Saturday, March 05, 2011

Waters Rising

Waterline I, San Gregorio, CA, 2005

I’ve been having dreams of waters rising, several times over the past weeks. Last night, the last image before waking of was looking over a deep wind-rippled pond or lake at dusk, lights reflected in the water; the surface of the pond was restless, but there were deep waters underneath, half-revealed, half-concealed by the lights reflecting on the water. A week ago, I dreamed of flood waters rising, making the land where I lived into mud, and threatening to flood the dwellings where we lived. Inn the past week, I've dreamed more than once of sleeping outdoors, under the stars, sometimes in group urban tent-camp settings (which you sometimes do during a weekend art fair in university towns); each of these dreams of sleeping outdoors, on the land, has ended with imagery of waters rising.

Willow River State Park, WI, circa 2001

I’ve learned to associate these dreams as harbingers of the rising of the waters of the deep mind, the unconscious. The deep waters of the unconscious are a source of mystery, wonder, power, and healing, for me. (This is actually a Jungian archetype of the collective unconscious, not only my personal symbol.) Sometimes the rising waters appear as flood waters; sometimes as deep wells in the earth, sometimes in a cave, full of cold, clear, sweet-tasting water. (The well of wisdom in a cave is also an ancient Celtic religious symbol, I've discovered.)

There was one dream that was so unique I've never forgotten it: In that instance, the waters appeared as lines inscribed into a red stone patio; the red stone was of the red sandstone type found in the Southwest, vivid red; the patio was hot underfoot in the sunlight; the water was moving through inscribed lines and patterns and channels in the flagstones of the patio, like a labyrinth made of water; and the water lines reflected the pure blue of the sky overhead. Blue lines of water flowing through hot red stone, going somewhere I couldn't see, perhaps to a pool nearby and out of sight; but it was clear the waters were not still nor stagnant, but constantly in motion, flowing through the stone.

When such images and/or symbols appear in your dreams, especially several times within a short period of time, it's wise to pay attention.

The rising up of dark waters into the light of day is associated, for me, with the rising up of power, of creativity, of intuition, of information. Waters rising from the depths and flooding out over the land, over me. Every time I’ve had dreams like this, something big has moved upwards inside me, or some block has been opened, or new insights are gained, or I’ve experienced a huge surge in creativity combined with insight and intuition. The waters of that black underground river which is the power under life, which sustains me, which is the river of creative force that feeds my ability to make art. The black river underground that rises up through the wells, that flows into the creative work I'm doing, no matter what medium I'm working in at the time.

I welcome these dreamtime events, when they happen. They are a gift of grace and power from the gods, and not to be ignored or dismissed lightly. As I said, they have often been harbingers of change in the waking world.

Water drop in pothole, Interstate Park, MN, circa 1998

Water is a constant theme in my visual art. I make many photographs of water in nature. I love reflections in water and glass, that give a sense of depth and movement to an otherwise static scene. I spend a lot of my time out in the world making nature photographs near bodies of water. Rivers, lakes, the ocean. Ponds, streams, sheets of water making tidal flats into mirrors. Many of my own favorite photographs have water in them, in one form or another. We live on a planet that is mostly covered with water; and our blood has the same mineral mix and acidity as seawater, from which we arose.

I was once invited to present an exhibition of my photographs in a community center in the Twin Cities. I chose water as my theme, and made the logo above to represent the show. I set the type in Illustrator, then turned it into an art object in Photoshop, chromed it, and built the water reflection underneath. The show was a critical success (albeit not a financial one).

Water Gateway, unused image from Spiral Dance

Waters rising. I wonder what they will bring forward, this time, out of the depths.

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