The Illustration Friday word of the week is mysterious.
In ancient cultures (and still-existing traditional ones) the shaman was a mysterious figure. He (or she) usually lived at the edge of the village, and often did not participate in the daily activities and chores of the tribe. Using strange instruments, archaic symbols, even stranger words and gestures, the shaman walked with a distracted (or maybe intense) manner…simply because he or she knew things. Think ‘Merlin’ for a clearer picture of this.
Sound like anyone you know now?
If you guessed artist, you were spot on. Artists, in their right role (as my wise friend and fellow blogger, Linda Hensley, pointed out so brilliantly in her recent post here) were meant, in the larger design of the Universe, to be the ones “just outside.” Not for punishment or ostracization, but to fulfill their function of having one foot in both worlds, keeping or bringing the numinous back into daily life…communicating with the Gods. Artists, shamans and healers (often the very same person) were called upon to restore the balance in bodies and hearts, between people, and in the natural world. Their ability to see past the imbalances, into the perfection and peace that is always available, was invaluable to tribes hard-pressed by mere survival issues.
Alas, the role of artists has greatly diminished!
Please don’t mistake my musings about artists for arrogance: shamanizing is very hard work. But instead of contemplating and illuminating the obstacles to a pervasive world peace, prosperity, and health of body and soul, most of us (hard-pressed by survival issues ourselves) have been reduced to making throwaway entertainment, decoration, or selling vodka and packaged goods with our gifts—the same deep, Universe-given gifts that have the power to enlighten, empower and bring unfathomable joy. Something is very wrong, indeed, when the healer-shaman-artist’s much-needed role no longer finds a place in the culture…
“Heart Medicine” (pencil)