Shape-shifting may sound like an ethnographic study where a shaman transforms into animal, while in truth it is fundamental to our everyday experience. Shape-shifting allows for the ability to change form or identity at will. It is a part of spiritual practice, parenting, the arts and just about any aspect of life that is carried to artistry. Compassion and empathy are ways of shapeshifting.
My friend, who does large scale landscape says the way she chooses the plants is to run them through her body. As she imaginally becomes like the plants she can see if they are appropriate for the overall plan- how is she (as them) through the seasons, as size, as color, as movement. Closing our eyes is actually a powerful tool we have all used, where we have felt for a moment that we are there doing it ourselves-as we watched ice figure skating or dancing, swayed to music, “run” the track or thought through a difficult problem. Einstein mentions imagining as integral to his theory of relativity where he pictured himself riding a light beam had him gain insights that he was not able to gain through logic alone.
In-bodying Marking this week focused on becoming-like-something with which we had a natural affinity. The words of David Abram, Becoming Animal, set the stage for the exploration in this Imaginal Field:
“The boundaries of a living body are open and indeterminant more like membranes than barriers they define a surface of metamorphosis and exchange. The breathing, sensing body draws its sustenance and it’s very substance from the soils, plants and elements that surround it; it continually contributes itself, in turn, to the air to the composting earth…breathing the world into itself, so that it is very difficult to discern, any moment, precisely where this living body begins and where it ends.”
Abram’s words helped participant to have a body sense of those times throughout our lives when we have changed shapes, like playing as a child, intimate moments with a loved one and being absorbed in a book. In the current ecological crisis movies like Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life and Louie Schwartzberg’s Fantastic Fungi make it much easier to access feelings of belonging to the earth as never before.
The following marking pieces are explorations of being-like something else by participants in last week’s marking sessions. Many found a new sense of making-marks that stemmed from the new perspective. The experiences were varied but there is an embodied quality in the marks that shows through as sensing.