Tree of Transformation Painting and Story
I wanted to share this writing with you today in honor of my Mama’s birthday. She loves trees so it seems just right. It arose as a response to one of the Intentional Creativity Teachers asking me to share the ‘structure’ of our work. I tried to say it in normal words, but it just failed. I feel I could keep editing and refining this for hours…but here it is in draft form. A story told. A body of work.
Blessings on your day. Get a cuppa’ tea and enjoy. If you have been curious about our work this will shed some light…
Tree of Transformation
The Evolution of my Body of Work through Intentional Creativity®
By Shiloh Sophia
I dreamed a seed of hope…
The seed of hope growing within my 23 year old self was encoded with a prayer to end violence against women and girls. To change the face of the feminine image in popular culture in my lifetime. To gather community in an act of revolution that would last beyond my generation. To awaken the sleeping to rise into consciousness through a culture of creativity. Living these prayers is my sacred assignment, my devotion, and my ministry.
The original seed arose out of a context of creative content that came from the wild wisdom shared with me through my mother, Caron McCloud. She is the Poet Mother, my birth mother, and the most beautiful person I have ever encountered. She taught me context, content, curriculum, and container as my vocabulary. The Painter Mother, Sue Hoya Sellars, came into our lives before I was born, adding her unique cosmic framework and imagery to the context of my family. She is the mother of my heart. Sue also brought the gifts shared by her teacher, Lenore Thomas Straus. Their work, their love, their art and writing informed who I became, as did all the women in my family. (1970-1993)
I was created to create, so my own art making and writing grew as I grew. A glowing warmth nurtured the seed as I shared what I was learning. With time, the seed that arose from my desire was planted in good compost in good ground with great love. When the seed sprouted and broke ground we named her Color of Woman. I felt the power rising from the sprout. A potential was making itself known. I followed the call from the city to the mountain to dream freely. There I found language and image for what was growing. I studied the medicine from the two mothers as a form of healing for myself and others through painting and poetry, pottery and prophecy. (1993-1995)
The sprout grew towards the sky and the story roots hung out in rich soil keeping company with creatures often hidden from light and sight. The sprout reached up tall and focused, tender leaves mingled with the dew and the stars. A connection between heaven and earth lives in all trees. Through books, circles and classes I shared what I knew about the the emergent tree and the the information that was coming through. The women who gathered affirmed what they saw, felt, and created in the presence of the shared tree wisdom.
The little tree came to be tended by many gardeners. Especially my family, Eden McCloud, Shannon McCloud, Janet Seaforth and Bridget McBride. And the musician who sang the love for the me and the tree for 16 years. The women who gathered declared themselves Cosmic Cowgirls. Then along came the Muses who would stay with us from the beginning until now, Elizabeth Gibbons, Mary MacDonald and Jenafer Owen. There were many others who came and went, too many to name in this telling. Some stayed and played and told stories. We held fast to the red thread of connection between all us. We enjoyed such good company and lots of dancing! Spirit Warrior, Carmen Baraka chanted for us and we are certain the grandmothers heard our call. (1995-2004)
We came to know the soil through working it. We asked questions of the ground and spoke into it, and wove poetry between the sparkling particles. We called that ground Intentional Creativity and knew that the tree sprout we originally called Color of Woman grew in a good place. Awareness of “where” something grows creates context. This kind of soil is located all over the world; yet many do not know how to find it. This is part of our work, to let the others know about the context of the ground beneath their feet.The Cosmic Cowgirls are fond of saying we have our head in the stars and our feet on the earth. We began to tell the legend of the tree and the ground far and near. Many came to learn and discover their own ground. Claiming the language for what we experienced would become one of our primary creations. Developing paintings that told our story would be at the heart of our evolution. As time went on, those roots spread throughout the earth and the young sturdy tree became stronger and taller and lovelier. We were all so grateful to see the trunk so strong. (2005-2009)
With our attention the tree grew many branches. We began to understand that the tree held the information for the collective, not just a few of us. Self expression would become the way we understood and intuited the content that was arising. We curated conscious community and celebration!
The women who studied the tree and the ground became Intentional Creativity Teachers. The branches that move out from the center are the teachings and are tended by women once they graduate, and become the Intentional Creativity Guild. The branches together, with the leaves, are the canopy that create the keepers of the collective wisdom. We make shade and beauty and color and light for each other and our Beloveds. (2010-2012)
I remained a primary gardener, but tending the tree was a great work as the borders of the garden expanded. I entered into joyous union with another gardener who knew about permaculture and how to work the soil in new ways: Jonathan. He made it possible to share the harvest with many who could not come directly to the birthplace of the tree. We went quantum and the stars were happy with our leap into the cosmos. His sacred assignment is to “carry the medicine” on the Mothership.
To you, those of you who are graduates, the Intentional Creativity Guild, I say,
“You are a bright bird, coming from your own land with your own information. You joined us for an initiation. You came to preen your brightly colored feathers and develop your wingspan and flight pattern. You had to test your winged eye in good company with those who see between the worlds. You came to find your voice and chirp or cluck or sing along with the other birds. You came to bask in the shade and to sit in the light. Your wingspan grows strong and you know you can fly wherever you want. In time, you will fly off to your own tree and plant your own garden. Some of you come back to sit in the shade and share our company for a while. For others, this tree is home. We all know it is big enough for everyone to gather around. In community is a humble belonging. Some of us who are bright birds, also become gardeners.”
With our songs and our company we bloom. When there is abundance, we share those flowers and fruits. We cannot pick everything. The harvest, should the tree choose to give one, is the offering of our gifts to our Beloveds. The philanthropy of the Intentional Creativity Foundation is an offering of our own abundance and this offering is a gentle gathering over time. This offering is measured with focus on the health of the tree, and the ground from which it grows. Not designed for speed or production – but the long term vision. (2017)
When have become a healthy enough tree, we can name our own garden. The garden is yet another context besides the ground or the tree, the larger framework in which it is all happening. Each awareness expands the context in which we understand ourselves. Naming is bestowing a power of knowledge upon a being. We named the garden, MUSEA, meaning many muses and many museums. This is a quantum garden that supports this tree and many other trees. The wind sends her seeds airborne to other gardens, where other life rises. (2018)
Many have asked for a map to the garden and discovered the magical Red Thread Cafe just past the garden gate. As our tree and our garden has flourished it has become known further and further afield. Many people come to see what is growing here and to sit in the garden a while. As we bask in the beauty of our magnificent tree, we see red thread tied to her branches with messages which flutter in the wind. They float intentions, placed by many souls and circles. Souls we know, and by others we haven’t met. When tragedies or blessings happen, we reach out and pull on those threads. Some of us become Red Thread Guides and call the circles.
As she has matured, our tree called Color of Woman has become known as a Tree of Transformation where the creatives in the land come to learn. We love our tree with an incredible might! The trees which are grown from our one tree will be so many different kinds of trees! Each bird and every gardener chooses her own garden space, and tends her own trees. Yet, we still gather here at the original Tree of Transformation. (Now)
Our Lineage of Intentional Creativity ancestors shines on us from the sun and the cosmos. Their prayer for us to thrive as creative beings resonates in our bones and our homes. Finally we know truly that we are stardust as we splash our canvas with the awareness and memory that this knowing brings. Flowing around us are the rivers of life that nourish us. The loving water from forever ago has been moving toward us for such a long time.
When you feel the call, you will find us, leaning up against a great tree of transformation, grown from intention and love in action. You may also find us dancing a jig in the garden, under the broad branches when the moon is full and yellow gold. Or at the salon by the sea, speaking the philosophy of muses. You will find our sketchbooks are in our hands, taking note of the universe and our easels are sprinkled throughout the world with our images and stories.
The Tree is magic and is wherever we are, the tree and garden is. The one contains the many and the many contain the one. Seeds are like that. The Tree is everywhere we are. We love the company of the others who know the story of the Tree of Transformation. We have our own stories, and then we also have our together stories. The Tree of Transformation is a together story. You are welcome here, we are glad you found us, and that we found you along the red thread.Me? Oh, I am just one of the gardeners. Come sit awhile…I will make us some tea harvested from tiny flowers that grow at roots of the Tree of Transformation sweetened with honey from the bees in our abundant garden.
I share this story today as a record of where the philosophy, ethos and practice of Intentional Creativity came from. I share it on my mother’s 82nd birthday. This writing also reflects the organic nature of our emergent business structure. April 25, 2019
Happy Birthday Mama Cloud! Our community loves you SOOOOOOOOO MUCH and we are so very grateful that YOU were born!
My mama is so brilliant, so beautiful and so encouraging. Her love for me made it possible for me to grow as a woman and an artist. I am so grateful to be her daughter.