SHAMANIC CREATIVE ARTS

MONTHLY SHAMANIC CREATIVE ARTS

SSP now has a section for Shamanic Creative Arts and is now open to receive submissions of your artwork (including music) to be displayed on the website. Submissions are open to both SSP members as well as non-members and can be any kind of artistic expression inspired by your work in shamanism. This is an exciting opportunity for you to share not only your artistic talents but particularly how shamanism has inspired and is intimately woven into the creative expression that you are submitting.

Every month SSP selects one artwork or music composition that we highlight on our website and to our community.

Please fill out this form to submit an artwork or music piece to be considered for our monthly Shamanic Creative Arts selection.

Link to article on CreativIty and Shamanism by Dr. Steven Farmer

 

FEBRUARY 2024

Four Shamanic Rings:

A Journey of Life and the Creative Process

by Joan Levergood

 

Sometime in 2020 during a shamanic journey, my helping spirits gave me an assignment to carve four rings out of wax and cast them in silver. Each ring represented a part of my path to becoming a shamanic practitioner. These were the rings I was told to make. A ring of moss agate to represent the forest and my lifelong connection to nature. A second ring that would represent the Land of North America and the indigenous people of the land where I had been born. A third ring would honor domestic felines and the many cats who had walked alongside me, supporting and guiding me on my spiritual path. The final ring would represent the Creator’s energy in all things and the Creator within myself.

I am a creator. A maker of things. From a young age I made things. I used pieces of the forest and nature around me to build and furnish houses for my troll dolls. I learned to knit. At some point I was enrolled in a painting class at the local YMCA and learned about perspective and color. Mixing colors and making them talk to each other became my thing, and it still is. Since drawing realistically never came easy, I didn’t consider myself an artist. Yet I painted regularly. I mixed colors, painted, and started believing I was an artist.

I studied graphic design at Michigan State University where I had excellent basic art training and  learned to draw. When I graduated, computers were costly but were becoming common in businesses, and entry-level jobs in graphic design were drying up. I shifted to earn a living and worked in the insurance industry.

During my time working in business, I painted and painted. I learned that when I painted, the more abstract the work, the more likely it would be that I would go to a place of pure creation. An out-of-body place, merging with the creative rhythm of the act of painting, combining colors, shapes, and feeling into what was needed next. What would make it perfect? It was during this time that I was most prolific as an artist, drawing and painting almost daily.

As a shamanic practitioner I now realize that I was painting myself into an altered state. The act of painting itself, with the rhythm of the brush and the constant shifting of my vision to see the work differently, was an altered state of pure creation. Perhaps that is why the skill of shamanic journeying would come quickly to me years later, and the skill of allowing the mind to follow the suggestions of the creation process melds so well with shamanic work.

After thirteen years I saved money from my corporate job and opened a cooperative gallery with other artists. The gallery combined fine art, modern Arts and Crafts-inspired objects, and antiques. Then a friend suggested that I return to volunteering at a cat shelter where we had both volunteered. I did, and eventually got sucked in, working as a veterinarian assistant in their clinic for eighteen years.

When I worked at the shelter, the universe set me on my path to becoming a shamanic practitioner. I began fostering kittens at my home. One unfortunate result that happened very quickly when I started fostering was that my art studio became unusable and overrun with kittens. While I would occasionally sketch or draw something, I had stopped painting. I packed up my tools and supplies. I could not set up my studio to work and lacked the will to do it after working long, exhausting days at the shelter. It seemed that all of my creative energy was taken up with saving lives and helping cats. I worried that I would never live my creative life again.

I have learned not to worry because the universe and your helping spirits will send you the exact solution you need. I left the shelter and began working as a full-time shamanic practitioner. I went to an art show to see some friends and met a jewelry designer who taught jewelry-making. My helping spirits told me to learn how to make jewelry soon after and that this would be the path for me to return to doing regular creative work and eventually painting again.

I connected deeply to the transformative process of carving jewelry in wax and casting it in silver. This appealed to my designer side, to my getting into the creative zone side, and I began working. The repetitive scraping and carving appealed to me, too. The elemental process with the fire was thrilling. I was not, however, very successful at casting my work. Often I had to carve and cast pieces multiple times before getting a complete cast.

Then in that journey circle sometime in 2020, my helping spirits told me I needed to make the four rings. They also told me how to get my castings to work better. I needed to call in the Goddess Brigid with whom I had worked many times in my Celtic work. Brigid is the goddess of the forge and smithcraft, and my helping spirits suggested that when I cast metal, I should call upon her to bless the casting.

The creative process is a magical one in my opinion. I visited a local rock shop to get a piece of moss agate for one of the rings. While there I thought about the other rings and looked at stones to inspire my designs for the other three. I asked to look at the turquoise, considering its representation of North America and the beautiful stones in Indigenous Southwestern jewelry. Being very careful to select only stones from North America, I found a gorgeous turquoise blue stone which Inspired my design of the four directions ring with turquoise at its center.

I saw a gorgeous tiger-eye stone that reminded me of my beautiful cats at home. I picked out one of these stones and designed and carved a ring shaped like a domestic feline eye which would honor all that my journey with my feline companions had given me and how their feline magic showed me the spirit that was in all beings.

The beautiful moss agate stone reminded me of the forests that I love and of looking up through the leaves of the trees as a young child and enjoying the patterns of color and the changing light. I designed a ring that honored my relationship with the forest and nature, and I honored my Celtic ancestry with the spirals I have drawn since childhood carved upon its sides.

The final ring was in some ways the most difficult but the most simple. When I thought of connecting with the Creator, I felt a golden energy filling my body. I made the Creator ring with gold, representing this connection. It also represents where we came from, our piece of the Creator that chose to come here and dance with the Earth and take physical form. That perfect gold center also represents to me how we are both created and creators. When I look into the gold of this ring, I see myself reflected back.

When creating something or connecting to a piece of art, we align with the Creator. The magic of making and creating something allows us to connect more deeply with our own spirit and the spirit in all things.

My helping spirits had told me that one last thing about making jewelry. They suggested I call upon the Goddess Brigid, goddess of metalcraft and the forge when casting jewelry. So, I began calling upon her to bless my castings. My metal casts have been nearly perfect ever since. It did not take long for even the best students in my jewelry class to begin invoking Brigid when casting their more complicated pieces.

There are many ways to interact with our creative life more intentionally by using our shamanic practices as a window into more profound creative inspiration. You can ask your helping spirits for a spark of inspiration or an assignment like I did. You can journey into a landscape and ask it how it wants to be painted. You could ask to meet a helping spirit who is a master and merge with them while you create. Journey to the spirit of the stone or clay to ask how it would like to be sculpted. Cultivate your perfect altered creative states. Drum and/or journey before you begin. Play music that helps. If you are a musician, play music to help you get there.  There are many ways like this to inspire and enhance your creative projects.

Joan Levergood is a Shamanic Practitioner located in Chicago, Illinois. Joan is on the Board of Directors of the Society for Shamanic Practice as well as a longtime member of the Shamanism Without Borders Leadership Team. Being of service to her community as a shaman goes back to the very beginning of her shamanic training while she was working as a veterinary assistant at an animal shelter. Today Joan works with clients on a variety of life’s challenges. She specializes in unraveling and removing the unhelpful patterns of life, psychopomp or working with the dead, working with companion animals, soul retrieval, shamanic support of medical treatment and finding creative shamanic solutions to life’s sticky situations. www.helpingspirits.net