Tribe of the Sacred Heart

I love the book, “Women Who Run With Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  So envious when my painting mentor, Shiloh Sophia McCloud got to spend five days in a workshop with this amazing teacher and storyteller.   In Clarissa’s “Dangerous Old Woman” audio series she talks about the “Tribe of the Sacred Heart”.  While the Sacred Heart is typically considered a Catholic symbol, it speaks to me as an archetypal symbol as well. When I heard Clarissa call the “Tribe of the Sacred Heart” as her own, I jumped up and down with excitement knowing that she had named me too.

Last night I took the opportunity to do some art journaling with the idea of the “Tribe of the Sacred Heart” .  As it drew me in through its flames, it spoke to me of a time when I was a young girl of about twelve.  Back then, in my neighborhood we had three races..White, Black and Mexican.  I’m Filipina, Native American and White.  I was brown. End of Story. My belonging was predetermined.

If you were brown, you hung out with the Mexicans or Whites.  Later in high school we would draw divisions by social activities; Stoners (mostly whites but a few of the others), Jocks & Do Gooders and Low Riders.  But back in junior high school I hung out with the mexican girls.  I wore crisp khaki chinos and mary janes,  dark wine lipstick and lots of  black eyeliner.

By the time were in eighth grade, many of my girlfriends had gotten involved with  gangs.  Here in California they are divided in to territories;  North and South.  There was a moment there when I could have followed them into another life.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog and really never wanted to ‘hurt’ anyone. Sometimes in gang life, you gotta hurt people just because.  I opted out. I’m grateful I did.

I sometimes think of those girls, now grown women .  I watch them on “Lockdown” and wonder if they found some way out – through religion or education.  I wonder if we had a way to express ourselves more constructively like through art journaling , if  maybe our woundedness , anger, passion =fire could have a way of healing and empowering us rather than keeping the cycle of violence moving ahead.  The fire with all of its power to transform us!

So this Sunday morning sending  a prayer out there for all of us who have been wounded looking for the fire of salvation.  Hoping and praying that we find it in the church of art and creativity and that it leads us on to the path of health and happiness! And thankful that I have discovered a new place of belonging within the Tribe of the Sacred Heart.




Posted on August 21, 2011, in Art Journaling and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Gemma,
    This is inspiring and insightful. You are blooming in such a beautiful way and I have been truly gifted to be an observer!
    Blessing to you as well, M

    • Melinda you’ve been such a guiding influence for me..I know we don’t get to talk often enough but its great just knowing you’re there! Thank you!

  2. hi gemma, it’s tracy from effy’s elements course. can’t believe i haven’t stopped by your blog yet! i love clarissa and i love shiloh!!! and love to connect with others in circles like that, if that makes sense? the synchronicities… wanted to say hi, and really enjoying your blog!

    • Tracy, Yeah!! How awesome that we’ve connected. Have you taken Shiloh’s course too? Love her, love her art! And yes I understand about connecting in those circles. Will be subscribing to your blog too!!

    • Oh and Sheri Ann Ponzi who made a comment just minutes after you about synchronicity, is also a grad of Shiloh’s course. Her blog is . She’s pretty awesome too!

  3. Lovely spread, Gemma. Looks like you have a bit of the tattoo artist in you. 🙂


    • Thanks Estonia! I love tattoo art. My sons covered in them but I have two small ones..Think I’ll keep it that way. But would love to fill pages and pages with tattoo art…lol

  4. Thank you Gemma for citing my coining of the term/group “Tribe of the Sacred Heart” … I first wrote about TofSH in a chapter in The Dangerous Old Woman manuscript, ©1970, my early work which we are just now recording in the oral tradition first as we did with Women Who Run with the Wolves. We’re on the fourth part of the series beginning next month, the first 18 cds now released through I’ve carried the circle of the Tribe of the Sacred Heart across the world since then and we have a membership in the hundreds of thousands. I will be releasing a book by the same name early next year.

    I liked these words of yours “crisp khaki chinos and mary janes, dark wine lipstick and lots of black eyeliner.” Though I am old enough to be your grandmother, I think “we maybe went to different schools together.” ‘Cept I used to outline my lips before the dark wine color with with a dark brown eyebrow pencil for that especially “tiny-wicked” touch. I hope you are smiling with me.

    I like that you credit your teacher, Shiloh, also. That is our honorable way of creating genealogy throughout the generations. A way of honor that blessed the one who acknowledges such.

    May your drawing hand be blessed. Let’s see more of your ‘tattoo’ elemental in your work if you so feel moved. I’ve two tats also. One more to go, Creator willing. Also, check out George Yepes work, East LA mural artist whose fabulous face of La Señora de Guadalupe is on the cover of my book to be released in Oct 2011, Untie the Strong Woman: On the Immaculate Love of the Blessed Mother for the Wild Soul. He has portrayed her as a true vata… who could certainly be sporting tattoos easily. Tough and strong she is. I think you might like his work. He himself is a true vato.
    with kind regards,

    Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

    • Dr. E!! You’re amazing! I don’t know how you found time to look at my blog and comment. I am truly honored that the Princess of the Tribe of the Sacred Heart would pay a visit. I feel I must have my best skirt on and properly do my hair. I call you ‘Princess’ because I leave room for Our Lady because I believe that she indeed is the Queen of our Tribe. I hope that your heart swells with the deep knowing that you have been a true blessing to many of us, giving us a place of belonging and that moves us beyond our limitations and into our greatness. Mucho, mucho gracias! The Lakota Sioux say, Pila Maya , which means a deep, deep heart felt gratitude for something truly meaningful. “Pila Maya” for the revolution you are creating with your words and ideas!

      Yes, I did laugh and smile with you about that ‘tiny-wicked ‘ touch. You have made my week! Thank you! I’ll be checking out that those artists as well. We’ll all be anxiously awaiting for your book to be released. I also know that you have an online event through Sounds True on September 21, 2011. I hope to be there.

      Rock the world with your vision Princess of the Tribe of the Sacred Heart!

      Many, many blessings to you and yours!

  5. Being a Catholic girl and not being aware of the Tribe of the Sacred Heart – I found myself a bit embarrassed – Thank you for enlightening me with this – Your piece is stunning – Thank you for visiting my blog, also … Means so much …

    • Kristine,
      No need to be feel any way about it. Dr. E really added new/old dimensions to the symbol of the Sacred Heart. Very powerful symbol for this time we are in as well. I think Spirit gives us new understanding as we become open to it. For some it was there all along, for me it – I weeped with deep resonant knowing when I heard it.
      Blessings to you!


      And love your blog too!

  6. Hello Gemma,

    I found you because I am reading Dr. CPE’s wonderful new book, “Untie the Strong Woman,” and looking for info on the Tribe of the Sacred Heart, which also strongly resonates with me. So much so, that this 58 yr. old wants to get a real tattoo with a symbol of it! I am also a lover of art journals and journaling and love your spread on TSH. I was thinking of making a whole art journal dedicated to the “Tribe” archetype and using some Dr. E quotes. Wonderful that Dr. E. responded to your post! Very exciting. I have loved her for years!

    BTW, I also belong to WPS, and follow Effy’s art journaling posts on FB. I want to sign up for one of the new classes. And, I get Shiloh McCloud’s e-mails.

    Kindred spirits we are! 🙂 If you like to discuss the book or the Tribe archetype more, feel free to write me at Feel free to friend me on FB. I live in Richmond, VA.

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