A Song to The Sophia; the Divine Feminine.
Video by Simon Teddy, “Sophia’s Song” written and sung by Simon Teddy, guitar arranged and played by Mark Alvin, selected photos by Reza Delghavi.
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A Song to The Sophia; the Divine Feminine.
An intricate oil painting, a lyrical instrumental and a written message, all centered around change and the courage necessary to successfully “lean into” life’s transitional periods.
This month, December 2009, Mark Alvin’s artwork is on the cover of Wisdom Magazine, (a free, New Age, Spiritual publication), both in their print editions and in their on-line magazine. Go to www.wisdom-magazine.com after December 1 to view the cover. We also wrote an article for Wisdom Magazine about healingwheel.com for an upcoming issue, which we are sharing here, to give our readers a look at where we have been and a sneak peek at where we are going.
We are also very excited about our quarter page article in Wisdom and are reprinting it here for your pleasure. Healingwheel is turning in new and unexpected ways. Thanks to our friend Ted Slipchinsky for setting this up for us.
The motionless center of Healingwheel.com
In a coffee shop on Cape Cod in the dead of winter sit two men deeply engrossed in a conversation about living life from a deeper sense of Spiritual awareness. One is Bert Jackson, a jazz guitarist, web entrepreneur, chef and spiritual seeker. The other is Mark Alvin, artist, musician, sculptor and philosopher. Their meeting is the first of many during 2009.
They decided in those early meetings to rebuild a very successful web site, www.healingwheel.com that Mark created in 2006 devoted to video healing affirmations. The new version of this project that both men are now passionately involved in is expanded to include the artwork, music, writing, video and photography of a growing community of creative people, all of whom share the original vision of Healingwheel: the ability inherent in all people to heal themselves and each other through the sharing of deep personal expressions of love, wisdom and compassion through the arts. Mark and Bert have discovered that most of the people that they have shared their vision with have an almost urgent need to express themselves on a deeper level, to write, create and share in ways that express their innate spiritual selves, and to pass that great wisdom on to others. Both men believe that common to us all, particularly today, is a profound need to live life more purposefully and to express their own inner voices more clearly.
Mark says that this common purpose is expressed in the Healingwheel logo that he created. “Our logo represents a vast circle of humanity, all joined by a single source of life, light and creativity. I saw this vision in meditation in 2006 and knew that it was time to wind down my work as a product designer for Waterford and Lenox and focus more upon drawing others into a common sense of spiritual brother/sisterhood.”
Content is beginning to pour into Healingwheel.com from some very talented and aware people. The site has regular contributors that include life coach and award winning photographer, Cathy Drew, musician, composer and studio owner Joe Podlesny, fine artist and writer Daniel A. Brown and mystic singer songwriter Theodore Slipchinsky and singer songwriter Frank Morgan. Mark believes that there is something profound about the level of beauty and raw honesty that has been shown by the contributors to Healingwheel thus far. “It is both humbling and awe-inspiring to see the depth with which each individual sees their place in the cosmos”, says Mark. “Each person who shares with us is wholly unique, yet their thoughts seem like my own”.
Mark, his wife Sally and Bert have opened a store on Healingwheel where they are selling the giclee prints and greeting cards of Mark’s artwork. The store will also be selling the work of selected Healingwheel contributors in early 2010. Judging by the number of hits the site has received since the new version went live in August 2009, the creative wheels will be turning in many minds. “The center of the wheel, like our one vast, common spiritual center”, says Mark, “is motionless.”
When you visit Healingwheel be sure to check out their community section and their store.
Mark Alvin created this image for license to Sunrise Greetings for use as a greeting card. The theme of transformation is a familiar one with Mark who sees all things as connected.
Mark Alvin licensed this image to the Irish fine china manufacturer, Belleek Pottery for use on their annual collectible plate. The Artist used one of his daughters for the model.
These are several layers of recordings that we pieced together over a period of a few nights in our living room. There is a reading of the Gita, and two or three conversations in the background. The guitars were a completely extemporaneous thing, unplanned, unstructured.
Mark Alvin’s “School of Roll” is an expression of hope. This song was written and played by Mark in the bleak winter of 2008-09. Hope seemed to be the theme of the New Year, and what a great year it has been! Listen to the soaring melodies in this piece and think of all the amazing things we can accomplish.
Passing Through the Wave, a new tune by Mark Alvin.
I’ve learned to sip of my intuition after letting the muddy water of thought gradually settle in my glass and become clear. I’ve worked hard to hear my inner voice and sometimes can. a good part of the time though, I am as bamboozled by the wily world as anyone else. But I think I hear angels. Not like a heavenly host singing on high, but in the little mutters of intuition. I think I hear them. I get little whispers from God who sometimes points out to me what is next. I’ve been going around recently talking back to that still small voice, saying, “Please God, something more, something better”. It sounds like a selfish prayer but it’s really about wanting to provide for those around me.
If I really look at it, what do I actually need? I have never been wholly without in this life. The angels, the intuition, the kindly winks of God have guided me toward the fulfillment of every need. But there is nonetheless a fear of loss, of lack, that follows me as might an undeserved bad reputation. In spite of working as ably as I can and with good intentions, I always seem to merely be able to meet my obligations. So now, in the early years of the 6th decade of my life, I am looking to that silent, motionless center, more and more to guide me.
And here is what I have found. The idea that we are connected at our common center is not a fanciful notion, but a fact of life that is making itself very clear to me. We are in fact one. Made in the image of a vast and intelligent Universe, inconceivably big, we each are little miniatures of the Infinite. Our capabilities as individuals may be seemingly limited, but our potential as souls is immeasurable. Beyond and above every day intellect is our Intuition, the soul faculty which allows us to perceive that Something which is ever more, ever better. The infinite nature of the soul allows it perfect union with God if our egos do not get in the way with habits, preferences and prejudices. That God essence will, if allowed, live Itself through us and fulfill our highest aspirations in ways that may be at once apparently miraculous and seemingly prosaic. The ability that we each have to express greatness in the simplest of every day acts is nothing short of amazing. It begins with the way we think and look at things, learning to see the Divine Essence working in all things and extends into how we ourselves act. If we perform our worldly duties with our minds ever upon the One Source common to us all, in devotion and in reverence, surrendering and offering each act, we will be led upon a journey in which our deepest inner selves become fully present. If you would like a guided meditation that will help you with the process of surrender, check this out:
In March of 1989 I was living in Bloomington, Indiana with Sally, Darcie and Molly in the big ranch house we owned. Across the street was a fifty acre parcel of rolling farm land that belonged to a doctor. At the lower and farther end of this land was a brook that ran in beneath a woodland. I have always sought out the quiet peaceful natural areas around wherever I have lived, finding a solace there for an overexcited brain and weary ego. The previous December, of 1988, I had begun working for Sunrise Publications as art director. They had quickly promoted me to Vice President of Production just after the first month of 1989. This brought with it a little more money and a lot more pressure. I was ostracized by other managers in the company who had wanted promotion to the Vice President level for years. I was singled out by the jealous president of the company as a “loose cannon” because of my outspoken and sometimes critical views on the way certain things were done. I was miserable and hated the new position. There was nothing in it that I was prepared for, nothing in it that I was familiar with. I suddenly had to oversee thirty or forty factory workers, produce scheduling for our in-house bindery operation, activate a $750,000 wrapping machine that had been purchased but had never been operated, prepare a 2 million dollar printing budget and oversee outside vendors many of whom hated Sunrise for it’s miserly way of doing business. I was homesick for North Carolina where we had many friends and a beautiful little home that we had worked hard to make just right.
One afternoon in that March, I set out for a walk across the field on the other side of the road. It was an unseasonably warm afternoon, well up into the 60’s. I walked way down to the other side of the land and in under the trees that bordered the field. I found a comfortable bole of a huge poplar perfect to rest against and sat down, not far from the little stream that flowed off to my left. I entered a deep meditation and sat in that lovely stillness for about a half an hour. Gradually I became aware of a huge inner space, a vast globe of space. I was on the outside of it looking in. But there was a veil of darkness and a vagueness that kept me from seeing and feeling completely what was happening. Gradually I became aware of a sublime and immense presence. An ancient, perfect loveliness that expressed itself to me as The Christ. I knew somehow that I was in the presence of God, more specifically of Christ.
I had been away from my spiritual search since 1981, when my first daughter, Darcie was born until around the time we moved to Indiana. It is an interesting coincidence to me that the place we moved had within it’s name, the word “India”, birthplace of so many of the greatest holy men who ever lived, including my own guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. I had set my spiritual quest aside as I became a father and a homeowner. the weekend we had closed on that first house in North Carolina, we attended a wedding and I actually got rip roaring drunk and wound up vomiting in the bushes outside our new home. I became very materialistic with a couple of old cars to restore and in playing in a rock band. Compared to continuing with my spiritual search it was a good deal of wasted time and energy. The band broke up, but not before we had all started to drink heavily and occasionally smoke a little pot. Then I lost all my clients. One by one, my work dried up. I sent resumes out all over the country desperately looking for work in that fall of 1988. As I was taking my resume and mailing list over to the secretary next door to my office there in Brevard NC, I glanced down and saw a brochure for Sunrise Publications, a greeting card company in Bloomington Indiana. For the heck of it, I picked it up, circled the address and asked Jill to send one of my resumes to them as well. A few days later, Lorraine Farrell The VP of Creative Services at Sunrise called me and said, “your resume fell on my desk today like manna from Heaven. We want you to come out right away for an interview.” Five months later I was sitting in a field a thousand miles away, looking through blurred inner vision at God.
I had been through a lot of misery in the interim. We had had to sell a house in a place we loved, move our 7 year old daughter out of a school she loved just before Christmas, leave friends, and all that was familiar and go back to the Midwest, a place I had lived before and was glad to leave. I was feeling overwhelmed and lost. I had left my career as a designer behind and was confused and exhausted. Sitting under that tree was a turning to God for help.
As I meditated there, the feeling of a distinct presence grew until I was certain that I was having some kind of religious experience. But my own ambivalence and doubt from years of surface living prevented me from fully seeing and hearing the fullness of the beneficent vision. Strange as it may sound, it made me angry. Frustrated might be more accurate. I began to speak to this Presence and say, “How do I know you are real? How do I know this is not my own imagination? Why do you go around tormenting people like me so? Why won’t you come out and show yourself? I want to know if you are real. If you are real, you must send me a sign!”.
I have always loved deer. They represent something holy to me. I see them as the epitome of grace and beauty in the animal kingdom. Their appearance in my life is always somehow special and seems to portend good and peace. I had seen deer tracks from time to time at the edge of our road, but I had never seen a deer in Indiana. Now as I sat here berating the Lord for his quiescence, I had a sudden inspiration. “Send me a sign!”, I insisted. “If you are real, if this is not my imagination, send me a deer!”. The intensity of my meditation began to decrease gradually as it does at the end. I awoke and looked into the woods before me. It was dusk, I must have been meditating for a rather long time. I sat there in the stillness of the wood, with the little stream chuckling along beside me. The sun had set off to my right and the sky was a brilliant gold. the earth had that evening smell that it gets on an early spring day after it has been baked in the warm sun all day and is forced to give up all the sweetness it has stored up all winter under the snow. A cow mooed far off and I began to come back to the land of the physical. My experience was as if it had been a dream. I often have meditational experiences that are quickly lost and forgotten, very much like dreams that are forgotten before you reach for the Wheaties. I stood and stretched and turned to walk out of the woods. Just as I got to the open field I heard the sound of the grass being rhythmically pounded off to my right. I turned, and along the edge of the field came running a deer. Deer don’t run, they fly. Their feet barely touch the ground and it is said that they can cover 20 or 30 feet in one bound. This one was flying straight at me. She came down the hill at me and as she did, it was as if a big hand grabbed an “intensity knob” on the back of my head and turned up the volume. I was electrified. The energy level in that quiet field grew until I felt my heart would burst. Goose bumps stood out all over and the feeling of utter peace and joy was unimaginable. She stopped about 20 feet from me and stood stock still staring directly into my eyes. I stood motionless and more alive that I had felt in years, utterly transfixed. We stood face to face for several minutes. She would occasionally stamp the ground with her forehoof, as I am told deer will do to try to spook you into running first. At last I moved a finger and she bolted into the open field to my left, where she stopped and turned to face me again. We stood and looked at each other again until it was almost dark. Finally, I turned and walked up the open field, climbing the hill toward home. At the top of the hill I turned and she was still there watching me. I watched her until I had to look off the the side to see her clearly. Finally she walked slowly over to where I had been standing and sniffed the ground. She turned and looked up at me again. I walked away over the hill and she stood, rooted to that spot until it was too dark to see her any more. The stars had come out and the amber lights of our house shone out across the field before me. I walked the rest of the way home, but I had changed.
– Mark Alvin