Water Baptism- a dream reflection

I want to share with you a dream I had, as the imagery was so powerful, it has given me much to reflect on. I’ve called the dream (and the painting above) ‘Water Baptism’

In the dream I was up in the clouds. There was a teacher with me, relating all sorts of wonderful things about a global perspective. I could see the horizon and the earth below, and it was glorious. But somehow I was slipping and wasn’t able to stay in the sky. So I fell. But the fall wasn’t dramatic as in many dreams, it was soft. I gently landed in the ocean, and woke up as I emerged, face first from the water, which was a beautiful aquamarine blue.

It feels like sacred ground to try to interpret this dream in a linear fashion. I think I will only be able to catch the overarching message, and trust that my deepest soul understands more than my conscious understanding. The most obvious metaphor to me, of the water at least, is baptism. Baptism is a way of representing an inner surrender, as death yields to life.

Submerged in the ocean, we are utterly engulfed by the water, but also buoyed up by it- if we relax. When we are drowning, they say the more we struggle to stay afloat, the more likely we are to actually drown because we are expending so much energy in our panic. To swim, one must learn the skill of relaxing into the water and thereby the body becomes its own life raft and floats. There is a humble beauty in yielding. To circumstances, to God, to who we are. In dreams every element can also be understood as parts of ourselves. So, even the body of water that held me is a part of me, perhaps that sacred space in my heart where God also dwells.

Dreams provide wonderful inspiration for art, and this one is no exception. For me, to paint a dream is a way of imprinting it onto my psyche, and I’m sure the meaning of this one will evolve just as I am evolving. Hopefully others too will be able to resonate with it, since after all, dream symbols are part of our collective unconscious.

St Theresa of Avila describes spiritual metamorphosis in terms of a butterfly which emerges after days and days of being in a cocoon spun around it’s body. It is changed on a cellular level, no longer resembling in any way the lumpen worm that chews its way through mulberry leaves. It’s not merely a worm with wings, it is utterly different, transformed. This body of water can also be seen in terms of a chrysalis. When we are in our mothers’ womb, we float in water, before we emerge into another reality…Truly, as the psalmist says; “Your ways are too wonderful for me too lofty to attain”. Some things are so beautiful and true that we can only trust that somewhere deep in our soul there is a flicker of understanding.

May we all find quiet trust in these waters as we surrender to it’s depths.

Light and Shadow: a Meditation

They move with the time of day and make visible the dance of the breeze. Dappling the world shadows are darkly mystifying. When I paint shadows, I often use all of the primary colours, undiluted and concentrated, so that the eye reads them as shades. Darkness gives depth, or at least the illusion of depth. The world is flat and bleached without shadows. In art and life, we need a “Yin” or negative space to balance out the bright and dynamic ‘Yang’ energy. The reflective yielding light of the moon to balance the sharp rays of the sun. We need winters’ solstice to make space for the active growth cycle of spring and summer.

In spiritual terms, the shadow is neither good nor bad, it just is. It’s a part of us that has much to teach us if we let it. It contains spaces that we can only just make out, like something in the corner of our eye, hazy and nondescript. We see reality as ‘through a glass darkly’ (1 Corinthians 13:12). Like the deep ocean, our shadow also contains things we cannot see at all. There is a universe inside of us. Often, we get snippets of our mysterious shadow selves when we remember our dreams, and wake, perhaps realising that there is a lot more going on in our psyches that what we are consciously aware. But we don’t need to remember dreams in order to gain the wisdom and insight of our shadow.  It resides in all of our frailties, our insecurities and failures. It’s our very weaknesses that lead us to God, who is completely present both within our being and outside of us as an anchor for our soul. We discover the life of God in these hazy, elusive impressions. We come to understand that our worth is not found in achievements or the identity we have spent years trying to carefully construct.

Sometimes, every answer to every question seems to be a resounding “I don’t know”. Like tree in a storm, it’s delicate branches billowing in strong winds, we may feel that there is neither gravity nor ground. St John of the Cross says likens this shadow experience as ‘the dark night of the soul’. He says; “In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God”. The shadow place is being content in the mystery. Laying aside manipulations and grasping, and with open hands, we are fully immersed in the river of God.

Following the Trail of Dreams

 

INTERPRETING DREAMS

Have you ever set an intention to record dreams, and then upon waking, had an inkling that told you, this dream is significant…so you sleepily try to jot down the important elements, knowing there are things missing but nonetheless. You tell yourself you will look at it, your dream, again later, for analysis and perhaps, enlightenment.

I believe dreams affect our choices and have the potential to give profound insight…but it seems so hard to pin them down.

As an artist, I have developed a deep fascination with the landscape of dreaming. Many of my paintings are images that have emerged from trying to make sense of their mysterious content. I have found over the years that, like building a muscle, my ability to remember my dreams becomes more reliable the more I set the intention to recall them and write them down. The biggest challenge, however, is in the interpretation of them. It’s like there is no boundaries in our dreaming world, so there are often symbols and scenarios that are weird and nonsensical. Thankfully, any research I commit to this endeavour has proven to be fruitful; from writing a dialogue with characters to consulting online dream dictionaries (based on the understanding that some signs and symbols are universal).

Lately I have made a determined decision to honour my intuition as I analyse my dreams, and after recording the dream itself, I have been adding a paragraph or two entitled ‘Interpretation’. I use thumbnail sketches when words are not sufficient to describe events or feelings. I also record them in the same voice I would use to write a story.

After my son Jordan died, my reason for remembering dreams changed and intensified. I feel like we are living in a matrix-like world where he is living on the other side and I can’t quite get to him. I associate his energy with owls, so when an owl shows up in my dream I really take notice. There have also been wonderful moments, where he has showed up in my dream all fresh-faced and happy- these dreams are so vivid that I wake having that sad realisation…’Oh, that was a dream’. But many of you reading this may think: ‘It’s not, he’s showing you he is alive and well’, and that’s what I believe on my good days.

The other day I heard a wonderful teacher and blogger talk about dreams and mentioned that it is easier for Spirit to connect with us in our dreams because our busy minds are at rest. We are not living by ‘what’s next’ or trying to assimilate the multitudes of data that assault our senses while we are awake, distracting us. In this sense, our minds are yielding and open. This is my hope, that by following the trail of my dreams , I will gain a deeper understanding of the realm of the Spirit.

WATER

I wanted to talk about the specific dream element of water because it has been recurring for me and I know it is such a common dream symbol. Water dreams often symbolise the world of the subconscience, spiritual realms and deep emotions. This is not surprising, since we are made up of about 70% water, and as a substance water behaves much like emotions. It ebbs, flows, can be calm or tumultuous. In yogic tradition, water is connected to the moon, hence, it often has a mysterious and dark quality. Here’s a recent dream I had, and my brief interpretation:

I was surrounded by deep, overcast, oceanic water, where the wind and the waves were building steadily and I had a sense of foreboding as if I would be easily overcome by them. I was on a very flimsy floating mat, and I lifted up into the dark turbulent sky for a few moments.

My interpretation:

Because the water was dark and waves were building, I am thinking that there are deep emotions I am perhaps still unaware of. Being lifted off the surface indicates to me an encouragement to trust in God; it is akin to the story of Jesus walking on the water in the New Testament.  The vessel I was in was very fragile. A vessel of any description can represent the physical body -I have been feeling really run down so it makes sense the vessel in my dream was ‘fragile’.

There are so many forms and associations for water, here are just a few to ponder:

Did you dream, like I did, that you were on a boat or other floating device? Boats are considered my many traditions to symbolise the spiritual journey, or the notion of being carried and held by God or  a higher power. Some important considerations would be if you or someone else was sailing the boat, if it was drifting, the type of boat, etc. Depending on the context it can indicate safety and/or mastery over your emotions.

Did you go underwater? Being underwater in a situation like snorkelling can indicate a contemplative phase or a time where you are examining your emotions and life journey in order to grow. Conversely, if you dream of drowning, it can indicate being overwhelmed with ‘drowned’ (or unacknowledged) emotions, or something significant coming to an end or death.

If the water is dark, dirty or cloudy it can represent confusion, or frustration at not being able to see to the end or the bottom of something. If it is clear, it has the opposite meaning; truth and clarity are guiding you.

Here’s to acknowledging the ethereal, mysterious and potent messages that come through for us in our dreams….and hoping you all have a blissful slumber

Peace

 

 

Angels and Archetypes, a Tribute to my Son

Angels and Archetypes, a Tribute to my SonI’m in the process of working towards an exhibition I have entitled “Angels and Archetypes”. It has caused me to really look at what is at the heart of my artwork and why I am drawn to certain images and themes. Most of the paintings are from 2018, however, there are some I have included from earlier. They are all linked by their archetypal element- people, places, animals and objects that have a symbolic meaning. The archetypes highlight the connectivity of human beings, since they are found in the collective unconscious, a place of myth, legend, dreams and folklore.

This exhibition is dedicated to my son Jordan who died tragically in a car accident in 2016. It feels like a wonderful way to honour his continuing presence in my life, not only as my son but now as a guide and source of inspiration to me. He is a creative soul, blessed with an inexhaustable curiosity about the world and everything in it. I wonder what he is doing now. I hope he is playing music and making new discoveries, free, unfettered and joyful. I know he is beside me always giving me so much encouragement. My creativity will always be a way to connect with him while we are separated in this life.

So much love to you my son, always, always.

 

 

My Counter-Intuitive way of Dealing with Artists’ Block

The term-“artist block” is one that every creative person has heard, and carries with it a sense of frustration and artistic desolation. It’s a term that has been in the back of my mind, daring me to tackle it and rise above it.

Lately, I have simply surrendered to it, which runs counter-intuitive to the common advice given on the subject, suggesting that the artist should “just turn up” to their creative practise regardless. A kind of fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality. And there nothing wrong with that, it does work- I’ve tried it in the past. But I guess that’s not where I am at the moment.

I wanted to divorce myself of the label “artist” as part of my identity. Funnily enough, as I write this it occurs to me that perhaps this was necessary so I could grow as a person.

In December I ditched my studio space in Fremantle. In January I ditched my home studio, replacing it with a beautiful, funky lounge room. I decluttered all my art supplies, leaving me with just the bare bones-journals, pencils, paint and canvas. In March I ditched my gallery space in Fremantle. I gave away some artwork here and there, which has been liberating and kind of joyful, too. Ditching and giving. Throwing away the superfluous, gifting things that hold meaning and value.

I’ve just been finding the whole process of trying to sell artwork….soul destroying.

I still paint occasionally- only when I really want to- and I just set up in my dining room or outside. But mostly, it’s all about sketchbook doodles, writing down dreams, thoughts of travel and trying to find the still small voice again.

The below image is from my sketchbook, done on a plane trip on my way back from Bali.

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