Water in the desert is extremely precious. I grew up in the lush and mossy Northwest where the water element could be overly abundant at times. Moving to the Southwest has completely changed my relationship to this fundamental structure of life. Many times I will go exploring in the wild and not hear or feel the direct presence of water. This is truly like being a fish out of water.
One of my favorite places on earth is Abiquiu, New Mexico. I fell in love with this magical place three years ago when I visited The Ghost Ranch for the first time. This is the land Georgia O’Keeffe claimed as her own, her sacred place; exploring & painting the mesas, arroyos and geological wonders of this expansive landscape for the last fifty years of her life. Abiquiu captured my heart and soul as well, it is the terrain of all of the “above ground” Painted Body images in my Oracle of Initiation deck.
Over two years ago I opened my solitary work with the Painted Body ritualistic photography series to collaborations with others artist, mystics & adventurers. I am thrilled to share some of the images that were created yesterday in a rainstorm with the fierce and earthened Lyric Kali. Lyric is one of those people you do not forget. When you meet her she glows. She is passionate, outspoken, perceptive and fascinated by the complexities of people’s engagement with life.
She is alive. She can also be intimidating depending on how comfortable you are with your own strength. Her work is inspiring people through her own story of struggling with self-worth through her physical form. The ways we accept or isolate ourselves because of the size, shape, or color of our bodies. She is a brave woman who embraces the underworld descent as an essential component to reaching the upper world expansion. She carries duality and paradox in a way few people can manage. She is a vision of walking your talk, even with its uncertainties and insecurities. I honor her ability to grab life and ecstatically dance with it.
Lyric became archetypal during this photo shoot. She became the flowing earth; she became the blood-red water; she became the flames of power that were pounding off the rocks. She was the graceful bird, the sturdy rock, the timid maiden, the shape-shifiting priestess, the fertility Goddess in all her glory. She was The Feminine in all its various guises. It was a great honor to witness her beauty through merging with beloved Oshun, the water deity of unbridled passion and delight.
I too had my own initiation with the Water Spirits surging over the canyon walls. I want to point out again the rare opportunities running water in the desert affords. I have been to my blessed Rainbow Canyon at least 40 times. I have seen running water in it TWICE. Both of those times have been in the last three weeks.
It has been my dream since moving to New Mexico to actually see what a flooding arroyo looks like. I was warned that you could be swept away by the strong torrents of rushing water when the sky really opens up. I had never been at the right place at the right time to experience this primordial force. About three weeks ago I did a major release of some fundamental pieces of my life. I had done a process and closed the door on a series of choices and relationships that no longer served me. Part of the process was to burn some sacred items. I knew I needed to bury the remains in my beloved canyon, for mama earth the transform them.
The day I went up to bury the shards the sky was dark gray; very foreboding. After surrendering my offering to the holy dirt the rains began. The Thunder Beings danced across the skies and the deluge began. It came on so quickly I could understand the warning about being taken away by the currents. I finally got to experience my sacred place when she is drenched in water. I got to hear the sounds, smell the soaked earth, see the channels of red earth merge into the stream. It was incredible. She became alive in ways I had never seen. It literally was the greatest gift I could receive. My prayers of self-liberation were answered with the best day ever. I was soaked and muddy when I walked back along the slippery road to my car. I was totally full and beaming with gratitude and joy. How could it get any better than this?
As I absorbed all of the sights and sounds of this unknown aquatic desert world I heard a powerful sound. I thought it was the reeds in the river beings whipped around by the wind. As I looked at the reeds they were still. What was this jet engine sound echoing off the canyon walls? As I looked ahead there was a massive waterfall pouring off a high bluff across the river. I was stunned. I had never witnessed the water in that way. It was as if the world was upside down, completely changed. Dry one day, moist the next. The oceans returned to this ancient land.
I yearned to baptize my new identity under its powerful vitality, but there was no way to cross the river. I stood honoring this unique miracle and then continued up the road. As I rounded a corner…the angles kissed me. A blood-red, wild, rushing flow of water was leaping and pounding over the rocks on MY SIDE!!!
I sat beside the watery temple both entranced and intimidated by its fierceness. I asked my Spirits if I should go in….and they said “naw.” hmmmm. It was such a calm and centered No that I trusted it. I did analyze why I wouldn’t. This is ME. This is the woman I have become, a woman who disrobes and meets the rushing water at its source. And I got a NO. And I trusted it. So I sat and communed with the flowing altar for a bit. Out of nowhere a little truck comes chugging by; a young couple were out exploring. OH, that is why I was held back. After they passed I asked again, I got a definite yes. So I too, as Lyric just did, met the Water Spirits here on this arid desert landscape.
After each of our immersion rituals the skies cleared and the sun returned warming our satiated bodies.
What a blessed, blessed life it is.