essentially the same. I looked at the symbols carved into stone all around me on the walls. They were all symbols of water. Water, the stuff of life. We are born into it. And when we die, water flows in the tears that are shed for us.
The ancient peoples of Mesoamerica seem to have universally held the belief that death is but a birth into the next life. They often buried their dead in the fetal position. They buried babies and small children in clay pots as if returning them to the womb. Symbols abound representing the death gateway as a birth gateway. When we emerged from the “tomb” chamber at Mitla back into the blasting sunlight, we moved to another set of downward stairs that led into another chamber in the middle of which rose a great pillar of rounded stone known as the “Column of Life.” This was a place that held an energy of joy and light, almost ecstatic as it rippled across my skin. I realized that this column of life was a phallus, rounded at the tip as if penetrating the vulva of the subterranean chamber itself, entering into the Earth herself and inseminating the spark of new growth, a new life. I felt as if the cosmic ovum choosing cosmic sperm could be each one of us taking part in a greater whole. The integrity of life depends on our choosing, on our saying yes to life. Ultimately it doesn’t matter on what side of the life/death coin our experience falls, but rather on our answer to the question that always is: are you saying yes?
After our visit to Mitla, we visited a natural wonder of petrified waterfalls called Hierve El Agua. If our excursion at Mitla took us into the Underworld, Hierve El Agua took us into the Upper World, into celestial realms, but with the continued experience of water as the primary symbol and reminder of life. Imagine waterfalls that have flowed laden with minerals for millions of years, slowly calcifying into hard rock formations that look like boiling water. Imagine this place honored as sacred in pre-Hispanic times. Imagine that at the top of the cascade, rivulets of water still bubble through cracks in the hard surface, pooling and flowing in a million year old urge to birth from the inside of a dark Earth into the Light. I stood in soft water at the ledge where a vast expanse of valley and mountain opened before me and felt the sky hold me at the meeting place.
One of the highlights of our visit to Oaxaca was a journey to Teotitlan del Valle, a village famous for its indigenous rug weavers. We had the opportunity to visit the home of one of its most illustrious families who have maintained the art form throughout generations. They still make all their own natural dyes.
They still card and spin the wool by hand, and labor for months over a single rug woven with an understanding of the meaning of each symbol. Learning about the plants, flowers, minerals, and insects that gift their color to the dyes and watching the working of the shuttle through the loom made me realize that the people here on this land literally weave the Middle World, our experience in this physical reality, into being. They stand at the passageway from the Underworld to the Upper world, and make their existence by hand, investing their time and labor and expertise and knowledge into the tapestry of life … not just for themselves, but for all of us. They live a life of careful attention.
They live a life of intention. They honor the magic in their work and understand the privilege of alchemy. They live a life of devotion to the tradition that binds them to the elements of the Earth. They pulled strings of white yarn from a metal pot of sickly greenish-yellow liquid with a big two-pronged wooden fork, telling me that the dye was indigo, from a plant grown on the Isthmus. With the glee of little boys, they told me to watch carefully, that as soon as the air hits the yarn, an oxidation process would begin to affect the dye. I noticed a color change, as the yellow turned to green, the green to turquoise, and the turquoise then began to darken and take on bluish hues. In a matter of just a couple of magical minutes, the color settled into the beautiful rich dark blue we know as indigo.
All things come full circle. I had dreamed the idea of painting on shawls, called rebozos, months beforehand for this circle of women in inquiry of the Mother. The rebozo is a quintessentially female garment. It is a multi-faceted garment that accompanies women throughout their entire life – it rocks babies, carries children, warms the shoulders in winter, covers the hair at mass, and wraps the masks of the dead. It is useful and beautiful and inextricably linked with femininity. The first time I wrapped one around my shoulders many years ago, I immediately felt like a goddess, and I felt like my female ancestors must have felt, sitting around the fire telling stories or stitching the hem of a dress or moving the soup in the pot. I felt a connection to the ancient world, to traditions that had been forgotten, and the shawl was there for my remembering. I felt like Mary. I felt Biblical, as if I could sit in an olive grove and hear my sisters talk of God. I felt indigenous, as if my Celtic and Germanic foremothers whispered into the weft of the fibers across centuries of tilling the soil and brewing herbs into medicine that I was one of them. I was of the Earth.
As I dreamed the painting of rebozos into reality, I thought of Mari, an indigenous Nahuatl-speaking woman from Atla, Puebla, who I had bought some blouses from a few years ago. She makes gorgeous hand-embroidered blouses from natural woven muslin and come down from her village to sell them around the pyramids here. I remembered her having some lovely rebozos, too, thinking their simple cream color would provide the perfect blank “canvas” for our painting project. I imagined that if the women gathering for the journey could paint an image or symbols of the Mother on a rebozo, then wrap it around their shoulders, it would feel like the Mother Herself was enfolding them in an embrace. I hadn’t seen Mari in a long time, but as soon as I thought of her, it was as if I conjured her up by magic and she soon crossed my path. I ordered a bunch of rebozos without embroidery from her, just woven natural cotton with the hand-knotted fringe, and she had them ready a month later.
As soon as I had the rebozos, I started playing around with painting them to see if the project would work with my group. I quickly realized how difficult of a task it would be. The open weave and natural cotton absorbed too much paint, in spite of the special textile paint I had gotten. Painting an image of the Mother would be beyond technically challenging for beginners as I myself struggled as a seasoned painter with decades of experience. I dreamed back into the idea that had sparked the project and remembered that what was important was the sensation of being held by the Mother when we wrapped the rebozo around our shoulders. I realized that if the shawl was a color other than white, then it would be easier to make intentional marks and symbols representing the Mother as we experienced Her presence.
I decided to dye the rebozos indigo, a process that took me weeks. I felt the rebozos should be blue as this color is so often associated with the Divine Mother’s mantle, visible in painting after painting of Mary in particular. In the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, her dress is red to represent the earth, and her mantle is blue as symbolic of the heavens. We seek all our lives for connection between heaven and earth, and I felt that indigo blue rebozos would help us bring that connection a little closer. This was long before I ever imagined that I would see the actual process of natural indigo dye in Teotitlan. I bought indigo dye at the fabric store and carefully dyed each rebozo individually, boiling big pots of water, rinsing the starch out of the fabric that Mari had used to keep the fabric crisp and smooth. I stirred the dye and moved the bubbles. When I finally pulled each rebozo from the indigo water to rinse and hang them, I was horrified that the hand-knotted fringe had become a tangled mess. I worked for a long time to slowly and carefully unravel the tangles on each garment. Once the freshly-dyed rebozos were dry, I painstakingly ironed them as best I could.
As I reflected on the entire process of creation, from Mari’s efforts of weaving and my work to dye and iron and prepare them, then the work of the gathering women to paint them, I was reminded of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ writing on the handmade life. “The handcrafted life is very much like this. It takes a lifetime to accomplish. It emerges from a small and infinitely exquisite piecing together of one’s inner and outer lives, these being crafted, played, woven together every day, every week, every month, come summer, come winter, the same. The overall magnificence takes many years. It cannot be fast-forwarded. So, when there is a hunger in the psyche because not enough love or nourishment is forthcoming from the outer world, then there is a temptation to seize at things that might relieve some of the suffering. But the shortcut, the easy way, always falls apart. Then one returns to the handmade life. One has to pick it up painfully, and piece it back together, holding the overall pattern in one’s mind, but working patiently, piece by piece.”
The day before we were to paint the rebozos in the garden of our host casa in Oaxaca, I was out exploring the city. I tried to withdraw money from an ATM, but the bank system didn’t work. As I walked the streets hunting for another bank, synchronicity led me to see a sign on a building ahead of me. It was the Museum of Oaxacan Painters advertising an exhibit called “Arte Empoderando a las Mujeres” – “Art Empowering Women.” For 23 pesos, I had to see what it was all about. My jaw dropped to the floor when I climbed the marble staircase and peered into a gallery of 100 rebozos, all painted by women with images of women’s experience, of women’s life. The dreaming thread that led me to the painting of rebozos in Oaxaca had woven us into a common tapestry of life and of the land, a Mother who welcomed us all into the colorful folds of Her shawl. I sent my circle of women to see the show for inspiration right before we painted our own rebozos. We gathered then at rented table under the bougainvillea blossoms and meditated deep into the sensation of the Mother’s arms wrapped around us. Each woman painted her symbols quietly onto the indigo fabric, listening to the singing birds nestling around the terrace, pulling needle and thread into simple embroidered shapes of stars and roses, moons and suns, and even the words “Amor.” We sat by candlelight that evening, hugging our shawls close and feeling loved.
On my final morning in Oaxaca, I visited a church down the street. I walked into a hand-carved ornately adorned sanctuary, bathed in gold and light. A woman patiently worked on restoring relief sculptures and columns high on a scaffolding to the left. I turned to the right into a chapel that called me and found myself standing in front of the Virgin of the Rosary. A shaft of sunlight beamed through a side window, illuminating my hands as I raised them in reflection of the Virgin’s hands, delicately holding Her mysterious circle of beads. Every time I stray from devotional practice, I find my way back to Her. She calls me back into Her devotion and reminds me that the rosary is not about how diligently or how frequently I say specific words of prayer to Her. The rosary is the circle of Her heart. The rosary is the pillar of light that runs from Underworld to Heaven, wrapping our Earth into a round embrace. The rosary is the circle of women that I called to remind myself, to remember collectively, that we are Her daughters. The rosary is the circle of birth, life, death and rebirth that is Her greatest gift to us. The rosary is an art form, a thread of color, a woven tapestry, a prayer spun on our every heartbeat and beyond. My rosary, my body of work, my devotion, my art, is to connect to Life, to be in and of its Creation.
I receive the knowing
that I am part of all things in this world.
My direction is toward the doorway
in between all things. My experience is to allow
myself to stand in certainty
in that doorway between worlds,
to be as present as I can. The doorway
is a gate to dreaming the in between.
How do I stand there firmly? I am a pillar.
A pillar of light. I consume the darkness.
The shadow is my meal. I offer the plate
served with soil and worms and gravel and clay.
I offer the dish of divine compost into the fields.
May they grow ripe corn, glittering like citrine
on the stalks. May the leaves lie cupped like hands
against the shaft, holding nourishment
to the light. May we walk together with eyes
open to the gleam of sky above, sun raining
kernels of light into our cells. May our cells open
like embryos to the insemination of life
into our souls. I stand on the brink of skyward
shores, leaping into vast landscapes of Sierra Madre
mountains, my mountains that have bound me
to the heavens all my life. But here they have sprung
waters for millions of years that run laden
with minerals, turning flow to stone, so that I may walk
on water in my final days. I am doing this not
only for myself but for you, for your mother, and all
the mothers who came before us. Mother, may you
feel the healing I am becoming. I remember
the time before the land formed, before
the ancestors walked upon it, and I remember
the end, when all was released back into water
and fire and powder of earth, dissolving into air.
The end is at the beginning. I have always said, death
is a birth, the passage the same, the rush of water, the pressing
of matter, the bursting of breath. There is air at the end.
Respiration. Inspiration. Spirit.
Nothing and All.
Copyright 2019 Emily K. Grieves
As of 2004, Emily K. Grieves makes her home in Teotihuacan, Mexico, where she has painted murals at the Dreaming House Spiritual Retreat Center and has created a body of artwork influenced fy the cosmological imagery left in the ancient murals and by her relationship with her Muse and the Divine Feminine. In 2014, she opened her studio, Taller de Arte El Refugio, in Teotihuacan.
Emily is a certified Intentional Creativity Teacher in the Color of Woman Method developed by Shiloh Sophia. She is a member of the Intentional Creativity Guild, an international organization that promotes intuitive artistic expression as a way to make positive change in the world. Visit her at www.EmilyKGrievesArt.com