Interview by Brandi Auset
Willow Arleana is an artist, healer, energy psychotherapist, and proprietor of the Dancing Willow Tree Mystery School. Her artwork can be found in metaphysical shops and galleries across the country, and she is the co-creator of the immensely popular Tarot of Transformation. You can view her portfolio HERE.
I had an opportunity to connect with Willow, and discuss the beauty and wisdom behind her art and practice.
Brandi Auset: Are you Pagan? Do those beliefs inspire your fabulous art?
Willow Arleana: I believe that all spiritual traditions can lead to an experience of the divine, so in that sense, I am a Universalist. I spent many years in the Buddhist tradition, and a result of all that meditating was awakened to the life force flowing through nature, and to the intelligence of the beings of nature. I began to channel nature spirits and do energetic healing with nature spirits. This led me to research Pagan mythology, particularly of the goddess traditions. Currently I am writing and illustrating a book on The Seasons Around the Tree of Life based in the lore of the goddess. It will probably take me 3 or 4 more years to finish it. Many of my images are inspired by the beauty and wisdom of Nature. If I had to define my spirituality, I would say I am a Universalist with a strong Neo-Pagan/Buddhist focus!
Brandi Auset: Could you tell our readers a bit more about the book you are working on?
Willow Arleana: The working title is SEASONS AROUND THE TREE OF LIFE: AN ECLECTIC JOURNEY ROOTED IN THE GREAT GODDESS TRADITION. For many years I have lead rituals following the Celtic cycle. For these rituals I began researching goddesses from around the globe. At one point I realized that almost all god and goddess archetypes emerged from the energy of nature. When we look at the world’s religions from this point in time, they all look very different from each other. If we look at them from their origin, they are all quite similar: they all grew, like branches, from a culture’s relationship to the natural environment around them. In addition, every tradition that I explored had a myth about the Tree of Life, that is every tradition had myths about the mystic center and the life force emerging from it, usually symbolized as a tree. Likewise, every tradition experienced the cycle of the seasons and other cycles. Even traditions based in the tropics or desert where the yearly cycle is not so pronounced worked with the lunar cycle and the daily cycle. I came to the conclusion that the expansion and contraction of the flow of life force energy, which cycles around the mystic center, and one’s relationship to both the cycle and the mystic center, are the fundamental concerns of religions. My book will be a user’s manual for people to find a greater attunement to the seasons. I describe goddesses from numerous traditions, as well as significant god archetypes that emerged in the pagan world and grew in prominence dung the patriarchy. I also provide meditations, awareness practices and journeys for each season.
Brandi Auset: When did you first discover your talent?
Willow Arleana: I knew if fourth grade that I was going to be an artist. I have been an artist in many past lives and mastered many artistic skills then.
Brandi Auset: What is the process behind most of your art? What mediums do you use?
Willow Arleana: I have worked in many art and craft media, including watercolor painting, fiber wall hangings, costume making, mask making, and jewelry making. I have always been interested in ceremonial or mythical content. For the last 20 years or so I have used acrylic painting as my primary medium, embellished with hand-made paper collage for the textural element. It took me many years to develop my painting technique that utilizes layers of translucent paint.
Brandi Auset: What artists and or musicians–and songs– if any, inspire you and why?
Willow Arleana: When I was first developing my art I wanted to incorporate the fluidity of Van Gogh, The transparency of various mystical artists, and the decorative design of ethnic art. Later I added the feminine line quality of Art Noveau. As far as musical inspiration, I tend to listen to mellow New Age or World Beat music. Lorena McKennit or Snatam Kaur are often playing in my house. I like music that sooths my nervous system and creates a sense of flow that I can ride upon as I paint.
Brandi Auset: If the world was created in the image of your imagination, what would it be like when we woke up tomorrow and seen it with new eyes?
Willow Arleana: The world would be luminescent with high-frequency colors and shimmering light. Objects would be transparent, because they are more energy than matter. Spirit beings could be seen. The sound vibrations emanating from life forms would create rippling patterns through the colors.
Brandi Auset: If someone would like to commission your talent, where can they find you? What are you open for—Book covers, Graphic Novels… what?
Willow Arleana: All of my images and contact info is on my website . I am open to book covers, divination sets, mystical logos, soul paintings, etc.
Brandi Auset: You also run the Dancing Willow Tree Mystery School in Colorado. What exactly is a Mystery School, and how did the project come about?
Willow Arleana: In ancient times spiritual practitioners would gather in schools to study and experience the workings of subtle energy and other dimensions of consciousness. These mystery schools were highly secretive, or esoteric, because their knowledge could be dangerous in the wrong hands. In these times this esoteric knowledge is available for all that are interested. I started my school because the many offerings I provided could fit under the umbrella of a mystery school. I offer local and long distance psychic readings, Archetypal Energy Psychology, coaching, various energy awareness practices and other related mystery studies. For more information about DANCING WILLOW TREE MYSTERY SCHOOL, visit www.designsbywillow.com
Everyone at the Pagan & Pen would like to thank Brandi Auset for another fabulous interview AND Willow Arleana for taking time out of her very busy schedule to be our June 2010 Pagan Artist of the Month. Through this month, we will be showing sample works by Willow Arleana –here or there—with out daily Ancient Calendar posts. So make sure to keep a look out and be ‘wowed’ by her wonderful talent!
For more Pagan Artists, check out: Artists of the Month