by Laura Lee © 2020
The very foundation, the heart of Ecstatic Trance Postures, is ART — the art of the ancients that contains the “ritual instructions.” Art that depicts spirit journeys. Art that conveys what we have come to know in our ecstatic encounters, be it dancing with the ancestors, coming face to face with the Bear Spirit, merging with the Jaguar, growing wings to fly, growing branches that spread to the heavens with roots anchored deep in the Earth. Art recreating the pulsing geometric shapes we see, the fields of vibrant color, contrasting light and dark, the border shared by nothing and everything. Messages received, as words, a knowing, the certainty of connection, community, acceptance, true self, and that which words can touch on, but never fully capture.
And so on occasion, we may turn to pen, paper, colored pencils, crayon, oil pastels. Found objects, bits and pieces of detritus, come alive when assigned new roles of proximity and representation in collage. Words leap around the linear page, rearranging themselves into prose, a poem, lyrics, melody, song — all as the joy and celebration of life moves us in myriad ways. Art sits comfortably at the core of us all. Not an artist, you say? What soul-crushing third-grade teacher told you that? Humans make art as readily as birds and humpbacks sing. Symbol is a language embedded deep in our being, more primal, more primary, than language and writing, a conduit for holistic layers of meaning. if you appreciate art, you speak that language. It wraps you in its mind-meld as transmitter and receiver — it’s a flow of energy between us: between us and the art, between us and Spirit as it speaks to us and through us.
Archeologists today agree that much of the art painted and carved onto rock faces and cave walls are notes and images from the spirit journeys of our ancestors. A time-honored activity at CI is the continuation of that long tradition. So let’s take note of a spirit journey, on occasion, with art. That occasion is coming up, for a group trance-art session, hope you can join us!
There is something that can happen when going immediately, without talking, without writing, just directing the impulses, the visionary cues, the energetics given us in ecstatic trance to pour through our hands onto the blank page. It can let that creative part of us, whose first language is symbol, color, shape, line, tell us what it has to say. Let’s listen, let’s dialogue with that other part of ourselves, the part that has just returned from a full immersion in the Alternate Reality. Let it shine. That “zone” that full-time artists speak of when creating? Oh yeah, we know that zone well, and what a delight to draw it out into our waking life, give it is due, and watch what emerges. What do we notice in the process? We are still letting go, not directing with our Intellect, not trying, but flowing, for a while yet longer, keeping that door between the realms ajar. As we draw it out into activity, the edges of daily life, that part of us too rarely seen and heard has another chance to dance upon the stage. And delight and surprise us.
My first experience of moving directly from a deep trance into doing art was during my first of many Masked Trance Dances at CI. I had received the vision of a deer, and its essence, its gait, its bright soft eyes gazing into mine. And afterwards, in silence, I joined the group who had moved to the outdoor wooden tables set out with the mask making materials. In those days, this was a pile of big smooth round rocks and clay. I was late to the tables, reluctantly leaving my trance, taking my time rejoining this world. I took the only place left, and watched the others wrap their big rocks in plastic cling wrap, so when the clay with which they shaped their mask dried, it would easily slip off — the first layer of the mask. As I stared at the rough wooden table I realized I had no clue as to how to structure the beautiful face of the Deer that had appeared to me, asking me to make its mask. And then I watched my hands, with a volition not quite my own, pick up three large stones nearby and place them on the table. My hands knew just where to adjust the two smaller stones, as they became two ears, at just the right angle, just the right proportion, around the larger stone, now its head. How did that happen, I wondered, those stones seemed to know just where they needed to be. I spent the next hour witnessing my hands, seemingly all on their own, shape clay into the perfect brow ridge and fine nose, leaving holes for the eyes with just the right spacing to see through, to make both Deer and me happy. It was a beautiful amalgamation of form and angle and curve, coming together to make a mask that I knew did not come from me. It felt as though the Spirit of Deer moved through me, flowing through my hands to merge the materials with its “Deer-ness”. My hands knew no hesitation, they worked gently and quickly, there was no artist’s angst, there was no directing on my part. I happily watched it all as a kind of choreography, a pre-knowing unfolding effortlessly. I did not assign meaning or a sense of animation to it. I watched it emerge on its own, a mask coming into its own, in a joyful act of manifestation.
Joy, so much a part of ecstasy. Joy in the creative process, joy in tapping in to that special zone. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” notes that when fully caught up in an enjoyable, focused task, boundaries loosen, the ego falls away, an hour feels like five minutes, contentment hums, joy flows. We all know that state, when creating art segues into a sort of waking trance. In our many roles, artists, healers, dancers, trancers, when unconcerned by the outcome, when fully immersed in the process, when we are empty, willing, grateful containers, it flows. “Our attention and how we direct it is the most valuable resource of our lives,” says Mihaly.
And beneficial for all of us. How many scientific and technological breakthroughs, how many inventions, how many of the sages wise words, rode in on those energetic chords? We permit ourselves to “sleep on it” and awake with the answer sought. That dream-like state, waking-dream, day dream, flow state, welcoming, trusting, surrendering, to enter the zone as we invite the unseen to make itself more a little visible. We sense and see “the shimmer.” We all know this state. Surely we are entering into these trance states in minor and major degrees, far more often than we recognize.
Our modern era has credited mathematics as the universal language, but I suggest there are others, as deeply embedded within our psyche and soul as math is to the laws of physics. Art is a language for us, it speaks across the generations and diversity of cultures. It lives in the arrangement of our neurons, its part of the toolbox with which we make sense of our world. Pattern recognition, symbol, myth, storytelling, pictograms, spoken words, written words, music, dance, and yes trance, are all the natural and inevitable expressions of who we are. With the arts, we make our mark, one that inspires, endures, teaches, and reaches for the stars.
And with ecstatic trance we have direct access to those stars, in exciting new ways. To the Universe at large, to the Web of Life, to the multiplicity of dimensions and inner realms, our perception is split wide open. What gifts does it bring? Tell us how your creativity, insight, awareness, joy of life, worldview, and comfort in the Universe, is enhanced. What about your art — in whatever medium that may be? What is it saying, through you? Please share your stories, your inner process, photos of your art, as we celebrate the creativity and vision that flows through us all.
First up — we thank Joseph Goldfedder for emailing his essay, below, on his creative process, on how ecstatic trance helps open that door, and the illustrations that came through in a recent art session. SEE Joseph Goldfedder Article