Author Archives: sistergemma
I’ve finally found ‘my style’, at least for now. I’d been working on a style that reflects my both my Native American and Filipina and European heritage (wow – right?) and can fairly easily move from images of goddess and the sacred feminine to images from sacred stories. My style had to be ethnic and spiritual yet pushing past all those sterotypes. Yeah, it took some work but I think I’m finally there! If you’re on Facebook you’ve already seen some sneak previews, but I’ll be uploading new pics again soon.. *tease for future posts*
All that being said, I’m selling my previous paintings to make room and money for more paint and new canvases. I’m fixing a couple of things on some of the paintings, painting edges and taking new pics with my new camera. All of the paintings will be available as prints, cards and posters on Fine Art America and I’m listing items for sale on eBay and etsy. I’ll list the links below so you’ll have them ; )
I’m also taking orders for custom paintings of angels/goddesses/fancy shawl dancers..women in their radiance. 12×12 acrylic paintings for $110. I’ll be getting a order site soon but if you’re interested email me soon so that I can get your info about the angel/goddess/dancer that you want painted. These are intuitive/visionary paintings in the style that I’ve been painting in and are not meant to be portraits but stylized reflections of your angel/goddess/radiant woman. You can email me at gbenton789(@)yahoo.com.
Many blessings to each of you as we celebrate the turning of the seasons!
Oh, yeah, here’s the link for the ebay auction for The Sun & Moon painting:
And here’s my Fine Art America account:
Here is my Facebook Gallery page:
And on etsy:
Thank you for your support, it means everything to me and keeps me painting!!
I’m taking Mari McCarthy’s 27 Days To Health & Happiness eBook course and I’m on Day 1. Following her journaling prompts, I found my self examining my idea of belonging. Some of that was surfacing in my last post,”Tribe of the Sacred Heart” (be sure to read the comments, there a surprise there too) . In today’s freewrite, I realized that there has been a long cycle of belonging and not belonging in my life. When I was young, my ‘not belonging’ to my biological family and the established roles and structures led me to other groups, in each of them I learned more about who I am and who I’m not. Each led me deeper into the layers of my self. Until I have found my self belonging to very little . This feels very lonely but I as I look back I realize that while I am shedding the skins of what I am not, I am simultaneously creating a new existence. That is my place of belonging.
I belong to a generation that has moved past the walls that bind me to my past and separate me from a future of my own creation. I belong to the generation that has moved into open territory, drawing courage from unseen generations in the past and the future that whisper for us to create a new place of belonging from our dreams. I belong to the generation that will morph the stories of the past, leaving room for the wisdom of the generations to build upon.
I belong to the tribe of women who have shed their limitations, in spite of the pain that it took to do so. I belong to the generation that is true only to the living of Truth– even when this has meant that what we thought was True a moment ago, has changed and morphed as we have. I belong to the tribe that realizes that the Truth changes when we do, so we seek change and transformation as a path that draws us closer to the heart of Creation.
I belong to my Self, who is constantly teaching me, shaping me and revealing her self to me. I belong to my creative ability, my art, my songs and my stories. I belong to the potential that waits to be created — through life, through community, through art, through stories and songs.
I belong to the generations. I belong to my ancestors and to future generations; my children and grandchildren. I belong to the generations as they also morph and change into the creative expression they need to be. I belong to the many faces that will build on the thoughts and dreams that we have shared with them.
I belong to the face of the Divine as she presents her self to me through art, my children, my songs and my stories. I belong to Life as She dances through my life and transforms me with her songs and stories and her creative ability.
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.
This is the third painting I painted earlier this year. At the last minute I entered it into the Modoc County Fair thinking that it would be a ‘growth experience’ for me. I was so excited to get Best of Show I still don’t really believe it. Didn’t realize it would be so important to me. In the back of my mind, I guess I half way expect friends to tell me “white lies” and say they “like” my artwork. But something clicked with this aware. These people don’t know me, have never met me and really have no motive for ‘voting’, although in the back of my mind I still wrestle with that they voted for me to encourage a ‘newbie’ painter. Either way, I’m thrilled that they thought to do so. Yeah! A little encouragement goes a long ways!
I finally recorded a couple of videos for the upcoming Moonlodge Workshop. This is an excerpt from one of those videos. It’s short but I think it serves as a great intro into a wonderful, dynamic conversation about reclaiming our women’s traditions. Hope you enjoy it!
I’m honored to call myself a grandmother. It feels as if I’ve waited my entire life to become what I am today. I didn’t know I was waiting for permission to show up but I realize now that I was. It sounds strange to say, it’s not like I wasn’t giving all that I had to my children, my loved one and to life before. But what I know now that all that I had done before seemed aimed at one precious, life giving moment.
I love the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and the work that they are doing and have always felt that they real purpose is inspiring each of us that we all will be Grandmothers and Grandmothers one day and if we are not ready to share life giving, life sustaining traditions and teachings they we need to get busy preparing ourselves for that sacred task.
Only three months ago my granddaughter was born. I was honored and humbled to say that I was ready. Or at least ready as I was at that moment : ) Two weeks after she was born I held her and sang prayer songs to her for weeks. I whispered to her the old stories and teachings. I greeted her spirit and called her knowing into the world. Her baby mind may not understand yet but her spirit understood completely.
Her calling me to this sacred task has changed me as well. I am humbled by this remarkable journey of spirit that leads us without us knowing, having only a sincere heart and a commitment to learning, into those sacred places where we are both reduced to our essential selves and expanded beyond our humanity!
Blessings to each and every one of you!
I love National Geographic! This picture came out of an article on the “Quest For Color”, they entitled this photo “Drenched In Devotion”. These women from India are literally showered with brightly colored paints as part of a ritual. Their clothes and faces are saturated in paint and in this picture the girl is clearing her eyes from all the paint.
This so reminded me of the ceremonies of the Southwest Native Americans like the Navajo and Apache who drench their young women in golden yellow corn pollen as part of their coming of age blessing.
I wonder why the act of “blessing” things went away? It’s such a simple thing to do. It doesn’t cost money, require much time or require any signficant skill other than an ability to focus an intention with prayer and a generous heart. So wouldn’t we shower the people in our lives with blessings every chance we get. What would your life be life if you had received a blessing as a young woman? What if you had known you and your work, your love, your life was blessed at every turn? Would it have changed your direction? What would you have done differently?
In my Moonlodge Workshop I’m hoping we have the chance to do a blessing ritual. I’m not sure yet what this is going to look like but I think it’s an important thing to do. I’d love to hear about your experiences with blessing rituals, or the absence of them. Is a blessing ritual important to you? If you were to design your blessing ritual what elements or features would you include?
So until then, Blessings to each of you!
I’m so excited to be part of this journey with all of you! I know that it is going to phenomenal. I look forward to watching each of us grow and learn and blow each other’s minds!
I recently took a test and it says that one of my strengths is “Connectedness”. I’m really fascinated by that invisible red thread that connects us to each other and with life. So this next six months of weaving legends, new relationships within and with each of you is going to be a la bit like Heaven on Earth for me .
I have been envious of artists and writers all for as long as I can remember. I December I took Shiloh’s Black Madonna class and have been painting ever since. Finally I’m no longer envious of the artistic talents of others but owning my creativity and blessings. I’m finally able to say, without feeling as though I’m tell half-truths that I am an artist and writer. It is nice to finally connected with my own self at this level, where I am owning my deepest desires – and fears – and walking through them in way I have never done before.
I understand in a way I have never understood before, what it means to walk in my own greatness with both feet planted firmly on the ground. For sure, I have had moments of lift-off and grandiousity only to find myself flat-faced on the ground. This is not true greatness but egoic fascination. Our true greatness lies in our ability to connect and stay connected to the Sacred, to move with it through our everyday as fully and completely as our own breath. It has been a long journey here.
Now that I’m here, I’m ready for the next step into my greatness and looking to standing with each of you in this wonderous circle and creating together.
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Are you ready to celebrate
your sacred reflection?
Imagine new aspects of your sacred self
Emerging as you Merge twin realities of
Sun and Moon, Waking and Dreaming
and Ordinary and Sacred dimensions
through storytelling, art and ritual
You are invited…
Step into a sacred circle of women
Summer 2011 Moonlodge Workshop
An online spiritually creative journey for women.
Explore your personal dream symbols and patterns
Use the power of the sacred elements to manifest healing, creativity and connectedness
Develop transformational relationships with spiritually co-creative women
In older times women came together in the warmth of the summer months to weave baskets, gather berries and smoke meat, and enjoy the company of their sisters and friends . In the Moonlodge, women would learn about the art of making of life and love, cooking things up and weaving the seen and unseen worlds together. They would share stories of the past, tell tales of recent escapades and weave new understanding of their dreams and tribal stories.
As we enjoy the dog days of summer and move into the early fall, in the tradition of our ancestors and all indigenous ways, we will begin to gather our dreams and intentions and set to artfully weaving our lives.
Together we will explore old stories and traditions. infuse them with fresh meaning and relevance in our contemporary lives. We will laugh, and maybe cry, when meet old friends with new faces and explore our selves and our relationships from a place of wholeness, empowerment and co-creativity. We will dream old dreams together and explore new possibilities. Grab a girlfriend and join us in the Moonlodge! I’ll see you soon!
Thru art journaling, storytelling, dream work and guided visualizations
we will explore our connections to the Moon and our co-creative ability to:
Release old behaviors and limitations
Reclaim the power of dreams and symbols in our lives
Reconnect with our dreams patterns and cycles
Participate in active imaging and intentional dreaming
Redefine our lives and who we want to be in the world
Renew relationships with our self and others
Reconnect with natural cycles of the sun and the moon
Recognize our own wisdom
Reconnect with the story of your life
The course is designed around the natural relationships between women and the Moon cycle. Here’s the outline of weekly themes:
Week 1 (4 Days): Purification – Orientation & Releasing negative beliefs and limitations
Week 2: Intentions & Dreams – New Moon Ritual and Dream Work
Week 3: Fruitfulness & Creativity – Gathering Symbols and Reclaiming Creativity
Week 4: Harvesting Wisdom – Honoring Your Connection With Wisdom
Week 5: Seeding Abundance – Creating With Intention
Week 6 (3 days): Gratitude – Importance of gratitude and wrapping things up
When: August 25 through September 29 2011 – 4 days before New Moon thru to the next New Moon. Seasonal Moonlodge Workshops will be held in October and January 2012.
Where: Online, through private social networking site and teleconferences
Who: Women of all ages. Post Menopausal Women are welcome!
Cost: $45 for first person in group, $35 for the second. Financial arrangements are available, please email me @
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. No one will be turned away for financial reasons.
Your Host & Instructor:
Gemma Benton is a certified Master Life Coach, artist, writer and Native singer. Gemma is of mixed ancestry and brings all aspects of her Native American, Filipino and European culture into her art and writing. She has over seventeen years experience leading women’s groups and traditional Native ceremonies for women. She has worked as a secretary, crisis line operator (really!), technical support and recovery counselor. She is a mother of two grown children, a new grandmother and wife. She lives in Northern California with her husband and spends her time creating, writing and dream keeping.
I have for as long as I can remember had a fascination with junk. As a little girl, I collected rocks and rattlesnake tails in plastic, amber prescription bottle (momma threw it out when my collection started rotting – I was heartbroken). I scoured junk bins with my dad and grandpa on weekends, pawing through rusty tools and stacks of mildewed books. Heaven!!
I still love thrift shops and “as is” bins at Goodwill. Please understand my love for junk does not mean I don’t like new, shiny things too. I do. But there is a part of me that is downright proud and absolutely gleeful when I find *art* amist the rubble heap.
A couple of days ago I attended a conference on cultural literacy for social service agencies in our community. There were many rich speakers there, each spoke, their hearts on their sleeves, about the disparities in history and their personal lives. The challenges they face as Native people and the success they’ve shared with overcoming barriers. They shared the hope that we are creating a new vision for our children and grandchildren.
Art is my new testing ground for spiritual revolution. It has become the place where I can safely sort out fantasy from visions and dysfunction from revolution and trash from treasure. Painting has become sacred alchemy.
I’ve taken two classes now with Shiloh and I am blown away at all that I’ve learned and created. Shiloh’s Legendary Selves class has been nothing short of miraculous for me. Over the last few months I have worked on my canvas and my life along side some fifty women with life size blank canvases. We have drawn from our imaginations and fears, pulled from the clutter of our dreams, bravely mixed copious amounts of trust with heapings of prayerful intent and watched as miracle after miracle took form. I am amazed and transfixed with it all.
Focus. Back to the training. One of the speakers at the cultural training spoke about creation stories. You know the kind of stories cultures are based on. The stories of how we, human beings, were created. Think of Big Hands mixing clay, paint, sticks and stones. These are creation myths of our ancestors; Christian, Muslim, Aztecan, Native American. Stories of Adam being formed from clay. Native creation stories that tell of us coming up from the Earth, or being made from red, rusty clay. The speaker said,
“Our stories of creation and death connect us at a base level – to the earth. That is where we our essence comes from and that is where we return – [ to the heart of Creation].”
It didn’t dawn on me until I was reading a book about rust and how the colors change as it breaks down into basic matter/dirt/minerals- that I realized the symbol that these grainy patinas and decomposing things hold for me. You’ve probably already figured this out by now, but since it has taken me this long to figure it out I might as well write it out. Are you ready???
Dust to Dust Baby!! Essential, primordial matter. Connection to our Source.
For me, rust and dirt symbolizes our return to the only thing that matters. Our connection to the Sacred Source of our being.
Rust is the symbolic return to the place of creation. To the Garden and the Roots of Our Ancestors. It is the muck that holds our roots and our place of belonging.
It is, alas, our essential connection to one another!
Grains of sands, pieces of clay waiting – in some phase of transformation – waiting to feel the breath of Life on our spirit once again. Each grain holding no power at all and all the potential of the universe.
I know it’s simple but it was revolutionary for me. Rust and clay have been a symbol all of my life, through painting I came to understand it’s significance to my story. This is the inspiration behind the Bureau of Soulful Reclamation..this blog. Actually Guadelupe Rose is the inspiration, but that’s a story for another day. This blog is about reclaiming the resources that mainstream, industrial society has tried to strip away and that we forgot were important; spirituality, creativity, wholeness and vitality. It is about discovering and claiming for ourselves and each other those things that we have cast away, set aside and discarded. It is about rediscovering what has always belonged to us but that we forgot we had, wanted and needed.
It is about the journey back to our truest, most essential self.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you!