Magicians

I am staying at Rh’s house. Or not in the house proper, but in a kind of separate guest house / basement suite that she uses, leaving the main house empty.

A man comes in. He wears a balaclava over his face and chases me around, trying to rape me. I am terrified, I do NOT want this to happen. Rh chuckles, watching the action. She has planned this.

There is a pause, and the man pulls off the ski mask. He is, in fact, a kind of goofy guy, and a magician. There is no threat after all.

* * *

This dream stayed with me for a while – as the frightening part was heart-stoppingly terrifying, and the idea of a goofy magician underneath the mask totally piqued my curiosity.

A few days later I found myself at a workshop in Owen Sound with the Toltec teacher, Sergio Magaña –

We learned a “manifesting technique” that, in its series of movements, reminded me for all the world of the Magician card in the tarot deck – reaching up to the sky above, and down below to the earth in the process of creation…

What a way to begin the summer…

We stayed just outside of Owen Sound on my friends’ farm where they had some new horses, and Sauble beach is just a hop skip and jump away –

And there is a sense of buoyant optimism in the sensation of creation from this practice… It’s a technique that is done for a number of days in a row, the repetition reinforcing the sense of creative magician… even my dream world has been increasingly busy (and occasionally magical) with this practice.

* * *

On Facebook I belong to various dream groups, and recently someone posted some collages she was doing from her dreams.

They had the structure of a series of comic book frames, allowing for the shifts in the narrative from scene to scene – a technique she said she learned from a workshop with Jeremy Taylor.

We got into a bit of a conversation about working from a dream, and how sometimes later, when you look back at the original entry in your dream journal, the details can appear to be quite different from what you’ve been accentuating or extrapolating as you make art, or even have conversations about the dream.

For example, from the dream above at Rh’s house, I’d been remembering the most vivid bits of the fear and of the unexpected revelation of a magician.

Yet when I looked back to my dream journal I found that I’d had several other forgotten magician dreams before this, and within the original entry on this dream, there was a detail that “this is a game or a challenge Rh and I have”. So the chuckling Rh seems less evil in this context, and my character is then also not so much a victim as a co-creator.

Interesting.

* * *

There was a dream I had maybe 2 years ago of 6 dead bulls in a parking lot.

It was a terrible dream, with the stench of death in it, and the sense of tragedy of these 6 massive powerful creatures dying a lonely unceremonious death in a parking lot at night.

At the time I had no place to talk about dreams, but I can always make art, so I did painting after painting of bulls, dead or dying, wondering what the heck the dream was about.

At some point I happened on a free webinar given by some people in Vermont, and I told them the dream of the 6 bulls. They were so lovely, they listened so well, and at some point Sue said, “how do you know they were dead?”.

The possibility of seeing the dream story as a more fluid entity, of not taking the narrative as a finished, absolute, unchangeable reality ROCKED my world.

Since then there has been a large painting in the works of some very alive bulls, and even a small sculpture is in the works.

And you, Dear Reader…?

Have you found your relationship or understanding of certain dreams changes over time?

Honesty vs Admiration


The tourists are beginning to return to the city, and if I leave the studio door open to get a bit of a cross breeze with the window, occasionally a lost meandering tourist will make their way to the third floor of the building, and wander into the open door, curious…
There are a total of 5 of us in our large loft room – a fashion designer whose layout tables and sewing machines and bolts of fabric crowd one big corner; a landscape painter with small children who I have yet to cross paths with, but the changing toys suggest she makes appearances at odd hours; a figurative painter who has been in the space for the longest, some 6 years now, and his corner is packed full of the large portraits and expressive experiments of those years; and then Nancy and I in our tiny corner by the door.
It is more of an entranceway than studio, our little corner, but in a city like Toronto, it is what we can manage between the 2 of us, and we love it.
Yesterday I was there with the door open, and given our space, it means I am essentially in the doorway, working away – a point of interest for the 3 tourists who stumbled down the hallway.
They were not especially shy, and after a brief invitation in, went straight into the depths, shrugging by the landscape painter without much notice, and burrowing into the tightly packed corner of the figurative painter. He has some large paintings of famous people out and about – a David Bowie still in progress, Rihanna drying in a corner – and there were ooh’s and aah’s from the 2 ladies in the group.
Turning back, they passed by the bolts of fabric and noticed Nancy’s tiny corner within the corner, a few of her gorgeous pieces up on the wall. The man in their group was especially taken with Nancy’s work and the 3 of them stood there for a while pointing and discussing details.

Beltaine by Nancy Gardiner
Beltaine by Nancy Gardiner

Midsummer by Nancy Gardiner
Midsummer by Nancy Gardiner

Finally they turned towards where I was working away in my section around the door, and after interrogating me on how they might get in touch with the figurative painter, if there was a card or a website, they looked around at my various scattered sketches and experiments, and tried to find something nice to say.
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One of the women focused on the wall of sketches, and said, “well, they are certainly well drawn”, as if relieved she had found some point of concession – she could grant me that at least.
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The horse sketches are on terraskin paper, a treeless stone paper, so I told them about this, and then of course they wanted to touch it, and we focused on surfaces and textures for a while, as I showed them which ones were terraskin, which ones mylar.
The large bat that dominates one wall right now is oil on mylar, and one of the ladies said, “he looks like he… I don’t know, as though he has a purpose of some kind.”
Processed with VSCO with g3 presetMy eyes grew wide, as it occurred to me I HAD painted her with a purpose – she was a dream messenger, one of several bat dreams, and so given the repeated bat imagery, asking for attention, I’d been spending time drawing and painting the dream characters, honouring them, staying with them, listening to them as best I can.
What exactly the bat is about, what she wants to say, I still don’t know…
bat feet
But in there, in the intense focused silence of creating the images, of repeated bat drawings and paintings, I think about the strangeness of them – as if little tiny mice that one day got fed up and said, Dangit! I want to fly!
And did.
And maybe that thought is all she really needs to say…
bat fly down
And so this one comment from a stranger, not filled with flattery at all, but with a kind of faintly uncomfortable, honest relating to the image, totally made my day…

Weekly Photo Challenge – Admiration

Thirds of Snow

snow drift square mdnt clrfxIt is nighttime. Dark.
I am crossing a bridge.
The wind blows the snow – a ferocity of stinging, blinding blizzard everywhere.
I can barely see.
It is so strong this wind, I begin to lift up into the air – just the tips of feet at first, the wind strengthens and howls, lifting me higher and higher into its violent whims.
I am in danger of getting blown right off this bridge.snow square mdnt colorfxI can see the lights of cars in the darkness, also trying to cross the bridge in the storm.
I hope they know I can’t control what is happening here.
I may blow into them.
They may even blow into me.
Nothing is guaranteed.
Nothing is under control.
snow strata shapes colorfxIt is the weather presumably – this deep winter we’re getting here, which has provoked the dream.
The other day I stood at the edges of Georgian Bay, on a field of wind-blown ice, not knowing for sure how far off the coast I had wandered, but somewhere out beyond the edge of shore into what was shapes of frozen waves over the open water.
Standing still, after the crunch of feet on snow, the silence was deafening.
Then, deep treacherous groans. Cracks. Thunders.
The water moving, pulsing, pushing underneath the ice.
georgian bay north ice fieldBut today – that image of a bridge in the dream…
Transitions, I think. The obvious metaphor.
The sensation of a dangerous period of change.
That stretch of darkness when you can’t see the other side, and have no idea if you’re going to make it.
But I’m surprised a bit, as most days I feel the calmness of a cat who knows she’s got nine lives…cats in barn door colorfxWeekly Photo Challenge – Rule of Thirds

Deep dreams

horse flank hairA large, hot, breathy, needy animal in the bed with me – powerful, emotional, childish, grabby.
So close, as if I couldn’t quite see it.
A horse?
horse eyeWaking up, stretching, catching the tendrils of the dream, I thought of the horse at the farm this past summer, the one who would always break away from the group and rush over at a trot – would be on me, nipping my shoulders, in my face, my ear, so needy.horse groupBut thinking further back, I realized horses have appeared a number of times in my dreams. They are beginning to take on their own symbolism – like a running motif in a story they’ve begun to be recognized figures, speaking, along with the cats and other regulars, in a kind of private dictionary of dream symbols.horse eating and lookingThere was that really vivid one some years ago – an obviously BIG dream – where I was with Claudia, and we decided to look for some old drawings I’d done.
If only I could find those drawings, we said, the way through to the future would all become clear.ronda archwayWe jumped down from the old stone walls, having decided to look for them right away, right now, and went into the house.
People were everywhere – women cooking and talking, gathered in each room.
They were friends, most of them – some of the Montreal gang, but a few Toronto friends as well – busyness everywhere, with the noise of laughter and talking and kitchen sounds rising and bouncing off the walls.
We made our way past everyone, polite nods and waves, and in to the centre of the house – some inner sanctum that posed as a crawl space but was really a kind of lost cave like those ones in the south of France and Spain.
There, in the doorway, at the entrance to the cave, where I was sure I must have stored the drawings, were 3 horses.
circling small w watermarkThey needed to be paid tribute.
They were needy, neglected. There was a whiff of beer.
They needed some kind of acknowledgement before passage would be allowed.
Animal as sacred; sacred as innate nature, as dharma, as animal.

So of course, to pay tribute, to acknowledge and pay respects to the call of the hot, needy, breathy companion of the night, I’ve started a new painting.begin horse pntgNow I just need to pick up some beer…double expose horse skyWeekly Photo Challenge – Depth

Dream paraphernalia

dreamcatcherLast night I was telling my son about the dream of the house where nothing was what it seemed, everything shifting, slippery, treacherous and untenable.
We stood under the overhead lights in the kitchen, he towering above me as I said I thought it was about the job I quit on Tuesday.
“Oh, but you don’t know that”, he snapped with annoyance – one of mom’s hare-brained, hippie inclinations at work again.
He is a computer science student with a rare flare for mathematics. He is an excellent student, top of his class. I see the pages of his homework, a language of ciphers and glyphs that I will never ever in my life understand even a spec of.
Dreams, however, I know a little bit about – I’ve spent some time with them.dream shelf“It’s not like math, it’s an interpretive art”, I said to my too-cool-for-school, skeptical son. My son who insists it’s not that he doesn’t remember his dreams, it’s just that he doesn’t have them.
On a similar note, a number of the new visitors and commenters here on followyournose have mentioned they rarely remember their dreams.
So I’d like to share a few of the authors and influences I’ve come across, in case any of it might be helpful to someone.
I was telling Poshpedlar and Agniva how I keep a dream journal, THE single most important tool, I think, if you want to start remembering dreams.dream journalIt sits open beside my bed with a blank page ready in case I want to scribble in the dark in the middle of the night, and also for the blurry morning fragments, captured first thing, before turning over or getting up, any fleeting whispy images.
A good source for some of these fundamental things to try is dream-master, shaman-teacher Robert Moss – he’s got a Tools & Techniques page, very helpful.
Although the dream journal is one key tool, personally I use kind of a bunch…like kind of a lot….like I’m so heavy into the dream thing, it’s kinda way out in woo-woo land. In an exchange with jethag at Jet Lag, I allowed as how there may be “dream paraphernalia”…
For example, the dream catcher at the top of the post. Of course.
For example, this silver bowl – silver dream bowlIt sits on the bedside table with water in it – I refresh the water regularly.
This practice came from Ohki Simine Forest, a fascinating shaman-woman who lives in Chiapas, Mexico, though she’s originally Canadian (Québécoise / Mohawk). I got the silver dream bowl practice from her book, Dreaming the Council Ways, a book I loaned out to someone and along the way have forgotten the particulars of the why’s of this practice, but I still feel some magic quality, some mystery in the aquatic reflecting vessel by my bedside for facilitating, channelling dreams.
Also beside the bed is this buffalo fetish –
buffalo fetishHe reminds me of a dream I had some years ago, a dream of a buffalo in a zocalo, a town square, and of how I followed the dream to a place, traveled to try and find and understand the dream, and along the way found him in a shop just off the zocalo of a town that looked an awful lot like the dream.
He reminds me that I’m willing to travel for my dreams, to follow them to the places they show me, to think about what they are trying to tell me.dream crystalsThese crystals are quite tiny and special in a way that is so far out in the land of woo I can’t even describe it, I’ll let you explore for yourself here.
But I love putting one under my pillow each night, as a kind of promise to myself to try and pay attention to any dreams that come.
This little ritual emerged from a fellow student in an online dream workshop, Dreamwork with Toko-pa, a lovely experience. Toko-pa also has some tips for dream recall in a video on youtube – a nice way to get some ideas and introduce you to her fabulously exotic west-coast self.lion biting - brighterAnother favourite thing to do with really strong, vivid dreams when they come, is to draw them or paint them – it’s a great way to spend more time with them in a visual, visceral, sensual kind of way.
The lion above was from one striking dream I had, and the panthers below another strong onepanther collage - brighterEach of these practices is essentially about one thing – I am telling my dreams and myself that I’m listening. That I want to hear from them. That I respect and value what they have to tell me.
Some years ago I took a series of dreams I’d had to an elder, Joanne Longboat, a woman Robert Moss writes about in Dreamways of the Iroquois, referring to her as “Turtle Woman”.
She said to me, “They say the Spirits will come talking to those who listen.”
So I’m listening…

In the desert

We were walking along, my son and I – it felt like that trip to Arizona when he was 10 or 11 and wore his city kid shades on the horse ride out into the desert and Bill, who led us out on our little horse-riding expedition called him “cowboy” over and over and told him to watch for rattlers in amongst the stones.
But we were walking this time, and as we turned into a small dry gorge, in amongst the boulders and caves and stones there were all kinds of snakes, multi-coloured snakes, beautiful in all their patterns and brilliant colour combinations.
Probably not very safe though, I thought, so I suggested we’d best leave this small canyon, turning us both back towards the entrance.
But there, crouched and waiting, silent and watching from the rocks, were dozens and dozens and dozens of black panthers.
Tails flicked in the sun. Whiskers twitched slightly in the air.
panther collage
There was no easy way out of this little room amongst the stones we’d stepped into – snakes on one side and panthers on the other.
I hoisted my son onto my back, began to flap my arms, and lifted us off the ground into the sky.

4th, maybe 5th black panther dream in the last couple of months.
Been reading up on ’em.
From Ted Andrews –

In China there were five mythic cats, sometimes painted like tigers or leopards. The black reigns in the north with winter as its season of power, and water its most effective element. This is the element of the feminine. This is the totem of greater assertion of the feminine in all her aspects: child, virgin, seductress, mother, warrioress, seeress, old wise woman…
To the Indians of North and South America, the jaguar especially in the form of the black panther, was endowed with great magic and power… the black panther was the god of darkness and could cause eclipses by swallowing the sun. This reflects the tremendous power inherent within the feminine forces.

Gosh. I realize now it was probably one of those dreams where I should have faced the threat, the fear, asked it what it wanted, and made it an ally.
As Robert Moss suggests –

Trying to escape dream challenges by fleeing back into ordinary reality is a poor life choice. The issues we confront, or fail to confront, in dreams are issues we need to deal with now. In an even larger sense the dream state is an arena in which we are trained and tested in choice and courage and our ability to grow.

Hmmmm.
Time to try mastering lucid dreaming or at least some kind of re-entering the dream.
On the other hand Jamie Sams says –

If the black panther has appeared today, it may be telling you not to worry about the future… Let go of fears that appear as obstacles or barriers. Embrace the unknown and flow with the mystery that is unfolding in your life. The next step may be leaping empty-handed into the void with implicit trust.

At any rate, it’s definitely getting a little bizarre the repeated dreams of large cats.
Most of my friends say they dream about things like their boss at work and maybe strange scenes in elevators and subways – regular daily stuff repurposed for the dream world.
Imagery so far outside what I see every day (like, um, snow just lately) seems to want some attention…

What strange creatures appear in your dreams, gentle reader?

The mess in my room

There’s a photo prompt series, 52 Photos Project, that I like to participate in whenever I remember, which unfortunately isn’t often.
This week’s prompt is First thing I see in the morning, which seemed to dovetail nicely with last week’s wordpress Good Morning prompt.
Most precisely, the first thing I see when I wake up is the bedside table where I turn on the light so I can scribble dreams in my dream journal. Of course the clock doesn’t say 2:20, and the room is usually pretty dark, but there is the tip of the bear claw for protection, the tiny white buffalo fetish figure, the tufts of sweet grass braids still fragrant, the silver bowl filled with water to facilitate dreaming, the scattering of stones and crystals, the spooky death coaster from Santa Fe to remind me time is short, the nub of the rose quartz stone and the Virgen de Guadalupe candle holder just beyond –

bedside tableAfter all dream fragments have been captured in the journal, turning away from the little light on the table and lying on my back, I try to stay with the dream images and not worry about the day ahead and everything that needs to get done, keeping the monkey mind to a minimum, and my eyes go to the wall across from me, filled with images I’m currently interested in, a few my own and lots made by others –
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Lately one corner of this wall has held my attention – I look at it and think about the Salgado photo of the silvery scaly fingers and wonder what the rest of that animal looks like and about how I really do kinda like that heart drawing, should do more of those fast little ones, playing with the inks and pencils on paper, if I could just find the time… but also I like how these three things all work together, the claw in my mind shredding open all barriers to the heart like that memorable scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Aslan tears the dragon exterior off of Eustace with his claws, the entire episode leading to Eustace’s transformation from a tiresome, beastly boy (to use the language of the book) to a half-decent sort…
20131013-223017.jpgAt some point I really must get up, must sit up and then, well, I can’t help but see the true state of affairs, the growing disaster area that is my room –
20131013-224441.jpgIt began almost a year ago, when I cleaned off that far wall and started some big rough painting on rolls of newsprint. This secret habit has grown and bloomed and taken over almost the entire room with a ever-widening selection of surfaces to work on, kinds of paint and pencils to make marks with, the necessary protective measures underneath –
20131013-223945.jpgAside from time issues, aside from spreading myself across too many disciplines, it seems as though part of the reason I haven’t been writing much is that I can’t even get over to my little writing desk in the corner by the window –
20131013-223818.jpgIt is a strange unmoored feeling, to be mucking around with paint, to be spending a lot of time experimenting with something that doesn’t currently look like it’s going anywhere.
The paintings are ugly and amateurish.
There is no clear sense of whether or not there’s ever going to be something here worth pursuing.
But there is something exhilarating, liberating in the act itself –
painting cu 2

painting cuAnd I read something today that in its imagery offered some solace, some protective foil against negative thoughts even though the disciplines, the scale, and the stakes are entirely different. There was something fundamentally universal to the process of stumbling around in the dark of creativity being expressed – it’s from a review Stephen King wrote of Donna Tartt’s latest novel. He says –

To write a novel this large and dense is equivalent to sailing from America to Ireland in a rowboat, a job both lonely and exhausting. Especially when there are storms. Suppose, the writer thinks (must think), this is all for nothing? What if I’m failing and don’t know it? What if I make the crossing and am greeted not with cheers but with indifference or even contempt?

The book, he concludes, is a fine one, well worth the trans-Atlantic crossing.
For myself I have to remember that even if I have no presentable product at the end of my mess-making, it has felt good, it has been fun, and if I don’t push the boat away from the shore to at least attempt something, I will never know…