Learning from Listening to Bones

by | Oct 20, 2016 | Article, Teaching Stories

My friend Brenda collects bones and skulls that she finds.  She brings them home, cleans them, then makes sacred objects for her shamanic practice.  She has been making her own bone tools for years, just as shamanic practitioners have done through the ages.

Together, we and other practitioners in our area celebrate the Full Moon each month.  When I was new to my shamanic practice I was called to join in one Sunday afternoon when we were meeting at Brenda’s house.  We had gathered with a specific intention to create a rattle using the bones Brenda had found and collected over quite a span of time.  The majority were bones of the white tailed deer. Although I have been a fine artist since kindergarten I had not done this type of work before, and the prospect of making something out of bone intrigued me.

Listening to Bones 2 Waugh-FleischmannI looked over the bones and chose two, not knowing exactly what I would do with them.  I put them together in various ways and combinations, trying to see how I could possibly conjure up a rattle.  There were more bones to choose from, but I was fascinated and fixated on these two.  I found a way that they fit together and decided to go with that combination but, being an artist, I knew that for me the first answer was never the only answer.

At home I sat and percolated the possibilities.  I tried different ways of attaching, embellishing, and manipulating the bones to bring out what was hidden there. My protective Power Ally is Hawk; I would make this a rattle to honor Hawk.  I began carving the bone.  The carving was difficult; it almost seemed to be resistant!  Forcing a hawk was not the answer.  It was then that I actually began to listen.

Sensing the energy I was feeling, I looked at my little hand sized sculpture, turning it over and around.   Suddenly I heard a clear voice in my head, “I am not a bird of any kind!  I am a deer!  I am trying to show you I am a deer!” The result of finally listening was a beautiful piece filled with gentle and powerful energy.

Listening to Bones 1 Waugh-FleischmannThat was the beginning of a whole new recognition of shamanic energy for me, a profound understanding. Since that evening I have been lead to listen more closely to my heart and the energy around me, sharing with others in many ways through carving, assemblage, painting and creating. Brenda and I have collected bones, feathers, semi-precious gemstones, rocks and other bits of nature.  Each has a message most often revealed in journey.  I listen to the bones and other materials; each imparts its own spirituality, its own message.  When the intention becomes clear a new creation is in the making.   It takes time and patience and love; this is my connection to Spirit -through creativity. In communion with these spiritual materials, I serve others. Thus, each sacred object created becomes an extension of my shamanic practice, a manifestation of love.

CREATIVITY and the SHAMANIC PATH

“As an artist, one sees in images, colors and textures. Every element and nuance of nature has meaning and purpose. I have painted since I was three years old and believe shamanic practice called to me from there although it took me some years to recognize it. Greatly influenced through the eyes of my father to notice the subtleties of the natural world, I grew to appreciate the breezes, the cloud formations, the light, the insects, flowers and wildlife that could be found in nature. These are all necessary elements incorporated into my art work Raising my children, learning to express nature and creating have been my professional life and my personal passion In the past ten years I have been introduced to the philosophies and practices of Core Shamanism which draws together all of these areas of my life and paints the picture which for me, just makes sense. Shamanism solidified the connection between my creativity and my spirituality and provided a way for me to share both with the world; creativity and Spirit fused into one practice. I heal and worship Spirit through my creativity”. – Christine Waugh-Fleischmann

About the Author

Since 1979, Christine has taught art and painting from the pre-primary level to university level. Having taught Art Education for Eastern Michigan University and Olivet College in the past, she currently teaches Watercolor in private lessons, and Oil Painting, Color Theory, 2D Design at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor Michigan. In addition, Christine teaches Creative Thinking for Business at Lansing Community College. In 1997 she opened the Conifer Gallery of Okemos as co-owner and contributing artist. From 1997 through 1999, Christine received grants from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs for watercolor and clay workshops with children and adults, and was honored as “Artist in Residence” in Charlotte, Michigan. She is a member of the Mid-Michigan Art Guild, Michigan Art Education Association, National Art Education Association, Lansing Area Artists Coalition, Experience Art- Charlotte and the Michigan Water Color Society. In 2008 she coordinated and facilitated the development of the Art Adventures Children‘s Art Program at the Riverside Art Gallery of Ypsilanti, and Eastern Michigan University Department of Visual Arts. For years, she taught Watercolor at Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan.

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