Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dreaming of Woman and Wolf



A woman loved her dog,
a companion and champion of every sport.
She thought her world complete
until out of the blue,
Wolf arrived at her door,
hunched over in a crate too small.

She first refused delivery,
but soon out by compassion
built a bigger box and lured Wolf inside,
risking her own safety as he was very wild.

Later when she let Wolf out,
he neither attacked nor ran away,
but shapeshifted into Elk with huge antlers,
whom she then loaned out to a group of children
who were elk shepherds needing his help
to get behind their flock and and herd them
with his impressive wide rack.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Behind me dips Eternity

Fort Foster, ME: 2011                   CC Jean Stimmell
Behind Me -- dips Eternity --
Before Me -- Immortality --
Myself -- the Term between --
Death but the Drift of Eastern Gray,
Dissolving into Dawn away...
– Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dragonfly wrestling web of modernity

Posterized photo of Dragonfly grappling with tomato cage in our garden
CC Jean Stimmell: 8/6/13
In retrospect, I can see that meeting Dragonfly was not an accident but synchronicity: Dragonfly summoned me while I was mindlessly picking vegetables on the other side of our garden. Rather than constantly darting here and there, she patiently waited for me to get my camera and stood still while I photographed her.

Her image continued to resonate with me. I posted her on my blog with the title: Dragonfly Wrestling Web of Modernity. By that, I meant that Dragonfly, by her very presence, totally demolishes the credibility of the modernist worldview: As a stunningly beautiful and mysterious representative of Nature, she absolutely refutes the modern credo that the only Truth is the Holy Trinity of scientific fact, rampant materialism and the capitalistic greed.

After posting my original blog entry, I decided to google “Dragonfly” to find out what symbolic importance, if any, dragonflies have for others in the world at large.  And I found out they have profound importance. For example, in shamanic lore according to Ina Woolcott, dragonflies are power animals, a symbol of change, and have the ability to pierce illusions.

Dragonfly’s shamanic abilities are in areas where I have already shown at least some small promise or, more important, areas where I aspire to have those qualities.

“Just as light can bend and shift and be adapted in a different ways, so can the archetypal forces associated with dragonfly. Dragonfly yields the message that life is never what it appears to be. This is a power animal which can help to put us in touch with nature spirits.”

“Dragonfly is one of nature's shape shifters. The dragonfly inhabits two realms, air and water.  As water represents the emotional body and air represents the mental, those with this power animal will frequently find themselves trying to maintain balance between their thoughts and emotions.”

“Children with dragonfly power animal are often very emotional, feeling things deeply and responding to situations with great passion. Generally, as they reach adulthood, through experience, they learn how to balance their emotions with greater mental clarity and control. This gives them the compassion required for any type of work relating to healing or counselling.” 

“Dragonfly medicine teaches us to pierce our self-made illusions. Dragonfly can cause us to question the illusion which we call reality, particularly that part of our realities which hinders our ability to grow and create transformation/change in our lives.”

“Dragonflies can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour when flying. They can spot movement forty feet away. Flying around and into things from different angles, they challenge rigid awareness and prompt the energy of change. This power animal is especially helpful for those who feel stuck, or are unable to grow spiritually and for those who feel blocked in their creativity. Dragonfly helps us remember that 'ordinary, every day' physical reality isn't all that is available to us. Its rainbow wings remind us we live in a world of magic.”

Thank you, Dragonfly and thank you, Ina Woolcott, for bringing me back home to that world of magic we are immersed in at every moment of our lives, but, which we have such difficulties tuning into – in the hubbub of the crazy world we find ourselves living in.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why rhythm is the essence of life

Three Sheep dancing
CC Jean Stimmell: 2011 Stinson Beach CA
I ended my last post by saying that artists, by the very nature of who they are, tap into a deeper, richer place beyond mere words and abstract thought. By way of example, I used the following quote by Virginia Woolf, proclaiming that creativity, the essence of being human, is a matter of rhythm, not words:

“Now this is profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A signal, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it; and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working (which has apparently nothing to do with words) and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it.”
Rhythms of the wild goose: Spring migration: Sewells Falls
Today, reading Brain Pickings,[ii] I ran across this quote by Henry Miller that reinforces this notion of how important rhythm is to the real art of living:

"Those who are trying to put the onus of responsibility for the dangers which threaten on the shoulders of the ‘dictators’ might well examine their own hearts and see whether their allegiance is really ‘free’ or a mere attachment to some other form of authority, possibly unrecognized. … Those who are preaching revolution are also defenders of the status quo — their status quo. Any solution to the world’s ills must embrace all mankind. We have got to relinquish our precious theories, our buttresses and supports, to say nothing of our defenses and possessions. We have got to become more inclusive, not more exclusive. What is not acknowledged and assimilated through experience piles up in the form of guilt and creates a real Hell, the literal meaning of which is — where the unburnt must be burnt!" [iii]
Rhythms of Spring
Blue Herons building their nest: 4/10/11
The Rhythm of Life, Death, and Rebirth
Abby, an older dog,  gave birth to her first and only litter of puppies–
and then declined and died before the end of the year

[i] Woolf, Virginia. The Letters of Virginia Woolf Volume 3: 1923-1928. (1977), page 247
[ii] Brain Pickings is most amazing weekly digest of intellectually stimulating articles that I have only recently discovered. It is the brainchild of Maria Popova who, in her own words, is “an interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large.”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Mystery of Creation Resides in the Watery Depths

Mystery resides, not on the surface,
 but in the watery depths *
CC Jean Stimmell: 7/31/13

In my last post, I talked about the bewitchment of our intelligence by language: about how, in today’s modern society, we place too much importance on abstract thinking, on cognition…on words themselves:

“Disavowing the infinite richness of our primal selves, we are now trying to subsist on abstract knowledge alone, a thin gruel made up solely of words, words and more words, building blocks upon which we have built an empty edifice which we have arrogantly proclaimed to be the one and only reality – and had it blessed by our newest incarnation of our supreme god whose name is Science.”

Artists, however, have always worshiped a different god, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. According to Jung, the real source of their art originates neither merely from sensory input or abstract thought but from a far deeper and richer place. Rather than the artist being the creator of art, the opposite is true: it is art that creates the artist (the artist has no choice: irrepressible symbolic images surge up out of the collective unconscious and demand expression). As Jung has written:

“Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him.”[1]

Artists, who are tapped into this deeper and richer place, have always questioned the ultimate power of words, as this quote by Virginia Wolfe makes clear:

“Now this is profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A signal, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it; and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working (which has apparently nothing to do with words) and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it.”[2]

[1] Modern Man in Search of a Soul
[2] Woolf, Virginia. The Letters of Virginia Woolf Volume 3: 1923-1928. (1977), page 247

* This photograph, taken while standing on the mossy bank of Wild Goose Pond, captures the reflections from the sky and the overhanging hemlock trees, all magically distorted by gentle, incoming waves.