“From the perspective of a healer, illness is the result of imbalance. Imbalance is a result of forgetting who you are. Forgetting who you are creates thoughts and actions that lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and eventually to illness.” – Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light
Healing can occur spontaneously and over time. The spirit has an innate ability and longing for healing, health and happiness. We can all access this healing ability, we just sometimes need some help to tap into that. Never think that healing is not an option for you, or that it’s too late. We can always be reminded of who we are, where our strength lies and how strong our spirits are.
I’d like to recommend 2 books that helped me: Healing back pain: the mind-body connection by Dr. John Sarno, and Hands of Light by Barbara Brennan.
Much healing love to anyone and everyone who needs it. -M
Pictured: me at age 10 ca., on a hiking trip with my family. 🖤
Blessing is an energetic charge of pure energy. Pure means selfless and selfless is natural. This pure energy from a guru, is transmitted to the one who’s requesting to be blessed. Because selfless pure energy is released into the energy system of a person who has unnatural egocentric constructs and whose energy is dirtied by it, is the reason why blessing feels like a relief. The blessing makes the psychological burden drop so natural state can be felt, experienced and recognized. All kinds of people who pray and request blessings, be it from Jesus, God, the Buddha of Light (Amitabha) or some guru know how meaningful and powerful this is and sure enough all world religions have this at the heart of their teaching.
From a bit more technical perspective a blessing is a medium to transmit and point out the natural state of all beings or in other words *to bring out the basic goodness in us*. Because blessing is not egoistic is why it is a way to transmit and communicate the empty nature of mind (dharmakaya) and natural joyfulness (sambhogakaya) to others. I realize this all sounds unnecessarily complex so I’ll try to make this more down to earth.
Blessing is an outburst of pure love, kindness, being present and supportive to other people’s hardships, understanding, encouraging and acceptance. Without having a clue about the technicalities or mechanism behind this, many people do this naturally because that’s how people act if they are in touch with who they really are. If there is respect and love between people in any type of relationship, there are definitely blessings, good energy, involved. On the other hand, egoistic people do the opposite and transmit bad vibes, negativity and traumas often unknowingly to others which makes relationships (of any type) go bad. We all know this already and yet often don’t really act accordingly to make our lives and the lives of others a joyous experience.
Blessings from fully enlightened masters like Jesus are special only because there is never a moment when the transmission has the slightest dirt in it. Also, masters transmit higher volume of blessings meaning that the blessing can be so strong that one joyfully disappears into it, i.e. one’s ego drops off completely. All kinds of people from Finland to Mongolia, to China to US and back to Europe have practiced like this. Christians, buddhists, hindus, taoists, shintoists, not a single religion is an exception to this rule, though having said that there is more to all religions than this.
Anyone can wish good and transmit blessings to others because underneath all the self-based pain and ignorance there is our soul or wakeful nature that is always pure. Go ahead and try it:
1. Sit down and take a moment to relax the muscles of your body.
2. Then think of someone you know and wish her/him good, for example, “I wish my friend James much happiness, peace, safety and health. May he be happy, healthy and enjoy his life in full. May James have great friends and success in all ways in his life”. You can verbalize your blessing in any way you like as long as you’re wishing good and beneficial things. Put some energy and emotion into your blessing, put power and meaning into it.
3. After you’ve prayed for a few minutes, sit silently and see how the blessing made you feel. In what way do you feel the same or different than before the session?
4. You can do this to all your friends one by one, to your family members, relatives, people of you town/city, country, planet, animals, all life forms and so on, if you like.
This brings out the inherent good in us. Blessing is the art of that.
Who are Uralians and Ugrians? We are different peoples with unique cultures and common linguistic roots, stretching from Russia, over Siberia and the Ural mountains, into Scandinavia. Many of us live Arctic lives and livelihoods. Many of us also have lost our traditional cultures and language.
We are Sámis, Kvens, Finns, Karelians, Khantys, Maris, Mansis, Nganasans, Nenets, Komis, Tornedalians, Selkups, and many more. I tried to add a small variety of photos from our community below.
Uralic clothing vary from boys and girls/men and women, and is usually made just to fit the climate. Sewing patterns are often kept within the family and only used by the ethnic group and not outsiders. Summers can get pretty warm, and winters of course get extremely cold, so there are different garments for the seasons. More text and a poem below 😊
Usually, if not always, ethnic European and Eastern/Eurasian (Arctic) clothing has specific designs for women, men, girls and boys. Practical, warm and distinguishable; usually a bit, or vastly, different for each region. Often bright colours and intrinsic details. Made from the immediate surroundings; wool and animals. Sometimes silk. Giving the wearer a place and belonging; need only look at a persons clothes to know where they, or where their parents are from. Sewing patterns are often kept within the family only. Nowadays however, many native outfits are only used a few times a year for special occasions due to many people moving into the city and/or the boarding schools, and designs are evolving with the new creative youth, creating new ideas and identities, which is normal and expected. But traditional sewing skills are sadly not being taught that much from early age.
Clothing is important. No store bought garment sewn by a machine can measure with an outfit that contains your ancestry and history in every stitch. Many nowadays are also lucky to have more than one ancestry and thus more wardrobe options! Many have lost their native language(s) and feel like a “poser” if they use them or sew them, perhaps scared of getting strange looks or be called names, but I will forever argue that we should wear it like our own skin, because it is a birthright of sorts.
Every two weeks a language dies with its last speaker, 50 to 90 percent of them are predicted to disappear by the next century (source for the statistic: National Geographic). For example; 35 out of 38 Uralic languages are endangered or critically endangered due to assimilation and globalisation. Many Uralics live Arctic lives and livelihood in Europe and Eurasia. Herding, fishing and hunting. Linguistics say there used to be at least (!) 31 000 languages in the human history, now we are down to around 6000, and it is declining every fortnight. This makes sewing and using our traditional dresses even more important.
Keep sewing and keep teaching children traditional skills. They will thank you down the line, I am sure of that.
Thank for reading. I will end this post with a poem by Ingrid Mollenkopf from her book ‘Between Sleeps: Uralic Poetry’:
Today, we celebrated the Sámi National Day, Feb 6th.
I have Kven/Finnish, Norwegian and Sámi heritage, and love to celebrate what I can while I can. I am deeply thankful for my connection to my heritage and my own heart, and wish you all the best 2022 possible.
December went by fast, only a week left of 2021. Today is Christmas eve, and we get to celebrate it with fresh snow, but most importantly; with our son, whose first Christmas it is. Wishing you all a peaceful and magical time, with lots of rest and good meals. Xx
Feeling the Sunday blues today, and felt like sharing some thoughts I have had for some time now. I hope I manage to articulate myself in a good manner, and hoping to hear others’ view on this as well 🙂
I feel it is so important to have a sense of community and identity. A tribe of sorts. In fact, we all did up until very, very recently. You could even tell what area or region people were from by their clothing. The way they proudly wore their identity and sense of community. It is so rare nowadays that tourists will literally pay thousands to witness authentic indigenous way of life.
It sounds silly, but I miss that. I have never had it, but I miss it. I miss traditional everyday dresses and stronger traditions. I miss women being more supported with raising children by their community. Not feeling alone in our experience. We are not supposed to raise kids alone. We are not supposed to not work together and to not rely on each other. When we don’t have that community around us, we get consumed by loneliness and loss of purpose. Just think about how wonderful it feels to have a good friend or a family member who truly cares. We are utterly dependent on our safety net.
The globalisation we see today has come at a great cost. Every month, the world loses indigenous languages. Every week, less natural surroundings and every day people feel more cut off from each other, and Mother Earth. Where will we end up? Even our diets are globalised, getting adviced to eat the same here in the European Arctic as they do in warm climates. That is not sustainable. That is not what have been practiced for thousands of generations, and what our bodies are used to.
I do not wish to naively say that all things were better before, because I do not believe that they were. I do, however, think we have lost something very precious along the way, at least in my part of the world. People who wish to reclaim their sense of community and identity sometimes even feel like a fraud or a fool for ‘taking back’ something they never personally had.
I believe that the trauma experienced by virtually all humans today by having our way of life so dramatically changed in such a short timespan, needs great healing. And only we can do that job ourselves; in our own hearts and minds.
Thank you for reading, may all beings be free and happy ❤ May communities heal and may we take better care of the planet 🌎
“Regardless of the emotion being experienced — be it desire, anger, pride, jealousy, envy, greed, or whatever — what is really going on is a shift in attention. The mind is expressing itself in a different way. Nothing implicitly requires one to presume that this emotion has any reality in and of itself… It is just that the mind is expressing itself in a different way than it was a moment ago.” – Kalu Rinpoche
Photos from late autumn when it was still a bit warm. Woke up today to the first snowfall of the year!
According to buddhism, this world is a samsaric world and the minds of sentient beings are samsaric minds. What does this mean? Samsara means being stuck in a repeated loop of confusion. In this repeated loop we keep making misassessments and misjudgements because we see all things in a distorted way. Being deluded and confused means that our perception of the world, ourselves and others is corrupted. Because our mind interferes with direct experience of anything faster than a blink of an eye, is the reason why there is vast confusion and conflict in this world. No matter how hard we try, samsaric beings cannot avoid thinking and feeling in distorted ways, and this makes this world a world of pain and suffering, when potentially it could be a paradise.
From morning until night we keep thinking about “I” or “me”. We perceive the things of the world and other people in terms of me and other, or me and something else. Every single day we have strong opinions even about small petty things. Every day we have high hopes and expectations about things and then we get disappointed, frustrated and angry when things don’t go like we hoped. We are simply unable to not think in this way.
Just like the arteries of the physical body get calcified over time due to bad diet and lack of exercise, so does our mind get fixated and habituated around the compulsory notion of me. This makes us small and miserable. It makes us bitter, angry, deluded and dirty. The thought of me-ness literally steals our life from us.
You can go ahead and say to yourself, “I, I, I” or “me, me, me”, a number of times. Say it in a way as if you were a bit angry about something, like you were earlier today or yesterday. Say, “me, me, me, me” with a frustrated tone, then stop and see how it makes you feel. This is not difficult.
Through this simple thought affirmation, you will feel different sensations in the body and mind. You’ll feel that your energy contracts as if you suddenly became smaller or tighter. It feels as if a loose knot was made tighter. You might feel that your belly gets tense, heart area becomes anxious or you might feel a tight band around your head. Pardon my language but this affirmation makes you feel like shit.
But wait a second… What did we do again? We only said “me” or “I” to ourselves… This is the same I-thought that we keep thinking and saying aloud every day, and it makes us feel awful. That it makes us feel awful is exactly what we need to discover.
We go around in circles and see the world in a distorted way because we are habitually centered around this thought – me. It affects everything at all times. It makes us feel small and constricted during the day and it creates weird dreams and nightmares during the night. Just like it is important to discover that the I-thought makes us feel like shit it is as important to realise that all thoughts, including the I-thought are transitory, impermanent. This means that all thoughts come and go, and do not stay, and yet we give so much meaning to them.
In samsaric mind, thoughts and thought associations define us and this creates havoc and destruction in our lives. This is psychological habituation that can be entirely removed.
Indigenous means ‘naturally occuring’. Someone or something that ‘belongs’ to a place, and who is living in harmony with the natural surroundings. A part of the local ecosystem. The natural world belongs to us ALL, we need to treat it with respect and appreciation to be able to continue living in it sustainably. Always give more than you take, even if it is “just” gratefulness.
Where was or is your ancestors indigenous to? Do you feel as a part of the natural surroundings?
Small tip on how to feel more connected to the natural world: consciously focus and feel into the knowing of being held and supported by the Earth and gravity. See if you can completely relax intothat knowing and if you can trust that you are safe and being held.
The nine remaining Sámi languages are spoken here in the north of Europe (see map and gallery below) in a cross-border region which includes Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. This region is generally called Sápmi – mostly by Sámis, and is sometimes referred to as Lapland. Laponia in Swedish Lapland is the World’s largest unmodified UNESCO nature area still cultured by natives. Sámis are indigenous to Sápmi and Northern Europe, our heritage and ancestry traces back to Ural mountains, Siberia.
Sámi languages speakers estimate:
Southern Sámi 300 – 500 speakers
Ume Sámi – less than 20 speakers
Lule Sámi 2 000 – 3 000 speakers
Pite Sámi – less than 20 speakers
Northern Sámi – 20-30 000 speakers. There are three main North Sámi dialects. Northern Sámi is the most accessible language, both in terms of literature, news broadcasts, and other material for those who want to learn a Sámi language as a foreign language.*
Kemi Sámi – extinct
Inari Sámi 300 – 500 speakers
Akkala Sámi – considered mostly extinct since 2003*
Kildin Sámi 300 – 700 speakers
Skolt Sámi 300 – 500 speakers in Finland, fewer than 20 speakers in Russia
Ter Sámi – less than 5 speakers left, all elderly
Out of the 11 historically attested Sámi languages, 9 are still spoken/used.
Today we are around 90 000 Sámis, but as you can see from the numbers they do not match up to speakers of Sámi languages. Roughly 4/10 Sámis speak and use Sámi today.
Why is this so?
To avoid humiliation and to give their children “better chances in life”, indigenous and minority parents often decide to speak a dominant or official language with their children. Sámi parents have not been an exception to this rule, especially in the very near past.
For the sake of how long this post would be in order to include all four countries’ history with the Sámi people, I will mainly focus on Norway.
Up to the 17th century, Sámi society lived pretty much its own life, with little interference from the outside. But with the new borders of the Nordic countries, interference was inevitable. Historically, the language situation can be divided into three distinct periods: a missionary phase; a harsh assimilation phase; and the present phase, with potential for integration and revitalisation.
The 17th and 18th centuries characterise the beginning of missionary activities, with some very positive projects for the benefit of the Sámi languages: teaching was conducted through the medium of Sámi and religious texts were translated into Sámi. From the middle of the 19th century however, a new policy based on national romanticism and ‘vulgar Darwinist ideas’ led to a harsh suppression of Sámi and the languages. The Norwegian Parliament and government pursued overtly a policy aiming at assimilating the whole Sámi population in Norway in the course of one generation.
The “dark century,” 1870 to 1970 ca, had detrimental effects which can still be felt on both the languages themselves and on their status and speakers. In the coastal areas of Norway (and elsewhere), negative attitudes were transmitted by the Sámi themselves as a result of the policies, and inter-generational transfer of the language ceased in only a few generations.
New efforts in maintaining the languages were revived in the 1970s and still continues to this day. However, one of the most striking failures of the Sámi strategies is that the smaller Sámi languages (in numbers of speakers as listed above) have not seen success in improving their situation or even in defending their previous position. This failure is partly due to the fact that most speakers live apart from the larger Sámi groups. Dispersed among Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, and Russians, they do not have the demographic concentration that would enable them to use their language in the workplace and in official situations, including schools.
A language’s development, aging, and dying was considered “natural,” out of human reach. Languages were not killed, they “died of old age.” This agentless “model” for the prediction of the future of languages is still found among politicians, and legitimates their way of treating minority languages.
In Norway, many municipalities with a Sámi population had developed procedures to give the Sámi some local linguistic rights. Yet, when the Sámi language law (in force since 1992) designated certain areas as belonging to the Sámi administrative districts, many of the municipalities left outside these official districts – often municipalities where the speakers of the smaller Sámi languages lived – withdrew services in Sámi, claiming that the law did not require them. Even today, there is strong resilience towards using official Sámi names in for example Norwegian towns and municipalities.
*Currently, education, official documents and the media use Northern Sámi almost exclusively. This variant is used as a de facto “official language” and the most significant efforts have gone into the development of this particular language, to the detriment of other Sámi languages.
Opinions also differ on whether the different versions of Sámi are actual languages or dialects, and how to designate their speakers. “The Song of the Sámi Family” is the official Sámi anthem. To demonstrate the differences among the Sámi languages, here is how the Sámi anthem titles look in Northern Sámi: “Sámi Soga Lávlla,” in Inari Sámi: “Säämi suuvâ laavlâ,” and in Skolt Sámi: “Sää´msooǥǥ laull.” In Finnish, the title would be the somewhat similar; “Saamen suvun laulu.”
Most Sámis today speak either Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, or even English as their everyday tongue (some migrated to the USA). Many are bilingual as well. Another factor is that some Sámis do not identify as Sámi or even know that they are due to the assimilation in the past. They do not have any relationship with the language(s).
**Akkala Sámi is the most endangered Eastern Sámi language. On December 29, 2003, Maria Sergina – the last remaining fluent native speaker of Akkala Sámi – died. However, as of 2011 there were at least two people, both aged 70, with some minor knowledge of Akkala Sámi.
Norway, Sweden and Finland was in 2019 urged by the UN to increase public funding of Sámi parliaments as a response to the dire state of the disappearing languages. But even if the situation seems dire for many languages, it is still possible to revitalise them and start using them more often. Which languages survive and which do not ultimately seems to be a question of human will, not of any rules of nature.
I know that languages and cultures come and go, but I do feel it a great loss to lose what has been native for Sápmi and Lapland for literally thousands of years, in only a few generations, when it can be perserved. I am happy that some schools and institutions are giving sámi language courses to anyone who wishes to learn it (although this is mostly in Northern sámi), and I do also secretly wish that my children will learn it, which I never did due to the Norwegianization process in Finnmark. Language is a huge part of culture and when it’s taken away, people get confused about their own community and sense of belonging, and even turn on each other as a result of feeling alienated.
“The first study on the DNA of the ancient inhabitants of Finland has been published, with results indicating that an abundance of genes reached Finland all the way from Siberia.
The genetic samples compared in the study were collected from human bones found in a 3,500-year-old burial place in the Kola Peninsula and the 1,500-year-old lake burial site at Levänluhta in South Ostrobothnia, Finland. All of the samples contained identical Siberian genes.
Siberian origin remains perceptible
The ancient DNA has also been compared to modern populations. Siberian origins are still visible in the Sámi, Finns and other populations of the Finno-Ugric language family.
“However, it has been mixed up with the European genome. Of all European populations, modern Sámi are the most evident representatives of the Siberian genome. As for the title of the modern people with the largest Siberian genetic component, that privilege goes to the Nganasan people living in northern Siberia,” says Päivi Onkamo, head of the SUGRIGE project at the Universities of Helsinki and Turku.
The project succeeded in mapping out the entire genome from the bones of eleven individuals. From the Kola Peninsula, the bones of six individuals were collected from a 3,500-year-old burial place, while those of two individuals were found from another location dating back to the 18th and 19th century. In the case of the bones found in the Levänluhta site in South Ostrobothnia, the entire genome was mapped for three individuals.”
Some other Uralic/Finno-ugric peoples with roots from Ural mountains, Siberia are the Nenets (previously called the Samoyeds), the Khanty, the Mansi, the Selkup and the Mari people. We also have very similar traditional costumes and of course traditionally being nomadic, following the reindeers, and sharing same langauge family. Maybe I will write a post on our traditional dresses.
These findings also makes sense with my own FamilyTreeDNA results, although commercial DNA test kits are not super accurate:
Some things I truly believe are yours to keep, that no one can take from you:
Your spiritual practice. In my case, it is vajrayana buddhism. It has saved my life in many ways – both in dealing with chronic illness, but also the normal existential stuff like finding purpose and joy 🙂🙏🏼📿
Your ambitions and dreams (if they come from a place of pure motivation and love). In my case now, it has been starting a little family with children 💜🤱
Your ethnicity and ancestry, no matter how lost or scattered it is in this modern world. In my case from my personal experience, I feel very connected to my home in the Arctic and being uralic/finno-ugric. I didn’t as a kid and teenager, at all, but now as I am older, I feel like I can “own” it more. I don’t speak any of the uralic languages, and feel a sadness about this. A disconnection from my own culture. And a feeling of not belonging to a community, when they can’t speak to me. I hope my son will not feel as disconnected. But I have found other ways to express this – primarily through art and duodji. Not all languages are of verbal nature, but are equally important, I think. 🎨
Your creativity. Not necessarily arts, but anything you find a solution to that involves stepping out of the habitual intellectual mind and into a state of spontaneity and flow.🌊
Your struggles. This sounds negative, but for me I mean that my struggles are valid. I have a body that has its big share of physical problems, and I don’t mean to whine. At all! 🙂 Just to express that this is my reality, and that chronic (perhaps invisible to others) illness can happen to anyone, any time in life.💙
Your love. This one sounds cheesy but I think we all can feel love and that we have love as a basic human need. To receive it and give it. And we all have different ways of showing it. I like giving gifts for example.. but am not so good verbally expressing how I feel. I like receiving kind loving deeds, but not to be smothered. So understanding how we show it differently is important too. I also believe that as humans we have the capacity to love many at the same time. Whether it is friends or partners, plural. Romantic, familial or platonic.❤
Before even starting this list, I know this is going to be a long post. I will not be able to choose just one artwork by each artist, and I want to write what exactly it is about their work which speaks to me and inspires me. Just googling and looking through their work and studying their techniques instantly sparks motivation and awe in me.
Here are the artists:
Nicholas Roerich Thomas Cole K. Hokusai John Savio Eva Harr Robert Gonsalves Theodor Kittelsen The Brothers Hildebrandt Phil Couture
The list is sort of random, except for the one on top. Nicholas Roerich’s artworks are truly some of the best I’ve seen, not only in style and composition but also in the message they convey: often spiritual, mystical and religious themes combined with amazing landscapes and colour combinations.
Short trivia: Roerich (1874-1947) was a Russian painter, philospher and archeaologist. Founder of Agni Yoga or Living Ethics/Teaching of Life with his wife, Helena. He did a five year long ‘expedition’ to Asia, which in his own words were: “from Sikkim through Punjab, Kashmir, Ladakh, the Karakoram Mountains, Khotan, Kashgar, Qara Shar, Urumchi, Irtysh, the Altai Mountains, the Oyrot region of Mongolia, the Central Gobi, Kansu, Tsaidam, and Tibet”, which immensely influenced his works.
During his life, he lived both in Russia, Finland, England, India and USA.
Besides the recognition as one of the greatest Russian painters, Roerich’s most notable achievement during his lifetime was the Roerich Pact (the Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments) signed April 1935 by the representatives of American states in the Oval Office of the White House. It was the first international treaty signed in the Oval Office.
There is a museum in New York displaying 150 of his works- which I would love to visit 🙂
Fun fact: The minor planet 4426 Roerich in the Solar System was named in honor of Nicholas Roerich.
Here are some of his best works, in my opinion (Sources: Google and the Roerich museum website)
As you can probably guess, my favourite kind of art is landscapes; mountains and rivers, skies and horizons. Thomas Cole’s work is very realistic and typical for the romantic era, but also carries a sort of spiritual vibe to them as he often implemented celestial beings such as angels. He is exceptionally good at perspective and composition, as you can see in the works below – and the details are amazing.
Short trivia: Thomas Cole (1801-1811) was born in England, but moved to the United states when he was 17 with his family. He is known for his amazing landscape paintings of the American wilderness, and was mostly self taught, studying other artists’ work and reading books.
In 1842, Cole embarked on a grand tour of Europe in an effort to study in the style of the Old Masters and to paint its scenery. Most striking to Cole was Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mount Etna. Cole was so moved by the volcano’s beauty that he produced several sketches and at least six paintings of it.
Fun fact: The fourth highest peak in the Catskills (where he and his wife lived) is named Thomas Cole Mountain in his honor.
I struggled choosing a limited amount of Cole’s paintings because he has so many good ones. I chose four of the absolute best ones, in my opinion, where the two first ones are part of a four series of paintings called The Ages of Life.
(Sources: google and Wikipedia)
Amid those scenes of solitude… the mind is cast into the contemplation of eternal things.
I love Japanese art. Although kind of typical Japanese in style, Hokusai still has his own expression, and I like the use of so many colours. He also has a lot of movement in his works, making them come alive. Just look at that wave 🙂
Short trivia: Hokusai (approx. 1760-1849), was a Japanese painter and woodblock print maker.
Hokusai had a long career, but he produced most of his important work after age 60. His most popular work is the ukiyo-e series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which was created between 1826 and 1833. It consists of 46 prints.
Hokusai was never in one place for long. He found cleaning distasteful, and instead, he allowed dirt and grime to build up in his studio until the place became unbearable and then simply moved out. The artist changed residences over 90 times throughout his life.
During a Tokyo festival in 1804, he created a portrait of the Buddhist priest Daruma said to be 600 feet (180 m) long using a broom and buckets full of ink. Another story places him in the court of the Shogun Iyenari, invited there to compete with another artist who practiced more traditional brush stroke painting. Hokusai’s painting, created in front of the Shogun, consisted of painting a blue curve on paper, then chasing a chicken across it whose feet had been dipped in red paint. He described the painting to the Shogun as a landscape showing the Tatsuta River with red maple leaves floating in it, winning the competition.
The artist also had difficulty settling on a single moniker. Although changing one’s name was customary among Japanese artists at this time, Hokusai took the practice even further with a new artist name roughly each decade. Together with his numerous informal pseudonyms, the printmaker claimed more than 30 names in total (!)
His tombstone bears his final name, Gakyo Rojin Manji, which translates to “Old Man Mad about Painting.”
Fun fact: Claude Monet acquired 23 of the Japanese artist’s prints.
(Sources: katsushikahokusai.org, artsy.net, google and wikipedia)
The only Sámi artist on my list, and the best one 🙂 I snuck him on there despite him not mainly being a painter, but also doing lithography. This summer, I went to see his original artworks at the Savio museum in Kirkenes, my mother’s hometown. Most of his art has arctic inspired themes; reindeers, the Sámi peoples way of life, and the wilderness (vidda).
Short trivia: John Andreas Savio (1902-1938) from Bugøyfjord, was the first sámi artist to get his own exhibition at the National Gallery (Norway). He also exhibited some of his works in Paris in 1937.
Savio grew up as an orphan and died at age 36.
I was lucky enough to visit Eva Harr’s gallery in Reine, Lofoten this autumn, and got to see her original works up close. Her style is realistic combined with a fiction-like feeling; it could be a real place she has painted, but it could also be a made-up dreamy landscape. She’s good at combining elements, such as rocks, and I like how she is able to make many of her paintings look hazy.
Short trivia: Harr (1951) is a Norwegian painter, born in Harstad. She has her own gallery as mentioned, and many of her works are displayed in other museums around Norway. Her own words about her art:
“Jeg har en meditativ holdning til mitt arbeide, der naturens syklus alltid står i fokus. Døgnets ulike stemninger, lyset og mørket, nattens begynnelse og slutt – og ikke minst månen med sin mektige symbolikk og innvirkning på våre liv. Symbolene jeg finner i naturen er ofte universelle og sterkt ladet. Dette velger jeg å utforske og fordype meg i. Mitt landskap er et indre landskap, og er metafor på mine indre reiser. Jeg vil speile naturen, og dens viktige plass i våre liv. Jeg blir berørt av dette uforutsigbare som preger vår tid, uro og støy som truer vår natur. Dette preger mitt blikk, og er underliggende i mitt valg av motiv. Samtidig ser jeg klart at lysets skiftninger og landskapet i nord, er en veldig viktig inspirasjonskilde.”
from her own website, evaharr.no
Some of her amazing works (Sources: google and her website)
Four years ago, I came across one of Gonsalves’ paintings (the first one below) and it reminded me of a meditation experience I had had. So I checked out more of his works, and found so many more that I liked. Style: surrealism (or magic realism) and optical illusions.
Short trivia: Rob Gonsalves (1959-2017), also known as The Master of illusion, was a architect and painter from Ontario, Canada. His works were very much influenced by other surrealist artists, such as Dalí and Escher. He also published several books containing his works. Sadly, Gonsalves took his own life last year. Check out this webpage if you want to see more of his mindbending artworks.
(Sources: wikipedia and google)
One of the most famous and beloved artists in Norway. You have probably seen his works even if you don’t know it. His art reminds me of childhood, as he made illustrations to many of the big Norwegian fairytales, lores and legends. I wish I had more of Kittelsen’s art, but I have been so fortunate to get my hands on five vintage porcelain plates (for hanging on the wall) with his drawings on them, and one giclée print of “White Bear King Valemon”.
Short trivia: Theodor Severin Kittelsen (1857-1914) was a Norwegian illustrator and painter born in Kragerø. He has also written and published several poems. He came from a poor family with seven siblings, and his father died when Theodor was only 11 years old. This forced him to get out and get a job as an apprentice, which inevitably lead him to meet art historian Diderich Aall, who saw how gifted the boy was. Aall decided to pay for his art education.
In 1874, 17 years old, Kittelsen attended Wilhelm von Hannos drawing school in Christiania (now Oslo). In 1876, he travelled to München, to study at the royal art academy there.
Kittelsen’s depiction of trolls have largely shaped how people see these beloved fictional creatures.
His family’s home at Lauvlia is today a museum. Some of his most popular works were made here. His wife Inga was a stay-at-home teacher for their nine children and she organised his exhibitions.
Th. Kittelsen also composed an eerie book with illustrations about the Black Death.
Despite being very talented, Kittelsen never achieved financial security through his works.
(Sources: wikipedia, google and theodorkittelsen.no)
The Brothers Hildebrandt
When I was a kid, I used to flick through my dad’s art books and magazines, and I specifically remember seeing fantasy paintings. Fantasy is a very unique genre, and I love how skillful you have to be with your brush to make good fantasy art. Tim and Greg Hildebrandt are two of these.
Short trivia: Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, known as the Brothers Hildebrandt (born January 23, 1939), are American twin brothers who worked collaboratively as fantasy and science fiction artists for many years. They produced illustrations for comic books, movie posters, children’s books, posters, novels, calendars, advertisements, and trading cards. Tim Hildebrandt died on June 11, 2006.
They began painting professionally in 1959 as the Brothers Hildebrandt. The brothers both held an ambition to work as animators for Walt Disney, and although they never realized this dream, their work was heavily influenced by illustration style of Disney feature films such as Snow White, Pinnochio and Fantasia.
An oil painting artist I discovered last year on Etsy. As mentioned above, I like Asian art, and also fine art, so Phil Couture’s oil portraits of geishas really deserved a place on my list. I ordered one of his prints not long ago. Style: realism.
Short trivia: Philippe Couture was born in Drummondville, Canada in 1984, raised in Lakeland, Florida, and currently resides in Kyoto, Japan. He has been drawing and painting his entire life and Phil’s art education was primarily self-taught. His training consisted of drawing and painting from life, studying masterpieces in museums around the world, and employing exercises taught by classical ateliers. – from his own website.
Noen blinkskudd fra årets Riddu Riddu-festival i Manndalen! Herrefred, kor æ kosa mæ 😀 Topp fem mest minneverdige øyeblikk fra festivalen:
1. Tyva Kyzy – et tuvansk strupesanggruppe. Fikk sett de hele 3 ganga; en intimkonsert i en yurta, en gang på hovedscenen og enda en gang under frivilligfesten.
2. DJ Shub + Classic Roots, de spilte på fredagen (sjanger: pow wow dub). Du kan sjekke ut en av de beste sangene her.
3. Møte med andre urkulturer.
4. Koselige stunder rundt bål.
5. Alle de vakre koftene som var å se.
Some books I 1) have read and loved, 2) plan to read and 3) am currently reading 🙂
* Stones to Shatter the Stainless mirror: The fearless teachings of Tilopa to Naropa:
Excerpt from the book: “…I suppose that is the secret and the point of this Vision. In every situation, there is the relative view; where there are others and a world to serve with loving-kindness, compassion and generosity. And there is also the Ultimate view; where there are no others and no world. Only the mind of clear light, manifesting in the various illusions.”
This book really hit home for me; it’s easy to read, is filled with wisdom but also some funny parts that I could recognize from my own path. It’s written in a way that shows Naropa’s own point of view and the hardships he went through to humble himself enough to receive the teachings of Tilopa. Also, there are some direct “pointers to the moon” by Tilopa at the very end of the book.
* The Life of Milarepa
“It presents a quest for purification and buddhahood in a single lifetime, tracing the path of a great sinner who became a great saint. It is also a powerfully evocative narrative, full of magic, miracles, suspense, and humor, while reflecting the religious and social life of medieval Tibet.”
I have heard this book three times on audio, and it actually only gets better each time. The words are collected and written down by Tsangnyön Heruka (“The madman Heruka from Tsang”), and tells the story of Milarepa‘s physical and spiritual journey towards enlightenment. It’s written in quite a humorous way, I think, and has been very inspirational for me. Actually planning on hearing/reading it again very soon!
* White Lotus: An explanation of the Seven Line prayer to Guru Padmasambhava
“Mipham Rinpoche’s famous explanation of the Seven Line Prayer to Guru Rinpoche. In this remarkable text the author explains the Seven Line Prayer in the context and application of the main practices of the Nyingma school, including Trekchö and Tögal in an exceptionally clear and accessible manner. ”
* Lady of the Lotus-born: The life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal
“This classical text is not only a biography but also an inspiring example of how the Buddha’s teaching can be put into practice. Lady of the Lotus-Born interweaves profound Buddhist teachings with a colorful narrative that includes episodes of adventure, court intrigue, and personal searching.”
I ordered this book from Amazon about a week ago; patiently waiting for it to drop into my mail box! I have been fascinated by, and feel very close to, Yeshe Tsogyal for the last 6 months or so, so am very excited to start reading this book. I normally order books to my Kindle app, but there is something very nice about having the book physically in your hands too 🙂 Especially if you are in a coffee shop reading, which I often do.
* Sky Dancer: The secret life and songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyal
Another book on Yeshe Tsogyal. Not much on this book when I google it, but still seems worth reading and easy to order for my Kindle app. The cover shows a picture of Vajrayogini/Naljorma – one of Yeshe Tsogyal’s aspects.
* The Life of Longchenpa: The Omniscient Dharma King of the Vast Expanse
“Compiled from numerous Tibetan and Bhutanese sources, including Longchenpa’s autobiography and stories of his previous lives and subsequent rebirths, The Life of Longchenpa weaves an inspiring and captivating tale of wonder and magic, of extraordinary visions and spiritual insight, set in the kingdoms of fourteenth-century Tibet and Bhutan. It also reveals for the first time fascinating details of his ten years of self-exile in Bhutan, stories that were unknown to his Tibetan biographers.”
Since I loved The Life of Milarepa so much, I have been looking for more biographies on spiritual teachers to read, and stumbled upon this one on Longchenpa, a teacher from the Nyingma lineage. These kinds of biographies seems to be very inspiring and motivational for my own path, and I just generally enjoy reading about other people’s path, and the way they deal with hardships and challenges. Still have not ordered this one, but it’s on my list!
* The Heart of Compassion: The thirty seven verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva
“What would be the practical implications of caring more about others than about yourself? This is the radical theme of this extraordinary set of instructions, a training manual composed in the fourteenth century by the Buddhist hermit Ngulchu Thogme, here explained in detail by one of the great Tibetan Buddhist masters of the twentieth century, Dilgo Khyentse.”
Only just started on this one, think I am on page 4. I have been meaning to read Dilgo Khyentse’s autobiography Brilliant Moon for some time, but then I stumbled upon this book instead and will finish this before I start on the other. Dilgo Khyentse is by far one of the most inspirational buddhist teachers I know of, so looking forward to see if I like this text.
* Wild Ivy: The spiritual autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin
“Hakuin Zenji (1689-1769) is a towering figure in Japanese Zen. A fiery and dynamic teacher and renowned artist, he reformed the Zen Rinzai tradition, which had fallen into stagnation and decline in his time, revitalizing it and ensuring its survival even to our own day. Hakuin emphasized the importance of zazen, or sitting meditation, and is also known for his skillful use of koans as a means to insight.”
I am, unfortunately, a very slow reader and have spent a few months on this book, but I really do like it and plan on finishing it. It’s filled with personal accounts of Hakuin and also some lovely calligraphy paintings.
* More than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory
As the title implies, this is a book about polyamory. As a person who is relatively new to this kind of relationship structure, I thought I could use some pointers. Only read the introduction so far, but it seems promising.
If you have any books to recommend, please do not hesitate to comment or link it to me 😀