Detail from Dreaming of Shin and Shekinah /Elaine Clayton copyright 2014
There is a moment in the Friday night Shabbat service when everyone turns to face the open doors, to welcome the Sabbath Bride. She is Shekinah, the Holy Spirit, feminine aspect of God. I was late getting to the temple a few weeks ago, and saw that everyone had already started as I walked down the corridor to the sanctuary. Just as I walked through the doors, it just so happened that this was the moment everyone turned to greet the Sabbath Bride. It was funny, and I laughed and so did a few others. But actually, it felt really cool to get to walk in with Shekinah that night! I am painting this (see above, a detail) meditation of the Hebrew letter shin and of the spirit of Shekinah, a presence unseen but felt.
From my dream journal sketchbook/ Elaine Claytoncopyright 2014
It is worth while to get into the habit of remaining in the hypnogogic state upon waking. This is when you are still completely relaxed, and may have visions or have realizations that emerge without any effort on your part. What dreaming offers has a way of continuing to offer even in waking moments, even beyond the hypnogogic state. Once you’re moving around with daily tasks, you can still slip into that relaxed and blissful state of receiving.
The Presence acrylic on canvas 8″x10″ Elaine Clayton copyright 2014
Do you see angels? They’re sometimes powerfully brilliant sparks and colors (blissful to behold!) and other times orbs of luminescent light, gliding softly, shimmering of love and calm (or are those orbs something other than angels, such as new souls or ?). I have seen some that move en masse (small) the way great flocks of birds do, in that mesmerizing swoosh, creating a changing shape as they fly together. I like to close my eyes and meditate, seeing what I see in the dark of my 3rd eye vision, until something happens. I’ll say out loud, “I’d like to see my guardian angel now.” Often a most glorious purple light comes into view, cloud-like and bright as ever. The reason I say they are angels is because there is a distinctive feeling of utter majesty and true bliss when seeing them. It’s the feeling that comes with the vision that counts. And the feeling is of deep love.
Today I just realized that I think trees have Near Death Experiences. Or rather, they leave the earth in winter and go to heaven until spring, when they bring all the colors, magic, love and abundance from heaven back to us on earth. The only ones who do not do this are the everlasting evergreens who for some reason have volunteered to remain with us all throughout the winter, to nurture us and make the air smell so green and good. They’re noble for that, so I think I’ll go give one a sappy hug. You, too?
In a recent intuitive reading session, the subject of time came up. Time in the spirit realm is not as we experience it, it is not linear. There is not a past-present-future dynamic like the one we have here in our daily lives. In this particular reading, a figure stretched to put her toe through the door of a future event. It seemed to say to me that the client in a spiritual way was “already there” and the saying, “Fake it ’till you make it” came to mind. She laughed as she had been saying that phrase to herself a lot lately. Seeing ourselves “already there” helps us get to where we feel we have not yet arrived. The intuitive stream drawing made me feel that this client was already in that great future place, though she did not experience it yet in “real time”. What was holding her back from experiencing that? She saw all the obstacles and felt the weight of all the worries, which is natural, especially when we are being responsible and thoughtful of others. But since she’s “already there” and just has to catch up to herself, we talked about meditating to see herself already there, in her beautiful future. She does not have to perceive any obstacles or allow anything to function as an obstacle.
When you feel like you aren’t there yet–where you’d like to be in life, imagine that all time that is yours to experience, and your creative energy, is one big kaleidoscopic image. That kaleidoscopic image is YOU in the utterly stunning life design and pattern that shifts and becomes more and more wonderful each time it shifts. And you ARE all parts of this image at once, and it is shimmering and divine. Imagine and see your best self in the “future”, reaching to you to step into your ideal light, your best dream. It will become “real” once you accept that it is already very real! The kaleidoscope will shift and there you are, in the place you have aspired to be.
Life is sacred, when we engage with it as sacred. Every leaf, every speck is full of vibrance–the Spirit of Life is everywhere. I painted this thinking of my brother Ken and his richly poetic way of weaving words and images and stories into visions of humorous and life-enhacing awareness. He has inspired me and many to recognize the living spirit in my surroundings.
Commissions for Spirit Paintings come in throughout the year. I consider it a privilege to offer this as a healing art, as each painting is created in meditation in honor of the recipient. I keep the commission fee lower than low for these so that really anyone who truly wants one could have one. No two are alike, just as no two people are exactly alike, and with each painting, a new and different image arrives. Sometimes there is a narrative feel, other times a symbolic kind of energy. My intention is to allow whatever would most benefit the recipient to emerge on canvas.
We were created into being as creators in our own right. When I’m commissioned to do a Spirit Painting, I feel this. My intention is to create whatever would best serve the one it is being created for. It is a form of prayer, a meditation on behalf of that individual. Most are done for people I have never seen or met, so I have no idea what they like or what their internal aspirations are or anything. But I ask for imagery to flow through according to what would best serve that person.
I have always experienced a certain feeling while creating, and it is that of the thrill of enchantment, depth of emotion and excitement. There is an adventurous quality to creative work because the creative process is one that puts you in the moment without knowing where it will all go. In Genesis, when God created the world, there was the breath of life and the spoken word, to “be” and breathe and to state intention. In other words, I have to be in control enough to paint, but spontaneous enough to feel truly alive, so the artwork also, hopefully, feels truly alive. I believe being creative is to be open to the indwelling Spirit that breathes life into all of us. A painting needs to do the same, to not just reflect that spirit but to breathe life into the viewer. And only the viewer knows when this happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I won’t let a painting leave my studio if this has not happened, in fact I cannot paint unless I feel the stirring of the excitement and emotion, of breathing life into something while I work.
The point of change, the moment of mercy comes when I finally ask, “What is it I’m supposed to learn here?” Some situations, goals or thoughts are held hostage by the ego to the point where no shift seems possible. I had a client recently who said she’d been having a terrible streak spanning many years, and felt cursed. We all relate to that feeling, but what is it that shifts us out of that? I don’t believe we’re cursed, even in bad times because I believe every moment holds the Light in it, but there can be very difficult times in our lives. I told this client that I’d found in my own suffering times that there is no shift out of misery until I surrender and ask, “What is it I’m supposed to learn in this situation?” It’s like looking up at the sky and surrendering, waving a white flag as big as the Milky Way, and the ego can’t stand it! This “breaking point” does not come easily, the ego refuses to be put in a position to have to “learn”–it thinks it already knows everything, and it asserts itself as to what it wants with great authority. “I know what is best for you,” ego seems to say. But when things are sorrowful, painful, forced or simply dysfunctional, it is a good moment when that ego has to surrender and the humble question of what should be learned arises from within. Tears may follow, but the good kind.
Angels in Our Midst/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2013 pen and ink on hand-made paper
I believe in miracles and in angels. The Talmud states:
“The virtue of angels is that they cannot deteriorate; their flaw is that they cannot improve. Man’s flaw is that he can deteriorate; and his virtue is that he can improve.”
Angels show up sometimes to help us improve, through being moved emotionally, through being saved from danger or through insights that come as if on the wind. Imagination and spiritual, creative playfulness, I believe, brings us closer to the messages our angels deliver.