The Deep-Deep Down: Where Book Art Meets Spiritual Community

Emergence proof in progress. August 2014, Belgium.

A proof of Emergence book art with hand-inked and cut-out circles.  Belgium, Aug 2014.

Fall greetings, Dey of the Phoenix readers! I’ve been Stateside a few weeks after a month’s sojourn to Europe. This phase is one of integration, because the summer provided multiple profound encounters. For new readers — or anyone who may have gotten out of the loop — my summer was a series of sojourns with special attention to spiritual community. My current process is “mapping” the past season onto what now is unfolding materially and symbolically:  limited-edition book art Emergence. This little book is thick with experiences that still reveal themselves as a whole! Be sure to visit my events page for its forthcoming release October 18 and subsequent appearances.

Workshop participants gather around Crows Nest founder C. Michael Smith while teaching in Payzac, France. September 2014.

 Gathering around Crows Nest founder C. Michael Smith in Payzac, France, with Director of CN Europa Minthe in the left corner. Sept 2014.

July kicked-off my “traveling” season with the Quaker national Gathering in Pennsylvania, where I exhibited in a group show and grew through a tender workshop led by artist Jennifer Elam. Crows Nest USA’s annual intensive followed with inspiring founder C. Michael Smith and gifted community.  August brought a wilderness retreat in the Porcupine Mountains with the survival-savvy, Crows Nest long-timers Jeff Nixa (Great Plains Guide) and fire guardian Robert Wagner. The last leg of summer took me to Europe for visits with loved ones, as well as profound workshops with Friends in the UK (Experiment with the Light) and Crows Nest Europa which gathered in France.

The Irish Sea at St. Bee's, Cumbria, UK. August 2014.

The Irish Sea at St. Bee’s, Cumbria, UK. Aug 2014.

For a short history, my roots of spiritual community are in Michigan with wider ties to Europe.  I began travels to Belgium in 2004, and in the process lived there a few years. At that time, I began studies among UK Friends (Quakers) about healing including Jim Pym.  After moving back to the States, I continued Quaker studies during visits to Europe. And in Michigan I connected with Crow’s Nest Center for Shamanic Studies, which promptly led to meeting the CN Europa community in Belgium in 2012. Perhaps you see a trend here? A consistent “back-and-forth” much like the tides of the Irish Sea at St. Bee’s Head (Cumbria, UK) where I spent one day on pilgrimage this summer.


Each unique edition of Emergence pairs handmade painted paper and letterpress print for the cover.

This “traveling” season threaded into a journey of a whole.  Each exchange within spiritual community — locally to internationally — embedded themselves, much like the concentric circles for Emergence as book art.  Consider this cover’s colorful layers, how each layer’s “rub” lends motion to a surface that otherwise could be dismissed as flat. Consider what is brought forward by parallel circles and where they “meet” in the between spaces. Consider how without “outer” rings there is no center.  As a means of integrating the past season’s considerably moving encounters, I treasure the parallel process of painting, cutting, and inking circles for the limited-edition Emergence.


“Dry” stones beyond the reach of high tide at the Irish Sea, St. Bee’s. Aug 2014.

During this present cycle of “home” between travels — as I’m readying for another journey in December (stay tuned for details!) — I continue to ponder my tidal experience with the Irish Sea at St. Bee’s of Cumbria (UK).  Somehow the glacial rocks there resonate to my bone, though only having been there twice in my life.  Somehow the round-to-jutting, singing rocks there are as familiar as formations along Lake Superior’s southern shore . . . despite the sites being an ocean apart.  Words sometimes fail to convey the resonance because it emanates from the body, like when experiencing the inner building vibration to speak during silent Quaker worship.


A rock formation plunges into Lake Superior’s southern shore, Aug 2014.

Following the thread for this traveling season then, I am struck by a sense of place and presence rooted in experiences of spiritual community. What emerges is  a multidimensional site — or an ebb and flow between local and international circles.  Between these circles is the  bounded opening of challenging practice,  a willingness to engage and re-engage.  As a whole, the process is potential to create unique beauty at every tide. Coming back now into local community, I continue along this creative-healing path in service. My hope is to venture beyond the surface, paying most attention to the deep-deep down of what lies beneath.

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