NINE FACETS OF AWARENESS
MEDICINE PAINTING

Intentional Creativity® is to create with intention and mindfulness - to bring love into what you make.

Medicine Painting is to create with intent for healing or illumination.

This is a brief overview of the Facets of Awareness which can create the ultimate insight from the experience. We say awareness quite intentionally because it is in bringing your awareness to these facets, with action. In our case, the action is Intentional Creativity®. Medicine Painting implies action because you’re actually painting!

The images provided are not an illustration of that concept - they are there for inspiration and examples of paintings I practiced using Medicine Painting.

Medicine Painting is an ancient practice woven throughout human history. We are seeing a revival in modern times, as people are called to take healing into their own hands.

In our methodology, Medicine Painting is painting with an intent to heal and receive insight. In this introduction, I will share some examples of painting within a healing context in the ancient world. I will review how we approach the practice today. As well as share stories of how this has informed my body of work and has sparked into a global art movement. Tens of thousands of women around the world work with this approach to embark on a healing journey through Intentional Creativity®. We have been practicing this way of working in our creative lineage since the 1930s.

The practice, process, and product of Medicine Painting are unique to every person. In this brief video, you will see some of the paintings I have worked with over the past few years that demonstrate my version of Medicine Painting, and some of the potential beneficial impacts. I have experienced these beneficial impacts personally and have had students share with me the incredible impacts they have experienced from their medicine painting journeys.

I encourage you to get a cup of tea and have 'cafe' with me. Take your time and see what arises for you. Perhaps you will feel called to bring Medicine Painting into your own healing journey.

Read the full article on Medicine Painting

1. Setting your Intention for Healing

Setting your intention is about making sure you are clear on your intention. That you are choosing an experience with an intention for healing and illumination. You want to set that clearly or else you will not be setting up your consciousness in such a way that what arises is what truly needs to be revealed. Your intention is part of what creates a strong container and also allows you to explore the language. You may even consider writing your intention down so you don’t lose it. Sometimes when creating you can lose awareness of your initial intention. You also want to continue noticing as you go along whether the intention is shifting. If it does shift, you can change the intention. Say you want less pain in your knee, and then all of sudden you remember something from childhood that feels more powerful to hold in healing - then you would adjust your intention. We also will often mark the canvas with the intention by writing it directly on the front or back as well as documenting the process as we go along.

1. Setting your Intention for Healing

Setting your intention is about making sure you are clear on your intention. That you are choosing an experience with an intention for healing and illumination. You want to set that clearly or else you will not be setting up your consciousness in such a way that what arises is what truly needs to be revealed. Your intention is part of what creates a strong container and also allows you to explore the language. You may even consider writing your intention down so you don’t lose it. Sometimes when creating you can lose awareness of your initial intention. You also want to continue noticing as you go along whether the intention is shifting. If it does shift, you can change the intention. Say you want less pain in your knee, and then all of sudden you remember something from childhood that feels more powerful to hold in healing - then you would adjust your intention. We also will often mark the canvas with the intention by writing it directly on the front or back as well as documenting the process as we go along.

2. Creating a Context for the Experience

Creating a context for the experience has a lot to do with gathering your materials and setting the space. You will want to decide on a set time you’re going to work. I often refer to this as bracketing, where there is a beginning, middle, and end. You will consciously curate and set up - turning your phone off, making sure you have time, making sure you won’t be interrupted. This is about creating a context in your consciousness but also in the physical space that you’re preparing. Preparing is just as important as any other facet of the painting. Sometimes we start off by just diving in and then have to adjust our space, because we realize there’s not enough time or we’re going to get paint all over everything, or someone’s going to come and interrupt us. By creating the right context, we are guarding and honoring the experience.

2. Creating a Context for the Experience

Creating a context for the experience has a lot to do with gathering your materials and setting the space. You will want to decide on a set time you’re going to work. I often refer to this as bracketing, where there is a beginning, middle, and end. You will consciously curate and set up - turning your phone off, making sure you have time, making sure you won’t be interrupted. This is about creating a context in your consciousness but also in the physical space that you’re preparing. Preparing is just as important as any other facet of the painting. Sometimes we start off by just diving in and then have to adjust our space, because we realize there’s not enough time or we’re going to get paint all over everything, or someone’s going to come and interrupt us. By creating the right context, we are guarding and honoring the experience.

3. Releasing the Impulse to Control

Releasing the impulse to control the process is an essential part of Medicine Painting. This is where we’re not dominating the pen or the paintbrush. We’ve set our intention and created a context, so now we’re just going to trust and be in flow with the process. We are not interrupting the process. We’re seeing what happens. We’re allowing it to happen.

This allowing provides space for something to arise from the subconscious. This step is also very connected to hearing the critic or hearing internal chatter. When that critical voice arises, this is the time you will continue speaking your affirmation, “I’m releasing the impulse to control”. You are holding in your awareness that this is where the mystery comes forward, and this will help with the discipline to allow it to be so.

3. Releasing the Impulse to Control

Releasing the impulse to control the process is an essential part of Medicine Painting. This is where we’re not dominating the pen or the paintbrush. We’ve set our intention and created a context, so now we’re just going to trust and be in flow with the process. We are not interrupting the process. We’re seeing what happens. We’re allowing it to happen.

This allowing provides space for something to arise from the subconscious. This step is also very connected to hearing the critic or hearing internal chatter. When that critical voice arises, this is the time you will continue speaking your affirmation, “I’m releasing the impulse to control”. You are holding in your awareness that this is where the mystery comes forward, and this will help with the discipline to allow it to be so.

4. Listening for Image and Language

Listening for image and language is about being the observer and noticing what’s happening. As you’re creating you’re listening to what's arising. You’re listening for symbols, colors, for prompts from within. You’re listening for language, text, things that are arising, thoughts that are coming up, and either including them, writing them down, or letting them go. There is some discernment here. Not everything that arises in image and language needs to be included. But, this is really essential to the process because this is where the insights are going to come from.

4. Listening for Image and Language

Listening for image and language is about being the observer and noticing what’s happening. As you’re creating you’re listening to what's arising. You’re listening for symbols, colors, for prompts from within. You’re listening for language, text, things that are arising, thoughts that are coming up, and either including them, writing them down, or letting them go. There is some discernment here. Not everything that arises in image and language needs to be included. But, this is really essential to the process because this is where the insights are going to come from.

5. Matching Energy with Actions

When you are starting out your intention really holds the energy, but at a certain point you realize how important it is going to be to match the energy with the actions, and this is where whatever is arising for you - whether you notice you feel sick, ecstatic, or distracted - is matched with an action on the canvas. So if you’re feeling frustrated, you make frustrated marks. If you're feeling some relief, you make marks of relief. You are matching it so that the energy you have in your body and what you’re creating on the canvas are not opposing or fragmenting each other. And even if something is a challenging feeling, by acknowledging it, the energy can move. We’re going for less fragmentation, where the external image is a reflection of the internal experience.

Now, you want to be careful with this if you’re getting into some really dark or shadowy material. If something scary arises you don’t want to give it too much room to freak you out. Just look at it, create a mark of acknowledgment, and then let it resolve. And if it doesn’t resolve, then go to the next phase by choice. This is where it can be tricky because you’re honoring things as they arise, but you’re honoring things to move them along, not to dive in. You’re actually looking at it in order to move it up, out, and through.

5. Matching Energy with Actions

When you are starting out your intention really holds the energy, but at a certain point you realize how important it is going to be to match the energy with the actions, and this is where whatever is arising for you - whether you notice you feel sick, ecstatic, or distracted - is matched with an action on the canvas. So if you’re feeling frustrated, you make frustrated marks. If you're feeling some relief, you make marks of relief. You are matching it so that the energy you have in your body and what you’re creating on the canvas are not opposing or fragmenting each other. And even if something is a challenging feeling, by acknowledging it, the energy can move. We’re going for less fragmentation, where the external image is a reflection of the internal experience.

Now, you want to be careful with this if you’re getting into some really dark or shadowy material. If something scary arises you don’t want to give it too much room to freak you out. Just look at it, create a mark of acknowledgment, and then let it resolve. And if it doesn’t resolve, then go to the next phase by choice. This is where it can be tricky because you’re honoring things as they arise, but you’re honoring things to move them along, not to dive in. You’re actually looking at it in order to move it up, out and through.

6. Adjusting as Information Arises

As you’re starting to gather information, you are starting to make adjustments in your process. You thought it was going to be one way, but actually, it’s now shifting. You thought you were headed over here, but now this is happening over there. So now you’re micro-adjusting without domination, and you’re in a really fluid experience. This adds to the energy of this creative process being a journey. You are continuing to journey through new terrain, taking in new sites, sounds, smells, and information and adjusting the journey as more awareness comes to you.

6. Adjusting as Information Arises

As you’re starting to gather information, you are starting to make adjustments in your process. You thought it was going to be one way, but actually, it’s now shifting. You thought you were headed over here, but now this is happening over there. So now you’re micro-adjusting without domination, and you’re in a really fluid experience. This adds to the energy of this creative process being a journey. You are continuing to journey through new terrain, taking in new sites, sounds, smells, and information and adjusting the journey as more awareness comes to you.

7. Interpreting and Reflecting

Interpreting and reflection come near the completion of the process. You’re going to look at your painting as if it's an oracle and has vital information for you. You may feel quite amazed or inspired by what you notice and what it communicates to you. You want to interpret it without making huge leaps toward specific meaning, but you’re looking for a story. A lot of the time this is when you hand the character or the image in the painting the pen so you have the chance to see what wants to be spoken from the liminal space of the painting. Then you reflect and you also can pick and choose. This is your consciousness. If you don’t like what came up, then reflect on that and move to another place. This is also where you could cause some curation of how you want the image to be brought to completion. 

7. Interpreting and Reflecting

Interpreting and reflection come near the completion of the process. You’re going to look at your painting as if it's an oracle and has vital information for you. You may feel quite amazed or inspired by what you notice and what it communicates to you. You want to interpret it without making huge leaps toward specific meaning, but you’re looking for a story. A lot of the time this is when you hand the character or the image in the painting the pen so you have the chance to see what wants to be spoken from the liminal space of the painting. Then you reflect and you also can pick and choose. This is your consciousness. If you don’t like what came up, then reflect on that and move to another place. This is also where you could cause some curation of how you want the image to be brought to completion. 

8. Curating and Completing

At this stage of your Medicine Painting, you are now ready to actually begin choosing how you want the image to complete. Does it need a layer of gold? Do you need to paint over it entirely? Do you need to bring beauty? Embellishments? Hang feathers or beads from the edges? What do you want to do with that image to take it to the next place? What do you feel compelled to add? Keep on following the urging of your Muse until you actually begin to feel a sense of 'completeness' with the painting. Trust your intuition and body.

8. Curating and Completing

At this stage of your Medicine Painting, you are now ready to actually begin choosing how you want the image to complete. Does it need a layer of gold? Do you need to paint over it entirely? Do you need to bring beauty? Embellishments? Hang feathers or beads from the edges? What do you want to do with that image to take it to the next place? What do you feel compelled to add? Keep on following the urging of your Muse until you actually begin to feel a sense of 'completeness' with the painting. Trust your intuition and body.

9. Bringing it into your life....

The final facet of Medicine Painting is bringing the medicine, healing, or insight from the painting into your life going forward. This isn’t a step per se, but it is so important to consider how we will go forward from this process and allow it to truly impact change in our lived experience. We want to evaluate and really reflect on whether we notice a shift within us. If something does feel different or shifted, what is it? Remember that this is a practice and so it may take time to feel the benefits, although being in the flow state can bring some immediate benefit.

9. Bringing it into your life....

The final facet of Medicine Painting is bringing the medicine, healing, or insight from the painting into your life going forward. This isn’t a step per se, but it is so important to consider how we will go forward from this process and allow it to truly impact change in our lived experience. We want to evaluate and really reflect on whether we notice a shift within us. If something does feel different or shifted, what is it? Remember that this is a practice and so it may take time to feel the benefits, although being in the flow state can bring some immediate benefit.

A Note From Shiloh Sophia...

In Medicine Painting, the painting becomes an artifact of the powerful process you undertook.

Once you have completed the painting process, you then interpret the painting and really tune in to the images, stories and messages that come through. You use what you get to ‘rabbit hole’ through more painting and writing and dreaming to reveal the root of the issue connected to what is ready to be healed within you. Once you know the root, you can then define your own prescription for the healing.

The Medicine Painting process catalyzes a furthering and deepening of the intentional work of healing, providing you a chance to see what hidden messages are ready to be revealed. Makes sense, right? Not too hard, is it? And yet you have to put the work in to get the progress out.

For those of you who undertake Medicine Painting, make SURE you invest time in the writing integration that follows or you will feel incomplete with the process. In Medicine Painting there is what you felt, what you made, and what you do with it. There is access to information that connects to your healing and takes you to the next place – the story that the painting is telling you. Pause to sit with your painting and let it speak to you. Write from the perspective of the healed archetypal artifact in the painting. What is being revealed to you now?

MAGI painting by Shiloh Sophia

A Note From Shiloh Sophia...

In Medicine Painting, the painting becomes an artifact of the powerful process you undertook.

Once you have completed the painting process, you then interpret the painting and really tune in to the images, stories, and messages that come through. You use what you get to ‘rabbit hole’ through more painting and writing and dreaming to reveal the root of the issue connected to what is ready to be healed within you. Once you know the root, you can then define your own prescription for the healing.

The Medicine Painting process catalyzes a furthering and deepening of the intentional work of healing, providing you a chance to see what hidden messages are ready to be revealed. Makes sense, right? Not too hard, is it? And yet you have to put the work in to get the progress out.

For those of you who undertake Medicine Painting, make SURE you invest time in the writing integration that follows or you will feel incomplete with the process. In Medicine Painting there is what you felt, what you made, and what you do with it. There is access to information that connects to your healing and takes you to the next place – the story that the painting is telling you. Pause to sit with your painting and let it speak to you. Write from the perspective of the healed archetypal artifact in the painting. What is being revealed to you now?

MAGI painting by Shiloh Sophia