It's coming up to St. John's Tide our yearly Festival of summer, how about making some devotional art? Fra Angelico says, "Those Who Want to Paint Christ Have to Live with Him." We can say that about St. John as well.
As a contemplative artist working artistically as a spiritual practice, I am drawn to celebrate the festivals creatively. Whatever I am studying, I ponder it in my heart. We always hear that "Mary-Sophia pondered in her heart."
1 she contemplated her image in the mirror: look at, view, regard, examine, inspect, observe, survey, study, scrutinize, scan, stare at, gaze at, eye.
2 he contemplated his fate: think about, ponder, reflect on, consider, mull over, muse on, dwell on, deliberate over, meditate on, ruminate on, chew over, brood on/about, turn over in one's mind; formal cogitate.
3 he was contemplating action for damages: consider, think about, have in mind, intend, propose; envisage, foresee.
she had time to ponder over the incident: think about, contemplate, consider, review, reflect on, mull over, meditate on, muse on, deliberate about, cogitate on, dwell on, brood on, ruminate on, chew over, puzzle over, turn over in one's mind, overthink.
Contemplation and pondering are verbs, inner activity, warmth of heart generated. Part of my contemplation during June, the month of the St. John Festival on June 24th, is the idea of Penetration. John prepared people by baptizing with water, through the power given to him to be the Preparer of the way to the Christ.
" There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
In the first verses of the John gospel, we have "there was a man sent by God." Have you thought of that? Sent By God. Imagine that. Imagine that YOU out there, just for a moment, dear reader, you are John! What would that destiny task feel like? To Be The Witness. To witness a penetration of God descending.
Women of course, understand penetration on a somatic level. We have an opening, a chalice, a cave, a receptacle, we can be penetrated by men which brings new life into the world. Even if we do not have children, we always have this hidden sheath. But John has to be aware, awake, cognizant, alive, alert, vigilant to a new Inner Birth. Even John being highly awake to his destiny, "to prepare the way for the Lord" does not know. He says, "And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' "
So John has inner conversations with God and angels. He did not "know" but was told the secret, 'seeing a Spirit come down and remain' then John would know, This is the One who I was sent to give Witness to.
baptism holynights meditations John gospel kristena west
I try to imagine being John, my whole entire life to be dedicated with single purpose, constantly on the watch, baptising the people, plunging their heads under water so they could open to a spiritual experience by coming close to drowning. So the people could See the Christ being on his way to earth. (so says Edwourd Shure' and Rudolf Steiner) We know that this mighty being, a Sun spirit came into the body of Jesus when John plunged Jesus beneath the water of the Jourdan river. Jesus was penetrated by God. The John gospel states, the Father thundered, "Thou art my Son; this day I have begotten thee!" John baptized Jesus and on arising from the water He became Jesus Christ. The Christ being penetrated the body of Jesus.
This is a spiritual rebirth, an opening up to allow something higher, purer, holy, light, life and power to enter one, not from below, but from above. I try to imagine being Jesus meeting the Christ in his innermost being, just try to imagine that...was it a mighty revolution, a sweet conference, a divine conjunctio? Or was is a beloved heart wrenching goodbye? Those are questions I think about during the month of June most especially as I was born a sun baby a few days after St. John's day.
"Oh Light Divine, Oh Sun of Christ, Warm Thou our Hearts, Enlighten Thou our Heads" a verse from Rudolf Steiner's Foundation Stone meditation. I wish to create an inner chalice in my heart and mind for the Christ Sun to reside. I wish to be penetrated by the Christ.
The festivals then, are Windows that open rhythmically year after year. St. John's day is a spiritual window when we can prepare our souls to be penetrated by the light. The summer solstice is the longest day of year and St. Johns is dedicated to that Light, to the inner Light that dwells within.
Contemplation means living so keenly, in focus, in simplicity, that you reach the highest pitch of awareness, the most total kind of presence.
These pastels are my doodling, it is my way to look at from many different perspectives, the mystery I am pondering at the moment. I use black charcoal paper because the colour PoPs off the page. So many of us think each piece of art has to be finished, polished, perfect, but these pieces can be cliff notes as we work out thoughts, struggle with penetrating concepts, notes to self "how about this?" and in fact can be a conversation with John. The entelechy of John is not gone, he is a Saint after all and can be called upon to work with us in our contemplation of the festival of high summer.
Holy Grail holynights meditations John gospel 2016 kristena west
These sketches were done for Holy Nights Art Meditations on the John gospel. If you look over my blog you will see the immersion of self into John this year. For 5-7 years I read the John gospel every morning; one chapter a week, new chapter on Monday. I loved it. The John Gospel is the gospel of the Sophia, and contains a great mysteries may be revealed to the soul pondering it, gradually over time, as we question into it. If you are a dreamer, keep that journal handy so you can jot down notes on waking up. Yesterday, I woke up to "Festivals are Windows." Windows work two ways, as I peer out the window towards the Good Gods, they are peering down at me. The idea of icon painting, is, "The Eye that I behold, is the Eye that looks at me." Paintings or images can be windows to our conversation with deities, angels and Saints.
Working creatively with annual festivals will look very different for everyone, we all have some artistic tools- writing, painting, weaving, meditation, designing altars- but so many of us yearn for this deeper conversation. Creativity brings it out of the body/soma and into the world, so we can view our inner dialogue.
Living with festivals artistically as a spiritual approach to the world brings us in harmony with Nature. Contemplating the John gospel we dwell within the story of Light, of the Sun, of Love and we see the flowering blooming world around us. John cautions us to change our hearts and minds so the Light of the Sun of Christ may rise in our hearts. Creating devotional art helps us build an inner chamber dedicated to our spiritual practice, there within our hearts we are creating a chalice awaiting it's beloved. May a Sun rise in all our Hearts.
If you are interested in learning how to work artistic and contemplative practice please join us on Face Book group: Working with Deities Making Sacred Art as a Healing Meditation