My Annunciation

I have been inspired by so many who have shared their own mystical experiences, Hildegard of Bingen, Alex Grey, Meinrad Craighead, & Gartenfische to name a few, to share my own. I share this experience because it has everything to do with why and how I make my art and live my life.

Bernardo Daddi MadonnaIn college, I had the good fortune to study in Florence. I was inundated, saturated with the energy of the Divine which is captured in those works of art & churches. I had never experienced such intensity before. I became particularly enamored of a Madonna & Child painting in a small shrine made in a former grain market, called Orsanmichele. The building was constructed around an open-air grain market where several healings had taken place which were attributed to the Virgin Mary. I visited this painting of Mary almost everyday for months and when I returned home I continued to pray to her.

One day when I was visiting my family, I had pulled the binds down in my old room and lain down on the bed to pray. I was holding a Mary medal which I used to wear around my neck and facing my old bookcase. I prayed for a long time running my fingers across the medal’s ridged surface when suddenly felt I was being watched. I opened my eyes and there was Mary’s head suspended over my stomach (my womb). I knew I was her without doubt. She was dark skinned and mysterious, the earth mother. I gasped and heard a loud pop. Mary disappeared and at the same moment I was filled utterly with a flash of blue light.

When the flash passed, my eyes were swimming like they do when exposed to something too bright. I noticed floating in my field of vision, a short dark column. It was the same experience as staring into a light bulb and upon looking away seeing dark dots float before you. I thought it was strange, such a distinct shape. So I got up and went to where the light had seemed to come from & where the shape also seemed to be coming from in my old bookcase which I hadn’t really looked through in years. There, wedged between two larger books and pushed slightly back so it was out of sight was a small (about 4”x 2.5”) black leather New Testament with gilt edges. Its spine was the exact shape and size of the dark mark floating around in front of my eyes. I knew with complete certainty this was where Light had come from. I had had no religious training at all. The only time I had every opened this Bible was when my Dad gave it to me at least 10 years earlier. At that time, I had opened it randomly and read just St. Luke’s description of the Annunciation.
Annunciation

It took me a long time to put together the fact that I had experience an annunciation of sorts although I only painted annunciation scenes for years after that. In my paintings, I always showed Mary as experiencing incredible fear. (See my early wood cut above. Sorry for the poor quality picture!) On the day I received the Light, the blue Light of creativity, I was given the job of being a vessel for this Light to enter into the world. This is a fearful task and I wasn’t up to it. I believe that is why I have been gifted with my illness, scleroderma- to prepare me for this sacred task. Having scleroderma has cleansed me of anger, bitterness & depression. Having scleroderma has taught me to be empty and surrender, although there is still much more to learn on that front! I pray to my Source everyday that I might be able to be a true vessel for the Light. Now my depictions of annunciations are no longer filled with fear.

This blue Light within is like a baby, it needs to be nurtured and cared for, protected and fed. This is the job of artists. Perhaps some might think artists are selfish or self-centered. Really they have turned inward to nurture this Light so that it may be infused into the world.

7 Responses “My Annunciation”

  1. gartenfische says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Wow. I feel blessed just to read it.

    I have sometimes wondered why I am so drawn to the Virgin, when I have no Catholic background. She is truly beyond that (as your experience shows). I feel a strong connection to the Black Madonna of Cz?stochowa (the image is in my sidebar). On Monday, Jan wrote about her experience with an icon that has “chosen” her. I’ll try to put a link here, hopefully, it will work. Jan’s blog.

  2. Heather says:

    You know, I never share my own experiences like this, but it was so nice to read about yours that I might change my mind.

    (Hooray for icons!)

  3. Jan says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I so appreciate your story of your experience with Mary. Since I sat with the icon of the annunciation on Sunday and with my favorite, the Virgin of Vladimir, I love your story and even envy you a little bit. What a blessing it is to visit here.

  4. Gartenfische- Thanks for pointing out Jan’s post.

    Heather- Please. please, please share!

    Jan- Thanks for your comment. I love your blog!

  5. Sue O'Kieffe says:

    I appreciate your sharing and look forward to reading your blog. This story is remarkable. I, too, believe that illness is a great teacher.
    Mary represents compassion, just as Kuan Yin is a goddess of compassion.
    Thank you so much for sharing your process as well as your studies!
    ~sue o’kieffe

  6. Thanks Sue! Your point about compassion is well taken. I’m going to have think on this. I feel a post brewing….

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