Winter Remembering…

We humans carry stories in our bones, born from deep connections to the natural world, a real one not separate from our daily earth lives or facebook news feeds.These stories of magical flying reindeer and red and white furry winter coats go way beyond white bearded guys scuttling miraculously down chimneys. Shortening winter days and long dark nights invite slowing down to listen and remember.

From Gather… **—“Medicine Women Healers” in Siberia and what once known as Lapland. “The red peaked, felted hats and curled-toe boots and warm mittens of reindeer-hide complete, what I believe to be, the feminine origins of perhaps the first of a very long line of Santa Claus replications. Their long lineage of connection with the induction of spiritual journeys through the drum, their relationship of healing with “Reindeer-Magic” and their ability to create potions and salves which could incite ecstatic visions or “Shamanic Journeys,” give us a deeper look at the Solstice and contemporary Christmas symbol. These priestesses-of-the-antlered-ones who flew through the night to gather blessings and healing and then distributed these gifts to their tribe members must surely be considered as proto-typical Fore-Mothers of Santa.”

So based on these sources (and I could go on!) it seems quite certain that there once an ancient deer mother goddess associated with the sun at winter solstice. It also seems likely that female shamans took to shamanic flight with the Deer Mother on this sacred night.—**

Read more…


Be Still and Know…

Just finished this special artwork for the #twitterartexhibit happening next spring in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is the first year (in ten years) that they will accept digital art as a medium. All the art is postcard-sized and one-of-a-kind works made only for this special event. The originals are sold at the exhibition, which is in May. A catalogue is made of all the entries. The money from the exhibit sales go to various non-profit organizations…with the 2019 exhibit going to Art in Healthcare, an organization in Scotland.

Here is my submission, which will be archively printed just this one time by me and added to with a few hand embellishments. I will be mailing it next week.

[“Be Still and Know” digital collage © Elsah Cort]


The Dark Fortnight

This was the last of twelve mandalas made on the first twelve days of 2018. Soon it will be time to do it again in January 2019. I learned this practice from Ann Ree Colton, the founder and teacher of a school called Niscience. I am posting this one day early (on the last day of November), as I am feeling a need for moving into a lighter energy field. The many changes going on both locally (meaning inside me as the most local) and globally have me quite subdued and dimmed. Maybe the rain and cloudy gray days blanket me more that I expected. (And, I still watch and read intensive, informative news that describe the extraordinary pressure happening in the unnerving living history of the country where I live in this lifetime.)

Ann Ree taught about a 14 day period (from Dec 1-14) called the “Dark Fortnight”. During this time we can find ourselves humbled and feeling a bit low. This is the time to prepare for the light that is to come with the appearance of the Christ-child. What makes the real life of Jesus so profound is that his advanced soul chose to incarnate as a human just as humans do. His conception is still a mystery, although some religions have their own mystical explanations of it, but he was physically born via a woman’s birth canal. He experienced that difficult, painful and shocking experience of taking a first breath with his own lungs. He grew to be a man, evolving, discovering, learning and eventually teaching by word and deed of the reason for our being here: LOVE. He was a real human being at one time. He came to show us how to be our authentic selves.

So, back to the dark fortnight….I wish I could remember exactly how Ann Ree described it. It was almost 40 years ago that I heard her talking about it on a video or an audio tape (I never met her in person). What I remember, and experience every year at this time, is that these two weeks can shake us to our core. It’s like a hollowing out of our being, a deep cleaning and gleaning…all to make space for light and love. I don’t mean this poetically, but substantially, as this light and love come as a force and presence, needing room to thrive and exist.

The twelve mandlas, made in January, often have a prophetic nature and this one’s title tells me that we are not alone and are called for something we know not yet.

[“Beckoning” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort]

One of twelve mandalas made on January 12, 2018.


Self-Portrait in Moss…

A facebook post…

This morning as long awaited rain shows up as a lightly tapping symphony on my roof and the natural land bows its plant heads in a beautiful hush of prayer and gratefulness, I tumble down the fb newsfeed listening to the amazing voices who have joined my circle of friends here. I see a warning from an artist in the Ukraine (Vasil Woodland) who warns everyone that “ATTENTION!!!! I stop printing my pictures, due to the imposition of martial law in Ukraine. Please do not make a money transfer. All money transfers in my name are blocked and are subject to return to the sender. I hope that these are temporary difficulties … I hope that there will be no war and that the incident will be solved by diplomatic means. Thank you for understanding!”. Another amazing artist from Iran (Naeemeh Naeemaei) laments her dirty dishes and a deepening distress not quite clear to me with the awkward fb translation with these words jumping out at me “I can’t believe that the moments of drowning in joy and discovery of life have been tied to big lies.” The rain drops pound a little harder as I type these words about drowning. And, a minister in Mississippi (Hugh Hollowell Jr.) sends a message to critics about the runoff election that happened yesterday where hate won out, “The election was hard fought. That we even had to have a runoff in a race where a Black man was running against a white woman is remarkable, and a sign of how far we have come, and the result of so much ground level organizing. I am very proud of the work we all did, and will continue to do.”

As we notice how our world stretches and moans, trying to break through the oppression and lies that know no boundaries, only to seemingly revert back to old, rigid patterns of separation and non-loving, we must continue to gird ourselves for more hard work while we wipe the slime of grief from our hearts and faces. Today I will raise my face up into the rain falling from the sky when I go outside to dig the small ditch on the uphill side of my house so the kitchen will not flood (water seeps in when one wall of your house finds itself buried into the earth itself). And, I will transplant the sacred jimson weed native plant seedlings, gathered from my sister’s small farm in Woodlake, with the hope they survive in the drought-dry, vole-invested and deer-pruned landscape around my home.

And, I finally bow my own head in praise of poetry with the early morning words (amazingly found in the fb newsfeed scroll this am) from Dry Crik Journal Dofflemyer:

No worn path home,
we make circles
following the seasons
in the shadow of the moon—

to the coyote’s yip
and canyon conflagration
finding perfect pitch
to make a chorus.

Our dreams are wild
enough to need
no fuel, no accolades
to draw a crowd

any closer. We pick
our way, break no stems
on the eternal scent
of heading home.

[“Self Portrait in Moss” photo © Elsah Cort, taken along the Crescent Meadow Trail in Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park on 11-26-18 on an unusually quiet walk with my nephew, meeting only three other people and where we heard no yelling human voices as I usually do on that trail, but only the loud US Navy jets that now fly over the high sierra mountains from Lemoore Naval Air Station, preparing for more unnecessary wars)


Ground Cover…

Another view from my recent visit to the Crescent Meadow Trail….
I think snow may be on this ground very soon.
Elevation is around 6000 ft.

photo from Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park © Elsah Cort


After the smoke…

The hills, so grateful for the rain clouds that they hug them close to the ground, breathe a huge sigh of relief. I watch the cloud embraces move and shift from my living room window on this Thanksgiving morning. The buckeye tree with it’s rusty colored leaves says hello. The sycamore tree below, near the creek, intensifies its brilliant yellow with the rain. And, blue oaks, standing firm with their green leaves, can now bring forth an acorn crop after a deep rain drink. I am reminded that the earth has not forsaken us. All the days to come offer possibilites for humans to return the favor.

Happy Thanksgiving and full moon and sun moving into Sagittarius today…expand gratitude in all directions, led by love.

[photo © Elsah Cort]


Water from the sky…

Rain, not just showers, arriving tonight in just a few hours. I hope all the plants on my property (natives already here and the odd ones that I planted that have not been eaten by voles or deer) open their mouths wide. They have not had a serious drink in seven months. The weather.com site says it will rain for seven hours, one hour for each dry month (with more coming over the next week).
I feel gratitude welling up inside.

[“From Just One Seed” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort]


Holiday Show…

Brought new mandala giclee prints, mandala bracelets, earrings and fabric mandala ornaments into Arts Visalia today. The holiday show includes work from 37 local artists. Reception for the show happens during First Friday on December 7, 2018, from 6-8 pm. Gallery hours: Wed-Sat 12 – 5:30 pm.


Make Friends with Uncertainty…

The whole time I worked on this mandala, it kept going off center. I couldn’t fix it and wobbled around and around with it. Like a top spinning out of speed, the mandala wobbled into its resting place and I waited for its name to make itself known. Not sure I’m quite ready to follow its advice.

“Make Friends with Uncertainty” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


What’s Next?

Spent the last two days listening to scientists and researchers presenting their work and wisdom during the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Science Symposium at St Anthony Retreat here in Three Rivers. I came away with immense gratitude for these people who are tracking, observing and learning about what is happening in our local national parks and the sierra nevada mountains (and the whole planet that is warming up very quickly).

I learned about meadows that were grazed by thousands of sheep 100+ years ago, about frogs that are being killed off by a fungus that made its way up the mountain ranges of South America, passing through Central America and now in our mountains (some of these frogs have been sent to the “froggy hospital” at a Bay Area zoo for fungal treatments and then they are released back from whence they came), about caves that are being protected and cared for because of their unique biodiversity (these are very big caves, just one of the over 200+ caves in SequoiaNP has 21 miles of passageways) and bats and snakes and birds who live in high places and how standing dead trees do not mean what you think they do and fire is needed and challenged more than ever now…and much more which I will share in coming days.

It’s not just the science or the fact-gathering, it’s the “what’s next?” part that intrigued me the most. My mind expanded just when I thought I knew it all. No, that’s not exactly true, I know I don’t really know it all. My mind changed about what I thought was happening, even in my own yard of desolate plants with no rain, vole invasions for the first time in 40 years, deer pruning of my jade trees and plants I thought they did not like and now I plan to take another look at everything, starting tomorrow….

meadow in Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, photo © Elsah Cort


Unwrap Your Blessings

Once again, a mandala shows up with a message for us…

“Unwrap Your Blessings” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


No Rain

Earth and fire and (no) rain (yet)…the fires show up (for me) as a gray haze lingering over the mountain vistas outside my windows. Our smoke here mostly comes from three smaller lightening-caused fires burning in steeper, high mountain areas in the next sierra valley south of here. The bigger fires in the news are way north and south of us. Paradise (a northern sierra foothill town) has been demolished (perhaps by sparks from the electrical power company’s dysfunctional transformer in the wind). An entire town wiped out (for now).

We all are on the verge of paradises lost and waiting to be regained.
We wear the earth, while it lasts.

“Earth Wear” digital collage © Elsah Cort
Part of the series “Nine Patch”—
nine collages that I called dress quilts


Pelted with Beauty

As this mandala kept layering back and forth, going from light to dark and back again, it finally illuminated itself for me tonight. A face showed itself, hiding behind a layer that was made of flowers, looking at me from four viewpoints.

I’ve been thinking of a young woman, barely known by me with just one meeting in the flesh, who was killed almost two weeks ago by a bullet…known by the name, Jessica Orozco. She walked the earth for just barely three decades. I see celebration gatherings popping up for her in several locations (in Arizona and California) with so many people wanting to honor her, celebrate her, mourn her and dance for her. I shower the beauty of flower petals apon her with this mandala. I pelt her with beauty and let tears water the way.

“Pelted By Flowers” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Opening the Akashic Records

I know the akashic records reveal all of the soul’s lives…every moment, thought, feeling and more. Another view from theosophy says they are “a compendium of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions, and intent ever to have occurred in the past, present, or future.” I was surprised when I was given this title for this one. I knew it felt full to me, but I did not realize how full. It kept wanting me to add more and more borders around it. It was spilling over like an endless pool.

The original “borrowed” image that started this mandala was an aerial photo of New Delhi.

“Opening the Akashic Records” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


The Mystery of Reincarnation

A message today in my weekly email from Rob Brezsny:

“One of my heroes, radical historian Howard Zinn, said that pessimism tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we relentlessly imagine the worst possible outcomes, if we concentrate on all the things that are falling apart and going wrong, it cripples our capacity to make constructive changes. “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic,” he wrote. “It gives us the energy to act. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

[“The Mystery of Reincarnation” digital collage © Elsah Cort]


The Birth of Earth

The earth preceded us in birth. We owe her our lives.

“The Birth of Earth” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Gathered…

Find my work at Gathered in Three Rivers…a new art hub for Three Rivers, curated by Dayna Higgins that features many local artists and creatives! Tomorrow’s 10th anniversary of 1st Saturday Three Rivers, along with the native plant sale, book sale and huge community yard sale and Gathered could be great reasons to take a day trip to the mountains and Three Rivers!


Glad Bags

I am bringing mandala cards (small giclée prints) to Gathered in Three Rivers today. And, I am sewing (embroidery and boro stitching) fabric mandalas on to old jean fabric to make some small “glad bags”. I need to feel glad more than mad these days.


Meeting Place

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense…….Rumi
___________________________________________
My testimony, as a soul in a female body, to Congress, should I be summoned, would be these words spoken from a soul incarnated as a man. You know, we do come as both male and female in our many lives on earth. Be wary of identifying too strongly with either. Raise the vibration, turn on the lights, speak clear truth with whatever voice you have been given. Honor each other as ourselves.

Meeting Place” digital collage mandala @ Elsah Cort


Walk Yourself Home

Mandalas nudge me when I see photos on facebook quite often. This one originated from one photo of three human beings who lived on this earth many years ago. I looked into their eyes, captured by the photo lens and in the circumstance of their lives. The photo was staged. Their lives on the earth were not.

“Walk Yourself Home” digital collage © Elsah Cort


The Mountain Echo…

A new mandala, layering and layering itself over many days, originating from a “borrowed” mountain by Georgia O’Keeffe….
I’ve been walking in circles on a New Mexico mesa, singing “Ring around the rosy, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

“Listen Long and Well for the Mountain Echo”
digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Studio Tour stories…

Around 27 years ago, I went on my first studio tour in Berkeley. I had not heard of open studios events before. It was so interesting to me and so much fun, I came back home to Three Rivers and began to figure out how we could do it here. Eleven Three Rivers studio tours later (held every other year), I knew first-hand, both from the organizing perspective and sharing my space and work as an artist, what an amazing and magical time could be had at a studio tour.

Four years ago, I encouraged the Arts Consortium to consider creating a county-wide tour. I wanted the artists throughout the county to share in the magic that Three Rivers has experienced in its two decades of open their studios. The county-wide tour is still in its early days. It takes hard work, time and persistence to bring forth these diverse and complex events. The South Valley Art Tour, happening on March 30-31 in 2019 hopes to bring in more artists and visitors to continue its support for local arts.


This photograph is from Daniel Bonilla Vera, who will be an artist featured in the 2019 South Valley Art Tour.


The Path Illuminates Itself

Another mandala from the facebook newsfeed and the notion of “steal like an artist”, made from two photos — one of the Trinity College library in Dublin and the other a handrawn street map of Amsterdam — and I am still walking around the inside paths of my home doing laundry and other chores and doodling on photoshop. I travel the world without going out the door.

“The Path Illuminates Itself” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


To be or not to be…

David’s words describe the times we are alivin’ in:
Someone I have been,
and someone,
I am just
about to become,
something I am
and will be forever…

Many versions of ourselves finds themselves on shakey grounds, having come forth from false notions. We keep searching for our authentic selves because we long to be that human Being.

Tidbit: Long ago when I was in some yearly writers’ workshops with Martín Prechtel in New Mexico, he taught us to not use the verb “to be” (am, is, are, was, has been, being) in our writings. The indigenous Mayan language he knew, and spoke and lived when he worked in Guatamala many years ago before the people in that village were killed, had no word for this verb at all. I find it “to be” an enlightening practice to write sentences without it and not so easy to do.

photo © David Whyte

TWICE BLESSED

So that I
stopped
there
and looked
into the waters,
seeing not only
my reflected face
but the great sky
that framed
my lonely figure

and after
a moment
I lifted my hands
and then my eyes
and I allowed
myself
to be astonished
by the great
everywhere
calling to me
like an old,
invisible
and unspoken
invitation,
made new
again
in the sun
and the spring,
and the cloud
and the light,
like something
in one moment
both calling to me
and radiating
from where I stood,
as if I could
understand
everything
I had been given
and everything ever
taken from me,

as if I could be
everything
I have ever
learned
and everything
I could ever know,

as if
I knew
both the way
I had come
and, secretly,
the way
I was still
promised to go,
brought together,
like this,
with the
yielding light
and the symmetry
of the moving sky,
caught in still waters.

Someone I have been,
and someone,
I am just
about to become,
something I am
and will be forever,
the sheer generosity
of being loved
through loving:
the miracle reflection
of a twice blessed life.

Twice Blessed
THE BELL AND THE BLACKBIRD
Poetry by David Whyte
APRIL 2018 © David Whyte and Many Rivers Press

EVENING PERSPECTIVE
Photo © David Whyte
Asilomar Beach
Monterey Bay. January 11th 2018


Clean it up from the inside out…

Bad behavior in anyone does not excuse it in one person, especially someone who is supposed to be an honorable president. Calling anyone names just feeds the energy field that thrives on that judgment, hate and prejudice. This president (who, I think, is deeply flawed and usurped by and immersed within this altered energy field) challenges all of us to speak the truth and not reflect back to him (and each other) the same, disturbed energy he sends out.

We have never before been so called to action to speak the truth and act on it. There are so many lies and deceptions coming from the top, it is landing on all of us as a huge slime. And, slime is not cleaned up by more slime. Residing deep inside each of us is a pure, soul-driven core connected to the big energy (God or the un-named Tao) that beats our hearts.

We all know the truth deep inside. We just have forgotton how to listen to that core where truth dwells. We have let the false “gods” version of what is true layer us with slime. Clean it up from the inside out. Release old false, rigid, made-up notions. Open your mind. Reduce the slime wherever and whenever you can.

[“Mind Field” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort]


Meltdown

Before I sleep, a mandala tells me it’s finished. I made this from one photograph of a huge subdivision in Las Vegas taken from high above the ground then floated past me in a facebook newsfeed today. So many, many layers, twists and turns, and it came to rest as a mandala.

“Meltdown” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Seed Gestation

Today I sorted cloth mandalas, feeling overwhelmed in a peculiar way.
Now, another one shows up, in the wake of the new moon tomorrow.

“Seed Gestation” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Visitors…

Potential dinner guests met me at the back door just now. Can you count seven? One has a head down in the rosemary. Nothing growing in the pots because it was eaten during last visit from this bunch.

[photo © Elsah Cort]


Make It So

A mandala breaks through on a hazy day, started several days ago, and slowly coming to a finished place. This one has me wandering around and around in it.

“Make It So” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort


Heart seeing…

The sun comes over the mountains to remind me of the now…up for 4 hours (my body wakes up without consulting me these days), already doing laundry and tidying here and there. Feeling uneasy about a leader telling people not to accept what they see and hear and then, I realize the (unintended) truth in this statement.

We tell ourselves stories about ourselves and each other that speak with the altered ego’s voice. The mirror of falsity widens, shocks, alarms—and, waits for our eyes to clear.

Look hard with the eyes of your heart and soul.

[an earlier untitled digital collage from 2010, © Elsah Cort]