Curious about traveling the Amazon Jungle?

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Woodruff illustrations

Last year my daughter, Coriander and I traveled to the Amazon jungle.  This has resulted in my book, The Call of the Spectacled Owl; An Artist’s Journey thru History, the Amazon, and Spirit (with Travel Tips).

I share our adventures learning about the animals and “medicine” of the jungle with our native guide.  I tell about swinging on jungle vines, sleeping overnight in a treehouse in the jungle, going piranha fishing, sailing in a canoe thru the night under bamboo and overarching elephant palms, and swimming in the Amazon river with dolphins.

I get into the earth spirituality of the area, exploring the historic Incan beliefs, the mysterious whistling vessels, and our experience in a shamanic ceremony.  The book includes information on the two ancient sites we visited, the Temple of the Moon and the Incan Temple of the Sun.  Woven in is my observations from visiting various sacred sites around the world and my studies of paganism and earth religion.

The paperback is illustrated with 32 of my line drawings and the cover photo is by Coriander of Coriander Focus Photography. It’s available for $14.99 on Amazon and at the Createspace link here: https://www.createspace.com/6297005

I hope those who are “armchair travelers” will feel like they are traveling along with us, and that it might inspire more adventurous souls to go out and travel the world.  Travel broadens the mind!

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff
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What is a Totem Animal?

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In Native American beliefs, a totem animal is a spirit that takes the form of a familiar animal and embodies the symbolic qualities of that animal.  It can also be held in a sacred object, or be a symbol of a tribe, or clan.  The word “totem” comes from the Native American Ojibwe culture, but concept of the spirit animal is common throughout many cultures and times.  In Wicca, it is commonly thought of as a teacher spirit that can take any form, or a symbol that can help in our personal development.

I had a dream some years ago, where a gecko was guiding me into my life’s path.  When I awoke, I looked up the qualities that “gecko” embodies.  Unsurprising to me, a gecko can symbolize “life change” because they can change color, since they are often night creatures they have the title of “dream keepers” and they symbolize “mystical awakening.”  All of which was taking place in my life in a powerful way.

Last year I traveled to the Amazon jungle and took part in a native shaman’s ceremony.  During the ceremony, just outside our palm-roofed hut, an owl began to call.  It felt like he was speaking directly to me.  It was the call of the Spectacled Owl.  The totem of Owl is often viewed as the messenger of the spirit world, he is a seer of souls, and a guide to the spirit world.  This has been misinterpreted as a harbinger of death, but just like the Death Card in the Tarot deck, it usually does not mean physical death, but freedom from the restraints of the physical world and guidance into the teachings of the spirit.  Of course Owl is often seen as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

I feel that I am being encouraged on my spiritual path.  My book, The Call of the Spectacled Owl; An Artist’s Journey thru History, the Amazon, and Spirit (with Travel Tips) chronicles part of that journey.  All the writing, re-writing and illustrations are done, and it is going through its final editing.  I look forward to sharing this with you soon.

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

The Mystery of Incan Stirrup Vessels

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CondorJaguarSnakeMy daughter and I saw this stirrup vessel in the Larco Museum in Peru.  It represents the Incan symbols for the Three Realms of the Universe.  The condor (look for his bright blue eye) symbolizes the Upper Realm, the world of the gods, celestial bodies and mountain spirits.  The jaguar (the toothy mouth on the right hand side) symbolizes the physical world that we live in, the land of birth and death.  The anaconda (wrapping around it) since it is often found swimming in the Amazon river, represents the watery underworld, where sacred springs emanate and the ancestors dwell.

These distinctively shaped stirrup vessels, with bases ranging from fruit to animals to sexual positions fill the storage rooms of the Museo Larco, over 50,000 of them!  As I looked through the collection, I felt that something was missing.  The explanation that they were “offering vessels” fell flat.  Surely there was something more about these vessels!  If they were only for liquid offerings, why the distinctive shape, and where was the scientific analysis of the liquid residue?

Once I started researching and comparing my experience with the shamanic ritual of ayahuasca, I found the answer in the shamanic beliefs passed down from the Incas.  In my book I describe my first-hand experience in ritual with a native shaman.  During much of the time, he produced a tuneless, breathy whistle to “call the spirits.”

In my past travels, I also knew of the archaeoacoustic properties of a neolithic burial chamber on the island of Malta, where ancient people used a “sound hole” to produce a mind altering standing sound wave throughout the structure.  People who study archaeoacoustics have discovered that many of these ancient pots were produced to create a whistle that generates altered states of consciousness.  So not only were these pots used to “gather the spirit” of the image they represented, they would help the shaman and the participants reach an altered mind state where they were receptive to the energies.

I gave my book the title, “The Call of the Spectacled Owl: An Artist’s Journey thru History, the Amazon, and Spirit (with Travel Tips) because the book covers a lot.  Although this trip encompassed only one country, Peru, I feel like we traveled through different worlds: the Upper Realm climbing the hills of the ancient desert temples dedicated to the Moon Goddess and the Sun God, the Middle Realm with Lima’s modern city and the scavenged city of Iquitos, and the watery Lower World of the Amazon, encompassing the lush jungle and the mystical shamanic realm.

I think I bring a unique perspective as an open-minded artist with a passion for learning all that I can about our connection to Spirit.  I anticipate that the book will be released at the end of June.  I am very excited to share this with you!

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

An Artistic Mystic in the Amazon

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“I had found at the thrift store before I left, a leather Indiana Jones hat that seemed fortuitous for the trip. I was friends with an artist, Anibal Zog from Brazil and he always wore such a hat, plus I had the example from the movies, right? I was trying to blend in to the culture of the Amazon. What I didn’t know until I got there, that if you wanted to blend in you wore swim trunks, a battered American t-shirt and a ball cap. But it was shade, so with a big grin, I donned my Indiana Jones hat with the appropriate theme music, “dum de-dump DUM!” we were off!

Our native guide, Ashuco, took us on a long looping path around the back of our cabins. We passed a little bit of domesticated sugar cane and the tall manioc, and entered the deep overarching jungle. Ashuco had been explaining about the native tribes and how they made blowgun darts. “Dey use da poison from the poison arrow frog. Dis hit de monkey. De monkey go, ‘Ay, what’s dat?’ Brush eet away, he think a fly and den he fall down.” We stopped a moment in a clearing while Ashuco stepped off our narrow path to cut a hard part of a palm to whittle into a dart and show us.

My daughter, Coriander, let out a short shriek, “I’m not alone in my pants!” I looked over at her and her hand was clutching a fold of material pulled away from her thigh.
“I think I killed it, but I’m afraid to let go!” she said in a strangled voice. We both started laughing at her predicament.
I said, “Well, pull off your pants. I’m sure Ashuco has seen naked savages before.”
“No! I’m not going to do that!” she said, with self-conscious indignation.

When Ashuco stepped back to us, we explained the predicament. He very politely grabbed the offending lump and gently worked his other hand up her pants on the outside of her leg to remove the object. With a mischievous grin, he opened up his hand to display the mangled, bloody carcass of a large crushed grasshopper and got an expression of disgust from Coriander until we both broke into giggles again.

Walking on the narrow path cut through the jungle, we keep coming across wonders. Ashuco points out webbing that stretches in a kind of tangled hammock shape over three feet. Within the webbing are many small spiders scurrying around. Ashuco tells us that these are the “social spiders.” Apparently they work together to capture prey that can be many times their size, or I suppose, first come, first served on smaller prey!

There were so many beautiful flowers and many more high above our heads in the tree canopy. I spied one that Ashuco told me was an orchid, but it looked more like a red blossoming pinecone. Ashuco explained how many plants and animals had a symbiotic relationship, pointing out a narrow tree trunk.
“Dese tree trunk is hollow and makes a home for de ants. De ants protect de tree. Ees symbiosis. Dey work together,” Ashuco said.
“Watch dese.”
He started tapping on the outside of this plain looking tree and as if from nowhere, a thousand ants came swarming towards where he was tapping! We backed up quickly and left the tree alone after that.

We came across a small make-shift bridge over a streamlet. Before we crossed the logs, Ashuco excitedly pointed down into the mud at a four-toed footprint as large as his palm. “Dis is de jaguar! De jaguar footprint. You see?!” The thought that the print was relatively fresh and the jaguar must have passed some distance behind our camp in the night, was very exciting, but I could feel the hairs raise on the back of my neck.”

This is a taste of our adventures in the jungle.  We participated in a sacred ayahuasca ceremony, saw the 9 foot long pink dolphins, slept in a treehouse looking down on the tree canopy, and canoed through lumenescent waters in the night.  I am chronicling all this and including travel tips for Peru.  To be published early 2016.

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

Find Out About DiversiTree; The Divinely Inspired Publication for Inclusive Spirituality

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I’m delighted to share that I am the featured artist in the online publication DiversiTree; The Divinely Inspired Publication for Inclusive Spirituality.  An uplifting and inclusive online place to read about all the different permutations of Spirit.  It reflects an acceptance regardless of abilities, race, sexuality, etc.  You can read about it here:

http://diversitree.org/2015/10/spiritual-artist-review-patricia-robin-woodruff-2/

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

Finding Contentment and Balance at the Autumn Equinox

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“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

September 22nd is the date that Tolkien stated was Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday.  I’m sure it was no mistake that the Autumn Equinox often falls then; the festival of Mabon.  It is a time of contentment, bringing in the harvest, feeling grateful for what we have.  It is the balance point between the busyness of summer and the time of drawing inward as we prepare for winter.  Give thanks for what this year has given you.  Find your balance.  And like a good hobbit, have a fun and cozy harvest feast with family and friends!

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

Sunday, August 9th, 2015 is Book Lover’s Day! Come celebrate it with me!

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The Floyd Artists Association is not only full of wonderful art, but also carries many books by Floyd authors.  We decided to celebrate Book Lover’s Day with a book signing in the gallery. All of our authors are invited, so come get a signed copy for a gift with that special “home town touch” or turn your copy into a collectors item for future generations.

I’ll be signing my book, “Strange Tales of Floyd County, VA” which has almost 100 stories of folk superstitions that have come true, foretelling dreams, ghost stories and UFO sightings in the county.  These stories were collected from first hand accounts, genealogies and various history books.  I am also a contributor to “Floyd Folks; Collected Wisdom from a (One Stoplight) Mountain Community.”  This is a wonderfully uplifting collection of essays that is a must for anyone who loves the land and people of Floyd, Virginia.

Come join us at the Floyd Artists Association in The Station, across from the Floyd Country Store, 203 S. Locust St. Floyd, VA 24091.

– Patricia Robin Woodruff