Thursday, October 20, 2011

What is Spiritual Art?

What is spiritual art?  In a way, it’s an odd question for me to answer.  When your worldview incorporates the idea that all things are a manifestation of the Divine, and are thus Divine themselves, there is literally no act that is not spiritual.  The stumbling block that I think many people have – myself included, often enough – is remembering to be aware of the spiritual nature of the act.  We get busy, we’re worried about work or bills, and while we may go through the motions of a daily practice, sometimes we forget to be aware of what it means.

All art can be considered spiritual, as it is a reflection of the artist, her nature, and the Divinity of her nature.  But sometimes that awareness – called “mindfulness” by Buddhists and psychologists – is forgotten.

Mindfulness is a powerful thing. It is built into behavioral therapies to cultivate emotional self-awareness; self-awareness allows for the application of specific coping skills; and this can transform a person’s relationships with other people, by transforming a person’s relationship with herself.  It is, in itself, a form of magic.

Mindfulness gives intuition more freedom to sift and drift and stumble upon insight.  It gives us access to the things we forget about ourselves.  It can slow breathing, relax the body, and reduce stress by instilling a sense of calm.  Trance and journey-work begin by mindfully turning our awareness inward, to the physical processes of our body (breathing, heartbeat), and to the happenings of the mind.

Mindfulness deepens our connection to meaning. And just like art becomes the intersection of the vision of the artist, and the perspective of the audience, so does spiritual art create a shared meaning.  Which can be deepened by approaching it, as creator or viewer, with mindfulness.

By approaching our performances with this conscious and conscientious awareness, Terra Mysterium strives to create an elevated and stronger sense of the meaning of what we do.  In the creating, writing, composing, choreographing, rehearsing, performing, we strive to be mindful of the intent, of what we wish to communicate and how we wish to entertain.  Our creative acts may already be sacred, but remembering that they are is the drive behind crafting spiritual performance.

The other half is you, the audience. Hopefully we inspire you to meet us at that intersection of our vision and your perspective with mindfulness.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Video Blog #10: International Collaboration

Terra Mysterium presents a series of behind-the-scenes videos exploring who we are and our creative process.

This week, Petrucia Finkler shares the challenges and joys of creating with TM while half a world away.

Have any questions you'd like answered in a future video? Leave them in comments. We hope you enjoy the video!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Video Blog #9: Play Development and Script Writing

Terra Mysterium presents a series of behind-the-scenes videos exploring who we are and our creative process.

This week, Petrucia Finkler shares our creative process for collaboratively developing and writing plays.

Have any questions you'd like answered in a future video? Leave them in comments. We hope you enjoy the video!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Samhain: Change and Renewal

The Wheel turns with the steadfastness of Earth; the breath of Air; the spirit of Fire; the passion of Water and the purpose of Spirit. It brings us once again to the Third Harvest – Samhain – a time to let go of the past, reflect and prepare in the present, and take ownership of the future.

Samhain lies on the edge of cyclical time; along with Bealtaine, it sits just outside of it, at a vantage point on the Wheel of the Year where Past, Present and Future are all visible. Samhain is a point of dissolution; it’s ending gateway a preparation for the new made manifest in the present – in the now.

The Cycle of Birth, Death and Rebirth is a familiar mystery to the darktime of Samhain. As Samhain represents the moment of simultaneous change in the Cycle, heralding endings and beginnings, it also signifies the Eternal Purpose: the promise of potential for change and renewal.

Samhain, 2008 – SLW

When all of us in Terra Mysterium decided several months ago to coordinate a calendar rotation for our blog posts, I was already thinking about my October contribution. It seemed an important one; weighty and significant in that, for our community, Samhaintide is the pinnacle of our seasonal observances; it is our New Year – our annual death and rebirth, bursting with passionate culmination and potential. It also marks the time for me in a personal way, through a memory in which my own magickal practice continues to teach me the greatest lesson of my life.

So, I find this opportunity to blog a happy one; it is my chance to return to and remember with reverence a time, only three years ago, when I had a very real brush with mortal death. In September 2008, a quick, potent and devastatingly efficient pneumonia found its way into my lungs through a hole in my Spirit, and brought me to my knees in a stunning realization that my core magickal belief in the power of Connection and Transformation through Intention is indeed an indisputable one. I was reminded, brutally, of my responsibility of Bringing into Being.

By October of that year, during a month-long convalescence alone, I realized that my experiences gained through my illness were sublimely timed. As I slowly healed, I wrote a Samhain ritual for my then-temple members, and against the warnings of my dear friends that I was still physically weak, officiated at the event. It was important that I make manifest my experience in the hopes that by sharing it, I would help others to understand the sometimes frightening, yet wonderful potency of this time.

And as I write this today, I am grateful once again for that chance. I am blessed with a reminder each year at Samhain, which allows me to remember that in this lifetime, I must continually strive to understand the importance of staying on task – in accordance with a personal responsibility to manifest change and renewal.

The Promise of Death – and Life – are woven into each moment. Samhain gives us a unique opportunity to employ the miracles of each to enrich our own life experience.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Costume Imagry

It’s the beginning of the holiday season. It’s that beautiful time of year when the air turns crisp and scents of apple pie drifts on the wind. Our clothing changes towards cozy sweaters and outfits for the upcoming festivities, this seems to fuel the pulse of the world; for even the trees are putting on their party clothes. Don’t you know that they have a party before their long winter sleep? They get pretty wild, the trees. We clean up traces of their dresses for days after their celebration.

The way we dress makes a powerful statement as to who we are. Even the trees are aware of this when they pull out their stops with their “look at me!” leaves in sultry autumn colors. When we walk into a room full of people, unconsciously everything from our color choice and the shapes we have combined come together to help people form an opinion. Our clothes have an answer for a question that hasn’t yet been asked.

Especially in the finite world of a stage performance, a character’s clothes are specifically important. A costume designer has to consider carefully the message the overall image conveys to the audience. Like any art, costuming does have to have fluidity. A true artist must attempt to voice a message in the most boisterous tone, while allowing the audience their own vision. Different individuals, with unique set of circumstances will have different interpretations of the same art form.

Color is particularly open to interpretation. Green is a color particularly favored by Terra Mysterium. With connotations of growing things, images of spring and the environment around us, it is easy to see why green is a favorite for shows featuring the spirits of nature. Green can also imply abundance and vitality as a reference to vast flowing green fields. Did you know though, that in some Eastern philosophy, the power center (most commonly referred to as a chakra) over your heart is green? If your circumstances include this, the color green might suggest love or vulnerability. We can also be “green with envy.” Which suggests that green can be associated with darkness and the more dangerous. This, in Terra Mysterium shows about the unpredictable tendency of nature, is perhaps an appropriate message to convey.

The color red too, also provides multiple messages. It is without question a power color, an anchor.

In the gothic world, enamored of death, black is the favored color. However it was the deep passionate shade of the pomegranate which took center stage in Finding Eluesis. Partly because Terra Mysterium wanted to make a statement about the passion between Persephone and Hades, rather than getting caught up in a dark depiction of the Underworld. Red can also symbolize profound joy.

Shape, is also symbolic. Terra Mysterium is particularly fond of more historic lines. The forms of the Renaissance era which are flowing and constricted at the same time fit our perceptions of those unpredictable nature spirits of which we are so fond. Though truth be told, Terra Mysterium is currently enamored of the Steampunk movement. There is something decidedly alluring about Victorian era clothing done in modern leather and metal. These costumes ask a question: what is being repressed and hidden? And, what is desired?

Truly our hope through our entire art form is to reflect our questions on our audience.

What are you hiding?

What is your secret desire? 

Did you think about that when you got dressed this morning?