Art By Shalley

Using Art to Heal

Dreams, Meditations and Reflections behind the Paintings

                        The Call

I dream that I am with a group of people. We are on a trip, traveling a road deep into the jungle. There are native men all along the path, in the trees, serving as lookouts. They have guns. As we get deeper into the jungle the road becomes narrower and narrower. The driver has to drive the jeep through the narrowing space--like maneuver the jeep so as not to hit the sides of this bridge like construction. The natives are laughing and friendly. They know the guide. He has been here before with groups. It is like the task he has to do. It all seems in fun, like a test, although one gets the sense that even if he hits the side, it won't be any big deal. They'd just laugh that they had won. But the guide drives through successfully. We arrive and are greeted.

                    Soul's Flight

I dream that I am with a woman who tells me that she has something that she has to do, something she has been trying to do but gets interrupted. The scene changes and I am now looking out a window and see this woman standing on a high cliff. I know that she has to get down. She is wondering how to get down and is concerned about the potential danger of jumping. Suddenly, six men appear--four to her right side and two to her left. They are all dressed in tuxedos and look very professional. I realize they are professional trapeze artists and they have come to help the woman down. They act as if it is show time so as not to draw attention to the woman or the fact that she is comtemplating jumping, so as not to frighten the crowd. This is out of honor and respect for the woman.  Very gently a man on each side of her reaches over and takes her hand. They act as if this is the regular show and this woman is part of the show. They all jump, safely and beautifully, lowering the woman to the ground. There are crowds of people watching. I see this woman walking toward me on a path.


    One roams the earth, loved and protected by some, hated and hunted by others.  The other tunnels the earth, tolerated by some, despised by most. Both bring a medicine to the earth. The wolf is a pathfinder and forerunner of new knowledge. Wolf teaches strength, confidence, steadfast-ness, protection and empowers the teacher within.
    The gopher tells us that everything is connected and knows what lies beneath the surface of any situation, showing us how to uncover hidden truths. Gopher is a beneficial guide into the unconscious where he will awaken deep truths in us.
    Wolf and gopher, brothers to us all. This the Indian knows.

                Summer's Gate

The Iris ushers in summer. The Iris flower got its name from the Greek goddess, Iris, goddess of the rainbow. Iris was also known to be the messenger between Zeus and Hera. Iris would take messages from the "eye of heaven" to earth along the arc of the rainbow. Iris means "eye of heaven." It was the name given to the goddess, this flower and the center of your eye. This suggests that each of us carries a piece of heaven within us.

                    Raven's Magic

I met Raven on a healing journey for a family member. Throughout time, Raven has carried the medicine of magic in many cultures across the planet.  In any healing circle, Raven is present and guides the magic of healing and the change in consciousness that will bring about a new reality and dispel "dis-ease" or illness.
    When Raven has come to you, magic is in the air. Don't try to figure it out. It is the power of the unknown at work. Raven brings a new state of wellness from the void of the Great Mystery and the field of plenty. The challenge is to bring it to light, make it conscious. In doing so you have honored the magician within.

                        The Gift

    On a meditative journey, I travel up past the clouds, up past the planets, until I see a large bright light.  I keep going up and come to a canopy like place, like a membrane or blanket of clouds. I pass through it and come out into a beautiful city, made of beautiful stone. People are walking through the streets, but they ignore me. I keep walking until I come to large doors. I knock. A woman opens the door and without saying a word acknowledges me and invites me in. She goes to a door and through it. She returns and again without saying a word invites me in. I go into a room and there is a man with a feather (much like the man I painted recently). I then ask him "How am I to use Shamanic healing methods?" He takes the feather, walks over to a window and drops it. I watch as it gently falls down to earth. I see it land on earth. The leader then motions with her drumming that we are to end this journey and return. I go to find the winged horse to return like I came, but instead find myself gliding or climbing down a thread or rope like energy where the man had dropped the feather. I land on earth at the spot of the feather.
    This reminds me of a picture that I had painted of a man carrying a feather in a large bowl, like bringing it to someone. I call this painting, "The Gift."

        Dragonfly Medicine Woman
    The inspiration for Dragonfly Medicine Woman came from a tracking exercise that the owner and I were doing as part of a training in Shamanic healing with the Healing the Light Body School. The owner and I were in a group of 5. She identified a topic that she wished us to track. The tracking exercise involved each person tracking at a particular perceptual state. The four perceptual states defined in this particular shamanic tradition are serpent (body), jaguar (mind), hummingbird (mythic) and eagle (spirit). The person tracking at the level of serpent saw an image was of mud.  The person tracking at level of Jaguar saw murky water, difficulty seeing with perhaps someone or something swimming in this murky water. The third image (level of Hummingbird) was a beautiful dragon fly on a piece of wood floating in water. The 4th image, the level of Eagle or Spirit, was a bright light or energy flying up.
    To the first image mud, the owner associated feeling stuck, stuck in her body, stuck in her life. To she second image, murky water, the owner associated feeling of being lost and confused, not knowing which direction to go. To the third image, the Dragonfly, she associated illusion, suddenly having the “aha” experience that the topic and issue on which she was working was an illusion. To the fourth image, the level of Eagle or spirit, she had the experience of bursting forth, the feeling of being free, and a bright energy that was around her as she ascended. It was like the whole process evolved from mud into a dragonfly which evolved into a bright free flying energy.
                The owner requested that I try to capture this experience on canvas. This painting is what emerged.

 The Process:

                I took the background color palate from the imagery of the tracking exercise (e.g., brown/black mud, murky water, sky and sun and bright light. I then painted the background. I then allowed my imagination to play with the background. At first I saw a woman stuck in the mud so I painted her, head only. I then saw the dragonfly flying up. I inquire of the owner as to whether she had a color palate for the dragonfly and she gave me the colors of purple, blue, green and silver. I then painted the dragonfly. Per my process, I meditate and reflect on the background and then saw wings emerging from the woman in the mud. At this point I became aware that I was painting the healing self that is emerging from the depths of the unconscious. So I added the wings. At this point the light began to emerge. The light energy took the form of a circle, sun perhaps, moving up and also down into the head of the woman and then down through the water around her, giving me the feeling of lightness and moving upward. I then did another journey and discovered that there were gifts the healed self is bringing with her. They are two pearls, a shell and an Amazonite stone. This finished the painting.




            Steed Rising from the Sea

As I finished painting the horse coming out of the water, my eye caught the word "Mercirius" on a page of Jung's Mysterium Coniunctionis lying open on the floor. I felt impressed to begin reading as if there were some connection between the painting and the book or the word "Mercurius." I read several pages but nothing. Some sixty pages later I came across a reference to the Atharva-veda and the sun-god Rohita. The passage reads "In Hymn XIII, I of the Atharva-veda he is praised together with his  wife Rohini. Of her it says: Rise up, O steed, that art within the waters," and "The steed that is within the waters if risen up" (Jung, Vol. XIV, par. 735). Jung speaks of this within the context of "the union of spirit with material reality."  Of the hymn, Jung says "Rohini, the wife of sun-god  Rohita represents the anima. The water represents Mercurius. Both represent the unconscious. Therefore, in the painting the water represents Mercurius or the unconscious and the horse refers to Rohita, the queen or anima. This suggests that the picture of the horse rising from the water represents the union of the spirit and matter.

                        Night Life

That which we ignore in waking consciousness, those annoyances that disrupt our ordered lives, may come out at night and wreck havoc in our dreams, trying to wake us to the gifts they have for us. Ignored, they live in the darkness of the night.
    Raccoon carries the medicine of the protector of the underdog and provider for the young, infirm, and elderly. If Raccoon wanders into your life, it may be telling you to share your time, energy, or possessions with the less fortunate or to be generous and compassionate toward yourself.
    To connect with Owl means to merge with her wisdom, sharp mind, ability to see at night and hear the slightest sound, and her power to see beneath the shimmer of illusion.
    The Opossum shows us how to play different roles, when to act, when to hide, when to show our true colors. Opossum is a master at recognizing truth as well as falsehood and has the ability to decode hidden messages and read between the lines.

                        The Vortex

    The Vortex, painted while in Sedona, Arizona, uses the colors of the red rock and various shades of vegetation as the background. As I stared into the background I saw a horse and person emerging as if seeing out of the eye of the other. Given the strong energy that seems to flow from this painting, I call it Vortex to honor the vortex energy around Sedona.
    Vortexes are energy flows that exist in dimensions deeper than electricity and magnetism. Upflow vortexes strengthen any spiritual skill where going to a higher level is important such as viewing life's problems from a higher perspective. They stretch your consciousness and tap universal consciousness or oneness.
    Inflow vortexes turn your reflections inward and enhance the skill of introspection. They help in understanding and healing something from your past. 
    The red-orange hue of Sedona's rocks is one of the most neurologically stimulating of colors and is associated with powerful energizing and recharging effects.

Alternate Worlds and the Return of the Black Panther

    While participating in a healing ceremony for the healing of a member of our group, we traveled into the spirit realm through prayer and meditation. In the vision I am on a boat with the group. Suddenly all along the bank, animals of all kinds are coming out of the forest to watch. I see a large black panther. I recognize it from a dream many years ago in which a large black panther had to be killed. Suddenly it leaps across the water and lands in the boat, sitting down beside me. Almost immediately, a large owl flies in from the left and sits on my shoulder. The energy is indescribable.
    In the dream of 10-12-87 where a black panther was killed. I tell a woman that I can't teach any more and that I have enrolled in a program at a university. We walk past cages with animals. It is like these cages are the spaces in the program. However, all the cages are full. There is a large black panther in one of the cages. In order for me to have space in the program, the professor has to kill the black panther, which he immediately does. I feel badly but it is like the professor knows what he has to do to make room for me in the training program.
    The healing and training ceremony in which the black panther returned occurred 18 years to the week of the original dream.

                        The Guardian

    I met Moutain Lion or Cougar on a healing journey for a colleague who was undergoing a change in his life. Moutain lion came to let us know that he had always been with him, watching over him and would continue as his totem or power animal
    The role of the person who has Mountain Lion as totem is that of leader. The lesson of the Mountain Lion is proper use of power. Its element is earth. Its wind is west which is the quest within. Its medicine is leadership, standing behind convictions, confidence, cleverness, awareness, messen-ger or emissary between humans and divine beings, balance, steadfastness, responsibility, and dependabiliy.
    If Mountain Lion comes to you it is time to stand on your convictions and follow your heart.


    I dream that I am meditating. As I meditate I suddenly see a ball or bubble of energy. I know this bubble of energy is my orb. As I look at the orb I see a small image of me inside the bubble. I then zero in and look more closely. As I look more closely I see that the orb is pure energy. I wake from the dream.
    I did not know what an orb was. My only association was the mention of orbs showing up in the photographs of Alberto Villodo, a medical anthropologist/ and shamanic and energy healer, with whom I had recently completed a weekend workshop on "The Energy Medicine of the Americas." 
    As I researched orbs I discover thay are bubbles of energy and that many believe orbs are eminations of spirit, soul energy, what we are when we leave our body, spirit beings. Somewhere in my reading and research or else from the dream (because I cannot now locate the source from where I wrote this down) an orb "is soul energy waiting its next manifestation." 
    I felt compelled to paint the orb that I saw in my dream. I begin by painting the blue background as in the dream. I painted the orb as I saw it first (with the miniature  me in it) and then painted the closer up orb as pure energy. As is my process I then stared into the background to see what I saw. First I saw the horse, then the human face, then the black panther. I developed these images. Then, quite surprised, I see a fetus in the orb. I paint the fetus. I then felt drawn to add the eagle, the hummingbird, and the serpent, all important animals and symbols in the shamanic medicine traditions of the Incas in South America. It is as if the horse, the black panther, the hummingbird, the serpent as well as the human are waiting the birth of the next manifestation of my soul energy. For me this painting has to do with energy, soul energy and the next manifestation of my soul energy. To learn more about the energy medicine of the Americas, visit Dr. Alberto Villodo's web site at

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