My accident (see July Update) and subsequent operations left me in a wheelchair for a few months. I was instructed to not put any weight on my right leg, making it impossible to climb the steep stairs up to my studio.
The thought of not making art for at least 2 months was depressing. My husband, Harry and I devised a plan to create a makeshift studio on the dining room table. While I could not easily create sculpture here, I could journal, draw, and paint.
It was when I faced up to my depression, the severity of my physical condition, and the many months needed for healing and physical therapy that I realized I was in the “underworld”. I felt as though parts of me had died. Two Shamanic practitioners performed Soul Retrievals for me to reclaim fragmented pieces lost from my accident and the two-week hospital stay.
Soon the daydreams and night dreams began manifesting. I meditated and did shamanic journeying. It became apparent that I was experiencing an initiation that began with my accident and resulted in a descent into the underworld, the Dark Night of the Soul, the Alchemical phase of the Mortificatio/Nigredo.
I revisited my books on Alchemy and Jungian psychology and started charting my path out of the underworld via drawings and paintings. The following series of drawings were created as I accessed my mental and physical condition overlayed with the philosophies of Alchemy and Jungian psychology. I found truth in a quote from Carl Jung, “To the extent that I managed to translate the emotions into images-that is to say, to find the images which were concealed in the emotions-I was inwardly calmed and reassured”.
In the beginning I felt as though I was buried in the earth. I later realized that this was the start of my initiatory experience. I imagined myself weighted down by endless darkness, heavy boulders, and all-encompassing angry pain. Gradually the boulders were lifted. I saw myself on a dry riverbed, soon to have flowers blooming from my body and then to be immersed in purifying, baptismal waters. Nearing the end of my days in the dining room studio, I saw myself standing up with feathers floating around me, then flying high up into the sky, and finally manifesting, transforming, and rebirthing in to a primal, skeletal being.
Once I was able to begin physical therapy, healing moved more quickly. I bemoaned not being able to climb to my studio. Tim Wiater, my physical therapist, provided me with a cane to replace my walker and showed me how to climb stairs. I was encouraged to carefully go up to my studio taking each step slowly and consciously.
I spent the first week cleaning and organizing my studio and adjoining office. A few of my dining room paintings spoke to me. My first completed sculpture was Endangered:
Starry Night Toad. I pictured him isolated but growing rejuvenating foliage from his back. And from the darkness comes the light!
I am pleased to report that I’m back full time in my studio. My accident afforded me a transformational experience like the snake’s shedding of its’ skin. I have gained many insights, am psychologically stronger, more resilient, and compassionate. I continue to go to physical therapy and am slowly healing. My surgeon tells me that full healing will take a year from the accident. I look forward to March 11, 2022.