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.8 back to the future, baby

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In the early '90's I made a diligent habit of filling a relatively thick 6 x 6 lined-paper journal with my thoughts and feelings.  This is a fact I accurately remembered but I'd presumed to add a third component this journal contained: authentic (if at times ruefully acquired) Experiential Wisdom.  Alas there was not a drop of that except in the ways I instinctively reworked the journal in an ongoing project of soothing a younger version of myself with a whole slew of Just You Wait & See's using collage to talk to this former wired-super-tightly iteration:

Rightthingnow

The above fragment is highly revealing and I left it in tact without a lot of alteration or second-guessing.  A major part of our Family Legend is that it was J. and J. alone who needed to get out of the city in order to live deliberately among as many trees as possible.  In this oft-reflected version of how things apparently never happened -- I was thriving as never before in the city.  It's how I remember things being so clearly but - SO CLEARLY - only in retrospect.

Once I let-in the awareness I'd been just as edgy to leave - in favor of trees and ponds and maybe even a nearby river and mile after mile of organically rural landscapes - as he was, a great many dominoes fell perceptually.  All I had to do was start turning them around to some Deep Work of great value to me.  I saw and seized the unique opportunity to dialogue back and forth with myself in a way I understood would bring more peace and understanding.  Maybe even some sustainable healing.

[spoiler alert:  it brought TONS of healing as well as tons of respect for the truly limitless work and play collage offers us if we're of a mind to test pretty much any pet or spontaneously healing theory we may embrace.]

Dareisoboldly

In the old days when I excelled at just going so much it often startled me that people even had a name for Doing It - All I had to do was have a tiny spark of a notion and BAM an entire river's rushing waterfall of Ideas was mine for the picking & choosing.  I understood the value of covering 3/4's of the content because most of it related to ENDLESS bitching and legit yet overly lengthy frustration about an inter-city educational liaison committee I was part of for - according to my hyperbolic venting of the time - about three thousand eternities in a bureaucratic circle of hell.  It was actually a period of three and a half months according to the entries' timeline. 

live and learn.  in oh so many ways.  In my efforts I worked with papers I'd made in a Cambridge adult education class during the time frame in which I'd kept this journal.  Within its original pages I expressed Very Upset-ness that I hadn't enjoyed said workshop and that its unpleasantly messy nature was compounded by my good neighborliness helping out the teacher for 20 crucial opening minutes that left me and another oh-sure amiable classmate SOL when it came to working with the "good" color dyeing options.  Nonetheless I persevered in re-writing even that undeniable shard of reality - thrilled that I'd kept these papers for so long even though every time I came across them I curled inward with dislike and silently urged myself to toss 'em and be glad.  Because now I had walnut ink spray inks to alter the colors.  And lordy lou - I had me a mess of stencils as well.

Celebrations

I wound up equally thrilled that i could never convince myself to trade-away my few remaining scraps of a fabric I used to make trousers I wore to the point of shredding 14 years later.  I also commemorated an event this journal time frame didn't include but it WOULD happen right on the cusp of my feeling so unEmpowered and trapped in place:  a carefully planned creative celebration I co-hosted there in the same space where I cried the blues about people I wrote of endlessly then but now cannot pull up a face or any other detail about a single one of their names.

Coyoteexcellence

Evolve

Savortheseason

Many of the papers and images, as well as the interests and fascinations implied by both colors and content, were collected and saved/initiated in the time frame I'd been so startled and ultimately disappointed to realize I wasn't very much enjoying - allowing myself to enjoy - knowing HOW to enjoy -  while being smack-dab in middle of the supposedly best years of my life.  I recall fully realizing I should be enjoying them.  I also didn't go much more than a couple of hours without considering myself immeasurably fortunate and blessed.  but I was so freakin' frustrated, concurrently, by so many things involved with big city reality that I am not sure why I contributed heavily to our Legend's narrative of having been thriving there.

Paperbase

Things I instinctively saved from that time now mingle freely with representations, and materials, from the present tense.  I focused on things Back Then me would have loved too much to let terminal over-stimulation and circumstantial overwhelm keep me from smiling and playing.  Are you kidding me?  I would have bucked-up ten ways from Sunday if I'd had even a glimmer of knowing what was in store when I was moving in on being twice the age I was then.

Getrightoutside

Above:  a close-up shot of a still unfinished page.   The gift paper was saved from my birthday.  I remember quite clearly how thrilled I was to see the wrapping - already planning to squirrel-aside a section before the package was directly offered to me.  Have zero recall what the gift was or who gave it to me.  The paper Thing was already quite well established and I'm glad because it's enriched my ongoing collaging experience.

Butforgetsoon

Verybusy

Unfortunately a lot of broad strokes weren't destined to be hunky dory for Future me because, of course, I live on this planet in these times.  It took me a long while to decide exactly what kind of warning/check I might have wished I could receive if I could have seen what was coming clearly enough to realize I really needed to pay a lot more attention to things Beyond. 

Idonotknow


both fun & worthwhile

Ritualwheelsbeginning

As we all move closer to a new calendar year I've decided to start broadcasting some creative seeds.  Maybe something I share will find fertile ground in a way that compliments your own creative/ceremonial activities.  Please note that the featured project for this post was conceived and taught by Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd.   Her method for making and filling a pair of wheels to mark ongoing experiences throughout a calendar year served as a free introductory lesson for her year-long Rituals art journaling class.  You can learn more about my creative immersion in this project via an introductory post I wrote for my main blog or by clicking on the alchemical rituals category link in the sidebar here.  Have recently decided to make a similar pair of wheels for the year 2020.  I'm going to use the same size and brand of journal so it will be a literal as well as intentional companion volume to EarthStar Alchemical Rituals. 

~*~*~

The teaching video for my 2018 endeavor featured Vanessa creating two 12-spoked wheels with rapid inky brush strokes.  My wheel on the left, above, embodies her specific guidance generously layered with my own notions and instincts focused on actively building an energetic year-long plan for myself BOOM all within a single art-date at my work desk. Before that, however, I thought about the project both actively and in a more passive "this is also happening" sort of way for about a week.  

note: participants were further encouraged to pick a word for the upcoming year based on individual intuition/introspective wisdom.  I'd already been chosen by this word for 2018 a few weeks before I impulsively decided Rituals would be a positive and grounding experience for me.  STRONGHOLD.  I really liked the way the word held space as a caption below the wheel on the left. Next I created a  phrase to caption the wheel on the right so the overall page design looked more balanced.  My plan was to collage free-cut branches, leaves and flowers from paper scraps.  In my mind's eye I envisioned the barest whisper of wreath-like suggestions encircling each wheel.  Something simple, to allow the wheels themselves to do most of the talking.

Beginningofcollageonwheels

This was ... fun to begin constructing but I could see if I kept going with a doggedly simple evenly spaced ring of decoration it wasn't going to feel or look nearly quirky/authentically self-expressive enough.  Didn't have to think about that at all but simply decided on the spot I'd go for broke in foreshadowing Persephone in Queen of the Flowers mode.  Having quite a plentitude of flower/gardening magazines and scads of seed catalogs available for cutting and pasting, I sensed I'd have no problem randomly collaging flower images throughout the year.  Given Ritual's over-arching theme of promoting high quality ceremony infused self-relationship I further decided to save these specific mini collage sessions for moments when what I needed most was a 15 minute time-out in which to revitalize and flow my way back to a stabilized center of personal gravity.  The few remaining blank spaces will be filled in such a way - when and as

Stronghold

Unfoldingwheel

Bothwheels


the Alchemical Rituals project (intro)

Ritualstopedgenich

This is one of my favorite art journals. I introduced the project  here.  Writing that post inspired me to begin bringing this blog into focus in a somewhat different way than I originally imagined I might.  Instead of focusing on daily accountability in relation to my ongoing creative practice, I thought about the projects that most matter to me in specific terms of taking them with me if I had to leave where I live under emergency circumstances.  Grace recently posted on the subject of her refined bug-out readiness plan there in NoCali's fire belt.  She's already had to evacuate with the goats once this season and has since devised a means of readying her fabric collection for swift travel with no moment to spare.

It got a lot of us thinking.  And irrespective of pragmatic what-iffing I love Alchemical Rituals intensely.  Perhaps the most significant learning/personal growth that emerged from a year spent allowing somebody else - literally half a world away - to guide me in a venture that was deeply personal relates to how much I came to understand and appreciate the ways my mind and heart instinctively braid things together via collage and a few other thematic/supply-based touchstones of this project. Each month we watched inspiring and crystal clear process videos related to a carefully chosen theme and pre-selected mediums/artistic techniques to explore. The journal holds 24 spreads; 2 per month.  The first of each pair is a solar spread and the second is a lunar spread.  As a general rule Vanessa broke down her topical themes in a light/shadow format. 

Persephonegates

Above is a detail from the lunar spread for April.   It was a month in which we delved into the subject of Fertility using collage. For the solar spread V. asked us to create a secret garden devoted to carefully cultivated sacred space.  For the lunar spread we were asked to depict what happens when we neglect such a space and allow the weeds to take over. I'd introduced my intrinsic sense of connection to the archetypal goddess of perpetual duality, Persephone, within the month's solar spread where she appears as a maturing form of her Queen of the Flowers guise.  On the next page I depicted her making her yearly return to what lies Below, through earthly gates that quickly fade to black. 

The overall scene I created for the lunar spread nudged me to consider my life's kind of ... almost touristy aspect of relationship to this part of myself.  I mean that in terms of how much it can take out of me to be familiar and calm with dark stuff many people I know work extremely hard and consciously to avoid. And so I thought about what a brutal (and culturally undervalued) form of returning it can be and how sometimes I actively step back from acknowledging the difficulty level in order to dispassionately observe myself "handling" things like a no-contest pro if not a saint or a hero.  That's ... pretty much Persephone's gig in the Underworld kingdom:  managing the unmanageable yet inevitable switch between being and not-being in the human life span. 

 I was surprised and inspired to realize this new awareness could with time and mindfulness allow me to just be in the process (instead of focusing primarily on performance checklists) of guiding and being guided through dark times and deep water.

Ritualsdreamcatcher

Here's a detail from January's solar spread.  The theme for the month is New and the technique is stitching - with the centerpiece effort being a dream catcher. I decided to construct the two spreads as thematically joined by the open web between them.  V. encouraged us to add some sequins to our web.   Some have bent over time due to inadvertently smashing them while flattening other pages beneath a few heavy books.

Ritualslastdeet

This is a detail from the final spread in the journal.  December's theme was Closure and the technique was color blocking paint colors to harmonize with pre-selected collage pieces to fit our chosen representations.  The month's Lunar spread was designed around those aspects of our immediate and ongoing future we needed to integrate but found personally challenging.  I elected to further clarify the issues I placed in this category as works in progress I was committed to shifting as mindfully and gently as possible in order to move forward into a new cycle of deepened/more conscious self-relationship.