I’m a Transpersonal Art Therapist, an artist, writer, researcher and curator – largely due to my experience of Spiritual Emergence/y. I use art therapy as a way of utilising whole-brain, holistic thinking for the purpose of knowing oneself. I use imagery and metaphor of all kinds – visual art, particularly photography, poetry, cross-cultural symbolism – to reveal and to tell stories.
My Emerging Proud photograph attempts to give a light-hearted touch to a story which came very close to destroying me. The symbolism I’ve included in the image highlights what has enabled me to survive [and sometimes, thrive]: nature, beauty in the world, creativity, a continually questioning and curious way of being, a sense of humour, and occasional wisdom.
The fact that I survived at all – and most importantly, survived with my health and sanity intact – has been largely due to my discovery and use of the arts. At first intuitively – in my very strange days indeed in Katmandu 30 years ago when I came to see myself as The Chosen One and the Biblical Eve, my purpose here on eath to bring about World Peace – and later, more consciously.
The intense pain and near madness of unrequited love and a search for answers to the poverty and spirituality of India lead me to a the myriad of factors which ultmately resulted in my Spiritual Emergence/y in Katmandu. Deep immersion in comparative religion, Jung and synchronicity, mysticism, the beauty of the Himalayas [plus, with the wisdom of hindsight, possibly some altitude sickness], exploration of the unconscious via tantric medititation, tantric sex, hallucinogenics, dreamwork, fasting, sensory deprivation, the esoteric and the occult, ultimately culminated in the total shattering of my personality. Both an explosion and an implosion.
Hardly surprising, I now realise, taking into account all that I attempted to cram into my little self in a very short period of time. But at the time, I truly believed that the world was going to end and that it was my responsibility to ensure that it didn’t. Hence my urgency, the formation of The World Peace Party and my delegating of other travellers in Katmandu to be World Peace Party ambassadors and to spread the message throughout the planet.
After about 4 months of frantic and frenetic activity on every level imaginable, I completely broke with reality and came to see the world as it really is – an illusion, a movie, and all the people I was involved with in Katmandu as actors, fake, not real. Which may or may not be/have been the case – depending upon one’s beliefs.
I returned to Australia and attempted to continue with my mission to bring about World Peace and to convert others to my cause – with less and less success and ever greater diminishing of my self and self-belief. Tumbling from the great heights of ecstacy and union with God/the gods, being The Chosen One and founder of the World Peace Party back to mundane reality in Australia as Karen Adler was a very great fall indeed. Luckily for me, as skinless and defenceless as I was, as broken and shattered and disillusioned and deflated as I ultimately became, I was sheltered by friends and family and never fell into the clutches of the mental health system.
Two decades of wandering, lost and shell-shocked and with no firm footing on the Earth and no firm sense of self, I finally stumbled upon Transpersonal Art Therapy which at long last gave me an explanation – Spiritual Emergence/y – for what had happened to me all those years previously. It also introduced me to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s journey which has been invaluable in my healing.
I consider myself to be one of those supremely lucky individulas who have never been misdiagnosed with psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder etc. My life has been erratic and I have been lost many times on this journey. on my better days, I have a greater respect and reverence for the depths and the heights of my being, for the invisible forces of this world, both inner and outer. On other days I am frightened and angry and everything in between. Overall, I am grateful to be alive and that is no small thing.
Karen Adler ~ Art Therapist, Dip. Transpersonal Art Therapy, Dip. Alcohol and Other Drugs/Mental Health/Community Services, Grad. Dip. Material Anthropology
“Art is the meeting ground of the world inside and the world outside.” Elinor Ulman
~ Giving Birth to God ~
I will wrap myself around the Earth,
around the whole of the Earth, around her roundness.
I will feel the concave cavities of her valleys and the sharpness of her mountains.
I will grow moist
from her seas and oceans, her rivers and lakes, her cool, clear streams.
I will feel the moisture
of her rainforests and the dryness of her deserts.
My skin will be wet from droplets of water that fly from rain-wet trees whipped by wind.
My skin will be scorched by the touch of hot sand.
I will wrap myself around the Earth
and I will look upon her with joy.
My senses will be inflamed by the colours of the Earth –
by the silver scales of fish that swim in her waters,
the vibrant beauty of flowers that grow in her soil.
My senses will delight
in brown and red and golden leaves that hang from bare branches of wintertime trees.
My senses will soar
with the flight of rainbow birds into clear summer skies.
I will wrap myself around the Earth.
I will incubate her and I will give birth to God.
I will be the womb and the Earth will be the seed inside me.
Together, we will bear and birth a new God.
I will love and nurture the Earth as I love and nurture myself.
I will feed her full of goodness as I would feed a small and trusting child.
I will feel her grow happy and strong and content inside the circle of my body.
And I will feel the seed of God growing inside the Earth, inside me.
I will wrap myself around the Earth at the dawn of time and during the dark night of the soul.
I will wait for days and nights and suns and moons.
I will look inside myself and see the ebb and flow of the Earth’s waters.
I will feel the quickening of the Earth’s heartbeat.
I will feel God growing within the Earth and my soul will grow bright.
I will wait with patience until God is ready to emerge from my mating with the Earth.
And who will be the midwife at this birth?
Who will assist with the birth of this new God
who rises upwards from the Earth rather than coming down from the sky?
I will choose old women with strong hands and old men who tend fires on cold nights.
I will choose young women who laugh with the joy of freedom and young men who walk tall and proud.
Together, we will watch the sun rise; together, we will see it set.
I will wrap myself around the Earth and I will feed and protect and love her.
I will wrap myself around the Earth and I will give birth to God.
Copyright: Karen Adler, 2000
Thank you Karen, for sharing so openly, and #Emerging Proud with us today ❤