Art By Shalley

Using Art to Heal

Dragonfly Medicine Woman


The Inspiration:

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.


The Associations and Amplifications:

                As part of my painting process I meditate on the painting, on the images that want to emerge. I also do shamanic journeys to visit with the objects, whether they be animals, people, trees, flowers, stones, etc.  I also read about objects, in this case dragonflies, study their history, their mythology and their medicine. All that goes into the painting.

Dragonfly is the power of light. The dragonfly inhabits two realms—air and water—and the influence of both these elements will affect dragonfly people. They will be emotional and passionate during their early years (the influence of water) and more balanced with greater mental clarity and control as they mature (the influence of air). Dragonfly is the essence of the winds of change, the messages of wisdom and enlightenment; and the communication from the elemental world. Dragonfly medicine beckons you to seek out the parts of your habits which need changing. Call on Dragonfly to guide you through the mists of illusion to the pathway of transformation. The number 2 is important to Dragonfly, so think in terms of two year periods when you begin a change. Dragonfly brings the light and color of transformation into your life.

                The power of Dragonfly lies in its ability to see around things by looking from different angles. Using its ability to transform colors and lights by reflecting and refracting them, Dragonfly shows us that life, like light, can bend, shift, and adapt in various ways, making life’s appearance never be what it appears to be. Dragonfly’s magic shows us to see through life’s illusions and find our true vision. It calls us to transform within our lives and reminds us to feel deeply so we will have the compassion necessary to help ourselves and others.

                Dragonfly’s message is to take time to develop properly. Spend time in or around the water.  Use a variety of colors when you dress and do not forget to try something new occasionally. Reach beyond your boundaries and you will not be disappointed. Develop clairvoyance. If you feel the need for change, call on Dragonfly to guide you through the mists of illusion to the pathway of transformation. Dragonfly medicine is of the dreamtime and the illusionary façade we accept as physical reality. Dragonfly’s shifting of color, energy, form, and movement explodes into the mind of the observer, bringing vague memories of a time or place where magic reigned.


Dragonfly eggs are laid within their territory near the water. Once hatched, these nymphs will live nearly two y ears on the bottom of streams and ponds. As they reach adulthood an amazing thing occurs, they transform into dragonflies and ascend to the air. In the air, they travel with wings that sparkle with spectacular colors by reflecting and refracting light and other colors. No insect or bird can maneuver as well as a dragonfly. Flying up to 30mph, they will twist, turn, move up and down, fly backwards, even change directions instantaneously and still will spot movement 40 feet away.

                Dragonfly is a large predatory insect that flies swiftly catching smaller insects in mid-air by means of its basket-like arrangement of legs. Dragonfly is commonly called a Mosquito Hawk because both the dragonfly and hawk are both carnivorous. Dragonfly eats large quantities of mosquitoes. The name Darning Needle comes from the shape of the body which is very pointed. Most dragonflies are skinny, have large wings and are brilliantly colored. The colors are jewel-like and the brightest colors take time to develop. These ancient insects are over 180 million years old. Dragonflies have two life stages. The first life stage is the aquatic life stage or larval form, and most of a dragonfly’s lifespan is spent in this form. Dragonfly has huge eyes. Each eye contains over 30,000 facets. There are approximately 650 species in North America.


As I painted I became aware that I was painting the healed self. Gifts of the pearl, the shell and the amazonite stone appear.

The pearl is the quintessential symbol both of light and of femininity—its pale iridescence associated with the luminous moon, its watery origins with fertility, and its secret life in the shell with miraculous birth or rebirth.

Hidden light also made the pearl a symbol of spiritual wisdom or esoteric knowledge. As a form of celestial light, the pearl is the third eye (spiritual illumination) of Shiva and of the Buddha. Pearls are thought to be medicinal as well as sacred.

The shell, one of the eight emblems of good luck in Chinese Buddhism is also a sign for a prosperous journey. This favorable implication is the result of the shell’s association with water and fertility. Shells are also related to the moon and to woman. Pearl symbolism is closely linked to the shell. The mythic birth of Aphrodite from a shell is of obvious relevance. The shell is the mystic symbol of the prosperity of one generation rising out of the death of the preceding generation.

The Amazonite stone pacifies, soothes, harmonizes and balances energies, especially the male/female energies. It also helps one attune to the spiritual dimension.

The pearl, the shell and the amazonite stone all have attributes associated with the dragonfly as well. These are the gifts that dragonfly bring to you as you journey on. The message Dragonfly gave me for you is “fly on my friend for my medicine is with you. You shall see what others do not see.”


Dragonfly . . .

Breaks illusions,

Brings visions of power,

No need to prove it,

Now is the hour!


Know it, believe it!

Great Spirit intercedes,

Feeding you, blessing you,

Filling all you needs.



Sources: Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams # David Carson and Faerie Kat’s Faerie Korner Website.


Follow Up:

After completing the painting Dragonfly Medicine Woman, the owner shares with me the following:


You know I didn't think of this when we were discussing the vision earlier, but last summer while on a walk with the dogs, I came across a huge dragonfly that was injured in the road. So as not to have such a beautiful creature crushed by a car, I picked him/her up and brought it home where it could pass peacefully. I still have that dragonfly in a beautiful wooden box. I didn't realize until now that her medicine has been with me since, for my healing. That this came into your vision simply blows me away. As an Earthkeeper, it reminds me of the expansivness of the awareness of all nature and her messages.



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