Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Persephone's Ladder

This is a painting that physically forced itself out of me in a most vehement and violent manner.  On occasion I feel that certain paintings rise up from deep in my psyche and use me as a vehicle to express themselves. I had nothing to do with this painting other than to let it pass through me onto the canvas, a painful experience. It now sits in the corner humming and buzzing with vibrations that are filling the studio and informing new ways of being with paint and canvas.

Persephone's Ladder / 60" x 40" / acrylic on canvas
I don't dare attempt to articulate what is happening in this piece but I came across this conclusion of a 15 page academic paper by Bonnie Bright which is a glimpse into some of what I have been experiencing psychically lately....

"In spite of our current collective cultural crisis, Jung inferred that the loss of instinct, the loss of soul, which is the root of our pathology, can be restored through reconnection with the sacred aspects of the natural and imaginal worlds. Darkness is an aspect of nature. In our descent to reconnect with our roots in wild nature, the deep levels of the psyche, like bees that are lost from the hive, we may encounter destruction, violence, devouring forces, dismemberment, death, and decay. We may battle dark forces, pit our strength against demons, gatekeepers, and those who seek to destroy instead of create. We may navigate unknown territory, dark waters, and close, tight spaces. We may even enter in that impenetrable dark night of the soul where all hope seems lost. But Jung urged us to look for the seed in the darkness that will come to fruition and light, stating, “a civilization does not decay, it regenerates” (as cited in Sabini, 2005, p. 183).
The hive is being dismembered through the loss of the bees, it behooves us to understand that dismemberment is the first act of initiation. What is broken into pieces can be re-membered and begun anew like the initiate who emerges as a powerful shaman. It is possible, through the process of descent to reconnect with the sacred earth, to restore our souls to their rightful wholeness, both individually and as a culture. By re-membering our roots in the sacred, by re- establishing right relations with nature and the imaginal, we renew our trust in the power of soul to help us find our way home."

This resonates with what I felt on a deep, intuitive level. The process of making this painting was excruciating and as I lay sobbing on the floor in front of it, I "saw" the ladder. Without hesitation, I grabbed for a chunk of charcoal and scrawled it in as a lifeline out of that hell that was burning inside and all around me...that imaginal ladder allowed for hope to enter into the painting and I knew I would make it out.

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