Painting My Dark Angel
By Aviva Gold
Fifteen years ago I hit a very frightening dark period in my life. After years of being a single mom, my children were leaving the nest, I had also just initiated a long term separation from my dysfunctional parents after a life time of emotional abuse. I was experiencing poor health which included low energy, digestive disturbances and painful arthritic symptoms in my hands and other joints.
[Aviva and training group] Although I had been practicing spontaneous painting for a number of years, the themes were all inspirational and uplifting; colorful and sensual aspects of the Goddess and/ or Wild Woman Archetype. But now in the midst of fear and despair I felt compelled while painting to spill forth what was to be a most demonic scene. With my usual commitment not to censor what my brush wanted to depict, I found myself painting in pitch black, a most tortured, tormented figure. The figure was eviscerated, with body cut open, guts spilling out, torture and tears on her face, and excrements of every disgusting description from each orifice. While painting I felt very emotional and nauseated. I felt compelled to add paper on all sides making room for strange little men with pointed hats that were drinking the body fluids. I thought they were attacking and torturing me. When complete I noted that besides being a visually powerful painting, the shape of the painting became a Celtic Cross which is also the shape of the Red Cross.
Although I was convinced of my insanity while painting, I was amazed to wake up the next morning with my arthritis gone (never to return) and feeling a very positive shift in my life and fortune in general.
Many years later, I showed a slide of that frightful painting at a conference where there was a scholar in Native American Mythology present. After my presentation he told me that the creatures I had painted were identical to the little helpers that the Plains Indians medicine people call in to assist them to remove toxins from the body while they perform healing. It was amazing and it all made perfect sense. What I thought were my torturers were really my saviors in disguise. Unfortunately I needed to feel desperate to a point were I felt I had nothing to lose in order to paint my dark angels an aspect of my shadow.
I believe that physical symptoms, dreams, and creative imagery all come from the same source - all are expressions of the soul. Alter one and you alter all. That is why, when painting is approached as a healing ritual in which you risk expressing you shadows, true healing occurs. What you think is your slayer is your redeemer. Liberate your shadows and you liberate your creative soul. Liberate your creative soul and you liberate the world.
I think our global survival/thrivel depends on the acceptance and encouragement of safe and sacred expression of shadow. Can you imagine a world in which the leaders in business, politics, religion, and science routinely painted, danced and sang their heart and guts out? Hearts would be burst open. It would be hard to have greed, wars, mistrust and deceit. The Creative Soul would then live in light and dark and all the colors in between.