Blog #3E Denial of Death

Anavami Center
Blog #3E Denial of DeathIn our adventure of challenging the current paradigm we question the man-made cultural norms that dictate our lives. More than anything else, our greatest repression is the “Denial of Death”. Pulitzer Prize winner, Ernest Becker’s book by that title maintains. Human beings spend an inordinate amount of energy strategizing to ward off recognition of our mortality. Socrates said as recorded by Plato, “the practice of dying” is a phrase that describes one aspect of how we become “morally mature.” Socrates urges us all to turn inwards and face our mortality. The Greek philosopher is among many others insisting we live with death in order to clarify our motives in life. It is surely possible that denial of death is at the bottom of our materialism, consumerism, addiction and escapism.
Blog #3E Denial of Death

Axis Mundi/Intimacy

We have been using poems by Billy Collins this month as he is an artist who plays the death card as he is coming to terms with dying, the ultimate loss, with humor. Making the life/death/life issue conscious and personal is central to other realities in life and is at the core of artist’s work, be it musician, dancer, writer or one of the artists of everyday life—chef, mother, carpenter. It also defines the different between skill and artistry. As materialists, we are used to perceiving and dealing with things like replaceable commodities, so our sense of loss seems minor in daily life. However, we all must process allowing our loss to make room to live when we feel and note loss. When not consciously felt and grieved loss becomes what Stephen Busby from Findhorn says constructs ‘the un-lived life.’

Blog #3E Denial of Death

Baba Yaga’s House

Artists in particular, on the creative edge, cannot afford to deny the exchange that is required because it will stall the process. The creative process is on the edge of the unknown willingness to risk loss. This week we incorporated two earlier participant-lead refrigerator journeys, placing them in a part of the body to access in the imaginal somatic to blend into one piece through marking. We then deconstructed that piece onto a new substrate. This was to underscore how loss of the cut-up piece became material for something new. Despite the initial discomfort, everyone enjoyed the freedom of not knowing what was happening. Several of the re-worked pieces found a deeper resonance with more revealing content.

The first image above draws on two Refrigerator Field trips-one that brought me to Axis Mundi and the other to Intimacy.  These were cut-up and reconstructed. Out of the ashes arose the image that reminded me of Baba Yaga’s three-legged house. She is the archetype witch of the transformative agent of the psyche containing the wise and the terrifying tester. This alerted me that when a threshold guardian shows up there is something around the corner.

Click on thumbnail to see full size image. Majio





Blog #3D In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trip & Embodied Knowing

Anavami Center
Blog #3D In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trip & Embodied Knowing

Axis Mundi

#3D Blog: Aspects of the archetype of artist

The Japanese movie Hokusai’s Daughter conveys how passion and commitment go beyond all social customs and interpersonal needs. Katsushika Oi, the main character in the movie is like many artists- often on the edge of societal norms. This is not just a rebellious or revolutionary reaction but instead arises as an investigative state of being at the boundaries of what is known.

Look at the life of your favorite artists to see their sacrifices. They are visionaries, not in the sense of dramatic tragedy but often in loss that is consciously negotiated. The transfer of energy with the sacred is the meaning of sacrifice.

Blog #3D In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trip & Embodied Knowing


Many artists have lived their lives on an extraordinary edge. Canadian artist, Emily Carr at the turn of the century, tromped through the wilderness to paint Native Americans. Because American artist Alice Neel worked in the era of Abstract Expressionism her paintings were ignored for decades, except by other painters. This year there was a retrospective of her work in New York at the Metropolitan Museum. Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo painted from her physical pain and anguish through a folk art tradition. Japanese artist Katsushika Oi went against all customs established for women as she developed her interest in color. It is interesting to note that sociologically the framing of the sacred trade of artist varies greatly in society’s discussion of different expectations of men and women.  Just look to art history and museums of the world to see the percentage of women. Not being recognized or seen is in itself a tremendous loss for an artist.  But there is something much more valuable that is the impetus for working.

This week in circle we marked combining disparate subjects from imaginal journeys into one piece to experience the possibility of holding dichotomies is a wider embrace. We introduced death and loss, grief and sacrifice as part of this process which we will explore more next week.

The images that follow are from participants in this six-month course. They are not depictions or illustrations but, rather, experiences of the act of doing and feeling. They are a way of resourcing and exploring, as well as, embodying the experience.

Click on thumbnail to see full size image. Majio





Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive Knowing

Anavami Center

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive Knowing I have been sitting in an ice-cold stream pounding kuzu fiber on a rock with a wooden mallet for hours in a small paper-making village outside of Nagoya, Japan. Why exactly am I doing this I wonder. It feels like a traditional apprentice initiation, but it is more than that. It is about conjunctive knowing, instructions directed through the eye movements of my taciturn teacher. It is part of an apprentice systems across time and place to embody knowledge by watching, listening, smelling and tasting, learning through the body.

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive KnowingApprenticeships in the seventies in Japan was very much like it had been for hundreds of years. They honored the tradition that someone who came seeking mentorship from the master would not necessarily be taken on, but they were to be fed as long as they stayed on the porch.  Sometimes this was all it took so that perseverance could be demonstrated to the master and acceptance found.  There was a sense of perseverance but also of discovery of self within that I developed during my time studying with various masters.  My pottery teacher would say to listen to the sound of the brush touching the bisqueware to know how thick to make the iron oxide. It took me two years in calligraphy to realize myself how important breath was. Once my tea ceremony teacher stopped in her preparation for guests and listened to the wind. We went outside and she handed me the rake for the first time. She watched me rake up all the leaves in front of the tea house and then stood there with the silent message that we would stand here until I finished. I looked around madly for any missed leaves. Finally, I reached over and slightly shook the maple tree. A few red leaves fell on the path and my teacher bowed and enter the tearoom.

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive KnowingAwareness of knowing through the body rather than the mind, has been one of the many gifts I still carry with me from my time in Japan. Gnosis is the kind of conjunctive knowing that in the Bible refers to sexual relations, knowing a woman. It is a union, not just taking in information but a knowing through the body. This same idea is how information and skill are transferred in the cultural arts of Japan and many places in the world. Sweeping the floor and making tea is becoming attuned to not only the master but the materials, the shop and sometimes hundreds of years of experience. It is also developing a telepathy between workers.

Blog #3C In-Bodying the Field: Conjunctive KnowingIn the studio we are using somatic practice and embodying imagination as our entries into knowing through the body as we develop conjunctive learning. We trust our hand to reach out for a color or marking implement and are developing awareness of conversation, even flirting with other elements in our field so that we can play together. This way of working is bringing in many surprising elements, especially for people who have worked from personality for decades. One thing that strikes us is that we often don’t immediately relate to the marking before us. Our old ways of perceiving what works artistically is not important. The gage through the last few years of this practice is more toward authenticity, what is evoked and felt in the body and what stays with you as an afterglow or even shadow. It is because we are in a greater collaboration and it can take a while to see it.

The following images are from participants in the In-Bodying the Field Six-month Seminar, relating journeys through the refrigerator through mark-making.

Click on thumbnail to see full size image. Majio

Blog #3B In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trips-Soul Boat

Anavami Center

Last week the In-Bodying Marking Circles we ventured through a refrigerator door for what we started calling a field-trip. It was an experience in the Imaginal Field felt and explored in the body with continued expression in marking. Each of our trips was unique, from a glass lemon-aide pitcher in grandmother’s fridge, to a trapeze artist in a circus, to the inside of a car. This week each circle had two guided field-trips initiated by participants patterned on their journeys.


Blog #3B In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trips

In the Wednesday Circle, Lucy’s as guide lead me personally to the lap of the hungry ghost, that Buddhist archetype of unsatisfiable desire. This was dramatically counter-balanced in the second field-trip, led by Jess, with the delightful soul energy explored on three substrates. And so, I found myself facing the last substrate working with the energy of desperate longing and buoyant tenacity and vision of soul. Concentrating these experiences in different parts of the body is a way to hold these energies while allowing for something new to arise. This is well beyond emotional expression of playing with color and marks. The embodiment ignites a leap of insight leading into unconsidered territory. It takes time, slowing time to hold these energies in the imaginal body. This practice of seeing how the piece wants to be completed is a bit different from what we have been doing, as we have been unconcerned if a piece is finished. Considering how to complete a piece takes invites in the unknown, possibly through an acasual or synchronistic event. It is like the capping haiku line that leads to something that embraces the banal in a greater light. The third substrate resolved the contradiction with the soul being held by unsatisfied desire. The final image suggested an offfering  of a nest or boat.

Blog #3B In-Bodying the Field: Fridge Field-trips

Images of In-Bodying the Field Participants

Click on thumbnails to see large images




Blog #3A Imaginal Field: Refrigerator an Archetypal Portal

Anavami Center

Anavami CenterMark-marking this week continued to cultivate somatic intelligence as we access the Imaginal Field. By becoming-like other things, we expanded the felt-body response by cultivating vision into the unknown through imagination. It is an ancient portal that the age of reason has upstaged, and yet is alive in science and all the arts, music, performance, literature and every aspect of life that is carried to artistry, like architecture, landscaping, cooking, parenting or even politics.

This shape-shifting is becoming easier as we recognize how many ways we slip into each other and address other with empathy and compassion. It is an ancient way of learning, expanding perception and gaining new insights. Through Marking, we soften the demarcation of inside and outside, experiencing more and more how our defined physical body is really integral to a greater biosphere.

In the arts, an archetype creates an immediate sense of familiarity, without need to ponder why a character or event is understood. Archetype can be defined as an emotion, character type, or event that is notably recurrent across the human experience. Consider the archetypes of things around you. The chair that holds you for comfort and ease to do things like eat, work, converse or travel. It is a structure adapted to human body, a kind of a container to easily enter and leave. It has a history beyond function and culture denoting social status and even termination of life. Our inquiry is interested in the metaphor and poetics of archetypes in relation to the Imaginal Field.

Anavami CenterYour home, a safe private place, like a nest or a shell, is what Gaston Bachelard marks as the place to dream. In the introduction to his book, The Poetics of Space. Richard Kearney says, “Poetics, for Bachelard, is not a matter of anonymous floating signifiers; it signals a relational dynamic between beings, involving vital dimensions of intimacy, secrecy, desire and repose.” And later, “Imagination is at its best when it is incarnate, elemental, opening out into time and space, even when the space is elsewhere—before being, beneath being, beyond being, more than being.”

This week we explore universal archetypes as organizing principles, which unite physical matter with consciousness. We used opening a refrigerator door, that everyday utilitarian object, as the start for everyone to step into a unique Imaginal Field. My refrigerator contained containers, preserving sustenance and enjoyment. This container has a physical inner structure but also a metaphoric structure related for me to the psyche. I thought of how different the freezer compartment is from the shelves on the door or the vegetable bins. The archetype of refrigerator gave us a poetic fulcrum to investigate being in our marking.




Click on thumbnail to see full size image.


In-Bodying the Field Blog #2D: Reciprocity, Shape Shifting

Anavami Center

Anavami CenterShape-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.

Anavami CenterIn-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.

Click on thumbnail to see full size image.

Blog #2C In-Bodying the Field, Reciprocity: Flirting and Animism

Anavami Center
Anavami CenterThere is a way to explore animism in the practice Marking by flirting. The definition of animism we are using it is the essence of an object or entity. It is the spirit that energizes, even if at first it is beyond our sensorial recognition. Rather than a belief we are cultivating more an attitude or practice as we become comfortable and adept in the Imaginal Realm. You could also say that it is a poetic approach. Poetry of the plastic arts, music, literature and performance all seek deeper and meaningful connection through the intelligence of the imaginal realm. Through marking we explore the reciprocity of the life and essence of the field in relation to flirting.

Flirting can be subtle or blatant, social, sexual or aesthetic behavior involving spoken, written word or body language communicated in creative exchange by one person to another. We are extending it to what we usually think as objects. It suggests an interest in deeper relationship or simple unfolding amusement. In the spirit of Reciprocity notice what catches your attention, your eye, or perhaps kinesthetically, your body. Not just people or objects but how the light slants through the trees, the stance of a crow, a gesture that brings back a memory. Because flirting goes back and forth you need to give some space to whatever you are flirting with to respond. Let your imagination start an exchange. Give the encounter some leeway to play, transforming into new possibilities. Engage in the exchange for deeper relationship in the Imaginal Realm.

Anavami CenterSome approaches in Transpersonal Psychology and Process Therapy look at physical symptoms not as pathological but invitations for creative encounters that offer important insights and information. Arnold Mindell talks about symptoms as dreamings. They have important information for guidance for assimilation and integration. Flirting is a way to engage secondary process, which at first lies outside of our immediate awareness. If our true self is nonlocal, then anything that catches your attention is you, an edge of the bigger-you. Flirting goes back and forth, so take up the baton.

Click on thumbnail to see full size image.

#2A & #2B Reciprocity: Coherency and Organizing Principle

Anavami Center

Anavami CenterIn February we are exploring Reciprocity, the exchanging things with others. It is fundamental to the Marking practice and allows us to acknowledge the field as the collaborator in all our markings. We are inviting relationship with an animistic universe. The core of this point of view is contrary to René Descartes philosophy where he maintained that the only exchange is between humans as dualism of two finite substances, mind and matter. Many now in distinct fields like David Abram, ecologist and philosopher, Merlin Sheldrake, microbiologist and writer of history and philosophy of science and Arnold Mindell’s transpersonal psychologist, process therapist and writer for social change disagree with that limited view. Many other fields are expressing that the interconnection with our environment is already in place and instrumental to personal and planetary well-being. Our practice in marking is to perceive an open system where we can exchange energy or material with all life and objects in our environment.

Anavami CenterIn David Abram’s chapter on reciprocity in Becoming Animal he sets the stage for a different organizing principle where we cannot always apply logic perceiving, as nature is mysteriously interrelated. There are various ways to understand this greater connection. Heart Math Institute Research Director Dr. Rollin Mc Craty speaks of “an energetic alignment and cooperation, to manifest intentions and harmonious outcomes.” Through biofeedback research Heart Math suggests an organizing principle, which brings the brain, mind, body and emotions into balanced alignment and changes our relationship to everything. He calls this state as coherence.

This week for home-reflection we played with the Sun as orientation of directionality. It is metaphor for knowing where we are in a more expansive way than the binary left/right or back/front. We also used the Polyvagal theory as a metaphor. It points out that the vagus nerve running through the autonomic nervous system is the internal control center. It is the orientation of the critical functions of human physiology determining our reactions creating the difference in how our brain receives and responds to information. It is the guide to whether we are centered, connected and feeling safe or go into flight, fight or freeze. The polyvagal exercises help to keep us in that safe center so we can respond appropriately when necessary. It is a metaphor for our planetary sun as the central component of life. It is understandable how the myth narrative of our planetary people points to creation myths of the Sun-God from Egypt, Norse, Hindu, Mayan and the central figure in Christianity of Jesus Christ.

Anavami CenterCoherency, although often defined with logical interconnection or sense of understandability has a greater context. An aspect beyond this is the meaning of coherent as closely attached or connected, which is not always logical. The stories by which we make sense of the world, formed by inherited beliefs, are not always congruent with a greater perception, connection and exchange within the biosphere. Sometimes these are not brought to full consciousness until a great tragedy or decision must be faced. These beliefs are most often expressed symbolically in our creation myth. In our work this week we incorporated those myth stories as we explored our relationship with animism and allowed us to expand our reciprocity beyond just the mind matter approach to interactions.




In-Bodying the Field Blog #1D: Re-wiring, Metaphor & Bear of Gravité Poem, Tacking into the Wind

Anavami Center

Anavami CenterAs we Mark we are rewiring the way we perceive reality. What better paradigm than the academic training of visual arts and how deeply ensconced in materialism and economic machinery that world often manifests. Our interest is tacking in on the winds of intuition and the sensorial connection of the body as we develop the imaginal that leap of vision. Heart orientation is central to this process and as the HeartMath Institute explains through its innovative research in stress, coherence and heart-brain interaction, this requires some tools. We will look at their resources for optimal performance through coherence. The three most powerful techniques are Freeze-Frame®, Cut-Thru® and Heart Lock-In®.

Traditionally, the mythology around artwork is a dramatic angst of hair pulling, addiction, depression, revelation and elation. There is validity in this model in the arts that embrace the soul-searching roller coaster. The angst of the artistic process is aggrandized as we are looking for something outside of that model, an allowing of the full spectrum of emotions while we cultivate a resilience through coherence. We need not be lost to art but rather create approaches of marking as a way to cultivate sensibilities by developing a different level of awareness and response. In HeartMath the state of coherence is associated with sustained positive emotion and a high degree of mental and emotional stability. As we are rewiring how we perceive the reality that we have created simple HeartMath techniques can be adapted for our process. This is not to flatline but to know coherence and have the awareness to recognize how it nurtures authenticity, creativity and innovation.

Anavami CenterWe are not going for a product at this stage, nor are we going for good, it’s working or even finished. It doesn’t mean that those feelings are not a part of what we do, but we are not making artwork with that kind of navigating. We are experimenting, exploring, changing habits developing new awareness. The first step is to realize when you are working the old stuff, which usually brings forth comments like; I don’t like it! It is dark, light, no values What does it need? Can I make it work? Etc. It is valuable to realize when you are in judgement, working a strategy or trying in any way. If you are identified with the work then it is not what we are doing. Instead, we are developing a new relationship with who we are and the collaborative work that we do-collaboratively as well as a sense of release from detachment that will allow us to look deeper as we move through the rest of these marking sessions.

One of the tools we use is poetry, which acts as a leverage to create a more nuanced context for our work. In the In-Bodying Marking we often use poetry to shift out of the everyday mind and find that the use of words can extend our ideas beyond the literal. Jane Hirshfield’s short Ted Talk shows how this works as she asks how do metaphors help us better understand the world? And, what makes a good metaphor? she explores these questions with writers like Langston Hughes and Carl Sandburg, who have mastered the art of bringing a scene or emotion to life.



In exploring gravity & levity for a future In-Body marking session again the Great Bear emerges from my painting. It is not so much as the quality of poetry but the experience with the secondary process, which will be brought forward in another blog.

Tacking into the Wind by Majio

Great Bear with delicate feathered wings
holds me to his will for neuroplasticity
teasing me with dopamine until like Pavlov’s dog
my vision narrows and I am a circus two-stepping-bear
who I cried for as a child at the Russian Circus

The only motivation is survival and that is dim and twisted
my mind is no opponent, yet my animal body lurches
beyond the myopic blinders to slide from under the weight
to move until dancing takes hold, it is not fun it is not easy.

Markings first show from where I have come
then where I am…..way becomes the path
I tack into the wind



In-Bodying the Field Blog #1C: Slowing Down, No Inside/Outside & Life-force & Bear of Gravité Poem, Cup of Tea

Anavami Center

Slowing Down is the over-arching theme this week and we explore how it relates to inside/outside and KI life-force. Slowing down is accessing deep primordial space that is ever present with no inside or outside

Anavami Center“The innerness of the so-called world is nowhere so evident as in the life of our body. The air we breathe one moment will be breathed by someone else the next and has been breathed by someone else before. We exist as respiring, pulsating organisms within a sea of life-serving beings. As we become able to hold this more and more steadily in our consciousness, we experience relatedness at an elemental level. We see that it is not a matter of trying to be related, but rather of living consciously into the actuality of being related. As we yield ourselves to the living presence of this relatedness, we find that life begins to possess an ease and a freedom and a naturalness that fill our hearts with joy.”

M.C. Richards from Centering

Inside/outside is an expedient labeling that is useful but can also distort understanding of the whole. This is demonstrated in the concept of notan, where any mark is integral to the space around it, not separate but instead informing each other. We can easily see how locking into place as subject/background or object/space distorts the whole. This week in our marking endeavors we are exploring inside/outside in relation to body and like notan we are interested in the wholeness of container/contained and place in the field.

Anavami CenterAnother point in our context with marking this week is how life-force or ki or chi relates to this wholeness.  David Abram, in Becoming Animal, describes the shadow as not just a flat stain on the cement but really the volume of lightlessness. In the same way our markings, whether actual physical, material or in metaphor, are not simply residue.  A meager delineation of inside/outside or object/background would stunt the information that is held in the whole constellation.  We are seeking a volume that connects mark to history, place, event and context and is graphically evident in drawing where we see how the non-linear time of the psyche interacts and constitutes that volume.

In the imaginal field consider that there is no outside/inside but as you breathe there is a constant flow of contraction/expansion. Just at last we felt the constant give in our relationship to the substrate of our marking and marking implements, we considered the requisite yielding.

Cup of Tea
By Majio

dropping down into the arm chair
           into the lap of the blue-winged bear
                   cup of tea in hand rises and falls
                            with the lever of my arm
                                   to absorb the sudden change
                                           of altitude, without spill

steam streaming upward
liquid surface flattens,
brought to my lips—which open
to admit… pool in my mouth
shooting like a shot
down my throat—chest
into the center of gravityMajio


In-Bodying the Field Blog #1B, Imaginal Realm: Psyche and Social Change & Bear of Gravité Poem, Lavender Bath

Anavami Center

These blog posts articulate the on-going context of

 In-Bodying the Field, Marking Seminar

Blog Post #2: Imaginal Realm for Psyche and Social Change


Imaginal Realm for Psyche and Social ChangeIn-Bodying the Field has the intention to radically shift how we perceive reality using visual arts. Marking is the instrument we use in this audacious endeavor. Marking is defined as traces left by motion or pressure but also as a metaphor.  Imagining a musical instrument is apt, although we are less concerned with a rote practice of technical skill and rather seek an embodied evocation realizing another level of relationship.  Marking is potentially a conduit that bonds us through the body to the greater biosphere accessible all along but usually bypassed by the Over-culture.  We are seeking a practice without a goal but with a strong intention.  The world seems ripe for this as we see others pursuing these same goals.  In Moral Imagination, imagination is used to embody and explore the unseen, to create a greater connection of us. It is an adventure into creativity for change inviting new possibilities outside the solely reductionist, rational and linear modes of putting together information. It is a practice of collective imagining in order to increase radical kinship with the human and more-than-human worlds, present, past and future.

In this process of In-Bodying the Field, we explore creative expression through somatic inquiry to shift our understanding and perception of here to unexamined systems as a way to participate in the world as collaborators rather than sole agents by:

  • Imaginal Realm for Psyche and Social Changeembracing proprioceptive intelligence to nurture more creative & innovative understanding beginning with the body.
  • opening a dimensional portal through the imaginal realm.
  • expanding these perceptions and orientations through mark-making.
  • cultivating awareness of lived experience as in-formation through than the familiar and habitual.


As conduits of the metaverse marking is a means of participating as artist and shamans of ancient times who serve, heal, guide and inspire the community. We found a great resource in Josh Schrei’s The Emerald podcast. The Body as Metaverse speaks of several issues that are germane to our process. For example, our interest in changing the story is leveraged by his discussion of mythic narrative and his deep understanding of those stories as living narrative.

Imaginal Realm for Psyche and Social ChangeThe podcast, Body is the Metaverse, talks about the deep mythosomatic function that we long for that the digital Metaverse or virtual otherworld does not provide. They spark our understanding of our morphing stories as we use myth as a reminder of the greater context. This takes us into nature, into our planet, into our belongingness and therefore into our body. We offer up our experience to others. But at this point, most importantly, we experience for ourselves how the body is the connection to the life of the world that we are an integral part.


Lavender Bath as Bear of Gravité by Majio

Imaginal Realm for Psyche and Social ChangeHaving gone to bed by myself last night
you can imagine my surprise this morning
when I awakened to a bath being run.

It was a lavender-salts baths with a single candle
sitting in the tub half fluffy above the water line,
water be-draggled below it, was the Bear of Gravité.

To say I joined him/her is misleading, for I as I stepped
into the fragrant steaming bath, I became bear,
seated in stillness, blue feathered wings folded
upward, over-lapped pointing vertically

Total stillness brought one end of the double flame
to bob on the surface without candle in the lavender bath.
The slightest quiver shattering the light language
script on the water surface from intimate whisper
to haggling amongst the market stalls.

So began conversation between movement and light
that only the Bear of Gravité can have.

The inclination is to focus on the screen
of the water’s surface, breaking, dispensing,
fetching, reconnecting the light like ideas,
but what about the language between the candle flame
and the water’s surface and the light in the water?

The air-light, falls not just down but out, up…
it can be cupped, divided, sprinkled or eaten, while
the wet-light defusing loosening its concentration
to mix with lavender.

And yet it is the tension of the screen of surface
that is the playground for marks, a screen of reflections—
stretching, squeezing, melting and twisting,
an original appearance in distillation of essence.
Candle light marks on surface of lavender bath



In-Bodying the Field Blog #1A: Introduction to In-Bodying Marking, Yielding: Gravity/ Levity with Bear of Gravité Poem

Anavami Center

Gravity/Levity-Yielding with Bear of Gravité Poem

Anavami Center, In-Bodying the Field explores not only marks, but entries into marking that for a practiced artist can redefine relationship to materials, images and the world. For the unpracticed it begins a fluid interaction with the world that in time will transform your present definition of art and your participation with it. For everyone it has an impact on how we see and perceive ourselves in the world. The work that arises from this kind of exchange is playful, adventurous yet ever risky. A challenge to most by not trying to be right or good. It flies in the face of the social norm and to most hits at the core of self-identification. At the same time, it opens new ways to witness creating.

Five years of implementing and exploring in this way I have found that I am much more aware of my relationship to everything in my world. I am not separate, nor could I be. Like many of you I have known this theoretically for a long time, but it has not been alive as it is now. I am not making art but participating in the creative exchange with which I am in relationship.

In this six-month series we start with the basics of marking making as yielding that orients us in space. Our mind/body is a fluid edifice of incessant motion that sources our capacity to mark in the greater field to which we belong. As we gain deeper insight, experience through exploration into markings it becomes clear that it is fundamental to all exchanges of information, communication and expression. Using our body, transmitter, receptor, and archive, as the template of the Universe…. the history of evolution of our planet is within us we will explore the template of the cosmos through what is most intimate to ourselves. The intention of this work is to discover our individual voice as we develop expression of the poetry as we live on the planet at this time.

Investigating gravity in our marking circle, both somatically and in terms of shapeshifting, a series of somatic experience with poems arose for me. The first being:

Blue Winged Bear, mixed medium, canvas, 3’ X 6’

Blue Winged Bear, mixed medium, canvas, 3’ X 6’

Bear of Gravité

the great Bear of Gravité

            sat on me this morning

                        like the Chinese ghost

who sits paralyzing you in your bed

I appealed to her blue feathered wings

            to flutter and lift into the air

                        but not the slightest movement

                                    nor levity

In time I found my way into her vast heart

            Huge—full of stars and planets

                        un-named things of color and darkness

 I did nothing there….

for a long time…. but feel into the space

and when I was no longer pinned to the bedsheets

I got up for a cup of tea…



Shadows, Markings, and Synesthesia

Anavami Center

Transformational Painting Circles

On Fridays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Join us in large format acrylic painting sessions getting in touch which our instinctual side. Moving beyond the Skeleton Woman Story to the medial partnership.

Marking Session at Studio & on Zoom:
In-Bodying the Field: 6 months of Mark-making from January

We are exploring mark-making as a medium to change how we have learned to perceive reality. Marking in this sense is an exchange, an interaction as marks must be received as well as made, whether on paper, a city road or in a conversation.

Books of Interest:

The Coddling of the American Mind, by Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff
This is a book for anyone who is confused by what’s happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live and work and cooperate across party lines.

Fabric of Wholeness: Biological Intelligence and Relational Gravity, Carol Agneessens, through experiential dialogues, draws us into the body to view the pulsating and vital interplay. She concludes that gravity is fundamental to the development of biological intelligence — the glue that holds together and organizes our fabric of wholeness.

Websites of Interest:, collective imagining to increase radical kinship with the human and more-than-human worlds, present, past and future.
Paintings by Pamela Holmes

December Sidebar

Retreat 2022:

San Miguel de Allende Fall, accepting registration.

Shadows, Markings, and Synesthesia

Paper ‘mask’ used in monoprint

In Anavami Studio we see marking, not only as a foundation of the visual arts but as metaphor and at the same time an appearance of our relationship with the world. We are exploring mark-making as a medium to change how we have learned to perceive reality. Marking in this sense is an exchange, an interaction as marks must be received as well as made, whether on paper, a city road or in a conversation.

Our working definition of mark-making is leaving a residue or impression with movement or pressure. This can be any kind of physical trace, but also a mark can be left on one’s emotions, intellect or psyche. Marks are conduits of information as they are ways of interrelating not in the world but with the world. Our marks are informed by the very matrix in which we live. The greater field is alive, impressing on us as we in turn to press back leaving marks. There is a mutual yielding as well as a mutual learning, as we exchange information. This yielding is more than allowing. It requires an ability to give as well as receive. Just as in traffic sign, yield involves a slowing our trajectory in order to be aware of others movement and speed, which everything in the Universe has. It is a different dynamic to halt at a stop signs where you expect to take turns. The giving and receiving in mark-making as in traffic has consequences.

Monoprint using ‘mask’

I would also suggest that marks are not flat two-dimensional residue on a surface but more like your shadow stretching before you, deep blue on the asphalt. That shadow fills the space between you and the elongated mark staining the street. It is actually voluminous. When something enters the space between you and the pavement, a cat or fire engine, in the moment it is changed. Their light is disturbed. There is a vulnerability in the distance the shadow travels. There is a life force in that volume, a textural signature of its source. Like the mark it is porous, open to vicissitudes of the time and place. It could even be said to have an intelligence. There is more intelligence around us than we are like to recognize. In times of crisis an extended understanding of intelligence is valuable.

In Hidden Blessings, Psaris talks about life crisis, no matter the age as an opportunity to awaken. She goes on to say that the success of any life-crisis-transformation depends on our ability to allow the soul (ourselves) to evolve beyond the ego structure encasing it. Our ego is not only anthropocentric, judging intelligence and power as human based but also biocentric, projecting that only living things have consequence especially is they are human.

Print from folded ‘mask’

Just as habit does not recognize the volume of a shadow ego is blinded to the psychological function of its shadow, a metaphor and expanded perspectives. At this time in history, our world is in crisis with the need of sweeping new perspective. For most of us the best thing that we can do is tend our own garden, which in actuality calls for persistent courage to redefine our place in the world. Crisis asks for marks of a new order that stretch habits of identification. The ego’s shadow does not see what it is projecting on others without careful scrutiny. In shadow work we see how anything that riles us has much more to do with ourselves than the other. We can only see, literally and figuratively, the fullness of our shadow through imagination.

To tweak those perception that are so ingrained we need to cultivate the imaginal domain. It is much more a part of our life than we acknowledge. Dream worker, Jeremy Taylor described that space between conscious and unconscious as not-yet-speech-ripe. We know but it takes imagination to bring it to consciousness. The more that we call on the space between knowing and not knowing the more that it is available. In this province, as witnessed in any craft that reaches artistry, fundamental truths brought to vision. Marking is more than the flatness of streaks and strokes on a page. There is a qualitative difference between a shopping list or a poem.. And yet there are poems that are really shopping lists and shopping lists that are poem depending on how the imaginal is sparked.

Not imagination but the imaginal realm stretches our senses. In synesthesia, a neurological condition, information meant to stimulate one senses instead stimulates a different one altogether or several —music is seen in colors, architecture has a taste, or sound appears as shapes. We all have a little bit of this, for the channels are informing each other far beyond our expectations and habits. We expand our sensitivities in the imaginal, which adds another layer of information and relationship to how we exchange with our world. The volume of shadow, yielding as a way of encountering the world, the extended understanding of intelligence and crisis as opportunity are all ways of create by changing how we perceive reality.

(A mask is used in printing to block the ink from the plate to the paper. The shape of the mask was from the photograph of the shadows of two people standing together.)


These two diptychs incorporate pieces torn from the earlier prints as way of developing and finessing the image in collaboration with the field.


New Series Forms: In-Bodying the Field

Anavami Center
Studio Events

Transformational Painting, Beyond Skeleton Woman: Beginning November Fridays in studio 10-1

Marking Circles:

Marking Vocabulary Circles Wed. & Thurs. in Studio Anavami & on Zoom

November: Monoprint with acrylic & oil as markings

Anavami Center

You Are Here Triptych, Cold wax & oil on canvas, 36″ X 60″

New Series January-June 22

Mark-Making: In-Bodying the Field, Exploration of the most intimate Field

Anavami Center

You Are Here Triptych, Wax, gold leaf & oil on canvas, 36″ X 60″

Retreats 2022:

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico early September

Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsula November

Anavami Center

You Are Here Triptych, Cold wax & oil on canvas, 36″ X 60″

Note that these paintings are a process and exploration, not a product.

All Art is Ecological by Timothy Morton

New Series Forms: In-Bodying the Field

Where is that X in the YOU ARE HERE? In your head? In your body? And how well acquainted are you with that body, anyway? Is it a vessel, a medical diagram, your home? For most of us the body is inextricably bound with the location of who we think we are. And although body is usually the core of our primary relational-field we only know it by bits and pieces of medical needs or encounters with physical intimacy, both good and bad. Is our body contained inside the skin, and if so then what is outside is other? How well is this knowing the body working out for us? How is your identification with body aiding or hindering the greater journey? Would you like to find a more coherent way to live in your body as integral to the greater whole?

In January 2022 Studio Anavami will begin a series, Mark-Making: In-Bodying the Field, Exploration of the most Intimate Field, with the intention to explore our identification with the body. We will be using mark-making as medium to explore the unconscious beliefs of our inherited self and mark-making as conduit to explore the learning-body as process. Each session we will be initiating experientially into of the functions and relationships of different aspects of body-ness. These are some of the things that we will cover in support to develop curiosity, creativity and a new sense of coherence in relation to identity: yielding, gravity, biomorphic expression, landing and locating, participating with our organizing intelligence, proprioceptive awareness, boundaries, edges, thresholds, patterns and process. We will use a variety of marking approaches with basic water-soluble marking implements as well as mark transfers, printing, subtraction of marks and invisible marks. This exploration will allow a deeper level for those involved in the last few years and an introduction to participants who are coming to know this approach.

We have been taught conceptually to be artificially alienated from the biosphere that supports us. This separate-self has us viewing the body as a machine metaphor where we tend to think in separate parts like liver, arm, mind, but this is not the whole picture. Body is a dynamic system for which we barely have the descriptive language to express, let alone understand how all the pieces fit.

As we mark with, into and through the body we begin to experience the physical us as no longer just an object. Nora Bateson comes to our aid in articulating a concept of this kind of function with the word symmanathesy, a living system highlighting expression and communication of interdependency. In particular she says that what is key is the phenomena of mutual learning. In this series we will explore marking as a conduit for communication, information exchange and expression—a mutual learning through mark-making.

The components in Mark-Making: In-Bodying the Field support this marking adventure begins with yielding. Yielding often misunderstood as a passive surrendering or a ‘doing nothing,’ is a responsive relationship. It is a physical expression of and support for emotional and social bonding first experienced in relation to the body of mother and earth. It is our first experience of gravity that we will also explore as a radical way of perceiving the body through experiential knowing. We will overcome the remnant of the body as mechanical apparatus and let go of the separation of the mind, releasing our old language to build a new vocabulary.

We will embrace Body as symmanathesy and allow for a new kind of body organization as it refers to living systems. Systems which emerge from the communications and interactions, a relational response, in what Nora Bateson calls mutual learning, boundaries are interfaces of learning. It is so complex that there are no parts and wholes.  At one point she says, Art may be the only way to truly describe living complexity.  

Marking approaches thus facilitates a deeper experience of expression, communication and mutual learning where the body is not a vessel but a fluid element in the cosmic ocean that we are. There is an archetypal and mythical dimension developmentally which resonates with our egos in function and dysfunction shedding light on new possibilities for understanding a greater context. We have become a definitive force on this planet and need to create an opening for coherence rather than separation. This series of marking from the body is a way to become intimate with ourselves, not as object but as constantly moving process. In mark-making we begin to create a different relationship to matter and therefore to everything, animate and inanimate.

Through marking the insights and new connections have a somatic anchoring in the body so it would seem that the body is the best place to begin the query of new realities that may be covered by old beliefs. January will begin Mark-making: In-Bodying the Field with the Marking Vocabulary Sylllabus is a prerequisite for Janurary. Let me know your interest.



In A Time of Story & Poetry

Anavami Center

Marking Circles:

Beyond Marking Circles Wed. & Thurs. Zoom & in studio

Events in 2021:

Santa Cruz County Open Studio Tour North County October 9 & 10


Present to How Thing Are: San Miquel de Allende September 5-12

Anavami Center


Re-Wilding; Core Expression & Mark-making:     3-day collaborative with Liz Koch on Zoom September 24-26. (     

Retreats 2022:

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico September

Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsula November

Skateboard Series

In A Time of Story & Poetry

Skateboard SeriesOpen Studio Tours is coming up, October 9 & 10. I am showing work like I have never done before, something fresh and unconventional.  And it is not just me in the studio this year, there will be pieces by four Marking Circles participants that will give you an idea of how unusual this process of Wobbling the Paradigm really is.

The approach we are using may be audacious, but that is what is called for in this time. The work is not a product, nor even finished pieces in the usual sense. They are an exploration in the relational-field that is recorded in marks. As a good haiku poem evokes something beyond consensus reality these connect to the mystery. There is a lot of talk about paradigm shift and how it is needed to resolve the problems that we have created. But how well do we recognize that we can’t see beyond our own paradigm? Let alone envisioning what another one might be. We need to mix up old patterns, visualize the world as us, block out the noise and recognize the radical new organizing principle is not something outside of us but rather seeds held within our current paradigms that have, as yet, gone unrecognized.

The approach to marking we have been experimenting with rattles the concept of story. Yes, story is so much a part of who we are and what we do as people. It is our history, our mistakes and growth, and our vision of what can be. But story is often used to cement everything into place, the good, the bad and the ugly as if all of those are defined.  We need to look at story as developing, weaving and undulating, fluid enough for us to embrace possibilities. Science, interestingly, is a good example of this. It is not a steady stream of developing concepts, even though our high school textbooks would have you think so. We have been radically wrong in our presumptions many times. New information arises, old theories fade and new ones overshadow the old. It is the same with child raising and political ideas. The continuum of stories we live by do change fundamentally. While stories, personal and collective will always be with us, at times leaps in consciousness poetry is more of what we need.

Deena Metzner, poet and author, contrasts poem and story, describing a poem as a penetration into the essence of something. A poem expresses the inexpressible adventure deeply. Story and prose, spread out, wanting to speak to the mind, to the intellect. The horizontal gathers information, technique, momentum, while the vertical is outside of time, it changes our life as participant. Jane Hirshfield, Poet Laureate, tell us poetry’s work is the clarification and magnification of being. Poetry creates a vertical experience, an evocative and in-depth exploration.

Anavami CenterIn the studio, we have been using haiku in our marking as a practice to evoke the not quite articulatable beyond the edge. It points to something we intimately know. We all feel it when a haiku is successful. In that case it doesn’t just tell another story of everyday life or things in nature. It provokes a pause that startles. It suggests a much wider context. And although it is easier to sense in the haiku, it is a different matter to create it.

Stories can be true poetry and much of poetry is really story. What I am interested in is how this translates to the visual arts: visual, literary and performance, and anything in daily life that reaches the stage of art. This was hard to get until these poets helped me to understand and articulate it. Much of our visual arts is story, but we feel it when it moves into poetry. Much of the markings of those participating in Marking from the Relational-Field and Beyond Marking circles edge on that poetic quality.

Come see all this for yourself at the first Open Studios weekend, October 9 & 10 on the westside off Swift, 2593 Mission Street Extension.  After being inspired you can also join in at an introductory workshop, Expanding Sensual Connections Through Mark-Making, being offered on Saturday October 23rd at Anavami Studio on the westside of Santa Cruz and on Zoom. From blogs and newsletters, you have been hearing about Wobbling the Paradigm and, more specifically, Marking Emerging from the Field but it has not been available beyond a small group of participants. So now is the time for you to join in on this new mark-making approach. Explore through mark-making the aliveness and inter-relation of everything around us. We will play with cross-referencing our senses in terms of mark-making with three intentions. One is to extend the way we perceive and translate out relationship to ourselves and environment beyond our everyday habits. Two, is open mark-making, a dialogue with the relational-field, that is the marking materials, physical environment, memories/histories and relationship and to what is most concerning or inspiring in the greater world. And three is to tweak our consensus reality. This last one happens subtly over time, but one session will give you a taste.