Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ursa Major & the Dogstar
12" x 16"
Mixed Media

Some Native American Tribes, along with geographically disparate cultures from around the world (such as the Dogons and the Egyptians), believe that wise teachers came to us a long time ago from the distant sun Sirius, or the Dogstar. In Native culture, this is represented by wolves.

Ursa Major, or the Great Bear is also a symbol used by many peoples to describe the huge constellation to the north that includes within it the Big Dipper.

I have always been fascinated with the way some symbols and ideas seem to be universal, stretching across oceans and time, binding us ever closer as a human family.

When I was painting this image, I had many threads of thought going through my mind at once, and I am never able to sufficiently unravel them all with these words (which is precisely why I am painting them in the first place). Something I was thinking of was the concept many Westerners have of Jesus Christ as the Great Teacher. Of course, while Islam claims Christ in this way, Catholics, Protestants, and other Orthodoxies say He was not only the Son of God, but God Himself.

If this is the case, many cultures in our past would tell us he comes from Sirius. Perhaps this could be seen as the root of Bethlehem's star.

I have painted a mother and child. Her arms surrounding and protecting, giving love, warmth and security. In turn, they are protected within the belly of the their spirit protector, the Totem of Nanuk, almost appearing in form as an igloo against the vast backdrop of eternity and the Long Night. Looking again from the Christian perspective, this could be seen as the Christ child, Mary, the Holy Ghost surrounding them and the wisdom of God the Father shining down upon them. Of course, in the woman we also have the symbol of the Earth, and in the child, the seed of possibility. The child is clothed in red, representing blood, the heart and fire.

The Big Dipper, a component of the Great Bear, reminds us that we are all physical vessels, to be filled with spritual light.

In my family, the Bear Totem is very powerful and instrumental in helping us with our dreams. We are of the Wolf clan. This may explain why I am often moved to go alone at night and to stare up into the heavens. I don't know what I am searching for, if anything at all, but I do know this: I have seen meteors tracing flames across the black expanse, leaving contrails of smoke to filter down into our air, a gift from distant suns.

I have watched satellites in their journeys. Pulling away from us, falling toward us, balanced above like the moon, circling in a precarious dance. I have watched as planets slowly approach, growing brighter with each passing week. I have felt them diminish. I wonder if the small gravities they exert make a difference in our lives, subtle and soft, but a difference all the same.

It is difficult to live in the city sometimes. It feels like a shadow has been tossed across the firmament, that the universe is winking out - one galaxy at a time - as the street lamps become brighter and more plentiful. Sometimes I am compelled to escape from this town into dark fields where Edmonton is only a small glow on the horizon. In such solitude I can look into the shadow at the center of our own galaxy and marvel that We are all a part of it.

We are made of it.

Quickened by air and water, we are made of dust...and light.


andrea said...

This is fantastic Aaron. You should put out some limited edition prints for those of us too poor to buy original art (because nobody's buying ours... :).

Aaron Paquette said...

I've thought about it, Andrea...for a few years, now.

I'm not quite ready to do that yet, but when I do, I will send something out to you.