Woundedness, Big Love, Art, and Alchemy

A year or so ago I did a small painting for myself. I had been collecting leaves of various shapes and sizes and coating some of them with liquid gold leaf and incorporating them into my art.

One such leaf was on a long stem and curled over, almost gently cowering, withered...definitely in the autumn of its life. It intrigued me, though, and I thought, this is how I feel sometimes. Even though many of my paintings are large, colorful, intense in some ways, you might even say “powerful,” the fact is I often identify more with a part of me that feels inadequate, small, powerless, incapable, ineffectual...the all-too-familiar “not-enough-ness.”

So I decided to paint a painting for myself as a prayer. A prayer to summon all the big love and deep compassion I could muster for that “unloveable” part of me. The image came out as lythe, flame-like goddess hands cupping to form an opening to a void and cradling this forlorn leaf. I called it “Love for Impotence.”


I moved it recently to the bathroom wall to replace another painting. I liked having it nearby. Then, while blow-dying my hair one day, I bumped it with my elbow and it broke.

My first thought was “dammit!” My second thought was about how I’ve heard that when crystals break it’s because they can no longer hold the energy...an expansion is needing to happen.

My third thought was...”oh look, it’s only broken in one place, I can glue it back together.”

And then I said to myself, ”what about the whole “no mistakes, no accidents” concept that you teach and say you believe...at least when it comes to soul art?” For me, it feels different to give voice to a platitude than it does to actually live it out when a “belief” comes up, confronting me in life!

So I sat there looking at it, considering my options. Yes, I could glue it back together...or I could let it change somehow. I could hear the small, whisper of a voice...a seed of excitement about the idea of letting it change. This is what I call a soul whisper and I can hear it in my head, but it doesn’t come from there. I can feel it too, deeper in my body. It’s subtle, but palpable. A little zing, or spark, or sometimes a flush of warmth or a chill. This is the voice to listen to and act on when I’m the process of sourcing art.

And besides, how much energy did I want to spend putting my “wound” back together?

With loving attention and intention I pulled the rest of the stem off the canvas and put the leaf in a bowl. With the butt of my brush I had a makeshift mortar and pestle and proceeded to grind it up into little tiny gold specks. I stirred in some clear medium and tossed in a few stars, hearts, and jewels and stirred it back onto the canvas in a spiraling motion.

Now it feels to me like the goddess hands are holding the universe...or all kinds of possibilites....a handfull of magic dust.

I look at it every day ... and know it’s a symbol of something happening inside of me. And it’s no longer “Love for Impotence.” I don’t know what to call it yet. For now, it’s just “Love....