SHAMANISM AND ART – Collection of Writings

These are writings I collected over the years explaining what it is like to do Intuitive Art. It truly is a powerful shamanic healing ritual using paint, brushes, paper and hands. It is not something that comes from the intellect but from a deeper part.

I began collecting these long ago and apologize I don’t know some of the authors. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and get a feeling for what an Intuitive Painting Workshop is like. All human creative spirits need a ritual like this, it brings you home to your soul.

I will add to this page as I discover more.
Various sayings and conversations:

Shamanism and Art

Magic Words

In the very earliest time,

when both people and animals lived on earth,

a person could become an animal if he wanted to

and an animal could become a human being.

Sometimes they were people

and sometimes animals

and there was no difference.

All spoke the same language.

That was the time when words were like magic.

The human mind had mysterious powers.

A word spoken by chance

might have strange consequences.

It would suddenly come alive

and what people wanted to happen could happen—

all you had to do was say it.

Nobody could explain this:

That’s the way it was.

Nulungiaq, West Greenland Eskimo shaman
Translated by Knud Rasmussen
See Rothenberg, Symposium of the Whole, in Resources

Many art historians believe that art has its roots in shamanism and that its original function was to illustrate the shamanic experience and be a focus for shamanic power. Even today shamanic art is never mere ornamentation; rather, it illustrates what the spirits look like, provides maps of the universe to keep the shaman oriented, and generates Mandalas—symbols of wholeness which remind us our role in the universe. Shamanic art is one of the tools of the shaman, just as are the rattle and drum. This is true whether the art is on the cave walls of Lascaux (ca. 17,000 years ago) or on a newly painted rattle.

Between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell

Bill Moyers:
“Who interprets the divinity inherent in nature for us today?
Who are our shamans? Who interprets unseen things for us?”

Joseph Campbell:
“It is the function of the artist to do this.
The artist is the one who communicates myth for today.”

The shaman supplied the “link” for his people between worlds.

“Every normal human being (and not merely “the artist”) has an inexhaustible store of buried images in his subconscious, it is merely a matter of courage or liberating procedures … of voyages into the unconscious, to bring pure and unadulterated found objects to light.”
Max Ernst

Paints and pigments can be approached as ritual objects, magical energetic substances, we create a space for manifestation, we don’t need to invent or devise from our minds. Painting is meditative ritual, a ritual of affirmation and manifestation. When we are present with the actual reality of what we are doing, breathing, with our ritual objects, our paint, paper or canvas to hand, when we are clear what is before us, we can take the space-time to dwell with the work in its suchness, making every part of the process a trance inducing play, rather than racing to a foregone conclusion that we hold somewhere in our heads. Its the difference between goal-orientated behavior, contrasted to the attitude of appreciating every phase, every process as an end in itself. No part of life or art should be merely rushing from A to Z without appreciating the journey in its fullness along the way. Every moment is complete in itself. With art and life, there is space and opportunity at every phase for invention.

The Return
Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey trailing snake scales, wing fragments and the musk of Earth and moon.
Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces
of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.
Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.
If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,
you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,

no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,

just this frantic waiting to die.

And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language
to teach them, without a compass
bearing to a forgotten border where
no one crosses without weeping
for the terrible beauty of galaxies
and granite and bone. They tremble,
hoping your lips hold a secret,
that the song your body now sings

will redeem them, yet they fear

your secret is dangerous, shattering,
and once it flies from your astonished
mouth, they-like you-must disintegrate
before unfolding tremulous wings.

-Geneen Marie Haugen

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One Response to “SHAMANISM AND ART – Collection of Writings”

  1. I am so impressed with your web page and all the wonderful work you are doing. Quiana

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