On the Rio Grande

The Rio Grande - upriver from Pilar - where the wild version rushes and winds its way down to the meandering river near my home in Albuquerque.

Even up there the it wasn't very wild as the drought has given us a very low river. But still beautiful!

rio grande river

rio grande river, river cliffs,

Crane Spirit Guide

Crane – Guide to Royalty, Longevity and Balance

published September 23, 2019

Cranes, seen gliding over the water, searching for food in muddy wetlands and flying overhead in beautiful formations, are graceful, elegant birds – masters of three worlds – air, land and water.

Crane is truly prehistoric with Miocene fossil evidence dated back 10 million years ago. Cranes, with their long necks and legs, are the world’s tallest flying birds. Fifteen species of crane found everywhere except for Antartica and South America live mainly in wetlands, marshes and swamps. Some make a permanent home whereas most migrate almost 10,000 miles from far north to more temperate areas for the winter.

Crane Spirit Guide

Royalty, Grace, Patience, Balance

chinese robe Crane rank badge

Chinese robe rank badge

The Chinese revered Crane as lord of feathered beings, believing that the souls of wise ancestors rode in crane-drawn chariots. Crane images on robes of top-ranking officials reflected importance. The Anishinaabe tribe of North America believed Crane to be a great orator – symbolic of leadership.

Unlike many birds who flit from perch to perch, Crane lives peacefully, walking gracefully or standing balanced on one leg. Crane can maintain this stance for hours, patiently peering into the water waiting for prey – then pouncing. Crane’s beautiful dancing also speaks to its balance and grace.

Longevity, Vigilance

The average lifespan of cranes is 15 – 30 years. However, a Siberian crane lived for 83 years in captivity.

In Ireland it was believed that a solitary crane had lived on Inis Kea since the beginning of time. The Japanese believed that Crane lives for 1000 years. They gift 1000 paper origami cranes to newlyweds, wishing them 1000 years of prosperity.

2 vigilant cranesTo the Chinese Crane is the embodiment of longevity. Its wings were used as a talisman for endurance and perseverance.

Cranes, fierce defenders and skillful predators, are very territorial and will fiercely protect their homes. Yet they do not rush into conflict preferring privacy and security over aggression.

Lugh of Celtic myth, used a crane-prayer (corrghuineacht) to inspire his troops and curse his enemies. To do this he imitated a crane’s pose – standing on one leg with one eye closed. The Celtic War Goddess, Badb also took this stance. 

Call on Crane for protection from your adversaries and for the gift of endurance.

Fidelity, Communication, Wisdom, Secret Knowledge

Cranes are monogamous, choosing their mate between three – five years old. Before mating, juvenile cranes travel together in “bachelor flocks.” In India they believe that if one of a crane couple dies, the other will starve itself to death.

Crane loves to dance and dancing is important to its pair bonding. Its exuberant dance is a response against aggression, relieves tension and strengthens the couple. Cranes of both sexes and all ages dance.

Crane builds its nest on shallow wetlands. Both sexes gather the materials but the female builds it alone. Both share equally in the incubation process. Known to paint themselves with mud for nesting, thus becoming less visible – they are ever secretive when nesting.

With a reputation for being noisy, cranes employ a full vocabulary of calls. Their richly evolved communication system is used to keep the family together, to strengthen the pair-bond and to signal danger.

The Greek Hermes and Roman Mercury were inspired to create their alphabets by watching cranes in flight.

Wisdom comes with age and with wisdom comes esoteric knowledge. Crane, symbol of secret knowledge, was attributed supernatural qualities by the Celts. It was believed that through watching the bending of Crane’s legs, Celtic Ogma created ogham – the sacred alphabet of druidic tradition. Druidic teachings are often called “crane knowledge.” St Columba, a famous 6th century Irish monk whose early training was in Druidry was called a crane cleric.

Crane calls you to stay loyal to and to protect your family, to maintain good communication with loved ones, to keep your affairs to yourself and to call on the wisdom of experience to guide you in both worldly and otherworldly matters.

Happiness, Good Fortune, the Sun
Crane, who soars high in a sun-filled sky, stands peacefully in wetlands, and dances with abandon, must have seemed like the essence of happiness to ancient people.

The Chinese have many paintings depicting cranes gliding through the sky, symbolizing happiness and good fortune. Some Native American tribes also associate Crane with good fortune.

The Red-crowned Crane of Japan is depicted with the sun – symbol of life and abundance.

Renewal/Rebirth, the Otherworld
Cranes of Europe and Asia fly higher than any other bird – up to 32,800 ft. This ability connects Crane to the divine – the eternal realm of spirit.

Crane was sacred to early Celts. Albeit most associated with women and goddesses, Annwn, King of the Celtic Underworld, could shape-shift into Crane – three cranes guarded the entrance to his Underworld.

Though the Celts often associated Crane with treachery, war and evil women, Celtic mythology places Crane as guardian of Otherworld secrets.

Goddess Aoife, in mortal guise, was transformed by a jealous rival’s curse into a crane. There upon she flew to the underwater realm of Manannan mac Lir in which form she lived for 200 years. When she died, returning to the eternal, Manannan created the crane bag with her crane skin, hiding his magical talismans there.

Where there is death there is rebirth. The items in the crane bag were most likely mystical tools of transformation – tools hidden within the crane bag – the body of the Goddess.

With one foot in the temporal and one in the eternal the “corrghuineacht,” (cursing stance) was possibly also used for blessing.

Several cultures practiced the Crane Dance as rituals of rebirth and renewal.

In Japan the 1000 year old Crane Dance is held every April to honor the belief that cranes who lived on the Isles of the Bless transported souls to the Western Paradise. Many still believe cranes carry their spirits to heaven.

The Greeks recorded their first performance of the Crane Dance (Geranos) as being by Theseus and his companions after their escape from King Minos. He received it from Ariadne whose thread led him out of the labyrinth, freeing him from the Minotaur. The Minoans must have performed the Crane Dance for centuries before. Crane and the Labyrinth were associated with rebirth.

Crane, who flies far and high during both day and night, is associated with both the Sun – the bright abundance of day – and the Otherworld- the twinkling of spirit. Crane knows the way to the Otherworld – threading the path between the mundane and the divine. Crane sounds the call when a change is in the air, a new beginning is around the corner – offering assistance during life transitions.

When Crane enters your life you are being called to recognize your own worth, to learn patience, to focus and move forward with knowledge and wisdom, to keep your secrets, to remain a loyal protector with good communication and to seek balance.

Crane offers protection from adversaries and the gifts of endurance, happiness and good luck. Crane draws your focus upward and inspires you to trust spirit to provide.

Sources: MystieuriousExemploreJapanese Mythology and Folklore,  Independent.ieLewellyn- 2010 CalendarMaryland ZooLe Origini della DanzaALISSAACSTORYTELLER,  A Druid’s Cave,

The Power of Intention

The Power of Intention
published on August 2, 2011

I believe this is what has happened for me – I’ve reached a plateau where the sustained consciousness and information is now energy which is becoming matter.

For my whole life I’ve know that one of my main purposes in life is to create art which expresses the beauty and oneness of everything.

Every time I’d start to move in the direction which allowed me to actually make my living as an artist, I’d break away into fear.  My intentions to create art remained the same but my choices of how to spend my time (energy) shifted because of the fear.

Of couse the energy would then shift too and I’d find my material world full of a different energy than that of an artist.  I’d see materialized the energy of a waitress or a teacher or a video producer over and over again.

Any one of these things are fine in and of themselves.  They just aren’t fine for me, as my soul seems to shrivel and lose its shine in direct correlation to the loss of time for painting.  I know it’s archaic, but what’s a painter to do.

It’s now been five months since I decided to no longer consider myself as unemployed but to claim my power as a self-employed artist.  Some days I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pay the next bill but then I take a deep breathe and return to my intentions, belief and choices which then brings in the energy which then materializes. And then I pay my bills, staying on my new plateau, manifesting in the world as an artist.  I maintain a state of gratitude to my Angels for their help.

It’s All Connected

It’s All Connected – I Mean Really – It’s All Connected

I heard an interview with the scientist and environmentalist, David Suzuki, on the radio a few days ago.  He gave an amazing description of how we’re all connected.  In the Pacific Northwest it all comes down to the salmon and nitrogen.

The salmon, who run up the rivers to spawn, bring lots of nitrogen with them.  It’s stored in their bodies from the food they eat in the oceans.  Bears and eagles and other critters eat the salmon and then leave their poop, filled with nitrogen, on the forest floor, which feeds the trees and helps them grow.  Of course the salmon need the trees also, to keep the rivers cool and to provide their food.

A quick miniature canvas of a little birdie.

Even more amazing is that the part of the salmon the bears leave behind gets consumed by flies who then lay their eggs.  These eggs, loaded with nitrogen hatch in the spring just as birds from South American are flying north to have their little birdies.  So now the nitrogen is in the birds who will eventually head back down South and leave some of it there. Plus many of the salmon die in the river, leaving behind a rich layer of nitrogen on the river bed.

So the oceans are linked to the rivers and lakes, which are linked to the forest which is linked to South America.  It’s all connected.  It’s all one whole

Hearing this explanation reminded me that I had a dream vision a few months ago which I had jotted down in my journal.  My vision was one of trees and humans and other mammals all connected in one great matrix.  Now I’ve got rivers and fish and birds to add to this vision.  I feel a new painting about to begin.

Click here to view a video of Suzuki on this topic.

Winter of Our Souls

first published November 21, 2017

We are in the winter of our souls.
A cold wind blows across the land.
A bleak sky pours down.
The land is strewn with the dead,
mowed down by hatred, bigotry, and ignorance.

The gates of the Underworld are open wide.
And we must walk through to get to the other side.

Wild-things-painting-by-judith-shaw

Wild Things, goauche on paper by Judith Shaw

It might be long.
It might be hard.
It might be cold.
But winter will surely give way to spring one day.

Life Awakens, painting by Judith Shaw

Life Awakens, oil on canvas by Judith Shaw