Owen Chooses A Painting
To: Owen@ nekelew.net
From: Thea@ nekelew.net
Subject: Your paintings
At the risk of sounding like the classic “would you like to see my etchings,” would you like to come up on Tuesday about 5 pm for a drink and to choose a painting for our trade?
From: Owen@ nekelew.net
To: Thea@ nekelew.net
Subject: Re: Your paintings
Good timing. Tuesday would be great and I’ve cleared a space on my wall for a painting.
“Welcome, Owen. What can I get you? I have wine, beer, gin…and tequila.”
“Actually, I don’t drink anymore. Friend of Bill Wilson’s, you know. I’d love some juice if you have any.”
“Oh. I have apple juice if you’d like. Either plain or sparkling.”
“Sparkling would be lovely.”
If Thea was disconcerted by Owen’s choice she didn’t show it, pouring herself a glass of Merlot after she handed Owen his Martinelli’s. Standing in the kitchen alcove, they made small talk about the craftsmanship of the trim little house. Its previous owner was connected with Owen’s parents and it had been built by Charley with wood from Owen’s family’s sustainable timber operation.
But soon Owen’s eye was drawn to look around at the paintings. “Have you done all this work since you came down here?”
“Nope. That one there is an older one. It’s the Green Seed painting that Ursula and I were talking about when she suggested I come to you for a Soul Retrieval.”
“And this one?”
“That’s a new one about the Mountain – or rather a Wild Woman in the Mountain. I think her name needs capital letters. Have you ever heard of a legend about such a one?”
“I think there are stories of her in the collection called Nekelew Tales, but nothing substantive is coming to mind about her. I wonder if she has any connection to Durga that Ursula was just telling us about the other night or Kali. They are serious wild ones from India.”
“She came to me strongly and I just assumed she was Native American. In fact, the Mountain almost seems to be talking to me. Does that sound really weird?”
“It is weird – in the sense of ‘witchy’ – but I know what you mean. For me it comes through the plants. Which reminds me.” Owen dug through his knapsack and pulled out a small brown bottle. “Comfrey flower essence as ‘prescribed’ by Dr. Ursula and made by yours truly. It’s also known as bone knit so symbolically it’s about putting the pieces – the members – back together. Either literally if you have a broken bone or figuratively such as your lost parts we retrieved.”
“Is that why she said ‘remembering?’ I’ve been wondering about that.”
“Yes, as in re-membering,” Owen separated the two parts of the word as he spoke it.
“But what is an essence as opposed to a tincture?”
“A tincture contains the biological components of the plant. I make those too but these are the subtle energies. I can also make essences from crystals or even the energies of events. They’re more like homeopathic remedies that are diluted so much there’s nothing left of the original substance but the signature energy. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but the more they’re diluted the stronger they are. I make these from Mountain spring water in a crystal vase with the flower or root – usually in both sunlight and moonlight and often created during a special celestial or earth event such as an eclipse, solstice, or full moon. Or a new moon. They contain alcohol as a preservative so I don’t use them myself except when they are fresh – or from the freezer.
“Because they are Spirit Medicine they operate on a subtle level of one’s being. Always they come from a being – a plant, a place, a stone – that wanted to give its gift to us humans. I listen to the meaning & character of each gift as told to me by the being itself.”
“So this won’t cure a cold, say, but might help me find the meaning of my green seed or integrate my soul retrieval beings?”
“Exactly. It could very well help with those processes you are in the midst of. If you did have a cold, it would tackle the deeper basis for why you ‘caught’ it. Often unexpressed grief is involved and it could be very ancient. Or say if you had a sprained ankle or broken limb, it might help heal whatever it was that caused the so-called ‘accident’ in the first place. Why did you lose your footing or what is ungrounded in you? But you started to tell me about the Mountain talking to you.”
“Do your plant spirits come to you in their creature spirit form or in people-like form with distinct personalities like Eliot Cowan describes?”
“They are very amorphous for me. I just get a sort of feeling about them. It’s very subtle and easy to miss if I’m not listening carefully. And I often did miss it in the early days before I learned what was happening…”
“When I was painting the other day…. I’m not sure I’m ready to have you spread this around.”
“I won’t breathe a word until you’re ready.”
“As I finished this Wild Woman painting I heard a voice – no, it would be more accurate to say that I saw a voice in my head. I’m such a visual person that’s the only way I can describe it. A voice that said…well, see this fire in the painting here? I don’t know why that came in but it really wanted to be there…. The voice told me it’s a beacon calling me – us? – here…. And that the dragon is protection…. and something about Wild Woman…. I’m not sure what. That’s why I was asking about her.”
“Cool! We’ve often talked in the Medicine Circles about people feeling called here and occasionally the word “beacon” even gets used. Plus it’s not unusual for folks here to see flickers of dragons out of the corners of their eyes as well as in dreams. Or even just turning up a lot in books and cards at propitious moments. It’s a potent symbol. I’d say you are tuning into the deeper levels of what’s here. Good going. It’ll be fun to see what else you come up with.”
“I don’t know whether to be relieved or more worried that you seem to think I’m tuning into something others are also getting.”
“Well, I, for one, would welcome accurate, beautiful depictions of what many of us suspect about this place and its purpose. And it wouldn’t surprise me for you to channel images that give us new information too.”
“ Should I say ‘thank you?’”
Owen laughed. “Did you ever have experiences like this when you were a kid?” he queried.
“Nooo. At least I don’t think so.”
“I’m wondering if it is your psychic self that has been closed off, shut down the way it was in so many of us. Often we had experiences as a child – some can recall them and some can’t – where a grown-up made us feel ashamed or crazy or fearful which, in effect, muzzled us. I know one person who knew her little brother had died before they told her and another for whom it was a grandparent. In one case the story was accepted and the person retained that ability. The other got yelled at for it and clammed up. She’s still working to regain her belief in the credulity of her other worldly experiences.”
“So you think I might have had such experiences and just not remembered?”
“It’s certainly possible. I hear a lot of fear in you about it.”
“Years ago a friend talked me into going with her to a psychic. It was amazing. He saw me as an artist and said I should be showing my work more. He had a lot of specifics about how I should go about doing that. Because of him I went on what now feels like a tangent visiting galleries back east – trying to hit the Big Time, you know.”
“He also gave some directives to my friend that got her pretty bollixed up – about leaving her husband and some other stuff.”
“Sounds like by getting so specific, he wasn’t being too ethical. June says one always needs to leave room for free will in the person one is ‘seeing’ for. i.e. making it clear that there are many possible roads and turnings. Choices one gets to make rather than one inevitable path laid out in concrete.”
“Still, in a way it was a good thing. I was so turned off by the push energy of the tangent that something in me began to rebel against what I call ‘Capital A’ Art. It was about that time that I also began to discover Tarot and the Goddess and that led me down here…. So it wasn’t all bad by any means. But the thought of channeling something ‘wrong’ or ‘too much’ for somebody freaks me out.”
“Is it that, more than the fact of it happening to you or people knowing that it’s happening to you?”
“Certainly I don’t want to be considered crazy and all that. I think my mom planted some of that in my head. Hey – I wonder if she’d had some experiences she wasn’t telling me about. Or my aunt…. the one who left me the money that made it possible for me to move down here to the beach.”
“Any of them might have, of course. It certainly hasn’t been accepted in our culture for a long time. As we talked about with Ursula the other day, they burned witches….”
“Well, come on upstairs to my studio and some more of the paintings.” Ready to change the subject, Thea led Owen up the narrow, beautifully built staircase to her studio area. He had to duck under the low hanging eaves where the stairs turned and then opened out into a wide clear space full of canvases stacked every which way, as well as paintings and clippings hung on every possible surface, even the tall file cabinet next to the cluttered work table.
“Oh ho! What’s this one over here?” Owen pointed to a painting that was hanging on the east wall. “It’s really calling to me.” A large green male figure was holding an armload of plants and flowers. Foxglove and daisies stuck out from his arms while nasturtiums and ivy dangled down. A crown of what looked like Oregon Grape circled his head, though it could have been holly. Sitka spruce stood tall all around him, pointing up to the stars of the constellation Orion sparkling in the sky. A tiny figure of a centaur was wheeling near the stars. Thea had used her signature phthalo green and white to give the painting an eerie, other-worldly feeling.
“That’s the Green Man – I painted him this summer when I first got here and before I had any idea of the European archetype.”
“That’s funny because that image has become really important to me recently. It gives me chills to see it here. It’s like there’s some memory I can’t quite get hold of that has to do with it….” His voice trailed off.
“When you say that it gives me chills too….”
“To get chills is a sign of psychic connection,” Owen said absently. “The plants…?”
“You had just introduced me to Oregon Grape so it felt appropriate to put it in.”
“So it is Oregon Grape… Clearly this is the painting I want in trade for our session. It will be good to live with it and ponder why I’m responding so strongly to it.”
“I have no idea who the centaur is or why he’s in the painting.”
“I don’t know either, but that’s part of the mystery of it for me.”
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I find him really sexy,” said Thea. She wasn’t about to admit any more about it out loud. She’d exposed herself enough already to Owen, but she was feeling the energy of Osiris on him. Osiris, Egyptian God of the Underworld, was often considered a Green Man as well. Could it be Owen who had been turning up disguised as such in her fantasies lately?
There was a bit of an awkward silence. “Umm,” said Owen. “The plants are indeed the expression of the lifeblood of the earth and they can certainly stir us up. What is more primal than the Pan image of the Green Man? Yours isn’t leering here or goat footed though that’s often how he’s depicted. The Christians made him into the Devil. The Seducer. The Satyr, half man half goat, definitely has a mixed reputation in our culture.” Owen knew he was babbling but he didn’t know where to go with this.
Thea laughed. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. But doing this painting made me feel sexy and now you’re taking it home so that has to become part of the mystery of it. Hopefully it will be disturbing in a good way.” She moved to take the canvas down from the wall and handed it to Owen with a flourish, bowing as he reached to take it. Owen bowed low in return.
“Owen, I’m pretty sure that at least some of this New Age LOVE energy is about sex. And the playful cougar seems to be coming out in me, thanks to you.“
“No worries,” countered Owen. “But I think I’d better make my escape now.”