Tree of Life - Séraphine Louis, 1928
Séraphine Louis, also known as Séraphine de Senlis, is the subject of this intense biopic—both inspirational and tragic—of a relatively unknown but brilliant artist who teetered between one reality and another. Her paintings were the product of creative and spiritual rapture, induced by spirits, and her love for nature. She was employed as a housekeeper doing the most menial labor and thought by the people around her to be quite odd and slow. But at night she disappeared into another world and turned out extraordinary works using pigments she made herself from unusual sources.
Her break came when Wilhelm Uhde, German art dealer and critic, saw a painting at his neighbor’s home and was astounded to discover that it had been done by his cleaning lady. At a time when avant garde artists such as Picasso and Rousseau were coming on the scene, Uhde became Séraphine’s sponsor encouraging her and finally including her in a show that he organized of the Sacred Heart Painters. Sadly, his patronage would come to an end with the advent of World War II. Séraphine became increasingly isolated and was finally committed to a hospital for the mentally ill. She passed in 1942.
Few of her paintings survive but some may be viewed here. This is the story of a woman who found deep meaning in life and was unusually resourceful, even in the face of periodic ridicule and little support, save one person who proved to be her angel.
This haunting film was a sleeper when it came out in 2009 but later won seven French Academy Awards. Streaming on Amazon. In French with subtitles. Yolande Moreau stars as Séraphine. Film directed by Martin Provost and co-written with Marc Abdelnour.
Apab’yan Tew is an Ajq’ij, a Day Keeper, spiritual guide, dancer and musician, of the K’iche’ Maya tradition from the village of Nawalja’ in Sololá of the Guatemalan highlands. He approaches his sacred calling with humility and passion. I am honored that he’s part of my spiritual travel program in Mayalands during which he shares openly and holds a fire ceremony to send prayers and call upon the ancestors.
In November 2012 I interviewed Tat Apab’yan on the subject of Maya worldview, farming practices and the GMO issue. I included many of his words in Seed Intelligence: Indigenous Perspectives and Our Collective Birthright published in the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Farming Curriculum developed by Honor the Earth Foundation for Tribal Community Colleges.
His words are so important for our understanding of the integrative way traditional Maya people live, as well as other Indigenous peoples. I’m sharing an excerpt of our two-hour conversation with you here with his complete permission.
In just this short excerpt Tat Apab’yan covers a lot of ground. He chuckles over the wave of ‘organic’ farming in the West—as though it’s something new—when his people have had such practices for time immemorial. He puzzles over the Western way, now predominant, of dividing land into property when “…the Sky has no conditions…the rains are for everything…” and discusses the sacred sense of reciprocity in everyday Maya lifeways. “…We plant five seeds…only one is for us…”
I hope you enjoy the excerpt and take his words to heart as I did.
To learn more about Spiritual Travel to Chiapas, Mexico: Entering the Maya Mysteries in February 2016, go here. Join us and experience Tat Apab’yan’s teachings in person, along with those of other Maya spiritual leaders and healers who serve their communities. A warning though: It’s life-changing. Tuitions support the continuation of Indigenous traditions and help the spiritual leaders, their families and communities. A portion is tax-deductible through Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit extension of Kenosis.
Categories: cultural interests, Gratitude, Indigenous Wisdom, Interview, Maya, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Travel
Tags: Indigenous traditions, intent, Maya, Native spirituality, sacred reciprocity, spiritual travel