“Rolled in the midst of never-ceasing currents flowing without rest forever onward.” Rig Veda1,32,10.
Halloween is coming, and with it, Samhain, the ancient, pagan holiday from which it is derived. Samhain is the Celtics holiday which marks the coming of winter and the death of the deciduous plant life for the year. By extention, it also memorializes all the life that has past that year. This passing from the life of Spring and Summer to the death of Fall and Winter is where the idea of Ghosts and Otherworld creatures roaming our world comes from.
The Goddess of the ancient Celts is called Danu. You will be told that this Goddess is specific to the Irish Celts, but the river Danube which runs through Germany is named for her as well. There is another water Goddess even farther from Ireland named Danu. In India. While researching Danu, for a painting this Halloween I found mention of her, and the belief by some that they are the same Goddess. I found that the Indian version of Danu, which is in the Rig Veda, has been demonized just as the European one has. In India she is the mother of Vitra the dragon, who is defeated by indra. Finding out she’s a dragon only makes me like her even more. Here is an abstract painting of her, rendered in ink in honor of Inktober.
I made this piece for my son, Gabriel, who is obsessed with the moon. Originally, I had planned on making it more detailed, but I really like the energy of this direct and simple execution. I am experimenting with this zen style of painting. The idea of the style is to empty your mind and let the energy of your spirit flow into the painting. When executing a Kanji calligraphy, the calligrapher would concentrate on the word or phrase and Chanel the energy of that into the calligraphy. When I do Sanskrit Calligraphy that’s what I do. It’s kind of a learning curve. I get a small brush and practice the word over and over until I’m comfortable with it. Even if it’s a word I know really well. Then I prepare several sheets of paper and execute the word full size several times. Sometimes I do several full size practices 1st, but if I have enough good paper, I just go for it, because sometimes the best one is what you thought was a practice one, and if you did it on practice paper, you’re screwed. At the end of the session, I’m exhausted and maybe have one or two good pieces. Maybe none came out good enough. It’s hard to tell because the aesthetic is different from traditional calligraphy. It has to have a vibe to it. It should also be relatively centered on the page and not have any glaring mistakes or drips.
A scene involving multiple subjects and composition and thought about meaning, mood, color, brushes, inks, requires too much mental activity to do it all in advance and then just execute a plan, like a well rehearsed dance. Spontaneity is a big part of of these pieces. It’s not Bach, it’s the blues. Pieces like the sumi moons on blue paper, are fairly spontaneous; I’ve painted similar scenes enough to not have to plan it out too much to get the right feel. Still the process of emptying my mind is the new element that has to fit into the puzzle. It’s difficult to do it for a prolonged period of time.
For this piece, I thought I would start with this simple moon/sky. First I did it in black; a series of enso circles to define the moon and the surrounding sky, then broader with water, to create a wash. Then back in with gold for the moon and a halo, and then blue violet for the sky, using the same technique. For each stroke, I empty my mind, breath out, breath in and then execute the stroke on the exhale, driving the energy through my body and down my arm and into the painting with each stroke. Then I had planned to go back and add detail to the moon, perhaps a ground beneath, maybe the ocean. Maybe add clouds, or stars. However, I was struck by the energy in the underpainting, and I thought further detail would weaken what seemed to me to be a strong piece. It’s for my son anyway, and not really for sale, so it doesn’t matter if it’s polished or not. He’s two years old. Almost three. But it was a real learning experience. To reset after each stroke, concentrate on what I am doing and not what I did or what I am going to do. This is the goal of this kind of technique. It’s a meditation practice for monks. Hopefully, I can keep this lesson learned.
The Muladhara chakra is often referred to as the root chakra because it is located at the root of your spine. It is also the root of the sacred chakra tree of Kundalini. The word chakra means “wheel”, and it is thought to be like a circuit in the spiritual wiring we possess. Just as the seven Kundalini chakra corespond with our spinal cord, there are several “lesser” chakras that occur in conjunction with our nervous system throughout our bodies. Just as the spinal chord is the most important nerve we have so are the seven chakras associated with it. Activating them is one way to achieve enlightenment.
This is because Kundalini is the name for the latent energy that lays dormant within us which corresponds with Shakti, the creative force of the universe. When we complete the circuit of Kundalini from Muladhara to Sahasrara, or crown chakra, we connect this inner energy with the outer energy of Shakti, thus becoming one with the primal creative force. This is the purpose for which we were born.
The Muladhara is where to start. It is here that the dormant Kundalini serpent is coiled waiting to be awakened. Once awakened, the sacred Kundalini uncoils and travel up through the remaining chakras. The Muladhara chakra is therefore very important, for without activating it, the remaining chakras Can do nothing for us.
To activate this sacred chakra, and thus awaken Kundalini, we must focus our attention on it as we meditate each day.
Devi is the Goddess of India. Manifesting variously as Kali, Saraswati, Lakshmi & Shakti. Worshipped as the mother of all creation, Devi envelopes us all in her eternal love.
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There is long and interesting history of how God=sound. Where to start? How about the beginning?
“1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” The Gospel according to John, King James Version.
I love the old English phrasing of the King James Version. This is easily my favorite Bible passage. Notice that God is also “Light” Most people will tell you that this is a metaphor. This is funny to me because many of these same people will tell you that the story of Adam & Eve is not a metaphor. Well the story of Adam & Eve is a metaphor (this is a story for another time as it could be its own blog post), But the idea that God is sound and Light is not a metaphor. God is more than sound and light, don’t get me wrong, but the idea that the existence of all things came into being through God as sound is accurate.
In Sanskrit, the ancient Indian sacred language, this sound is “Om” and is written in what appears to Westerners to be a 3 with a tail, and an umlaut over it. In my description of of my hand carved lino print of this sacred word, I combine these two ideas and say; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was Om” This ancient spiritual symbol is a sound and it is the Creator.
Sometimes the symbol is translated; “Aum” The thinking is that the vowel sound where the word originates itself originates at the back of the throat and the ending “m” sound ends at the mouth, thus traveling the expanse of the physical body creating it. This explanation is a metaphor for the beginning and end of all creation. Compare this to Jesus’ saying; “I am the Alpha and the Omega”. Here the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet signify the beginning and the end (which is the line that follows in the Bible) but also anything that can be spoken as Jesus is saying he is not just the beginning and the end but everything in between.
But you say to me, “Rod, What about science?” First of all don’t interrupt, it’s rude. Second of all, good question.
In the 1950’s the phone company, at that time concerned with quality service, wanted to get to the bottom of a buzz that was coming through on all their lines. They hired and deployed two scientists; Peebles and Dick to discover and fix the problem. What they found was that this sound was everywhere. It permeates everything. It is the background radiation leftover from the Big Bang. (you know, the sound and light that created everything that exists.) It existed at exactly the wavelength that the scientist who postulated the Big Bang theory predicted it would.
There are many mantras (sacred words or phrases to repeated many times) and prayers (like the rosary) that believers know will bring them closer to God. The Sufis have a saying, “Nothing exists save God” pronounced, “La Illaha Illa Allah” Which is more of a mantra than a prayer, but they don’t use the Sanskrit word.
In his book “Autobiography of a Yogi” Paramahansa Yogananda states that sacred Indian music can bring us closer to enlightenment, as can the music of Bach. Astronomers and alchemists refer to the “Music of the Spheres”