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Sacred Imagination
July 2000 Column & Gallery

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Dana's Current Column

by Dana Reynolds

This month marks the debut of a monthly column by Dana Reynolds, a visionary Spiritual Midwife, who devotes herself to helping women birth their creative gifts into the world.  We're very pleased to have her joining our Soulful Living Community!

"Sacred Spaces Invite the Muses of the Soul"

For the past ten years I have been repeatedly awestruck by the creations birthed from the sacred imaginations of the women who have attended my workshops and retreats. Sacred imagination is that place where the intention in your heart and soul meets a Divine spark of inspiration. This marriage of Divine inspiration and holy intention results in the conception and birthing of sacred expression in a myriad of forms from gardening to quilting, making altars, collages, and creating sacred spaces.

Initially in our women’s circles, however, there is always some degree of fear and trepidation expressed when we begin to talk about creating sacred art.

"I’m not an artist."  "I’m not creative…"

These are the deep-rooted feelings of many women stemming from inappropriate signals delivered by teachers, parents/individuals, and cultural programming at various times throughout our lives. Giving ourselves permission to explore our sacred imaginations is the first step to birthing creative expressions beyond our imaginings.

The second step is to create a sacred space in preparation for what will be birthed. Contemplate the way a baby’s room is made ready before the baby arrives. For the mother-to-be this place that was just a room before being transformed into the nursery, has become a sacred place of anticipation and dreaming of the new life that will arrive soon. As women anticipating and dreaming of birthing our creative gifts, we too need sacred spaces, dream chambers, altars, as safe containers for our creative laboring.

Several weeks ago, I knew it was time to create sacred space in my courtyard garden. I have always dreamed of having an outdoor meditative space where I can sit and journal and dialogue with my muses. To be in the garden with the flowers and birds and God’s creation is to me a holy event. My sacred imagination is fueled by nature. When June arrives to the central coast of California one is naturally drawn out of doors.

My friend, Susan, was visiting from Houston. Her sacred imagination is alive and thriving and she inspired me to begin the creation of a stone labyrinth in a corner of the courtyard. Space did not allow for a labyrinth large enough to walk upon, so we made the outer circle for a labyrinth that will serve as a focus for meditation.

Susan gifted me with beautiful slate blue river stones from a local quarry and together we formed the outer circle. When Susan returned to Houston, I completed the labyrinth pattern based on the labyrinth sacred geometry of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France. The process was mystical and blessed with birdsong and the fragrance of lavender and rosemary from the garden. I say it was mystical because the design is very complex and at times I felt guided by unseen hands as I placed stone beside stone to create the intricate pathways.

The labyrinth is next to a shrine honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Divine Feminine. These two sacred symbols side by side remind me of my pilgrimage to Chartres two summers ago. A time filled with spirit and ecstasy. This little corner of my courtyard is now Mary’s Garden.

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I go there periodically throughout the day. Sometimes in the early morning to meditate and write in my journal. Often I go there to eat my lunch or to take a break from my writing. It’s a wonderful place to co-create with the Divine as I make sketches of future projects or simply daydream while contemplating the labyrinth.

Bonnie, a kindred spirit and member of my women’s circle had her sacred imagination stirred by the sight of the meditation labyrinth. "Sticks," she said excitedly. "We could paint and decorate long walking sticks to move along the labyrinth path." She has inspired a future project for our circle, a way we can actually walk the labyrinth even though it is to small for us to physically explore it as a footpath. Sacred spaces are holy places that invigorate creativity.

Today, begin to think of where in your living space you might create a place for birthing your dreams, visions, and visual prayers. Before we can begin to manifest our creativity into tangible form, we must have a place to explore our ideas and space for breathing life into them.

If creating a sacred space feels like a big step, perhaps you would like to create a meditation garden bowl as a place for birthing ideas through your sacred imagination.

Purchase a large terra cotta saucer from your local nursery and a bag of "play" sand. Gather your favorite stones, shells, and twigs. Place a large stone in the bottom of the saucer to cover the hole and fill the bowl with sand. Arrange the shells, rocks, and twigs. You may also want to insert a small shallow container to fill with water. Other optional additions could include a votive candle, fresh flowers, crystals, and other touchstones.

Imagine your bowl garden as a place you can walk through. Each time you go there rearrange the stones as shells and other elements as a meditation. Invite your creative self to meander the tiny pathways and to dive into the pool of imagining. You might also enjoy creating a miniature labyrinth from small pebbles. This very special sacred space may prove to become one of your favorite summertime places.

Reading about other women’s sacred spaces and studying images of art and creations born from a soulful place and sealed with intention, are ways to initiate and stimulate our own individual process.

Consider this column to be a well of inspiration for your sacred imagination. In the months ahead Sacred Imagination will offer suggestions for projects and creations to ignite your imaginative fire. Each month this column will also feature a story by a woman who through her sacred imagination is enriching her life and the lives of others. The Sacred Imagination Gallery will display images of the featured artist’s creations.

My prayer is that the world will someday be filled with beauty and creativity at every turn. May we reclaim the ancient people’s ways of crafting and sacred ritual. May we also invent new forms of expression never before imagined. The sacred imagination is a field of unlimited potential. Explore your creativity and welcome your muses. You will be blessed with gifts for your soul.

You are invited to submit your story and accompanying photos to be considered as a feature for the Sacred Imagination column. E-mail me at dana@sacredimagination.com for details.

Copyright© 2000 Dana Reynolds. 


Sacred Imagination’s Story of the Month

This month our story comes from Connie Wiggins of Lake Forest, Illinois. Connie is a seeker of truth, journeyer, pilgrim, and creator of sacred art and fabric. You can e-mail Connie at constance.wiggins@worldnet.att.net to learn more about her unique fabric/art-making methods.

What is my soul whispering ever so softly as I hurriedly run through life? How can I create a sacred sanctuary that will nurture, encourage and protect my soul’s metamorphosis and birthing of its gifts into the world? Living into these questions has been the essence of the past three years of my spiritual journey.

From that ever-hungering place of holy longing, I was led to the experience of labyrinth walking. A spiritual tool for connecting mind, body and soul through meditative walking, and a sacred container for the Divine. The labyrinth swept me into mystery and metaphor that seemed to whisper a symphony to my soul. This sacred spiritual tool beckoned me on a pilgrimage to France, in search of the Divine Feminine and Divine Mother. The slow metamorphosis of my soul began a spiraling journey inward. A wild, rhythmic world full of surprise, mystery, imagination and creativity opened ever so gently and allowed a ray of light to shine within. My soul longed and hungered to connect to the deepest feminine essence of myself and open to the healing touch and nurturing of Mary, Divine Mother. Images of Mary were collected and stored in a sacred container and surrounded by a shroud of mystery… WHY.

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When I returned from France I was inspired to create sacred space in my home. My home was becoming a physical container for soul and body to feel nurtured and held through the continuing inward journey. Altars were created to reflect my sacred intentions and journey with Mary. Her presence entered the sacred space of my home and became deeply implanted in my heart and soul.

My eternal echoing of soul’s longing was searching for the company of women to share this journey. The seeking led to Wellstreams, a local spirituality center for women. This sacred space became a container to birth all the many images of Mary and soon became a creative expression of her on cloth.

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On May 8, 2000 I was invited to create an altar to honor Mary, woman who has deeply impacted women throughout her story. Mary along with several other chosen women were celebrated because of the profound legacy they left to all women. The altar I created drew me into a labyrinth of creativity and immersed my senses into a living breathing experience of Mary’s presence.

Fabric, trimmings, images were a feast for the creative juices swirling in me. Ironing her many faces, through a transfer process, onto fabric drew me within and into the mystery of her role as a vessel for the Divine.

Words are quite inadequate to capture the essence of this creative experience, but I can say I was drawn deeply into the presence of Spirit and the divine within myself. A feeling of intimacy with Spirit and Mary were indelibly imprinted on my soul through the creation of the altar. A longing to know my soul more deeply and connect with the Divine Mother/Father evolved through sinking into the sacred imagination where the Divine becomes real.

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I continue to embrace and live the mystery as it unfolds daily in my life. Mary’s courageous, "Yes" to God’s invitation to embrace mystery and birth the Divine, has become a model for my "yes" to God’s invitation to my birthing the Divine within me… into the world. I also say "yes" to the sacred longings and mysteries of my soul.


Read Dana's Soulful Living Feature Articles:

Visual Prayers

Intuition and the Sacred Imagination: The Dance of Co-creation

Read Dana's "Sacred Imagination" Columns:

November 2000 "Cultivating Gratitude: Heart-Hugs and Prayer Leaves"

October 2000 "Journey to the Center - The Sacred Mystery of the Labyrinth"

September 2000 "The Heart and Craft of Healing"

August 2000 "Transforming Life’s Challenges into Beauty and Story"

For ten years, Dana Reynolds has been facilitating women’s spiritual presentations and retreats nationwide. Her work as a Spiritual Midwife, one who assists women as they birth their creative gifts into the world, is the foundation of all her endeavors. Her background as a visual artist and writer enriches her Spiritual Midwifery: Birthing the Feminine Soul workshops.

As the creator of an art making process known as visual prayer, Dana teaches women how to combine ritual with sacred intention to create altars, collages, spirit dolls, and other touchstones. The creation of sacred spaces is also paramount to the Spiritual Midwifery experience. Her web-site http://www.sacredimagination.com offers samplings of her visual prayer collages, poetry, and a workshop catalogue.

Dana is the author of the whimsical and colorfully illustrated book, Be An Angel, a co-creation with illustrator and graphic designer, Karen Blessen, (Simon & Schuster). Her essay, Visual Prayers is included in the anthology, Our Turn, Our Time: Women Coming of Age, edited by Cynthia Black, (Beyond Words Publishing).

A trained labyrinth facilitator, Dana incorporates the labyrinth and other spiritual wisdom into her retreats and workshops. She recently traveled to Chartres and Vezelay Cathedrals in France to gather information pertaining to ancient sacred mystical traditions. She currently lectures on such topics as spiritual midwifery, sacred journal keeping, feminine spiritual wisdom, and the early Christian women saints and mystics.

Dana’s life follows the spiral path from rim to center and back again. She looks for the sacred in forgotten places and openly embraces the great Mystery of life. Guiding women to the discovery of their creative inner gifts is the passion that fuels her soul.


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