Finding My Voice in Creating
As I think about writing today, my hands gravitate towards tender art making. I become still and my hands lead. Words have not come easy for me over the years. I’ve had to work hard to find my way and I didn’t have a teacher guiding me. No one taught me how to take my time with my words or how to find the words that suited me. It took a long time for me to understand my words needed gentleness and not coaxing. They needed safety not pushing. Words couldn’t come unless there was peacefulness and courage to bring out what was so painfully stuck on the inside. I often found myself asking, “Where was my language in the papers I wrote, the text I referenced and sited? How was I to find the words that belonged to me?”. I lived with these questions for a very long time, not realizing that my language may not be made up of English letters or numbers but in fact born and raised in color, movement and mark making. These elements tell my stories.
Artmaking is my first language. Processing visual text in symbols and design was my natural gift and always there providing language where my voice and writing could not. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I could see how the writing and art go hand and hand, blending and melding. Once I put them together, I realized both bring me healing and energy. Both medicine for my soul. It was the perfect combination of magic for (what I thought) any wounded heart. I began wondering about medicine, where it comes from, what form it takes, and how art holds all its qualities. It sparked many questions in me like, how am I the healer of my life, what is my artful medicine, and how do I cultivate health and wellness in my life and all the life around me?
Whether looking at it, feeling it, or creating it, art is a healer. My entire life I have spent tapping into the wisdom of my own heart with visceral creativity using my hands, my body, my voice, my emotions and my dreams. This poem I’m going to share is from my personal journal (journey). These words come to you after making the discovery that I am my own healer, as each of you are. Your inner artist is in there waiting to be discovered to provide wisdom, medicine and healing. I invite each of you to cultivate space for artful moments. To see your processes as artful and know that is where the nuggets of medicine are held.
By Ellen Sweetman
I am medicine.
Hands over my Wounded Child’s heart. Beating with such beauty and strength, her deepest wounds recovered and unearthed. There is fear around what is untouched and unseen. Her heart beats faster sending medicine. The motherless girl heals as she creates, reviving and mending with each thoughtful move. Dive deep, lean in close little one.
Tearing the pages, collaging emotions into stories. The Magician hums to safety, learning to see with eyes closed. Layering stones on top of one another, pulling art-filled cards with messages to the heart center releasing the smoke of solitude and gratitude.
Wandering barefoot in tall grass, the brown Goddess creates thunderous connections between meridians. Depositing new soil, transforming rhythms into liveliness and preforming ritual. Dancing in the light of the moon, twirling in the wind, body swaying with each breath accepting messages of compassion and love. She drums out into the world, pain and resilience float like clouds in the sky. Glimmers of light trickle out connecting us. She is learning.
The Healer massages floral essences on the throat, nape of neck, my third eye and behind hearing receptors for direction and comfort. She dips toes in the water, surrendering to peaceful movements. Her breath ripples out to sea. As if weaving in and out of the fabric, seeing immense depth in between each stitch plotting out familiar constellations.
Ash falls, scripting marks on the page swirling stories as the Artist becomes witness to her own wonders. She makes patterns with footsteps in wounded snow creating awareness spirals. Swirling wishes in the paint well and washing colorful dreams across the canvas. She wets her hands in soft clay to feel the coolness of the earth. Molding and carving to the beat of her heart, birthing soul images.
The Shaman arranges dried blooms and tobacco around the old oak. This forest invites all parts of self, calming the mind and rooting her feet along the pathway; naming and claiming what has been with her since the beginning. Young wounds melt in the stillness. She becomes the bridge between deep seeded wisdom and human experience. Knowledge expands with native languages for healing and finding voice again. She crafts fire in ceremonial reflection and wanders in its flames claiming past, present and future. Awareness shifts. She answers the call, burning sage, laying her signature with ash.
I am the Wounded Child who plays and hurts. I am the Goddess who processes pain and celebrates discoveries, the Healer who honors the unraveling and unfolding, the Artist who channels instinct and natural connections. I am the Shaman, with eyes wide shut, who gently stretches into known and felt territory.
I am suffering, transforming, awakening.
I am art.
I am medicine.