Creativity, Myth and Mysticism: Something Calls to Be Remembered
By Claudia Connelly
I hadn’t expected it to happen this way, my venture into painting. At the age of forty-six I had a profound mystical experience as I stood in the Uffizi Gallery
in Florence before Sandro Botticelli’s painting, The Birth of Venus. In this masterpiece, the classical goddess Venus emerges from the sea on a shell, blown towards shore by the Zephrs, symbols of spiritual passion. She is joined by one of the Horae, goddesses of the seasons, who offer her a flowered cloak. As with many mystical experiences, mine was hard to define or put into words. I like to think that Botticelli and Venus had conjoined in that moment to inspire me from above. It was as if my fairy godmother had waved her magic wand over my head and imparted the knowing that I was to be a painter.
Upon my return from Europe, I mustered up the courage to embark on my first painting. After years of procrastination, I was about to jump over a self-imposed fear hurdle–one that had paralyzed my creative side for much too long. I was still afraid that I would discover that I had no talent and, thus, would have to face giving up my dream of being a painter. However, even more important to me at that time, I had to prove that my over budget trip to museums in France and Italy had not been a wasteful indulgence. So I picked up the paintbrush with a newfound determination, not realizing that my life’s course was about to take off in a new direction.
As I put paintbrush to canvas, I was surprised to find, almost from the inception, that the woman com- ing through the canvas seemed alive, urging first that her hair color change from blonde to red and that it be pulled neatly to the side, not flying wildly in the wind. Next, she insisted that her clothing be blue, white and red, not green. Then my planned background was incorrect. Her surroundings were not to be woods, but a more pastoral scene. Later, apples had to be added. Finally, she revealed to me that the symbol on the locket was not to be a fertility goddess, as I had anticipated, but a pink rose. By the time the painting was finished it had named itself Sacred Promise and I had come to realize that the woman in the picture had long ago made a promise to the Goddess, a promise that I was now supposed to remember. Heavens! This was not the way I had envisioned the painting process.
More often than not, I don’t understand the purpose or meaning of what I have created until long after its completion, as bits of information come together to form a whole. Who was this mysterious redheaded woman beckoning me to remember something? It wasn’t until I had painted three more pictures of her that I realized I was painting the same woman. Then I learned who she was. Even so, the significance of the pink rose on her locket was only revealed to me gradually. When she first introduced herself to me, I could not have anticipated that she would put me on a path of discovery—about myself, about the sacred feminine, about myth and mysticism.
By following my intuitive urges during the creative process, I continue to receive direction and guidance through symbols and mystical experiences — even the titles of my paintings. My artistic path continues to be a challenging journey of mystical remembrance, traveling through misty terrain to awaken a lost memory.
Envisioning the Land of Myth and Mysticism through Art:
Several years ago I was asked to write something about myself and my art. I explained that my work serves as a bridge from the past into the future, not knowing what that truly meant even as I wrote the words. Since then I have come to believe that myth and mysticism are bridges to ancient memories that hold the knowledge of our human lineage as spiritual beings. These memories offer us a framework in which to better understand ourselves; a blueprint to guide us toward our optimal evolution as human beings. Through symbolism and sacred proportion, art can evoke deep remembrances of who we have been and where we are going. This information is contained within every one of us, and can be accessed as we awaken to our mystical selves. It is my belief that the lands of myths are real, somewhat distorted through the mists of time and veils of consciousness.
Mysticism is a personal way to reach these myth- ic lands, and is used by many artists as the vehicle to consciously or unconsciously communicate something about our spiritual heritage as humans. In the process of teaching myself to paint, I studied the pictures of the old masters. Eventually I came to the realization that many artists before me had tapped into a vein of knowing or remembrance and that they had left mystical, evocative jewels of knowledge along the path of time. Botticelli, of course, was one of them.
On a recent trip to ancient Egyptian sites, I learned that every image was made for the purpose of inviting a god, goddess or archetypal energy to inhabit our world and that artists were considered bridges between the two worlds. If mystics bridge the worlds, then myths, in the form of images and stories, may tell us of our ancient origins, give clues to our human makeup and point to the existence of life beyond our three dimensions.
We all know some of the mythic heroes and heroines, such as Venus, Mars, Zeus, Neptune, Athena and King Arthur, as well as the tragic figures, such as Daphne, Tristan & Isolde, Orpheus and Ophelia. Mythic stories cover the emotional gamut of what it is to be human, including the generation gap, the sacred quest, sibling rivalry, love and betrayal, revenge, friendship, abuse of power, good and evil, violence and kindness. Other myths may recount our history and tell us of our human evolution. Through symbols and allegory a single story can cover vast swaths of time or combine complex elements to give us a simple image. In their simplicity, they can evoke a remembrance or hold in place key aspects of who we are, hinting of our evolution through time, such as in the stories of Noah’s Ark and Adam and Eve.
Myths, whether in the form of art, story or ritual, help us to understand our- selves on many levels through the avenue of the subconscious. I believe that myths have the potential to serve as windows or portals into distant lands buried in the archives of the collective unconscious, lands that actually existed in our ancient past, such as Atlantis, Lemuria/Mu, Pan, Tara or Gaia.These lands and their crystal cities were inhabited by powerful magi- cal wizards, ancient wise ones, unicorns, dreamers, winged dragons, centaurs and mermaids–creatures and beings which were part of our evolutionary process, some an experiment in form.
It is ironic that while places of myth are dismissed as mere fantasy, at least some of them are being uncovered now by archeologists and shown to have actually exist- ed. Quite recently the tomb of Ulysses or Odysseus was found in the location of his legendary capital of Ithaca on an island in Greece. And in the 19th Century, Henrich Schliemans uncovered Homer’s Troy in an archeological dig. Today scientists recognize Pangea and its existence as a super-continent until it split 180,000,000 years ago into the lands of Laurasia and Gondwanaland.
Most likely it is not only because we are children-at- heart that we, as adults, are deeply moved by stories such as The Lord of the Rings, The Dark Crystal, Sleeping Beauty,
The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars and Harry Potter. It is more likely that they move us profoundly by interrupting the slumber of our subconscious memory and triggering a haunting sense of familiarity. That children are more receptive to these stories than adults is not surprising since, until the age of seven, the right side of the brain, which controls imaginative function, remains open and active. Thus children have little resistance to subliminal reminders of whom they are and why they have come to Earth.
The Holy Grail: Something Calls to be Remembered:
Of all the mythical stories, those of the Grail legends peak my curiosity the most, causing my blood to stir and my heart to beat a little faster. No other myths have quite the same impact upon me. Shrouded within the grail legends, as if lovingly protected, lies the essence of the divine feminine. There it was secretly preserved during the patriarchal swing of civilization until its wisdom could be openly expressed. Also contained within the stories of the Grail legend is the ancient memory of who we are as spiritual beings on planet Earth — ancient knowledge that has long been forgotten. I feel the myth of the Holy Grail resonates deeply with our souls because it aligns humankind with its highest purpose and reminds us of our collective spiritual dream to be honorable stewards of our Earth Mother and strivers towards spiritual ascension. The story of the quest for the Grail may seem vaguely familiar, because it is a story that has been enacted and re-enacted many times as earthlings have striven, failed, and striven again to reach that dream. In my painting process, the five-petaled pink rose has repeatedly come forward as a symbol to express compassion, sacred knowledge, the hidden presence of the Goddess and Her part in this divine plan for humanity’s spiritual enlightenment. Roses figure prominently in the myths and lore surrounding the Grail and are often red or white. Having dwelt in the realms of subconscious memory and intuition for many years, I shouldn’t have been surprised when memories were pulled from deep within me to be translated onto the canvas through my brush. As I painted The Gift, the phrase “I am from the stars” burst into mind. Simultaneously, I felt compelled to add stars to the blue orb already held in the figure’s hand. Next, it came to my attention that the space around her head was empty and needed to be filled with the stars of Venus — twelve of them.
As I worked on the angel in the stained glass window, her story began to unfold. She told me about the rose, a gift bestowed by the angels to mankind so that we on the earth plane might subconsciously stay connected to the knowledge of who we are, aligning us to humanity’s ancient pledge to the Grail Code. The dove in the center of the window brings the message of the Goddess — peace, hope and wisdom. The rose serves to hold her remembrance through its unique beauty, color, and most of all, fragrant scent.
I don’t always know where my images are coming from as I work on them. However, the identity of the young woman in Sacred Moment was revealed to me early in the creation process. As I was drawing out my concept, I was unsure as to whether she should hold a unicorn or carry a candle. Unable to solve the quandary, I decided to run some errands. As I was driving home, I suddenly felt the urge to stop at the local bookstore. As I entered the store I was drawn to a particular shelf in the back. Scanning the books, the binding on Caitlin and John Matthews’ book Ladies of the Lake immediately attracted my attention. I picked it up and it fell open to a chapter on Igraine, the mother of King Arthur. Igraine was described as holding a candle, with a unicorn at her feet. Bingo! I knew in that moment that I was painting Igraine. I had not resolved my candle/unicorn dilemma, but I went away in awe of my discovery and the power of following my intuition in the creative process. Later I learned that this was the very woman who had come through in my first painting, and that I had already done three paintings of her. To my astonishment, I had not noticed the likeness.
As I worked on the painting, I gradually became aware that I was depicting the moment when Igraine was divinely chosen to be the sacred vessel to carry the baby who would become King Arthur. I knew that King Arthur was in some way aligned with Jesus and his mission, and I began to think of the twelve disciples and the twelve Knights of the Round Table. I also felt a strong connection between Igraine, Mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene, but I couldn’t put my finger on it logically. Much later I came to learn that some people believe that they were all sacred vessels carrying the Grail line. Additionally, I felt that they were somehow linked to the 15th Century French tapestry, The Lady and the Unicorn, as well as the priestesses of Avalon, both of whom are portrayed in the robe. Certainly Igraine was the daughter of Vivianne, high priestess of Avalon, and presumably one of the holders of sacred knowledge.
I worked for several months on Sacred Moment which, to my surprise, would alternately name itself The Princess. To my dismay, the final three weeks of its completion were spent in grief over the death of Princess Diana. Painting, in those weeks after her passing, became a reverent ritual to her memory. Much later I learned that Princess Diana was of the royal Stewart line of Scotland whose symbol is the unicorn. The Stewarts are said to be descendants of the royal blood of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, including the sacred and charismatic Merovingian dynasty that includes King Arthur. I found it highly symbolic that Diana’s body was laid to rest in the middle of a tiny lake much like the Isle of Avalon that was in- habited by the Ladies of the Lake. Diana too had been a vessel of the sacred bloodline of the Holy Grail.
In one painting thus far, the process has been mental rather than intuitive. In 1997 I was watching the news on TV. A woman being interviewed mentioned that most Westerners envision God as looking like Michelangelo’s depiction on the Sistine Chapel. In that instant I said, “I must paint the Goddess as the equal and opposite partner to Michelangelo’s God!”. In my painting, God/Goddess, Western man’s most revered image of God now includes his divine partner, the Goddess! God and Goddess face each other as equals in a sacred union. Be- hind them is the backdrop of the Universe, part of their dual creation of All That Is. Rather than reaching his hand down to Man, this God entwines his fingers with Goddess as his partner in creation. With the return of the Goddess to her rightful place beside God, the true equation is being reinstated and spirituality is coming full circle. The evolution of humankind can once again flower as it was meant to. God/Goddess celebrates this divine re-union.
Since the creative process often involves the feminine energy of the right brain with its access to intuition and the subconscious, it is not surprising that many writers, artists, poets, musicians and visionaries have come to be recognized as the mystics and prophets of our time, as the old masters were in their time. Not surprisingly then, I feel a special kinship to the painters who have gone be- fore, and gratefully consider them my teachers. My heart is always moved by the mastery of Edward Burne-Jones, Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Eleanor Fortesque-Brickdale, John Waterhouse and John Duncan, among others. These mystics and dreamers were striving to communicate some elusive sense of the Goddess, who has always dwelt in misty worlds and mythic lands. Though many forgot her existence, she has always been there, reachable through the heart, intuition, inspiration, inner knowing, and distant memory, through mysticism, soulful reverie and prayer. We are once again awakening to her presence as the Goddess emerges from the mists that have enshrouded her for so long. There is a heightening sense that something calls to be remembered—something that dwells in the lands of myth and mysticism.
Opening Image: Far Memory, Claudia Connelly
Image One, Sacred Promise, Claudia Connelly
Image Two, The Gift, Claudia Connelly
Image Three, Sacred Moment, Claudia Connelly
Image Four, God/Goddess, Claudia Connelly
A Feminine Path in Art and Life
By Deborah Koff-Chapin
As a child I had an underlying sense that there was some purpose my life was to serve. In my search for identity, the closest role models I could find were artists. I sensed, in Van Gogh, Michaelangelo, and William Blake, a sincere, yet lonely passion to embody truth and beauty, to bring into form a mystical vision that pierced the veil of ordinary reality. These artists seemed to possess a fierce determination to let nothing come in the way of their creative path. As a young woman I remember thinking to myself, “Why are all these artists men?” The response I sensed from within was that it did not matter. If I felt a calling to pursue truth and beauty through art, being female would not get in the way. As my life began to unfold, I came to realize that surrendering to the feminine path would open the way to a new form of artistic expression as well as a more integral vision of life as the ultimate art form.
During the tumultuous upheavals of the sixties, while other teens were turning to drugs, politics or parties, painting was my mode of truth seeking. It was a vehicle for turning inward, as well as a means of communicating from the depths of my soul. My natural tendency was to reflect states of being and feeling through images of the human form. I can recall a time in my youth when I was frustrated with the authoritarian attitudes at high school. I went home and transformed the fire of my anger into painting a giant red face gazing down from the canvas with power and authority. This was the first time I experienced the transformative and healing power of creativity. Once my anger was released in that way, I felt free and empowered.
Sometimes I would carry my painting materials into the woods, where I would have these amazing visionary experiences. Upon sitting in deep silence, I would start to feel the emergence of an image, and attempt to bring it into actualization by painting it. There was magic in these moments, a feeling of having helped God in the act of creation.
Thankfully I had parents who sensed that my art was a healthy expression, and gave me space to find my way. Upon graduating from high school, I attended art school in New York City. I enthusiastically leaped into the great mystique of the art world. However, it wasn’t long before an existential nausea began to set in, as I started to question the meaning of art. The human form disappeared from my paintings as “art talk” became the high craft. Paintbrushes began to feel like obscure instruments, so I started to pour and wipe paint. I dove into the void, feel- ing my way into formlessness, searching for something underneath and unknown.
In the midst of this exploration, I was gifted with an ecstatic moment of recognition. One day, while on a re- treat at my school’s rural campus, I came across a willow tree swaying gently in the breeze. The tips of its branches were etching lines in the sand below, creating ever-changing patterns on the beach. I was witnessing the pure, uninhibited act of nature drawing. This touched me to the core, fueling my underlying search for a more organic way to express human nature.
By my last year of art school, I had become fluent in the language of abstraction. It was pure and essential, but foreign to the eyes of those not educated in the “esoteric knowledge” of the art world. One day I found myself doodling some silly little faces on a piece of watercolor paper. Feeling as if I had drawn something trite and dirty, I tucked the embarrassing doodles away.
On my last day of school, as I was helping a friend clean up the print shop, I placed a paper towel over a plate of inked glass. But instead of wiping off the ink, I felt an impulse to playfully move my hands on the paper towel. Lifting the towel, I saw impressions that had been transferred to the underside by the pressure of my touch. I was thunderstruck. Lines were coming directly from my fingertips! I laughed ecstatically with this realization. My fingertips danced from one paper towel to another. The imprints that were created from the pressure of my touch were pure and natural. Like the willow tree draw- ing in the sand, they were a direct expression of my being on paper. Soon my fingertips were forming simple, child- like faces on the paper towels.
Although this experience appeared to be simple play, from the inside it felt like a revelation. The moment my fingertips touched the paper, I felt circuits opening with- in me as if I was being blasted open to something larger than myself. I sensed that I was receiving an evolutionary creative process, something people in the future might use to express themselves in a more authentic and fluid manner. The seed of my doodling had burst into life. I decided to name this process touch drawing.
In the following months, I poured my soul into the touch drawing process. Alone in this newfound creative impulse, it became my main source of grounding. Whenever I felt pain, fear or confusion, I would turn to the drawing board to express my feelings. In releasing an emotion onto the paper, I was freed of its power and poised to move into the next state of being. I would then transfer the sensations of the next moment onto another page. Each drawing was a stepping-stone that led me deeper into my being. I soon realized that I was doing more than drawing; I was sculpting my psyche, bring- ing my soul into form. At the end of a drawing session I could step back and witness my process through a series of images conveying my internal transformation.
In those first months of Touch Drawing, another layer of realization transformed my path. At this time in my life I had identified with the myth of the isolated and potentially tragic artist’s life. I felt alone in the drama of my newly discovered drawing process. I thought to my- self, “Isn’t this isolation supposed to fuel my creativity”?
One day I was walking along the streets of New York City, creatively stimulated, yet unstable. Then a single word floated into my mind – health. The epiphany that came with this word was that the natural world is essentially healthy, and embodies truth in its very being. If I was to find a path of truth in my life and art, I had to align myself with the health and interconnectedness found in nature. I had to find another way to be an artist. The isolation of my art world persona fell away as I shifted my gaze toward health and community.
I eventually moved out of the city and began to find kindred souls who were also questioning cultural norms. I discovered ways to share my images in settings where they were seen not as commodities for sale but as integral components of deep, collective experiences and sacred processes. Among these were involvements with Jean Houston’s early workshops and Elizabeth Cogburn’s living ceremonials. In these settings, the fullness of my soul could be expressed through more than images – I had found a safe community of co-creation in song, dance and heartfelt sharing.
By the mid 1990s I was married, had a child and was embedded in community life. My Touch Drawings had blossomed into fullness, with layers of color and refinement of form. The seed of the earlier, child-like Touch Drawings had grown into a beautiful tree, abundant with fruit. It was time for the images to find their way into a greater relationship with the world. A friend suggested I create a deck of cards with the images. I felt a clear YES from the universe.
The energy around the cards became so strong that I decided to take a creative leap and publish them independently. I sorted through hundreds of Touch Drawings created over the years, looking for the broadest range of human feelings that I could find. I called the deck SoulCards, and wrote a supplemental book that offered creative ways people could interact with the images, empowering them to look more deeply into themselves and trust their own intuitive voice and connection to spirit.
SoulCards 1&2 have become sacred vessels through which my images have entered the lives of others. Rather than being seen by a select audience for brief times in sterile galleries, they are in people’s hands and hearts, integrated into their most intimate moments of reflection. This is certainly a fulfillment of my original calling, to find another way to be an artist – to speak to the human soul as opposed to doing art for strictly decorative purposes. The SoulCards act as portals into the soul, allowing people to engage in a dialogue with their own inner wis- dom. They evoke enable people to communicate from a deeper place as they reflect and/or write about the image they draw from the deck.
SoulCards are now being used by therapists and workshop leaders, and in creative writing groups, hospitals, and even management team meetings. The depth to which people have responded to these images has been a confirmation of their universality. In diving deep into the realms of the unconscious, I seem to have touched the place where we are all one.
Although I have always kept aspects of my own artwork alive, much of my life has been committed to supporting the creative unfolding of others. The inner knowing that came to me in those first moments of Touch Drawing created an organizing principle for my life. I was being called to midwife its emergence into the world. I started by sharing Touch Drawing with friends in my studio, and demonstrating it whenever the opportunity arose. Over the years I developed a workshop structure that holds the space for people to go deep within themselves. My experience with ceremony and ritual gave me the foundation to hold each workshop as a sacred space. While people draw, I create a live musical sound field, with drums, chimes and voice, opening the space for people to dive into the inner mirror of the drawing board. Most people emerge from the Touch Drawing session completely transformed, with images to reflect upon and gifts to share.
Touch Drawing has sprouted up in a broad range of settings. It is used as a spiritual practice, as a way for “non-artists” to find their creative voice, and for experienced artists to open to deeper sources in their work. It is used as a therapeutic tool with at-risk youth, people with AIDS, depression, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, victims of sexual abuse and people in Hospices. I have even had the honor of introducing it to Palestinian therapists, who work with traumatized children in Gaza.
I recall my commitment from childhood to not let being female “get in the way” of being an artist. I realize now that following a more feminine path has opened the way. Touch Drawing has emerged as a reflection of the feminine principle, as images are birthed directly from the womb of the unconscious. It is a record of the soul of humanity coming into physical form. The rising tide of feminine power is essential to finding our way to a healthy and balanced relationship with the rest of life on Earth. It is my hope that Touch Drawing and my SoulCards will assist in the larger healing of humanity so that we can begin to move into a new paradigm of equality, health, interconnectedness and peace.
Singing the Waters for Personal and Planetary Transformation
by Lotus Linton, Ph.D.
There is a mysterious and intriguing relationship between water and sound, which the ancients knew about and utilized in their spiritual and healing practices. In Hindu stories of creation, Love and Desire come together to form the first Cosmic Sound, which is hidden in the Word and in the Waters. In many cultures and religions we baptize ourselves in water, we bury each other with watery rites, believing that after death we cross over the waters to the otherworld. These watery rituals are often accompanied with the sounds of bells, drums, bowls and horns, hymns, chants and mantras. Although we may have forgotten the ancient relevance of the connection between water and sound, it is a sacred relationship.
It has become an integral aspect of my personal path to rediscover the transformative powers of the sound/ water connection. In my morning meditation practice I sing to the jars of water I have collected from streams and wells, rivers and waterfalls of the world. I seek out and intone sacred chants to the springs and waterways of my home region, the Pacific Northwest, and I take groups of fellow water singers with me to the holy wells of other lands. In many locations throughout the world I “Sing the Waters,” continually discovering greater physical and metaphysical correlations between water and sound and their conjoined contribution to personal and planetary transformation.
My practice of water singing began in Bali many years ago, when I landed in the lap of the goddess Saraswati. Deluged with a series of personal problems in Bali, I went to a nearby yet unfamiliar village to seek the help of a traditional healer. My friend, Wayan, brought me to the door of the village priest who was also a traditional doctor. After allowing Wayan to translate my traveler’s woes, explaining my inability to rid myself of an intimidating opportunist, Jero took me into his family temple, dedicated to Saraswati. Nestled within the family liv- ing compound, Jero’s tiny sanctuary room of concrete blocks opened to the melting light of the evening sky. It was decorated with numerous statues, thatched roofed altars, and fading cloths of black, white, and gold. Jero bade me to sit for awhile as he lighted incense and chants into a vial of water, his deep singing accompanied by bell ringing and periodical splashes of water on my head. Jero then dotted my face and neck with the liquid and whispered to me while Wayan translates: “Be fearless. You will be all right. The goddess, Saraswati, is a good goddess for you. She favors you.” As we took our leave, the air teemed with the poly-rhythms of frogs in the rice paddies and gamelan musicians at their practice in the village hall. Jero stood at the door in the light of a solitary electric bulb on his porch, to wave until we were out of sight.
Thus did Saraswati, The Flowing One, become a beloved reference and refuge in my life, as Her holy water, splashed and dabbed on my face, initiated me into the ancient practice of Singing the Waters. As Jero had predicted, all my complaints vanished that night. Since then, he has become my dearest friend in all of Bali and I visit him often.
Bali is the land of flowing water, falling from the mountains, coursing through river valleys, trickling through levels upon levels of rice paddies. Bali’s particu- lar brand of Hinduism is known as Tirtha Agama, Religion of the Holy Water. It is the singing of the water, embuing it with the power of ancient chants, that ren- ders it holy. It is fitting that I should meet Saraswati in such a watery Eden.
Although there are many angels and archetypes shin- ing from within the religions of all cultures to guide and assist women in our awakening, Saraswati provides the personification of womanly wisdom itself, deep womanly knowing that our world desperately needs today. She is not only the oldest goddess known to India, but She is said to embody all the qualities of the other deities. Though Saraswati is commonly referred to as the goddess of education, learning and the arts, Her deeply feminine, “flowing” way of knowing takes us below mere mental knowledge and the accumulation of facts to the deep recesses and far more comprehensive intelligence of the Soul.
Saraswati is the dawn-goddess, dispelling the dark- ness of ignorance, chaos and confusion. The four sacred scriptures of the Vedas are her offspring. As in most cultural pantheons, She has been reduced in more recent history to the consort of a god — in this case, the wife of the creator, Brahama. Yet, Saraswati’s greater wisdom and spiritual superiority are still retained in the myths in which She serves as Brahama’s teacher in all things, tam- ing both the god’s wandering mind and his entrenchment in material desires.
I believe Saraswati existed long ago as an actual human who attained an enlightened state. As often hap- pens to such rishis, or Soul-realized ones, She was, over time, labelled a goddess by those of lesser understand- ing who were not yet able to grasp their own potentially divine nature. Still, I know Her personally to be a contactable Presence. Her wise and watery spirit, conveyed through image, story, and, especially, the direct communion approached through sacred chanting, offers deeper understanding of the ineffable workings of the Universe for those of us who are growing toward wisdom.
Whether we acknowledge Saraswati as a genuine and contactable divine Presence, or merely as an inspirational archetype to educe our own divine qualities, Her power is palpable. If we can plumb the deepest meanings of the imagery associated with Her, we can discover transformative secrets lying within the physical and metaphysical properties of Her two greatest tools, sound and water, and the tremendous healing power of the two conjoined. As a wisdom seeker and as a sound healer with a penchant for the sacred waters of the Earth, I find in Saraswati a personalized, tailor- made doorway to the Divine Feminine within myself. In one translation of Her name, Saraswati is “She who gives the essence of our own Self.” Saraswati bids us to ride the rhythmic waves of Creation, upon which we arrive at the fountain of our own wisdom. This beautiful, evolved personage can guide our womanly quest for our own spiritual moisture and help us finally and forever nourish our brittle, arid, overly-masculinized world.
So let us explore together Saraswati’s mysterious depths and allow Her to help us fathom our own. Let us observe Her, as women can do so beautifully, from the combined perspectives of mind and heart. Let us create a rainbow bridge between the masculine and feminine aspects of our nature and plumb the relationship between the old myths and our modern scientific discoveries. Let us allow Saraswati to reveal to us the secrets and true power of Singing the Waters for spiritual awakening and planetary transformation.
The Goddess of Sound
Picture Saraswati as a beautiful four-armed goddess in a pure white garment, sitting upon a lotus, rooted in Truth, the Supreme Reality that the lotus signifies. She is simply adorned, needing no jewelry except Her simple rosary, signifying the deep contemplation, assisted by chanting, that leads to union with the Divine. In two of her graceful arms She holds her veena, or Indian lute, upon which She plays the music of love and life. The first Cosmic Sound of Love and Desire, is OM. This original sound of all Creation is Hers, as is also the syllable Aim (pronounced “ime”), which depicts all streams of energy flowing in and out of the deep Self. Chanting either of these two syllables or any number of mantras associated with Her, brings one under Saraswati’s direct influence. Because She exemplifies the potent quality of sound, both words and music connect us with Saraswati, for She is “the impeller of true speech.”
Quantum physics now understands the entire Universe to be, at its core, infinite pulsations of vibrational frequencies. Despite the appearance of solidity we are — everything is — essentially, vibration. Sound healing is the therapeutic art that most obviously utilizes this truth. Using rhythm, pitch and timbre of the voice, the drum and other instruments or previously recorded music, the sound healer helps synchronize the rhythms of body, mind and heart, thus serving to relieve many common maladies, and open doors to the deeper Self, or Soul. Even such debilitating ailments as heart problems, chronic pain, autism, or depression have been helped or healed by these methods. Music therapy and sound healing are emerging today as viable complementary forms of medicine, yet they are truly timeless healing arts known for at least 30,000 years by the shamans and physicians of ancient cultures who could perceive the vibratory nature of reality beneath the surface of physicality. The enlightened ones of old, the rishis who created the Vedas, the sacred texts of India, understood well the healing power of sound. Their primordial chants and mantras are designed to have enlightening effect. Sanskrit, itself the Vedic language, is mantric in nature, its every syllable consciously utilized for healing and teaching purposes.
One of Saraswati’s secrets, as the Goddess of Sound and sound healing, is the principle of entrainment, a core aspect of our world and all Creation. As clocks in the same vicinity synchronize to one rhythm, and as little babies’ hearts beat in double-time to the rhythm of their mothers’ hearts, entrainment is a strong steady rhythm (or frequency) overtaking a weaker, less steady rhythm. This causes the lesser rhythm to rise to the occasion, becoming more pronounced and vital itself. The entire Universe operates on this principle of entrainment, as the rhythms of all bodies and all systems affect each other. Whether we are talking about the gyrations of planets or the movement of blood cells, we can observe entrainment at work.
Saraswati’s Gayatri mantra, the oldest known healing song in human history, is considered by many to be an extremely potent force, precisely because of its power of entrainment. In Vedic teachings, mantras are designed to awaken deep states of consciousness that already exist within us, drawing them forth from our own cellular memory and bringing them to life.
As a goddess of the most ancient origins, Saraswati is undoubtably a tantric goddess, meaning She embodies the primordial and divinely feminine power of shakti. Shakti is the raw, liberating, creative energy that surges through all vibrations in the Universe and gifts them with purifying vitality. Shakti, when awakened within humans, is the energy of Enlightenment. Shakti is the immanent presence of the Goddess — not above, aloof and transcending the physical world, as so many deities are depicted, but throbbing within every aspect of the created universe, humming inside the very structure of our cells and all molecules.
Saraswati is usually portrayed with a peacock sitting next to Her. In this sacred imagery, the peacock signifies the ego and the mind, the more masculine, worldly forces. It is important to note that She is not riding the pea- cock, but has tamed it, knowing that knowledge dominated by ego can destroy the world. In modern culture, subjugated as it is by the left-brain and the eye as the preferred modes of knowing and perceiving, the egoic peacock still reigns. Brilliance of mind is not yet tempered and balanced by the intelligence of the heart, and thus, our current reality is far too often driven by ego’s insatiable needs, creating strife, war, conflict and misery in their wake. Saraswati, on the other hand, provides the healing salve and the antidote for this left-brainitis with which we find ourselves afflicted.
Applying sacred sound in our daily lives, we can be- come more ear-oriented, and thus more attuned to the right brain, the feminine aspect in both men and women, which is, basically, the corridor to the Soul and the avenue to a more sacred way of being. Left-brain function is important, useful and valuable, but if it is not balanced by the softening qualities of the right-brain, we too often find ourselves in a violent, hierarchical world of human-caused pain. Orientating ourselves to the divine attributes of Saraswati, especially through singing the chants and syllables associated with Her, we can entrain our own frequencies of body, mind and emotion to the more refined, enlightened, and Soul-aligned energies of Her sacred being.
The Goddess of Water
“Through the ages pools, lakes, sacred wells and springs have been invested with magical properties. Many were believed to be the dwelling places of gods or supernatural beings, and so were seen as rich sources of both physical healing and spiritual transformation.”
Jane Hope, the Secret Language of the Soul
Saraswati originates as the first of the world’s many water goddesses. Perhaps it is because humans come from the watery womb, or that life evolved from the womb of the ocean, that we have always understood water to be a feminine element, representing spirituality itself.
Saraswati was once the name of a river, a mighty river with creative, purifying and nourishing properties, upon whose banks the entire Vedic civilization arose. The Saraswati River was the biggest and most important of the seven holy rivers mentioned in the ancient scriptures, yet it has long been dry, not unlike the dehydration of the Sacred Feminine for many long centuries in the majority of cultures upon the planet.
Although the Saraswati River exists no longer in the physical realms, it is remembered in the personification of this beautiful goddess, who is usually depicted near a flowing river with one or two swans at her feet. She often holds a lotus flower in one hand and a pot of sacred water in another, always clearly associated with the healing powers of water. One epithet for Her is “She having lots of pools.” Saraswati is also known as the ocean of understanding, the vibration of consciousness itself from which all rivers of thought and energy arise and to which they all return.
We begin by acknowledging that water is the most effective carrier of vibrations. Sound travels through water four times faster than through air. It is this transmissional power of water that allows dolphins and whales to communicate with each other through thousands of miles of water in a very brief period of time.
Science is also demonstrating that water has a memory, capable of retaining what it has “heard,” or been exposed to. The ancient rishis and wisdom keepers understood this, for they had highly developed intuitive capacities to perceive subtle realms of electro-magnetic energies, capacities that have all but atrophied in the modern mind. The Maori word for water, for example, is wai, which means “remembrance” and water is understood by them to be the container that holds the memory of all that has ever been and will be.
This knowledge that water has a memory has been recognized for over 200 years by homeopathic physicians who “potentize” water by exposing it to the specific frequencies of healing substances from the plant and mineral worlds. Homeopathy relies on water’s ability to retain the subtle, electromagnetic information that becomes encoded in its memory container.
Water’s powers of memory are made quite visible in the photographs of frozen water crystals in Dr. Masaru Emoto’s two volumes of Messages from Water. His photos of the beautiful and brilliant six-sided crystals of frozen water, which have been “influenced” by the works of Mendelssohn or Vivaldi, stand in stark contrast to those from water which has been polluted by discordant rock music or toxic chemicals. Emoto’s ground-breaking work vividly demonstrates that water’s power of memory is especially sensitive to sound vibrations.
Water not only possesses the faculty to store information impressed upon it previously by a given frequency level, but it also is able to transfer such information to other systems. Evidently, it is the crystalline nature of water that renders it so potent in the storage and trans- mission of energy. Water researcher William Marks has pointed out that the water-filled cells within our bodies contain microscopic crystals that vibrate in harmony with the energies of the universe and our world.
Crystals, and thus water, are transducers as well as transmitters of energy, having the ability to take one form of energy and convert it to a higher form of energy. Crystals are also “acousto-luminescent,” having the ability to convert sound waves into light.
Healthy water, or vital water, is beautifully structured, like the crystals of Dr. Emuto’s photographs. It has a strong 3-dimensional microstructure that collects and transmits information. It is this structure which allows water to communicate and to nourish.
Water flowing through natural landscapes has similar properties and powers. Unimpeded, “living” water does what the wind does, what the sap of trees, the blood of creatures and nebulas do. It flows in spiral, vortexian patterns, becoming recharged and revitalized as it continually tumbles over itself on its journey downstream. Properly structured, living water, cradled in the forests, flowing down from the mountains, surging in the seas and bubbling up from the springs, is the health-giving blood of Mother Earth.
Water that is channeled into straight pipes or polluted with chemical contaminants becomes damaged and dead. Damage to water goes hand in hand with a loss of vibration, since it is vibration that makes the difference between living and dead water. Thus, once again we are brought to the feet of the Goddess of Sound, the goddess of vibration.
As Viktor Schauberger, forester and brilliant inventor, once said, “What we do to water, we do to ourselves.” We could add, “What we have done to our water goddesses, we have done to ourselves,” for the abuse and neglect of our planet’s waters, polluted now beyond measure, is coincident with the denial of the Sacred Feminine and Her way of being that holds all the elements, all the gifts of life in deep reverence. For this we suffer on many levels, both individually and collectively.
As we continue to pollute the waters of the planet and to ingest non-living, stale, chemically treated, sterilized and pressurized water into our systems, we are playing with a time-bomb for ourselves and our children and all future generations. Even though we may improve contaminated water chemically and free it of bacteria, it will still possess the electromagnetic oscillations of certain wave lengths which can be precisely traced to that water’s original contaminants. Thus, the water will still be energetically polluted. Water that cannot behave properly, that cannot attend to its infinite functions, affects the health of body, mind, society, and all of nature.
Physics now dances in the enlightening realm of the goddess. As Victor Schauberger has said, “The Upholder of the Cycles which supports the whole of life, is WATER. In every drop of water dwells a Deity, whom we all serve…” And as we know by now, one of Her names is Saraswati.
In the end, our discussion of water, sound, and Saraswati brings us back to our own spirit — it is the very core of our consciousness that we must upgrade. To bring water back to life, humanity must come to life. We must see with new eyes, hear with new ears, sing with new voices. These are the attributes of the Divine Feminine through which we recognize that both our bodies and our planet are over 75% water and through which we can honor the beauty and holiness of that correlation. Water is not an ordinary commodity, but a magical, blessed foundation for all life on Earth. We must once again learn to relate to it, and to all life forms and elements, as sacred.
And by relating to water as sacred and holy, humanity can learn the methods by which we might maintain water’s livingness. We have both the ancient teachings and the modern research, both the necessary spiritual and scientific knowledge already at hand. We know how to allow water to flow feely and regenerate itself without impediment. We can revitalize the polluted and stale waters we have inherited from technologies which do not serve our health or the health of the planet. In sacredness, with our hearts full of gratitude, we can Sing the Waters into health and ourselves into new ways of being.
The Goddess of Sound and Water
“A river sings a holy song conveying the mysterious truth that we are a river, and if we are ignorant of this natural law we are lost.” —Thomas Moore
We know that sound is vibration, and vibration is sound. Saraswati’s very essence reminds us that everything in Creation has its own vibration and thus its own sound. And we know that water is the rememberer, the transmitter and the transducer of this sound. When sound is used in healing the body of a person or the body of our Earth, it is water that responds most lovingly and completely to that vibration. Learning to understand water, we better understand how it is that sound “works” to balance and heal us and our natural systems. Spiritual growth is a movement into ever higher frequencies of consciousness, and water is both a transducer and a rememberer of that movement. In this sense, both the physical and metaphysical aspects of Saraswati’s power transcend any notions of Her as an outmoded entity or superstitious tale. The Enlightenment She bestows upon us is that of increased energy, more spirit, higher frequency, improved fluidity, and greater light.
I participate in Saraswati’s watery rites by giving thanks each day for the water I drink, bathe in, and look out upon in this world. I potentize clear, pure drinking water with sacred sounds, songs and chants of many cultures as well as with appreciative thoughts. I drink this revitalized water to enhance my physical wellbeing, helping the body to entrain to new rhythms of optimum health. I send sung water home with my friends, my family members, my clients. I sing to the waters in the bath, in the garden, or in the soup I stir.
Dr. Emoto tells of the Shinto priest in Japan who recently gathered numerous chanters to successfully purify the polluted waters of the temple lake. Drunvalo Melchizedek, reporting on avante-garde technologies, heralds Sufi masters from Turkey who are now mass- producing “chanted water” to clarify pollution on many continents. He describes how participants each brought jars of dirty, polluted water to a global ecology conference and watched them clear within minutes from the influence of the Sufi sung-water. Brooke Medicine Eagle, sharing the spiritual teachings of her Crow and Sioux grandmothers, imparts a “waterfall song” to her students, insisting that it is by singing to the aspects and elements of nature that we establish communication and become bonded at the heart level with All-Our-Relations in the elemental, mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. And Al-gonquin women are gathering sisters of all cultures on all continents to sing an ancient woman’s water song for revivifying the planet’s waterways.
Even science has now discovered its own version of Singing the Waters, demonstrating that we can erase contaminant information within water and revitalize it by returning it to its natural spiral motions or by exposing it to various energetic influences, especially sonar treatment. Vital, high-frequency water, reintroduced to polluted farm streams, entrains them to be living again. When used for irrigation, this revitalized water produces higher crop yields and stronger, darker, richer, more flavorful food. After drinking revitalized water, the coats of sheep grow curlier and softer. Revitalized water used in industry rids pipes of slime, sludge, mold and incrustations. The world-renewing possibilities are endless, once we attune to Saraswati’s song of wisdom that takes us into a new, soulistic realm of being where we truly love our planet and actually care for her resources.
When I sing to water — rivers, oceans, waterfalls and springs –enhanced energy returns to me in the process, and I am propelled into ecstasy. Water sings back! And this is another of Saraswati’s great secrets. This interchange of energies between voice and water is reciprocal and it is deep. I am transformed. I am renewed. I am edified by this ancient form of communion.
Having practiced sacred sounding for several years now, I have been witness to my own transformation in the increasing harmony arising in my emotional and mental fields and vast waves of spirit taking over the body itself. This is Saraswati’s doing. Sounding the waters of the body with appropriate chanting, toning, humming and drumming, as well as employing both sound and water in ritual practice, enhances spiritual awakening. Singing the Waters of Earth contributes to human evolution and planetary survival.
The advanced practitioner of water-song magic wields the magnificent force of Sarawati’s shakti, this ultimate power of the Divine Feminine. Aquarian energy is spiritual power. Women dancing in the light of the Goddess hold the keys to the kingdom (or queendom) in our healing voices and the waters of our cells. We rise up singing!
Saraswati, Hrana Janto, 24”x24” acrylic on canvas, www.hranajanto.com
Saraswati, Paul Heussenstamm, 24”x32” acrylic on canvas. www.mandalas.com
Water Goddess, Atmara Rebecca Cloe, 16”x20” digital image, www.nwcreations.com
Saraswati, Sue Halstenberg, 24”x48” acrylic on canvas, www.suehalstenberg.com
Healing Waters, Francene Hart, 18”x24” watercolor on paper, www.francenehart.com
Bridging Heaven to Earth, Eva Sullivan-Sakmar, 24”x36”acrylic on canvas, www.stardolphin.com
Reflection, Mark Henson, 4’x6’ oil on Canvas, www.markhenson.com