Monday, October 20, 2008

Bodywriting Journey

It began with the candles. We were each to connect physically with the color that called to us, then write about it. I felt the red candle in my body...

It feels like the beginning of life, that place of newness. It feels like the fullness of my womb and the flow of blood between my legs. It feels like the earth and the groundedness of my relationship with her. It feels warm and nurturing and powerful and instinctual. It feels like a fire that is beginning to burn. It tastes juicy and sweet. The color red is a place deep and dark and smells like the earth and the earth surrounds me with her arms of love and she sings sweet songs to me as I lie within her. I feel her at the core of my being, the very place of my soul in my body. The color red isn't always a color I choose. She is one I tend to shy away from . Her power is one that I am only now getting comfortable with. Now that I have cleared the way, the color red has become my friend, my companion, and one to whom I am grateful.

That evening we do "speed collage" of an intuitive nature and create the cover to our journals for the weekend in a very short time - I think we only had ten minutes. After the collages are complete, we are introduced to a wonderful process of feedback, which I LOVE! After I share how I feel about my collage, a chosen participant gives Phenomenological feedback: telling what they see - the facts of the collage (e.g. the words Window on the World, a woman wearing a black face covering, etc.), nothing more. Then another viewer gives Aesthetic feedback: how the collage makes them feel, memories invoked, stories remembered, all very personal to the viewer. One last viewer gives Artistic feedback: using a chosen medium to express the imagery in the collage - could be drawing, a poem or song, or dance. I get one last comment on this feedback process, and an assigned scribe gives me everything they wrote down for my feedback session. This process is repeated for everyone.

Saturday, June 21, 2008... Each morning we are to do automatic writing in our journal - 3 pages. This is not my favorite activity, but I go along and stay open to possible benefit. Then we begin the process of body printing, making "sketches" of greased-up bodies on newsprint. We determine our favorite positions and then go to the actual printing of two prints. One is done by painting our bodies with acrylic paint then printing on canvas, the other is our bodies painted with white gesso and printed on black pastel paper, with powdered chalk pastels thrown over the wet gesso to leave the color.

We have a printing partner for this process as we cannot easily do this alone. We must move our bodies in positions that are not easy to hold, and we have paint in places that must be cared for so as to get a clean print. Even though the room is full of naked women, we are so engrossed in our own process that we hardly even notice each other. The energy is high and everyone is having fun during this creation of our body prints. We all have a different body position and paint colors. As we complete our initial prints we hang them up to dry and then wash the paint off our bodies outside on a deck, our printing partner helping as needed with holding the shower hose.

All the acrylic body prints are now hanging on the walls of the studio, the pastel prints in other parts of the house, and we are cleaned, fed, and rested. Now we share about the process and watch a slide show of past Bodywriters to get ideas for tomorrow's embellishment. We will "stretch" our canvases by stapling them to the wall and adding a color wash to the entire canvas. After that we will begin painting and embellishing our body prints as we are so moved. We will go to bed tonight to dream on what the body prints want and need from us, and journal to this question in the morning.

Sunday, June 22, 2008... I do not have any dreams I remember, but my journaling says... No dreams to remember were needed as you have all you require to carry out the birth of form your body prints want to express. Trust your core intuition and heart knowing.

I ask the pastel body print "What do you need from me now?"... I need the support of my friends. Many hands are needed to guide my way into this life. Have your partner add her hands to my print. Since you are birthing me fully into a new world, a new community, the energy of another is my desire.

I ask the acrylic body print "What do you need from me now?" and pick a SoulCollage card - Elements: Fire... From the fires of initiation and transformation I come. Use the energy of this fire to give the elements of action, change, death and rebirth. This fire takes many forms. It can be small, slow and somewhat gentle, like the flame of a candle. It can be hot and fast like the eruption of a volcano. It can be a tool, like the flame that cooks nurturing food. You must use all these forms in my body print, as you have been through all of them and need to remember how the fire of life/death/life is an important part of your life/death/life.

I ask "How will I carry out this element of fire in the body print and who will be my guide?" and pick another SoulCollage card - Council: Protective Mother... The Protective Mother is with you during this time and process. She carries all the tools necessary for you to facilitate my expression of form. You are protected from energies that do not belong to you or me by the tigers who walk beside the Protective Mother. And your rooster totem stands guard, ready to alert of any danger, yet also to announce and strut my arrival.

The process unfolds for me beautifully and I am very pleased with what is born here at the Bodywriting Retreat. We share our experiences and tell the names of each of our pieces. The title of my collage is: On the Right Path. The title of my pastel body print is: Birth of Self, Emergence of Soul. The title of my acrylic body print is: Goddesses of the Flames of Initiation and Transformation. I journal with this body print and ask "Who are you? Why are you here?" and they reply... We are your twin soul, and we have come to show you the way to express and fully take form into the new Jennifer Star. "How will you do this?" We hold the sacred space you need to carry out your soul's work here, your service to the earth and all the living beings upon her. We stand back to back, keep you in the center, well protected and watched over. We come from a place of love, and extend that love to you at all times.

Now to go home with my body prints and continue the journey...

July 26, 2008... It's taken me over a month living with my body prints to get the nudge of inspiration and knowing on "what comes next," at least for the large print. The pastel print hangs in my bedroom where I awake to her presence every morning. The twins have been hanging in my studio/office, where I spend most of my time. I gaze at them, commune with them, listen to their messages. Many significant dreams come after the retreat and before traveling July 11 - 17 to New Mexico with Craig to help my mom move in to Silver City from rural Cliff. It takes me a week to fold myself back in to home life, then finally! I paint in the owl and am taken with the intensity of her gaze...

Summer has been very productive and busy on many levels. I continue to sit with my Twins and the owl, listening, listening, listening... My mother becomes ill and goes into the hospital and I travel again to New Mexico Aug. 29 - Sept.7, this time alone, to be with her while she recovers. Her health situation has shifted to a new direction, and I feel that she has entered her end days. We talk about the business of dying, and the joys of living. My oldest brother also travels down from Sacramento to stay for a few days. Mom leaves the hospital and comes home, slowly regaining her strength, but definitely a shift has occurred. Nine days later I go back home and again must fold myself back in to home and work life. It's not easy.

September 20, 2008... Finally, at the budding of the Fall Equinox, I am inspired to paint in the Kali Yantra. Then begins a period of intensity for me physically, emotionally and spiritually. It feels like a roller coaster ride. Yet, much is being accomplished even amidst the intensity. Major movement, shifts, reorganization, releases, profound dreams - many of which are ancestral.

September 27, 2008... Still feeling "out of sorts," the fires of creativity are burning and I continue painting on the Twins, adding very personal elements. Laying the ground of Earth Mother at the feet of the twins; the sliver on a waxing New Moon - the moon I was born under; the water element and "life-streams" of my astrological chart going from belly to belly. The subtle suggestion of my Taurus Sun and Gemini Moon symbols (do you see them? Hint - they are large). I am pleased and delighted with how this body print is transforming, and how I am transforming. The roller coaster ride continues, yet I feel strong in my ability to go with the flow, not denying or putting down the feelings of intensity and the question of "where do I belong?" that lingers with me. I create a new altar in my studio - a medicine wheel - and at the New Moon eve of Sept. 28 I begin a daily ritual each evening; singing, drumming, playing my Native American flute, and praying.

In early October I begin a purging and cleaning out process in my studio and home. I have to take down my Twins in order to do this in the studio. I roll up the body print and store it safely for a while. I'm feeling joyful and light, happy to be clearing out "stuff" I don't need and rearranging for better flow of energy. I feel the best I've felt in weeks! Three days after taking the print down I have the realization that it was almost instantly after taking it down that my mood shifted to a lighter, less intense one. Oh yes! I had brought the Kali energy into my life and she had been doing her job very well, along with the fire, the twins, the owl... At this point I realize that this body print is a ritual piece, one to be used during ceremonies and when the energy for immediate transformation is called for. They will not be hung in a public place for permanent display, instead, they will be brought out as needed, used as a spiritual tool. Their power is great, and just like sacred power spots on earth, to be used sparingly and as needed. Otherwise the energy is so intense that one is likely to spin out if in its presence too long. I'm delighted to have this realization, and the understanding it brings of the previous weeks intensity is deep.

October 12, 2008... I complete the embellishment of stars, the mounting of the dowel for hanging the print, the trimming of the canvas edges, and the installation of the hooks the print will hang from in my studio. I'm delighted to introduce you to "The Goddesses of Initiation and Transformation." If you ever need some energy for transformation, be sure to visit them.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer Star,

    Thanks for coming to the Bodywriting® Retreat for Women and for spreading the word of Bodywriting® so beautifully. Your print is absolutely an inspiration!

    "Bodywriting® Retreats for Women"

    Pamela Underwood, founder of Bodywriting® since 1994