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Sacred Imagination
September 2000 Column & Gallery

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Dana's Current Column

by Dana Reynolds

Each month, Dana Reynolds shares her life-transforming thoughts, ideas, and sacred imagination based around our "theme of the month."  She also presents the story and creativity of one chosen reader, whose spiritual journey can touch all of our lives.  Dana is a visionary Spiritual Midwife, who devotes herself to helping women birth their creative gifts into the world.

"The Heart and Craft of Healing"

Healing is God’s way of offering us the opportunity to grow, to go deeper into life’s mystery, to renew our spirits and begin again. To say the healing journey is a spiritual opportunity for awakening is a challenging statement to make. Not many of us would choose the painful or unexpected life events that signal a call to healing.

Physical illness, the surfacing of childhood wounds, a broken relationship, the loss of a loved one, or a shattered dream, all of these situations and a seemingly endless list of others thrusts one into an abyss of fear, resistance, and often rage. This is a time when prayer, family, friends, and creative tools can combine to offer a ladder of support. This ladder made of love and caring stands ready to carry the person out of the dark hole, and encourages movement towards the path of healing.

Fear and rage occur when one feels that nothing is in their control. I liken the situation to an inexperienced mountain climber setting out on an expedition without the necessary preparation or equipment. Soon a blizzard begins and the climber is disoriented without a compass for guidance or a tent for shelter. The mountain becomes a monster with no way to befriend it. Without the necessary provisions and no one to offer assistance, the climber quickly becomes exhausted and succumbs to the ordeal.

The healing journey is much the same. An event that a person is unprepared for catapults him/her into a place that is unfamiliar, disorienting, and that seems to be beyond hope of recovery. Without support and guidance it’s a short journey to total desperation.

This is a time when those near and dear can offer keys to unlock the doors of creativity and the sacred imagination within the one in need of healing. Stepping into the realm of the sacred imagination is a step into the realm of healing wisdom. This is the place within each of us that holds our own unique pharmacy of creative restoration to help us move towards healing.

Prayer, therapy, a physician’s care, homeopathy, acupuncture, massage, all of these are also essential instruments to the healing process. When these are combined with the individual’s innate creative ways of internal processing, healing soon follows.

Webster’s first definition of the word heal is, "to make sound or whole." Wholeness occurs when body, mind, and spirit come together in syncopation to bring about a return to balance, this is the essence of true healing. The sacred imagination is a conduit, a harmonizing agent, for the process of syncopation. Journaling, painting, making a spirit doll or mask, all of these activities help to clear debris from the healing path and reveal new roads to follow on the journey to wholeness.

A reasonable question is "…how does one access creativity and imagination in the midst of a healing crisis?" It’s challenging enough to simply get through the day when experiencing emotional, mental, or physical suffering. This is a time when a friend or family member can create offerings to nurture the soul and open the door to creative inner healing wisdom.

In Shakti Gawain’s essay, Listening to Inner Wisdom, she says, "A healer is someone who helps and supports people in the process of learning to trust their own truths and to live more fully and freely. In order to heal themselves, people must recognize, first, that they have an inner guidance deep within and second, that they can trust it." Each of us at sometime in our life has had the opportunity to be supportive of someone else’s recovery journey. In this respect, each of us has had the privilege of being a healer.

I believe the sacred imagination is the fuel for the inner guidance that Shakti speaks of. If someone you know is on a healing journey here are a few suggestions for ways you can present love, compassion, and support to inspire and activate the sacred imagination for the one seeking comfort.

Prayer and Blessing Tags

Ordinary shipping tags can become spirit filled messages of love and healing when altered by your sacred imagination. Use these simple materials to express your deepest healing blessings and prayers for a friend or loved one.


  • Small (2 ¾" x 1 3/8") rectangular shipping tags with reinforced holes and strings (may be purchased at office supply stores)
  • Assorted healing words and images cut from magazines
  • (keeping in mind these will need to be small in size fit on a shipping tag)
  • Color copies of photos of the one who is healing and other favorite photos (these may be reduced in size to fit on the tags)
  • A variety of stickers
  • Rubber stamps and colorful stamping ink (optional)
  • Glue stick
  • Colored pencils, markers, gold ink pens, glitter, etc.
  • 12" of narrow ribbon
  • Charms, buttons, etc.


Gather your materials on a table where you have room to spread things out and move them around. Before you begin you might consider lighting a candle and closing your eyes as you call into your heart and mind an image of the one in need of healing. See him/her totally healed and whole. Hold this image for a few moments and offer a prayer to accompany your conscious intention as you begin this sacred art-making. You might also like to ask for an angel to assist you as you create your very special gift of love and blessings.

When you feel ready open your eyes slowly and maintain a soft focus as you work. Quiet meditative music will deepen the process. Remove the strings from the tags (twenty to forty will make a nice selection). As you continue to contemplate your loved one restored to wholeness, rubber stamp or color a background on both sides of each tag. Let the process be a time of prayer and meditation. Next glue words and images onto each tag. Be sure the holes are to the left of the tags so they will stack uniformly. When you have finished your assorted blessing cards select a ribbon or cord and thread the cards onto it. Tie loosely so the tags can be moved easily. Charms or decorative buttons may be tied to the ends of the cord for a touch of magic. You may want to tuck the finished blessings into a small pouch or box as a sacred container.

Prayer Tags

Using the larger size shipping tag (4 3/4" x 2 ½") follow the same process as above only complete each tag with a handwritten prayer on the reverse side of the image/word.

Prayer tags may be strung together or you may choose to run cord/ribbon through each individual tag and hang them from branch or rod that can then be hung with fishing line. If the person is confined to bed because of illness the prayer branch can be hung near them.

Friends and family can be encouraged to create additional prayer tags to add each time they visit. Send the directions for making prayer tags and a few blank tags to those who live far away. Ask them to mail them to the one who is healing to be added to the collection.

Journal Basket

Keeping a journal is often a very important part of the healing process. Kathleen Adams, founder of the Center for Journal Therapy in Lakewood, Colorado and fellow-columnist for Soulful Living has this to say about the power of writing/journaling as a healing tool. In her guidance filled book, The Write Way to Wellness, A Workbook for Healing and Change Kathleen begins by stating, "…That writing does heal is unmistakable. It is not possible to be in the presence of those who write their way through moments of ecstasy and moments of despair, critical illness and crucial life choice, spiritual awakening and free-falls into Mystery, without acknowledgment of the truth that writing heals."

Writing in a journal is powerful medicine. A journal can also be a place to draw, collage, paint, and visually process life events. Many times all that is needed to help someone confront the blank page (whether they choose initially to write or respond with art materials is a personal preference) is an assortment of colorful materials to stimulate the sacred imagination. Here’s a suggested list of items you might choose from to create a basket of journaling goodies for someone facing a life challenge. Having materials gathered in a container makes them accessible, visually inspirational, and irresistible.

Journal Basket Materials

  • A sketchbook type journal
  • Colored pencils
  • Stickers
  • Rubber stamps and stamp pads
  • Oil pastels or watercolors/brushes
  • A glue stick
  • Colorful pens and markers
  • A book of healing meditations (to inspire writing)
  • A basket, box, or other container to hold your selections
  • You might also like to include a candle with a card suggesting that journal-keeping is a sacred act. Lighting a candle and taking a few deep breaths before beginning to empty oneself onto the page will help to center and focus the body and spirit.

It’s been said, "When one is healed, all are healed." I believe that when we create healing gifts for someone and bring our heartfelt purposeful intentions, prayers, and energy to the process we too receive healing. This is one of the many Mysteries of the sacred imagination and one of the undeniable wonders.

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

by Priscilla Atherton, Carmel, California

Priscilla Atherton, "Prissy" to her friends, is in her fifties. Her work centers on the creation of harmony, beauty and peace in home and workspaces. She is a student of Feng Shui who shares her teacher Denise Linn’s philosophy, "We can heal the earth one home at a time."  You may contact Priscilla by writing to her at P.O. Box 712, Carmel, California 93921

One weekend last spring, I gathered with a small group of close friends at Dana’s house. Our intention was to playfully make art, meditate and just be together.

Each woman brought her own stash of creative goodies to work with. Dana opened her treasure trove of collage materials, paints, rubber stamps…a literal candy store of art supplies. We each made our selections and found our working place in her beautiful home. We were ready to begin.

I brought along favorite photographs of my new life in Carmel, beautiful images cut from magazines that caught my eye or touched my heart and a large black hard cover sketchbook. What to do with these items?

As I settled into a quiet space there was an awareness of how much I had to be thankful for and how many happy times and small cherished moments I had begun recently begun to experience. The past few years had been very difficult, precipitated by great loss and the darkest time I had ever experienced in life…but Spring had come. I could feel the light returning. There were new beginnings. Flowers were blooming in my heart.

That weekend I decided to create a Happiness Book, a visual work-of-art reminding me of all the good things that had and were happening to me.

My first page begins with a quote for January first from Marianne Williamson’s day to day calendar. It reads, "Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment or unlearning of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts." YES! Just what I wanted! To relinquish fear and live in love. This Spring was my new beginning…my new year.

I surrounded this beautiful quotation with small versions of old French greeting cards. Each one read Bonne Annee. I made my decision. This was going to be a good year for me.

I had color-copied photographs of happy occasions with family and friends. The weekend in San Francisco with my precious daughter, Margaret, shopping for her wedding dress, picnics on the beach with my family, art retreats with the girls. There were also images from my trip to France and my spiritual pilgrimage to Chartres. I am smiling or laughing in all the photos. This was wonderful to see because there had been so many times of deep sorrow and it seemed as if thousands of tears had been shed.

I found quotations from magazines and more from Marianne Williamson’s calendar. My friend, Elizabeth, was working across the table from me. She had brought the calendar and was generously sharing it, allowing me to cut up as much as I wanted. Another quote, "In asking God to heal you, you are committing to the choice to be healed. This means the choice to change." I had asked to be healed and indeed it was happening. My Happiness Book was visual proof.

This is a work in progress. The book stays on a table in my living room. Each time I see an image that is beautiful and calls to me…each time I find a new photo that is full of life and love, each time I receive a beautiful card, I tuck them in the empty pages. On a rainy day I cut and paste and work some more. My Happiness Book shows me that I’m growing and changing and healing. It points me in new directions and helps me focus on the abundance of beauty and love in my life.

I recently read a quote by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. "I believe the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in their religion or that religion, we are all seeking something better in life. So I think the very motion of our life is towards happiness…"

May we all move toward real happiness…that inner state of true healing.


Read Dana's Soulful Living Feature Articles:

Visual Prayers

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

Read Dana's Past "Sacred Imagination" Columns:

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

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

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

July 2000 "Sacred Spaces Invite the Muses of the Soul"


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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