Faith Nolton is an artist- shaman who uses journeys into altered reality as inspiration for paintings and poems. We made contact a few years ago when I was looking for Shamanic artists online and found her website http://www.soulgardens.co.uk/. Faith describes Shamanism as an ancient natural relationship with life, in which all things are related, and connected – a web of energy that is affected by our actions, thoughts, emotions and intentions. It is not a ‘religion’, but enables one to live in a larger waveband of sacred experience and understanding, with the guidance and loving support of personal spirit helpers. There is more information about her creative process on the site and how she encourages others to heal and expand their inner creative ‘garden’
I recommend a visit to her website where you can also find a selection of poems. Here’s one of my favourites;
The beach was wide and flat today
Stretched out beneath the winter sun
As I walked across reflected scudding clouds
Towards the chattering waves and gulls
And suddenly I was not alone.
‘Thank you’ I said aloud
‘For the long years you have shadowed me’
At some times almost tangible,
And then again a merest wisp of presence
In a twilight birdsong, or the first star.
And as I speak
Into the light stretched overhead,
I am twelve years old, and we
Are pedaling uphill along a country lane.
I lead, but as my muscles strain
I feel the gentle reassuring pressure
Of your hand in the small of my back.
And now the wheels turn easily;
Father and child, uphill we go,
Never a word needed,
To the crest of the hill.
As now, walking towards the sea,
Walking on an uphill stretch of life,
I feel that hand in the pressure of the breeze
At my back, and we are side by side again
Shamanism is not a belief system. It is based on personal experiments in altered reality, what we ‘see’ or ‘know’ is based on personal experience during Shamanic journeys to other worlds. It is not a doctrine; there are no rights or wrongs, and the only way to know whether or not your mind is playing tricks on you is to find out if what you saw works in ordinary reality. It is both lonely and frustrating for a beginner, let me tell you! The buck rests with you and there are no gold stars for good behaviour.
The practise of Shamanism is a method, not a religion. It co exists with established religions such as Buddhism or Lamaism. One of my favourite artists, Meinrad Craighead, used to be a Benedictine nun at Stanbrook Abbey in England, but her paintings portray her journeys to the spirit realms and her meetings with the Great Mother and the divine feminine. She is a fabulous Shamanic painter.
This is an image of ‘Crow Mother and the Dog God’ , the cover of one of her books.
I’m learning how to translate images from my journeys more directly into my clay. It worries me because I want to get it right – but in many ways I’m only doing what everyone else is doing for where else does inspiration come from, if not from the Spirits?
During my work with clay and fire I have learnt a lot. I started very early on to experience the earth as a living entity, and my torsos are very much a way of describing this. I sculpt the Goddess as I see her; as the land, the sea, forest and lakes. I combine the four elements; earth, fire, water and air in a deliberate ceremony to celebrate what I see as sacred. I use the plaster moulds as blank canvas’ to paint the Goddess in the most beautiful way that I can and my understanding of the Spirits increase as I work. They are very much involved.
We tend to only see what our culture, our education and our prejudices have trained us to see. I heard a true story when I was a child about how in 1520 when Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Terra del Fuego in South America, the Del Fuego Indians, who lived around the area, could not see his ships entering the bay – the boats were too big! Nothing in their past experience had prepared them for the idea that vessels could be as big as floating houses – they were used to canoes, and tiny canoes were the only reality for them.
I remember this story because it brought home to me how blinkered I am in ordinary reality, how I only see what I expect to see.
People born blind who later in life have successful operations to the eyes, enabling them to see, first experience nothing but spinning masses of lights and colours. They‘re unable to pick out specific objects in the chaos and so have to undergo long training to teach their brains how to digest this type of information. Seeing is learned rather than automatic. We censor what see with our minds, not our eyes, which is why I believe that changes to the way we think will change what we see.
In my meditations and shamanic journeys I often see things that go beyond what I am used to in ordinary reality. I bring this back with me to offer up – but with a human twist.