One of my readers told me something that shocked the hell out of me: He said he thought I may be fulfilling the role of a contemporary shaman.
I’ve grown accustomed to getting feedback that expresses things in this way, “Hey, I really like your images of hanged men!”
In contrast to the usual casual comment, this regular correspondent of mine told me something totally new and unexpected. He said I seem to be able to dive in and swim in the dark waters of my subconscious and live to tell about what I see. He said the visual works I create depict what I saw when I was in those dark waters.He told me I’m serving an important purpose. He said I share my visions from within the dark waters with the world revealing what most people would otherwise never see.
I’ll be honest here and tell you I’ve never felt comfortable admitting this: Years ago (before I was told about possibly being a shaman) I started feeling intermittent connection to what I call “the network” out there. It exists either in my overly-active imagination or beyond my everyday consciousness and my logical mind functions. I’m not sure which is true. At irregular intervals “the network” affords me insight into what has not yet happened, and, what may not yet be fully understood if seen from the perspective of most people’s everyday awareness.
Having such an experience (whether real or imagined) likely would be a very scary thing for anyone. It was frightening for me, I can tell you that. I don’t like admitting that I feel connected as I describe here, but I want to be completely honest with you about all this shamanism stuff.
I certainly would not have chosen the word shaman to describe myself. But the guy who chose that word defended his choice well, so I listened to what he had to say. The word has remained constantly in my mind since then. I truly do not know what purpose I’m to serve in the context of what shamans or artists accomplish. I’ll keep an open mind if any of you have suggestions.
Perhaps I come back from swimming in dark waters and report on what I see there. As frightening as it certainly is, can I ever learn to accept that I’m someone who is called into dark waters and survives to tell about it?
Trusting the Visions of Artists
Maybe I’m not so unique in sharing what I see from some other-worldly place. I know that other creative people regularly admit to receiving inspiration in dreams or from some other place separate from and beyond our normal waking state. For example, Paul McCartney has admitted dreaming about songs that he later composed and recorded.
All my life I’ve been attracted to the visual work of certain other artists who reveal scenes that defy revealing. The artists I’ve paid the most attention to are the one who’ve produced surreal rather than realistic works. Their imagery touched something deep inside me years ago and motivates me today to reveal my own inner visions.
Perhaps the most essential role of any artist is to define and describe life and its meaning so that people don’t get distracted by powerful but false beliefs, or misdirected by charlatans or the latest shiny object. The viewer has the choice to accept or reject what any artist reveals. There is wisdom that can come from other-worldly places beyond our rational mind. I’m sure of that.