Left Handed Drawings

Occasionally, I like to let go and have a play. These were drawn using my non dominant hand. Inktense pencils, pastels and oil pastels.

Inspiration from things seen in the fire.

The Shamanic Artist

This article was first published in Indie Shaman Magazine Issue 22 (October 2014). 
With the start of my Facebook art group, It now feels like a good time to make it available online. 

The Shamanic Artist

  ©Cat Hawkins

©Cat Hawkins

It has taken me almost as long to to call myself a shaman (or rather, class what I do as shamanic) as it has to call myself an artist.  You never feel that you could possibly be on such a path... surely that kind of thing is for fairytale.  Then you realise there is much power and symbolism in the things you see around you, the things that come into your mind and heart, the messages that flow through you and manifest in colour and shape, and they are the only things that excite you and make sense!  Following a Shamanic path brings as many doubts and challenges as it does when you follow a path in the arts.  Few people take you seriously or understand what you do, quite often you're not even quite sure what it is you do!  You can find yourself wishing you were just happy and content in a 'normal' job as it would be much more reliable and straight forward.  Art? Spirituality? Shamanism?  not exactly the easiest paths to take.

Being a shaman, working shamanically, means being fully present, living your truth and walking your talk.  It calls you to find your authentic self.  It calls you to help others and to share your gifts.  As an artist, I feel the same level of calling.  My art has been the one true and centred voice throughout all my years of finding myself.  It helped to unravel and sort through the intense mix of emotions and problems I have had.  My art is as important to me as my spirituality, my beliefs and my healing.  I look back over my life and I see a dark time.  Many people who come to shamanism do so after or during a difficult time in their life.  For me, it was depression, a hormone disorder, anger and childhood trauma.  Over the years of illness and depression, when life felt it was too hard and unbearable, I would draw, paint and create.  I had not been able to finish my degree at art college due to the birth of my second child, but decided that art was at least one subject you could do without going to college.  Leaving university gave me the freedom to experiment with my art, try new things.  I have always loved mandalas, folk art, symbolic and abstract art, and anything to do with colour healing and symbolism.  In fact, over the years of self study into witchcraft, paganism, tarot, colour healing and seasonal festivals, I had developed quite a knowledge and passion for symbols and correspondences.

After years of fighting and learning to survive living with the hormone disorder PMDD, I re-connected to to my shamanic path.  It had felt like I had abandoned my spirituality through years of feeling unwell, doctors appointments, psyche assessments, gynae and hospital appointments.  Truth is, I had never abandoned it, I was actually going through the most important part.  To me, my re-connection was as simple as making a conscious choice to beat my demons, to ask the universe for help and to learn to trust again, accompanied by some deep learning and understanding of how my dis-ease was presenting itself.  I'd hit rock bottom many times believing that my birth here was a mistake and that I was not able to live in this world.  My children acted as my anchors to earth through these times.

  ©Cat Hawkins

©Cat Hawkins

So, how do you begin to live and work shamanically?  You learn and develop ways of transmuting pain. You understand it's origins and learn creative ways to deal with anything that affects us negatively.  During the times we are feeling depressed and blocked, we are being given time for deep understanding and contemplation.  I have ended up feeling very grateful for the years of illness, as it gave me the time to use my art and develop healing creative practices.  Now I find myself at what seems to be the morning after the 'dark night of the soul'.  I know what I know, I've seen what I've seen and I am who I am.  I feel a new life before me, and it's one that includes art every day.  I know many people go into shamanism to heal others, but I believe the most important person to heal is yourself.  Sometimes this can be done alongside offering help to others, the insights that others offer help you on your own journey and give you some kind of human perspective.  Going through intense healing of the soul and the past changes you forever.  It is the most authentic Shamanic initiation.  Every low point helped me get higher the next time.  In fact, I have noted the harder the fall, the stronger, more passionate and more dedicated I get.

My art practice is versatile and adaptable.  I use colour, shapes, symbols, paint, pencils, found objects...  I have come to realise there are no limitations.  Materials can be sourced, time can be made, and healing can occur.  It faces the same challenges as any other practice, but once you realise it's benefits, you find yourself making more time, life changes and you feel clearer and more balanced.  Drawing can heal. It's no instant fix, although the relaxation benefits of drawing and painting are well known, but also, to draw, drawing something, can take you into new realms.

Let's just stop and think for a moment about the word draw. I've always been fascinated with words and their origins and meanings.  Words and language are an art form of their own.   One of the most interesting is to DRAW.

In the artistic sense we know it to mean to produce a picture or diagram by making lines and marks on paper or a surface with a pencil, pen, etc.  We can draw things we see, we can draw shapes to help us describe things, we can also just make marks with no intention of drawing anything in particular.  In life, we also use the word to describe when we pull or drag something, as in horse drawn cart..  Draw in this sense describes a forward movement or motion, usually in a slow, steady or gentle manner.  It can also mean the coming to a conclusion or arrival at a point in time or process, like 'the train drew into the station' or 'the concert drew to a close'.  Already, we have a word, that not only means making marks but also means movement, steady pull, conclusion and closing (drawing the curtains).  Other meanings (there's more!) are to pull something through, like draw through a straw, or drawing something out, which means to take, obtain or extract from something else.  We draw a bath, we draw a pint, we draw out flavour, we draw from our emotions or past experiences and we draw certain people to us.  So it symbolises the taking out of something, but also means the taking in of something.  We draw breathe everyday to keep us alive.  The exchange happening inside our body, we take in and release out with every breath.  We draw in, we draw out.  The two have to be in balance for us to be healthy.

Other fascinating meanings are to attract, to draw our eye to something or draw the crowds, and to induce someone to reveal or do something "he refused to be drawn on what would happen".  We also draw to a conclusion or draw clear distinctions, so the word draw also acts as something that brings clarity.

  ©Cat Hawkins

©Cat Hawkins

There are also the uses of drawing in a game of football, or drawing winning tickets from a raffle. We can also be drawn to certain places people or things, often inexplicably as if our past lives or unconscious is trying to remember something.  We also draw blood, draw blanks, draw someone's fire, draw a line, draw up plans and draw the short straw.  We can be quick on the draw, draw back and draw down.   The nights draw in the autumn and draw out in the spring.  Nights draw on.  We can draw things out of people when we can see something they can't.  One very specific spiritual technique in witchcraft is a ritual to draw down the moon.  Soaking in and absorbing the lunar power and energy.

You can see how drawing can become a Shamanic act in itself, and the more you work with your own creative flow, the stronger and deeper the flow becomes.   As you create and release, you in turn get fed with more.  An exchange happens.  Being creative leads to more creative ideas.  Keeping it flowing is the most important and challenging task.  For me, I need to be creative every day.  At the very least, every other day.  Long breaks due to other life commitments can see me end up depressed and anxious.  This proves to me that my art and spirituality is my way of life.  I have no desire to get a 'real' job.  The work I create and that comes to me is real.  It feeds my soul, heals my spirit and brings me a joy I can't describe. 

Art is more than a passive healing technique, it's a powerful healing path, just like shamanism.  It's not an easy path, but it is wholly worthwhile, and for me, is the only path that allows me the freedom to use my art skills for more than just creating something to hang in an art gallery.  The process is key, the journey is what matters.  You don't need expensive art materials or art classes to use art and colour shamanically.  Use whatever you have.  Accepting artistic impulses as part of a the spiritual experience, as part of the fabric of your life can lead to revelatory experiences.  Maybe you just want to paint in red paint.  Maybe it's all you have.  We could question whether the fact you only have red paint is part of the training... being called to create and having limited resources just calls for more creativity.  Remember all the meanings of the word draw.  To sit and draw is to bring something out of yourself, or maybe it's something that fills you as you draw it in.  The transformational ability of drawing means you can literally draw out your pain, or draw in positivity.  You can draw something that gets you moving, you can draw to bring something to an end.  You can draw to get clarity to situation, you can draw to attract something into your life.  Just look at how past generations used symbols to connect to spirit, to Gods, to invoke, to banish and protect.  Talismans and amulets, medicine wheels and cave paintings.  Were the bison painted on the cave walls because man had caught one? or because he wanted to catch one?

 Mandala with Antakarahana at the centre  ©Cat Hawkins

Mandala with Antakarahana at the centre ©Cat Hawkins

Symbols are powerful.  Some invoke and some banish.  I would like to mention here the Antakarahana symbol.  This symbol is said to emit a healing frequency.  We see the same principles of healing and symbols in traditions such a Reiki, where shapes and symbols invoke and direct the intention of the healing.  The Antahkarana can be used to charge a glass of water, be placed on a chair or worn as a necklace.  Wherever you place the symbol it works to change the vibration of the room or wearer.  If a symbol can carry an energy, then we can use symbols in our spiritual practices as a focus or reminder of the path we are currently on.  We identify with symbols, we wear symbols, we get tattooed with symbols.  They are a way to communicate, unite and identify with others.  They often represent our beliefs, our allegiances or make some kind of statement.  Symbols, signs, omens and strange happenings are often commonplace for people following a Shamanic path.  As shamans a lot of our time is spent in symbolic worlds experiencing visions that need interpreting.

I allow myself to follow my creative desires.  I am slowly challenging myself more and more.  I am experiencing life differently as I have a better understanding of how I work and I am experimenting with ways of using my gifts to help others .  I have my own very specific ways of journeying and vision questing.  My meditation practice is often combined with my art.  This keeps me healthy and able to live in this world without going 'crazy'.

My visions come to me through dreams and visual thoughts all day long.  If I didn't have time to create at least some of them I would truly go insane.  So, I think what I'm saying is that up until now, I didn't know how I fitted within the Shamanic traditions.  I didn't see what skills I had that were that special.  I am not one to go on lots of spiritual courses, my path has been much more solitary, and sometimes I feel quite inadequate next to someone with lots of Shamanic qualifications or training.  Realising my art is as much my path, as it is my skill, my magic or my Shamanic power has meant I feel I have something to offer that is unique. 

Creating, painting and drawing is much like drawing tarot cards.  You can interpret any symbols painted, the colours it's painted in, the time of the month and year it's been painted and even the astrology of the time.  In tarot, I believe you may draw a card because it's energy is already in your aura or because you need it in your aura.  I believe the same of all art.  It's already there, or it needs to be there, or it needs to be drawn out and cleansed or it's power utilised.  The most important thing is to allow yourself to paint what you feel like painting.  If something has inspired you to create, you should create!  I do take commissions, but I enjoy allowing myself to play freely with new ideas and experiment with new materials.
I paint all types of symbols from all faiths and I also often get called to paint spirit animals. This leads me to research, learning, connecting to and understanding the subject.  My connection to nature and animals inspire many ideas, as does my menstrual cycle, lunar cycle, ancestry, quotes, myths, poetry and music.  

  ©Cat Hawkins

©Cat Hawkins

I often look at a blank piece of paper, canvas, or space and far from being overwhelmed or scared, I am excited.  I am the creator, the blank page is the universe, I can create whatever I want.   It's spell working and manifestation at it's finest.  A blank piece of paper ends up as a unique creation, of which only one exists, and out of the millions of possibilities, just one image emerges.  Drawing is influenced by mood, emotions, life, energy, the season, the time of month...  Every creation is as unique as life itself.  The trick is to just go with it, create, don't analyse or worry during creation, enjoy the moment, let it flow and detach yourself from the finished piece.  Who is really judging anyway?   We don't need to know where we are going to end up, or what our creation will eventually look like, we just need to make the most of the journey and learn as much as we can along the way!


Shakti Mandala Shamanic Art Group

This has been a little seed of an idea for quite some time now, but the growing conditions were never quite right. The start of November 2015 seemed to bring the perfect 'weather' as all of a sudden I looked and a shoot had formed. While out walking the dog one day, the idea and answer to how I needed to move forward came to me, and after a simple Facebook post to see who might be interested (the response was fabulous) I knew this was what had to be done.  As I worked on a mandala, the ideas flowed and the excitement grew.

Recovering from a car accident, I've been forced to drop everything I had been carrying. Almost all plans were stopped in their tracks. I'd been pushing myself all summer to prepare for a show in London. Working hard to create enough stock to sell and showcase. All the things that were calling me to paint and explore them had been put to one side.

I couldn't look at the work that had been in progress.  It took a week or so before I even attempted to pick up a pencil again.  When I did, I decided (and was advised) to start filling in a journal.  The work has flowed since, with a desire to use new materials and try new things. As I am entering new-ish territory, I thought it would be fun to have a few others along for the journey.

Shakti Mandala is the name I use for my Etsy Store and pendants, I've also just renamed my website to the same.  Shakti is the Sanskrit word for energy and the expression of the creative power of the Divine Feminine. Shakti also refers to cosmic energy and the active power of the Great Goddess.  The word is also used to describe the mother, womb, spirit-wife, feminine guardian angel and the manifestation of the creative principle.  Shakti energy promotes being independent and enhances our connection with the whole universe.

Mandala means circle, container of essence, and 'that which encircles'.  It is the mind and the universe, the eye and the earth.  Mandalas are often circular symmetrical designs, used in meditation and various cultures around the world.  They represent the beauty, intricacy and impermanence of life.  For me they are a way to meditate and focus my mind, while producing something beautiful and meaningful.  Mandalas are not just images on paper things to look at, they are a group of friends around the fire, the seasons and cycles of life. 

So, to simplify life as I move forward, the Shakti Mandala Facebook page will close, and in it's place will be the Shakti Mandala Shamanic Art Group.  My art page will be the point of contact on Facebook for my art, and the Shakti Mandala group is where we will share and learn from each other in a closed and more private environment.  I will post pictures of my work, and progress pics, mini tutorials, links to journal and art ideas, and I will try and help to encourage members to begin to create their own work.  I will share more about my own shamanic processes and how pieces of art come about.

What is Shamanic art?  I can only tell you how I see Shamanic art.  I'm sure you may find other ideas of what shamanic art is, and I urge you to contemplate ALL ideas and try anything that appeals to you.  All I can do is share how I do what I do and encourage you to eventually find your own creative way.  Traditionally, Shamans work on your behalf to encourage healing in you from whatever it is that is ailing your spirit, soul and body.  What they do is symbolic and powerful, healing you on many levels, in ways that will usually be most unexpected. 

I have found that life brings it's own opportunities for profound healing, and when you actively follow a spiritual path you tend to be more in tune with these opportunities when they arrive. Bringing art into the equation is to me one of the highest forms of magic.  From a blank piece of paper or canvas a whole new world can appear.  YOU are the creator.  You are the Master of the Empty Page, the Magician who can bring about form, line, colour, a message, a memory, and healing through expression.  

As a small child we play with making marks, we enjoy seeing a line where there wasn't one before, we just enjoy creating for no other reason other than it's a fun way to pass the time. As we get older, the ego takes over, the establishment tells us what art is and isn't, what's good and what's not, they tell us how to draw and how to see.  No longer is art fun, but a another way to be judged.  I have always created art, always... I have had abundant years and years of drought when nothing grows.  The key is to keep going.  For me personally, abandoning my art and creative practices would be as detrimental as trying to abandon my spiritual path.  I tried it once, to move away from the spiritual 'stuff' and ended up sicker than I have ever been.  My art has lulls, but I never give up, and even if I'm not creating on paper or canvas, I find many other ways to be creative and express whatever needs to be expressed.

In my eyes, Shamanic art is art that is made to bring about healing and change in some way. By creating art regularly you can learn and develop insights into life and yourself. You can challenge yourself, overcome fears, celebrate and create happiness.  Look at how popular colouring books for adults have become, it is because colouring and drawing helps to focus and relax the brain. It can give you an escape from the daily grind, and gives you an opportunity to create something with all that energy. Creating art regularly helps us assimilate things in a different way.  Like dreams, that clear up all the nonsense in our brains, art can allow us to express ideas, visions, images and create things we love to look at.  There is something very special about drawing, but I'll cover that in another blog post.

You could call what I do spiritual art, soul art, or art therapy.  I see all of those things in what I do.  I call it Shamanic because it's part of my life, I listen to the messages, I see signs and inspiration.  Those things take me down learning paths, they lead me to meet people, or discover techniques, it is an inter-connected part of my life.  I allow my spirit to guide me to what I do next. My creations sometimes feel like they aren't mine, as I really can't say where they came from!  Shamanic art is also the celebration of all that is, art can be created in honour, art can be created in memory of something.  Art an be offered, given and shared. Art created in the pure joy of being is powerful, transformations, liberating and uplifting.  Using symbols, colours, inspiration from nature and the world around us, we have plenty of resources to delve into when working creatively, the trick is to get out of your own way and allow yourself to play.

With love and blessings

Cat x

Click HERE to request to join the Shakti Mandala Shamanic Art group on Facebook.

Trying something new.

This spring has seen a change in direction for me.  I've been inspired by dot painting, simplicity and colour.  My inspiration is in no doubt Elspeth McLean and her beautiful creations, and I'm enjoying playing around with dots and colours...  

In other news, I now have a volunteer job with Mind at their local Wellbeing Centre.  Its a wonderful opportunity to work with people, share art and creative ideas, offer Reiki and teach meditation.  Hence the late update!  Finding time to sit on the computer, volunteer and create is becoming a challenge, buuut... Variety is the spice of life, and I'm enjoying the feeling of being needed and useful!  

If you follow my Facebook page or Instagram, you may have seen these, but I'll leave you with an overview of the paintings I've been creating over the past few months.


Painted Drum

I actually created this a few months ago, but didn't share pics at the time.  It was a special thing, working on skin, and something that became quite a personal project.  In updating the website, I found the pics and added them.  Only fair to give them a showcase now...

I would love to do more of these drums.  A painted drum would cost £80.  Let me know if you want one!


Kali 2014

I finally finished the Kali painting I was working on.  

This was a spontaneous creation started just before the Virgo New Moon last month and finished under the Aries Full Blood Moon Eclipse this week. 
I've certainly felt her energy with me, the fire, the transformation, and the shedding of the old. The timing also coincided with the Durga Puja festival.

I am also about to embark on my first Kundalini Yoga teacher training weekend this weekend, so it feels like the transformational energies are still around me.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Acrylics, Oil Pastels, Ink Pencils, Gold pen. A2.


Kali

I find myself in a state of transformation.  Big things are changing, opportunities presenting themselves.  This article on Kali and the Equinox really resonated with me and inspired some deep work.  Spontaneous creation.  Allowing myself to be free and experimental...

Work in progress.

10599201_583834818394932_2203448898684273726_n.jpg
 

“If you prefer smoke over fire
then get up now and leave.
For I do not intend to perfume
your mind’s clothing
with more sooty knowledge.

No, I have something else in mind.
Today I hold a flame in my left hand
and a sword in my right.
There will be no damage control today.

For God is in a mood
to plunder your riches and
fling you nakedly
into such breathtaking poverty
that all that will be left of you
will be a tendency to shine.

So don’t just sit around this flame
choking on your mind.
For this is no campfire song
to mindlessly mantra yourself to sleep with.

Jump now into the space
between thoughts
and exit this dream
before I burn the damn place down.”

~ Adyashanti

(http://www.rebellesociety.com/2014/09/19/fall-equinox-brings-kali/)

Happy Birthday Phil!

My brother is an amazing artist.  It was his birthday recently, and as he gave me a wonderful original piece of art for my birthday, I felt I should create something for him in return.

Phil works a lot with the concepts of healthy and safety in the environment, and creates amazing dazzle graphics while experimenting with shapes and geometry.
You can see his work here http://www.fineartphil.com/

As we often find inspiration in each other, I experimented and prepared some watercolour paper using yellow and black paint.  I then began adding details using fineliners and more of the same coloured paint.  I worked using the zen mandala or zentangle principles, of just allowing doodles and images to flow out, continuing until I felt the image was finished.  I am very happy with the results and so was he!

It speaks of creation, the energy resonates outwards.  There is a tension, and a harmony. There is light, there is dark, busy-ness and balance.  The organic meets the organised.

Dhumavati

Dhumavati.jpg

I was standing in the garden. Sun was shining and it actually felt like spring! While chatting to to my mother and sister in law, I see a huge, and I mean HUGE black crow, fly straight into the window of the house out the back. Everyone turned round to see what had made the loud noise, and we all watched as the crow that had landed on the porch of the house, launched itself at the window to the right. Another almighty knock and off it flew... We were all amazed to see it fly off unharmed, as the noise was beak cracking.

Straight away a memory came to the fore. A few days ago... I saw a crow do the same thing to the same house... Hmm... when had I been out in the garden (there haven't been many days warm enough). Last Monday (Cycle day 20).  George was finishing off the shed roof. It was sunny. I was out the back and witnessed the same thing, although this one hadn't come back for seconds, just crashed into the window and flew off behind the house..

Then, another recent memory pop's into my mind. Last weekend Fae had been singing 'Sing a song of sixpence'. She'd found an old childhood book of mine and found this one ditty very amusing, puzzling and worthy of much chatter. She kept showing me the picture... black birds flying around a pie.  Crows and black birds had been in my mind for a while, I have been planning to draw or paint a crow or crows, and it's not the first time. A couple of years or so ago I was called by the crow. I think now and then our paths cross, only I hadn't really connected before.

After researching the common meanings of the crow, I googled Hindu Crow (I have been looking a lot at Hindu Deities after hearing Durga's call recently) and up came Dhumavati.

Dhumavati is the hag, the crone, the old, dark goddess. Her name means 'The Smoky One'. 

She is the void, the dissolved form of consciousness. Her creature is the crow, a carrion eater and symbol of death and decay. Some stories say she has crow like features. She is often pictured on a horseless carriage with a winnowing basket (a tool used for sorting the wheat from the chaff), a spear or sword, a broom and a kapala (a bowl made from a human skull). She can be found in 'the wounds of the world'... cemeteries, cremation grounds, smoky fires, deserts, ruined houses and wild dangerous places. 

She is often named as the seventh Mahavidya. The Mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) are a group of the ten aspects of the Divine Mother. The 10 Mahavidyas are Wisdom Goddesses, who represent a spectrum of feminine divinity, from horrific goddesses at one end, to the gentle at the other.

She is now a widow, but was once Shiva's first consort Sati. Sati's hunger was insatiable, she demanded food constantly and could never be satisfied. Shiva refused her demands, so she announced she would eat him instead. After consuming her husband, Shiva, he demanded her to disgorge him, which she did with reluctance. He then cursed her and condemned her to a lifetime of widowhood. On hearing this smoke emanated from her, clouding her beauty. He named her Dhumavati. She was from that moment on, alone, banished to the cemetary where she stole clothes from the dead.

She obscures and reveals. She reveals those things that are imperfect and disappointing. She is defeat, loss, destruction and loneliness. She is cruel, ugly and disheveled. She is the embodiment of lust and ignorance. Always hungry and thirsty, she yearns for food and drink. She likes to create conflict, arguments and invokes fear. Dhumavati is always in a sad state and represents unsatisfied desires. She makes herself a widow by swallowing her husband Shiva in an act of power, independence and self assertion.

She teaches us that life is a struggle. You learn from the negative experiences in life and through them, you develop wisdom. She points out the negative, so you can learn from it. The bowl of fire she holds burns ignorance and also symbolises that all things are eventually destroyed. She is often pictured making a boon conferring gesture (Varada mudra) or knowledge giving gesture (Cinmudra). These hand postures open up a more positive aspect to this goddess. A boon is something to be thankful for, a blessing. She represents the wisdom that can be found through experience, the knowledge that hides in the smoke.

Dhumavati asks us to look beyond small ambitions. She may seem like a dark and negative inauspicious Goddess, but she offers special powers and knowledge. She instills a desire to be alone, to go within, to delve into ourselves. Without a consort she is free to follow her spiritual path, free of family responsibilities.

"Dhumavati symbolically portrays the disappointments, frustrations, humiliation, defeat, loss, sorrow and loneliness that a woman endures. She is the knowledge that comes through hard experiences, after the youthful desires and fantasies are put behind. Dhumavati thus represents a stage of woman’s life that is beyond worldly desires, beyond the conventional taboos of what is polluting or inauspicious. She desires to be free and at the same time she likes to be useful to the family and to the society." http://vedicgoddess.weebly.com/3/post/2012/08/devi-dhumavati.html

The crow symbol also has a positive side. They are symbolic of hearing ‘unheard’ sounds. Crows can hear very low sound frequencies, inaudible to humans. They also show remarkable intelligence. In Hindu belief, crows are considered ancestors as seen during sraddha practice of offering food or panda. Crows ask us to listen carefully to your instincts, feelings and dreams. 

She is associated it the waning and dark moon. Goddess Dhumavati is a good teacher. By obscuring or covering all that is known, Dhumavati reveals the depth of the unknown. Dhumavati obscures what is evident in order to reveal the hidden and the profound. Honor her by lighting incense or creating a smoky fire. Offer her flowers, wine, food and anything else indulgent. Worship her alone. She is for you and you alone. Dhumavati is also known as Alakshmi, the anti-lakshmi. Lakshmi is the Goddess of family, hearth and home. Dhumavarti is the opposite. Alone, away from the home. She looks after unmarried people, the single, widowed, the poor, beggars and the diseased.

The day after the crow/window incident, my attention was drawn to a local church. It is no longer used as a church, but is now part of the Church Heritage Trust. It is one of my favourite places, and usually quiet and 'abandoned'. I felt I just HAD to go there. I took some incense with me to light in honour of Dhumavati. A walk in the grave yard led me to two black feathers. I went inside the church and placed the feathers on the altar and lit the incense. I sat for a while, alone in the church. The stained glass was memerising, and the incense broke up the cold musty church smell. I left just as a local turned up to the church. Perfect timing! As I drove home, one word popped into my head. Acknowlegement. I hadn't really known why I'd felt compelled to go the church, but on the way back I understood. That simple act had been a show of acknowledgement. She's made me aware of her presence, so I made her aware I had listened and that she existed to me.

I began drawing on Day 2.  Just after the New Moon. In full bleed, with full connection to the energy. Crow images have filled my news feed, and I was having constant thoughts about the smoky Goddess. Images, ideas and visions flowing through my mind. The image had been nagging me for days, it's call getting louder and louder till I could ignore it no more. The image was finished at the same time as I stopped bleeding. When I create a shamanic piece of work, something I am called to create, it flows... it draws itself in a way. I am just a channel.

The more I read about Dhumavati, the more I could relate her to menstruation. She IS the energy many fear, the energy women with PMDD battle with. She is The Critic, The Bitch, The Unsatisfied. The bleeding phase is attributed to the crone, but where else do we get a description of the crone energy in so much detail as with the legend of Dhumavati? When our pre menstrual tempers fly and we act like a spoilt children, we are showing that insatiable desire, we are demanding it our way. Many times in this phase I have broken off relationships and wanted to walk away from my family... and yes, the desire to be alone with my thoughts, with myself, was powering that. I wanted to be the widow, and I would create the situation so I could end up alone. I would toy with thoughts of death during this time. My worst suicidal moments have been in the days before my period was due. Do I break up with my man and become alone, a widow? Do I walk out on my kids and create that loneliness and sadness? Do I end it all now, be transformed in my death? the ultimate tragic story?

I look back and I can see the Dhumavati moments. I can recall how I felt. I have felt how Dhumavati feels. I know that desire, that frustration when things don't work out the way you want them, the fear, the deep sadness. What I missed before was the boons, the blessings, the things I could have been learning if only I had understood. When the anger hits, the disappointment, the seemingly random and uncalled for actions and words wanting to destroy everything around you, you are feeling Dhumavati energy. What is REALLY behind the anger? What is REALLY the desire that isn't being fulfilled? Look at your life. What are you denying yourself? What are you hungry for? I think those crazy moments before a bleed are down to those things deep within that want to be fulfilled, lived out, worked on and learned from. Sort the wheat from the chaff, sweep the room, get rid of the rubbish in your life that you don't need... those things that make life harder. Look within. It may be difficult to figure out what it is you want from life, that is the nature of smoke and darkness, but keep looking, it will come, it will become clear. Learn from The Smoky One. Don't allow her energy to rule you, to create quarrels and situations where you end up the widow (unless, that is what you want!) On the other hand, her energy can really help with ridding things from your life you don't need anymore. In some relationships, the widow option is the better one, for the sake of your sanity and future!

In the winter phase, menstruation, we are cleansing. The unfertilised egg is being cleansed from the body ready for a new cycle. The body and mind feels a sadness for the potential that didn't become a life, maybe we also sense the frustration of a perfectly good egg going to waste... we begin to analyse the rest of our life. Where am I going? What good am I? I've wasted my life, I should be alone, I am a failure... Even in her condemnation, Dhumavati found the positive. She turned to the people that needed help, that are alone, that are outcast from society. She helps us to find the wisdom we all have inside, while at the same time encouraging us to look at whether we are fulfilling our own potential. She helps us to see what is holding us back, and what is good and bad for us in our lives. 

So, with thanks to Dhumavati... 

Dhum Dhum Dhumavati Svaha - Dhumavati's mantra is said to create a protective smoke shield that protects you from negativity and death. It helps remove illusions and allows you to see the unseen. Meditate on the void, the emptiness, the darkness. It enables us to 'read between the lines', to see past our initial judgements and prejudices. Don't look at the subject, look around the subject. 

I never expected that seeing a crow hit a window would take me on such a journey, but it did... and I for one, am very grateful.

Melissa

Melissa – Goddess of the Bees by Cat Hawkins 2012
Prismacolor, fine liners, acrylic paint.

melissabychaoticat.jpg

Melissa is a given name for a female child. The name comes from the Greek word μέλισσα (melissa), "honey bee", which in turn comes from μέλι (meli), "honey". The Greek Goddess Aphrodite was also known as Melissa, The Queen Bee, and her priestesses were known as the Melissae.

"to all the gods, honey... to the mistress of the labyrinth honey"  (from an inscription found at Knossus).

There is a wealth of information about the connections between bees and ancient myths, legends and history.  This excellent link will give you a good overview of the Bee Goddess throughout the ages. http://www.templeoftheola.org/bee-goddess.html

Melissa is also the name given to the essential oil extracted from Lemon balm.  Lemon balm is a herb that grows profusely and is a member of the mint family.  It gives off a sweet aroma of lemons, and was added to wine in the Middle Ages.  The wine was then drunk for all manner of health problems or to simple raise the spirits.

Bees are sacred to Venus, they are the symbol of the Goddess and the Sacred Feminine. Venus is the ultimate feminine energy. Venus rules Fridays, the month of April, beauty, harmony and nectar of life. She is the Goddess of Love. She represents joy, rapture, art, music, food, indulgence, attraction, desire. In Greek mythology Venus is Aphrodite from whose name comes the word "aphrodisiac," that which induces desire. From Venus' name comes the word "venereal," which literally means "of lust."

"...if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live"   Albert Einstein

It is estimated that one third of the human food supply is down to insect pollination, most of which is done by the honeybee. Bees are being affected by Colony Collapse disorder, which is when a hive suddenly lose all it's worker bees. The hive suffers and dies. The bee population in the United Kingdom dropped by around 30% between 2007 and 2008. Pesticides are also killing our bees. Seeds sown with pesticide results in contaminated nectar.  
After six weeks, colonies exposed to the pesticide were lighter than the others, suggesting that workers had brought back less food to the hive. But the most dramatic effect was on queen production. The naturally-fed hives produced around 14 queens each - those exposed to the pesticide, just two (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17535769)

Bee's are truly important to human life. As a feminine symbol, they conjure up images of millions of dedicated Melissae, working for Gaia, Mother Earth, keeping it alive. Their pollination brings us fruit, flowers, plants.. the world would be very different without bees. The queen bee gives life to all the other bees. Far from being in control, she is their main life source. She will populate the hive. A good queen bee can lay 2000 eggs per day in the spring.

Symbols held within the image are as follows.

The symbol in the centre is the symbol of the sacral chakra. The sacral chakra is located below the navel in the area of the womb. It is the centre for creativity, for emotions, feelings, sexuality, manifestation, balance, honouring relationships and learning to let go. It is coloured orange, and it's element is water. Water is mutable, flowing, and feminine. Honey is one of the foods connected to helping cleanse and open up the sacral chakra.

The mandala features the Flower of Life pattern.  This geometrical shape composed of multiple evenly-spaced, overlapping circles, is considered to be one of the key shapes in sacred geometry, containing ancient, religious and spiritual value symbolising the fundamental forms of time and space.  There are many spiritual beliefs associated with the Flower of Life.  The Platonic Solids are geometrical forms which are said to act as a template from with all life springs.  The Metatron's Cube is said to contain the geometry of all five of the platonic solids

The basic symmetry of the Flower of life is like a snowflake, radiating outward from the centre.  Life originally evolved in water, and water also connects us back to the sacral chakra and it's element.  All life on Earth require water as the essential compound of life.
We also see a mandala.  Mandalas have been sacred to many different cultures since time began.  Mandala, in Sanskrit, means 'that which encircles'.  Every flower the bees visit is a mandala, the hive itself in a central point which they encircle.

On Melissa's chest, a blue downward facing triangle signifying the element of water.
Two bees either side representing balance, with the Goddess/Queen Bee making the third.  The number 3 is an active number, productive and symbolises the union of two, creating a third.

Arms outstretched, she is open.  She gives to her workers, they give to her.  They live in mutual respect of one another.

Saving the planets Bees should be a top priority for all of us.  Buy local honey and help support your local hives.  Think about planting wildflowers and lots of bee attracting plants in your garden.  Here you can find a Top 10 list of how you can help to save our bees.  Donate to and support your local bee charities..  You can't go far wrong with buying natural products from our wonderful bees!

This image is now available for sale on T shirts through my Spreadshirt shop. 

Every sale of this design raises £2 for The British Beekeepers Association.  Spreadshirt ships all over the world, delivers excellent customer service and every T shirt comes with a 30 day money back guarantee! 

Between the 28th - 30th January 2013 there is FREE SHIPPING on all purchases.  Just use code : FREELOVE at the checkout!  ♥

To keep up to date with offers, products and news, come and like my Facebook page!

To find out more about helping preserve our bees, follow some of these links!

British Beekeepers Association
Help save Bees
Save our Bees
Vanishing of the Bees
Bees for development
Bumble Bee Conservation
Bees Abroad 

Blessed Bee xx

© Cat Hawkins 2012