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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Be Dangerous. Make Art.

“Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne

(This is a companion piece that I wrote the same time as the post I published yesterday over at Patheos called The Dangers of Witchcraft)

Time and time again, I find myself pondering the above quote from Rilke.  It came to mind again recently as several people have remarked to me about the importance of making art in the years to come.  I pondered it from both practical (making a living) and spiritual (making a cultural impact) contexts.  

To make art - in a historical/evolutionary context - was a dangerous thing.  Think about it -when you focus on creating something that isn't specifically devoted to food or shelter, it's taking a risk.  Yet, it's an investment in fully living, an opportunity to enhance and transcend our experience, to connect with the divine and the Other.  It was a struggle for our ancestors - yet it was the creation of art that advanced us forward as a species. Today, surviving may not seem so balanced on a razor's edge, but there's still risks in making art. 

Art is the expression of the soul, the exploration and manifestation of intent. It not only suggests the vulnerability of the maker, it magnifies the whole of society - its best attributes, as well as its worst.  The latter is especially disconcerting to the comfortable, the entitled, and those seeking to control.  Art is fine, as long as it's on their side, promoting their ideals, matching their proverbial couches. 

A struggle against the making of art may not have seemed so apparent in modern society, but the evidence has been slowing creeping in for decades.  A little story for you to explain:

I didn't have any issues with sports until my teens. That's when it was starting to become apparent that schools were cutting back on the arts.  There was often the explanation that it was for saving money, but suddenly the sports programs would see new equipment, more investments in stadiums and so forth.  Yes, sports are great for keeping folks active and team-building, but there's also an undercurrent of herd mentality.  Be part of the crowd, support the team, have school spirit.  You could perhaps argue that maybe the arts don't benefit a school in the same way - but there are plenty of noteworthy competitions and events that involve the arts, and band, orchestra, dance, theater, literary magazines and newspapers all involve working in team structures. The arts also encourage critical thinking, valuing individuals for their diverse talents, and giving young people creative outlets to express and discover themselves. 


So I don't think it's a coincidence that soon after we began to see the cuts to art departments in schools, we were rocked by Columbine and similar tragedies.  We've continued to see a disturbing rise in school/mass shootings, to a point where it's become so much more common over the years, that it's become practically "normal."  There are so many different reasons cited for the why and how, but not many correlate the lack of funding for the arts with mental and social well-being. Take away the arts and you cut off the stimulation of creative thinking, self-healing, and the access to reasonable outlets to channel expression through. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_psychicpower-web.jpgThere's an illusion that art is elitist, that it's for the genteel and the high-end (an effort to take it out of the hands of all people), but art has always been a process for and by all. It is a product of and by the dangerous, of those who see differently, those who wish or need to make their voice heard.  When art has not rested peacefully on a wall, it has been banned, shunned, and ridiculed - until its message is absorbed.  Every major movement in art has gone through the eye of the needle before finding acceptance and understanding. 

The truth at the essence of the concept of the "starving artist" is not a romance about a person unfit to make a "proper living" - but someone with a vision strong enough that they reject being silenced and risk being comfortable to see it through. 

So many cultures have plundered and destroyed art that has come before them - as a means to silence history, to rewrite and change the narrative.  From Nazis destroying the work (and lives) of European artists of the late 1930's-40's to fundamentalists destroying ancient artifacts in the Middle East and China imprisoning their artists who dare to speak out through their work. Whether it's through violence or a slow stealthy strangle, art has been attacked because it has been seen as dangerous. 

All because art is the result of focused intent. Intent is the root of magick. Art is magick, and art is dangerous. Art can change our viewpoint and that of the world. Don't forget that, and for the love of all things human and divine, don't stop making art. 

(painting: "Spellcraft - Psychic Power - by the author)

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Ritual: The Power to Persist

If you’re a heart-led individual, you know it’s hard to be an agent of love in a world where vision is often scorned by those who prefer greed and narrow-mindedness. Sometimes, we just want to give up.

When hate tramples you, Gaia, and the lives of others—whether they are people you know or strangers—suffering can be so great that you feel too broken to keep on going. 

But love and the forces that oppose it have battled throughout all time. So we need the ability to continue fighting the good fight over the long haul. Here is a ritual that helps you persist, with the support of your Gods, ancestors, and All Your Relations.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_witch-myth.jpg

Title: Witch Myth: A Yew Hollow Mystery Book 0: Beneath the Yew

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Witchcamp 2016: What happens between the worlds, changes all the worlds

I stand on the wooden bridge on the way to the ritual circle where I can already hear the drums calling me to join.  I am once again with 120 Reclaiming Tradition witches of all genders at California Witchcamp. I hear the water ripple and flow beneath me. The creek is stronger this year, after four years of drought the land has found reprieve with a wetter Spring here amidst the redwoods.  It is the last week of June and the extra water also brings extra mosquitos.  My physiology is such that they rarely bite me, and when they do I hardly welt or itch, so when one lands on my forearm, I simply watch as it feeds off me.  It turns into a small glowing ruby before flying off to become food for the bats and other beings.  I can afford to leave a little blood offering here in the woods for the continuing cycle of life.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    Oh, your beating, strong, loving heart. It does such needful & good work. Blessings on it and blessings on all the work of all the
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Elizabeth. My heart appreciates the blessings!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Identity

Identity, such an elusive concept/construct.  

Who are you?  

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    You know, I own and have read "Infinite Cities" and have read Solnit and Gomez-Pena’s piece on contingent identities, but didn't r
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    I know, I love the whole book/atlas, but that one in particular was so sweet and wonderful to think about....

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Essential Desert Self

There is a way that the desert breaks me down to my essential self

a way the desert wind tears away that which is no longer necessary

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    So beautiful, you, your discernment, the desert, everything. Let your work always be done. (I love the desert five spot.)
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Elizabeth!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Bloodstone

It's 1966. A little tow-headed boy is sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, reading the Sunday supplement of the Pittsburgh Press.

He doesn't know that his life is about to change forever.

There are real witches! There are real witches right here in Pittsburgh! Real witches doing real magic!

One detail from the article hit hard enough to stay with me 50-some years later.

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