I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book on creativity where she talks about fear, courage and their relationship to creativity.
It got me to thinking about fear and courage in my own life.
The most fearful – and the most courageous – step I think I’ve ever taken is when I quit the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) in 1996. I had been a member for eighteen years and Vice-Chair for eight years. I knew when I quit that I would lose the respect and friendship of people I valued. I knew people in the Party would consider I’d stepped onto the bourgeois path and been infected with bourgeois ideology, and I would be an outcast.
I also knew that I had a drinking problem, due to the stress of the pressures I was putting on myself as well as trying to live up to expectations in the Party, and also knew that one person who was aware of this would use that to denigrate me and trash my name.
I still went ahead and quit.
I felt a huge surge of relief – that I’d finally had the courage to be me, and not the political activist straitjacket I’d forced myself into because it was the only way I could see to express my deeply held social justice beliefs.
I stepped right out of the comfort zone communism had occupied in my life but it took a lot of courage to take the path less travelled than stay on the path of least resistance. I’m proud of my decision and actions which led, eventually, to a far richer, creative and inspired life.
Of course, the next scariest thing is to admit that you were once a communist – a real party pooper. Some people may leave my life, I hope they don’t, but I need to be true to myself, not cower behind cold war poison. And what can I say? I quit the party for a number of reasons: because I’m an individualist, not a team player; because I didn’t like the games people play in politics, even in the Communist Party; I’m an idealist; because I believe – from personal experience – in life after death; because I wasn’t a practical person and trying to pretend to be one was – literally – driving me to drink; and because basically I will not allow my ideas and thoughts to be dictated to by any organisation or political party.
In fact, it was the role of alcohol in my life which started opening doors to a spiritual life and a creative life for someone who had never seen herself as creative in the slightest.
I had to quit my union job in the mid-’80s due to repetitive strain injury and was flailing around a bit trying to decide what direction to take. I came across astrology quite by chance and was drawn to get a reading. I’ve mentioned it previously but the first comment from the astrologer was: “Please don’t get upset, but do you do drugs?”. I was quite taken aback by this insight from a complete stranger, and said no, I did alcohol!
It sparked an interest in astrology and metaphysical beliefs which, I think, had been quietly brewing and, finally, in 1996 burst through the mental and very logical blocks I’d put up to anything but scientific thinking. In February that year I did a mandala workshop where suddenly my artistic skills emerged, I saw myself as a creative, artistic being and I realised my artistic forte is symbols rather than real life images. Then I connected with the Tarot and crystals.
You would say it was 360 deg. turnaround in my life. But in many senses it wasn’t. I was always interested in people, individuals rather than mass movements. I loved listening to people’s stories and experiences. In art, Tarot and crystals I was able to expand that interest into service through mandala art – by creating healing art for people and teaching mandala art to people, through advising people with Tarot readings, and teaching people how to tune into crystals and work with their healing energies.
I am quite sure that many would expect me to denounce the Communist party and beat my chest in attrition at my life as a commo. But sorry, that’s no going to happen. I learned a lot of skills and developed self-confidence. I met terrific (and yes, less than terrific people) in the Party for whom I have utmost respect. They see a life of service through political activism which is entirely right for them because each of us, as I’ve come to realise over the years, is an individual with personal beliefs unique to each person. It was I who changed direction, who understood – finally – that I am too anarchist, individual and eccentric to fit into an organisation with a structured framework, a scientific approach to society, and a belief that the minority is bound by the majority view.
I don’t see myself as a Pied Piper for the world and it’s a huge relief to dump this self-imposed responsibility. I believe in magic, happenstance, synchronicity and a mystical life. I am more often than not off with the fairies although my husband kindly catches my feet as I waft away and brings me back down to earth. I’m happy now to occupy my niche which is to create art and writing which, I hope, helps lift people’s spirits, inspires their creativity and makes the world a better place in some small way.
I still believe in social justice, in equality of all people, in redistribution of wealth to ensure that billionaire corporations don’t behave with complete immorality in gorging on wealth why they screw good, honest working people into the ground. I do my bit with support for social action groups, donating to activist organisations but knowing that they are the practical people and I’m not. Such a relief!
Returning to astrology: it not only tripped my inner lights, it also offered to me an insight into how we, as creative human beings, live on earth. In Australia, I came across the Aboriginal concept of songlines. For European people, this idea is quite puzzling, out of our comfort zone but nevertheless it resonates for me in a quite different way.
Aboriginal people can track Country through songlines – relating earth maps, if you like, through the form of song. I once watched an elderly Aboriginal artist, in the series “art & soul” by Hetti Perkins, an art curator, writer and activist, look at a painting by another artist and start singing the songlines of the art. It was quite extraordinary and, of course, quite outside the norms of Western culture.
But it struck me, watching this programme and reading about songlines, that we human beings have astral songlines – soul songlines, if you wish. We incarnate here on earth, but resonate with the starstuff of the Universe and, by understanding our individual make-up, our heritage, our DNA, we can get a good idea of what our heart and soul yearns for in this life on earth of ours.
One thing I’ve realised is that, by learning to understand my own natal chart, my calling is to explain my beliefs to people through my own personal experiences and to show how you can track your own soul songlines. So in the next few posts I’m going to explain how astrology works, in fairly simple terms, through the main aspects of my own astrological chart and that of my husband, and how that’s worked out in my life until now.
It’s interesting looking back on the various stages of artwork I’ve created over the years. I did a post on this recently in my general blog:
which was a bit of an overview at moving from mandalas, to Soul Song art, to shamanic type art to the digital art which is drawing my attention at present.
But I want here to talk about how I started working with what I call Soul Song art.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had a Tarot reading with a lady who predicted that I’d attend the mandala workshop where I realised I could actually create art. Well, I ran into her again when Yvonne and I went to a psychic fair on Mt Tamborine. I wasn’t booked to do any stalls but went to have a day out after being confined to home with my broken leg and ankle. Yvonne was holding a stall with her Auralight bottles and readings.
Lo and behold, I saw the same lady again doing Tarot readings so I wandered over to get another reading. I told her of the previous reading she’d done for me (if you’re a Tarot reader you simply don’t remember the details of each reading) and she looked at me and said: “Can you see colours around me?”
I looked at her in alarm as it had never crossed my mind to think about actual colours around people. So I closed my eyes, concentrated on what I felt around her and hesitantly I said: “I think you should be wearing more turquoise and lemon to balance your aura”. She beamed and said what I’d said made sense. I also told her I saw people as symbols with particular colours which I was doodling desultorily at the fair to while away the time while it ran its course.
Then I had a general reading with her again, the details of which I can’t remember now. But a short while later she came up to with a big grin on her face and said: “You’re on!” I looked at her quite blankly and then she said: “The spirit guide artist can’t come, her car broke down. So I’ve told the the organisers you can do your soul song art and they want you to step in to replace the artist”.
Well, I can tell you, I nearly fainted with fright. It was one thing to dabble in this sort of art with people I knew, but quite another to do it at a fair with strangers queuing up and paying. Yvonne cheered me on and so did the Tarot reader so I reluctantly shuffled to an empty table, got out my pencils and paper, and shook like a leaf when the first person approached me.
Amazingly, everything flowed – to my enormous relief. I found I could produce images and symbols quite easily while I nattered with the people waiting for their piece of artwork. But, as I mentioned earlier, the universe takes you by the hand when you’re ready, so one guy sat down and, while I was drawing, said: “Do you pick up any messages while you’re doing your work?” I stared at him and my mind went blank. “Ummm, I don’t really know,” I stammered weakly. He persisted. So I shut my eyes and concentrated. “Well, I’m getting the message that you should be meditating more, that you’ve been slack about it in recent times,” I muttered. “Spot on,” he said, much to my relief. And then said: “I’m the director of this facility and, yes, you’re right, I should be doing more meditation.” Now it’s a good job he didn’t mention his position before as I’d have have been too intimidated to say one word. He continued: “You’ve given me a timely reminder.” I stared at the guy and my jaw dropped, I was gobsmacked!
I continued doing Soul Song art on black cardboard with art pencils, much as I’d done with mandalas, and then dgot attracted to working with acrylics, pastels, stick-on decorations and glitter – never looked back after I hit the glitter trail! The first Soul Song painting on the right is one I really, really liked when I created it, and it remains one of my favourites. I swapped it with a guy who created ritual feather tools, as I didn’t have the money to buy one of his creations.
I really enjoyed working on it and then, right at the end, when I was trying to work out how to finish it, I remembered an agate slice I’d dropped and which had cracked in half. The two pieces slotted in neatly at the base of the fire, another piece of synchronicity because – without the agate pieces – I simply wouldn’t have been able to finish off the painting in an authentic way. And then, to my disappointment, I got no feedback from the recipient at all, which was a real let-down.
I have no idea who I did these paintings for, I didn’t keep records. I enjoyed creating these images but, again, packed it in after a while because I felt like I was back on the treadmill again. I also felt under pressure because you’re painting for an individual and you never know whether they’ll like the art you’ve created for them or not.
I’ve decided I’d rather be inspired by creations which come up from my intuition and imagination, which fire up my creativity in a spontaneous way rather than having to be somewhat constrained by painting for other people, if that makes sense.
Anyway, by then I’d got involved in a psychic circle which I found very enjoyable. I found to my surprise that I had a real talent for psychometry. We would each put something personal in a bowl and then pick out an item, hold it for a while and do a reading for the person who owned that item.
I found I could tune in, pick up energies and then channel information which was intended to offer advice to the item’s owner. I was pretty much 100% accurate with this and it opened me up to working directly with people in giving them information and messages that came through via some disembodied voice which used to speak in my head. Afterwards I started doing Spirit Guide portraits with readings from the guides to the individuals for whom I was doing the portraits.
It’s interesting when I look back over my life because at university I studied German and French languages, politics and history. But part of the languages course involved simultaneous and consecutive interpreting which I rather believe now got my brain used to listening and reading out comments at the same time.
I had, by the way, been quite cynical and doubting about the existence of spirit guides as I’m quite logical and the idea of spirit guides seemed a step too far for me. I had been told I had a spirit guide around me but didn’t really feel much. So one day I muttered to myself: “Well, if spirit guides exist, show me!”
Be careful what you wish for because you might get it!
A week or so later I was doing a Tarot reading for a lady in Beaudesert, a large town near Boonah where I was living, when a spirit guide burst out its energy like a firework exploding right beside her right shoulder. I actually reeled backwards because the energy hit me so forcefully. So yes, I got my confirmation of the existence of spirit guides but not quite in the form I’d expected. I guess I thought I might see a disembodied figure floating around or whatever, but I could feel the energy of the guide that turned up in the reading, and I could hear the message he brought the lady which, by the way, made sense to her.
However, I started going a bit bananas and New Agey with the spirit guide drawings. When I was using simple pencil and paper, spirit guides came through clearly and my portraits weren’t bad considering I’d never drawn faces and actual people before. But then I decided to get into colour and all soft and spiritual and sooky and I went right off the rails, I’m sorry to say. I carried on this path for a short while but an inner voice kept nagging me that what I was drawing was what I thought was spiritual but wasn’t, it was a reflection of seeing all sorts of wishy-washy, cutesy-wootsy images which were doing the rounds instead of listening to my own sense of what I needed to be doing and NOT doing!
Eventually I came to my senses and packed in the spirit guide drawings, I’d done my dash with them. And really I didn’t do much more in the way of art until we returned to Australia, after spending two years – from 2002-4 – in the United Kingdom.