COSMOS

 

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 ^  THE GREAT COSMIC WOMB OF EGYPTIAN GODDESS NUT

In Ancient Egypt, Nut was the Sky Goddess and daughter of Shu and Tefnut. She was seen as a personification of The Milky Way. She was both the ultimate Mother Goddess and the Soul Conductor or Psychopomp who reabsorbed the souls of dead people back within herself. The ancient  Egyptians believed that our star constellation Cygnus marked the location of The Cosmic Womb in The Milk Way, the womb of Nut. The sun god Ra entered her mouth after the sun set in the evening and was reborn from her vulva the next morning. She also swallowed and re-birthed stars. The pharaoh entered her body after death and was later resurrected. Her image is painted on the inside of many sarcophagi. This symbolized the return of dead souls to the Divine Womb at the heart of the Cosmos.

In art, Nut is often depicted as a woman wearing no clothes, covered with stars. Her husband  was Geb and they were the parents of Osiris, Horus,  Isis, Set, and Nephthys.

I was guided to lead a group of colleagues in working with Nut at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico in October 2016. The work was earth-shattering and life changing!

PATHWAY OF BIRDS    SOLD  ^

In many Northern and Eastern European languages the Milky Way is called the Pathway of Birds (e.g Finnish  Linnunrata,  Estonian: Linnutee, Lithuanian: Paukš?i? Takas, Latvian: Putnu Ce?š).). It has been demonstrated  by scientists that migrating birds use the night sky and Milky Way for orientation when they fly at night. The Finns observed that the migratory birds used the galaxy as a guideline to travel south, where they believed Linktukoto (Bird Home) resided.

In Estonian folklore it is believed that the birds are led by a white bird with the head of a maiden who chases birds of prey away.. This  maiden, the goddess Lindu, was the Queen of the Birds and the daughter of Uko, the King of the Sky. After refusing the suits of the Sun and Moon for being too predictable in their routes and the Pole Star for being fixed, she fell in love with the Light of North for its beauty. They became engaged, but the inconstant Light of North left her soon afterward. The tears of the broken-hearted Lindu fell on her wedding veil, which became the Milky Way when her father brought her to heaven so she could reign by his side and guide the migrating birds, who followed the trail of stars in her veil. (Summarized from Wikipedia)

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

   The Native Indian people of South America teach that

'To become human one must make room in oneself for the immensities of the universe'

 

 'The total energy content of the universe is constant and the total entropy is continually increasing'

(The two great laws of thermodynamics)

 

'On this continuum between the personal and the abstract, myth vibrates in the middle; of all things made of words, myths span the widest range of human concerns, human paradoxes'

Wendy Doniger in The Implied Spider

 

'The imagination must be given not wings, but weights'

Francis Bacon

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

All of us can look up at the night sky and see the galaxies and next look through a microscope and see something very similar. Both these things exist at the edges of human observation: planets too far away to see and particles too tiny to be observed without magnification create very similar images.

 Saul Bellow makes this point in Henderson the Rain King:

'Being in point of size precisely halfway between the sun and the atoms, living among astronomical conceptions, with every thumb and fingerprint a mystery we should get used to living with huge numbers'

In the 17th century Isaac Newton studied falling apples and the orbit of the moon. He then expressed in a handful of powerful mathematical equations everything known about the motion of of earth and in the heavens. This body of work formed the basis for what is now known as Classical Physics (i.e. the kind of physics you learn in secondary school!) For Newton time and space were a classical stage on which the events of the universe unfolded. The concepts 'space' and 'time' indicated where and when events took place, no more. >>

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

In the 20th century Albert Einstein formulated his theories of relativity and completely changed our thinking about space and time. To him space and time were the raw material underlying everyday reality. He invented the concept "Spacetime". By the 1930 physicists were forced to introduce a whole new set of concepts called quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics describes a reality of probabilities: a reality where things hover in a hazy state of being partly one way and partly another way. Things become definite only when observation forces them to 'relinquish those quantum possibilities' and settle on a specific outcome.

In other words: long range quantum connections between particles can bypass spatial separation. Two objects can be at opposing ends of the universe, but they will behave as if they are two halves of one single entity.

(Bear in mind here that the 'speed limit of our cosmos' is the speed of light, and that this phenomenon of 'acting like two halves of the same coin' even applies to particles millions of  light years apart!) v

 

 

 Both Carl Sagan and Erwin Schrodinger have pointed out that Hinduism is the only one of the great world faiths dedicated to the idea that the cosmos itself undergoes an infinite number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religiion in which the timescales correspond to those of modern cosmology.  There is the deep notion that that the universe is but the dream of a god, who after a 1000 Brahma years dissolves himself into dreamless sleep and the universe dissolves with him until the cycle starts all over again... the dream... The great cosmic lotus dream! Meanwhile elsewhere there are an infinite number of other universes, each with its own god dreaming...  These ideas are tempered by another idea: maybe men aren't the dreams of gods, maybe the gods are the dream of men...

<  THE GREAT COSMIC LOTUS DREAM    (80 x 100 cm)    £650

  In her book the 'Implied Spider' Wendy Doniger tells a Hindu tale from the Bhagavad Purana (a 10th century text in Sanskrit). It is about a little boy who is really the god Krishna incarnate and his mortal mother. Krishna had been playing outside and eaten dirt. Yashoda (his mother) scolds him. Krishna opens his mouth and Yashoda sees the whole universe in his mouth, from the sky and the stars to their little village and herself. It is a moment of total confusion. She thinks she is deluded, yet it is also the moment she realises that her son is God. She then cuddles him and forgets instantly about this big revelation. If we are to live our everyday human lives we can't focus on great dizzying cosmological questions for more than a fleeting moment.

 

The story about Krishna makes a point that is true for all of us: all of us can look up at the night sky and see the galaxies then look through a microscope and see something very similar. Both these things exist at the edges of human observation: planets too far away to see and particles too tiny to be observed without magnification create very similar images.

You can make yourself very dizzy pondering this for too long!!

 

 

 

  Saul Bellow does a much better job of making this precise point in Henderson the Rain King:

'Being in point of size precisely halfway between the sun and the atoms, living among astronomical conceptions, with every thumb and fingerprint a mystery we should get used to living with huge numbers'

In the 17th century Isaac Newton studied falling apples and the orbit of the moon. He then expressed in a handful of powerful mathematical equations everything known about the motion of of earth and in the heavens. This body of work formed the basis for what is now known as Classical Physics (i.e. the kind of physics you learn in secondary school!) For Newton time and space were a classical stage on which the events of the universe unfolded. The concepts 'space' and 'time' indicated where and when events took place, no more.

 

 THE MOON  IS A SHOE   (32 x 25 cm)   £145  >

The !Kabbo San people of Botswana believe that a mythical beast called the Mantis, when inconvenienced by darkness, took off one of his shoes and threw it into the sky, ordering it to become the moon.

"The moon painfully goes away, he painfully returns home. He goes to become another moon, which is whole. He lives while he had seemed to die. Therefore he becomes a new moon. He puts on a stomach, he becomes large. He goes along at night. He feels that he is a shoe, therefore he walks in the night"   (slightly abbreviated, from Specimens of Bushman Folklore, a delightful volume published by Forgotten Books).

< THE HOURGLASS NEBULA    (diameter 40.5 & 30.5 cm)    £175

 

 

^   The Engraved Hourglass Nebula (also known as MyCn 18) is a young planetary nebula situated in the southern constellation Musca about 8,000 light-years away from Earth (Wikipedia)

 

 In the 20th century Albert Einstein formulated his theories of relativity and completely changed our thinking about space and time. To him space and time were the raw material underlying everyday reality. He invented the concept "Spacetime". By the 1930 physicists were forced to introduce a whole new set of concepts called quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics describes a reality of probabilities: a reality where things hover in a hazy state of being partly one way and partly another way. Things become definite only when observation forces them to 'relinquish those quantum possibilities' and settle on a specific outcome. In other words: long range quantum connections between particles can bypass spatial seperation. Two objects can be at opposing ends of the universe, but they will behave as if they are two halves of one single entity. (Bear in mind here that the 'speed limit of our cosmos' is the speed of light, and that this phenomenon of 'acting like two halves of the same coin' even applies to particles millions of  light years apart!)

 Another  interesting point is that the known and accepted laws of physics show no 'time asymmetry' (i.e. they do not show that time must run forward, in one direction only). According to the laws of physics time could (theoretically!) run backwards - but this is completely at odds with our everyday reality (where people die and stay dead and scrambled eggs don't unscramble themselves...

< THE MARRIAGE OF DRAGONS AND HUMANS, (inspired by star constellation Lyra - The Lyre!)  size?   £245

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

 

 
 
 

WORLD SERPENT  SOLD

v  THE ULTIMATE SHAPE-SHIFTER: THE ELECTRON!   (D 30cm)   £125
 

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 Scientists are still looking for a 'Theory of Everything' (which remains elusive so far). A leading contender right now in the 21st century is so called Superstring Theory. This theory redefines the question: what are the smallest constituents of matter? For decades the answer was 'particles' but Superstring Theory suggests that these particles are composed of small filaments of energy shaped like string. Those strings can vibrate in different patterns (like a string on a violin) and thus produce the different properties particles possess.

One mind boggling feature of Superstring Theory is that it requires nine spatial dimensions as well as one time dimension to work - and compare that to the three spatial dimensions + time we are aware off. This immediately raises the question: how much of reality do we actually perceive? It also throws up the issue of (hypothetic!)  travel to other dimensions. Not to mention the question: where are these dimensions hiding, from our point of view? One answer is that they might be so tiny and folded up inside existing dimensions that our equipment can't spot them. As for very large dimensions: there might be other worlds nearby in the extra dimensions, of which we have been utterly unaware up to now. Only time will tell if these theories are correct or not.... We live in a truly exciting era!

Not only do we live in exciting times in a mysterious universe, there is theoretical evidence that our universe is part of a larger universe. That universes may suddenly inflate and give birth to a 'baby universe'. If this is true, Big Bangs happen all the time and we live in a 'sea of universes'. A better name for this might be a 'multiverse'.

 SCHRODINGER'S QUANTUM MECHANICAL MODEL OF THE ATOM    £125

 An electron orbiting around the nucleus can be thought of as a wave, with a wavelength that depends on its velocity. (This is sometimes referred to as "the waveparticle duality")

 

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 <  THE EYE OF VENUS   (30 x 30 cm) £145

This painting was inspired by a 'snapshot' (by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter) of the polar region of the planet Venus. Using my 'artist's license' I saw an eye and face in this picture which I tried to capture in this painting. The polar vortex of Venus is like an enormous whirlpool of air, like a permanent hurricane over the pole...

THE SPIRIT OF GANYMEDE   £125  >

Ganymede is a satellite of Jupiter is the largest moon in the Solar System. This (whimsical) painting was inspired by a photograph of markings on this planet.

In Greek mythology Ganymede is the young, beautiful boy that became one of Zeus' lovers. One source of the myth says that Zeus fell in love with Ganymede when he spotted him herding his flock on Mount Ida.

 

On my MATHEMATICS page I mentioned fractals. Fractals are a phenomenon that illustrate the phenomenon of 'as above so below': the shape of a leaf's pores echoes the shape of a leaf, the 'veins' in a leaf echo the shape of a tree's branches... and so forth.

Just today I was reading a book about the seasonal journeys and migrations of animals and I stumbled across the curious fact that caribou in the arctic graze on about 62 varieties of lichen. The type most commonly consumed is Cladonia Rangiferina or reindeer moss. This 5 cm hight white/grey/green plant forms a miniature forest on the woodland floor. Coincidentally its leathery palmate branches are shaped just like the antlers of the caribou!  To my 'artist's mind' that is real life magic!

In our society we lost touch with our 'Dreamtime' a long time ago and we are deeply impoverished by this state of affairs. One of my reasons for writing this webpage is to launch a plea for all of us to examine our relationship with ourselves, Mother Earth and our myths and legends so we can once again receive the 'spiritual nutrition of the dreamtime' and marvel at the miracles of the cosmos we inhabit and are part of.

 This is how Karen Armstrong puts it in her book  A Short History of Myth:

A myth was an event that  which, in some sense, had happened once, but which also happened all the time. Because of our strictly chronological sense of history, we have no word for such an occurrence, but mythology is an art form that points beyond history to what is timeless in human existence, helping us get beyond the chaotic flux or random events, and glimpse the core of reality.

 V  BIRTH OF A BABY BOY OR A BABY UNIVERSE?!    £95

Theoretical evidence is mounting to support the existence of a, so called, 'MULTIVERSE', in which entire universes continually sprout or "bud" off other universes. If true, it would unify two of the great religious mythologies, Genesis and Nirvana. Genesis would take place continually within the fabric of timeless Nirvana...  (Source: Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku)

 

 And here I am going to make 'the great leap' to mythology. The great quantum physicist Erwin Schrodingersupposed the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta to be essentially equivalent to the phenomenological insights of modern physics. He wrote a beautiful little book 'My View Of The World' where this great man, a scientist and Nobel Prize winner, summarises his philosophical views on the nature of the world and our reality. In essence he believes that there is only one single consciousness of which we are all different aspects. He admitted that this view is mystical and metaphysical. I have great admiration for a scientist who had the courage to publicise such beliefs. He even mentions his guardian angel in the foreword!

John David Ebert (in his book 'The Twilight of the Clockwork God' ) makes the very interesting point that 'science is never as "objective" as its priesthood would have us believe, since it too is a production of the human imagination and subject to the same archetypal contours as myth'. 

 I will quote the famous cosmologist Brian Swimme here: '... the opportunity of our time is to integrate science's understanding of the universe with more ancient intuitions concerning the meaning and destiny of the human' and 'Cosmology, though it is consonant with science, is not science. Cosmology is a wisdom tradition drawing upon not just science, but religion and art and philosophy. Its principal aim is not the gathering of facts and theories but the transformation of the human'.

Coming at this from a different background, Karen Armstrong (in her book 'A Short History of Myth') says that like science and technology, mythology is not about opting out of this world, but about enabling us to live more intensily within it'.

Another beautiful quote from the same author is that '

Myth is about the unknown; it is about that for which initially we have no words. Myth therefore looks into the heart of the great silence.'

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

>   IRREVERSIBLE JOURNEY   (30 x 30 cm)    £125

 A black hole is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape.[1] The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform space-time to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that marks the point of no return  (Wikipedia)

 <  DAUGHTER OF THE SUN   SOLD

"In the case of the Sun, we have a new understanding of the cosmological meaning of sacrifice. The Sun is, with each second, giving itself over to become energy that we, with every meal, partake of. We so rarely reflect on this basic truth from biology, and yet its spiritual significance is surpreme.// And every child of ours needs to learn the simple truth: she is the energy of the Sun. And we adults should organise things so her face shines with the same radiant joy"

Brian Swimme in 'The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos'

 

Over the years I have made many paintings inspired by the sacred teachings of aboriginal peoples from all over the world. Brian Swimme says: 'It is not because we have no answers to the question 'What does it mean to be human in this universe?' It is rather because we have so many different answers that we need to stop and wonder about the universe in order to sort out our right and fruitful relationships'. I agree totally!

Why is it that so many aboriginal peoples have done just that and devised ways of living that were and indeed are (!) sustainable spiritually and environmentally while we contemporary humans lost our ability to celebrate the mysteries of the universe quite some time ago. We sit in classrooms and study science and other subjects... And as Brian Swimme points out: we also sit in front of the tv and absorb a lot of messages that are designed to make us unhappy with what with have, keen to acquire and consume things... Our own children recently discovered the 'shopping channel' on tv and it really freaked me out!

All cultures have myths or religious beliefs about Creation. In Australia it is believed that Ancestor Spirits formed, named and breathed life and language into all that exists in the known Universe. This is the touchstone of all Aboriginal culture and religious practice. This divine inheritance is known as the Law. It is continuously being re-enacted in ceremonial activities. Aboriginal people recognise that they have a spark of their Spirit Ancestorswithin them and that they thus have an unbroken link to the Creation Epoch, known in English as 'The Dreamtime' or 'The Dreaming'. The dawn of today is essentially the Dawn of the Universe.

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 < THE MILKY MANTA RAY  (46 X 36 CM)  £175

Cosmologist Brian Swimme has suggested that we can think of the Milky Way Galaxy as a gigantic manta ray. This is a fish with a flattened body, a slight bulge at the center and two great wings for propelling itself through the oceans. His main reason for coming up with this visualisation is because the Milky Way is not 'sitting on anything'. It is gliding effortlessly through the dark universe just as a manta ray glides through our oceans.

I found this so fascinating (and started painting furiously!) so I decided to run a google search on the names for the Milky Way in different languages. I found much of interest! Here is some of the 'pure poetry' I discovered:

 The Straw Thief's Way (Armenian), 'The Way The Dog Ran Away' (from a Cherokee myth), Silver River (Chinese), 'The Way Of Birds' (Estonian), 'The Winter Way (Faroese), 'The Deer Jump' (Georgian), 'The Road of the Warriors' (from a Hungarian myth), River of Heaven (Japanese), 'The Road to Santiago' (Spanish), Winter Street (Swedish), 'The Way of the White Elephant' (Thai), The Fort of Gwydion (Welsh).(The information can be found on Wikipedia).

These names all speak of an ancient relationship between our Ancestors and the night sky above us!

 AS ABOVE, SO BELOW

 There is an ancient phrase 'As Above, So Below'. These words come from Hermetic texts. Hermes Trismegistuswas the first to explain this concept (in the 'Emeral Tablet'): That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above, corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the Miracles of the One Thing".

In accordance with the various levels of reality: physical, mental, and spiritual, this relates that what happens on any level happens on every other. This is however more often used in the sense of the macrocosm and the microcosm. The microcosm is oneself, and the macrocosm is the universe. The macrocosm is as the microcosm, and vice versa; within each lies the other, and through understanding one (usually the microcosm) you can understand the other. I have mentioned this idea here because it ties in with the macrocosmos of our universe and the micro-cosmos of particle physics

To this I would add:  AS WITHIN SO WITHOUT ( our Inner World is a mirror of the World Around Us)

On the MATHEMATICS page I mentioned fractals. Fractals are a phenomenon that illustrate the phenomenon of 'as above so below': the shape of a leaf's pores echoes the shape of a leaf, the 'veins' in a leaf echo the shape of a tree's branches... and so forth.

Just today I was reading a book about the seasonal journeys and migrations of animals and I stumbled across the curious fact that caribou in the arctic graze on about 62 varieties of lichen. The type most commonly consumed is Cladonia Rangiferina or reindeer moss. This 5 cm hight white/grey/green plant forms a miniature forest on the woodland floor. Coincidentally its leathery palmate branches are shaped just like the antlers of the caribou!  To my 'artist's mind' that is real life magic!

In our society we lost touch with our 'Dreamtime' a long time ago and we are deeply impoverished by this state of affairs. One of my reasons for writing this webpage is to launch a plea for all of us to examine our relationship with ourselves, Mother Earth and our myths and legends so we can once again receive the 'spiritual nutrition of the dreamtime' and marvel at the miracles of the cosmos we inhabit and are part of.

This is how Karen Armstrong puts it:

A myth was an event that  which, in some sense, had happened once, but which also happened all the time. Because of our strictly chronological sense of history, we have no word for such an occurrence, but mythology is an art form that points beyond history to what is timeless in human existence, helping us get beyond the chaotic flux or random events, and glimpse the core of reality.

 Wendy Doniger makes the same point in a different way:

'One such inversion is precisely the ability of "the field of mythical thought" to translate a microscopic image into a telescopic image, to move us from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. The myths suggest that if your microscope is powerful enough it turns into a telescope, that things really deep down and really far away become one another'.

 As an artist I find this concept very intriguing. I have revisited my file of monoprints because I realised that they touch upon all the themes on this page. They were created completely intuitively,  yet the landscape that emerges is that of the telescope and the miscroscope. And the dividing line between an inner landscape or mental landscape and what surrounds us fades: we are quite literally what we believe, the creators of our own reality.

THE UNIVERSE AS A HOLOGRAM

Earlier on this page I mentioned that experiments in particle physics have shown that subatomic particles can instantaneously communicate with each other, regardless of the distance seperating them. It does not matter at all whether they are 10cm or 10 billion miles apart.

The famous physicist David Bohm believed that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm: the Universe as a Hologram! To understand his point, let's look at what a hologram is. A hologram is a three dimensional photograph made with the help of a laser. And not only is the notion of a three dimensional world contained in a flat two dimensional picture quite amazing. If we have a hologram of something and cut it in half, (or then divide it again and again), we will always have a smaller but intact version of the original image! In other words: every part of a hologram contains all the information possessed by the whole!

Bohm therefore suggests that subatomic particles can remain in contact with each other, regardless of the distance seperating them, not because they are sending a mysterious signal back and forth, but because their seperateness is an illusion. He thinks that at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities, but actually extensions of the same fundamental something. (Michael Talbot's book The Holographic Universe explains this theory).

Now this is mindboggling! Here science truly meets Mythology and even Shamanism!

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

NATURAL BORN SHAMANS

In the ancient world shamans and magicians introduced young people to the universe. These were individuals highly skilled in shaping human consciousness and they possessed great wisdom. Our society in particular needs people who can take on that role.

< NATURAL BORN SHAMAN (aged 9, Author of The Love Hall)

> THE RABBIT MAGICIAN  SOLD

 The beginning and the end is a primordial encounter with the great abyss of beauty that we call the universe. Not to enter such moments of awe, not to wonder over such majesty, not to live each day - at least for a moment or two! - floating inside a colossal and intimate mystery, is to live a life that is deprived. Even more it is to live a life that is vulnerable to fundamental distortions.

Brian Swimme

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world