New Painting & Poem

I intend to link my two loves – fine art and poetry by creating a new poem to accompany each new painting.

This latest one is called “I Smile Back”

 

I Smile Back

 

Sunshine, loved

One sleeping,

Unexpected smooch,

Child’s bubble bursting

On heavy-lidded nose,

Spring day grass mowed,

Noticing,

Noticing

Old woman’s smile,

Horoscope matching

Perfectly.

Being noticed,

Hugged and hugging.

Tidal ocean love,

Like smelling salts

Scary thanksgiving,

I pay attention,

Mind blinks clear,

So grateful. Grateful.

Life smiles at me,

I smile back,

Today

I smile back.

16″x12″. Acrylic on canvas. “I Smile Back”

Changes in the New Year

Hello,

Happy New Year! Like all years, 2015 saw lots of growth and change. I received my Master’s in English and Creative Writing, I moved, I became and atheist and a vegan, and lots more. 

2016, baby!

2016, baby!

As I plan to focus even more on my writing this year, I have decided to consolidate my blogs into one. I will still be writing about the same things, but all on one site.

If you would, please visit http://ravenburnes.wordpress.com for all my latest musings. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know who you are as well.

Here’s to love and growth and passion in 2016!

Peace and love,

Raven Burnes

Reflections on Divine Guidance

During my study time this morning the following two quotes really spoke to me. I’m reading Ernest Holmes’ The Science of Mind:

“If we think we can guide our brother aright, while our own feet still walk in darkness, we are mistaken. We must first clarify our own vision, then we shall become as lights, lighting the way for others. But can we teach a lesson we have not learned? Can we give that which we do not possess? To suppose so is hypocrisy, a thing to be shunned” (p. 435)

“The Voice of Truth speaks to me and through me. / The Voice of Truth guides me and keeps me on the Path of the Perfect Day. / I will listen to the Inner Voice and It will tell me what to do in the hour of need. / I shall be told everything that I ought to know when the time of /need arrives, and I shall not be misled. / The Voice of Truth cannot lie, but always speaks to me from On High. / Nothing enters but This Voice, for it is the Voice of God.” (p. 541).

The first quote speaks to me on a gut level. Many times, when I become frustrated with someone, it is because I want them to change in some way. Or, I will genuinely want to help someone who seems to be struggling with Error. In either case, the Goddess invites me to first look at my own struggles, weaknesses, and shadow selves. Sometimes what bothers me about another is that which I myself struggle with. Or it is an invitation for me to deliver to the world that which I am hoping to receive from another. For example, if my major complaint is that I don’t feel appreciated, my first task is to look at where I am lacking in appreciation for others. What or who am I taking for granted? What blessings am I experiencing that I haven’t been focusing on? Starting with myself allows me to see Truth more clearly and be a true support for those around me.

The second quote reminds me that I should never worry about receiving proper guidance. Often I want to control life and plan my every step. In my head I create various scenarios and envision how I will respond to each one. Prolonging these types of thoughts is wasted energy.  I will be divinely guided in the moment. My connection with Goddess energy is enough to support my every decision. Spirit never leaves anyone hanging. All we have to do is check in with Source and the answers are there!

As far as my art goes, it has taken a backseat to my writing lately as I finish up my Master’s degree (four more months to go!). I have been focusing more on photography in the meantime. The same principles apply to a good painting as a good photograph! The following photos were taken at a local park in Los Angeles.

Mental Illness and Spirituality

I did a short paper this past semester on Sylvia Plath and her presumed mental illness. People usually focus on her suicide and some of her more depressing poems when they speak about her work. However, I focused on some of her other great poems, such as Face Lift, which discusses the aging process and its emotional effects on women, and Strumpet Song which is a deeply empathic poem about a prostitute. In my paper I focused on her skill as a poet which, in my opinion, stemmed from her deep ability to empathize with the human condition. Was this deep level of compassion related to both her mental illness and her writing skills? Or was it gender-based, since, statistically, more women than men suffer from clinical depression – and because women’s health issues were routinely ignored or patronized in those days?

Because less was known about mental illness in Plath’s day, it isn’t clear what exactly she suffered from – whether it was depression or bipolar disorder. But, it got me to thinking about how we respond to mental illness as a society – and, specifically, how the spiritual community responds to mental illness.

In the old days, people assumed that the mentally ill were possessed with demons. Sadly, there are still many people who believe this and try to “pray away” mental health issues. There is still much we don’t know about the brain – which is a physical structure that interacts with but is separate from our souls and spirits. So, in light of my own ignorance but strong desire to be compassionate, I have come up with the following rules for myself when dealing with people I suspect are suffering from some sort of undiagnosed mental illness:

1) Know and believe that the person is made in the image and likeness of the Divine, regardless of whatever electronic misfiring might be going on in the brain’s circuitry.

2) Understand that my definition of “normal” is subject to my own interpretation and the influence of the cultural norms in which I was raised. (That which we call madness could make perfect sense in a different dimension of reality).

3) Realize that what might seem like mental illness could be the Ego’s dysfunctional reaction to pain – run amuck. People often make much more sense if and when we fully understand what they’ve been through.

4) Pray and hold the space for them to receive the help they need while practicing self-care. Compassion and kindness do not require us to be doormats. Place the oxygen mask on yourself first…

Anyway, this is a deep issue that requires much more contemplation. All I do know is that Love is the starting point for solving any and all societal problems!

In Peace and Love,

Raven

Discovering Your Psychic Profile

I am having a great time learning and growing in Wicca. Although I am still an artist, more and more I’ve come to see my life as my art. The beauty of witchcraft is that it is not about having the right doctrine or going to the right building once a week. Witchcraft is about who you are and what you do. It is about making a tangible difference in your own life and in the lives of others through managing energy and your own psychic states.

Your psychic profile is the way your psychic ability expresses most easily. I think my current psychic profile consists of telepathy (mental communication) and somewhat precognition (knowing about things before they happen). I used to just chalk these phenomena up to the fact that I’m observant and a good listener. But, in reality, all of us have actual psychic gifts to varying degrees. Like with any skill they get stronger the more we use them.  This week I will be working on testing and strengthening my psychic skills.

One of the ways I plan to do this is by practicing lucid dreaming. You practice while you are awake by looking into a mirror several times a day, asking yourself if you’re dreaming. Then, before you go to bed you tell yourself that when you see yourself in a mirror in your dream it will be the trigger to remind you that you’re dreaming. Once you are aware that you’re dreaming, you can take control of your dream rather than just passively allowing things to happen to you in dream state.

Lucid dreams, from what I’m told, can be very healing. I have only had one partial lucid dream (where I was lucid for a few moments then went back into the passive dream state) and it was so powerful. I have also had dreams within dreams.

Anyway, this proves to be an adventurous week as I go diving into the deep waters of the subconscious.  Won’t you join me?

Have a beautiful week!

Blessed Be,

Raven

A New Year, A New Me – Blessed Be!

With the new year coming up, I have been filled with introspective thoughts about who I am and what I want my life to be over the next 12 months.  One thing I’ve decided is to stop hiding the fact that I’m a witch. Very few people know about it and I see no need to advertise my spiritual beliefs. However, there is also no need for me to hide who I am. I am proud to believe in the power of the earth’s cycles and to know that thoughts are creative in nature. It is a pleasure and a privilege to know how to anchor positive mindsets and physical changes through the power of ritual. My goal is to continue the momentum I’ve gathered over the past six months.

Over the past six months I have intensified my connection to Spirit in general. My practice is more consistent; my thoughts and words more accurately reflect my beliefs; and I embody a deeper peace now than I have ever known.  But I am now ready to step it up and increase my knowledge and power as a witch. I plan to add to my set of ritual tools, but I am fully aware that all any witch needs is her mind and a quiet space in order to access the astral energies and bring about inner and outer change.

I feel the power of the Goddess move in, through, and as me. I tap into the sacred knowledge of the Divine Feminine and I channel it through my experience now and always. I join the sorority of powerful women who have worked, often behind the scenes, to effect change in their communities. I honor the Goddess and the God as manifestations of the One Presence. I step aside and allow their influence in my life now. And so I let it be. Amen. Blessed be.

The Solitary Wiccan

Greetings and Merry Meet!

So, it has been about three weeks since I moved into my new place.  Because I didn’t have plans for the long weekend, I spent a lot of time alone.  During times of loneliness, it is important to notice one’s coping mechanisms – things we do to beat down the uncomfortable feelings we don’t want to have.  As for me, I ate too much!  But I refused to beat myself up over it – it was a holiday, after all!  It’s just something for me to notice.

In the past, to smother feelings of loneliness, I would reflexively go out and try to meet people.  This often led to me meeting men who were unworthy of my time.  Since I am determined not to use that particular coping mechanism again, I must be willing to sit with the uncomfortable feelings.  I must lean into the pain and embarrassment of loneliness and just feel what it feels like.  This is the only way to truly surrender to it and receive its gifts.

One of its immediate gifts is productivity.  I got most of my first week’s homework done for my upcoming semester at grad school.  I also got a chance to paint, which was thrilling.  I’ve got a long way to go with the painting, but I’ve made a good start.  I had a wonderful weekend!  I spent quality time with myself doing things that I love.

Being a solitary witch sometimes literally means being alone.  But with the Goddess as my constant companion, I am never really alone.  Her beauty radiates through me in all that I do, allowing me to be a positive presence, whether I am in a crowd or on my own.

Peace and blessings for the upcoming week!

With Love and Light,

Raven

work in progress. 18" X 24" acrylic

work in progress. 18″ X 24″ acrylic