Transformational Symbolic Art

Interview with Willi Paul for Planet Shifter Magazine September 2010

Our Journey by Gaia OrionHow are you creating new stories and myths in your paintings?

Sacred and ancient forms of art from various cultures throughout history have always fascinated me. With beauty in their simplicity, their strong lines, vivid colours, and images transcend time, though feel like `they have always been here.’ Many research have been done showing that across the world and throughout time common core concepts and archetypes link us all.
I feel my artwork is connected to this ageless thread. So yes, I am creating new myths, new stories for the society I live in and for my time.

Tell us yours fears and hopes for your kids.

It is difficult not to think sometime about how unstable and volatile our world is. We depend a lot on our technology for everything in our lives at so many levels, from the food we get on our table to the ability of promoting my artwork through Internet. I often think that I have to be grateful for the abundance that we are providing for our kids. Throughout history most generations would go through phases of famine, disease and war. As long as we are not working seriously at a planetary level to resolve basic issues (like our growing world population, the ridiculous gaps between rich and poor, the racism and hate that feeds political agendas for wars, the pollution that is destroying our resources and our bodies little by little… to name a few!) then we are living on a very thin comfort blanket right now. It is sad for me to witness that and sad for my kids to grow up with the slogan “save the planet” at every corner of their life. Despite of these grave problems we have no choice but to remain optimistic. When I saw Barak Obama being elected it gave me hope to think that we do have all the solutions in our hands and that change can happen very quickly. I read on one of your interviews that ¼ of the money spent worldwide for armament could resolve most of the basic issue I mentioned before. So that is a great thing to know. Everywhere I see small community initiatives, green businesses growing exponentially and many new ideas that bring viable solutions. At one point the old paradigm will shift and new sustainable ways of living on the planet will be everywhere. That is so exciting. I often say that if I had to choose to live at any point of history, this would be an amazing time to be alive. I know I am raising kids that are very aware, conscious and understanding. I have no doubt that they are a great addition to our future society!

Artists may go through many initiations on their alchemic journey. Please us about some of your key learning’s and transitions.

Meta physicists have said that our senses can only see about 1/1000 of 1% of the whole spectrum of waves of reality. This leaves an incredible amount of unseen to our senses. Being on an alchemic journey is to get an understanding of that fact as we experience different levels of reality. Some call it having mystical experiences but if you understand the physics it is simply opening our senses to new realms.
When I was 12 I used the widgy board with friends and it basically traumatized me for years. What scared me was to realize that there are other beings around me that I can’t see and I was worried of their possible power over me. Nobody around me took my fears seriously so I was left alone with this changed view of the universe. Unfortunately I was mostly left with many questions, doubt about the religion I was brought up with (Catholicism), doubt about adults that had no explanations for me and showed no support and an irrational fear about the unknown that lasted for years.
When I was 21 I met my husband Dolphin while traveling in Morocco. Our meeting was quite magical and it felt that bigger forces had been at work to make us meet. On our wedding night, we were on the beach in France and we were holding hands facing each other when giant auras glowed around us for the longest time. After this happen channels had open and I was able to see auras everywhere and I was also realizing that being in touch with other realms was not all about fears. It was very beautiful and peaceful.
At 28 I started long meditation retreats and there I was able to experience the vastness of the mind and the universe just by sitting still on a cushion. In the last 10 years I have learned different healing techniques, I have read many books on science, health, diet, healing, sacred geometry, philosophy and spirituality.
My alchemic journey is about seeing the opening of my perception of reality and the inner psycho spiritual transformation that is reflected in my relationships and the unfolding of my life. When life is giving me difficult situations I am able to embrace the challenge and be grateful for what I will be learning through this. Everything is in place for a reason, it is magical to see the intricacies of life and how everything is connected so magically in a perfect dance. Life is just beautiful.

Are you an “island of creativity and rebellion?” And how do you build community?

Creativity arises naturally. It is not something that I can call anytime. It is a gift that comes in once in while. I realized that what is important is to set the ground for creativity to be able to flourish. This is a daily work on myself to arrange my life so that it has some space for creativity to happen. Creativity cannot come if I am too busy with entertainment, activities and other things.
Rebellion is inevitable in this world if we are looking for a life that has meaning. The world of mainstream is full of lies, deception and superficiality. It takes a lot of energy to inquire, to see through the film of conformism. Most people don’t want to disturb, it may seem a lot easier to go along like everyone with what we are being taught and told by our families, religions, schools and society. Only a few will go against the status quo. For them it is not even courage or rebellion it is just the only way to live to keep their spirit alive. This is when the community comes into place: when you are on that path of searching for truth and balance you inevitably connect with others that are on the same search. It is very interesting to see that this community has been built for thousands of years. The mainstream looks up to a lot of them, like Plato, Da Vinci, Carl Yung and many other artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, poets, also leaders. It really helps to have this community. This community is the true family of the seeker.

Is there a “Father Nature?” How is this energy expressed in your work and in popular culture these days?

I would say that Nature embraces both Father and Mother. There are archetypes that are obvious: Mother Nature is the earth as she is hosting us, feeding us, nurturing us like a mother. Other energies in this world are more masculine like the Sun. The Sun has the energy of protection, power, and strength as it gives heat and life to our bodies. I try to embrace both energies in my work, but I do have to admit that my work mostly focus’s on female energies. I think it is probably because we need more of it in our world. Our western society is based on a patriarchal model; it dawns me to think that women were allowed to vote only in 1944 in France and that Saudi Arabia still doesn’t allow women to vote. I feel one of the reason why our environment is so destroyed is because of this imbalance and disconnection to Mother Earth. Western world religion -mostly Christianity- has a history of dominance over other religion and people, its father god is in the sky disconnected to nature elements and it has male dominated sacred texts and hierarchy. All of this has definitely played a part in the environmental issues we have today and the way our society views the resources of the planet.

What is the spiritual core or principles of the Sustainability Age? Is there a universal theme or spark still?

I kind of smile when I hear all these “new” concepts of sustainability, buying local, respect of the environment, recycling, reusing etc. because most of humanity throughout history was living that way naturally. They were no such a thing as creating garbage, recycling was not even a concept but an obvious thing to do, buying local was the only place to buy food, respecting our environment was absolutely necessary for survival. Something went wrong not so long ago when we thought that we are the most intelligent species and that being in harmony with nature became a fluffy new age pagan tree-hugger thing to talk about.
When we look at nature, feel the peace and harmony that exists within the forest we automatically know the truth. Now go downtown in a large city: thick concrete and asphalt under our feet disconnect us from the earth and heavy smog and light pollution unable us to see skies and stars; then you know intrinsically who is living the right way. No religion can dictate what is right or wrong. Only by observing nature can we learn about physic, science, economy, ecology, even mathematics and spirituality. Nature is the only universal them that connects us all and that holds the answers to our present problems.

Please explain this more deeply:  “When we work seriously and passionately on finding peace and wisdom, the rest unfolds naturally toward a greater community around us and around the world.”

From meeting people that had a similar journey as well as from my own experience, I know that when we let go of the old beliefs, step out of society’s expectations and search for truth and meaning, then there is magic that happens: Synchronicities occur, the world seems to organize itself around us so that we can navigate through it, there are little choices to make, everything seems to be presenting itself the way it should be. Because the core intention was pure and from the heart, all that unfolds is naturally for the good of all. With each person doing this, it inspires more people to execute the change; mathematically a snowball effect may happen! That’s my positive outlook for our future!

Is sustainability like a new religion?

Sustainability is what should naturally arise and be if we choose to live in tune with ourselves and with nature. There is no need to talk in terms of religion. If we felt inner fulfillment in our lives then we wouldn’t need to buy so much stuff. Our addiction to buying, endlessly making our houses nicer and more comfortable -which is really our desires uncontrolled- is what causes so much destruction ecologically. This whole ecological shift has to come with personal understanding and change. I am not sure religions, old or new, can do anything about that. We know that people will change if they inquire seriously into life, whether they belong to a religion or not doesn’t make a difference.

Is Toronto a magical place?

Toronto is known to be a multicultural peaceful place. When I first moved here I loved Toronto. My English wasn’t so good and everywhere I was going everybody had broken English like mine. I felt at home right away. Maybe it is appropriate that I live close to this open city as in my artwork I embrace all backgrounds and cultures.  Though I never lived in Toronto, I am now 2 hours up North in the bush by a river and that is definitely magical!

When is a hero also a shaman? Are you one or both?

I am pretty sure heroes don’t know they are heroes until people label them that way. In difficult and challenging situations some people take action spontaneously regardless of the danger or the consequences. It is mostly after the fact that they might realize that their action was heroic. Many people along the way affected me deeply just by living their life, or by what they said to me one day. I am assuming that by living my life I am affecting others without knowing it. One person takes radical steps and changes, she/he doesn’t do it to impress anyone, and for her/him it is the only way. Each life that is transformed inevitably affects others.
12 years ago my husband and I took a radical step of quitting his meaningless job. When we did that we had an 18-month-old son and 3-month-old twin girls. It sure wasn’t a “reasonable” thing to do to the eyes of our society. We didn’t care about the consequences; we had no other option. We really had no idea of what we were going to do. 4 years later we had 2 successful businesses, today we sold one of them, we have been both at home with our kids all these years, we both have time for reflection, music and art. We have more than we could have ever dreamed of.
“The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world” (Wikipedia definition of the shaman) So it that sense we have been shamans in our lives because we have focussed our whole transformation on the spiritual aspect of it. From that the rest unfolded.
Most people tell us that we were so courageous to quit our job and go into the unknown, but when we did it, just like the heros, we didn’t think it was courage, it was the only way.

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Planet Shifter Willi Paul

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