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.
This is one of the 40 different Illuminara Intuitive Journal cards (you can get it if you like, available on Amazon). I painted it years ago during a session with a model in NYC. What comes to mind for you when you gaze at this image? I always feel a certain kind of determination, it faces the right (future for me). Yet, she looks as though she has knowledge of life’s sadness, too, and love’s travails. But what I think about it isn’t the point, it’s what you think or feel about it that matters.
Detail from Shabbat, Autumn Elaine Clayton copyright 2014
Even though it is about 5 degrees outside and frozen snow is stiff, like white styrofoam, covering every surface, the trees are singing to me. I am painting the colors of emotion and thought, the colors of memory and dreams. The gray bare limbs I see out the window become bright and vibrant in my studio, I am inspired. Winter whispers to me, snow falling or on the ground lulls me into another realm where anything good is possible.
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?
The unfinished galley of my new book due out in May, MAKING MARKS
Whenever I read Near Death Experiences, I think of what a powerful teacher a ”life review” is. Life reviews are common in many of NDEs. This is when you see your entire life as a movie, either every scene or very important ones, and you not only see yourself interacting with others, you feel everything the other people around you were feeling. People who experience this say that they re-emerge (after becoming conscious again) with so much more compassion and concern for others and it helps them love life more. Another thing I often read is that such NDE experiences make people want to live life to the fullest, appreciating each moment.
This new book of mine coming out in May is an expression of so much of what I love about life because the book’s truest message is about empathy for others and living life to the fullest —creative self-expression combined with empathy, for me, is the ultimate way to LOVE each moment of every day! We make our marks, we live and interact, and if we can create while we support and love others, what could be better? (I want to have a life-review, when I leave the earth, that I could feel good about, and all that matters is loving others and creating and generating good things, even if learning to be truly loving is not easy, I want to be better as each day goes by.)
My wish for the New Year is to develop more empathy and be more creative, knowing that the creative expression of others is a great gift to me and to celebrate that with every breath I take.
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.
Mary and Martha/ painted sketch/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2013
I am studying Torah and taking Hebrew and LOVE IT. I recently had an exchange with the very brilliant Jewish scholar and author of several books, including The Jewish Annotated New Testament, Amy-Jill Levine. Her work helps bridge a gap of misunderstanding between two traditions that spring from the same source, Judaism and Christianity. Her concentration and love of this study has improved how we see and read the New Testament and I am so grateful that she dedicated herself to it for everyone’s benefit. I was recently called a “Bridge Person” myself by a rabbi and I think I am that, actually having had a meditation recently where I am on a bridge that connects the two religions. When I asked Ms. Levine what she liked most in the NT, one was the story of Mary and Martha. I admit that I have to actually study it myself to see what I think of it, but I enjoyed painting Mary as she is on her way to see Jesus while her sister Martha remains behind preparing food. I would probably relate more to Mary as I’m not always enthralled with preparing food, but am getting better as time goes by.
Detail from a recent Intuitive Stream Drawing/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2013
There is a technique for intuitive discoveries that I developed, and I call it “intuitive stream drawing”. Often in my meditations prior to an intuitive reading sessions, animal imagery appears somewhere in the intuitive stream drawing (these are created while I’m alone, before a session begins). In this one, at the crown and 3rd eye, there is a fierce rhino facing the past. This to me has to do with desire and the fierce look may say, “desire is threatened” or “I am going to have what I desire!” or possibly there is anger from a past experience in where a particular desire was taken away. Since the crown chakra and the 3rd eye chakra have to do with awareness of the presence of the divine within, and how it is recognized and attuned with the self, this single (of many possible) interpretation of this intuitive stream drawing makes me want to talk about getting assertive about any past event that holds a threat in regard to creating and having what the soul desires moving forward. There are many other ways to look at it.
Below we see what may be a fox–it could be a cat. The fox is a terrific symbol. I almost ran over one a few evenings ago and thought, “Time to become invisible”. Fox in Native American animal wisdom can be about “becoming invisible”—since this is a huge fox and it’s in the heart and solar chakra it feels like the need to be unseen in matters of love and even in terms of home life in some way. If it’s a cat, I feel it has something to do with intuition, the mysterious aspects of life– and possibly about trust. We can’t train or control a cat, and so it is in matters of love in some ways, there is no way to control others or make everything go the way we’d like. Fox and Cat could indicate many other things as well. Interpreting intuitive stream drawings is wonderful because it gives us a chance to explore the meanings and to discover which one is most powerful for the client personally.
More about intuitive stream drawings in my new book MAKING MARKS: Discover the Art of Intuitive Stream Drawings (Simon and Schuster/ Beyond Words due out 2014)