Pathway Through The Labyrinth 2012
We live in a time of instant gratification and the exerting of the least effort to reaching this new goal and the perceived fulfilment to be gained. If you are looking for a workshop of colouring in Mandalas then this is really not for you.There are plenty of workshops and colouring books out there to satisfy those needs, is workshop is going much deeper, I spent 35 years and lost everything 3 times on this journey. The comitment to my art is total and goes beyond the brushes and paints, it's a 24/7 engagement with the Beloved in everything you do. This is no WiFi connection to be switched on and off as we see fit, the inspiration comes from total committal and that inspiration comes not from the mind but from engagement and what that reveals in myriads of ways. The golden moments are sometimes very subtle and it's like a soft breeze on the heart and it can also be so painful that working is the only release as the imputation is so strong.
I often start a piece of work by first dedicating myself fully and with whatever it takes to complete the new proposed piece of art. This small ceremony consists wetting my finger with Christ Aurasoma oil then running the finger down over the third eye, I then dip the same finger into a small package of ash blessed by Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī better known simply as Amma ("Mother"), a Hindu spiritual leader and guru who is revered as a saint by her followers, and run that also down the third eye. Moving to the paper I form a very simple shape in pencil, this shape is devotional and emanates from the heart. This marking takes a few moments and it will probably have no bearing on the finished work, but the painting will emanate from it and I see it has a kind of grounding and also the point between Heaven and Earth. Then before embarking on the work proper, I lay down and have a very short nap. It's in this short sleep state that I sense all the bits of the jigsaw come together, I only ever see one small piece of a 500,000 piece jigsaw at a time. Each new piece is only revealed as I near completion of the current piece I am working on and so it progresses. At the end of my working day, I set up a small shrine on the artwork and light a candle. Its not unusual to be woken at odd hours to complete certain sections before being allowed back to bed .
When creating my art I am very conscious of my breathing pattern, this gathers my attention to the present moment and steadies the movement and the movement of the brush and pen. Our idea of stillness is static, but being totally connected to the fluidity of my breathing, connecting my movement around the rythmn of my breath. When there is no resistance whatsoever, movement has the quality of stillness and the embrace of the Beloved is all.
I am constantly asked about how the art is created and information on the mathematical calculations of their construction, my tools consist of a ruler, compass, pencil and being present to what flows through. Though I totally accept the idea of sacred geometry and the sacred measure, my art is much freer than that and is mainly governed by the spin of the pencil and compass and whatever shape is generated by their contribution. have always been pretty useless at maths and the thought of trying to coldly planning it out would be working against any flow rather than working in tune with the Beloved. In fact the whole process is hit and miss from my perspective and mistakes in calculations can end up as integral to the energetic heart of the work. None of my work is square, in the early days before photoshop manipulation, the art room of my publishers were driven crazy trying to lay the pages out. The Celtic scribes left small sections of an Illuminated page uncoloured as they were humble enough to accept that they could not emanate the perfection of God.
Before the Merlin connection my early pieces were filled with all manner of magical symbols and the planning often took weeks to complete. The pictures looked laboured and painful to me now. The energy eventually made me understood that all that stuff was needless and the magic and potency of the work was its own symbol. The impulse to add my own symbology was knocked out of me over the years by the Merlin Energy, the planning and spirit lights that guided the way would stop, and would not restart until my own input was taken out. Any resistance in any way only ever suppresses the flow of spirit and the magic of the work as it unfolds.
The process did change when the energy stepped away and the awakening was experienced. Each day being overshadowed by the Merlin Energy there was still always the recognition that it was was a joint collaboration, he directed and I accomplished. Courtney as a personality has no discernible part to play now and the work evolves with the brush, pen, paint and paper and the Universal connection. Sacred energy in motion and expressing itself, through this respectful being and all things....now that's total magic.
I have never made any deep study of mandalas and in fact feel a constant cosmic nudge every time I reach for a book or surf the web to find information on a subjects like mandalas, sacred symbols, colour and other artists work. Unlike much of the mandala work I have seen, my art has no set uniformity and often while adding new components to the structure, the new additions seem sometimes to be very much at odds with its adjoining placements. At the end of the work theirs always a surprise and fascination how it all harmoniously fitted together.
The art I was creating was published in a variety of my books over the years, but it was only on a few rare occasions when I exhibited the paintings in various places that people got to see the originals, so the feedback of their potency was minimal apart revues of my books as a whole.
In 2007 a psychic friend suggested that I dowsed the art with dowsing rods to get some idea of the extent of a paintings aura, dowsing was not a practice I was really familiar with apart from dabbling with yes no answers with a pendulum. As I walked holding the rods in my hand towards the art standing before me, I was amazed to see the rods begin to swing with each step until I reached a point when the rods crossed over each other and I stopped. My friend then explained to me that I had found the outer most point of its energetic field. I was really fascinated by the fact that every day I worked on the art I was actually sitting in this sacred space. He then suggested I try again, but this time go forward saying " I am stepping into the aura" and this time instead of stopping at the cross over point like before, to keep walking forward into the aura. I had no idea what to expect as I started walking closer, I got to the cross over point and apprehensively stepped in. My whole body began to shake, my voice began to change into a deeper resonance. As I took another step my whole throat felt like it had been turned inside out and became deeper still and I was then completely overshadowed by the Merlin energy in a way that I had never known before. Everything seemed to slow down and putting another foot forward was now almost impossible as the body was clearly out of my control and I felt like I had stepped into some kind of sacred realm. I stood in this spot for a time and then my friend suggested that I now retraced my steps and this time try to say "I am stepping out of the aura" as I moved back, the vibration eased and the voice started to come back to normal the closer I got to the periphery of the energy field.
I was very emotional and needed to concentrate on my breathing to regain some kind of normality again.
I was asked to give a talk to a room full of priests and members of churches in Chicago by my friend Father Dennis O' Neil who had written text for a new book I had completed called 'St. Patrick, a visual celebration'. He wanted them to experience what happened to me with the dowsing rods, I was extremely nervous at the prospect, but I trusted his judgement and was pleasantly surprised at their openness and appreciation of the demonstration. I had a few occasions when deeply involved in a particular piece of a central border I was working on, when I had to suddenly catch myself from falling into the center of art, other times I would find myself transfixed at a particular piece of the painting, the art would begin moving and breathing and I was totally mesmerised by its movement.
Slowly the purpose of the art began to reveal itself and began to understand that the art being created was a useful spiritual guidance tool for focusing the attention of practitioners and adepts and establishing a sacred space and an aid to the path of meditation and trance. The trouble was at this point of realisation my world fell apart and I lost everything. To work with this new understanding there was a bit of spiritual tinkering and adjustments obviously needed, in fact it was more like a complete reboot rather than a mere software update.
To step into this new understanding needed a new awareness and re-shaping of Courtney that the awakening experience brought with it. Courtney had been the central point of experience throughout his life, now everything had changed and was experienced from a more Universal perspective. When everything was now being perceived as a whole, that energy permeates the whole so the part that the art was to play became a little clearer and in fact were energy portals more than pieces of art and It was a clear the arts potent message could never have been understood by the old Courtney.
The word “mandala” comes from the ancient Sanskrit word signifying “circle.” a ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism. The circle is a symbol of perfection and represents the wholeness of life, and the unity that exists among living beings and the world in which we all exist, reminding us of our relation to infinity, extending beyond and within our bodies and minds. Mandalas play a role within many spiritual traditions, and can be found within a variety of cultures. When working on my early books that focused on the Celtic Illuminated Gospel books such as the Book of Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels, I remember reading that they would be held up in front of the congregation that could not read and presented as a visual example of the wonder of God.
Over time I have learnt not to try and scrutinise the completed work of its elements and though I am constantly asked by people to share my interpretation of its symbolic construction, I explain that it’s power lies not in understanding the intricacies and make up of its form but being in awareness of the art as a whole and free from the intellect needing answers.
When people come to the gallery to see the art, some are under the impression its all done on computer and then somehow magically gets transferred onto a board, the fact that every dot and paint line is done by hand is beyond belief. The art is often compared with the Tibetan sand paintings and I guess there are many similarities in the our preparation before embarking on the new work. Buddhist monks must first go through years of training to learn to make Mandala. The ritual of the Mandala is considered extremely sacred, and cannot be done lightly. Before making a Mandala, a monk spends a great deal of time in both artistic and philosophical study. He must have an understanding of the meaning of the Mandala both in Buddhism and for themselves before they create one. Creating a sand Mandala is therefore never a process to be taken lightly, and is considered a very deep and personal and sacred practice in Tibetan Buddhism and before starting the monks first perform an opening ceremony by consecrating the site of the mandala and sand painting with approximately 30 minutes of chanting, music and mantra recitation. Then a blueprint for the Mandala is subsequently drawn with white chalk, beginning with a dot in the middle. The monks then draw four lines from this dot. From then on, they will mostly work within their own quadrant. After the blueprint is finished, it is then filled in with special sand, which is made from crushed white stone and dyed in vibrant and distinct colours. The sand is applied with a chakpu, a serrated funnel that is carefully and gently scraped with another chakpu creating a vibration that releases the sand onto the blueprint (“Living Words of Wisdom”). Monks will often recite chants during the process, and complete the Mandala with deep, contemplative concentration.
This same devotion can be seen with the dedication and honour the North American Indian tribes perform creating their sacred circles on the ground.The four directions plus center, make up the four seasons, the cross-quarters also have meanings. Is a symbol of peaceful interaction among all living beings on Mother Earth - Circles are walked in a clockwise direction (the direction of the Sun). It can show the stages in a person’s life or spiritual development. Life doesn’t end at the completion, walking the life journey causes rebirth or renewal. You just start all over again, a circle is continuous without end.
The most unique and arguably the most symbolic aspect of the Mandala created by the monks, is what is done after its completion: the Mandala is destroyed. The monks brush away the sand, slowly pushing all of it toward the middle as though undoing the entire process. After brushing away their work, the monks pour it into the nearest body of water, to return the positive energy back to the earth. The action is also meant to teach the impermanence of all things, and to never grow attached to earthly objects.
I haven't gone that far on completion of my work as yet, but can certainly attest to a total disconnection to the work once completed, there are many times when the connection switches off to signify the work is completed. The parting can be physically very uncomfortable as it's a movement from experiencing as a light body to reemerging into the denser physical body.