War, Art Therapy, Mindfulness, and Healing

This week as the atrocities in Europe mount with overwhelming evidence of crimes against humanity, the tragic circumstances, including the entrenched attitudes of certain European countries who continue to block necessary oil and gas sanctions, simply makes people around the world feel powerless. For people around the world, and here in Australia, we call the after-shock of exposure to the images and gravity of suffering, starvation, torture, rape, and death a form of vicarious trauma. The impact of this form of trauma is very real, with often long term implications.

As an artist and therapist, we felt to return to painting to express at least some sense of the darkness and the light emerging in the Ukraine nation and around the world. To counter powerlessness, we felt to express a story of trauma and healing. At the root is the human capacity to grow in spiritual wisdom, temperance, and compassion.

The painting below is titled,

Two Wolves, Dark and Light. Be Mindful What you Feed.

There is a lot of the war in this painting, as Russia has been feeding the dark wolf for a very long time. That spirit of colonisation and oppression has been around the planet, destroying lives, for very many centuries. Our own people’s histories include these trauma trails. I felt to try to express the moment in some way to honour the dead arising as angels today, this week, everyday, this past month, over the millennia, who will stand in judgement upon world leaders complicit with the dark wolf’s fall into evil. To express something for war torn countries, instead of being powerless and without voice… To give voice to the story of healing.

Two Wolves, Dark and Light. Be Mindful What You Feed.

The Story of the Wolves

An old Indian story comes to us over the years, from our Elders and Medicine Keepers. There was a young man who grew up and began to feel angry all the time. He engaged in drinking, that led to depression. He went into drug culture, that led into dependence on substances to feel alive. He had a string of relationships, that led into not taking value in people’s innate goodness. He used and abused. Until one day, in the criminal culture that he grew up within, he met a native Elder.

The Elder stood in front of him that day, and looked into his soul. The young man shuddered. And his eyes fell to his feet. He knew the Elder saw who he was, for sure. The Elder reached out his wrinkled hand and touched the young man’s shoulder. He pointed with his other hand to a couple of large stones nearby. He walked to the stones and sat down slowly.

The young man had to make a decision. Was he to follow? Or would he walk away? He knew the old man would have something to tell him. Was he ready for that? Could he even listen? This is the way for all people when we find ourselves down a path that is not good. Our mind, body, and behaviour are primed for destruction. We take on the “criminal mind” which for some people becomes a very firm way of life. For some men and women, they feel it is too late. They cause so much suffering, they end up killing people in so many ways. They can end up causing war, strife, rape, and murder.

The young man thought for a long moment. The Elder did not look back at him. The old man knew this fellah had to make up his own mind.

In spite of himself, he found that his feet, which he was still looking at, by the way, were getting very itchy to move. Then his ankles, and then his knees, they wanted to bend. Even his lower spine was playing up, wanting his body to lean forward into a walking pace… Then he felt a fire in his belly. He felt like his inside was burning up. It was a different feeling. He never felt this before. He was very confused.

Then the old man looked up into his eyes. And the young man found himself tearing up inside. But he still stood there. The Elder just looked, and the moment seemed to go on forever.

Then the young man found himself sitting on the stone by the old man. The Elder placed his wrinkled hand on the young man’s shoulder once again, and he opened his mouth and said,

There are two wolves inside every person. A Dark Wolf. A Light Wolf. You have learned what it is like to feed the Dark Wolf. But you are not so dark that you do not know what is love. You had the Light Wolf in your life, or you could not be sitting here today. We are all surrounded by hundreds and thousands of angels whose job it is to help us become adults in this world. Souls you have not, and never will meet, in this skin-time. There are two wolves inside you. A Dark Wolf. A Light Wolf. Be mindful. The Wolf you decide to feed in each moment will determine your behaviour. How you behave will determine who you become. Who you become makes a great deal of difference to everyone around you, to your family, your tribe, your nation, and the world. Mother Earth is always watching us Two Legged. She has the last say. At the end of the day, justice will be served. Be mindful what wolf you feed. My son, be mindful.

Painting Description

The painting shows two wolves. The Dark Wolf appears in the black night sky where the stars are shining brightly. The stars are the pathway of the ancestors, the stories of our people, and the profound light of humanity that shines even in the darkest night. The Light Wolf is surrounded by the Wigwams of the People, wherein burns the fires of family, kinship, respect, and compassion. The Light Wolf has given birth to a wolf cub, shown on the lower left. Under the Light Wolf is the Waters of Life, the Feminine Power of Love and Nurture and Ancient Justice. In the blue of the waters is the Whale, symbol of enduring ancient wisdom that gives birth to the planet and her peoples. At the lower right corner is another Wigwam of the People, burning very brightly. The Wigwam of Elders, whose wisdom guides us when we have ears to listen.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Shelby Waltz, Pexels.

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