Painting Mistress of the Wells was a magical learning experience. From the very moment the linework was completed, I was infatuated with her. I knew in my heart that she was going to be something special and powerful. I could not wait to paint her. She was all I thought about.
But then I began to dwell on the fact that she was going to be the largest painting I had ever worked on. When your role is to illustrate oracle and tarot cards, you become quite used to working at a smaller size. You learn to paint only as large as you need to. Your technique becomes quite fixed and formulaic, and painting a tree at the usual size is quite easy. I discovered, not long into the painting process, that painting the same tree at a much larger size involves learning a whole new technique.
Infatuation became edged with worry. How was I going to paint this artwork and do her justice? I felt like a rank amateur … a novice … a newbie. It is a feeling I do not like. I do not like feeling unsure and uncertain.
I know many artists who would have allowed these feelings to still their brushes. I am, however, a rather determined soul, and I was all too willing to see where this particular journey would take me.
But then I had to paint the trees and their leaves. I fell out of the flow with a thud as the painting progressed into an experimental learning stage. My infatuation waned. I painted tree trunks and branches with gritted teeth, building up layers of colour from darker to lighter. I reworked areas over and over again until they were right. Then I would take a step back and only see everything that was not right.
I began to feel … anger, frustration … even moments of hate. I felt pressured as my deadline loomed. This now ugly painting, with all of its flaws and challenges, was beginning to feel like too much hard work. Did I continue? Or did I scrap it and paint something else?
Instead, I did nothing. Instead, I put the painting back on the easel and stared at it. My feelings were so tumbled and jumbled. Again, I am a very determined person; determined to the point of being stubborn. This painting was not going to best me. I was not going to walk away from this experience knowing I had given up. But with the canvas at that particularly horrible stage where the purity of the line work was hidden behind messy layers of basecoat, I could no longer ‘see’ the finished image in mind’s eye.
But Great Spirit and Gaia wanted me to learn and I have always been open to their lessons. They wanted me to understand. They wanted me to experience the rollercoaster ride of falling in love, and allowing one’s self to just flow with the emotions to see where they would lead.
With two weeks remaining, I picked up my brushes again. I let go of all the frustration and anger. Instead, I chose to hold on to the memory of the joy I felt when I first finished the linework and have faith in my abilities. I made a choice to work through the confusion and unsureness. Why? Because I knew in my heart that she would be worth it.
I painted for hours every day, sometimes ten to fifteen hours without stopping for more than a few minutes here and there. Slowly, but surely, everything began to appear as it should.
By the time her face was painted, I was in love. Her third eye watched me as I carefully – lovingly - refined one detail after the other. Still, there came a few more moments of fear here and there. I felt a flash of pure terror when carelessness resulted in a dab of paint landing where it should not be, and when my hand came too close to the canvas and smudged wet paint. But these things were easily fixed, and whilst I worked, I found myself seeing the parallels between my experience with this painting, and falling in love with a new friend or lover.
There comes a point in most new relationships when infatuation wanes and you begin to see flaws and discover things about the other that you are not sure you like. Rose-coloured glasses are removed and all that was hidden by attraction and infatuation are suddenly revealed.
If you can accept those flaws, and love despite them, you can move forward and make a commitment to share more time and space together, and once that commitment is made, the relationship develops and deepens, moving from infatuation and lust, to a deep and abiding love.
I was glad I chose not to end it my relationship with Mistress of the Wells, for what she taught me turned out to be quite important to my own healing journey. A twenty-eight year battle with depression and self-loathing has come to an end, in part, because of my time spent painting her. She is a great healer, and imbued with the full spectrum of emotion, but birthed and finished from a place of love. She showed me the truth of our emotions; that they are natural and normal reactions to an experience. It is what we do with those feelings, and how we respond to them that is important.
Let the emotions flow. Experience them. Cherish what they can teach you. Every moment should be lived with feeling, but those feelings must be expressed and released. Doing so, allows you to be open and receptive to the feelings you will experience in moment that come without being chained to the past.
“We are often sent small signs in the form of synchronicities and coincidences. Be watchful. Do not overlook them in the everyday rush of life. Words, numbers, and symbols that repeat, animals and birds that appear in your path, people who come in and out of your life at odd or similar moments, and those flashes of knowing when you believe something will happen with every fibre of your being. These are all things you are meant to see and hear; messages from Gaia and Great Spirit sent to aid your journey.”
Twelve years ago, I read a book that changed my life, because it made sense of experiences that did not make sense. No, I will not influence the story by giving the name of the book, but instead will say only that it introduced me to the philosophical concept of Synchronicity. In essence, Synchronicity is when two or more seemingly unrelated occurrences, that would usually not occur together, do so, and do so in a meaningful way. It is that moment when the same words, in unrelated texts, keep drawing your attention and send you off on a tangent that in turn leads you to a moment when your life is changed forever. It is when an animal or bird appears in your path and does something that catches your attention in a manner that has you remembering a conversation that you had with your wife. That memory triggers another that then changes the course of your day as you remember something of importance that needs to be done.
Coincidence? Or did the word keep appearing because Great Spirit was communicating with you? Maybe the bird was sent by Gaia and Great Spirit to give you a message?
There was a time when I would have laughed such an occurrence away and called it coincidence, but as my connection with Gaia and Great Spirit has deepened, and my trust in myself and my intuitive abilities has strengthened, I have come to understand that the Divine speak to us every day. It is only our inability, and unwillingness, to first see the messenger, and then hear and trust message, that blocks the flow of communication between ‘God’ and self.
Over the last nine years, my life has been guided by such messages. Not once have I led to a place where I did not need, or was not meant, to be. So when my guides asked me to speak their message, I did so willingly and from a place of true knowing.
I used to be afraid to say that Great Spirit and Gaia speak to me. Who wants to be labelled crazy or worse, have others offer an armchair diagnosis of schizophrenia? But now I have come to see that it is those who have closed themselves off to dialogue with the Divine who live in fear of life itself. I have no fear of Gaia or Great Spirit. I worship no god. Instead, I honour my spiritual parents and love them as I do my family. I trust in them, knowing that they will always be there, sharing their wisdom and guidance by sending their messengers to me, or touching my mind directly.