This is an ongoing US and global project to help enthusiasts, scholars, practitioners, and curious parties learn more about shamanic living in a contemporary culture. The space here is devoted to sharing info, experiences and opinions about all forms of shamanic expression covering shamanism's multiple permutations. Among subjects explored are traditions, techniques, insights, definitions, events, artists, authors, and creativity. You are invited to draw from your own experiences and contribute.

What is a SHAMAN?

MAYAN: "a technichian of the Holy, a lover of the Sacred." CELTIC: "Empower the people...by changing the way we think." MEXICAN APACHE: "Someone who has simply learned to give freely of themselves..." AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL: "...a teacher or healer, a wisdom keeper of knowledge... (who) takes people to a door and encourages them to enter." W. AFRICAN DIAGRA: "views every event in life within a spiritual context." HAWAIIAN: "...human bridges to the spiritual world and its laws and the material world and its trials..." QUECHUA INDIAN: "embodies all experience." AMAZON: "...willing to engage the forces of the Universe...in a beneficial end for self, people, and for life in general."

-- from Travelers, Magicians and Shamans (Danny Paradise)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Alex Grey Retreat Reflections

I had the pleasure of staffing a creative retreat with internationally renowned artists, Alex and Allyson Grey, and wanted to provide a brief write up of my rich experience in their company.

Alex Grey's work has been described as psychedelic, shamanic, clarevoyant, spiritual, visionary, life altering and an exploration of polarities. He has developed art work and set designs for bands such as Tool and Nirvana and he teaches workshops for the Omega Institute in New York.

As a person, Alex is kind, extremely contemplative and sensitive. A soft spoken, philosophical and spiritual scholar as well as accomplished artist, he carries great hope for the future of human consciousness.

Both he and Allyson were a source of inspiration and wisdom throughout the 10 day experience; and although Alex welcomed interaction with others in the group, he seemed more at ease when sketching, reflecting or writing in his own quiet solitude.

My impression of Alex as an artist is that he has an advanced capacity to access his own unique and authentic power source. You might call it a symbiotic connection with the higher self that merges the inner and outer (nonphysical) realms-- or a fully developed "secret language" as his wife Allyson might put it. Grey's vision and perception allow him to channel information from those unseen worlds to the physical one, as a conduit or bridge-- finding a way to capture and bring back his encounters and share them on the canvas. One might call Alex Grey one of the few visual ambassadors to the spirit world doing integrative spirit work.

A fan of Ken Wilbur's philosophical writings, Grey told me that he was testing applications of Wilbur's theories on the world of art and artists. He commented that each person's version of how the world is perceived and experienced is simultaneously individual and collective. The conversation with art is a question of getting from one to the other and cycling back again, according to Grey. Much of the forward motion along this cyclical progression hinges on how far the artist is willing to take their visions from the conceptual inner world to physical manifestation, dissemination and openness to societal scrutiny.

In consideration of art as a healing expression, it strikes me that getting out of the "spirit" or "world inside the head" and into physical form is the most essential stage for anyone with a creative story trapped within them. Some are content and at peace even if their art fails to see the light of day, just to give form to their thoughts.

It may be more about honoring and expressing the energy that spawned the creative impulse in the first place than trying to carry it out into the outside world for me. That being said, it's only when I produce and receive feedback about how my art is received that I get a better idea of how to package and refine my secret language to better communicate my individual creative world's contents.

What I most admire about Alex is his awareness of the depths of his responsibility as an artist and healer. He understands that his gifts have launched him into a position of service that comes along with success.

It may be this call to service that explains why both Alex and Allyson are intent on helping to build a bridge between mindscape and physical reality for others through their workshops and other projects. Their workshops, for example, each start with a guided meditation or journey through the individual's inner world, placing focus on allowing the artist to feel stillness, safety, and peace; to better capture essential inner symbols and images. The Greys understand that laying emphasis on clearing and opening the mind to its natural creative power is the best and perhaps only way to unearth the artist and her abundant supplies of artistic treasure.

Anyone who has developed a craft, found their unique creative voice and who feels compelled to deliver their message has the rare ability to give form to the formless; therein, I believe, explains Alex Grey's popularity and the love he receives from his supporters.

The Greys are touring the world to lead workshops for other artists and to build a network of support for their vision in progress, which they call the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (COSM)-- a place for artists to come together to promote spiritual and creative integration and expression. This is a multimillion dollar project and it is still in its fledgling phases, but land just outside Manhattan has been purchased and the design for the chapel is already complete.

I am deeply grateful to the Greys for sharing their time and insights. I wish them the very best in fulfilling their important vision and invite you to be part of the COSM project. Visit their website for more information and upcoming events.
Thanks to Chris, Jessa and Joe for sharing their pictures with me.

1 comment:

Still Waters said...

Awesome Shervin! Sounds like an amazing experience :-) I've always been a fan of Alex Grey's and would have loved to been at this event!