Posts Tagged With: Portals to the Vision Serpent

The Energy That Finds Its Source

Sometimes it’s powerful to change things up in your geography, to experiment and see how you may further engage creativity…and The Muse. In the last several months, I’ve done just that—albeit unknowingly—and have been fairly astounded at what has unfolded.

I meditate first thing in the morning, usually before dawn. Over the last thirty years of doing so, it’s set the stage for my days and provided a consistent segue for insights, higher guidance. But I’d never considered using it as a tool for my artwork. It happened accidentally.

I would undertake my daily ritual in the back room, sitting cross-legged with straight back, always in the same spot for as long as I’d lived in this home, an anchor to the process. One morning for no apparent reason, I chose to meditate in the front room. Whenever I feel complete, I come back with “soft eyes”…slightly defocused…slowly returning, integrating the state with my day ahead. That morning my gaze came to rest on the easel and canvas I’d been painting for a while. And suddenly I experienced the piece in a whole new way. I saw things I hadn’t seen before. I felt a previously undetected presence, perhaps waiting until I’d opened a door and it could reach through and guide me. I’ve continued this change in geography while keeping my long-time meditation ritual. My artwork has more depth and meaning. I feel the intent of pieces is coming across in a way I’d just hoped for before. I had the beautiful feedback from a couple from Canada who approached me—after seeing My Magdalen Heart in person—saying they’d experienced the piece literally speaking to them.

The Inner Chamber

The Inner Chamber
Mixed media on canvas
©2014 Carla Woody

People have puzzled over the creative process for eons. Some ascribe to a belief that the source of creativity rests within the self absolutely, which places enormous pressure if you find not so much coming through. Others are certain it comes from another source, perhaps a higher power. Author Elizabeth Gilbert spoke eloquently on TED regarding this controversy.

I believe it’s a combination of the two. First, I have the choice to say “yes.” Then it’s a matter of showing up consistently, having faith that something will be delivered…and being patient with the process. I recognize that I’m a vehicle. I’ve chosen to develop certain skills. But, for me, there’s no mistaking when I’ve tapped into another realm entirely outside myself that moves beyond the mundane. My senses are heightened and the energy moves—whether through brush on canvas, fingers on keyboard…whatever the art form—to find ground. There’s a distinct collaboration…and it’s something else again when your subject matter starts communicating with you. Strange as it seems, that’s how it’s happening for me these days.

When I was writing Portals to the Vision Serpent my practice was to begin writing after meditation, at least five days a week for at least three hours at a time. Again, I didn’t realize at the time I was accessing my craft through an altered state of being. It was as though I watched a movie and wrote down what unfolded in front of me. One day I reached a point in the book where I needed to get a main character down to the rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico but had no idea how. Within a few days, a completely new character stepped forward to introduce himself from the shadows where he’d been hidden. It turned out that he provided the way; the novel moved on.

The poet Mary Oliver said, “…The part of the psyche that works in concert with consciousness and supplies a necessary part of the poem—the heart of the star as opposed to the shape of a star, let us say—exists in a mysterious, unmapped zone…Say you promise to be at your desk in the evenings, from seven to nine. It waits, it watches. If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself—soon it begins to arrive when you do. But if you are only there sometimes and are frequently late or inattentive, it will appear fleetingly, or it will not appear at all…”

If it hasn’t yet happened for you in the way you desire, I believe it can. It means opening yourself up, stepping outside your comfort zone, changing up your geography. It’s an agreement you make…an intent you hold…and then let go.

Such an energy finds its reciprocal Source.

Categories: Arts, Creativity Strategies, Meditation, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution, The Writing Life, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Dream Is the Reality

Dreams are usually pushed asidemeaningless, inconsequential snippets of brain junk that visit us in the night when our defenses are down. Don’t be so fast to dismiss them. Under certain conditions, they are only too relevant. If you don’t pay attention, then you miss the message and actual guidance.

As Above, So Below ©2012 Carla Woody

As Above, So Below
©2012 Carla Woody

When I’m mentoring people I suggest they be aware of their dreams in the course of our work together. Most say they don’t remember them at all, or they slip away so quickly it’s like grasping at clouds. The same is true for me. However, when I’m in the midst of deep transformation, dreams become more than memorable. They’re emblazoned on my consciousness and part of my evolutionary process. This is also true for those who enlist me to help guide their process.

I take time in the beginning of our session for a check-in, an opportunity for folks to relay insights or things that have come up since the last time. What emerges is often a direct communication from the unconscious on where to focusand we hit pay dirt. Here’s a case in point. I’m changing the name to protect my client’s privacy. Grace said she’s happy to have her story shared in case it helps someone.

At the tail end of our check-in, Grace mentioned she’d had a dream that morning. She spoke about “not getting up right.” I immediately noticed her agitation. She told the small pieces she remembered and added that the dream had awakened her, leaving her disoriented and angry. Strong emotions were evident as she spoke. She said she felt betrayed. I was clear this was a message from a part of her we had been working with that was now ready to release a pattern. With permission, I stabilized the bodily felt sensations attached to the emotions in order to use them as guidance, going back to the originating occurrence. Almost immediately, she returned to the age of two awakening in a similar manner as the dream but with emotions that were intense. I’m going to preserve the details of the situation but will offer this. The incident wasn’t a severe trauma in the way we might think of it. However, it was traumatic in the sense of a two-year-old perceiving no options, feeling trapped.  That perception had affected her all her life in ways that held her back and kept her stuck. The dream was the message that allowed us to reframe the past incident and open a future toward freedom of movement and options that she’s not experienced before. She later told me that she knew about that incident, hadn’t thought of it in a long time, and hadn’t seen it important. Obviously, a part of her did.

Dreamtime and the Vision Serpent ©2013 Carla Woody

Dreamtime and the Vision Serpent
©2013 Carla Woody

In many Native traditions, dreams are interchangeable with daily reality. One bleeds over to the other. Children learn how to behave in their dreams without their parents teaching them. Medicine people receive their calling. Ritual musicians learn to play their instruments. Weavers receive requests from saints for new vestments. Warnings come. All of these things are received through dreams and given relevance.

In my new novel Portals to the Vision Serpent, a Maya woman receives her calling this way.

“For me, it started like this. When I was thirteen years old I had a dream. I was walking through my village like I was going somewhere, and I needed to be there fast. But every place I passed, it wasn’t the place I was supposed to be. Then suddenly the road wasn’t dirt anymore. It turned into a creek, and I was floating along, being taken with the waters. But it was gentle. I wasn’t afraid. I could see there were many fish in the creek swimming all around me. And still the water took me past many houses. My mother was there when I went by, and she smiled at me. I saw my grandmother, too, and other women. More and more came and stood by the banks of the creek as I floated by, until I was no longer in my village.” Her eyes grew moist.

“Something woke me up then. I opened my eyes. And the room was glowing—a beautiful blue! I wanted to tell my sisters, but I saw they were asleep. And then in the corner of the room, I saw a woman in a long dress. But it was hazy, like I was seeing her underwater. Her hair was wrapped in a cloth. There was white light all around her and when she moved, this light moved. She came over to my bed right there and reached out her hand like she would touch me. And the light came from her hand, and I felt it with my whole body, like such a love came to me that I have never felt. I feel it now when I tell you this. And we stayed like that, she and I, for what seemed to be a long time. Still my sisters slept. And I knew something was happening just for me. Slowly she disappeared, and then the blue glow left. It was just the bedroom again.”

Doña Flora’s eyes shone, her face serene. Her body radiated, the very act of recounting her calling activated a luminescence that only became stronger with the silence she now held. Tears leapt from Sybilla’s eyes but, transfixed, she didn’t reach to wipe them away. After a time, Doña Flora shifted in her chair and spoke softly, “Yes, this is how it first happened.”

Now, an interesting thing happened related to this excerpt. Shortly after I’d written this chapter a well-known Wisdom Keeper came to stay in my home for a few days. Over breakfast, she recounted how her calling came, very similar to the waking dream that I had written, down to the blue glow. The synchronicity is astounding to me. I also believe that, sometimes, the dream is relayed through writing, just another channel.

Over the years, the night dreams I remember have served me well. They’ve foretold a path I’d take, attempted to warn me off another and repeatedly kept me on track. They’ve lent metaphoric meaning to the past and future in ways my conscious mind doesn’t always grasp but a deeper aspect does. When they’ve chosen to show themselves in a way that I can recall, they serve as allies on a path that is sometimes invisible.

We need to be intuitive enough to heed the guidance and the way it points. The dream is the reality.

***

What are some ways you’ve received important messages in your dreams? I invite you to share them in the comments space below.

Categories: Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Make Your Characters Come to Life

Gallery shot

Patiently waiting for life.
Photo credit: Carla Woody

One of the biggest challenges fiction writers have is to breathe life into the characters of their stories, to make them believable. This is particularly true if your book is character-driven. You want readers to connect with the story and those in it, to love or hate them. A reader of my latest book Portals to the Vision Serpent wrote to say how she couldn’t stand Sybilla, who features prominently in the novel—until she really understood her. Then she had great empathy. Even if the book is plot-driven, you want the characters’ actions to make some level of sense from their standpoint. 

We all have a specialized, individual template that we live by. Here’s a quick review on how that happens. Your brain codes experiences you have. The original coding usually takes place early in life. The coding becomes your perceptions, which translates to the beliefs you have about yourself, others, the world in general, and what’s possible. This template also becomes the filter through which you experience your life. You develop strategies for thinking and living that further reinforce the original beliefs—those that support and those that get in your way. When something significant happens to disrupt the old beliefs, things can shift dramatically.

Your characters are no different. Here’s a way to uncover their templates by “stepping into” different perspectives.

  1. From your “self” position as the writer, note how you experience different characters: the nonverbal signals, the way they speak, your own response to them.
  1. Now taking each character at a time, imagine you can slide right into their body, look out of their eyes, become them—rather than witnessing them—and answer these questions: What is their family of origin like? Based on what they unconsciously ingested then, how do they experience their own identity, who they are? Note the trickle down effect: What beliefs were generated? What about capabilities? Resulting actions? How they experience their environment? This way you can really get inside the hearts and minds of the characters.
  1. Then step back. By being a detached observer you get additional valuable information. Given what you discovered about your individual characters, now you can really get a bead on important dynamics between the major players and incorporate them into your writing.
Antigua bells

Antigua bells.
Photo credit: Carla Woody

By using a method like this, you also invite your reader to tag along through your writing, to undergo the same discovery and identify with different characters playing out the human condition, no different than the rest of us. We are all who we are based upon where we’ve been. But when something of great enough significance interjects itself triggering a change in one character…it also affects the others in close proximity. That’s how things get shaken up; the story becomes so much more interesting; the characters can grow in various ways.

Of course, you can use what I’ve written here as a guideline to explore aspects of your own life, not just writing. This is a brief primer toward self-discovery and relationship dynamics that I use with clients as a springboard for transformation. I’ve adapted the content of this post from my mentoring program Navigating Your Lifepath, which guides folks on how to live through their deeply held values—and thrive.

What are ways you can imagine exploring perspectives would be useful to you? Let me know your ideas or experiences in the comments below.

Categories: Compassionate Communication, Creativity Strategies, Healing, Healthy Living, NLP, The Writing Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Book Release: Portals to the Vision Serpent

Portals to the Vision SerpentI am pleased to announce that my latest book has been released and is now available in trade paperback and/or Kindle versions in North America,  Europe and the UK. The Kindle version is also available in Japan, Brazil and India.

As with all my books, I’m donating 10% of profits from book sales to Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit I founded to help preserve Indigenous wisdom traditions—like those featured in the novel. Know that if you’re drawn to read the book, you’re also supporting these important projects.

Description

Preston Johns Cadell is tormented. He attempts to outrun discontent and the void in his heart. His mother is hardly around. His father’s origins and disappearance are shrouded by family secrets. His sole remembrance of his father is flying through the stars nestled in his arms.

Any comfort Preston derives is from an unseen advisor who teaches him of the invisible world. Now he is coming of age. Memories arrive from long ago when a brown-skinned woman cared for him. But she, too, vanished. Finding the buried remains of his father’s altar, Preston must answer the draw to his destiny, to discover his lineage—even though he has no idea how or where it will lead him.

Portals to the Vision Serpent is a Hero’s Journey into the realms of shamanism and the Maya world. Interwoven are the struggles of indigenous peoples to preserve their way of life and tragedies that often come from misunderstandings. Through a family saga of dark wounds and mystery, spiritual healing unfolds.

Editorial Reviews

The search to find one’s True Self is a journey that often challenges cultural preconceptions and assumptions. Portals to the Vision Serpent takes this journey deep into the heart of the True People, delivering a story of longing and mystery woven like a story cloth between two worlds.

—Sharon Brown, Publisher, Sacred Fire Magazine

Bloodlines are story lines. In Portals to the Vision Serpent, Carla Woody invites the reader to explore the mysterious, ever-unfolding tale that each one must tell with our lives…one chapter at a time. Step into these pages. Invoke your true name. Re-member who you have always been.

—Jamie K. Reaser, author of Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life and Note to Self: Poems for Changing the World from the Inside Out

Portals to the Vision Serpent is a transcendent spiritual adventure of a soul’s inner and outer journey into the rainforests of Guatemala and Mexico and brings awareness to the struggles of native people amidst the onslaught of cultural genocide.

—Matthew Pallamary, author of Land Without Evil

Other Books

Standing Stark Cover Trade paperback currently available in North America. (Watch for wider distribution soon.) Kindle ebook available in North America, Europe, Japan, India and Brazil.

Calling Our Spirits HomeCurrently available in trade paperback in North America. Wider distribution coming soon.

Categories: cultural interests, Healing, Lacandón Maya, Maya, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Book Announcement and Goodreads Giveaway

I’m so pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of my new novel Portals to the Vision Serpent on June 17, 2013. As a gift to subscribers, Facebook friends and Goodreads readers, I’m giving away 10 signed copies. The giveaway is managed by Goodreads. Go here, scroll down, and click to win through Goodreads until June 17.

Portals to the Vision SerpentDescription:

Preston Johns Cadell is tormented. He attempts to outrun discontent and the void in his heart. His mother is hardly around. His father’s origins and disappearance are shrouded by family secrets. His sole remembrance of his father is flying through the stars nestled in his arms.

Any comfort Preston derives is from an unseen advisor who teaches him of the invisible world. Now he is coming of age. Memories arrive from long ago when a brown-skinned woman cared for him. But she, too, vanished. Finding the buried remains of his father’s altar, Preston must answer the draw to his destiny, to discover his lineage—even though he has no idea how or where it will lead him.

Portals to the Vision Serpent is a Hero’s Journey into the realms of shamanism and the Maya world. Interwoven are the struggles of indigenous peoples to preserve their way of life and tragedies that often come from misunderstandings. Through a family saga of dark wounds and mystery, spiritual healing unfolds.

Published by Kenosis Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-930192-03-4
Soft cover, 282 pages


Editorial Reviews

“The search to find one’s True Self is a journey that often challenges cultural preconceptions and assumptions. Portals to the Vision Serpent takes this journey deep into the heart of the True People, delivering a story of longing and mystery woven like a story cloth between two worlds.”

— Sharon Brown, Publisher, Sacred Fire Magazine


“Bloodlines are story lines. In Portals to the Vision Serpent, Carla Woody invites the reader to explore the mysterious, ever-unfolding tale that each one must tell with our lives — one chapter at a time. Step into these pages. Invoke your true name. Re-member who you have always been.”

— Jamie K. Reaser, author of Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life

and Note to Self: Poems for Changing the World from the Inside Out


Portals to the Vision Serpent is a transcendent spiritual adventure of a soul’s inner and outer journey into the rainforests of Guatemala and Mexico and brings awareness to the struggles of native people amidst the onslaught of cultural genocide.”

— Matthew J. Pallamary, author of Land Without Evil


Trade paperback available through Amazon, B&N and other online bookstores as of June 17. You may also order the book from your local bookstore. E-book available through Amazon.

Remember: Enter to win a signed copy through Goodreads until June 17.

Winners are determined by Goodreads.

While you’re there, I’d invite you to add me as a friend and write a brief review

on Goodreads and Amazon for Standing Stark and Calling Our Spirits Home if you’ve read them,

or put them on your bookshelf to read.

Categories: Giveaway, The Writing Life | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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