A Portrait of the Artist under Stress.

dd 2.28.09       I would only like to say that a rearranging of the personality is involved,  a kind of new centering. That is why mandalas mostly appear in connection with chaotic psychic states of disorientation or panic.

                    C.G. Jung. from Mandala Symbolism


Three or four summers ago Brother Bruce did a tarot card reading for me in the back yard. After laying out the cards, the one for self, in the center is turned over. It is the Death card. Bruce paused, then said, “Impressive.”

Even longer ago I was kicking back in my ranger cabin in C-camp. Reading  “Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy” by Mircea Eliade. Hey, I was 24, a seasonal ranger, and a student at Evergreen. What else would I have been reading?

I unlined this passage. Remembered it, took it to heart you might say.  And have been working this lesson ever since.

…The Eskimo neophyte must undergo a great initiatory ordeal. Success in obtaining this experience requires his making a long effort of physical privation and mental contemplation directed to gaining  the ability to see himself as a skeleton…

Much I’m sure was lost from Eskimo to Russian, to German, to English. But what we are left with is this.

….Though no shaman can explain to himself how and why, he can, be the power his brain derives from the supernatural, as it were by thought alone divest his body of its flesh and blood, so that nothing remains but his bones. And he must then name all the parts of his body, mentioning every single bone by name; and in so doing, he must not use ordinary human speech, but only the the special and sacred shaman’s language which he has learned from his instructor. Be thus seeing himself naked, altogether freed from the perishable and transient flesh and blood, he consecrates himself, in the sacred tongue of the shamans, to his great task, through that part of his body which will longest withstand the action of the sun, wind and weather, after he is dead.”


I’m hoping that art will work for the language of the shaman. And that in whatever afterlife I might find my self in, I will at least know my own bones.


One Response to “A Portrait of the Artist under Stress.”

  1. ummm…WOW, Angela. I’ve always admired you and your artwork, but now I have a new appreciation of your brain and your very soul. Keep keepin’ on, sister!

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