International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally

CREATION & MYTH MAKING

Myth should awaken us to rapture, even in the face of death and the despair we may feel at the prospect of annihilation. If a myth ceases to do that, it has died and outlived its usefulness

- Karen Amstrong in A Short History Of Myth

 My relationship to myths and mythology has changed dramatically since I started teaching courses in Making Sacred Art in 2011.

I have always loved myths and I actively collect myths and stories from all over the world. Before I travel anywhere I read up on local mythology to learn about the deep history, local gods and goddesses and spirits of a place. I also visit them in journeys and meditations.

However, where once upon a time my position was akin to "looking at something through a glass window without being able to enter", teaching sacred blew all doors wide open!

Essentially discovered that places and beings described in myths, however ancient  or obscure and from whatever location in the world, await us on the other side of the Veil. We can visit and consult them any time using shamanic techniques. In doing so our lives become profoundly enriched and our understanding of the workings of the Universe expands exponentially.

 

^  EXPECTING   (SOLD)

 

Our word MYTH comes from the classical Greek word MYTHOS and means story.

The most fascinating thing about the word myth is that it has two opposite meanings, basically 'truth' and 'lie', depending on your viewpoint.

In some cultures the Creation Myths are seen as the great truths that underpin human existence, truths that people honour above all else. However, in our own culture we often use the word 'myth' as a synonym for  fable or falsehood, something imagined that doesn't actually exist or didn't ever happen.

^  THE ISTHMUS OF MYTH

 

  Myth is the isthmus which connects the peninsular world of thought with the vast continent we really belong to

- CS Lewis

 Myths form a bridge between the terrifying abyss of cosmological ignorance and our comfortable familiarity with our own recurrent, if tormenting, human problems...

- Wendy Doniger in 'her book The Implied Spider

 

 

 Another word that has the same distinction of meaning both one thing and its opposite is 'to cleave': it means to split, but it also means to stick or to remain faithful to (and in that sense the word is used in the marriage ceremony). 

 

<  MAKE MAKE,   (H 30.5 cm x W 41 cm)     £125

 Painting inspired by rock art on Rapanui (Easter Island) depicting the Birdman God 'Make Make' holding the egg that contains the world

  ‘The world is man-made and woman-made. God and Goddess worked together to create the earth and human beings. Every tree that exists started life as a thought in the head of God or Goddess...’

(The ‘revised book of Genesis’ according to Elliott  Almqvist, aged 7)

... mythology // is not about opting out of the world, but about enabling us to live more intensely within it 

  - Karen Armstrong

 

 I teach classes in the zone where Art meets Shamanism.  My intention is to take participants and students to the very Heart of Creation., also known as The Great Silence. When we embark on that great journey, myths are our Road Map to the Unknown. We step outside the comfort zone, we step Outside Space and Time. we step outside consensual reality. - When we do all that, we dance with gods and goddesses in the very place where Creation occurs. And in doing so, we learn to fully embrace our power to create our own reality and co-create the universe we live in.

THE HEART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS



 

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

GODS AND CREATOR BEINGS

The Bible says: 'In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth'. Years ago (when I wrote the first version of this webpage) our then five year old son Elliott asked : 'Right, but who created God?' And that is the million dollar question that has occupied human minds for centuries. 

A myth, therefore,  is true because it is effective, not because it gives us factual information. If, however, it does not give us new insights into the deeper meaning of life, it has failed. It if works, that is, if it forces us to change our minds and hearts, gives us new hope, and compels us to live more fully, it is a valid myth 

- Karen Armstrong

What do we find when we venture into The Unknown or Great Silence? That is what this page is about!

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

So, who is God or Goddess?  What is Divinity? One way to describe the Great God or Goddess  is to credit him or her with every noble trait a human being could possibly possess - after all He or She was said to have created us in their own image....

The other way to go is not to describe him or her at all and leave it up to the individual imagination

The Altaic God Azrail had an infinite number of eyes. The closing of one eye meant the death of a human being. Think also of the ancient symbol of the 'divine eye enclosed in a triangle', which symbolizes all that God sees and knows, his omniscience.

 A body completely covered in eyes could then represent the starry sky, the cosmos viewed as a living organism! 

 I sometimes listen to Latin American baroque music from the missions. Just this very morning (Saturday August 24th, 2007) one interpretation of a similar idea, if you like, jumped out at me. It is a love song addressed to Maria, the virgin of Guadeloupe, but at the same time it sings the praises of God and creation. In Spanish it runs like this:

Maria, todo es Maria (copla 3)

Vuestra calzado es la Luna// vuestra vestidura el Sol// manto bordado de estrellas// por corona el mismo Dios

Maria, everything is Maria

Your footwear is the Moon// your clothing is the Sun// your cloak is embroidered in stars// to crown the Lord himself

 

 

THE BIG RIDDLE OF CREATION

Mythologies from all over the world try to solve one big universal riddle: how did the world come into being in the first place?

The three great monotheistic religions (Jewish, Christian and Islamic) honouring one supreme male god,  skirt around this  issue by saying that God = The Uncreated and therefore the cause of himself. (See also CIRCLE page).

However, in other faiths or cosmologies there exists something called a 'theogony', i.e. a group of myths that explains and illustrates the birth and descent of the gods. Mircea Eliade coined and preferred the word hierophany to theogony (litreally "an appearance of a god").

 

He defined HIEROPHANY as the act of manifestation as the sacred.

It could be said that the history of religions – from the most primitive to the most highly developed – is constituted by a great number of hierophanies, by manifestations of sacred realities.

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

THE SACRED DOES NOT PROVIDE AN ESCAPE FROM REALITY,  IT PROVIDES A RETURN TO REALITY - Mircea Eliade 

In his wonderful book The Sacred and the Profane, Eliade argues that religion is based on a sharp distinction between the sacred (God, gods, mythical ancestors, etc.) and the profane.. According to him, for traditional man, myths describe "breakthroughs of the sacred (or the 'supernatural') into the World" – that is to say hierophanies.

In the hierophanies recorded in myth, the sacred appears in the form of ideal models (the actions and commandments of gods, heroes, etc.). By manifesting itself as ideal models, the sacred gives the world value, direction, and purpose: "The manifestation of the sacred ontologically founds the world"

The man of archaic societies tends to live as much as possible in the sacred or in close proximity to consecrated objects// the sacred is equivalent to power and, in the last analysis, to reality. The sacred is saturated with being. // It should be said that the completely profane world, the de-sacralised cosmos, is a recent discovery in the history of the human spirit.

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 If reality was profane, mankind would not have the necessary foundation upon which to construct a “sacred” reality. On the other hand, if reality is both sacred and profane, it makes sense that man would have spaces to indicate where the two spheres coincide. 

Sometimes the beginning of all things is described as a limitless expanse of water (the oceanic consciousness). However, the most common image of creation is that of a cosmic egg containing the potentiality of everything. 

 

^ ILHUICATL & THE PRIMORDIAL CROCODILE

Mesoamerican Series  (46 x 81 cm)   £299

In one  Aztec creation myth the earth was conceived as a giant crocodile floating in primal waters. Each of the four quarters had specific names, colours and influences associated with it: East = Tlacopan, 'Place of Dawn', yellow, fertile and good. North= Mictlampa, 'Region of the Underworld', red, barren and bad. West = Chihuatlampa, 'Region of Women', blue/green, unfavourable, humid. South = Huitzlampa, 'Region of Thorns', white. Centre: Tlalaxico, Navel, black. The waters surrounding the inhabited land were called Ilhuicatl, the celestial water.

(From the Penguin Dictionary of Religions)

 In all mythologies what happens after  creation is a separation, a splitting. Instead of oneness, there are now opposites or opposing forces. This is where the concept Primordial Twins comes in.

 

 

 

^ PRIMORDIAL TWINS (see also the TWINS PAGE)

(W 40.5 cm x H 30.5 cm)  £175

TWINS

Next usually there is some event or action that kicks off a process of change and transformation. 

In China the Cosmic Egg explodes into two parts, forming the heavens and the earth. In a Maori creation myth, the world began when two creator beings, Rangi the male sky and Papa the female earth, broke apart from their immobile embrace in the void and assumed their opposed and separate positions in the cosmos.

For the Dogon people of West Africa a vibration set off by Amma the Creator God cracks the egg and liberated the opposed divinities of order and chaos. while in Egyptian myth the primordial act of creation was the raising of a mound of land out of a watery abyss called Nun.

 

 SACRIFICE AND LIFE CREATED FROM DEATH

In many stories or myths from all over the world, creation is brought about by sacrificial death. In Chinese accounts the giant Pan Gu gives up his life to bring the world into being. Exhausted by the long labour of separating earth and sky he lies down and dies. The various parts of his huge body then transform into features of the landscape and heavens.

There is a very similar hymn in the Vedic tradition in India about a primordial being called Parusha. 

In Saharan Africa the world was originally made out of various segments of the sacrificed cosmic serpent Minia, God's first creation. This event is remembered in the animal sacrifice in the region to this day.

There is a very notorious serpent as well in an Assyro-~Babylonian myth: King Marduk slaughters the serpent Tiamat, the female principle of chaos and then divides her enormous corpse. From one half he constructs the vault of heaven and from the other the solid earth. 

In Norse mythology the bisexual and primeval giant Ymir is slaughtered by the three creator gods. They form the earth from his body, the sea from his blood and the sky from his skull.

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 However, when it comes to theogonies, the Ancient Greeks conceived of (arguably!) the most famous one of all. The author Hesiod collected these stories and wrote them down for future generations. Hesiod says that in the very beginning there existed Chaos, the empty depths and right after that Gaia, the Earth; Tartarus, the Abyss and Eros, love (in the sense of erotic impulse that must guarantee the continuity of generations. The Greek word for self-sacrificing love is 'agape'). The Greeks eventually populate mount Olympus with a vast pantheon of Gods, still very much 'alive' in Western mind, art, films and literature today.

 

CYCLICAL TIME AND THE LIFE CYCLES OF WORLDS

In some mythologies the struggle between creation and destruction is seen as a permanent cycle in which worlds are brought into existence, destroyed and made again.

In North America the Hopi people believe in a series of worlds. The first was destroyed by fire, the second by freezing and the third by a flood. We are now in the fourth world, which is also due to end soon (!). 

The Aztecs and the Maya in Mesoamerica also believe in epochs of successive civilisations and the destruction of those at the very end of every era. 

 The most elaborate story of this kind is from Hindu India. The great God Vishnu, resting on the coils of the cosmic serpent Ananta in the waters of chaos, emits a lotus from his navel. This lotus opens to reveal creator god Brahma. From Brahma's meditation the world is created. It lasts for an immense amount of time before dissolving back into chaos. From this chaos a new universe eventually emerges in exactly the same way. Each of the four successive eras within a world cycle is inferior to the previous one.

 A frequent motif in African creation myths is the theme of God making a vessel from which the first human beings appear.

The Azande version of this story tells how men were originally sealed inside a canoe, together with the moon, stars, night and cold. The sun managed to melt the seal and humanity emerged.

To be naked is to be speechless

- The Dogon People of West Africa

 

 <  AZANDE CANOE    (51 x 21 cm)    £175

>  MYSTERIOUS BIRD-HEADED FIGURE IN ROCK ART, USA

 THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE COSMOS

In myth the visible world of everyday reality is always part of a larger whole. Most traditions describe the everyday world we live in, a 'heaven' or world above inhabited by superior beings or god(s) and ancestors, and a world below: a lower world or 'underworld' peopled by the dead and other subterranean spirits. 

In many mythologies there is a world pillar, axis mundi, or often a world tree that unites the three worlds or levels. The most famous World Tree or 'Cosmic Tree'  is Yggdrasil in Norse mythology

Other examples of Cosmic Trees or World Trees are found in Central America, in the mythology of the aboriginal people of North and South America and the peoples of the Sahara Region in Africa.

A similar concept lies at the heart of the Hebrew mystical tradition: the Kabbalah.

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 OF GODS AND STARS

The heavenly bodies often appear in myth as human beings, be it divine, human or animal. The sun is often a male deity (think of the cult of the Egyptian Sun God Ra). The sun can also be female (the goddess Amaterasu in Japan) and the moon male. A male moon features in the myths of southern Africa, as the husband of the planet Venus. In many places the sun and moon are seen as lovers.

In many parts of the world, houses or dwelling places are modeled on an image of the universe. This is characteristic of the island peoples of Southeast Asia, but also the people of the Amazon forest of South America and the nomadic tribes of Siberia. 

The houses of the Dogon people of Mali are built to represent the Creator God Nommo in human form.

 

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

 

Many mythologies from all over the world say comparatively little about the creation of human beings. Maybe they do not assume that human beings are "top dog" in Creation and rightly so perhaps as all indigenous/tribal peoples see animals as equals.

 The book of Genesis in the Bible says that 'God created man in his own image'.

According to one Greek myth, the first man was created from clay and the first woman from earth.

In North America a Hopi myth describes how Spider Woman formed the first human beings from Earth.

The Herero people of southwest Africa say that the first people climbed up from a 'Tree of Life' in the underworld. Another African motif is the idea of God making a vessel from which human beings later came out. T he Azande version says that people were originally sealed in a canoe, together with the sun, moon, stars, night and cold. The sun melted the seal and humanity emerged  (see AZANDE CANOE elsewhere on this page).

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 MISFORTUNE, DISEASE & DEATH

However the world was created, once it exists, accidents, disease and misfortune arrive on the scene. The Book of Genesis in the Bible describes how Cain kills Abel. Once Adam and Eve have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, God casts them out of paradise and the concept Death enters the world as they did not manage to eat from the Tree of Life as well...

In Egyptian myth the violent god Seth creates havoc on earth by murdering his brother Osiris. The spite of the Greek goddess Eris (Strife, not to be confused with Eros!), insulted because she wasn't invited to a wedding, leads indirectly to the Trojan War.

Maybe the most famous story that illustrates this  is about Pandora's Box. Zeus created Pandora as the first woman (to even a score with Prometheus) and sends her a box or jar she is told not to open. Out of curiosity she does so anyway and unleashes a tempest of evils, including every kind of sickness. Only Hope remains inside.

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 TRICKSTERS

Native American tales feature a Trickster character: Coyote. In Norse mythology we find the trickster God Loki, who is forever upsetting the 'apple cart' and spoiling things for the other gods.

There is a fascinating tale in Inuit mythology that reflects the ecological necessity of death. For a long time people were periodically rejuvenated and no one died. The population became dangerously large, threatening to tip the land over and plunge everyone into the sea. An old woman, seeing the danger, then used magic words to summon death and war. This way the world was lightened and global catastrophe averted!

Tricksters have their place in the larger order of the cosmos: they are game changers. They upset the established order so fresh possibilities open up and life doesn't get too stale or predictable.

In a stale predictable life no growth or evolution occurs... This is true on the individual level as much as the collective level (communities and societies).

 

BUILDING BLOCKS OF MYTHS AND STORIES

A very interesting thing about comparative mythology is that it shows that major creation themes appear all over the world. Concepts such as A Lost Paradise,  The Great Flood, The Cosmic Egg and the Axis Mundi or Tree of Life, the Great Serpent and The Theft of Fire are universal themes, not unique to a particular culture! 

All over the world we find plot-lines in myths and stories such as: The Quest, The Battle of the Gods, Magical Helpers, the Magic Cauldron or the Holy Grail, the Hero and the Trickster - and so forth.

These seemingly archaic tales say something about the way that society is organised, but they often have a variety of other meanings as well. You could say that they are layered: over time and different people from different cultures find different meanings in them. 

>   DREAM ABOUT PERFORMING A HEALING IN MY CELLO CASE IN THE DESERT 2014

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 I know that there s one indigenous society where the story of creation and even the history of all diseases are  recited before a shamanic healing session is performed.  (Will post more details once I find back the reference!)

I understand this to mean that healing is returning to a true alignment of our soul with the larger universe and cosmos.

Ultimately healing is not about "fixing or removing a disease" (though that can be part of a treatment or healing journey). True healing is about restoring and human mind and human body to a state of Divine Grace.

We cannot do this alone. We can only do it in partnership with beings more powerful and evolved than ourselves: angels, gods, great spirits. They always see and hold our Divine Countenance even when we are unable to do so.

Ancient myths provide invaluable maps on our healing journeys to The Great Within and back to Divine Grace

 

 

SEVEN (or eight) ARCHETYPAL STORIES?!

It is an often quoted maxim that there are really only seven stories in fiction and all other stories are just variations on those "archetypal plots". What are  these Seven Great Stories? In a reply to a reader in the Notes and Queries section of The Guardian newspaper of 9 September 1991, the following listing of possible dramatic narratives was suggested by Rory Johnston,  the son of  the Irish playwright Denis Johnston:

Plots for plays is something my father Denis Johnston, had a lot to say about. Originally he thought there were seven, but then he realised there are in fact eight:

Cinderella - Unrecognised virtue at last recognised. It's the same story as the Tortoise and the Hare. Cinderella doesn't have to be a girl, nor does it even have to be a love story. What is essential is that the good is despised, but is recognised in the end, something that we all want to believe. 

Achilles - The Fatal Flaw, that is the groundwork for practically all classical tragedy, although it can be made comedy too.

 Faust- The Debt that Must be Paid, the fate that catches up with all of us sooner or later. 

Tristan - that standard triangular plot of two women and one man, or two men and one woman. 

Romeo and Juliet - Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy either finds or does not find Girl: it doesn't matter which. 

Orpheus - The Gift taken Away. This may take two forms: either the tragedy of the loss itself, as in Juno and the Paycock, or it may be about the search that follows the loss, as in Jason and the Golden Fleece. 

The Hero Who Cannot Be Kept Down. The best example of this is that splendid play Harvey, made into a film with James Stewart.


 

THE HERO'S JOURNEY

These plots can be presented in so many different forms (tragedy, comedy, farce, whodunit, literary fiction, "chicklit" etc!) and they can be inverted or reversed too, but they still form the basis of all good story telling and writing.

These plot lines are archetypal (meaning that they are wired into the blueprint for human existence) and active in our own lives as well.

Human beings are creatures in search of meaning. They can endure almost anything provided they can find meaning in these events but humans cannot live a meaningless life. That harms their spirit.

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

RITUAL & CEREMONY

Mythology is usually inseparable from ritual, says Karen Armstrong.  As a shamanic teacher I go even one step further: myth becomes accessible and activated as en embodied reality through ritual and ceremony!

In shamanism when we perform ceremonies a group of people together align with the timeless world and perform symbolic actions that have a huge impact in our everyday world . This is the place where timeless sacred reality touches and shapes everyday reality. Our own imagination provides the means, myth provides the map - Imelda Almqvist

 

The most powerful myths are about extremity (Amstrong); they force us to go beyond our experience. Myth is about the unknown, it is about that for which we initially have no words. Myths therefore look into the heart of the Great Silence.

Myths provide a manual for the right course of action, in this world and in baffling situations.

Myths are also messages from The Dreamtime: any event that happens now also happens all the time. E.g. a woman giving birth is, in that moment, all women who ever gave birth, alive and dead.  Our own rational mind cuts us off from this perennial archetypal reality Outside Time.

 MYTH MAKING & CREATING HEALTHY REALITY

This then takes me to my mission vision and statement on the homepage of this website: working through the map (or lens) of mythology with powerful ancient beings and spirits has taught me that my true task in life is creating safe space and containers for people where they learn how to create and joyful reality. 

The word sacrament (which has sadly fallen out of use) is helpful here and here is my own definition:

A powerful eremony, act or event that is regarded as an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual divine grace

 

 THE END OF THIS WORLD AND BEGINNING OF ANOTHER WORLD

Myth is about the unknown, it is about that for which we initially have no words. Myths therefore look into the heart of the Great Silence.

Life is cyclical, not linear. Earth is a circle and so are the Sun, Moon and Planets all spinning in circles and mirroring cycles on Earth.

“As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…”  - Hermes Trismegistus

THE JOURNEY BACK TO OUR DIVINE ORIGIN

This material is extremely close to my heart but sadly even webpages must end!

For me the work I do is essentially Mystery School work for modern times and people.  I create containers and call together groups for sacred alchemy to occur. 

World Mythology is an unlimited reservoir of road maps back to our Divine Origin 

SACRED ART COURSES

 

 A revelation is a challenge to accept something as yet unknown, and only if that acceptance is offered does the unknown make itself apparent

 - Francis Huxley in The Way of the Sacred