Posts Tagged ‘Painting Portals’

Door Number 17 ~ Elen of the Ways

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, there have been times in my life when I’ve faced problems so tricky, so “impossible” that the only way out was in. Deeeeeep inside, through the inner rabbit hole, through the spiral and out the newly created portal. In those days, I’d paint a door, and you know what? It worked.

For the past three “doors,” I’ve taken to canvases that portray some sort of doorway or entry point — still portals, but not painted on actual doors. I usually select a local or personal issue as the initial point of need or emotional spark, but then I create the portals as offerings for how such issues play out across the world. “As Within, So Without,” and “As Above, So Below.” I’ve painted portals for healing Lyme Disease, for welcoming a return of the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine, along with commissioned doors to support inner transformation and healing.

This latest door springs from a delicate local situation trying to balance encroaching Agenda 21 plans for our town with the real world need for sustainability and community — not the co-opted Agenda 21 definitions that strip human rights, but actual Earth healing and human cooperation. I knew I could foment reactions from local Tea Party folks that could stop this Comprehensive Plan in its tracks, but I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Agenda 21, though completely co-opted to destroy liberty, nonetheless gets people talking about very real problems in need of creative solutions. I could not figure out a kind, gentle, yet strong enough way to protect our rights, honor the planet, and continue to foster community rather than dividing it. Since Agenda 21 poses a global threat amidst innumerable other worldwide challenges, I know I’m not the only one considering these dilemmas. I created this portal as an offering based on Rumi’s poem:

There Is a Way

The intellect says: “The six directions are limits: there is no way out.”
Love says: “There is a way. I have traveled it thousands of times.”
The intellect saw a market and started to haggle;
Love saw thousands of markets beyond that market.

The project began with a blank door, acquired from our former landlord in Madison:

Door 17 Before, standing next to Door Number 4

Door 17 Before, standing next to Door Number 4

Given the theme of protecting both Nature and human rights, I felt called to old goddess traditions that connect the ideas of “Sovereignty” and “the Land.” In Celtic, Norse, Native American and other traditions, the health of the land reflects our inner state or the state of a community’s leader. The awful condition of our world reflects the psychopathic leaders and corporations we have allowed to usurp the natural goodness of the human race. We have, collectively, lost our way.

The goddess who presented herself for gentle, yet powerful and wise assistance was Elen of the Ways. Elen is associated with:

Sovereignty
The Land
Ancient ley lines
Star ways
Shamanic travel
Fly agaric mushrooms
The Green Lady
The Horned Goddess
The Reindeer Totem
Birch trees
Sustenance
Loving care of humans
Finding sustainable tracks
The Faery Realm

Elen’s connection with birch trees appealed to me, because this old, white door with all its cracks and chipped paint reminded me of a birch tree. David agreed that I should leave the door as natural as possible in order to invoke the traditional newness, fertility and rebirth associations with birch trees and the Berkano Rune. I also liked that the Berkano Rune looks like a pointy capital B, appropriate for creating a Plan B to the predetermined Plan A(genda 21).

Door Number 17 (After), next to Door Number 4, by Laura Bruno

Door Number 17 (After), next to Door Number 4, by Laura Bruno

I painted this entire door during the first Mercury Retrograde period of 2014, because Mercury Retrograde supports revision, reworking, and wriggling out of former contracts. Merc Rx introduces a certain degree of chaos, which can thwart new initiatives, but offers great energy for tweaking old ones. Since Agenda 21 came about in 1992 and our town had already been selected as a pilot city for an APA implementation of A21, creating a Plan B through alternate ways, seemed highly suited for a Merc Rx project. I live in a world of synchronicity, but even I was floored when I found myself painting the portal address of 444 at exactly 4:44 East Coast US time on February 6, 2014 — the exact moment when this Mercury Retrograde period began! 444 reminds us of the angels’ love and support, and I’ve certainly felt them during this process.

Door Number 17 ~ Elen of the Ways, by Laura Bruno

Door Number 17 ~ Elen of the Ways, by Laura Bruno

I decided not to depict Elen of the Ways in a direct form, but instead chose to include symbols and images closely related to Elen and the Faery Realm. As Reindeer Goddess or “The Horned Goddess,” Elen has strong ties to Ice Age (and even contemporary) wanderers who followed the reindeer, caribou or (later) the red deer in order to find food, shelter and the ability to live through harsh conditions in the Boreal Forest. I included this image from a cave painting in Lascaux, representing an Ancient Irish Giant Elk:

Reference to Lascaux cave painting

Reference to Lascaux cave painting

Many archeologists believe that the cave paintings reflect shamanic visions and encounters, and some scholars believe the flying reindeer of the Santa myth come from shamans soaring through the stars to track the animals below. The poisonous fly agaric mushrooms so often associated with gnomes and faeries become a safe hallucinogen when passed through the reindeer and drunk via reindeer urine, so this portal door’s depictions of both the Lascaux elk and the fly agaric mushrooms offer a double nod to shamanic visions and inspired ways:

Fly agaric Rumi

Fly agaric Rumi

In addition to the inscribed intention, “Love said, ‘There is a way. I have traveled it thousands of times,” I also wrote in silver runes down the left side: “SUSTAINABLE SOVEREIGNTY,” a concept that honors and connects both human rights and a healing of Nature.

I had some interesting conversations with various members of the Faery Realm while creating this portal. Agenda 21 aims to remove humans from most of the land and huddle them into megacities with a Wetlands Project that keeps vast stretches of Nature off limits to all but a self-proclaimed elite. Part of me wondered if the faeries might prefer such an arrangement, given how irresponsibly humanity has treated the planet. It turns out that, although some of the Faery Realm does despise humanity, significant portions recognize a joint destiny between the realms. The Faery Rule, “Respect, Not Control,” urges humans to respect Nature but does not support the sort of top-down police state regulations of advanced Agenda 21.

The Faery Realm representatives I’ve long worked with prefer voluntary communion with humans and the natural world — a cooperative honoring and regeneration of the land as sacred. The most ancient concept of regenerating the land remains totally entwined with the idea of sovereignty. The Fae also indicated that vibration from such intense misery of human enslavement, along with the electromagnetic monitoring of all off-limits areas, would make our planet even more intolerable for such sensitive beings than it already is. By contrast, voluntary communion with the land and between the realms offers a truly healing and celebratory opening into a preferred reality with much more cooperation and exchange among the realms.

Based on these discussions and support from my continued and proven loyal friends from the Faery Realm, I added the mythical “silver branch” — an apple branch in full bloom, fruit and leaf all at the same time. This silver branch offers safe passage into and out of the Faery Realm, also called Avalon (“The Isle of Apples”). The golden apple is toxic if eaten by one of an impure heart, but its poison becomes regenerative with love and alchemical transmutation. Cut in half, the apple reveals five seeds symbolizing the original (non-co-opted) meaning of the pentagram: excellence, truth and purity:

The silver branch, by Laura Bruno

The silver branch, by Laura Bruno

You can see that I’ve used Runa Faery coding — one of three different systems of Runes used on this portal — to express compassionate intentions and requests for the Highest Good of All, not just human centric, yet also not excluding humanity from that mix.

Bottom of Door Number 17, including the Plan "B" Berkano Rune

Bottom of Door Number 17, including the Plan “B” Berkano Rune

I continued this faery theme in the top panel by painting a seven-pointed Faery Star, associated with healing, the magick of Avalon, and the Faery Realm, which is lit by inner and outer starlight rather than sun or moon. I embedded additional Runes and healing symbols as the smaller “stars.” This also coincides nicely with Elen’s association with finding the star ways and tracking Gaia’s ley lines by flying through the stars:

Door Number 17, by Laura Bruno

Door Number 17, by Laura Bruno

I usually paint the backs of my portal doors, but I received a strong sense to leave this one open to the Unknown Way. I’ve embedded the door with powerful positive intentions and requests for healing, regeneration, sovereignty, peace, compassion, love and return of faery magick and wonder into everyday human awareness and existence. I don’t need to know exactly how that looks, especially since “it” will look different for each person who desires to participate in this type of world. According to Rumi, “The intellect says: ‘The six directions are limits: there is no way out.’
Love says: ‘There is a way. I have traveled it thousands of times.’” In honor of creating something entirely new and joyful from the discarded scraps of what seems ugly and restrictive, I painted a single Rune on the door handle. Called “HAGAL,” this snowflake or star shaped Rune invokes our inherent ability to “Create a New Universe”:

Create a New Universe

Create a New Universe

May it be so.

Door Number 15: The World Tree and the Norns

Happy Chinese New Year and Happy New Moon in Aquarius! In honor of the end of the old and birth of the new, I just finished my fifteenth painted portal “door” — my first since November 2010. After a long hiatus of partially completing other doors, then injuring my back so that door painting became very cumbersome and uncomfortable, then moving and running out of room for doors, I finally began and finished a new portal project, which can rightly take its place as Door Number 15.

The World Tree and the Norns by Laura Bruno

The World Tree and the Norns by Laura Bruno

Those readers unfamiliar with my portal painting projects can find links to the fourteen previous doors by clicking here. This canvas painting features the World Tree from Norse mythology, along with a faery portal door on the tree, the Rune Realm and a triple Moon sequence symbolizing the Norns, or the sister goddess weavers of Fate. Yggdrasill, the world tree, is a giant ash supporting the Nine Worlds. For this project, I focused mostly on the Norns and then embedded Runes in texture and along the bottom as a gesture towards the unseen worlds.

Triple goddesses in the Norse tradition, the Norns loosely correspond to the Greek “Fates.” The concept is a bit more sophisticated than simple Fate (Past, Present and Future), though. The Rune Primer gives some additional insights into the Norns, which I will share here:

“If we look at the etymology of the names of the three Norns (Urd, Skuld, and Verdandi), we can go a long way toward grasping the concepts they embody.

“‘Urd’ is cognate with ‘Wyrd’, the Anglo-Saxon word for the unseen influences behind events. It also suggests the primal or ancient. ‘Wyrd’ has come down to us as ‘weird’ with only a small part of its original meaning. Urd is depicted as being the guardian of a bottomless well. Urd’s well is the primal source and Urd represents the unmanifest potential, everything arises from the unmanifest, and returns to it. All possibilities exist therein.

“‘Skuld’ translates directly as ‘should’. This is because Skuld represents that which can be inferred. Given the present indications we can predict what should happen, but we can take steps to avert the outcome. If there is free will, no system of prediction can be foolproof. Hence we have ‘Should’ and not ‘Shall’.

“‘Verdandi’ denotes that which is becoming or manifesting, the present moment. Verdandi represents the dynamic process of “coming into being” which we perceive as the manifest world.

“In our system Skuld can also include ‘that which should have been’, so that the manifest decays back through Skuld to return to the unmanifest. We can see that rather than simply having a representation of linear time, we have a concept of all things being in a state of change.

“To our perception, there are three realms of Wyrd: That which we cannot perceive, Urd. That which we perceive directly, Verdandi. And that which we can infer by logic or by divination, Skuld. All things exist within the Wyrd and are interconnected by it, hence the symbolism of a web or woven strands. Everything has its effect on everything else. Our Wyrd is a web of interconnections within a larger web. Working our True Will requires the ability to move with freedom within the constraints of our Wyrd, bearing in mind that our every action changes our Wyrd. By understanding the Norns, we can come to understand our Wyrd.

“This concept is a vital part of our system, and it comes into play in all of our work from Rune Magick to martial training. In our system, we relate Urd to meditation. In meditation we look deep into the well of the unmanifest within, when thought stops we can perceive our connection with the Wyrd, this is the source of our True Will, our individuality and real power.” (More information here.)

I paint portals to effect and direct desired change, both in myself and in the conditions of our world. I had heard that “you can’t petition the Norns,” but I figured a painting honoring the process of manifestation couldn’t hurt! I create all my portals, whether actual doors or canvases containing thresholds, as multi-layered, living prayers. The World Tree traditionally contains nine realms of being, with the Norns at the roots, near the Well of Mimir. I decided to use the triple goddess symbol of multiple Moon phases, because I liked how the Full Moon could double as a well.

The Norns portion of The World Tree by Laura Bruno

The Norns portion of The World Tree by Laura Bruno

The tree itself morphed out of the Wildwood Tarot’s World Tree card, but quickly developed its own power and energy. I added Faery Runes to the doorway to spell out “Payuurt-Eel,” i.e. “portal,” along with a heart.

Mini Payuurt-Eel (Faery Portal)

Mini Payuurt-Eel (Faery Portal)

The word Payuurteel ties Door Number 15 back to Door Number 1, the painting that began the portal door series, and the heart amplifies the mysteries of Love associated with the Payuurt Rune, more commonly known as “Perth.” Shaped like a dice cup, this Rune adds an element of chance and Divine revelation. It evokes the energy of secrets coming to light, or something hidden revealing itself. The Eel Rune is known in other traditions as “Man” or “Algiz.” The meaning varies with each tradition, but all of the Runic traditions I know emphasize a sense of Divine inspiration and protection with this Rune. In the Runes of Elfland, this Rune represents the sword that holds peace so long as it’s never used. The door on the World Tree holds all of these energies and more as a prayer for peace, love and transmutation of our world. It also ties into Door Number 3, “The Tree of Life, aka the Daphne Door.”

I included the four seasons on the single tree, along with the three phases of the moon as overt reminders that “this, too, shall pass.” The solid strength of the World Tree shows signs of moment by moment change, just as Time passes and yet the Universe and we with it exist in the ever-present-Now, eternity. The Runes across the bottom represent a sacred system of Runes known as the FUTHORK, not to be confused with the more common “FUTHARK” Runes. Most commonly known for divination, certain systems of Runes serve as the building blocks of creation. Like quantum energy packets from the All That Is, their energies can mold and shape Reality in major ways. I included this particular system of Runes as a way of evoking “the infinite” in a finite painting.

Many cosmic winks from the Universe occurred as I made this portal, but they all held a similar theme of creating something beautiful from what appears to be a “mistake.” For the first time ever, I “forgot” to prime the canvas. I realized it when I began painting the tree and noticed how the canvas just “sucked up all my paint.” I used lots and lots of acrylic paint on this canvas, but in person it almost looks like water color. After the first application, I opted to go with the flow because I liked the shape of the tree. As I painted more, I noticed that the tree began to glow due to the white of the canvas showing through the strokes. “OK,” I thought, “the tree knows better than I did in planning it: the World Tree glows with life.”

Then, I was painting the red/orange leaves and a splash of red dripped on the trunk. If I had gone with thicker coats of paint, I could easily have camouflaged the drip, but doing so in this case would have required me darkening the entire tree. Instead, I painted a little cardinal, which smiles from the branch with a Rune as his wing.

Cardinal on the World Tree

Cardinal on the World Tree

According to animalspirits.com,

Cardinal/Redbird’s Wisdom Includes:

Courtship

Fatherhood

Understanding the power of the wind

Finding your soul song

I especially love how “Courtship” and “Finding your soul song” tie into the Payuurt Rune, and this “accidental bird” ties Door Number 15 into Door Number 4, “The Four of Wands/Karuna,” which just happens to be about marriage and “the end of suffering.” Because these doors connect with energies beyond, the ways they play with each others’ energies amplify their effects, not unlike how Tarot cards shift meaning depending on the other cards in a spread. In this case, the dove at the top of the Four of Wands panel resulted from a “total mistake.” I dropped some black paint on the yellow background of that door, and for the life of me, I couldn’t match the yellows again! The area turned out so much lighter and so noticeable that I could think of no other option than to “put a bird on it.” I ended up liking the way that dove amplifies the peace and harmony of the traditional Four of Wands reading.

Other “mistakes” on Door Number 15 included some of the gloppier regions of background color, again due to “forgetting” to prime the canvas. I initially felt frustrated that some parts of the canvas seemed to eat color. Once I finished each area, though, I noticed that the alternating dense and light patches of color contributed to the overall glow effect, as well as adding extra dimensionality to the painting as a whole.

The photo doesn’t really capture the shimmer of metallic paint on the door and moon, but in person, this large piece dances in the light. I painted it to go above the toilet in our upstairs bathroom, which sits against the wall behind my desk. I have my desk feng-shui’d, but I wanted a more powerful, positive energy on the other side of that wall. I wanted to feel and experience some portal power instead of facing a Chi trap. When David heard where this portal would go, he laughed and said, “Oh, good! Now we’ll have a Portal Potty.” 😉 Humor aside, I designed this portal as a physical symbol of the idea that we can, with intention, shift challenges into emblems of beauty and power. In permaculture, people would say, “The problem is the solution,” recognizing how any challenge that arises usually winds up solving a bunch of other issues, or at the very least making the entire system more efficient and elegant. By creating a portal to balance the chi going down various bathroom drains, I wound up strengthening my desk, business and energy in the office on the other side.

Given that I had begun painting this portal as a plea to the Norns, the Universe, the World Tree, and the All That Is to shift some of the intenser aspects of life on this planet right now — in addition to the toilet/desk issue — the continual shifting of mistakes into light and depth seemed like an answer repeated until I got the message:

“Your requests for peace, a return to Natural Law and the bringing of hidden secrets into Light have been heard and duly noted … But, Laura, look with new eyes. Reconsider those parts of the unfolding that you find wrong, draining or haphazard. When creating from the infinite well of inspiration, remember that beauty, light and Nature can and will surprise you. Just because your process takes a different path than you planned or expected doesn’t mean you won’t receive the essence of your request. In fact, the essence of your request may outshine the intended details of what you thought you wanted. We hear you, and we honor the deepest longings of creation. Relax and enjoy!” I hope you, do, too. 🙂

The World Tree and the Norns by Laura Bruno

The World Tree and the Norns by Laura Bruno