member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life


This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo


(Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Friday, August 30, 2013

Santa Caterina: Shaman

Santa Caterina: Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Panel
18 x 24, by zoe blue

(Other studies of this saint are here, here and here.)

In Charleroi, there is a patch of ground which seizes you when you cross it, forcing you dance. It is a sweet spot in the universe, and when the people of the surrounding areas need healing, they go there to dance the cure into being. It began as the site of a compulsive public mania of dancing, which has now been ritualized, the people led across the plot by a priest and always with the same effect.  Perhaps Santa Caterina is reaching down over that space with her violin, breathing madness and holiness into their small human forms, leading them to ecstasy. 

But who brought her to ecstasy? 

According to the author of Music and Trance, the difference between the dance of the possessed and the dance of the shaman is in who plays the music. A shaman plays her own music, and that music changes not just her perception, but transforms the world. Her music possesses others, imposing her own imagination onto the once solid forms of their universe. What makes Santa Caterina a saint, or a shaman, is that she doesn’t only change the world for herself: you cross her “patch of earth,” and you, too, are changed.


In this painting, Caterina is caught, mid-leap into the frame, simultaneously reaching into yet another universe to manipulate the dancers via her instrument. Having worked herself into a frenzy with her music, she has vaulted clear into another reality, one shining with the clear gold light that only the holy mind reaches, the light between one universe and another, between death and birth, that blazing moment of nothingness before the world is created anew.

12 comments:

  1. Hi

    Thank you for this lovely and interesting post! Your painting is just beautiful. I noticed a little kitty in it. I love it.
    "A shaman plays her own music, and that music changes not just her perception, but transforms the world." How interesting!!
    I once saw an exhibition about some pre-Colombian gold masks from Colombia in Ueno(Tokyo) and found an intriguing explanation about the shamans(who wore the masks). This post reminds me of it. The explanation was something like this: "They believed men could transform themselves into animals to obtain the animal's powers and would dance and take (natural hallucinogenic substances) to go into the natural world to do this".

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    1. what a thing it would be, to make a mask that had so much of your creative power in it that it could expand the world that way--what a focus you would have to have: you put the mask on, and you *become* something else entirely. amazing! thank you!

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  2. A powerful painting and powerful writing; Caterina has such presence in this image - she really rocks!

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    1. thank you, phil :) that's super-kind :)

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  3. The combination of earthy folk musician-like posture and face lit from below makes a wonderful dynamic -- Makes me think: from one saint to another, from freefalling liminality to a new luminous ground. And the story is about how a "patch of canvas" works too, right? ;)

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  4. Lovely! And I love the writing about sweet spots too. You know, when I saw this painting it put me in mind of something I read a little while ago.

    Hope you are well!

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  5. Beautiful work, love her light and vibrancy, carrying me away on a tune...

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    1. ah, i hope so! i hope you are taken somewhere fabulous!
      thank you :)

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  6. Another wonderful composition, full of energy and movement. Beautiful, Zoe.

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    1. i'm so happy that you like it, clive :) thank you for visiting :)

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