My paintbrush jar is broken; PQ accidentally knocked it off the paint cart. Many of his actions are accidental and that is both a flaw and a saving virtue. There was a sentimental memory attached to the jar. I found it inside an abandoned cabin in the remote Wyoming woods when I was 12 years old during a camping/fishing trek. It had survived many years and many moves all the way to Taos, New Mexico.Of course, I haven’t painted anything for two years. It’s hard to get back in the groove and perhaps I’m not supposed to paint the same way. The last thing I painted still isn’t finished. Something didn’t go right and I don’t know what was trying to come in, so it waits in the garage for me to figure it out or do something entirely different.
I write now instead of paint. They aren’t in the same groove, so I won’t claim writing as a substitute. I rationalize that PQ’s paintings have exotic appeal and sell better, but I know that is a shallow excuse. I walk into the garage and it pushes me toward the door. It just isn’t my garage yet. I fantasize studios where I will feel comfortable and more creative, but that isn’t going to come out of fantasyland anytime soon. So, it comes back to me and my issues with the garage, and painting.
After I left the little house off of Upper Ranchitos, I almost quit painting. Before that I wished for a space where I could paint bigger canvases than my little laundry alcove permitted. Lack of space has been an issue for everything I don’t do, but maybe those tiny spaces start in my head, my soul, and my sense of not being welcome on this planet. I crowded myself into smaller and smaller spaces hoping I would finally pass the devil’s code. Then I realized that I couldn’t get small enough. My existence requires space and existence is the issue. “To be or not to be” is always the base question. I’ve been trying to compromise by being an inoffensive little bit. It never worked out. It is essentially an attempt to lie successfully. There are higher powers I fear offending.
Note that many so-called savage practices continue to survive and thrive in a more subtle form in modern times. As they become subtle, they also become more deceptive. The Spanish may have convinced the Inca that since God made a blood sacrifice of his only son; they could discontinue the sacrifice of their children while receiving the same results. Now and then, however, it looks like God’s sacrifice may not have be enough to convince Mother Nature, who after all operates on the same dimension as her subjects.
Sacrifice is an extremely complex topic. We can sacrifice one thing to receive something else that we consider more important. Alternatively, we can sacrifice something that is standing in our way in accomplishing a higher purpose, or alternatively to protect ourselves from someone with more power, a kind of rental payment for the space we occupy. The cultures of South America seem to have used blood sacrifice to give energy to the gods, because blood was life force itself. It was insurance that the sun would have the power to rise each morning.
My paintbrush jar became an accidental sacrifice. Now it is up to me to discover what kind of medicine it represents. I love the Native American concept of “medicine.” It recognizes that there is an unseen, trans-physical aspect to making things right. Illness is a kind of sacrifice. The body is made sacred through its surrender to higher processes. Yet, it only works if one lays out the stage of encounter as a holy place. Sometimes healing involves allowing the body to die physically in order to make way for another form of existence and sometimes to undo the entrainments that manifest in sickness on this physical plain.
On one level, sacrifice is simply a type of sharing. Animals often bring their prey home to share with family members. I remember mom’s large Main Coon cat named Mickey. He often brought her half a mouse and deposited it in a place she couldn’t miss such as the middle of the kitchen. Blood sacrifices are the most powerful of all because blood represents the mystery and power of life.
Even as a young child, I knew that I was a sacrificial offering. The biblical account of Abraham’s divine instruction to offer Isaac his only son as a burnt offering to Yahweh haunted me for years. At the last moment, Yahweh conjured a sheep as a replacement sacrifice and saved Isaac’s life. Although I couldn’t pin it down, I knew that I too was a sacrificial subject. My little sister died in infancy and I used to wonder if I was supposed to be the one who died instead. That event changed everything about my family and I was emotionally on my own from then on. Mom went into a zombie like trance that she only recovered from after I was well into adulthood and dad kept a somber distance and thereafter preoccupied himself with practical problems easily solved with a hammer, saw or shovel.
Sacrifice has two obvious sides: gratitude and fear. The powerful one who gives can also take away without warning. While the Inca’s sacrificed their most beautiful children, the Aztecs often gathered sacrificial victims from war and raids on neighboring tribes, and it seems that the Great Sun became hungrier as time passed. The Spanish found it easy to conspire with victims of the Aztecs for obvious reasons and it seems reasonable that colluding Aztec enemies were the hidden key to Spanish victory.
Perhaps misfits of all kinds are prospective sacrificial offerings. The correctional system is full of people who take punishment for acting out the weaknesses in society. This is not to excuse violent and dishonest behavior but often the person who ends up in jail is the product of a long line of family and social dysfunction festering in the background that goes unpunished. They take the rap for a whole host of angry and miserable people who are never punished, at least not by the law. There are also many ways of offering a sacrifice and even suicide is often a sacrificial gesture. There seems to be a primal belief that we humans are not in good standing with higher cosmic powers. One way or another we need to cajole and flatter the cosmic forces to leave us in peace or protect us from our enemies. Yet, who will protect us from ourselves. Those forces seem to be hungry for blood. The primary question is if it will be enemy blood or the blood of a beautiful child and I suppose that depends on the projected character flaws of our deities.
This topic unexpectedly took this blog over and I know I’ve opened the door a crack to a very dark room, much more than I can handle today, there is a lot more to learn on this subject.