What is the difference between Believing & Knowing?

Standard

openheartopenhands

“Open Heart, Open Hands” – 11″x14″ pastel on velour paper

I’ve been pondering the differences between believing and knowing.  Psycologist Carl Jung was asked whether he believed in God and he answered, “I don’t believe in God, I know.”  What he meant was a logical, inescapable conclusion he had reached.

I consider myself a mystic because I would answer this question the same way but for different reasons.   I have had two experiences in my life where I was filled with a deep, unshakable, merging and “knowing” of Deity.  (I used the words Deity, Universe or Spirit because when I use the word “God” I automatically have an image of the controlling, “old man in the sky” God of my childhood.  This is not what I “know.”)

I could tell you a bit about my spiritual experiences, but  its limited by language and it won’t manage to convey the “knowing,” and probably, like plenty of other mystics before me, it would just sound crazy.  But afterwards, I went seeking through many, many books to find out if others had experiences like this.  I could recognize the truth in the words of the ecstatic St. Teresa,

“The soul neither sees, hears, nor understands anything while this state lasts; but this is usually a very short time, and seems to the soul even shorter than it really is.  God visits the soul in a way that prevents it doubting when it comes to itself that it has been in God and God in it; and so firmly is it convinced of this truth that, though years may pass before this state reoccurs, the soul can never forget it nor doubt its reality.”

I identify with the mystical Sufi poet, Jalaluddin Rumi’s attempts to convey Deity thru his poetry.  I can see excitedly, “Yes!  He gets it!”  When I read:

“Plunge, plunge into the vast ocean of consciousness/ Let the drop of water that is you/ Become a hundred mighty seas/ But do not think that the drop alone/ Becomes the ocean/ The ocean too becomes the drop.”

One of the best descriptions came from an anonymous clergyman, taken from William B. Starbuck’s manuscript collection:

“I remember the night and almost the very spot on the hill-top, where my soul opened, out, as it were, into the Infinite, and there was a rushing together of the two worlds, the inner and the outer.  It was deep calling unto deep – the deep that my own struggle had opened up within, being answered by the unfathomable deep without, reaching beyond the stars.  I stood alone with Him who had made me, and all the beauty of the world, and love, and sorrow, and even temptation.  I did not seek Him, but felt the perfect unison of my spirit with His.  The ordinary sense of things around me faded.  For the moment nothing but an ineffable joy and exultation remained.  It is impossible fully to describe the experience.  It was like the effect of some great orchestra when all the separate notes have metered into one swelling harmony that leaves the listener conscious of nothing save that his soul is being wafted upwards, and almost bursting with its own emotion.”

So I’m left like I was in high school geometry class, where I could see what the answer was and then had to work backwards to understand the proof.  Now I’m still learning and exploring to try to understand Deity/Love/Spirit… how to convey this awesome beauty in my art and writing… learning how the energy of Spirit works in the world.

  • Patricia Robin Woodruff

Inspiration for the Day

Standard

enlightenmentsm

“Enlightenment” 11″x14″ pastel on velour paper

I always feel recharged after spending time at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in their beautiful Stone Circle.  This poem came to me after spending time there, but it doesn’t just  focus on that one spot.  All of Nature can be our cathedral!

Look! Look at the vaulted roof of my church.
Is it not awesome? Emerald and sapphire.
Beams of hickory, oak, maple and birch.
The glorious dome reaching ever higher.
Glimmering stained glass windows unmounted,
Ever-changing light with colors untold,
Lit in the night with candles uncounted,
Lit in the morning with lantern of gold.
Look! Look at my church’s huge, boundless walls,
With treasures untold and limitless worth.
With enough sacred space to fit us all,
A ring of Stones with endless halls of earth.
If you look for grander, give up your search,
Nowhere is there a more wondrous church.
– by Patricia Robin Woodruff

Curious about traveling the Amazon Jungle?

Standard

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

What is a Totem Animal?

Standard

GeckoDreamsSm

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

Standard

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

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

Standard

PinkKiss

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

Creation, the Creator and Creativity

Standard

7RumiJuly
In the book, “The Mission of Art”, Alex Grey says that “the artist brings the infinite into finite form…” “An artist’s divine imagination, their soul, links the infinite presence of God with the finite physical world where the artist brings spirit to form.”

This understanding of my art merges with my current understanding of my spiritual beliefs. As Inigo Montoya says in the movie, The Princess Bride, “Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up…”

Imagine the beginnings of the Universe… Everything condensed into one single point, which exploded outward filling the emptiness with matter. All the matter/energy of the Universe, forming and coalescing into suns and planets. Our tiny planet spinning and transforming. The energy solidifying into matter becoming water and land and living things. Single-celled creatures mutating and transforming into more and more complex forms. Complex living things in the ocean, moving onto land, transforming and changing. Such a wonder of variety… fish, insects, birds, mammals and people. Green things transforming the energy of the sun into itself. Animals eating the plants/sun-energy and transforming it into itself. We are all made of “star stuff.” We are matter. We are energy. Other names that have been used to identify this energy can be Spirit, Magic or God. We have that God-force within us and are continuing the process of creation. We imagine things and then we turn that energy solid; into art, relationships, writing or inventions.

Science tells us that very element heavier than hydrogen has been forged in the heart of a star. In the television show, Babylon-5, J. Michael Straczynski stated through the wise character of Delenn the perspective that all living beings are created from the same elements that make up the Babylon-5 space station and the stars (ie. nitrogen, iron, hydrogen, etc). Delenn states, “We are star stuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out.”

Different thinkers have come to the same conclusion and have been able to verbalize it in different ways…

Ann Kent Rush stated, “Creativity is really the structuring of magic.”

Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali mystic stated “ The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day, runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass, and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.”

Stephen Nachmanovitch, a musician, author and computer artist said, “The imagination is our true self, and is in fact the living creating God within us.”

That wonderful energy fills me up and flows out of my fingers in my artwork. I feel like the 13th century poet, Rumi, was talking directly to me when he wrote, “Hundreds of thousands of impressions from the invisible world are eagerly wanting to come through you. I get dizzy with the abundance.”

Art, writing, poetry, dance… any creative activity flows from the Creator.

– Patricia Robin Woodruff