Sample Class: Class One of Inner Landscapes

November

We will start with our geology, our foundation.

Let's sink into this space with each other, into our bones and into the earth.

 

November in the north is when the lay the of the land becomes bare again. The rock forms revealed, with a hint of death, as other life forms die back, decay. For some of us, November is a welcome rest, for other's it feels lacking in vitality as they mourn the vibrant summer's passing.

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, 
the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." 

-Andrew Wyeth

There is an aspect of surrender, of trust needed to come into relationship with our foundation, our bodies and the land. To sink in.

breathing out wind

I stretch my branches
 

sinking into the meadow

I step out of the muck

face against the grass

I press my belly against the ground

porous skin and crumbled earth

we melt into each other

I pull in the roots, pebbles, worms

with each inhale

I push down into the miles of bedrock

Through quieting our busy minds and sinking into our physical life we can find the space to begin to create the sacred texts of our own lives by intertwining word and image. The known and the unknown. The seen and unseen.

 

It all begins with deep listening.

Rocks are more about being, not so much doing. About the eternal and receptive. A stone is ingrained with geological and historical memories. All spiritual traditions have a reverence for rocks.

In the Jewish tradition, 'Matzevot' are sacred stone pillars; in the Buddhist tradition there are stone 'Stupas'; in Islam, the central point of worship is the Ka'aba (black stone) at Mecca. In Chinese medicine, one of the 5-elements system is the Earth element:

"The earth element is primarily yin, which is feminine and receptive. However, it can express in a more active and masculine form, as well. Much like the planet earth, the energy of this element is stabilizing and centered. There are four seasons and five elements, so earth represents the in-between of seasons where they transition from one to another."

In the shamanic traditions of Peru, pachamama is Mother Earth, the rocks, the dirt. And she can absorb all your pain from your body. You can whisper to her your fears and anguish and she will endlessly relieve you of suffering. There is no need for you to hold these burdens as a separate body.

And then there are the petroglyphs.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Among the Rocks

BY ROBERT BROWNING

Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth, 

This autumn morning! How he sets his bones 

To bask i’ the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet 

For the ripple to run over in its mirth; 

Listening the while, where on the heap of stones 

The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet. 

 

That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true; 

Such is life’s trial, as old earth smiles and knows. 

If you loved only what were worth your love, 

Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you: 

Make the low nature better by your throes! 

Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!

Some of the art I am most drawn to is what we refer to as "prehistoric" stone art like this piece from 1,000 BCE. Its simplicity of form speaks to something very base and universal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These present times feel full of unsteadiness, lacking in a foundation. But through taking this time to carve out intimacy with yourself and the land around you, we can all find a solid rock of awe at the beautiful world we are a part of.

"Active Hope is not wishful thinking. Active Hope is not waiting to be rescued
by the Lone Ranger or by some savior. Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life
on whose behalf we can act. We belong to this world.

 

The web of life is calling us forth at this time. We've come a long way and are here to play our part. With Active Hope we realize that there are adventures in store, strengths to discover, and comrades to link arms with."

- Joanna Macy, Active Hope

So where do WE begin?

Let's take our first steps together...

 

 

 

Do you know what rocks make up

the land you live on?

How long they have been here?

Who lives on them and among them?

Are rocks alive?

How do you 'ground' yourself?  

Being grounded means being present in your life. Your energy is firmly rooted. You feel a sense of support, connection, strength, and balance. The Earth carries with it energy that nourishes your energetic body.  Trauma can create a shaky foundation in a body. We often tend to be off the ground -  while transporting from place to place or simply with our head in the cosmos. 

 

I invite you to see what resonates for you on this page. What sparks your curiosity? Are there words or an image on this page you would like to respond to with your own creation?

Here are a few suggestions over the next few weeks:

Walking Meditation

 

Find some time in the next couple weeks to take a slow, solo walk in nature. Be conscious of every step you take. The contact of your foot to the ground. The feel of the air on your skin. And perhaps at some point in your walk a rock will catch your attention. Say hello. Feel it's shape. Put your cheek against it. Does it have any moss or lichen friends? Sit with it. And when you are ready, thank the rock for its time.

Perhaps write about what it felt like to spend some time with a rock. What did the rock have to offer? Did you offer anything to the rock? How did moving slowly on the ground feel? Was it warm enough to take off your shoes?

Exercise 1:  Wisdom Cards

This exercise was modified from The Artist's Rule by Christine Painter.

Soul questions speak to the deepest desires of our heart, our foundation. Creativity helps us dwell in that space of open questions by allowing us to honor images and feelings that come forward without having to move to a linear or logical thinking.

You may find yourself drawn to responding to this prompt through words and/or images. If you prefer a poetic responses just follow the same process but write a poem instead of paint/collage.

 

Here is the materials list for art aspect:

3 5x7" pieces of watercolor or other sturdy paper

watercolors

brush

jar of water

collage images from books, magazines, calendars

glue, pen, scissors, masking/painters tape

1. Begin with some form of meditation: sitting in silence, a gentle walk, slow yoga, quigong.

2. Begin to reflect on what questions you would like to ask your inner monk/artist. The questions may come out in a confusing language but just let them arrive. They can be broad or very specific. Choose 3 questions and write them each down on the back of one of your 5x7" cards. Once you have written your questions, turn the cards over and shuffle them so you don't know which is which.

3. Release the questions as you move to the art making, creative writing.

4. Tape down the 3 cards to a table surface creating an even border around the card, if you wish.

5. Begin by feeling what paint color you feel drawn to and make some marks on the page. What color wants to join it? Try to stay in your sensory body. If you find you are thinking a lot, stop and make a tight spiral drawing on a scrap paper or just stop and breath. You can stay with painting on move onto the next step.

6. Now move your attention to your collage images: what images draw you in? Either a strong positive energy or a negative resistance? Select images that stir inner movement either way. Add images to each of your 3 cards.

7. When you have come to a stopping point in the art making, take a moment to reflect on the experience before turning the cards over. 

What did you notice in yourself? 

What voices or judgements wanted to join in?

Which card felt the most freeing to create?

8. Turn the cards over and observe how the question and image communicate with each other. Synchronicity sparks connections where we might not otherwise see them. What wisdom has been offered? Not answers necessarily, just bread crumbs. Keep these cards visible somewhere so you can see them over the weeks, as new layers may reveal themselves.

Please share some aspect of your experience through our private class forum.

It could be the wisdom cards, the questions, your reflections.

And respond to a couple other people's shares.

Responding Reminder: We are here to listen deeply to each other but not to offer solutions to problems or critiques of creativity.

We have set our foundation.

Lascaux cave painting

“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.” 


                           -Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Would this class be a good companion for you through the winter? Or would you like to explore female archetypes through 2019?

© 2018 by Jess Weitz