NOW PRESENTING: Sheldon Shalley’s“Reflections on Nature and the World Soul”

NOW PRESENTING: Sheldon Shalley’s“Reflections on Nature and the World Soul”

Sheldon is a clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and shamanic practitioner. He is in private practice at Integrative Psychotherapy at the Crossing. Prior to becoming a clinical social worker, Sheldon taught high school Spanish. Sheldon left teaching to return to school and get a Masters in Social Work.  For twenty one years, Sheldon worked for the Center for Mental Health in Elwood Indiana before retiring in 2012. 

Sheldon began painting in 2001 in response to a dream in which he saw himself at a dinner where the host offered canvases and brushes in exchange for creating a painting.  Shalley recalls that “it was like the painting process I was using in the dream was instructing me on how I was to paint.” Adhering to his dreams’ suggestions, Shalley typically begins by painting several colors onto a canvas creating an undefined background. He then stares into the background until he sees an image emerging. He develops whatever he sees—a part of an animal, a bird’s beak, a nose, a person’s eyes, etc. He develops the images and allows the painting to emerge.

Sheldon considers his paintings akin to a projective experience much like clinical psychology’s Rorschach Test. He says, “As I interact with the images, painting them, amplifying them, dialoging with them, listening to their personal and archetypal meanings, I reveal unconscious forces at work in my own soul. Over time my paintings evolved to include images met in dreams, meditations, and in shamanic journeys. As you view my paintings, I invite you to let them speak to you from your own soul. When viewed in this manner, art opens portals between the worlds, transcending ordinary time and space and can be avenues for healing.”

Sheldon is married to Betty, and both reside in Noblesville. Besides his busy psychotherapy practice and hours spent painting, Sheldon conducts a Shaman Circle and participates in various workshops and trainings in Shamanic healing and energy medicine. He is active in both Nickel Plate Arts and the Hamilton County Artist Association. You may see more of Sheldon’s art at www.artbyshalley.com

Please join Sheldon for his July exhibit at Nickel Plate Arts titled “Reflections on Nature and the World Soul.” The show explores the animating spirit that inhabits all nature, connecting it into one organism of divine intelligence. Shalley explains that “The World Soul” can be understood as an energetic web that connects all of life and the spirit that lives in all things whether that be a stone, a tree, a river, a blade of grass, a butterfly, an animal, an organ in the body or the Earth herself. The pieces in this exhibit are chosen from a group of paintings Sheldon did in the past year in response to dreams and images met in meditation and in shamanic journeys that reflect images of Nature and the World Soul.

Three examples of how he has translated his dreams into journey paintings can be found below.

“Archangel Ariel and the Rose Quartz”

“Archangel Ariel and the Rose Quartz”

On November 8, my 75th birthday, I awakened with a strong desire to do a shamanic journey to Lake Titicaca and the Earth’s second Chakra located geographically in Andes Mountains in Peru. I put on my journey music and soon I was at the shores of Lake Titicaca. I noticed that it was a little chilly. I asked permission to enter her space and am welcomed. I sat at her shores, looking at her and thanking her for all that she does for the planet.  I felt the vibration in my body slightly increasing, and I noticed that I was sitting on a smooth ribbon of beautiful blues, whites and pinkish colors. I realized this was her waters. I’m amazed at how smooth and silky it felt. As I came to the end of the journey, to my surprise the waters of the Lake rose up and handed me a beautiful Rose Quartz stone. I accepted it as a birthday gift and ended the imaginal journey.

I knew that the Rose Quartz was a powerful healing crystal associated to love and the fourth chakra, purifying, opening and healing the heart to promote unconditional love at all levels. But I wondered if there might be other meanings to the Rose Quartz, so I googled it. To my surprise I discovered that the Rose Quartz connects people born between November 8 and 12 to the archangel Ariel. Doing this journey on November the 8th, my birthday, was quite a synchronicity reinforcing once again our connection to all things and the World Soul. What were the chances that on my birthday, November 8, I would feel impressed to journey to Lake Titicaca who then gifted me with a Rose Quartz that had this meaning and history!

In my research on the archangel Ariel* I discovered that Ariel means “altar” or “lion of God” in Hebrew and is known as the “angel of nature.” She oversees the protection and healing of animals and plants, as well as the care of the Earth’s elements, water, wind, air and fire People sometimes ask for Ariel’s help to take good care of the environment and all the creatures including both wild animals and pets and to provide any healing that they need, Ariel can also help you to forge a stronger connection with the natural world.

To call upon Ariel, you need only request her guidance for goals that are within her realm. For example, you might ask her “please help me to heal this animal,” or “please help me to better understand the beauty of the natural world.” You can also burn an archangel candle dedicated to Ariel; such candles are typically pale pink or rainbow colored and can help us connect to these archetypal energies of the Nature and the World Soul. 

Combining the experience of my journey and my research, this is my painting to honor this journey and my relationship with these nature spirits and the World Soul. I call it “Archangel Ariel and the Rose Quartz.”

“Polar Bear Magic”

“Polar Bear Magic”

As instructed in a dream in 2002, for this painting I painted a background of various colors of blues, purples, and whites forming what appeared to be water or clouds. I then used this background like a portal into non-ordinary reality and journey into it. I met a polar bear. 

According to the Eskimo and Inuit people, the polar bear is the companion of shaman, mystics and visionaries.

Their medicine includes the ability to navigate along the Earth’s magnetic lines, find sustenance in barren places, find strength in the face of adversity, and find one’s way back from the brink. Since the polar bear has no enemies except the human hunter, it is fearless and can serve as an ally in getting past fear. I call the painting “Polar Bear Magic.

“Queen Anne’s Sanctuary”

 “Everything in nature resonates with the force of the Divine spirit.” (Ted Andrews, Animal-Speak, 82). Each animal, plant, bird and stone has an energy blueprint that reflects this spirit in its own way. Thus, flowers have specific energy blueprints unique to that flower. The blueprint contains medicinal and healing properties that the flower gives to the world. They are part of the intricate web of life that vibrates throughout the universe.  Each flower is like an instrument in an orchestra, each contributing its unique vibration—sound, color and fragrance and healing medicine—to the symphony of life.

“Queen Anne’s Sanctuary”

After an internal call to pay more attention to the symbolic, spiritual and healing aspects of plants and flowers, I began to pay attention to the flowers that attracted my attention on my daily walks this summer. One of those was Queen Anne’s Lace. Striking to me was its prolific presence. Queen Anne’s Lace was everywhere—vast fields that extended as far as I could see and yet single plants greeting me right at my feet, sometimes growing up through stone and gravel. I began to wonder what medicine they bring to the earth and how I might honor them. A painting began to form in my mind.  I placed my intention on journeying to Queen Anne’s Lace and painted a background of greens and whites to see what might emerge. As the Queen Anne’s lace flowers began to emerge, I also met butterflies and a hawk among the flowers.  This is my painting to honor the healing medicine of Queen Anne’s Lace. I call it Queen Anne’s Sanctuary.

Koda Witsken
kwitsken@nickelplatearts.org