Getting into harmony and tune with the universe and staying there is the principle function of mythology.
– Joseph Campbell
Billy here: The Twelve Days of Yule are over. The Full Moon after Solstice shone bright through the fog and the squeals of trains on Sunday night. The Sorcerer of Trois Frères, the cave drawing from the Pyrenees pictured above, has been on my mind all through Yule time. In a small village in England called Abbots Bromley, a tradition remains of what is called the Horn Dance. This dance involves reindeer antlers passed down through generations all the way from the 11th century. It was once also danced many years ago on Twelfth Night, the Christianization of the last day of Yule, in the first week of January. My intuition tells me, under no scientific lead whatsoever, that this dance is a remnant of the same mythology of this ancient cave painting said to be around 15,000 years old.
The first full moon after Winter Solstice once marked the beginning of the New Year in Pagan times, which was Sunday evening this year. The days are lengthening and it’s time to begin preparing to plant for spring. Our friends on the land here have built a chicken coop for spring chickens to come, a little hoop house and a circular garden plot in between our cabin, the main house and the barn.
In the gloom and cold of these midwinter days and nights, it’s easy to lose our way, especially if we get sick, but there is always the promise of the shedding of antlers. Old projects can be finished and new ones begun. There seems to be something auspicious in the air, new beginnings, but new beginnings planted in a very old and fertile soil…
The astronomical calendar is done! Perhaps I will be selling them on Etsy? What’s next? What is the lesson of the antler magic? Perhaps the coming Spring will bring some answers…
There have been lots of dreams of late about the making of art and the livingness of all things: rocks, clouds, lakes. Aboriginal artists have said that they are simply marking spirits that are already there when they paint. We all want to make and share what people call art or be creative in some way. The marks left by simply being are what we call art, but art encompasses all of being, not just the marks left behind. Art is not just a record of the experience of deep presence we had at some point in time, but the deep experience and connection itself, some sort of playfulness with it. I resonate with what Joseph Campbell said about there being no meaning to life in actuality: there is rather only experience, engagement with the world on every level. Though that engagement could be what we might call meaning. In our present materialistic society we value the product, the piece of “art” or the record of deep experience, over the experience itself. Artist and art therapist Shaun McNiff summarizes it well: “Can you imagine people feeling that their prayers, spiritual exercises, and meditations must be exhibited in a gallery or commercially published?” I keep fighting the urge to “make something” of myself and my projects and instead slow down to simply enjoy the process. Drawing is a way of being present, a way of touching the feelings within me and beings around me with awareness. One resolution: to draw more as a way of being present!
Spence here: Billy had a good idea to post more of our sketches and artwork from the last year. I like he reminds me to look back in a way that helps us move forward. The mask of “productivity” is constantly donned in our household, however, it is in hiding behind that I forget to enjoy my life. Today, I shed the itchy feeling that “something” should get done, and less my own irritation about what it means to have worth. I have been obsessed with the continuity of construction where we live–hurrying up to create a space in which to create–I think sometimes this has caused me to actually lose focus instead of reaping the satisfaction of process and patience. Besides, we have made good progress, and the reprimanding voice in my head lacks credit and a pat on the back, which is what we need to push us ahead to finish. We are almost there–just a few more days of work on the music studio–insulation, trim work and paneling. In the summer we will replace the roof and work on a sitting area/patio just outside the door for folks to gather. It will all come about, just at the right time, no time sooner.
I heard it mentioned the other night we are over the hump of winter. I did not feel it until just now. Even though we have celebrated the Solstice and New Year’s, I didn’t get it. Our holiday felt heavy to me. Winter is a hard time for some, I think. I appreciated and enjoyed filling out my holiday cards, as I always do–thinking about loved ones and how lucky I am–but also I felt more ladened with worry about plans, the cold, money and that ever elusive value of “work”. Like a dog behind a fence, I dream about the other side, but have lost the cognition leading to the series of steps to opening the gate. I have many skills but lack confidence and belief. This week I am working on finding them again. Going through my own journals helps me realize I “work” all year long to get ready for now. Too bad, in a capitalist society, one does not get paid for “now”, but it won’t stop me from working on it.
Twenty-fifteen feels very much like Coyote energy to me–even though in the Chinese Zodiac it is the year of the Sheep. I think (and secretly hope) life this year will be enlightening, with a side of mischief, which we will laugh at along the way. It feels like behind every rock or leaf is a smirk–but a gentle one of recognition and constant learning, but by way of “The Fool” in the Tarot Cards, with a sprinkling of magic, as always. Good luck! Here are a few of my sketches, from the “Land of Enchantment”, New Mexico.
Part of inhabiting the mystery is shedding the idea that you have to work and work, and rush and rush, as though if you worked harder and faster, you would find the answer. These inclinations have to do with a desire for permanence. Inhabiting the mystery means embracing impermanence. You can’t hold on to anything. That’s just the way it is. You want to go deeper, but maybe this awareness of impermanence is as deep as you can go. At the very least, it’s real. Everything else is an illusion.
In a deeply experienced life, things are always entering us and becoming a part of us. This table goes inside. The river goes inside. These words go inside. All of our immediate experience goes inside us and simply vanishes there. Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that enough?
– David Hinton