Boggy Path

BoggyPathDecember, 1995
Acrylics on Paper

Every time we shed a skin that is too small we have to head into this place of unknowing….

This painting is an unusual one for me and often people who don’t like my wild colors and themes like this one. It feels more ordinary and they seem to find in it a place of rest and comfort. But I painted it about that very bleak in-between time so intrinsic to process work.

Remember when Frodo is trudging towards the unknown in the depths of Mordor? Or when Ged in the Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea series is slogging through the Land of the Dead, looking for an enemy who turns out to be his own shadow? That’s this place.

We think the decision to peel off the bark is the challenge. Come to find out it is only the beginning. We are too far in to get out. We don’t know what lies ahead. And every single step is a risk. We don’t know if the hillock ahead is going to be strong enough to hold us. It could even be hiding quicksand…. We could easily sink into oblivion and nobody would even know what happened to us. Our body left to the crabs or scarab (dung beetle) to feed on.

The Egyptians understood about this. Shamans understand that it is a necessary death. For them a carrion scarab/vulture/lobster/raven is just going to eat the parts we no longer need but didn’t know how to shed without their help and this experience.Thus we might discover with relief that there is a stone to stand on… if we can balance on it… But then there is the next dangerous step. And the next. And we don’t even remember what the goal is. Too late to turn back….

Written for Out of the Ashes Show, North County Rec District, January 2004