A Modern Mystic

Musings on life, work and contemporary spirituality


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Guest Post:Feminism, the feminine, the artist and the mystic

The following post is by painter Kerrie Wrye, my guest for Networked Blogs’ September Blog Swap. Please check out her gorgeous site, Timeless Rhythms.

Painting by Kerrie B. Wrye

Kerrie B. Wrye, Study after T.H. Benton, Prismacolor, 21"x13.5

Quite soon after becoming acquainted with each other, online and having been paired through the blog swap project, Carrie Ure and I decided to write about feminism, the feminine, the artist and the mystic!

In arriving at the moment to swap blogs, I am still trying to comprehend the pairing of two women who were briefly strangers prior to this event, and yet who have quickly discovered how close we are to one another geographically, culturally and personally–a pairing made, amazingly by another woman whose life is half-way across the globe in Pakistan. On top of which, Sarah Rahman opted out by default, when there were not enough writing partners to match everyone together for this worldwide, social experiment known as blog swapping!

On my part, having struggled for a week past the deadline to post my writing swap, resignation after obligations have left me physically exhausted, has given way to approaching this project from the personal voice. Right now, life feels very vulnerable as I transition from what was to what is becoming. I feel all that I can legitimately offer is the habit of following the intuitive within; it is one of my greatest assets as well as greatest disadvantages.

Carrie Ure is a writer and single mother, seeking work while living in Portland, OR_ just north of where I live, as artist, dancer com yogini and single-mother, looking for work out in this recession-locked world! One of our first contacts seemed to light instantly on the common connection to Séraphine de Senlis. Six years earlier in my undergrad research, I had discovered that Séraphine was a French woman artist, described briefly and only as a “nameless foundling.” Not much other information of note was available on her life or work as an artist to include any depth about her in my paper, just six years ago! That Carrie had seen a film about Séraphine de Senlis this summer was surprising to discover!

During my academic studies, I found individual sanctuary in the Womens Studies Program, as it was here I began developing the research on French Women Artists that would become the focus for my Liberal Studies degree. Indeed, I credit the current director of the program as being a champion for my research, one who supportively recognized me as a scholar and consequently became the reason I graduated. Since its inception at a university in Texas, the pedagogical development of Womens Studies has advanced steadily to be found in many college curriculum offerings throughout North America. Simultaneously during this era, I have needed to live out a lot of life free form, developing my own sense of self through the healing expression of art.

Along this path, I have invested many years, in traditional talk therapy or Cognizant Psychology, which for me also required an intuitive balance of yoga, in order for the nature of highly charged emotional-psychological work to simultaneously make sense in my physical frame. The years of my early youth growing up in France, were ones of profound somatic connection that have also guided development in this defining lifelong intuitive intelligence.

For twenty-one years, I was mother to one precocious child living as we did in relative social isolation, so I could manage the largeness of this personal work for which my entire life prior to that time had been intuitively heading. One after another childhood realizations that ranged from varying needs for freedom of expression, to flat out independence, marked a significant developmental period in chaos that I now realize much, much later after all is said-and-done, how much my intuition has effectively, intelligently, creatively guided my abilities to navigate out of the web of impact, from mental illness in a parent, still in denial.

For many of these adult years, I have readily defined developing intimate spirituality in the creative context of the sacred feminine. Recently, upon the approach of my fiftieth and after having read the book some years before, At the Root of This Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst, by Carol Lee Flinders, I created my first, Return to Community Ritual, in the description and guidance of yes, the seminal work: Emotional Genius, by Karla McLaren (who is now in rebuke of this major intuitive emotional manifesto, as an academic sociologist)!

In the years of post-graduate meetings with a feminist mentor, I often heard the term “mystic artist” pointed in my direction. My own under-developed academic research, a reflection of full-time, single parenthood, etc., was privately lauded as, “illustrating how women who happen to be artists also struggle as women to find our own voice and survive the chaos of producing work that is not valued and who are in need of environments where what we do is valued, exchanging mutual feedback in possibility-centered ways, to successfully move women’s voices forward!”

In the timing of returning to the academic setting to earn my degree, in my Womens Studies advisors, as well as in my post-graduation female mentors, I have criticized the male-tradition, competitiveness surrounding my female predecessors’ career success and in the ways this ethos has dominated the lack of informational access for women throughout all parts of the larger society. We have all gone wanting for an accessible lexicon to become better educated to all of the good information locked up in the academic study of women’s lives, abilities, and accomplishments. Not to be discounted, there have many battles my predecessors have indeed fought firsthand to break down this but one, bastion of historical male dominance. Like-wise after graduation, I did not find the feminist networks I logically expected would exist in the marketplace for job search, in politics for productive acceptance, and in the world of money for a new female patronage. As a consequence, my life has endured many years of needless yet very basic post-graduation struggle.

Right now, I feel as though the Doonesbury cartoon of a few years back, best articulates the lack of voice in a new feminism; a new generation of women coming of age particularly now, in the broad and long-range impact of this recession, as well as the “Yes! We Can!” social and political recovery from the Reagan-Bush era of full-scale reactionism, materialism and bold greed. A new language unique to the next wave of feminists is forming, and I expect it to be more inclusive. The issues they will confront are on a different scale dealing with global warming, sustainable food production and religious, spiritual and political acceptance, to name a few. I did however, graduate recognizing that I can continue as a creatively intelligent ally to the next generation! Most recently, in making acquaintance with a feminine-mystic writer, has given me a gift of inner renewal than I have not felt connected to in many years! I am inspired to have discovered such an ally so close by! Thank-you Séraphine de Senlis and thank-you, Sarah Rahman!


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Ask a modern mystic: cosmic job hunting skills

Picture 3Looking for work during a recession can be a daunting and exhausting endeavor. Some days I feel defeated before I even start, especially when my favorite morning radio program spews dismal economic statistics. Although such news reports have little relevance to my geographical location, lifestyle, or unique individual skills and experience, I can’t help being swayed by the national media’s insistence that I am only a dot on the bell curve.

How does the job-hunting Mystic curtail the sinking feeling that she is just another victim of an economy gone bad? She pounds the pavement of her inner path before ever venturing outside the house.

I counter the negative psychic effects of the collective’s fixation on bad news by spending time on self-inventory and self-care: lots of rest; a conscious cultivation of positive thoughts such as gratitude, faith and generosity; regular healthy meals; and plenty of down-time to dream and support my own inner vision.

Indeed, the following dream I had the other morning yielded an important clue about maintaining a sane and enjoyable job hunt even during hard times:

I am with my mother and my brother when there is a knock at the door. I open the door to find three masked children outside. They each throw a dime into my house and when I stoop to pick them up off the floor, I also find another coin, a heart-shaped quarter.

My dear friend and Tarot master, Hector Cerbon, intreprets my dream as a spontaneous nocturnal Tarot reading. The dimes represent the three coins, disks or pentacles of the traditional European decks. The Three of Pentacles reminds us that every endeavor, including the successful job hunt, involves community. It is the card of Teamwork.

Just as the two Lovers come together in creative union to produce the third, their child, when we initiate any new endeavor we must acknowledge that it takes others to help us manifest our vision. The card represents the practical skills needed to plan and execute a vision. Working with others is the beginning, not the end of your job search.

That’s why Tip #3 from the Mystic Job Hunter is rally your team.

We all have a team or crew, those individuals who are there for us, whether as confidants and supporters, or because they have practical know-how to share. Some of us have large teams and others small. Some of us rely on the professional perspectives of our team members while others just need a little cheering-on. What do you most need that you cannot provide for yourself?

In addition to being a Mystic and a job hunter, I have long been a Networker. In my years networking I have assembled what my friend, Portland artist Jennifer Doheny, calls “My Team.”

Last night I visited Jennifer’s latest art opening at the Milepost 5’s huge 10-day event, “Manor of Art.” As I wait patiently for my turn to shake her hand and congratulate her on her latest work, I salivate over her series of gorgeous paper “batiks,” back-lit and glowing vibrant greens and indigos. She sees me in the crowd and grabs my arm.

“Carrie, I’d like you to meet Sarah, my graphic designer. Sarah, this is Carrie, another member of my team.”

There is instant recognition and connection, for although we have never met, Sarah and I know of one another’s work as part of the team that supports our artist friend. Of course we had each already heard of the other’s contributions.

Jennifer is not only an early adopter of the team concept–an idea that will become increasingly important as we reevaluate work and career in the new economy–she thoroughly embodies the principle. Her blog, entitled “The World is on Your Side,” states her message loud and clear. Jennifer has long made a living as an artist because she understands her role in the community. She relies on others  to help her plan and execute her mission to provide a positive and uplifting message through her art.

Another teamwork example comes to mind. During the second installment of a year-long course in which I’m enrolled, renowned teacher Caroline Myss discusses the concept of the Crew. At the beginning of the workshop she announces that hard times being upon us, we have to realize we’re all in the same boat navigating the same waters.

We’ve got to row with our crew if we hope to make it, she explains to a ballroom packed with spiritual seekers. The rest of the weekend entails finding a crew and processing some high level spiritual data together.

My crew and I are still together, months later. We navigate four different time zones to participate in bi-monthly conference calls. We also use more informal methods to “check-in” and support one another in our spiritual growth. Not surprisingly, four out of six of us are dealing with the issue of work and career.

Another of my teams is my “family.” My sweetheart, also in the midst of a career change, tells me how much he loves me on a regular basis, not because I’m insecure, but because I have told him that I particularly enjoy positive verbal affirmations. He is also there when I need a hug and he listens without comment when I get discouraged and just need to vent.

Likewise, I pick up the phone when he calls during the day because I know that he likes to share a triumph or disappointment. I edit his cover letters and help him relax when his focused activity turns tense. Our children support us both by helping us laugh, play and enjoy the process!  They remind us that family time is one of the most relaxing and nurturing ways to unwind after a day on the job search.

Finally, don’t underestimate the creative ways in which your team can help out. I recently met with my financial advisor, a savvy business woman who spent the entire hour not evaluating my IRA mutual funds, but brainstorming ideas for getting my freelance career off the ground. A true crew member will support you in the way you need to be met, rather than with a pat one-answer-fits-all approach.

While I am lucky enough to count healers, teachers, financial wizards, neighbors, computer specialists, marketing and sales experts and artists among my crew members, any one of them can be counted on to provide the extra service of acknowledging and affirming my unique contribution to the greater community.

As a Mystic job hunter, I am learning important skills that aren’t taught by career coachs and the popular job market press. I’m learning to assemble a team of experts who know me, believe in me and support me in the precise ways I need to be loved. I’m learning that one of the first practical steps toward getting the job I want is to ask others for help and support from a place of self-awareness and mutual respect.

And building your personal team is good practice for team-building at work. Try it before you get hired!