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Mother Goddess: Chalice of Life and Death

22 X 30 watercolor, 1983

spiritual trailblazers

the story of this painting



In the pot sun and moon shine eternally.

Once upon a time there was a hermit who always carried about with him;

a pot that could hold a peck of rice. At night he slept in the pot.

Sometimes the pot changed into the universe with the sun and moon in it.

He named the pot "Pot Heaven," and he himself was known at Mr. Pot.

Zen Koan(1)

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The Story of this Painting

Hypothesis: Can the common intention of a group of artists focused on a high ideal, empower one to transcend common everyday mind and take us into a non-ordinary reality where we begin to perceive and create truth? This question is a guiding force in my life at the moment--"my head's on fire with it," as they say. Invisible hands reach out to help and guide me through what often proves to be intense art group dynamic that makes me want to run and hide. But as Joseph Campbell says, I must be "following my bliss," for the times those beneficent forces come into play I feel as though embraced by a lover, my head and body swooning and flushed. It was with great pleasure that I reread the intricate process development of working with the symbol of the cup, (from a paper I'd written in a class on symbols at JFK University) from which this painting was to evolve, to come at last upon an experience from my own life which supports the experimental hypothesis stated at the beginning of this narrative. The process itself extended over 9 weeks, starting at a very mundane level analyzing in depth the common aspects of my coffee cup. It slowly evolved from this point, leading me on an incredible meandering path filled with amazing insights about the different expressions and finally mythologies of the cup, and its "cup-ness." The final and most powerful insight occurred during a group guided meditation where we were all focusing on our personal symbols, and a common sun in the center of the circle.

A quote from my paper on The Cup: "In group meditation and attunement, I was empowered to see the cup in its metaphorical concept, as a symbol of the universe. We [artist, poets, dancers] were sitting in a circle on chairs, holding hands with eyes closed. Appearing in my minds eye, against a fabric of darkness, I saw our circle of beings as a vessel with the open universe at our feet, folding through the curve of space. A circle of white light energy, heart high, formed the lip of the chalice like image. Traveling down into the stem of the chalice, I perceived that it was like a spiraling cornucopia, filled with stars and planets rather than fruit. My body was saturated with a feeling of wholeness and oneness with the universe. The cup contains all. When Shanja our guide, said to send out golden light from the sun of our hearts the chalice turned to spun gold. Each being had a heart that was a sun, and the light radiated out to all in the circle and the universe."

Each person returned from that group experience to their own introspective dance with the muse of creation. Alone in their studio but empowered by the group they painted their visions, danced their dreams and sang their words to paper, attuned to the paradox of being a unique expression of the essence that pervades everything, understanding our interconnection. Continuing to share these experiences and our creative expression, further enriched our perception of the reality and power of symbols to expand our awareness.

In the group I am currently working with we envision ourselves as mythmakers in a society that so needs new positive images and myths. In working as a group we are indeed on the mythic quest. A psychologist, Rollo May, expressed this in an article for Saybrook Institute.

"Myths are the royal road to wonder, to mystery, to ecstasy in an otherwise drab life. Freud and other leaders down to Sullivan have regularly seen myths as the public form of the dream. The dream of the group is called myth . . . the myth and the dream are almost interchangeable--the one private, the other expressing a group experience."(2)

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There's a moon in my body, but I can't see it!

A moon and a sun.

A drum never touched by hands beating, and I


hear it!

As long as a human being worries about when he will die,

and what he has that is his,

all of his works are zero.

When affection for the I-creature

and what it owns is dead,

then the work of the Teacher is over.

The purpose of labor is to learn;

when you know it, the labor is over.

The apple blossom exists to create fruit;

When that comes, the petals fall.

The musk is inside the deer,

but the deer does not look for it:

it wanders around looking for grass.


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1. Miura and Fuller Sasaki, The Zen Koan, no p.#

2. May, Saybrook Institute, p. N.A.

3. Kabir, The Kabir Book, p.15

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