Introduction by Gaia Orion –
When I was a kid there was an old lithography at my grandparent’s castle in the washroom. It was about life and its different stages. Steps were going up to the age of 50 – Age Of Discretion it said – and then the steps were going down to the Age Of Decay (90 years old). A couple was shown on the steps at various stages of their life cycle and at the end the old couple, at 100 years old were lying in bed in the Age of Infancy and Imbecility! A Last Judgment picture was right in the center depicting in detail heaven and hell with details … Looking at this picture growing up was amusing but also daunting. I thought that there must be a different way to see this life journey.
Today I see life as seasons passing and returning. There are stages of maturity and gaining wisdom along the way; though a 100 year old can feel like a child at heart and the natural wisdom of a child is pure and powerful like the old sage. The natural slowing down of the body as we age gives us opportunity to slow down in our activities and have more time for reflection. Just like winter is telling us to rest and look inward every year. When one lives in tune with nature life is a cycle following the seasons.
Where does it really start? When does it end? When the caterpillar ‘dies’, it has no idea that it is initiating the birth of a beautiful butterfly.
We know through the studies of ancient civilizations that all religions & cultures have the same core. Focusing on this universal theme of human life is what brings us together; it enables us to be compassionate when we don’t feel connected. It is only through working on our own life journey that we can participate to the whole in a constructive and integrate manner. When we work seriously and passionately on finding peace and wisdom, the rest unfolds naturally toward a greater community around us and around the world. I thought this would highlight your point on Myths that highlight the collective journey.
To write the new myths in the Sustainability Age, we need to consider several key principles from our mythological and alchemical heritage:
I. OUR JOURNEY – Myths highlight the collective journey. Coalitions, the community meetings and marches are what Joseph Campbell might have called the journey. Now we are all on the EJ journey together.
II. MOTHER NATURE – unified races/people, all on the same spiritual journey and search for meaning. Alter Eco Fair Trade Company presents a new way of doing business, of exchanging goods. They are proving that an economy based on integrity and good ethic can be prosperous and can work. It is working and it is also presenting viable, long term solutions where fewer disparities can be present between countries and people, land can be used by people in a sustainable manner. Right now the Western world system is not a long term solution. We are all sitting on the edge, we know it, enough is being said about that, enough studies and scientist have told us that our seas, our land, our food and our bodies are polluted, that most species are endangered, that the ice caps and glaciers are melting, that the weather patterns are changing.
I believe we have all the solutions in our hands, things can change fast. A black president was elected in United States because people united together; this gives us courage and incentive to unite again for all the changes that are needed. I see internet as a wonderful uniting tool for all the people of the planet, the young generation that meet and share through Facebook doesn’t think in flags and boundaries anymore. That’s very encouraging to see. There is a lot to be despairing about but there are also so many things to get excited about. I think this is a very interesting time to be alive. The power of Mythology is also about shared initiations: educating and growing, seeking and returning to educate.
III. FREE! We all look up to masters, artists, musicians writers, philosophers, but what we regard in them the most is their freedom from conditioning, from the masses, they bring new images, sounds, ideas, stories to the world. In that they express freedom, they had to go against the status quo; they had to question the teachers, the parents, the religious figures. Each one of us can do the same, be an example of that freedom and from that transform others by simply following the path of letting go and discovering new paradigms. We need more Heroes, but not just adults with advanced degrees from the West, but kids and grandparents from all over!
For a great set of stories and heroes with mythic vision, journey to the My Hero Project.
I HAVE A DREAM.
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Interview with Artist Gaia Orion by Willi Paul
How are you creating new stories and myths in your paintings?
Sacred and ancient forms of art from various cultures throughout history have always fascinated me. With beauty in their simplicity, their strong lines, vivid colours, and images transcend time; though feel like `they have always been here.’ A lot of research has been done showing that around the world and throughout our history common core concepts and archetypes link us all.
I feel my artwork is connected to this ageless thread. So yes, in one sense I am creating ‘new’ myths, ‘new’ stories for the society I live in and for our modern time… though these myths and stories have a timeless, archetypal foundation.
Tell us yours fears and hopes for your kids.
It is difficult not to think sometimes about how unstable and volatile our world is. For instance, we depend a lot on our technology for everything in our lives at so many levels, from the food we eat to the ability of promoting my artwork through internet. As our world becomes more and more complex and separate from naturally sustaining ecosystems there is a real possibility that the illusory flow of information and goods could be disrupted.
I am truly grateful for our abundance and that we can provide so much for our kids when throughout history (and even in much of the world today) most generations would go through phases of famine, disease and war. As long as we are not working seriously at a planetary level to resolve basic issues (like our growing world population, the ridiculous gaps between rich and poor, the racism and hate that feeds political agendas for wars, the pollution that is destroying our resources and our bodies little by little… to name a few!) then we are living on a very thin comfort blanket right now. It is sad to witness that and sad for my kids to grow up with the slogan “save the planet” at every corner of their life. Despite these grave problems we have no choice but to remain optimistic.
When I saw Barak Obama being elected it gave me hope to think that we do have all the solutions in our hands and that change can happen very quickly. I read on one of your interviews that ¼ of the money spent worldwide on armaments could resolve most of the basic issues I mentioned. That is a great thing to know but we need the resolve as a species to take a step and put our money and resources to constructive use. Everywhere I see small community initiatives, green businesses growing exponentially and many new ideas that bring viable solutions. At one point the old paradigm will shift and new sustainable ways of living on the planet will be everywhere. That is so exciting. I often say that if I had to choose to live at any point of history, this would be an amazing time to be alive. I know I am raising kids that are very aware, conscious and understanding. I have no doubt that they are a great addition to our future society!
Artists may go through many initiations on their alchemic journey. Please us about some of your key learning’s and transitions.
Our ‘sensory apparatus’ picks up only a thin, minute band of energy, thus information, out of the total available from the entire spectrum. This leaves an incredible amount ‘unseen’ to our senses. Being on an alchemic journey is to get an understanding of that fact as we experience different levels of reality. Some call it having mystical experiences but if you understand the physics and the meditative insights it is simply being sensitive and opening ourselves to new realms.
When I was 12 I used the Weegie Board with friends and it basically traumatized me for years. What scared me was the possibility that there were other beings around me that I couldn’t see and I was worried of their possible power over me. Nobody around me took my fears seriously so I was left alone with this changed view of life. I was mostly left with many questions, doubt about the religion I was brought up with (Catholicism), and doubt about adults that had no explanations for me and showed no support. An irrational fear of the unknown stayed with me for years.
When I was 21 I met my husband Dolphin while traveling in Morocco. Our meeting was quite magical and it felt that bigger forces had been at work to make us meet. On our wedding night, we were alone on the beach in France and we were holding hands facing each other when giant auras glowed around us for the longest time. After this happened ‘channels’ opened and I was able to see auras everywhere and I was also realizing that being in touch with other realms was not all about fears. It was very beautiful and peaceful.
At 28 I started meditation retreats and there I was able to experience the subtleties and possibilities of the mind (and the universe) just by sitting still on a cushion. In the last 10 years I have learned different healing techniques and have read many books on science, health, diet, healing, sacred geometry, philosophy and spirituality which have been key in many transitional moments.
My alchemic journey is about seeing the opening of my perception of reality and the inner psycho-spiritual transformation that is reflected in my relationships and the unfolding of my life. When life is giving me difficult situations I am able to embrace the challenge and be grateful for what I will be learning through this. Everything is in place for a reason; it is magical to see the intricacies of life and how everything is connected so magically in a perfect dance.
Are you an “island of creativity and rebellion?” And how do you build community?
Creativity arises naturally. It is not something that I can call anytime. It is a gift that comes in once in a while. I realized that what is important is to set the ground for creativity to be able to flourish. This is a daily work on myself to arrange my life so that it has some space for creativity to happen. Creativity cannot come if I am too busy with entertainment, activities and other things.
Rebellion is inevitable in this world if we are looking for a life that has meaning. The world of the mainstream is full of half truths and superficiality. It takes a lot of energy to inquire, to see through the film of conformism. Most people don’t want to disturb or be disturbed; it may seem a lot easier to go along like everyone with what we are being taught and told by our families, religions, politics, schools and society. Only a few will go against the status quo. For them it is not even courage or rebellion it is just the only way to live to keep their spirit alive. When you are on that path of searching for truth and balance you inevitably connect with others that are on the same search and it has been this way for thousands of years. Artists, writers, musicians, poets, philosophers, spiritual seekers and also some visionary political leaders have led the way. Their example and message filters out, inspires all individuals and slowly helps in the building of community.
Is there a “Father Nature?” How is this energy expressed in your work and in popular culture these days?
I would say that Nature embraces both Father and Mother. There are archetypes that are obvious: Mother Nature is the earth as she is hosting us, feeding us, nurturing us like a mother. Other energies in this world are more masculine like the Sun. The Sun has the energy of protection, power, and strength as it gives heat and life to our bodies. I try to embrace both energies in my work, but I do have to admit that my work mostly focus’ on female energies. I think it is probably because we need more of it in our world. Our western society is based on a patriarchal model; it is hard to believe that women were only allowed to vote in 1944 in France and that Saudi Arabia still doesn’t allow women to vote. I feel one of the reasons why our environment is so destroyed is because of this imbalance and disconnection to Mother Earth. Western world religion – mostly Christianity – has a history of domination over other religions and people; its father god is in the sky disconnected from natural elements and it has male dominated sacred texts and hierarchy. All of this has definitely played a part in the environmental issues we have today and the way our society views the resources of the planet.
What is the spiritual core or principles of the Sustainability Age? Is there a universal theme or spark still?
I kind of smile when I hear all these “new” concepts of sustainability, buying local, respect of the environment, recycling, reusing etc. because most of humanity throughout history was living that way naturally. There was no such thing as creating garbage, recycling was not even a concept but an obvious thing to do, buying local was the only place to buy food, respecting our environment was absolutely necessary for survival. Something went wrong not so long ago when we thought that we were the most intelligent species and that being in harmony with nature became a fluffy, new age, pagan, tree-hugger thing to talk about!
When we look at nature, feel the peace and harmony that exists within the forest we automatically know the truth. Now go downtown in a large city: thick concrete and asphalt under our feet disconnect us from the earth and heavy smog and light pollution makes it impossible for us to see the skies and stars; we know intrinsically what it is to live the right way… but we don’t! No religion can dictate what is right or wrong. Only by observing nature can we learn about physics, science, economy, ecology, even mathematics and spirituality. Nature is the only universal theme that connects us all and that holds the answers to our present problems.
Please explain this more deeply: “When we work seriously and passionately on finding peace and wisdom, the rest unfolds naturally toward a greater community around us and around the world.”
From meeting people that had a similar journey as well as from my own experience, I know that when we let go of the old beliefs, step out of society’s expectations and search for truth and meaning, then there is magic that happens: synchronicities occur; the world seems to organize itself around us so that we can navigate through it. Even though there are little choices to make everything seems to be presenting itself the way it should be. Because the core intention was pure and from the heart, all that unfolds is naturally for the good of all. With each person doing this it inspires more people to make a positive change.
Is sustainability like a new religion?
Sustainability is what should naturally arise and be if we choose to live in ‘harmony with ourselves and with nature’. There is no need to talk in terms of religion. If we felt inner fulfillment in our lives then we wouldn’t need to buy so much stuff. Our addiction to buying, endlessly making our houses nicer and more comfortable – which is really our desires uncontrolled – is what causes so much destruction ecologically. This whole ecological shift has to come with personal understanding and change. We know that people will change if they inquire seriously into life.
Is Toronto a magical place?
Toronto is known to be a multicultural peaceful place. When I first moved here I loved Toronto. My English wasn’t so good and everywhere I was going everybody had broken English like mine. I felt at home right away. Maybe it is appropriate that I live close to this open city as in my artwork I embrace all backgrounds and cultures. Though, I never lived in Toronto; I am now 2 hours up north in the bush by a river and that is definitely magical!
When is a hero also a shaman? Are you one or both?
I am pretty sure heroes don’t know they are heroes until people label them that way. In difficult and challenging situations some people take action spontaneously regardless of the danger or the consequences. It is mostly after the fact that they might realize that their action was heroic. Many people along the way affected me deeply just by living their lives or by what they said to me one day. I am assuming that by living my life I am affecting others without knowing it. One person takes radical steps and changes, she/he doesn’t do it to impress anyone, and for her/him it is the only way. Each life that is transformed inevitably affects others.
Twelve years ago my husband and I made a decision and took a radical step to spontaneously quit his meaningless job, our only source of income. When we did that we had a 17 month-old son and 3 month-old twin girls. It sure wasn’t a “reasonable” thing to do in the eyes of our family, friends (and in the eyes of society). We didn’t care about the consequences; for our spirit we had no other option. We really had no idea of what we were going to do and three years later we had 2 successful businesses! Eventually we sold our organic sprout business to further simplify our lives. We have both been at home with our kids all these years; we both have time for reflection, music and art and have more than we could have ever dreamed of.
“The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world” ( Wikipedia definition of the shaman). So in that sense we have been shamans in our lives because we have focused our whole transformation on the spiritual aspect of it. From that the rest unfolded. A lot of people tell us that we were so courageous when we let go of our financial security and went into the unknown but when we did it, just like the heroes, we didn’t think it was courageous, it was the only way.
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