She Will Have Music

Iron Railings 2The other day while walking down the slope of Ninth Street between 8th and 7th Avenues, gazing as usual at the rhythmic flow of brownstones and the variety of ornamental ironwork balustrades and gates, I imagined I heard them singing. Maybe it was because I’d left my ear buds at home that day. Listening to music made walks so much more pleasant, especially on these hot summer days. Perhaps without it, I was automatically tuning into the music of my surroundings. It made me think of the woman in the nursery rhyme with “rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,” who had “music wherever she goes.”

I wasn’t wearing any rings. My toes were bare too. But what are fingers and toes but extremities, our farthest points. Our feelers. Perhaps our first responders when it comes to picking up vibrations. I pictured my fingers and toes ringing with the sound of patterned ironwork as if it was a kind of sheet music.

How strange sheet music must look to the untrained eye. Yet musicians have no trouble playing the symbols, or composers in making up new patterns. They may fill up the page with odd symbols, but it’s music they hear in the mind.

I photographed the ironwork where I was standing when I saw its music. Then, as often happens, when I got down to the business of drawing, the execution fell short. It didn’t have quite the same ring to it as when I was walking down the slope feeling the breeze on my face and the movement around me. Perhaps it was something felt more than seen. I had to try and capture it anyway. That moment when patterned ironwork sang to me.

(My fascination with ironwork fences isn’t new. Here’s a blog with more drawings I posted two years ago:  )


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Drawing Churches

7th and 7thI keep dreaming of a screened-in porch with a view of a lake or something, forgetting how much I love to draw buildings. Especially in Brooklyn, the borough of brownstones and churches. This is a view I’ve been admiring for the 25 years I’ve lived here, and finally I took some photos and drew it from a couple of angles in a 5×8 inch sketchbook.

Maybe the reason I love drawing buildings is because they gave me my first sense of place. I was five when we moved to New York City from a suburb of Chicago. Until then, I took my surroundings for granted and gave them little thought. I could have been anywhere for all I knew. Then we came to Manhattan, and that night when the buildings were all it up I thought we’d moved to fairy land. I think part of me has always remained in that first glimpse of a magical place. I’ve never lost the habit of looking up in wonder. It might be the moon or the clouds or the trees, but more often than not it will be made of brick or stone.

view 2 churcesI don’t think we ever forget what first sparked our imagination. These days it’s my neighborhood in Brooklyn. Like the tops of these two churches on Seventh Avenue, one on the corner of Seventh Street, the other on the corner of Sixth. I love how odd they look together, almost fantastical. Maybe not quite fairy land, but somewhere far away. Much farther away than Brooklyn.


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To Die in the Night

Die in the nightOh, to die in the night…
(first you have to die in the night)
to awake like Ebenezer
at Christmas.
Just get through the eve
live through the eve
by dying, in the night.
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Down Down Down

Journey down

B&W photo of a watercolor 11×14, 1985 by N.Wait

When we push up through the ground of our being, we alter the earth that contains us. Seeds want nothing more than to bloom and blossom. Seeds wait for the water and wait for the sun and the moon. They wait for the right season to soak up the nourishment that comes their way so they can grow up-up-up.

I grew up too. And after a while I seemed to have reached some kind of limit, for there was a stop sign. And another one, pointing back down. (Perhaps I should mention my secret wish was to go back to the stars, which would have been ‘up’ on quite a grand scale!) Instead, it was down-down-down, back into the darkness I went with my paints and brushes. To paint the dark. To see what I’d left behind.

As you’d expect, there was a stillness underground. A quiet stillness. A sleeping, dreaming world. Yet it was a teeming place, swarming with the colors of lives that had lived before, and lives still in seed form, not yet manifested.

I was only a transfer student, a traveler, an intern. After 5.5 years my visa was up. Five-point-five. Half-and half, is the way I see it. So that when I came back I would remember to live half up, half down. Because both held the light. And colors. Oh, the colors!

This story comprises Part Two of my sequel-in-progress. I call it Journey to the Deep. Though it was very colorful, the black and white photo of my drawing better illustrates light and dark. It was also a hairy time, so it’s a mystery why I made the head in this drawing completely bald…

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The Divine Feminine

My type of feminine energy has been ‘out of fashion’ since the 1980s when women

The She Flame

watercolor by N.Wait 1984

started going to the gym. Okay, before that. Okay, maybe it was never in fashion. Because no woman in her right mind would want to emulate my fey, other worldly type, seemingly at the mercy of others, who collapsed physically, mentally and emotionally at the first sign of aggression towards her. But of course I wasn’t in my right mind. Or my ‘wrong’ mind either. I wasn’t in my mind at all. I was in my heart. So that I could experience being bruised and battered and broken, without ever wanting revenge.

So that one day I would come to know that betrayal is sacred. That is the energy I have come here to anchor. The energy of sacred betrayal that comes with a heart-centered consciousness.

I couldn’t speak about it for many years. Which is why I am still working on the sequel to my first memoir, the one I began twenty years ago. It’s a story in three parts about surrender, and coming out the other side. Part one, The Clearing Ground, still brings up shame and embarrassment. (Which is apparently still in my energy field!)

I will persevere through this weakness. Because I remember the day back in 1987 when I heard the angels laughing at me. Such a sweet, tender, caring laugh it was. Like the tinkling of bells!

Mask of WarkaThe Divine Feminine wears many faces… One of my favorites is this copy I made of the Mask of Warka, known as the ‘Mona Lisa of Mesopotamia,’ and the ‘Lady of Uruk,’ sculpted 5,500 years ago, one of the earliest known depictions of the human face. She who see’s all, without judgement, daring you to peer into her bottomless depths.

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Does the World Need More Paintings?

art manualDoes the World Need More Paintings? No. But it might need yours…

This, from the perspective of an artist who for many years painted on her own, with no other motivation than that of delving deeper into her subconscious knowledge.

The perspective of one who needed desperately to communicate and didn’t have the words. Or had the words, but kept silent. And in the silence, made pictures. Pictures that came from a deep inner well of experience. Memories she’d only been able to access sporadically, in the occasional dream or two.

The perspective of one who found healing in her paintbrush. It seemed nothing less than magical, activating this inner vision that transformed her understanding. That gave her a deeper, more profound sense of her own personal history, as well as the world at large. And so, provided an unusual, unexpected path to the healing of old psychic wounds.

The practice of art has many possible outcomes. One of them is the opportunity to align with the higher self, the inner awareness, the subconscious knowledge we connect to in dreams. But dreams tend to be forgotten, unlike conscious creative work such as drawing or painting. The activities many of us practiced in childhood, unselfconsciously in play, are a gold mine when we use them to mine the subconscious, and come into alignment with soul knowledge.

Louise OliverArtist and healer Louise Oliver, of Rainbow Light Trust, has put together a remarkable series of videos as well as an ebook combined in the manual titled, Exploring Art and Alignment, part of the Academy of Spiritual Sciences. Academy LogoLouise explores the obstacles she faced in her personal healing process and the part art played in her understanding of the subtle energy field and releasing memory, among other things.

Door Underwater

oil on canvas by Nancy Wait 2008

My own story, The Painted Path, is included in the ebook. I describe how the practice of drawing and painting opened this whole other realm of perception that went deeper than the world of appearances. A hidden awareness, an intuitive knowledge beneath the surface. It’s an adventure story, this pathway to self-knowledge. To insights I couldn’t have accessed any other way. And it’s something anyone can do if they have a mind to.

Does the world need more paintings? Maybe not. But it might need yours. Because once you begin the process of clearing your energy field, you are clearing the energy field for all…

Louise talks about Art and Alignment: 



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Doorways of the Past

door-collageOn a recent trip back to London I visited most of the places I used to live and took pictures of the doorways. It had been four decades since I last trod those particular pavements, walked up those steps, slid my key into the lock and pushed open the door to places I once called home. These flats and bedsits were all in Chelsea or Pimlico, Kensington or South Kensington. The few times I lived in North London were brief and unhappy, and not worth the trouble of going back. My home is now Brooklyn, and I hadn’t been back to London in twenty-eight years. All I had was a week, so each foray into the past had to count.

The last doorway I went in search of was nowhere to be found. St. Mary Abbot’s Hospital. How could an entire hospital disappear? I’d only spent a week there too, back in 1976, but it was such a memorable week that I wanted to go back and see the place.

st-mary-abbots-in-pencilI took the tube to Kensington High Street and walked the short distance to St. Mary Abbot’s Church. For some reason, probably because they had the same name, I thought the hospital might be behind the church, so I began walking around the block. There was no sign of it. I even enquired in a shop. The women proprietors were middle-aged and elderly; surely they would know where the hospital was. But no. They’d never heard of it. So now I Googled it on my phone, which is what I should have done in the first place, because now I learned it had been torn down, replaced with luxury apartments in a gated community called Stone Hall Gardens nearby on Marloes Road.

This was a blow, but I took myself off to Marloes Road anyway, hoping something might be left of the old hospital. It had originally been the Kensington Parish Workhouse before being converted to a hospital from 1871 to 1992. During my scrolling, I also learned that Jimi Hendrix had been brought there DOA in 1970.

stmaryabbots1I walked up and down Marloes Road, looking for something, anything that might stir a memory, but recognized nothing. Though the gateposts and part of the brick wall from the workhouse had been left standing, I didn’t remember them from my brief stay. Not to be outdone, I rang the bell and asked the gatekeeper if I might come in and look around as I’d once been a patient at the hospital. But he said no, there was nothing left of the old place now. I know when I’m beat. Time had moved on without me. Coming back at all after twenty-eight years was an accomplishment in itself, and I’d have to forget about St. Mary Abbot’s.

But how could I forget that place where I’d experienced my first spiritual awakening? That little white room with the iron bedstead and bars on the window. The sink in the corner crawling with ants. The lovely walled garden where I floated around barefoot on the grass in my long silk kimono, pretending I was Ophelia. I’d gone to the hospital because I’d wanted to die, and instead I found a beautiful new life! The place was no longer there, but the ground was, along with the memories I would never forget.

church-in-progressWhen I was back in New York the visit seemed worth writing about. The doors that were still there, and the one door that wasn’t. St. Mary Abbot’s Church would be a stand-in for the hospital that once bore its name. I began a drawing of the church. I’d write a little, then draw some more, and meanwhile I thought to look up the old hospital again to get my facts right. Now that I was more relaxed on my laptop at home rather than wandering around Kensington while I anxiously Googled the history of the hospital on my phone, I noticed the Alfred Hitchcock Wiki. It seems that Hitchcock used the exterior of St. Mary Abbot’s Hospital for footage of the character Blaney (Jon Finch) entering and then escaping from the hospital in his film, Frenzy (1972).

hospital-2I had actually seen the film on You Tube not long ago and quickly found it again. I fast-forwarded, and near the end, an hour and twenty-some minutes into it, I saw the entrance to the hospital. There was no mistaking it. The shot took place at night and it was dark, but I recognized the spacious, empty parking lot. (It had been night when I was admitted there too.) hospital-1Though it was a bit fuzzy, when I saw the plain, modern-looking, unfussy entrance, I recognized it at once. It was more than I expected. I happily finished the drawing of the church, thinking all the while of God’s Grace…

It was probably that, the thought of God’s Grace, which brought my mind back to the bombing of the hospital during WW2. I went back to the website, Lost Hospitals of London, and read about the bombings again.

In 1940, during WW2, the Hospital suffered bomb damage. Four people were killed and one of the blocks was destroyed. Then in 1944 when a bomb scored a direct hit, five nurses, six children and seven adult patients were killed. There were thirty-three casualties in all. The patients were evacuated and St. Mary Abbot’s was forced to close. After the war the hospital gradually opened its doors again.

Could it have been those deaths and the bombing which caused me to have the dream of death the night I came home from the hospital?

Being a patient at St. Mary Abbot’s in the 1970s, though only for a week, had been a life-altering experience. But the dream I had the night I was discharged was even more cataclysmic. I described the events which led up to my being a patient, along with my stay in hospital and its aftermath, in my memoir, The Nancy Who Drew; the memoir that solved a mystery (2011).

In brief, the dream involved a past-life memory of death in WW2 on board a British civilian aircraft shot down by the Nazis. I was no stranger to dreams of death, though this one was far more complex than the nightmare which haunted part of my childhood. Now I wondered if being lodged on a former bomb site had stirred up the memories again.

You can clean up the rubble and bury the bodies and build something new over a scene of destruction, but the past is still lodged in the energy field. Those who are attuned to such things pick it up.

The circumstances of my being a patient involved a complete surrender of self. In this voluntary surrender, and due to the kindness and understanding of the hospital staff (as well as the lack of medication) I experienced an opening to my Higher Self. This new openness astonished me. At the time, I thought some kind of filter had been removed, because of the way my senses were suddenly able to take in so much more. And then I went home and dreamed about a past death, the dream that would change my life forever.

Thank you, Mr. Hitchcock, for preserving the entrance on celluloid. And thank you, St. Mary Abbot’s Hospital, and the NHS, and the staff who were there in late spring, 1976. I remain forever grateful.

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