This image came from a vivid dream of a rattlesnake. It was folded, not coiled, into four quarters and tied with four cords. I was in the middle of working out my arcana paintings, and was having a difficult time seeing how the images that were coming worked together. I felt like I couldn't move. The images for my painting series were a jumble of influences– ancient Egypt, the southwest of the US, the Tarot and my dreams.
In the dream, the snake was locked in a shed. He was captured– like I felt in my mind. The free flow of creative imagery, the tremendous energy of the snake, was roped in by ideas. I am afraid–the rattlesnake is dangerous and needs to be imprisoned. Then, a child, unafraid, opens the shed and sets the snake free. As dreams don't follow daylight thinking, the child and the snake are compatible, and play in an open field. The feeling in a dream communicates so much.
The power of the image and the message that I don't need to figure this out set me free. This is nothing new, but a pattern that I live over and over. Acceptance of this is part of the creative pattern. The child knows what to do, and does not need a reason. The number four is structure, foundation for a house: four cords, four folds. The dream knows more than the dreamer. I can relax, the structure is recognized in the dream, even if I cannot see it. Just let the images take you where they will, I said to myself. Show up for the paintings and don't try to make sense of them yet. I begin by noting my dream in my sketchbook, and bringing it into my studio:
So this painting became the symbol for The Devil in the tarot: how we set up false limitations and ideas, how we get bound up in our mind, which can prevent us from seeing. And how we become "unbound".
This is the transforming experience of art: breaking free and forgetting about ourselves altogether– at least for awhile. For the moment I am liberated from judgement about whether the work is "good" or "bad". The knowledge that whatever it is, it came from me, is enough.
How do your dreams influence your work? I'd love to hear from you.