The metaphor of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes) expresses the meaning of “discovering truth by building on previous discoveries”. While it can be traced to at least the 12th century, attributed to Bernard of Chartres, its most familiar expression in English is found in a 1676 letter of Isaac Newton:
In ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’ Clarissa Pinkola Estes shares a numinous dream in which she finds ‘someone patting (her) foot in encouragement’. When she looked down she saw that she was “standing on the shoulders of an old woman who was steadying her ankles and smiling up” at her. In the dream Estes protested that it was her who should support the older woman on her shoulders but the old woman insisted that this was “how it is meant to be”. It turned out that the old woman was standing on the shoulders of an even older woman who was standing on the shoulders of… and so the line continued.
Modern story tellers are, as recent articles about the long history of Fairy Tales testify, “descendants of a very long line of people, troubadours, bards, griots, cantors, traveling poets, bums, hags and crazy people.”
Story is very old art. It is good to stop and do a stock take of just whose shoulders you are standing upon, to take the time to express gratitude to those who have, through their work, nurtured your creativity.
“Tree Woman”– Pencil Drawing
Two nights ago I had a dream wherein a young woman ripped up a garden I had been tending. I said to the young woman in the dream, “It may be your house, but it is my garden. Let me tend to it as I will.” I did not need some dream analyst to tell me that this dream represents my inner, unconscious world beginning to manifest and that I am feeling quite vulnerable at the moment.
Early this morning (it is now 4:30 a.m. on Palm Sunday), I woke and felt compelled to get out my visual journal and sketch. This image emerged. I see here something akin to what I dreamed the night before: the theme of the growing garden — yet I am the one who is growing!
The tree-woman is another manifestation of the Medial Woman archetype: the feminine archetype that bridges the outward world of reality (the world of branches, leaves and sunlight) with the inner world (where tree roots run deep into the dark earth).
I am going out of a limb (pun intended) and say that Tree Woman will not be content being just a pencil sketch… most likely she will compel me to take her image to further development as a painting or digital construction (or both). Stay tuned.
L. Gloyd (c) 2010
“Dark Stranger”, mixed media art journal entry
Not everything is perfect in Hestia’s realm. There are sometimes necessary disturbances that serve to propel us onward and upward. The Dark Stranger is one of them. Here is a journal entry based on a dream I had a few nights ago. The image of the man is exactly what I saw in the dream.
The text of the journal reads:
I had a dream this morning, just before I woke up, about a man who was entirely in the shadows. I thought he was there to help me, but then I realized, in the dream, that he was there to harm me. He looked like the classic dark stranger who Dr. Estes writes about.
“The dark man in women’s dreams appears when an initiation…is imminent…this occurs in order to raise a storm in the psyche so that some energetic work can be done…Something has gone radically amiss in the outer world, in personal life, or in the outer collective culture.” (pp. 68-69, WWRWTW)
What that thing is that is amiss in my outer realm could be one of many. The Dark Stranger will force the Medial Women to identify it, contend with it and bring some sort of resolution. She can do it, I have no doubt.
L. Gloyd (c) 2009
“The Medial Woman”
Art Journal Mixed Media Painting
Estes writes this in chapter 9 of Women Who Run with the Wolves: “The medial woman stands between the worlds of consensual reality and the mystical unconscious and mediates between them. The medial woman is the transmitter and receiver between two or more values or ideas. She is the one who brings new ideas to life, exchanges old ideas for innovative ones, translates between the world of the rational and the world of the imaginal.” (p. 312).
Am I a medial woman? There are lesser things to which I could aspire.
L. Gloyd (c) 2009
I made a “Power Shield” more than 20 years ago while studying LakotaSioux spirituality. It was an incredible process that began with a green branch of willow. It took two weekends to complete.
Sadly, my shield was put away from prying eyes in the back of the cupboard and eventually forgotten. But it spoke to me as I was reading Chapter 9 of “Women Who Run With The Wolves” while waiting in the school parking lot today.
I raced up the stairs to the cupboard the moment I returnjed home. Unexpectedly, I quite anxious to spend time with it. The paint had faded a tad and my inner editor whispered to me “You should have outlined the seal to make it stand out more.” I excused that voice from the room, hung the shield on the back of my bedroom door, and studied it.
Oh my God! I suddenly understood so much more about the symbols that came to me during a meditation done at the beginning of shield construction. I didn’t question the presence of the symbols but one in particular puzzled me.
My father’s blood runs through my soul and so does his love of the ocean. We had a cabin cruiser that Dad had built from the hull and Monterey was where our boat was birthed during the week. Like the full moon, the tides were faithful as was the rocking of the boat and the abundance of the sea life. my well-being requires an ocean fix several times a year. Just walking along the sand at the water’s edge is life changing for me. It’s like the sound of the waves upon the breeze blows the stink off of me.
My ties to Grandmother Moon began when I reached puberty. She lit my path during those dark times of adolescence. Her radiant light also illuminated my journal as I wrote to work through my sorrows. Grandmother Moon was predictable…the only thing that was during that phase of my life. She never failed me, even when I felt I had failed myself.
I was asked what I wanted for my birthday. All I truly wanted was a thunder storm. My mother was worried I would be disappointed with my Easy Bake oven. I wasn’t worried in the least as I knew I would get exactly what I wanted.
The sky was filled with rain laden clouds the morning of my 11th birday. It seemed like I had to wait FOREVER to open my gifts. While I waited patiently (yes, I was patient even as a child…I had a wealth of patience and it wasn’t because I never used any!) I kept my eyes to the sky. Those clouds were growing darker as the chance of a thunderstorm teased my soul. Just after the last gift was opened (there weren’t many as we were pretty poor then) I noticed my surroundings filled with static. The sky opened up and one helacious storm broke, timing its arrival perfectly. The thunder shook the ground causing the sheep to stampede. The lightning was so majestic that its flashes lit everything in sight that dark afternoon. And that storm went on and on and on lasting until I had my fill. I was so elated I felt like celebrating and I Easy Baked everything that had come with my oven. That was the day I discovered my ability to influence the weather.
I began my endless writing as soon as I could scribe. (Actually I wrote before then…I knew what my scribbles meant at the age of one, even if no one else did.)I had to share a room with my sister (and later my mother) so I wrote outside, usually at night by the light of the moon. My personal trials, tribulations, and deepest thoughts were shared with Grandmother Moon, the canopy of the Milky Way, and nature. They could be trusted to be respectful, encouraging, and considerate.
In the mid 80’s I was invited to join “The Hoop,” a women’s spiritual group that was being formed. Our first several years together was spent studing the lessons of the Dakota Sioux. Together we walked “The Red Road” taking us deep into our own native lands of spirituality. We discussed the importance of honest, integrity, and honor while walking the Beauty Path. Over 22 years, many of us still get together.
During a reading of the Native American Animal Totem cards, it was revealed that my animal totems were both the snake and the dolphin. (Snakes-yuk, dolphins-very cool.) My power animal on the sacred medicine wheel was the snake. I met Snake one day while walking on Manchester Beach. One of the people I was with was both Native American and park ranger. He told me it was a rare snake and even rarer to find it on the beach. Obviously it had a message for me. I sat upon a rock meditating with one eye half open and focused on the location of that snake. I was at peace…grateful for the communication. I was informed that my horrific dreams of being bitten by a snake was due to giving away my power. Earlier dreams of Snake’s presence were ignored so it was necessary to bite me during dreamtime to get my attention. My fear of snakes disappeared and by the time the snake slithered away making squiggles in the sand, I was down on my belly just inches from its forked tongue.
[I noticed just after I took this picture that the sea was slanted…just like in my photographs of the Pacific ocean. See?]
I have always had an affinity with the dolphin, a most amazing and intelligent creature. (Hey, I watched Flipper you know. ..I saw how they interacted with humans!) I saw my first shark out in the ocean when several gathered around our boat far away from land. (Thank goodness “Jaws” wasn’t out yet.) Thinking back on it, I realize the danger and how frightened my parents were. But me, being me and only four years old or so, I thought it was pretty cool. “Look! There’s Flippers,” I said to my parents as I jumped up and down excitedly. “Lots and lots of Flippers!” Dad shook his head saying, “No, Honey, that’s not Flipper” as he got the rifle from the inside of the cabin.
A few years ago my husband, daughter, and I had the unique opportunity to swim with a dolphin at Sea World. His name was Buster and it was instant love between us. Buster was abandoned at birth, so the Sea World staff had to hold him, moving along surface for about 24 hours until he could swimon his own. The trainer said they took turns feeding him around the clock for several month.
Buster’s skin felt like a wet inner tube. I bent down and kissed him. He responded by making a fart noise through his blow hole then laughed in that way that dolphins laugh. The rest of my family played with him then he returned to the trainer standing next to me. When she turned her back, Buster placed his snout under my boob repeatedly nudging it. “Did you say this guy was breast fed around the clock?” I joked.
Metamorphysis describes what I was going through around the time I made my power shield and I grew up around the monarch trees in Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove. After my father died, butterfly came into my life and my metamorphysis began again as I found out I was pregnant. I coocooned for months until my beautiful daughter emerged, changing my world forever.
Two years ago my friend brought me a gorgeous potted puple passion flower vine that spiraled around a four foot wire trellis. The leaves were dotted with catapellar eggs. We kept if in the house throughout the fall. Ror a month or so we watched teeny tiny green catapellars hatch and consume leaf after leaf growing. We watched the spinning of the coocoon (actually chrysillis) and the ‘big sleep.’ As the butterflies emerged, they were put into a shoebox atop sugar soaked paper towels. When the day was warm enough, the lids came off the shoebox and the butterflies warmed in the sun until they flew away.
It was the seal that puzzled me. Why a seal? Was it because Ihad a close encounter with a harbor seal? My mister was free diving for abalone. (It’s illegal to use scuba gear to get abalone in Northern California.) I was his safety diver and floated face down on the surface with my snorkel. When my mister went underwater, I took a huge breath and held it. He was swimming deep and all I was doing was floating. Surely when my breath gave out, he would be pop up out of the water. WRONG! I waited and waited and waited until I did my usual panicked “Oh, f—, Oh, f—, Oh, f—!” I didn’t know what to do. There was no way I could free dive down 40 feet. What should do? I caught a movement out of the corner of my mask. Sliding right underneath me, belly up, is a harbor seal. I could have reached out and pulled his whiskers. “Oh, how cute. Hi guy. Thank you for being here!” Having been distracted by the seal, I was totally startled when my mister surfaced right next to me…with his limit of abalone!
Today I did not ponder the puzzle of the seal. Today I knew exactly why the seal was on my shield. It was to hold the sacred space until I would know the story “Seal Skin, Soul Skin” and remember to go home.
My seal skin has been stolen; I’ve given it away; I’ve lost it by wearing it half on, half off. A book reminded me go home. Hestia’s Hearth is all about my journey.
I made this little altered book shrine after reading Ch. 9 of WWRWW. It contains objects that resonate with me on soul level but which I have been in danger of forgetting lately. It measures about 6″ x 3″. I guess you could call it a Soul Shrine.
posted by Suzanne – Journallingon blog
I haven’t read Women Who Run With Wolves before so these ideas are new to me. I went to the library yesterday and got a copy of the book. Last night before I went to bed I read a lot of Chapter 9. I picked up the book at breakfast time this morning and continued reading. I was quite a few pages in when I realised I was actually reading Chapter 10. Estes ideas in this chapter resonated with me so much I just had to keep reading. This has all bought up a lot of stuff which I need to express. I hope this is right place to do it.
Sitting in solitude by Hestia’s Hearth I realise my own creative fire is not burning right. It flares up now and then with spurts of energy in response to creativity prompts I find on line but, at its heart, the fire burns low. Something is smothering it I know.
On reading Chapter 10 of WWRWW titled ‘Clear Water: Nourishing the Creative Life’ I feel like one of the women Estes describes. Although I can respond creatively to other people’s prompts I have long term creative projects of my own mouldering in drawers. There is a children’s picture book which only requires a little tinkering with the layout and three colour illustrations before it is ready to be submitted as an unsolicited manuscript to a publisher. I’ve been trying to finish it for months. Hidden even deeper still is the young adult novel I’m half way through. I have mapped out the bare bones of the rest but will not allow myself to enter the writing trance I need to be in to write it. Whenever I feel the characters re-surfacing I push them back into their dark cupboard and get busy doing the dishes, digging the vegie garden, watching TV, anything at all that takes me back into the busy external world. I believe in both of my projects but I just can’t seem to finish them. Like the women Estes writes of I’m too tired. The fact that I can’t finish these projects really upsets me. It feels like a dark, deep and very bad secret. Confessing all this here is liberating.
Reading Ch. 10 of WWRWW I begin to see what it is that blocks me. I need to cleanse my creative river and renew my creative fire. I begin to understand that this is what I have I have come to Hestia’s Hearth to do. It is the place where I am resting, rocking and regaining focus (to re-phrase Estes). It is the place where I come to reclaim ‘the Wild Woman of the psyche who will hurl new life’ (WWRWW, p. 126) into my heart fire.
After my big revelation of a few days ago that I would be returning to painting, I sat down in front of small canvas to begin sketching the “bones” of the painting.
I sat there quite a while.
Nothing. The blazing white of its gesso-primed face glared back at me. Ordinarily, I would find a blank canvas inviting and inspirational. But not this time. No ideas were forthcoming. I began sketching, then erasing, sketching some more, erasing even more so.
Finally, it occurred to me that I was just plain scared. After all, I had put myself “out there” on this blog declaring that I was going to start painting again after so many years, blah, blah, blah, yaddity, yaddity. And now I was going to have to live up to this expectation that I laid on myself.
What I have, it seems, is a bad case of stage fright.
So what’s up with that? Anybody who has been around the SFC blogs long enough knows that I don’t cringe about putting up the good, the bad, and the truly terrible.
This morning I was reading chapter 9 in Estes’ Women Who Run with the Wolves. She writes that oftentimes women have had some sort of “theft” occur in the lives that leaves this psychically disconected from themselves. It leaves them “homeless” in a way. I think in my case the thing that has been stolen from me is “confidence.” Recently, I have started to muse upon what my life would been like if I had had mentors earlier in my life. Instead I was surrounded by naysayers who said, to the effect, that “artists are lazy, artists are weird, artists don’t amount to anything in life even if they are good, and you, by the way, are not a good artist.” With a healthy confidence in myself and my abilities, where would I have ended up? Is it too late to develop it? Can I find my way “home” to a safe place where I can develop that confidence that was stolen from me?
This is worth exploring more. At the moment, though, I have a canvas that needs attention. Back to it.
L. Gloyd (c) 2009