I knew 15 jokes, and I would tell them, counting to myself, so I wouldn’t forget them. I knew the name of every book I had read. My parents had names and siblings and parents of their own, and I learned our system of family relationship, repeating the names of all my living relatives in my prayers at night, holding them in the pattern. My world was solid, finite, which for a kid growing up in the city, was a good thing. It felt known and safe – if I could name its constituent parts, there would be no surprises, no upsets, no changes. Everything was in its right place, like a filing cabinet where I could put information away until I needed it, then go right to it. “Mystery” was what my grandmother read in her Agatha Christie books. And mysteries always had solutions. All you had to do was follow the proper clues to the information you needed and voila – you had the answer! All the pieces in life fit perfectly, and I didn’t have to live with the tension of uncertainty.
Mystery began speaking to me when I was older, when my life was breaking into pieces. My certainty about how the universe works was in shreds. I was involved in a custody battle over my daughter and in danger of losing my home. Waking up in fear’s cold sweat, heart pounding, happened every night.
Except for one night. I woke up hearing a voice saying, “We have never yet let you live in your car. Why do you think that will happen now?” This voice, this perspective, was not mine. Oh no, it definitely came from somewhere else. But it wasn’t scary. In fact, I felt comforted – I had never had a thought like this before! But I knew I wasn’t crazy because of how my body felt – safe, protected. My perspective on was happening in my life radically shifted. And even stranger – what was actually happening in my life also radically shifted. One day, when I was walking to work to save transit money, I found a $20 bill on the sidewalk. No one was in sight! That weekend, I found a pack of transit tokens in an old purse I had put away. REALLY? I began to feel like I was cared for, watched over. And I got that this care and love was being purposefully communicated to me in a way I could understand. It wasn’t abstract – I could feel its presence.
I have had other experiences of Mystery speaking to me over the years. And the communications come in forms other than voices. Once, it was a wave of Love like nothing I have ever felt before or since moving through me, assuring me that, no matter what happened, everything would be all right. I realized later that this wave was letting me know that one of my beloveds, given 3 months to live, was cured. But I also knew that even if the cure did not happen, that was also perfect, because this Love was always present with us. Another time, Mystery showed itself when I opened my eyes during a ceremony and saw the lines of light that connected all the life forms in the room, like a true web of life.
These communications are precious gifts. They are glimpses into layers beyond our “form” world. It is as if the flat chessboard on which we are pieces opens up to the 3-dimensional chess played in Star Trek. We become aware of the infinite levels of existence and how intricate the interrelationships are. There are so many more pieces in play on the 3-D board. On the Mystery Tour, I have a sense of invisible realms working with us, holding us.
“…certainty is the booby prize.” – Caroline Casey
I understand Mystery as the field of all potential possibilities – in other words, Creator. And when I invite Mystery in, I begin to see the invisible connection between me and everything else that I cannot see when I am looking at the flat chessboard. I can see patterns of connection to different possibilities, outcomes I had not considered.
True surrender is the Knowing that there are possibilities I cannot see, patterns I don’t understand – and may never understand. Some things cannot be understood nor explained. And when I can live with the tension of uncertainty, I know the mystery play is unfolding in ways I cannot begin to imagine. And then I live in wonder, rather than uncertainty.
In our Color of Woman work, Shiloh speaks of “alchemical consciousness.” For me, alchemical consciousness is the practice of shifting perspective, of knowing that these other layers of consciousness exist and that we can see them and access them, if we shift how we interact with the world of form. Surrendering certainty about how events “should” unfold in the form world is key, in my experience. The need to own information, to count what I know and store it safely because it explains how the world works, gets in the way of dancing with Mystery. It’s only when I surrender information and data, when I inhabit uncertainty, when I have no idea how to move next and am willing to wait, that Mystery – Magic – infuses the form world of my life and opens access to the Unseen. I don’t even know what the question is, just that I don’t know. Connections become apparent, new possibilities show up, miracles happen. When I surrender my authority and become the Fool of the Tarot, and then invite partnership with the Great Unknown, I move into place of the Magician.
Our Red Thread Nation work with intentional creativity is one way of inviting Mystery to infuse our lives and to bring us its gifts, to open us to the Sacred Dimensions pervading our 3-dimensional world. When we create in sacred space, shifting consciousness to a place of inquiry with the intention to connect to that which is bigger than we are, our work communicates that energy and intention to those who see it. Our paintings contain and transmit the energy of this dance with Mystery and its gifts to us. The paintings are points, portals, where power and Grace have entered the world of form, where human and Creator have met. To paraphrase Caroline Casey, who reports the Mythic News, as humans, we are myth and image – seeking beings. To see and understand the depth and multiplicity in patterns is to be able to see in layers of meanings – to understand symbol and metaphor. The Greek roots of “metaphor” mean “to bear” and “to
carry across.” The images, symbols and colors present in our paintings are feeding us and everyone who sees them, at the soul level and bringing through the Unseen in ways that we cannot explain.
” Metaphor is the incarnational garb through which power enters the world.”
– Caroline Casey
I often feel afraid when I stand in front of a blank canvas. I know I am extending the invitation, I know the Dance is about to begin. I certainly don’t know what will happen, what will show up. I do know that at some point the images will become alive and will enter into the Dance with me. Then the fear becomes an ecstatic feeling, a surrender to wherever the Dance wants to go. The ecstatic dance is not always joyful. It can be painful and full of tears, but it is always a Dance of power and grace. Unlike Agatha Christie’s mysteries, there are often no definite answers, because the Dance goes on as long as I am willing to continue. I want to see what happens next, how the next act of the Mystery Play will unfold, where the Mystery Tour will take me. And no matter how scary or suspenseful, I know that I am loved and cared for and held tenderly by the Mystery.
Susan Rossi is a Practitioner of Shamanic Arts, Wake-Up Artist and Guide to the Way In at Flying to the Heart. She works with people seeking to creatively travel the sacred path into the Heart of What Matters Most. Her core belief is that each of us holds inside the seeds of creativity, healing and transformation. Each of us holds a sacred story wanting expression. Her passion is helping clients and students discover how to nurture themselves in the garden of possibilities, to align with their unique purpose and calling, and to shine their own brilliance and beauty in the world. She uses traditional and contemporary shamanic work and the process of intentional creativity with clients to bring transformation, healing stories and symbols into their lives.
This journey is not for the faint of heart. It requires the willingness to look deeply at what can seem impossible or frightening to change. It calls up the courage to paint the images of connection and write the healing stories that reshape lives, relationships, families and communities. Setting out on the journey awakens the ability to author the future we want to create. It is Susan’s privilege to be your creative collaborator and guide.
Susan is a passionate long-time explorer of mystery and metaphor and the relationship between mind, body and spirit. She has a shamanic practice working with clients, students and apprentices, and has studied with Sandra Ingerman, Betsy Bergstrom, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and indigenous healers, teachers and mystics for 20 years. She has explored painting, poetry and musecraft with Visionary Artist Shiloh Sophia McCloud and Poet Caron McCloud and is a certified teacher of the Color of Woman Method. She is a hypnotherapist, Reiki Master, reflexologist and yoga teacher.
Susan can be contacted through her website www.flyingtotheheart.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paintings above by Susan Rossi-Lineage Pollinator, Present to Mystery, Bridging the Worlds