ART AS AN ANIMIST Part 1
Last night at a book signing and discussion by Daniel Foor, PhD, author of Ancestral Medicine, a book on how to repair our broken relationships with our ancestors of blood, place, and spiritual lineage, I learned that our ancestors’ attention is gathered by our creating beautiful things.
This means that there is some energetic activity that can transcend time and space and somehow reach the souls of whom I come from. This idea elated me and confirmed that I am on the right path with my creations.
In many indigenous paths and traditions they honor and celebrate their ancestors by creating amazingly detailed and beautiful creations such as feathered and horned headdresses, despachos, yantras and mandalas, Tibetan temple rubbings, ornate stained glass, and so many other types of creations. Yet the purpose remains the same; communication and a relationship with our ancestors.
I believe that in all humans there may manifest, at some point in their lives, a deep survival motivation to communicate through art when the communicative channel of language fails. And so, creative expression can be a communicative method to the other worlds.
As an Animist, when I make a hanging mobile, or a mala, there is something very alive and present, aside from my innate creative self, that is guiding my actions.
Animism is the religious belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork, and perhaps even words—as animated and alive.
When I was a child, in any random moment you would most likely find me in the basement of my grandparents’ rickety old house off Argonne Street in downtown Atlanta. This basement was mysterious, dark and dusty and also wondrous and extraordinary to my inquisitive eyes. There, my grandfather, an award winning inventor, housed his enormous lathe and other magnificently intriguing tools. I was consumed by the mere sight of it all. What was this world that lured me in with such astounding interest? But there I could be found; drilling holes into wood on his rugged, well-worn drill press or curiously watching him work on his lathe.
← My grandpa, Tito, in utter badassery mode <3
As an adult, I too have a basement. Not quite so dark and dusty, and not merely as magnificent in its breadth of tools and machines and contraptions with the possibility of creating incredible things. But when I am in my basement creating, I am honoring my grandfather, and his grandfather before him, with my handiwork. I know this because when the rain falls, or as I catch a wind upon my shoulder gently flicking my hair, I feel them. I feel them deep, deep in my heart and soul; a connection very much alive and present.
My goal is to create pieces that allows one to drop into a non-ordinary or altered state of consciousness; giving one a break from the pressures of the monotonous daily routine that our demanding society can bring. This shift in awareness can be triggered by prayer, meditation, song, exercise, intoxicants, plant medicine and many other modalities. I believe that gazing upon the hanging mobiles I lovingly create, and actively letting go of your inner chatter, can also take you to a place where your inner witness can let go of ego, if only for a moment, and play like a child lost in imagination.