This painting went through many transformations, layers, additions, subtractions. An artist friend liked the original design and put my hawk painting on earrings…on guitar picks. Quite creative.
In the Native American tradition, as I understand it, because Hawk flies high above everything below, he has a larger perspective. I can get so caught in my small story that I lose sight of what’s beyond and larger than this small mind and the concerns of the moment.
When I’m out hiking on a mountain trail and I see the hawk gliding overhead, I am reminded to step back for a more expansive view of what I’m calling my reality. There is relief in that.
I don’t remember exactly why I chose to paint the hawk. Perhaps there was a real need to see things from a different perspective.
I appreciated the development of this painting over time. I continually tried to perfect the hawk. And to emphasize him emanating from the background. It’s one of my favorite paintings. The frame of the canvas became warped so that it doesn’t sit flat on the wall. Yet, I have it where I see it daily. It has a meaning to me that I can’t put into words.
Today, in a time when we can get very caught up in our small frame of life, when it’s hard to see beyond the moment or to feel safe, is there some perspective you can take if you look over the whole of your life so far? Imagine yourself hovering over the landscape of your life…can you see a pattern, an abiding theme? Is there something that is apparent that weaves this life of yours together? Can it support you in some way today?
Why Grouse? This bird signifies the Sacred Spiral Dance in the Native American Tradition. According to author, Jamie Sams in her book, Medicine Cards:
“Many spiritual disciplines ask that you cease all external movement in order to recognize the inner life. Grouse medicine, however, is an invitation to the dance. Grouse celebrates the Divine Source through its sacred spiral dance…you can spend a lifetime learning…how to harmonize your dance with…” the cycles of the earth.
Jamie Sams recommends that you “Analyze the way you move through your world…In the final analysis, is your movement compatible with your greatest desires and goals?”
It is interesting to consider these things in this time of slowing down and sheltering in place. How do I conduct my dance when I’m at home, alone? Or in relation to my
family or housemates? Or out in nature? Or when social distancing with a friend on a trail? Or when on a Zoom Call? Or when in conversation over the telephone? This forced slowing down is an opportunity for me, for you to observe how we move in the world in the midst of a pandemic. And, how are we going to choose to move in the world when the virus has run its course? Is it going to be different? Reverential perhaps?
What did this painting mean to me? At the time I painted it? Of course, it’s whimsical. I typically use an actual image, or several images, of who or what I’m painting to ground it in some recognizable reality. Then, it becomes fanciful. I call this Grouse Takes a Walk. Doesn’t he look purposeful. And even like he himself is a celebration of being.
Thomas Berry talks about The Great Story. He talks about life celebrating itself. The universe loving expressiveness through all of its variety of manifestations. That’s what I feel when I look at this grouse! CELEBRATION.
The question for me is how am I harmonizing with a celebratory universe? Or, am I adding to the devastation of our earth home within the universe? I feel that these are the questions that are before us in this time of pandemic. What am I going to do differently to preserve our earth home for future generations? I feel that this is our job at this time, to give this some serious thought.
“…the universe, by definition, is a single gorgeous celebratory event.”
from “Returning to Our Native Place,” in The Dream of the Earth p. 5
Once upon a time, I was walking in San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica, California. It’s a beautiful park that retains a wild flavor while being on the outskirts of a big city. I was hiking along a trail with a lot of switchbacks, up the mountainous terrain. Suddenly, from above me, a buck (male deer) with a full set of antlers came thundering down the side of the mountain. He wasn’t so close as to be dangerous, but he was close enough for me to witness his magnificence. What impressed me most was his power! My tendency had been to think of deer as gentle, grazing creatures. Almost fragile! However, this was no wuss. There was strength in the body, the muscles, the legs, the form, the energy.
This painting came from a photo I took of another deer, a tamer version of deer. This one was within a few feet of me, comfortably foraging. I painted it in my own naive style around Christmas time. I added collage.
According to author, Ted Andrews,
“When you have the deer as spirit animal, you are highly sensitive and have a strong intuition. By affinity with this animal, you have the power to deal with challenges with grace. You master the art of being both determined and gentle in your approach. The deer totem wisdom imparts those with a special connection with this animal with the ability to be vigilant, move quickly, and trust their instincts to get out of the trickiest situations.
The meanings associated with the deer combine both soft, gentle qualities with strength and determination:
• Ability to move through life and obstacles with grace
• Being in touch with inner child
• Being sensitive and intuitive
• Vigilance, ability to change directions quickly
• Magical ability to regenerate, being in touch with life’s mysteries”
In Native American Tradition, the energy of deer is described as “gentle.” It takes both courage and strength to be gentle in these times. Both with ourselves and with others.
Do you have an animal that you are particularly drawn to in these challenging times?
If you want to find out what your animal guide signifies, you can Google Ted Andrews and the animal of your choice. See if what he says feels true for you.