Guidepost and Growing Pain(ting)s

he thing is, it’s the less-than-perfect days that make the perfect ones possible.

Like all the days you spend going to work and earning a paycheck. Not memorable, but they pave the way for a whole week or two of wonderful vacation experiences.

Or the day you spend cleaning and cooking to make your FABULOUS holiday party a go.

Paintings can do that, too.

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Rainbow wolf paintingYou know how some days are masterpieces? Days you remember for the rest of your life?

And other days fall short of masterpiece status, but they’re still “keepers.” The kind of day you wouldn’t mind every day being like.

But most days don’t quite make it to that level. They’re decent, but you probably won’t remember them in a month unless somebody reminds you.

And of course we all have days we wish we could do over.

The thing is, it’s the less-than-perfect days that make the perfect ones possible. 

Like all the days you spend going to work and earning a paycheck. Not memorable, but they pave the way for a whole week or two of wonderful vacation experiences.

Or the day you spend cleaning and cooking to make your FABULOUS holiday party a go.

Paintings can do that, too. 

I call them “guidepost paintings.”

Or, when they’re the kind you end up painting over, “growing pain(ting)s.”

I think this one I painted yesterday qualifies as a guidepost.

Overall, it’s OK. I like some of what’s going on with the watercolor. And I think I managed to capture the “wolf stare” I was after.

Honestly, though, I wouldn’t feature it in my portfolio.

BUT…

Now that I’m done with it, and looking at it critically, it’s tickling something deep down in my brain.

Maybe it’s the title, that came to me as I painted: “Rainbow Wolf.”

Think I’ll take that idea and run with it.

If I’m lucky, maybe it’ll lead to some keepers!

What “guidepost” experiences have you had in your life recently? Where do you think they will take you?

Coming soon: my 36-page guidebook to connecting with your totem animals! Reserve your copy here.

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Mama bear and cubs

Black bears come in many different colors, from black to all shades of brown, even creamy white. Non-albino white black bears are found almost exclusively in British Columbia and are also known as “Spirit Bears.” In Native American legend, the white color of these bears is said to be a reminder of past ice ages. The white bears are also said to stand for harmony and peace.

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Mama bear and cubs watercolorLast summer on a car trip through northern Wisconsin I happened to look out the window in time to see a mother black bear with her three cubs. What a thrill!

The ones I saw were actually black, or nearly so, but black bears come in many different colors, from black to all shades of brown, even creamy white. Non-albino white black bears are found almost exclusively in British Columbia and are also known as “Spirit Bears.” In Native American legend, the white color of these bears is said to be a reminder of past ice ages. The white bears are also said to stand for harmony and peace.

We don’t have spirit bears where I live in the U.P. of Michigan, but somehow the little cub in the center just wanted to be white. Its playful expression is perhaps a reminder that we need a little fun in our lives now and then in order to maintain harmony and peace in our lives!

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Bears!

My dad seems to have bear energy. I’m staying at his house for a few days and keep wanting to paint bears.

Here is the first one.

Bear painting 1
“Bear 1″, original watercolor painting, 7″x10”

Here is the second. (I like the first one better.)

Bear painting in watercolor
“Bear 2″, original watercolor painting, 7″x10”

I used a very limited primary color palette for these, and did most of my color mixing on the paper.

I have started a third, of a sow bear with cubs. It’s still in progress, but will post when done!

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Power symbol art reading: Blackbirds and Tree

Here is another totem animal/power symbol reading. This one is for the child of a gifted empathic healer. The feeling I got from the reading is that the child is probably gifted in this area as well.

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Here is another totem animal/power symbol reading. This one is for the child of a gifted empathic healer. The feeling I got from the reading is that the child is probably gifted in this area as well. (The young woman in the painting is not a physical portrait of the child. I think it represents her soul or some aspect of her spirit.)

The reading below is edited slightly to protect the privacy of the people involved.

7 blackbirds power symbol art reading“The impression I get is of someone who is extremely sensitive, and who has a special need to connect with the natural world.

“I’m feeling that music is very important, and sound in general. Natural sounds would be good for her, like birdsong and the breeze in the treetops and the sound of water. One of those little indoor waterfalls might be something she would find delightful and relaxing. However if she was told it was there because it was good for her she would probably not like it so much.

Power symbol drawing: blackbirds, tree and nature spirit
This is the original drawing. I added a few elements to the final painting based on some of the impressions I got, which didn’t come through until a bit later.

“There are seven birds. Birds are often associated with spirit. I get the feeling the number of birds here is important. Seven is a number associated with spiritual awareness, introversion, an analytical mind, non-conformity, and natural healing.

“It feels like she’s very thirsty for the presence of nature. It might be good to take her to (a nearby botanical garden) some weekend. But don’t force it on her, and if you do, take her just one on one, don’t try to turn it into an educational field trip, just focus entirely on her and her relationship with the environment, and let her just experience it. And if she resists it, just let it go and do something else with her.
“Listening is important. She needs time and space to listen, and be listened to. I think she has need for un-structured time in her life.

“Oh, one more thing: something about hands, and smooth pebbles, and maybe water and soil. She might enjoy gardening or flower arranging. She needs to experience nature at the physical, tactile level.”

(The child’s mother told me later that the number seven is highly significant in their religious tradition (Orthodox Judaism.) It is associated with the Sabbath, amongst other things. The Sabbath being a day of rest devoted to Spirit, I believe this does relate very much to the message.)

Additional notes: Blackbirds are often associated with the creative forces of nature, mysticism and spirituality. They are also quite territorial during their breeding season, so it may be important for this individual (or her parents while she is still young) to set boundaries protecting her need for space, in order for her to fulfill her creative potential.

Spirals appear in this painting as well. Spiral imagery is symbolic of creative growth and expanding spiritual consciousness.

The tree in the painting is a young sapling, and the energy of the piece is that of Springtime – reflections of this child’s stage of life.

Most of the readings I do come through as animal symbols. Every once in a while human imagery comes in. This happens especially when I am doing a general reading (for the planet and/or humanity.) Are they nature spirits? Angels? Do they just signify higher consciousness? I’m not sure at this point. If you have any insight into this please comment!

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Animal Totem Art Reading: Bear Goddess

The bear is a powerful animal, and carries powerful symbolism as well. They have a reputation for being unpredictable. People with bear energy may be a bit (or a lot) eccentric, and may have diverse interests. The latter is reflected as well by the bear’s diet. Bears are omnivores and will eat nearly anything. They are equally willing to forage, scavenge or hunt, depending on the situation. Keeping a positive, resourceful attitude and taking what life offers is a wonderful lesson Bear can bring.

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Animal totem art reading: Bear goddessSo I have been doing these drawings lately. I hold a person in my mind, and close my eyes, and before long images will appear to me, and I get them down on paper.

I think I’ve been doing this kind of thing for most of my life. It’s called art. 🙂

Seriously, though, after several many years of painting and drawing things out of my head it dawned on me that hey, I think these images have meaning. About two years or so after doing a painting I’d look back and realize what it signified.

After even more years it started getting easier to interpret the symbols and images that appeared to me. It’s a lot like dreaming on paper. After a while you learn to interpret your ‘dreams’, and if you pay attention, you will find that your dreams (or in my case, my drawings) become a series of guideposts to help in navigating through life.

Anyway, as I mentioned, lately I’ve started doing these for people I know. One day I just sat down and held my dad in my thoughts, and this is what came out.

I won’t go into what it might mean for him, because that is his business, but I can tell a bit about the general symbols involved, in case they resonate with anyone else out there.

Bear Animal Totem

The bear is a powerful animal, and carries powerful symbolism as well. Bears have a reputation for being unpredictable. People with bear energy may be a bit (or a lot) eccentric, and may have diverse interests. The latter is reflected as well by the bear’s diet. Bears are omnivores and will eat nearly anything. They are equally willing to forage, scavenge or hunt, depending on the situation. Keeping a positive, resourceful attitude and taking what life offers is a wonderful lesson Bear can bring.

Another important lesson we can learn from Bear is to respect one’s natural cycles of rest and activity. Bears don’t experience true hibernation in the winter (their body temperatures don’t go low enough and they can be awakened), but they do hole up in their dens and experience a sort of “hibernation light.” Incredibly, they can go more than 3 months without food, water, or bathroom breaks. People with a Bear totem may experience cycles of ups and downs, or periods of intense creativity or activity interspersed with unproductive periods. This is normal for them, and being aware of their natural creative cycles and learning to honor and respect them can help Bear people overcome the pressure society sometimes puts on people to go, go, go. Everyone needs a break, and sometimes a deep rest is needed in order to prepare oneself for high accomplishments.

Bears are excellent mothers and bears are often associated with protective nurturing. Another interesting quality of bears that relates to creativity is delayed implantation. Bears mate in summer, but the embryos don’t implant in the female’s womb until late fall before she dens. If she hasn’t gained enough fat over the summer, they won’t implant and she won’t have cubs that year. Bear people may experience delays between initial inspiration and actually taking creative action. They may also need to pay special attention to “putting their own oxygen mask on first.” Taking care of oneself first ensures that you will have enough energy to meet everyone’s needs.

Bears aren’t pack animals like wolves, but they do interact with each other, and they do develop social hierarchies. Attitude seems to be the determining factor when it comes to bear dominance. They prefer to use posturing and intimidation to make their point rather than resorting to a fight. However, if a bear does get pushed to its limit, watch out!

Bear Goddess

The Bear has had special spiritual significance since Neolithic times. It is the sacred animal of Artio, the Celtic goddess of wildlife, who is thought to be the precursor to the Greek goddess Artemis (or Diana in the Roman tradition), also associated with the Bear. Artemis is best known as the goddess of the hunt, but was also goddess of wild things and protector of young women. She was supposed to have asked her father, Zeus, to allow her to remain always a maiden, a request which he granted.

A Bear person may not find it easy to stay in a conventional relationship. However, Bear energy is wonderful for connecting with one’s true (wild) nature, or nurturing one’s inner child.

Moon Symbolism

When I first drew this image, I saw the orb in the figure’s hand as glowing with light. It struck me as being connected with the light of knowledge. I think it may be a moon image as well. The moon is another symbol of the goddess Diana. Like the bear, the moon goes through cycles, waxing and waning in power and influence. It is also closely connected with feminine power. I think in this image the moon serves to amplify the energies of the bear and the goddess. In general, the moon is associated with emotions and intuition. The message I got for this particular one, however, is one of a strong intellect – perhaps giving power and focus to intuition. (An example of how an individual’s symbols can sometimes over-ride, underscore or vary from universal symbolism.)

 

I hope you have enjoyed this interpretation, and if you are working with any of these symbols in your own life, I hope it was helpful! Keep in mind that any particular symbol can have multiple meanings, so if my interpretation doesn’t quite resonate with you, it doesn’t mean the symbol isn’t relevant to you. Keep searching! Some sources that may be helpful include:

  • Avia’s What’s Your Sign website – one of my favorite resources for looking up the meanings of all kinds of animal totems and other symbols
  • Ted’s Andrews’ excellent book Animal Speak

Or, you might want to study up on bears and their behavior and come to your own conclusions. Here are some good links to start with:

Thanks also to Granny Moon’s Goddess School for information on the Bear Goddess Artio!

 

Have you worked with bear energy? Please feel free to share your insights!

 

(P.S. I have a bunch more of these I’ve done for various people, and will post them as I find the time. I’m also planning to do a painting based on this particular drawing, so stay tuned!)

 

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