Art & Shamanism



Monday, July 20, 2020

8:00pm – 9:00pm

  • Presale: $10
  • General Admission Day Of: $15
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Art & Shamanism

Shamanic cultures around the world portray in art and artifacts the interaction of the human and spirit worlds, a communion that blurs the lines between art and medicine. The shaman journeys to visionary realms, a lower, middle, and upper world, via drumming or taking sacramental substances, and while in altered states of consciousness, makes contact with healing or hostile spirit forces. Tribes as diverse as the Inuit of Northern Canada, the Huichol of Mexico, African Congo culture, Australian Aborigines and islanders of the south Pacific, all produce objects depicting the interaction of the human and spirit worlds. The shaman is the most psychically sensitive person within the community, and performs rituals intended to bind the community together. Art can become a record of the tribal narrative or a way to honor a mythic cosmology and spiritual forces.

_Hamatsa Shaman emerging from the woods–Koskimo_ photograph by Edward S. Curtis, 1914
Edward S. Curtis / Public domain

Hamatsa Shaman emerging from the woods–Koskimo photograph by Edward S. Curtis, 1914

Frequently in these communities, the artist and the shaman are one and the same person. Masks, headgear, and specialized ritual dress enhance the shaman’s power in trance or to communicate visions. Feathered headdresses or crowns, special garments, face painting and body painting, tattoos and scarification signify the psychic pattern languages of the shaman. Colorful and outstanding adornment, prepare and protect the body during possession states.

Ancient shamanic artists from around the world portray recurring archetypes, such as the radiances and auras of the “light body” and an “x-ray style” of seeing into the body, examples of human-animal hybrids, spirits and spirit worlds. Through long and arduous apprenticeships, shamans develop their imaginal powers on journeys that bring them to the brink of insanity and back. Vivid visioning of dismemberment by animal and spirit forces can breakdown the identity of the novice or initiate shaman. The shattered personality is then reassembled into the wounded and transformed healer.

_Ayahuasca Visitation_ by Alex Grey, 2001

Ayahuasca Visitation by Alex Grey, 2001

Wisdom, drumming and healing songs are transmitted to the wounded healer during the shamanic journey. The shaman’s journey is a restorative mission for the sake of the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of their community. The art of the shaman is not made for mere visual entertainment but for sacred and often ritual purposes. The totem, talisman and fetish are imbued with magic medicinal power and are made to serve the tribal people or to work with beings encountered in the visionary worlds.

Justina by Geenss Archenti Flores, 2019

Justina by Geenss Archenti Flores, 2019

Shaman cave painters made the first Psychedelic Art. Visionary artists seen at today’s worldwide transformative festivals can trace their lineage back to those ancient initiation places. According to the essay, “Why Shamanic Practices Are Making a Comeback in Contemporary Art,” artists today are addressing witchcraft, the occult and feminism and are representing the self in performance, photography, film, and conceptual portraiture as priestess and cult queen.

_Alto Cielo_ by Pablo Amaringo

Alto Cielo by Pablo Amaringo

The recent widespread ceremonial use of Ayahuasca in the West, has introduced the power of deep jungle medicine people and plants to a post-modern society. The Ayahuasca Artists like Pablo Amaringo and Luis Tamani express the powerful visual impact these experiences have on the mind. Speaking of his Ayahuasca experiences, musician, Sting describes feeling as if he were “wired to the entire cosmos,” with “direct access to the God Head.” Artists in every medium have braved the territory of expanded consciousness through ritualistic, native practices, alternative modes of spirituality, altered states of consciousness, for personal evolution and creative insight. The model of the Shaman as empowered inward journeyer and wounded healer has unique importance in today’s fragmented postmodern world.

Guardians by Luis Tamani

Guardians by Luis Tamani

Art Church begins with art as a spiritual path. Bring drawing and/or journaling materials.

With Your Hosts: Alex Grey & Allyson Grey

The mystic paintings of Alex Grey articulate realms of psychedelic visionary consciousness, revealing interwoven energies of body and soul, love and spirit, illuminating the anatomical core of each being. Alex’s visual meditations on the nature of life and consciousness, the subject of his art, have reached millions through his five books including three monographs, the exhibition and extensive reproduction of his artwork, speaking appearances including a popular TED talk, stage sets for major rock bands, video animation, and Grammy award winning album art.


Allyson Grey is a painter, social sculptor, Alex’s creative and life partner since meeting in art school in 1975. Chaos, Order and Secret Writing comprise the essentialized world view portrayed in Allyson’s paintings. Chaos represents the material world, Order, the interconnected realm of energy and light and Secret Writing articulates the mystic realm of creative expression. MFA, Tufts University. Allyson has long been an art educator, event organizer and a muse to artists worldwide.


Together, the Grey’s co-founded the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, CoSM, a spiritual creative retreat center outside of New York City. On the forefront of a movement in which painters join musicians on stage, the Grey’s have painted together live before tens of thousands of dancing young people at New York Broadway theaters, at sold-out festivals and arenas in dozens of international cities across five continents. As long-time advocates of “cognitive liberty,” a growing international “sacramental culture” has embraced the Grey’s as important mapmakers and spokespersons for the visionary realm.

What is Art Church at CoSM?

Each of us carry a spark of the Almighty Force of the Universe that seeks expression through our lives and works. We gather as community to activate our creativity as spiritual practice. The Universal Creative Force is the Divine Artist and Cosmos is the evolving masterwork of Creation. When we make art together, a new way of seeing may emerge. As Sacred Mirrors, we reflect and reinforce the redemptive transformative power of art in each of our lives.

At CoSM, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, Art Church is a Sunday afternoon event led by Alex & Allyson in the Grey House, where we draw our visions to music and discuss the topic of the month. Bring basic drawing materials, your favorite transportable art supplies — a sketchbook, pens & pencils. You can also bring a journal for noting thoughts or writing poetry. Paper, pencils and pens are also available at the door. Alex & Allyson open the session with welcoming thoughts and reflections on the topic that might stimulate a vision. Inspiring spoken word poetry opens the silent drawing meditation accompanied by inspiring music. The meditation is followed by sharing the experience of creative silence together and the art or writing that resulted from the session. A break is next, to meet community members, visit The Mushroom Cafe and CoSM Shop. After the break, the topical presentation and discussion begins in the Library.

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CoSM, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors is a church and a 501(c)(3) organization, supported by charitable donations from the community.
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