“Years as a healer and trauma therapist have taught me that trauma isn’t destiny. The body, not the thinking brain, is where we experience most of our pain, pleasure, and joy, and where we process most of what happens to us. It is also where we do most of our healing, including our emotional and psychological healing. And it is where we experience resilience and a sense of flow.”― Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands
Sending love from my heart to yours. You may not have heard from me for a bit because I have been really focused on working within our community to navigate everything that is happening in the United States right now. We are taking action by calling a circle.
On June 8, the Intentional Creativity community is hosting Re-Membering, Healing Racialized Trauma Circle. This is an offering in honor of the voices and stories of self-identified Women of Color to support healing. This process is guided by Lauren Adorno Weatherford and Semerit Strachan, and will include Intentional Creativity.
At this time we are only inviting those who consider themselves part of the Intentional Creativity community – women who use art to heal.
If you would like to become part of our Women’s Community of Creatives, there are three ways.
1. Participate in Intentional Creativity
2. Become a member of our Living Museum
By choosing to become a Musea member, you help make possible the advancement of virtual museum craft, furthering of women’s representation in the arts, and the preservation of the legacy of Intentional Creativity.
3. Sign up for any of our courses
By visiting our School Page and taking a class, you will be given access to our gathering places for our students, and are welcome to join us for Re-Membering.
If you are a woman of color reading this and you are on my mailing list, I truly deeply invite you to come and experience creativity with us!
Continue reading for upcoming events and my Red Thread Letter
~ Shiloh Sophia
Upcoming Events: Online and Sonoma, CA
Happening now – Dance of the Critic and the Muse Online Course
June 20, ARTIFACT: Awaken your Feminine Archetype through Paint – Summer Course
July and August, S7 Society: Gather and Paint in Person with protocol – Sonoma
This past week in our Intentional Creativity community we have been almost entirely focused on navigating the emotional impacts of what is happening in our nation. You haven’t heard from me about it in email because we have been doing the work in our devoted inner circles. Many of the women artists took it to the page, the drawing board and the canvas. This is one I wanted to share with you from Milagros Suriano Rivera, Intentional Creativity Teacher. Here’s what she says:
“I would say this painting is an alter to commit my pain, fear, and tears for humanity. Where I pray for the blood spilled due to racial injustice and where I claim my ethnic identity as a woman of color.”
Painting: She Cries For Equality and Justice. Find more of her work here.
Red Thread Letter #808
Mending Racialized Trauma
One of my earliest paintings of the Divine Mother, created at Terra Sophia in my twenties, Creation Song.
I wish we could have tea and look into each other’s eyes. I wish I could hold your hands and feel you holding mine.
I want to begin with my acknowledgment of the events of the past week in our nation, the devastation, the unrest, the on-going systemic racism, and the need for change now. I have been praying, crying, raging, despairing and most of all putting my energy into planning to gather us. Asking, How can I support our community from within, and not just talk about justice, but create a context for it.
As an artist, I choose to view all events through the framework of my piece of the red thread, that which is mine to do. My red thread is creativity as a tool for healing and doing my part to end violence against women and children. Yet this very week another part of my thread was revealed, identifying false systems. I have known this but perhaps didn’t claim it on my thread the way I am now. Thankfully this awareness lights the fire of transformation within me and catalyzes me to work on what matters.
Our community of Intentional Creativity will be working together over the next 6 months in Re-Membering Circles. The focus of our first circle is for women who self-identify as African American, African diaspora, African, ‘black’ or ‘brown’. Of course, women of all races and ethnicities are invited to join us as an integral part of the experience. The leadership of Lauren and Semerit have already been working together for 8 months on this movement within our community.
I feel so much gratitude for their willingness to lead us in doing this work when there are so many other important requests for their love, and attention. And I look forward to the series, looking at racialized trauma from the Native American, Asian, Latina and Jewish perspectives and how we can all work together. Each one of these experiences also has features for those of us who are white, to learn more and be better allies going forward.
If you self-identify as a woman of European heritage, a Caucasian, or as a ‘white’ woman, like I do, then we have an invitation right now, to become more aware and better allies so we can be a part of dismantling systemic racism and its manifestations within ourselves and in the world. We know that every one of us has roots that go back to our motherland, but we may not be aware of the benefits we receive, because of the color of our skin, and then harmful impacts that creates for others.
We are all impacted and hurt by racialized trauma. This event, and the ones to follow, is a call for ALL of us to do the necessary healing work by using Intentional Creativity for ourselves, for our community, and in service of transforming our world.
What are the ways we can work with Intentional Creativity® to expand consciousness, grow stronger together, and become more resilient — individually and as a heart-centered community?
- What are the ways we can practice building resilience and strength?
- What are we not seeing about how we are part of the problem?
- What questions do women of color want white women to ask themselves?
- How will we identify ‘race’ and color going forward, and what is needed now?
There are lots of gatherings happening for us to learn and grow together, and ours will include, creativity as a tool for healing, embodiment and capacity. As well as stamina! We are going to need it! This is hard work but there is joy in doing what needs to be done. For me, there is joy in sisterhood and healing.
Painting: A Red Thread Runs Through Us by Intentional Creativity Teacher, Phyllis Taylor
This morning I took how I am feeling to the page. Creating, as you know by now, is the way I show up for myself so that I can show up for you – my community. Since stamina is called for from those of us who need to learn, this is how I do it – through creativity.
Are we willing to learn and have conversations, as a community about racialized trauma? I am in it right now, or as Semerit puts it, I am ‘cooking’. Being raised in the Bay Area, I have been in this conversation since a child, and there is still so much more to learn, support, and transform within myself. I know if I can do it, I can support other women too, in waking up.
I am grateful for a powerful sisterhood of learning right now with women who I love and trust, and who love and trust me, to walk together even when we miss steps, and mess up. Like art, transformation is messy and gets all over you.
Women of Color have been among my teachers and students in the movement of Intentional Creativity from the beginning. We have joyfully worked to share your voices, stories and practices. Now more work is called for…and I hear you more than ever. Thank you for speaking and sharing your work and gifts with us.
As I write this letter, with editing support from four different team members, I am aware of my fear of saying the wrong thing and then being tempted to silence. Perhaps you, like me are asking questions about how to be appropriate to the context. Like…Should I say women of color? Will black and brown women feel included enough in that or is it too broad for right now? What will white women who have been told not to call themselves white anymore (since it is a construct) feel if I say white? How often am I leaving Native American, Asian and Latina women out by saying Women of Color if they don’t identify that way? These are not just my questions.
Since four different women helped me edit this note – I got four different perspectives and almost none of them agree, two of them were women of color, and one was white trained in racial justice. So clearly we have good work to do. I hope and pray we can just continue to do it together and not divide and conquer. Women need to stick together during these times. I find the conversation enriching, challenging and I am so ready for the changes we are going to make together.
I am not just an art teacher and painter. Part of my work is to identify hierarchies that, though imagined, have very real and very hurtful personal and systemic consequences. They create un-just and oppressive structures in our world; and through creativity, I aim to guide us toward healing and uprooting them.
This is a gathering of our Guild, Color of Woman Graduate from 2019 – Left to right, Janet, Sandy, Rashmi, Victoria, Uma, Semerit, me, Lisa and Olivia. I love being able to raise up women’s voices, stories and images!!! I really feel so blessed that we can connect, be honest, talk, heal and grow together.
Here’s something you can do RIGHT NOW.
I know people are giving counsel all over the place about how to heal right now and learn. I am going to suggest one thing for the time being.
I have been studying Resmaa Menakem. Semerit gave me his book last June. and I am really enjoying and learning from his approach, insights and invitations to practice. His book, My Grandmother’s Hands is such a different and empowering approach that includes the body.
I invite you to sign up for his free 5 part workshop at www.resmaa.com. It is less than an hour and can be done all at once or over 5 days.
Within the first ten minutes, Resmaa was able to speak to an experience of trauma I had after the 2017 fires that felt like it turned everything upside down for me. I have asked so many people for insight about the impacts I had, and no one could offer insights. I listened to the opening talk three times, laughing and crying at feeling heard. I feel so grateful he is providing his teachings to people of all colors and guiding us to navigate these times with new language. I am really happy to share him with you as he has been shared with me.
You may have heard me speak about synaptic junctions, about healing through the body and the brain before. About how we can’t just think our way to healing – we have to DO something. Well, Resmaa teaches that to move racialized trauma we have to work with our bodies. YES! Thank you! I can see how Semerit saw the compatibility of this work with Intentional Creativity.
The synapses I am inviting my community to develop involve stamina to engage in the healing of racialized trauma. This trauma hurts all of us, and our black brothers and sisters are hurting intensely right now and have been for hundreds of years. This has to end within ourselves first, then we do the work to share it with the others in our lives and families.
Here is what Resmaa says:
“White people have to build stamina, built into American culture are protections that allow White people to dodge dealing with race. Being super intellectual, the cry for help, collapsing, fragility — all are communal, cultural dodges,”
Menakem says “Those dodges allow Whites to avoid talking about Blackness or Whiteness. Race is a creation. White people need to know they lose themselves and an honest culture, too.” Here is the resource.
This is a poignant moment in Resmaa’s work because he lives in Minneapolis and has worked with the police force there. We need teachers and healers and he speaks to black and white. Giving us a path to heal together. He says this on the front of his website.
“Together let’s set a course for healing historical and racialized trauma carried in the body and the soul. I am a healer. I help people rise through the suffering’s edge. I am a cultural trauma navigator. I am a communal provocateur and coach. I consider it my job in this moment to make the invisible visible.”
This was painted LIVE in the courtyard with the Black Madonna of Paris. Here I am standing in front of the Black Madonna in Paris, 2014, alongside members of our Guild: Lauren Weatherford, Cynthia Harrison, me and Carol Mahinda.
I had the gift of growing up in the Bay Area, and being raised in multi-cultural experiences and relationships since the time I was a child. People of color are a part of my family, my neighborhood, my experience of the Divine.
You may have heard me tell the story of when Intentional Creativity came into my life…that moment with Sue Hoya Sellars when she asked me to put my love into my creations. Well, when I did that, my intention was to do my part to end violence against women and children.
Part of the story of that time, that I only tell in my spiritual circles, is that when my relationship with the Divine Mother first arose, my experience of Her, was that She was black. I had no books that showed this. I had no story to reference. I could not google Black Madonna or Dark Mother. I saw and felt a common mother with the eyes of my heart and she was black. I painted her over and over.
The day I created my breakthrough painting I had almost quit. I felt I had no talent so I could not paint. I almost felt relieved. Then Sue Hoya Sellars floated water onto a canvas, saying, “just one more try”. I took that brush, I filled it with brown paint, and within seconds emerged my first Black Madonna, and a lifelong relationship with her was born.
In the words of George Floyd right before he was killed….“Mama, Mama, I’m through”
I echo his words, crying Mama!
Mama, Mama, we are through with this madness, these lies, this broken system. Guide us out from this place into truth. We are tugging on the red thread.
I know this is a lot. I send love to you RIGHT where you are.
with love, love, love and compassion,
American Academy of Pediatrics posted to Twitter “Systemic violence requires systemic response.”
This is one of my work in progress paintings. I’m praying in dots and women are adding dots to their own paintings.
Recent Red Thread Letters from Shiloh Sophia: