Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Walking the Spiral: Etain

Following work with Brigid, the inner spark is ignited, and the heat of growth rises.  Even in the stark, cold of winter, the dormant seeds of last summer and fall are preparing for an incredible explosion of life.

The painting of Etain: Rebirth and Renewal explores this amazing process.  Plants burst from soil, vines rise, and curl in spirals, sometimes growing so fast it can almost be witnessed.  The inner light then becomes the outer light of the sun, when the inner state and outer state become one.

Caterpillers hatch from eggs, feed incessantly on plants, growing at a rapid rate, until finally wrapping themselves into a cocoon in prepartion to transform its body into a butterfly.  Every stage of the caterpillar is difficult and hard work.  Growing rapidly requires tremendous energy, which is fueled by the caterpillar's ravenous appetite.  Using silk made from its own body to wrap itself up in a cocoon is a feat of amazing skill.  Inside the cocoon the caterpillar literally dissolves, as it remakes its body into something entirely different.  This in itself is a remarkable and astounding act.  Then, the cocoon breaks open and out emerges a winged being, prepared to take to the air after it pumps its shriveled appendages with blood.

Examples of this kind of rebirth and renewal occurs all around us all the time.  The caterpillar is one of the most illustrative and readily available examples of this process.  Renewal and rebirth is often connected with growth and positive ideas.  But, this is deceptive, because renewal and rebirth is extraordinarily difficult.  Etain's story is one of rebirth, over and over, into a multitude of lives and different forms, many of which were difficult and tragic.  Rebirth and renewal can be even more difficult than the descent into darkness. 

With each rebirth, we are shedding the old skin, we are letting go of old ways, we are becoming something different.  The caterpillar loses chewing mouth parts for a long tubular straw.  It no longer eats, but drinks. Some butterflies are born with no mouthparts and live the rest of their short lives without eating at all.  There is no going back once this transformation occurs.  Life becomes hell when we try to go back or hold on to the old ways.  Imagine a butterfly with no mouthparts trying to chew a leaf!  Rebirth and renewal is really a death.  It is a necessary death that one must experience in order to grow.  Our culture does not prepare us for this concept, and many of us struggle against this difficult process, essentially becoming a mouthless butterfly trying to chew.

The process of creating this painting was quite difficult, almost as challenging as the emotional turmoil brought up by the painting Boann.  It was working with the energies of Etain that made me realize how challenging going through rebirth really is.  I had entered with the illusion that this would be a light, airy painting, almost easy to complete after the previous three.  This illusion was quickly shattered as I found my own life and career path being challenged.  Soon after completing the painting I found that I was being faced with letting go of a lot of old, outmoded ways of being, many of which that I realized I was reluctant to give up.  But, holding on to these old ways has only invited a personal hell that had begun to become unbearable.  Now it is time to climb to the top of the vine and let the currents lift me up into a new life.  The void of the sky is unknown.  There is great fear rising in me.  But what butterfly, when spreading its wings, questions the lift off?  The new life will happen, but only when the old life is forsaken.

The first cycle of paintings is complete.   Beginning with the upheaval of emotional waters, which carried me down into the darkest earthy depths of inner exploration, where the ember of insight and creativity are sparked to light and life, pushing me upward into the air of rebirth.  A new cycle now begins, bringing me back to the waters, similar to where I began, but not the same place.

In this next cycle, I will explore the masculine energies associated with this spiral journey.  To do so will require a lot of letting go, a peeling away of expectations, a new perspective will emerge as I swallow my fear, step off the vine and let my new wings lift me.

Your donations will help me continue walking this spiral path and sharing my experiences. Please consider helping the journey continue!  Just click on the link below:
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