I have two clear indicators that tell me I'm touching onto the Tao of things, rising above common everyday experience and getting a glimpse of the possible, and the possibly wondrous. One is when I'm in the zone in my art making, when all of the dead ends and failures and frustrations suddenly fall away and spectacular works appear like coins under the pillow from the tooth fairy; or, as one friend put it, when one plus one starts adding up to three. The other indicator is when I start noticing synchronicities, those uncanny coincidences resonating with meaning. Frequently both indicators appear during the same day or week, at which point I start looking over my shoulder for angels and spirit guides (haven't caught any glimpses yet, alas). This is a tale of one of those periods of time.
It all began in the library. I am convinced from experience that there are library gods who nudge and guide us to books we need to read, and that the particular library gods in the Central Denver Library look favorably upon me. I like to wander the shelves on a regular basis, letting the gods have their way, prompting me towards 3 or 4 likely candidates to check out, out of which at least one will be the perfect book for that moment. In this case my eye fell upon a rather unlikely candidate, a book about making altars based on the East Indian tradition of Vastu Shastra, similar to and possibly pre-dating the Chinese tradition of Feng Shui. Feng Shui
is the more widely known knowledge of how to balance the energies of any given space to maximize mood, health and energy for those inside that space. I had been thinking about Feng Shui in relation to my art practice, and how it might be applied to promoting my work, but I'd never heard of Vastu Shastra, so it was peculiar that the book caught my attention, especially as it concerned altars.
I have a confession to make: I was raised a Catholic, and as a child I absolutely hated going to church. When I was old enough I even became an altar boy for the sole purpose of desperately trying to make the weekly torture more interesting. It didn't work (I hope my mother doesn't read this; if so...mea culpa Mom). As a result I have been one who is not favorably inclined toward altars of any kind, Catholic or otherwise, and usually prefer to imagine myself dancing naked in pagan splendor through a warm meadow - the "altar" of nature, so to speak - rather than kneeling before a table loaded with icons. But then, as Bob Dylan once said, I'm so much younger than that now. So I checked the book out. And guess what? It was really interesting.
My curiosity was piqued by the method of using the four elements - fire, water, earth and air - in relation to both the four cardinal points of the compass and to specific colors relating to the intention of the altar (the pagan in me was pleased). My apartment is perfectly oriented to the compass points, and as each direction is related to a particular intention, I had all the wall space I needed to experiment. But where was I to start? There is an Altar for Health (already healthy here), an Altar for Creativity (already creative here)...all sorts of altars. Then one caught my eye - the Altar For Attracting Helpful People and Universal Support. Heaven knows I need help, and the universe has not exactly been busting its chops in my interest lately, so I had my altar and I began to slowly assemble it. A trip to the thrift shop here, to the fabric store there, a little artwork from my studio storage, a rock from the bed of the the Platte River, and voila! I had my altar. I concocted an activation ceremony, ringing a little bell representing air, lighting a candle representing fire, rolling the river rock in my hand, dipping my fingers in a crystal bowl of water. I placed a tiny horseshoe magnet just behind an offering tray in the middle of the altar. I placed a doorway peephole in the tray, figuring the universe might want to check me out before opening the door. Then it was time to write an invocation to be placed in the offering tray - I wrote "Talk To Me!" on a plain piece of paper, placed it in front of the peephole, and the deed was done.
Little did I imagine what was to happen a few days later.
To be continued...