Wednesday, February 29, 2012

BEAUTIFUL MEDICINE

Pba-Quen-nee-e and I have been visiting our friend Carol in Cottonwood Arizona and simultaneously reconnecting with David Eastoe and his partner Helen Guild from the U.K. It was a nice dip into summer weather for a few days while it was snowing and blowing in Taos. It’s all beautiful Medicine for us and hopefully for them as well. Dave and his partner practice a unique form of healing/balancing work with plant essences. Dave once helped me through a difficult time while I was visiting in England so I have firsthand experience with the effectiveness of the method. This reminds me that Medicine comes in many forms and since I’ve been doing this blog I’m becoming more and more aware that Medicine is as much an approach to different aspects of life as it is a way of fixing something wrong on the mental, emotional or physical planes. It is as much a creative power as a healing power. I started this blog entry a week ago and in the time since have become even more aware of the constancy of creation.

ART AND MEDICINE POWER

What is art? It is so uniquely and universally human, that it must be fundamental to our also uniquely human role as co-creators of the realm of reality that we share with other Earthlings. Science compares degrees of animal intelligence by tool use and until recently thought we humans were are the only species that used tools. Yet I think art and religion are the real species defining accomplishment.
Altamira, 30,000 Years in the Past
Like religion, art adheres to all cultures and times even though its style of expression varies greatly. There is both representational and symbolic art carved on stones by prehistoric peoples and art in every historical time, and there are geometric and floral patterns painted and sculpted on walls, pots, houses and clothing in every culture. There is music, dance and storytelling from all times among all peoples. Art intimately allies with religion in every human culture except perhaps the universal modern pseudo-culture that in attempting to transcend its parochial tribal origins has lost most of its luminous power, i.e., Magic. Many indigenous cultures have no words for art or religion because they are not categories separated from each other or the rest of life, but the very essence of life.


Art fuses cosmic tension, balance and proportion connecting us to the mysterious sources of creation as they dance with time and form. Beauty seems always delicately tuned on the edge of dissonance. Long before anyone knew of fractal geometry or even the Pythagorean music of the spheres, music, dance and visual arts expressed an instinctive awareness of the essence, power and fragility of creation. Only in our modern world, have we divided and sealed into separate containers the disciplines of art, science and religion. I’m tempted to say that Art and religion are inseparable in their origins. It’s as if art is always reaching beyond the physical dimension for a sense of kinship with the author looming behind the stage on which we play.

Egyptian Lute Players
Art holds our spiritual umbilical cord reminding us of our dimensional place of entry into this earthly reality. As I let these thoughts flow through that undefined dimension of mind that links personal to transpersonal, I can see that it is not so much that there is a spiritual aspect to art but rather an artistic basis to spirituality. Art is an engine for bridging the liminal with the tangible world. It is a dimensional step beyond language. Originally, there was only sacred art filled with the power to transport us from a threshold reality to the very matrix of our existence. As we have become spiritually dulled art has lost most of its magic, and thus much of its unique function as the conduit between realities. Yet, I believe we are attracted to art to the degree that it fulfills this magical function.

Contemporary Indigenous Art especially occupies a paradoxical place in the uni-cultural contemporary art scene. It attracts precisely because of its inspirational source and yet it is now esthetically and technically sophisticated and worldly. It borrows media and style from contemporary resources and is judged and marketed by contemporary secular standards, and someone alien to its cultural origins in all probability will purchase it. Native artists cannot live in the modern world without creating saleable art. Yet, this is a survival adaptation that inevitably changes the very essence of art. I think it’s safe to say that the people who painted now extinct wild animals on the cave walls at Lascaux were not expecting to market these images. In all likelihood the reasons for these beautiful images was for the purpose of making powerful medicine. They were all about connecting to the spirits of these animals for the purpose of hunting them or perhaps for acquiring their unique powers, probably both. At that time, one’s food source was not an impersonal object from a factory feedlot to which one had no emotional or spiritual connection. Convenience has come at the cost of vital integration with all that holds this world in relation with us. Magic, i.e., “Medicine” in the indigenous sense, is a connection to existence as it originates and as it continues, and art forever births it into this mortal
Native American Petroglyphs
dimension. As we lose personal relationship with all that supports our existence, we lose vital connection with our essence as beings. We lose not just our identity but also the very source of our identity. Art is the language we use to talk to God. Even if one is an atheist the function is still intact and while the forms of religion may seem outdated, destructive and naive, still this need to walk the path between unseen forces of creation and our temporal existence remains hardwired into our very nature.