Wisdom Rests

"Wisdom Rests" by Todd Powelson

“Wisdom Rests” by Todd Powelson

I finished this new artwork, called “Wisdom Rests” (above), a couple of weeks ago but held off on sharing earlier because I wanted to look a little more, and be sure it was done… and, yep, it is done! I worked on Wisdom Rests every day for a couple of months, and it took a lot of time to complete, but I am so happy to see the new piece.

This artwork is a companion to another recent work, called “Wisdom Descends“, and both are part of my larger series, “Songs from the Earth“. Below is a little ditty I wrote to go with my newest artwork here:

Through the great Dark and shattered Light, She steps.
Onward, toward Her Sun.
His red roar becomes a background hum.
His orange glow warms Her body.
And She rests.

In my new artwork you see the sun as a lion, and the earth as a woman. I am interested in mythology, and humanity has always placed characters from our various mythologies up into the stars and onto the planetary bodies. I want that tradition to continue in my work, and use historic symbols to represent objects in space. By associating the sun, planets and stars with a human and animal form, they suddenly become much more relatable.

This artwork is available for purchase as a limited canvas print through toddpowelson.com.

Serpent

"Rainbow Serpent"

“Rainbow Serpent”

I’ve been looking at snakes… Wanting to see snakes and how they are being used in other’s artwork. I’m sure it’s because I’ve been seeing so many on my walks outside, up in the hills. One time in particular really stands out for me, and dropped all sorts of new ideas into my imagination.

It’s been a few weeks now, but back in late May or early June, I was out a-walking along the dirt and gravel trail. While I walk I tend to scan ahead of me, but where I was walking the grass on the side of the trail can get a bit long and hard to see through. I don’t mind snakes at all, but when I hear a rattle, it can really make me jump, ya know? And I heard a rattle on my left. Of course, I moved quickly in the other direction, to my right. As I moved, I looked over my shoulder, and there it was… a rattlesnake.

You know how some moments gain weight, and seconds seem to stretch out forever? Well, I locked eyes with that snake, time seemed to stop, and we both just looked. Then, those eternal seconds passed, the rattlesnake moved off in the other direction, but I still stood watching.

I watched it move away through the grass, under a nearby tree and the dead leaves. Something about it was just so damn beautiful. What immediately came to mind as I watched was… Well, I seemed to be watching a powerful little reptile dragon. It’s brown scales standing out from the green. It’s rattle buzzing as it moved away. Amazing.

It also dropped all of these exciting new ideas for future artwork into my imagination as it left. A nice old mind bomb.

Snakes are out and about this time of year. I’d already seen a fair number of snakes in the days and weeks before, but something about this specific rattlesnake. Locking eyes with it…

And then, for the next week or so, there seemed to be snakes everywhere. I’d see them all over the place. In that week or so that followed, I came across 15-20 more snakes on my walks. Like I say, snakes are out and you’ll see them, but each of those snakes seem to be reminding me that my new ideas are important. I have to do something with them. And I will. It might take some time, I have so many things I’m working on first, but I will visit with that rattlesnake again in my artwork.

And I guess that is why I’m posting these images here. I want to see snakes, and remember… and I’ll start by collecting a little reference artwork right here.

snakes_scientific_illustration_thumb

 

Kitagawa Utamaro, 1788

Kitagawa Utamaro, 1788

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"Snake", by Katie Scott

“Snake”, by Katie Scott

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Wisdom Descends

"Wisdom Descends" by Todd Powelson

“Wisdom Descends” by Todd Powelson

Down from the great light spiral She steps,

Spirits great and small follow close behind.

The digital painting (above), called “Wisdom Descends”, was a whole lot of fun to make but took me a very long time to finish. Whew, I’m so glad to see it done, and so happy with how She turned out.

This artwork is based on the old Gnostic story of Sophia. I’ll admit, the story has evolved and changed in my own mind and imagination, but its still heavily inspired by those original Gnostic thinkers.

For me, in my own personal mythology, Sophia (a.k.a. Wisdom) has come to represent the spirit and life-force of the Earth. She is the Earth, and the Earth is something Her spirit created and stepped down into. The Earth is Her material body, and Her spirit and soul sleeps and dreams us all (plants, animals, people) into being.

I know it probably sounds weird, but this is also something that makes me very happy to think about.

Visually, I wanted to focus primarily on the figure, geometry, color, and abstraction. When I started this piece, I’d planned on filling the background with a whole lot more geometry, pattern and shapes, but as I continued working I liked the idea of just leaving the background pure white. Representing the light Sophia is leaving, in favor of the earth-tones of Her material body. The sky and cloud colored fabric morphs into a celestial wing, and in the geometry of that wing you can see hints of animal (primarily bird) shapes following close behind (click the image above for a larger view).

You can buy this as a high quality 20″ x 10″ or a 40″ x 20″ canvas print through my website by visiting www.toddpowelson.com

This artwork will begin Chapter 4 of my “Songs from the Earth” series, and you can check out the rest of that series by clicking here.

Infinite Worlds

"Infinite Worlds" by Todd Powelson

“Infinite Worlds” by Todd Powelson

I just finished the new artwork above, called “Infinite Worlds”. The basic theme of the piece is something I return to from time to time, but I am not completely sure how to write about it or explain why… I will try though.

I guess I will start by giving a little of my own personal background and how my beliefs and worldview have evolved over the years.

Although I was raised with religion, by the time I was out of high school, I had lost all faith. I lost it for a number of different reasons I am sure, reasons I won’t go into. What made sense to me at the time was a much more materialist view of the world. I believed in my meat body, what I could perceive with my physical body, and that me and the larger world were complex physical and chemical processes that had no real meaning. Creation seemed to be a kind of accident that happened through dumb luck and chance. Even so, I was still extremely curious about the world and obsessed with learning as much about science and philosophy as I could. The more I read and researched though, the more I had this nagging thought…

How do I explain this? It was evolution that started to bring glimpses of the divine and infinite back into my thoughts. Physics too I suppose, but primarily biology and evolution. In time I began to have a nagging thought, over and over, that there was some sort of sub-conscious mind running through nature, guiding the way that different species would evolve. Something guiding the way species of plants and animals would customize their descendant’s body, over time and many generations, in response to the environment. I hope this’ll make sense… For example, an individual moth’s consciousness doesn’t tell its body and wings to grow into patterns that resemble a large owl face in order to scare off predators. How does the moth even really register and know the appearance of the owl? Let alone know it well enough to change its body, change its whole species over many generations, to look like an owl? But that happens, and the moth is just one example. This happens over and over, in every species, to some degree. And yet the individual animal, its individual consciousness, isn’t controlling the process. Something larger is. Anyway, I still believe in evolution. I thinks it is a beautiful process. But I began to suspect that there was something moving through nature, what I started to think of as nature’s sub-conscious mind, doing things like changing whole species of moth to grow their bodies with owl faced wings. And then I began to realize that by thinking of it as a sub-conscious mind… well, the implication was that there would be a conscious mind running through nature too. Can you have a sub-conscious mind without also having a conscious mind?

I imagine that a materialist reading these words might believe I’m flat out wrong and have another explanation. I really don’t care though. I’ve come to know that materialism is wrong. Or, at the very least, is incomplete.

Anyway, back to my new artwork… Around the same time I was coming to these conclusions, I must have been 24 or 25, I had this dream. A very important dream that, over time, helped change my way of thinking, the way I see the world and every living thing, including myself.

In my dream I was in a large dark cave sitting in front of an urn filled with burial ashes. The lid of the urn was open. A strong wind rose and blew the ashes into my face, blowing my spirit right out of that cave with that ash. Up over the landscape, past the horizon, into the atmosphere. Eventually I saw the moon zip by, then the inner planets, and then the sun. I was moving through and past the solar system, out into deep space. I began to see larger patterns emerge while moving through the galaxy, through and beyond the Milky Way. Moving beyond galaxies and galactic clusters, I began to see this pattern slowly taking shape. Writing the dream out like this makes it seem like I must have been moving fast, but I was moving slowly through the universe. I was traveling slow, slow, slow. But eventually I was outside of it all and I could see the overall pattern and form. I could see the overall shape of the universe, and it wore a human form. It was this dark human form living in and surrounded by a bright bright white light. And I could tell that the Universe was alive and moving. It was slowly lifting itself up off of the ground, so slow its movement was imperceptible, but I knew it was alive and moving as if to stand.

Writing it down seems… I don’t know… I don’t consider myself to be that great with words. But I have returned to this dream a few times in my artwork. Trying to capture it and understand my dream a little bit better, and what it means to me.

Do I really think that this Universe wears a human form? I don’t know. What I do believe is: the Universe is alive. It’s alive, and everything in the Universe is an important part of a beautiful living system. A living and conscious Universe.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that the living Universe is a very ancient understanding. Adam Kadmon, Brahman, and so many others. Even modern science (granted, maybe not completely embraced science) can see the possibility if we consider biocentrism, the implications of Rupert Sheldrake‘s work, and even the holographic principle.

Speaking of the holographic universe… I was introduced to this concept at around the same time I had my dream. The basic idea is that the Universe is similar to a hologram, in that you can divide a hologram in two and each piece will still have all of the information contained in the original. Divide the pieces again, and still, the four pieces will contain all of the original information. Divide the hologram an infinite number of times and, yes, each piece will contain all of the original information. Its very possible the Universe works the same way. As pieces and important parts, it could be that each of us contain the whole Universe inside ourselves. You do, I do, the rocks and minerals do, the plants and trees outside, every animalevery man and woman, the earth and all other planets, the sun and stars, even that moth that looks a lot like an owl does too. It is all alive, a perfect reflection of the larger Universe.

Whew, a long post.

All of that is what I call “Infinite Worlds”.

You can buy this artwork as a high quality 24″ x 16″ canvas print over at toddpowelson.com, or by emailing me at toddpowelson (at) comcast.net .

This is part of my “Songs from the Earth” series, and you can check out the rest of that artwork by clicking here.

 

A Message from Horus?

Horus

It may be obvious if you scroll through my recent posts, but I’ll just restate that I’ve got ancient Egypt on my mind. I haven’t really sought it out, but Egypt keeps popping up in documentaries and in the books I’ve been reading. Well, maybe I have sought it out a bit because I did read the Corpus Hermeticum twice this week. But still, Egypt has been popping up spontaneously in other places too.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a dream of Osiris and his family that I had a while back, and explained that it seemed I needed to use that dream in some way. Work with it creatively somehow. Well, I have a pretty good idea on how to use the idea now, and it keeps unpacking itself in my mind and becomes more and more interesting to me all the time.

The truth is though, as an artist, it can be easy to question yourself. Is this idea really a good one?  Is it worth my time? Where do I start? Etc.

Recently, while I was walking up in the hills, I was having these sort of questions. But I was also thinking of my new idea too. Thinking of Osiris. Thinking of his son Horus. What’s weird is, while I was thinking about Horus there was this birds in the trees on my right. I could sort of see it and hear it moving, but it flew away pretty quickly too. Then, about a half an hour later or so walking the other way back down the canyon, having these same questions, thinking of Horus, Osiris and my new idea…

This great big shape came flying down at me on the trail. A bird. So close, at first I thought it’d fly right into me. But it didn’t hit me. Instead, it called out and flew into the trees to my left and perched there about 15 feet or so away from me. A hawk. We just watched each other for a while, a few minutes at least. Usually, I find that the birds I come across up close don’t really want me to take their photo, but this hawk didn’t care. Even after a few minutes of watching each other, it stayed patiently in the tree to let me take a blurry photo (below), and then flew away.

As I walked on, I saw the hawk flying overhead through the trees, and over the next few minutes and could hear it calling out. I could also hear another hawk replying from further away. I started wonder if I might have been by a nest or something, and maybe that was why the hawk flew down and me and stuck around. I don’t know, but I wondered.

A little side experience that I also liked… about 20 minutes later a deer also came charging up from the stream below, running right in front of me. We didn’t spend time looking at each other though. The deer was off and away, running up into the trees.

I wasn’t sure if I should write this post. To try and explain this encounter and what the hawk meant to me. What it meant to me is personal after-all, and I don’t expect it to mean much to anyone else. Also, it might seem silly to a lot of people, but I guess I don’t mind. The modern world likes to tell us that in our materialist world, these things just happen and really have no significance. And maybe they don’t rationally… but the world isn’t completely rational.

For me, in my own mind and imagination, these things always have meaning. On a personal level, I think everybody should pay attention and listen to these kind of experiences. When a hawk comes to you and hangs out for a bit while you’ve been thinking about Horus, and whether or not you should pursue a creative idea involving him… well, I think that is important.

Aristotle said, “Art completes what Nature cannot finish.” There is some truth there. But that completion cannot happen if we don’t listen to those personal messages that Nature is sending our way, no matter how subtle.

Maybe that hawk is just kinda saying “go for it kid. Why not?” And I agree, why not. It may take me some time to get to the idea, I’ve got so many other things I am working on, but I am excited to put Horus down on paper (even if Horus is really a falcon).

blurry hawk photo

blurry hawk photo

Let’s Rap With Cap About Conspiracy!

hydra.trace.1

First off, I should say this post has spoilers for the new Captain America movie, so quit reading if ya don’t like that sort of thing. Second, this post contains a number of “real life” conspiracy theories that were addressed in the new Captain America movie, so quit reading if ya don’t like that sort of thing.

The new Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an entertaining movie, which is the most important thing in the end. Its just a movie. A superhero movie. But I’m kinda partial to superhero flicks. Turns out, this has easily become a favorite.

In addition to it being a great film though, I saw a whole lot of what many people believe to be real-life conspiracies being played out on the screen. I don’t necessarily buy into all of the good old conspiracy theory stuff, but I don’t dismiss out of hand either. At the very least, I think it is important to stay informed and be able to see the issues from multiple angles. And its plain to see that there is a whole lot of bullshit going on in the world now.

Anyway, seeing these conspiracies play out on the screen was kind of like a slap in the face the first time I saw the movie. When I saw it again, I decided I’d write about it.

The main plot has Hydra infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. and that is a good place to start. In Marvel Comics, Hydra begins as an arm (or hydra-head) of the Nazi party during WWII. Hydra begins to take on a life of its own over time, but it has its roots with the Nazi. In the movie, Hydra infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D. through coercion and deception in order to take over the US government. Okay, so that is Marvel’s history. In our real world, it could be said that something similar has been going down.

Its well established that during his rise to power, Hitler got a huge bulk of his funding from many American corporations and banks. It is a historical fact that some of these corporations were involved with eugenics research, gave money, support, provided raw materials and weaponry to the Nazi party and Hitler. A side note, but it also well established that George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush (former President George W. Bush Sr.’s grandpappy and father, dis-respectively) helped Hitler rise to power. Another side note, it is also known that Prescott Bush helped plan a government coup in 1933 meant to topple President Franklin D. Rossevelt, because Bush believed that fascist policy would get America through the Great Depression.

Fast forward a little bit. In the movie, after the end of WWII, a number of Nazi scientists were brought over to America where they were allowed to continue their research. Well, in the really-real world this also happened. Hundreds of Nazi scientists were brought over to work with the American military under Operation Paperclip. Many of those (former? current?) Nazis rose to positions of power in our own government, probably most the famous being Wernher von Braun, who went on to become a director of NASA. I’ll leave it to you to imagine how deep their influence went.

Alrighty, back to the movie where S.H.I.E.L.D. is run by a world council which decides the fate of nations. Well, that looked a lot to me like the much anticipated New World Order back here in our world. Or maybe the Bilderberg Group? Actually, the whole Captain America movie seemed to be a story about how the New World Order might rise to power.

I’m kind of skipping around, but back to the movie and how it begins. Cap and a bunch of agents are sent to free hostages and recover stolen data from a hijacked warship. As the film progresses they discover that the kidnappings were part of a government sanctioned operation. Back in our world these are known as False Flag operations, and there are many people who believe our government uses these False Flag operations to manipulate the People into giving away their freedom. This is, to my mind, where you have to tread very lightly and keep a healthy dose of skepticism.

I personally am not one of those people who buy into “9/11 was an inside job” hook line and sinker, but there are many people who do, and it is easy to understand why. There are so many unanswered questions and things that were covered up. Whatever you think about the tragedy, its plain to see that our world is completely different since that infamous date. Unending wars against an undefined enemy, post-traumatic national fear (there is a terrorist under your bed!), the self-proclaimed “Patriot” Act, economic collapse (in spite of what we’ve been told, we can’t afford all of this war. Can’t afford it financially or morally), Citizens United, government surveillance… and on… and on.

That paragraph above reminds me of Arnim Zola‘s point about how we have traded in our freedom for security, comfort and convenience. Sounds about right to me.

Speaking of Zola and government surveillance, didn’t Arnim Zola’s monitoring of American citizens in the film sound very similar to what Edward Snowden revealed about our own government?

And didn’t those new S.H.I.E.L.D / Hydra helicarriers sound an awful lot like government drones? Granted, they were fancy drones, but their function was the same. That is, anonymous death. Killing people from the sky.

I thought this might be a long post, but this has gotten L.O.N.G.

Another observation about the Winter Soldier himself. Didn’t his conditioning sound a lot like CIA sponsored MKUltra? Oh yeah, George Bush Sr. was a CIA Director. Haha, go figure.

One last thing… We should all remember what Italian fascist Mussolini said: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Sound familiar, ehh? I guess Mussolini would know. With government bailouts, the Fed, Corporate Personhood, Citizens United, and many of our new policies written down by lawyers on little scraps of paper stink of fascism. Its plain to see that corporate interest and big finance trump the People pretty much every time. Can you say “Hail HYDRA”?

Anyway, it is great to be a skeptic. And I am skeptical about conspiracy🙂 Very much so. But its also good to remember, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you!”

Geek Out!

Wildwood

ww_shamanWWT-III have a very strong interest in oracles and omens and I think if we can keep our eyes open, we’ll realize they are everywhere. I know, in this modern world that isn’t very well received, but I don’t care. If I come across a certain animal, bird, tree or rock… well, sometimes those encounters have very deep significance for me, even if I can’t explain why at the time. The synchronicities of everyday life, knowledge gained, an action, a conversation or casual comments… these everyday things can really fire my imagination at the very least. This is a pretty amazing place!

It is hard to put into words, but I feel a deeply spiritual connection between myself and pretty much everything else I share this world with. And even beyond this world. Even though I love science very very much, I instinctively feel like we share connections with each other and the rest of nature that science cannot easily measure. I’m probably starting to sound pretty woo-woo, and I usually try to avoid that at all costs, but I guess I also feel like I’ve got to explain so I can also understand…

pageofarrowswrenI have a very strong interest in and am amazed by divination. I think, if you’re open to it, divinatory systems can give glimpses into our shared physical, mental and spiritual connections. Ancient books like the I Ching are, quite simply, beautiful to me. The history behind the Sibyl and other prophets fascinate me. But on a personal level, what I relate to the most would be the Tarot. As an artist, my eyeballs devour this world, and then I express my thoughts and feelings about it visually through symbols. I find the artwork and symbolism on some tarot decks to be extremely powerful and moving. Its goal is to represent visually the different aspects and experiences we all go through, symbolically, on separate individual cards. Even if you’re not all that open to these symbols as a divinatory system, I think all of us can learn by examining them. Maybe it’ll help at first to think of the pictures as a very complex Rorschach test. Check it out, see what ya see.

KingBowsI don’t have many decks by any means, but if I see one I like, I will pick it up. My personal favorite deck is my Wildwood Tarot. There is something about its primal and animal characters that speak directly to me. With beings like the Green Man, the Ancestor, or the Son of Life running through the deck, how could it not?

As if this post wasn’t already long enough, I have a little side-tangent I’d like to explore.

I don’t know why, but it seems like most of my life I have been drawn to stone-age and bronze-age mythology and magic(k). Not that I practice it really, I don’t think of myself as a pagan or Wiccan, but maybe I lean that way a little bit. I suppose maybe the biggest reason I am drawn to the Wildwood is because it portrays that primitive and primal mythology instead of a medieval court (like many other tarot deck do).

WTT-7SI’ve explored a lot of different religious beliefs. I am very drawn to Hinduism especially, but what I relate to most are the ideas of ancient (i.e. pagan simple country folk) Europe. Nature is magic to me, and spirits move through it. Animals are my friends and trees and rivers whisper secrets. I’ve felt this way for a very long time. The wind cries Mary. I like the city and technology quite a lot too and, even though in a lot of ways it is now, I don’t think it needs to be incongruent with the natural world. Its all a part of Nature I guess. When I was younger running around under starry-skies and tree canopies I used to think to myself that modern man simply cannot relate to ancient customs and thought. Even though I felt a longing for them in my heart, I also felt like an outsider to those customs. I thought the animal in us had died. I think I was right, to some degree. We have changed. But I have come to see more and more that we are all still a part of Nature, and she has evolved with us, and (hopefully) we with Her. These ancient symbols and beliefs still have relevance, and returning to respecting Nature, trying to understand Her language and symbols (and also our own symbols at the same time) are perhaps some of the only things that makes any sense to me anymore. Not that we need to go live in caves, but we need to realize we are a part (not apart) of Nature too and respect that.

thewildwoodtarot.com

I should mention that the Wildwood Tarot was created by John Matthews, Mark Ryan, and illustrated by Will Worthington. Great job fellas!

WWT-IV

sunoflife

 

devil-WW

5 The Ancestor

 

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