Poplar trees grow so tall. The Easter Poplar is often called a Cottonwood tree. I grew up with the ones in the mid-west (if they are the same species, I am not sure) known as the Cottonwood (favorite of mine and of Georgia O’Keefe from her days in Texas before she went to New Mexico). The seeds of this tree float off into the air on a tuft of cotton-like fibers. Like Nature Spirits sent out into the world.
Napoleon planted poplars to shade his soldiers. That was a good idea. I don’t normally mention Napoleon, but I like the connections historical figures have to trees. I also read that the wood of the poplar is soft and often ends up as paper or matches or box material. I see that possibly much of what I do all day in the studio has to do with this tree. I am literally handling poplar pulp in the form of paper all day, in one way or another, possibly.
Even if we can’t control situations or people or nature, we can choose how we respond to what happens around us or to us. That infinite power is within us to respond with our intentions, as our bodies animate our intentions. All day our hands reach to choose things, to put our will to eat or to pick up something, in motion. The smallest gesture of the hand reminds me of how truly empowered we are in life.
I’ve written about how meeting Hank Aaron taught me that the glow I had been seeing all my life around people and things was called an “aura” (see “About” on illuminara.com). Summer is a great time to try seeing the colorful, soothing glow of soft light around people and objects because you need to be relaxed, and summer time is for relaxing right?
Have someone stand against a white or gray wall, a neutral color. Stand back from them a bit and stare at them without focusing the way you would normally. This is hard to explain, but what I’m trying to get at is that when we are so on task all the time, we are hyper alert for visual facts, and to see auras you have to kind of see without looking for or at anything in particular. Just stare at the person’s forehead, letting your peripheral vision expand and hold it there. You should begin to see a line of light or a color around the person’s head. You might need to play with this for a while. I don’t mean to encourage everyone to space out, but once you see that light, you will know that it isn’t so much spacing out as it’s tuning-in in a new way.
This is a recent Spirit Painting/acrylic on canvas/2012
In this painting, so many surprises happened. I had thought this would be a painting about sky (the one who commissioned it is a flight attendant and world traveler by air) but to my surprise a mermaid insisted on arriving here. I was consumed with thinking of Chief Osceola and how when he was being chased by President Jackson’s men, he hid under water for days unseen, using stems from lily pads for breathing. This painting let me know it had to be about stealth and ability to survive extreme circumstances by having the right knowledge. The person who commissioned it is an excellent Healing Touch practitioner and I felt strongly that this image came forth because in her work she is very much in the flow, but with serious inner strength and expressive power. Maybe she is helping people escape what needs to be escaped in life, and doing so simply by being herself, in her flow. Otherwise, this painting surprised me by how the shore became a bird. And the sky theme arrived in a way I had not expected: starfish and shore bird, with a “sky of spirits” and stars undersea as well.
Detail of one of my recent Reiki Chakra Drawings/2012
When I practice Reiki, I see colors of the aura (I see these anyway, not just during Reiki) and some other dynamics pop into my third-eye vision. Often, clients receive visual imagery during sessions and I ask them to share them with me if they like. Healing is a multi-dimensional experience I have found, and enriching information surfaces during the process if we pay attention.
Sketch of my favorite tree at Compo (that is no longer there)
Rounding the corner on Compo Road South as it turns left just where the jetty is, I always hold my breath a little as I notice how my favorite tree in the beach area is no longer there. The ghost of that tree lingers, there is a blankness where it once stood. Have you ever felt the absence of a tree? It is a stark empty feeling. A bald kind of deprivation (of shade, of shadow, of greenery). I suppose I’ll get over it, but I’m glad I drew it. Trees mean more to us than we are conscious of in our daily routines, I think. They sustain us as they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. And breath is life, life is breath. Looking at this sketch, I remember to breathe deeply.
I send for my future self to advise me on situations I am experiencing now, and for healing past wounds. Try and picture your idealized future self. You are the best ever, you feel and look healthy and glowing, strong and wiser than you are today. This future self is like a muse calling to you to learn and grow. See this future self in whatever way you like as far as how you’d love to be. Think of a past wound or situation that needs healing. See your future self go to the self of the past (this might be you as a child or teenager, for example). Listen as the future self talks to the self of the past. What does this future self say? Listen in as he/she describes how great life is going to be, and how all is well. Allow that powerful and empowered future self take care of whatever it was that you no longer need to carry around in your heart or mind.
Solar flares and extreme weather signal that we are in the “earth changes” and I realize I need to stock up basics. The sudden harsh storms that knocked out power in W.Virginia could happen anywhere, anytime. Years ago now, many years ago, my Cherokee mentor told me to keep a bag with essentials by the door and to be ready to flee at any moment, (I guess in case we didn’t have to flee). This was when we lived near the WTC. We moved before 9-11, but her warning has stayed in my mind. In later years she told me to stock up on canned food, etc. I go through phases where I do this, and then phases where I deplete whatever it is I’ve stored. I learned that water in plastic jugs only lasts up to 2 months (or you are basically drinking plastic water). If what happened in W.V. happened here, I’d be the one having to line up for food and water rations. They are trucking in supplies and doing “mass feedings” for the people who have no power after a week or so now. It can all happen fast. Do you have an emergency plan?
Our farm house was built in 1750, and my sons loved hearing about how their house was built “before America was America”. We read to them all about the Revolutionary War and watched Liberty Kids on PBS (a big favorite of mine and theirs). This was interesting because their father is British. Through their parents, they must have seen the coming together of two opposing countries from that era, and enjoyed the slight bit of tension in it because they loved to switch sides. One would be a Red Coat one day and a Yankee the next. They named one of our chickens General Gage (yes, even though she was a she) after the British general in Boston, and called our car at the time (a lemon Volvo) “LuDu Adams” after John Adams. I think they thought Abigail’s name was LuDu for some reason. After going to Concord more than once and seeing the reenactments of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, my boys were fully engaged in the history of America and I hope today, Independence Day 2012, they have pride and a sense of responsibility to to their country, and a belief that doing something good for others is necessary for us to have a world worth living in.
A quick gestural study in paint at Compo Beach (approx. 21/2′ x 3′)
I haven’t taken my easel to the beach yet this summer (too hot so far) but will before summer’s end, I hope. I love to visually grab the people and their movements, it is a challenge worth attempting because people are so beautiful in their slightest gestures. Usually sand gets mixed into the paint.