What is Sacred Art?
Sacred art has always fascinated me. In my home as a child I was surrounded by sacred images from Africa, Asia, Oceana, North and South America. This beautiful and mysterious art, depicting mystical journeys, unconscious dream states and indigenous cosmology became gateways for my imagination, transporting me to other times and other places. It was only later, when I trained in depth psychology and mysticism that I understood the deeper function of sacred art – to induce altered states of consciousness to access our divine nature and connect with divine source.
Sacred Art is supposed to act like a gateway or passageway to other dimensions, so the artist needs to be in a sacred or spiritual frame of mind when creating. When the piece of art is infused with the artist’s spiritual intention, then the icon, the stone statue or the sacred robe can come alive and facilitate an experience of Spirit.
Traveling the world and witnessing sacred initiations and rites of passage from various cultures, inspired me to find a new medium to teach the Western path of initiation. I wanted to find a creative approach to help my students and clients experience the initiation process in a more embodied way. This led me to create a series of ceremonial robes that would tell a visual story of the archetypal initiation journey, robes that could be worn in ritual as well as contemplated as sacred art.
Sacred Robes as a Living Temple
For centuries, people have been creating sacred art in every medium imaginable – stone, wood, metal, paint, cloth – to help people connect with their soul and spirit. As I searched for a creative medium to teach the journey of Initiation, I had a vision to create a series of sacred robes that would tell the story of the archetypal initiation path.
I was sitting with a friend in a small London cafe when the vision unfolded before my eyes. I saw a round Temple made of beautiful rich black cloth. Around the outside of the Temple were archetypal figures, depicting the journey of the soul’s awakening and return to the divine source.
These figures came alive on a series of robes circling around the Temple so that when you walked around the entire structure, you could travel the entire journey and remember your true purpose and destiny. I understood this to be the Living Temple, a universal symbol of our human journey through life. I was then inspired to recreate this Living Temple by designing and creating the 7 Sacred Robes and composing a performance piece of the Soul’s journey with the Robes, music, drumming and dance.
I knew from the Shamanic tradition that the Shaman’s robe tells a visual story of the initiate’s sacred journey. The Shaman’s robe is decorated with the symbols received through dreams and visions during vision quests. The initiate then makes and dons the robe as a sign that initiation is complete.The sacred robe is said to bring power, protection, healing, and illumination. This seemed the perfect medium to show the movement of the Soul through different stages of initiation on its journey of awakening.
The robe as a sacred symbol is found in many traditions. The Gnostics and Jewish mystics use the robe as an image to symbolize the sacred marriage between the Soul and God and between earth and heaven. The Christian mystics believe Jesus to be the Robe of Light who surrounds and illuminates the initiate, awakening their true divine nature.
Modern depth psychology would see the donning of the sacred robe as a way to unify the separate parts of the personality so that the psyche can experience itself as whole.
Art Coming Alive! Wearing the Robes in Ritual…..
Although the images on the robes can be contemplated or used for imaginary journeys, the possibility that they can be animated by a living human being creates an immediate dialogue between the robe and potential initiate. Each robe desires to come alive through creative ritual and ceremony by a seeker who is willing to take the soul journey.
For 10 years now, I have been traveling and teaching with my Initiation Robes. Hundreds of people have tried them on, performed rituals and sacred ceremonies, danced, drummed and chanted in the Sacred Robes. They have been to sacred sites in Crete, Italy, Glastonbury, Morocco, Scotland. They have been blessed by ancient stone circles, temples and sacred groves.
It’s hard to describe the feeling when you wear the robes in sacred ceremony. During ritual, I have heard amazing wisdom come forth from the most ordinary people. The archetypal image on the robe begins to speak and ancient wisdom comes pouring forth! The robes are like channels of information, gateways to the ancient and perennial Wisdom of the Ages. The robes link us with our higher wisdom and to the place of Divine Source. Sometimes the person wearing the robe becomes the Oracle, giving answers, posing questions and dispensing wisdom.
How are the Robes Created?
Many people want to know how I make the Sacred Initiation Robes. They are made of 100% silk and are handmade for each person. I begin with a large piece of white silk. Then I trace the life size image onto the silk, stretch it onto a huge stretcher in my studio. Then I go to work outlining the designs with a “gutta” resist – similar to the waxing in Batik making. Then I begin coloring the design with silk paint. After the design is complete, I then dye the entire background black with 2 coats to really saturate the color. The front of the robe is 100% thick black silk.
Where do the Designs Come From?
Each of the 7 robes has a unique design and color scheme, which I carefully chose over time with the help of dreams, prayer and meditation. The images on each robe are influenced by my years of personal analysis and dream work, alchemical study, world mythology and extensive traveling investigating cross-cultural expressions of the sacred. Some of the designs came fully formed in dreams. Some designs evolved over time as I was actually drawing the complex blueprint.
The 7 Robes and the 7 Chakras
The 7 Robes are based on the 7 Stages of Initiation from the wisdom teaching of the Kabbalah, a collective body of teachings from Jewish, Christian, and Hermetic sources which form the core of the western mystical tradition. Each robe represents one step, one chakra, one initiation point along the path of awakening from birth through transformation and rebirth of our true radiant nature.
Robe 1 – The Shekhinah
This robe activates the 1st (base) chakra and helps connect you to earth and body.
Robe 2 – The Great Round
This robe activates the 2nd (genital) chakra and awakens your instincts.
Robe 3 – The Totem Lineage
This robe activates the 3rd (solar plexus) chakra and connects you to your ancestral heritage.
Robe 4 – The Into the Wilderness
This robe activates the 4th (heart) chakra, helping you discover your individual identity and the beating of your own heart.
Robe 5 – The Soulflare
This robe activates the 5th (throat) chakra, opening your voice of truth and strengthening your will.
Robe 6 – The Gatekeeper
This robe activates the 6th (third eye) chakra and opens your spirit, your third eye of higher knowledge.
Robe 7 – The Sacred Marriage
This robe activates the 7th (crown) chakra and connects you to the Divine.