One of the fascinating concepts I learned about over the years in dream study is that of the shadow. The negative or dark shadow, according to psychologist Carl Jung, holds those unconscious aspects of ourselves that we don’t want anyone, and most often not even ourselves, to acknowledge. These aspects are typically unconscious and something we judge as “unacceptable”, so we stuff them way in the back of our metaphorical closets.
As the concept goes, if someone really annoys me or gets on my nerves, there is something of that person’s traits that trigger my own dark shadow. Although I will deny this until I’m blue in the face, the heat or emotional reaction is the clue that this may be the case. If I find the courage and curiosity to explore and own up to this, I can grow into a more psychologically whole person.
In the opposite vein, if I really admire, am drawn to, or respect someone, there is something of that person’s “exceptional” traits that are part of my golden shadow. Again, the emotional reaction is the clue and exploring these traits can help me to own those parts of myself, too.
Honoring Shadow Energies
I’ve found shadow energy in so many dreams, as well as in waking life. This encaustic painting, She and Her Shadows, is my attempt to honor the discovery and doing of this internal work. The painting is 11.5″ wide X 18.5″ tall.
Ode to Scarlet Created for Dance of Dreams Exhibit
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the “Dance of Dreams” Art Exhibit Reception on September 27, 2019. The show ended October 31, 2019.
As part of the reception, Special Guest Dancer May Kesler performed interpretive dances focused on two of my 12 dream art paintings. It was a wonderful treat to collaborate with May on this creative art and dance adventure.
The first dance, “Journey of Dreams” focused on the many places, situations, and feelings we experience when we close our eyes and sleep. This dance companioned the painting, Dreamtime Journey.
Ode to Scarlet, the second dance, wove the story of a series of dreams over the past 30 or so years. A scarlet snake appeared in each dream, and over the years, my relationship to and with it changed. At first, it startled and scared me. Over the years, we eventually found a way to co-exist into a deep friendship, before it died in my arms! This duet dance companioned the painting, Shedding Fear.
Finally, we honored this entire dream series by symbolically transitioning the Scarlet snake image to its new life as a symbol of healing. This new 3D artwork was unveiled and fastened to the top of a walking staff, becoming a Staff of Asclepius. The Asclepius symbol takes its name from the Greek diety associated with healing and medicinal arts in Greek Mythology.
Thank you to Shauna Simon and the Simon Says Yoga family for hosting this exhibit of my dream-inspired artworks, and most of all, for their welcoming spirit, enthusiasm, and support for local artists!
Shedding Fear is an original encaustic mixed media painting inspired by a series of vivid dreams which began many years ago. In each of the dreams, a bright red snake takes center stage. Most often, it is a scarlet boa constrictor. In the following dream, however, a scarlet cobra is the main character…
Once upon a dreamscape, a woman discovers a giant cobra in her house. It is about 10 feet long and if she startles it, the cobra puffs up its cobra neck, hisses, and scares the bejeebers out of the woman.
She loses sight of the cobra. The woman and her male companion now crouch on the top of a tall bookcase, hunched into a ball because they are close to the ceiling. They want to be sure they are as far away from the cobra as possible. Then the woman takes a peek at the bookcase shelf right under them and realizes the cobra is right there, all coiled up, too! Now what?
The woman and her companion have now magically moved around the room and then around the house in and out of various rooms. Scarlet cobra is always close by and after a while, it doesn’t seem to mind us, and we don’t mind it either. We get used to each other, and Scarlet only hisses if I get too close. I marvel at Scarlet’s bright color; the red is so vivid and energized. I realize I’ve seen a bright red snake, but a boa constrictor, in my dreams before. So I realize I am in a lucid state. I’m no longer afraid of Scarlet and realize she’s not really poisonous, after all. I awaken with a feeling that something important has shifted.
A colorful dream character calls out
This dreamscape especially grabbed my attention because I was aware that I was dreaming and in a lucid state. I only occasionally have lucid dreams, so I definitely pay attention when I do. Within the dream, I remembered encountering scarlet boas before, but the only places were within past dreams. And having previously explored and created art based on those earlier dreams, I have an idea what this colorful character means – for me. Some examples and art inspired by those previous dreams are Transformation of a Scarlet Boa.
Curiously, when I’ve shared this dream with others, they’ve responded generally in two ways. If they have a fear of snakes, they react by stepping back and saying how much snakes scare them. Others are fascinated by snakes, leading them to take a very close look. Both can lead to lively conversations!
While researching this topic, I came across, a now-removed post titled “Snake Dreams and their Meanings,” by author Amy E. Brucker. In it, Ms. Brucker explored various snake imagery throughout history. I was most intrigued by her focus on the healing aspects of the snake.
So in this episode in my scarlet snake dream series, I had a healthy fear of its danger. But, somehow, I also learned to live with this it in my space. When I shift my perception from fear to healing, the dream takes on a whole new feeling and ah-ha! Perhaps in my own shift, my companion learns to live with the healing snake energy, too.
What do we fear?
This is an intriguing question with as many different answers as there are people. There are so many things to be afraid of… being terribly sick, having a horrible accident, losing someone close, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, etc. We each have our own fears to face. And how can we go about shedding fear?
One of my favorite quotes byauthor Marianne Williamson, in “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” (1992). I’ve also seen this quote mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
And here’s a fun take on snakes – Bela Fleck’s Snakes Alive musical creation.
About Shedding Fear
This 15″ x 15″ encaustic art piece is also inspired by an actual snake skin, one that I found in my garden compost bin. I assume the snake that molted was either hiding really well or long gone. Looking at this snake skin up close, it was very thin and fragile. With rectangular, oblong, and smaller oval segments, I marveled at its construction and form. The head portion had space for the snake’s eyes and mouth. I had to hold it very carefully, very gingerly. Which also got me to thinking about fear. Could fear be thin and fragile, too? If I could just let it go, would it shrivel up and crumble?
Next, after creating the main painting of the shed skin up close, I created the miniature snake from paper clay, then painted it to resemble a Scarlet Boa, but with a bit more red.
Then to finish it, the miniature Scarlet Boa needed to be resting on, wait for it… a bright red feather from a fluffy scarlet feather boa!
⇒For information about viewing or purchasing this or related artwork, contact Janet Fox. Check out my Encaustic Portfolio for several smaller companion pieces.
Dreamscape… I’m in my apartment. Someone tells me to be very careful moving around because a scarlet boa constrictor has somehow gotten in. I creep slowly in a circular fashion through the living room, dining room and kitchen. I see it, coiled up in a corner next to a big basket. I know I must catch and remove it. For if it bites me, I will be poisoned and get extremely sick or die.
What is a scarlet boa?
With vivid and colorful dreams like this one, I enjoy researching the symbols and actions to explore connections that cross over into waking life. For example and to my amazement, I discovered there actually is a boa that’s partly red. Originally from tropical areas, the “boa constrictor constrictor” is also known as the red-tailed boa. Here’s a beautiful Wired photo of one and some interesting red-tailed boa facts from animals.mom.me. Many people have them as pets, as they are nonpoisonous. They can grow to more than 10 feet long, 50 pounds in weight and 30 years old in captivity.
As the name suggests, boas kill their prey by squeezing it to death. They are carnivores and eat small rodents, amphibians, snakes, and birds. They don’t eat people and are nonpoisonous. So within this dreamscape, what I thought I knew was not entirely correct and was, unnecessarily perhaps, causing me to be cautious and afraid. Nevertheless, I’m not a snake person and didn’t want to live with one in my space. But how on Earth did a boa, and a scarlet one at that, get inside my living space? Was it living in the blackberry patch outside and got lost?
The boa’s transformation
While previously working with this dream image, I created a painting of a large, coiled red snake. I placed it safely behind bars inside a cage. Recently, I cut apart this painting, transforming it into the three artworks in this post.
The first piece, at the top of this post, symbolizes the bridge from dream time to waking time.
The second painting symbolically moved the boa back outside. I put this one in a sunny blackberry patch, where I’ve seen other snakes.
Since it is springtime with new growth appearing everywhere, I recreated the boa in the third piece. This new bloom appeared. The blossom’s color reflects a glimmer of its scarlet past.
How would you make something scary safe?
⇒For information about commissioning similar artwork or, contactJanet Fox.