Posts Tagged ‘personal mythology’

MANDALA 3 2011-08-06 15.54.26 TRIM c

Labyrinth Mandala At The Aquarius Full Moon – 30/52, based on a Yantra from 18th Century India, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 30, July 25th, 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Medium: Drawn by hand with a black Staedtler archival pigment ink Fineliner on Canson Mix Media XL Series 98lb drawing paper. Colored & collaged with Caran D’Ache NeoColor II Water Soluble Wax Crayons, Sharpie Medium Point Oil-Based Opaque Paint Markers, Sharpie Fine Point Marker, archival photo corners. Photograph taken with a Samsung DROID.

I am sitting still with the Full August Moon at my back. She is high in the sky and refuses to yield to darkness for the the annual Perseid meteor shower. I am undaunted. I know the light from these stars, guessed to be fragments of Swift’s Comet from 1862, will shoot across the heavens, even if I can’t see them in the night sky. As above, so below.

Aquarius the Waterbearer seems like a good sign for a Full Moon (progressive and objective with a crystal clear antenna-like reception of universal intelligence). When I opened the Boundary Waters calendar I bought at the LilyPad Picnic this year, it said that the August Moon was called Miinike-Giizis by the Ojibway — the BlueBerry Moon. The August Full Moon is also known as the Drying Up Moon, the Grain Moon, the Green Corn Moon, and the Yellow Flower Moon, depending on what part of the world you may live.

The Sabbats Almanac claims that the seasonal Lammas Full Moon in Aquarius reflects back to us our relationship with the collective. It is a good time to focus on community, groups, and our hopes and wishes for the future. Aquarius is also the sign of the rebel or iconoclast, so themes may arise that focus attention on unusual issues or people. At the individual level, it’s an auspicious time to notice what we have to offer to our communities and what we might release in order to fully participate.

Two good questions to ask at this time:

1) How do we allow our own need for space and independence
to not hold us back from connecting more with the group?

2) What can we do to create more space and independence
for ourselves so we aren't sacrificing too much of our
individuality for the sake of the collective?

The Full Moon shines the light of awareness on the answers and helps us to understand patterns and dynamics that we may need to release during the dark Moon cycle to come. To celebrate the individual within the group, it is a time to show gratitude for the qualities that each member brings to the table. How does each person in your community shine? Maybe they have a generous heart, excellent communication skills, clear boundaries, or a good sense of humor. Tell them in an email. Call them and leave a voice mail. Mail them a card. The three-day window around the Full Aquarian Moon creates space to show gratitude for the intricate pieces that make up the circle’s whole.

Circles within circles. I created this mandala last weekend after a full and busy month of July. Some days were filled with joy; others pushed me to the limit. All are necessary to grow beyond who I am. I have been studying the circle archetypes of the labyrinth and the mandala for years. A few weeks ago, Liz bought me a birthday present, a book of Sacred Symbols edited by Robert Adkinson. I was immediately drawn to the chapter on the Mysteries and a mandala from 18th century India, a Yantra for the cosmic form Vishnu.  The script around the circle is from the Dhammapada and states:

In the light of her vision
she has found her freedom:
her thoughts are peace,
her words are peace,
and her work is peace.

Peace. It’s right there, yet just beyond our reach. On a final note, if you follow skylore, there is a tidbit about Perseus at EarthSky: the Perseid shower commemorates the time when the god Zeus visited the mortal maiden Danae in the form of a shower of gold. Zeus and Danae became the parents of Perseus the Hero – from whose constellation the Perseid meteors radiate. Perseus, you are beyond sky worthy, a flying, not fallen hero — I’m counting on you.

-posted on red Ravine at the Full August Blueberry Moon, Saturday, August 13th, 2011, with gratitude to Lotus for her labyrinthian inspiration

Lotus and I will continue to respond to each other’s BlackBerry Jump-Off photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.

Labyrinth Mandala At The Aquarius Full Moon (Detail) -related to posts: Ears Still To The Lonely Wind — Mandala For RabbitFlying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, Shadow Of A Dragonfly, Dragonfly Wings — It Is Written In The Wind, Dragon Fight — June Mandalas, EarthHealer — Mandala For The Tortoise, ode to a crab (haiku & mandala), Eye Of The Dragon Tattoo

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By Carol Tombers

Shamanic Series 1, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.

It is my desire for color that calls me to the studio. Essentially, color is a vibration and its energy is stored in the mineral pigment. I am drawn to put those different vibrations next to each other and listen to how they speak to one another. And I am curious to bring together colors that are rich beyond daily visual experience.

Painting is like a meditation for me. It almost always produces a calm and alert state of mind, and puts me in touch with a universal sense of well being. It hasn’t always been like this. For many years the primary test was a struggle with what subject matter to depict.

Now I try to include all of the subject matter that interests me at once, and the challenge becomes how to represent it in a way that might be meaningful to the viewer. The image, then, is closer to how I experience the world and this gives me a sense of satisfaction.

Shamanic Series 4, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.

Five years ago I began to take classes in Medieval egg tempera painting from a master icon painter in the Russian Orthodox tradition. The theology underlying the images engages me in a mythological way rather than a spiritual way. My own studio painting changed as I began to understand that every aspect of the painted icon is reflective of a particular concept of the theological tradition. No brush stroke is made, nor color mixed, that it not significant to the theology.

For example, when an icon is gilded, the artist first applies bole, a mixture of red clay and glue, to the prepared surface. The bole (essentially dirt) symbolizes the most base aspects of human nature. The bole is polished to a mirror-like smoothness, a symbol of the spiritual work of the human. Next, the icon maker breathes a deep breath onto the bole to make it tacky before laying on the 24K gold leaf, a symbol of divine perfection. The idea of these materials symbolizing a spiritual process inspired me to put my personal mythology into my work.

About this same time I began to study shamanism, first in the tradition of the Mapuche people of Chile, and later in a more general way. It is through shamanic “journeys” and other meditation practices that I come to the imagery of my paintings.

Shamanic Series 3, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.

The paint I use is made from “earth pigments.” These minerals and plants are ground and mixed with egg yolk, water, and a drop of vinegar to preserve it. The beauty of egg tempera is that it is translucent and that light passes through the paint and bounces off of the white ground, giving an effect of a painting that is illuminated from within.

The pigment can be laid down on the painting in a pool of water so that the different mineral colors fall to the surface of the painting in patterns similar to the bottom of a dry riverbed. Up close a tension can be seen between the various pigments; but stepping back your eye blends the color together to see it unified. So there is an exciting variation in the appearance of the materials, depending on proximity.

Shamanic Series 5, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.

To support my studio work, I make color studies, practice brush strokes, and collect color combinations. I paint about six hours at a time, two or three times a week. I look at other paintings. I keep painting. I learn about what other creative people think about. I keep a journal of color combinations and their recipes, lists of books to read, and images to track down on the web. I don’t often listen to music while I paint because I want the right hemisphere of my brain available for painting. But I do listen to audio books and pod casts while I work.

I was listening to a dialogue between Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass from the Aurora Forum at Stanford University. Leonard Cohen said you (artists) have to keep going because it isn’t until near the end of the work that the brilliance of it comes out. So I urge my strategic mind to fixate on color combinations and other art elements and principles, rather than the evaluation of my work in a realm beyond my control. This allows me to keep going.

Shamanic Series 2, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.

About Carol:  Carol Tombers was born and raised in Minnesota. She began her artistic career at the age of eight by painting a picture of the garage on plywood with house paint. Later she earned a BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MA from the University of St. Thomas. She is especially delighted by travel, and has done visual research most recently in Barcelona and Bogotá.

Carol has taught visual art for ten years at The Blake School and will begin a seven-month sabbatical in January 2009. During that time she will be studying historical color systems and painting in Mexico and Colombia. Her work has been shown in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, and Ohio.

To learn more about the Russian-Byzantine Tradition of Icon Painting visit The Prosopon School of Iconology. To learn more about shamanic healing in the Mapuche tradition visit Luzclara — Chilean Medicine Woman.

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