Sunday, December 30, 2012


Moonrise (Stacy Wills, 2012)

The man who has seen the rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight has been present like an archangel at the creation of light and of the world.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

After the Big Bang

After the Big Bang (Stacy Wills, 2012)

 The new thought entered,
silently slipping past 
the old dragons - 
 those timeworn twin sentinels 
of doubt and despair, 
caught dozing.
It will always be this way,
they murmur in their sleep...
It will always be this way.

The new thought enters,
small but potent;
a veritable atomic bomb -
capable of razing the status quo.
The dragons  roar awake
too late - 
the old guard obliterated  
in one big BANG!

In the aftermath -
amidst the ensuing chaos,
a  strange pathway forms:
surging, singing,
pulsing with light, 
sweeping me into the river
called Life.

-Stacy Wills (12/1/2012)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dreams of Atlantis

Dreams of Atlantis (Stacy Wills, 2012)

I've heard the stories told
 so often, 
I think they are my own.
of happier times -
a glorious Golden Age;
but  I was born long after
 sank beneath the waves.

-Stacy Wills (11/16/2012)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Learning Something New

At the Butterfly Ball (Stacy Wills, 2012)

I met June Rollins earlier this year during an online retreat through Abbey of the Arts.  I was captivated by her sweet spirit, and fell in love with her incredible art; in particular, a process she calls "Dreamscaping."   June has been offering in-person workshops for awhile now, and has recently put together a dvd showing her step by step process for the rest of us who live too far away to get to one.   The process involves using alcohol inks on yupo paper.   I love experimenting and learning new techniques and methods to bring beauty into the world, and June is a wonderful teacher.  So if you're in the mood for  something new, I'd highly recommend giving "Dreamscaping" a try!    I created At the Butterfly Ball   by following June's method, plus a little "sacred altering" for good measure.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Creative Bliss

Under the Full Moon (Stacy Wills, 2012)

Under the Full Moon is the result of  a recent Saturday afternoon of creative bliss at my friend Bev's fantastic new studio in Clinton, MS,  The Intuitive Painting Place, plus a little more "sacred altering" at home.   I went to Bev's studio not knowing what I would end up painting - this is not the kind of place where everyone paints  the same thing, but rather,  the kind of place where leaning into one's own intuition and innate creativity is supported and encouraged.  All art supplies are provided for you, you don't need to bring a thing except yourself and a willingness to PLAY!   Love to paint?  Great!  Don't know how to paint?  Even better!    Group, as well as, individual sessions are available.      

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Handless Maiden

The Handless Maiden Heavy with Child  (Stacy Wills, 2012)

Offered without commentary, this image was inspired by working with the story of The Handless Maiden during week 7 of Women on the Threshold, an online retreat offered through Abbey of the Arts.  You can find variations of the story by googling, "the handless maiden" or "the girl without hands."    There is  also a  version available  on Wikipedia.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Robert Johnson have also worked with this story and offer valuable insights in their writings.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Whose Hands Are These?

Hands (Stacy Wills, 2012)

Whose Hands Are These?

Whose hands are these?
I think I know.  They're
my Granny Mildred's hands -
that  soothed and
 sewed and made things grow.

Whose hands are these?
I think I know.  They're
my Grandma Ruth's hands -
that played hard, and
 worked hard, and made
life fun;   hands
 that left this world too soon.

Whose hands are these?
I think I know.  They're
my mother's hands -
Roberta's graceful, manicured
 hands that  love to make
things beautiful.
Soft hands that tamed
my unruly hair.
Skillful hands that knew
  their way around the kitchen.

Whose hands are these?
I think I know.
They're my father's hands -
Irvin's hands that kept
 things clean and in order.
Savvy hands that knew
how to play the game.
Generous hands to many.

Whose hands are these?
I think I know.
They're my hands -
Stacy's hands - that know
  the healing power of creativity.
I come from a long line
of gifted hands.

-Stacy Wills (10/19/2012)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Keep Moving

Keep Moving (Stacy Wills, 2012)

  The ground beneath our feet
is cold and hard, 
as unforgiving 
as the hardest hearts
that forced our exile,
but leave we must.
Keep moving!

 We gather what little we can
 in our haste to leave 
this home we love.
How will we ever find another?
Yes, we have  our memories,
but even they are too heavy to carry now.
Keep moving!

Why?  Why?
  The question stings  our brain
even more cruelly than
   the icy wind stings our faces.
Instinctively,  we pull 
  our wool scarves higher - 
 a pitiful defense. 
But what else is there?
Keep moving!

O God, (if there is a god),
protect us in our flight.  
We are grateful
 for the full moon's light,
this lamp for our poor feet.
But what of dawn?
What ravages will be revealed?
Some wounds never heal.
Keep moving!

We ask the shining stars above
 if the nights we spent beneath them,
 loving and dreaming in our beds
will ever come again,
but they are silent.
Keep moving!

We tread precariously 
on a crumbling ledge of sanity.
This is the cost and pain of war.
With every step we cry:  No more
Yet all the while, we're moving.
Keep moving!

-Stacy Wills (10/12/2012)

This poem and painting were inspired by the song Keep Moving, by Trish Bruxvoort Colligan, during week 6 of Women on the Threshold, an online retreat from Abbey of the Arts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Extravagant Woman

Do You See This Woman (Stacy Wills, mixed media 2012)

A Story from Luke's Gospel, Chapter 7, verses 36-50

Simon the Pharisee invited me to dinner,
so I went and reclined at his table.
A woman of the city, a sinner,
heard that I was there, and came, as well.
An uninvited, and some might say, unwelcome guest.

The room where we gathered was crowded,
but somehow this woman managed 
to get through to where I was.
She stood behind me, weeping silently, 
her long hair, covering her face, so no one would see.
But I could feel the hot tears falling on my feet.
Eventually, some of the other guests began to notice, 
and started pointing and whispering.
Suddenly, she was overcome with shame.
Quickly, she knelt  to dry them 
with the only thing she could - her hair.
  It was then she must have seen 
the condition my  feet were in.

I will never forget what happened next,
and neither will you when you hear it.
 This woman did the most amazing thing.
 Instead of running away, embarrassed,
she drew an alabaster flask from her bosom and opened it.
Perfume filled the air, as she began to anoint
 my poor feet lavishly with the most luxurious oil.    
Such extravagance! 
How grateful I was to have my dirty, tired feet
washed by her  tears,  then dried
with the silkiest, finest, softest hair I've ever felt.
Her fingers, cool and long,  began massaging...
and gently caressing my feet...and she kissed them.
For a eternity...the crowded room fell away -
and it was just the two of us there.

Then the thoughts began to penetrate my mind.
I knew what Simon was thinking:
If this man were a prophet, surely he would know who
and what sort of woman was touching him!
Oh Simon, I sighed, I have something to say to you.
Say it, Teacher.

A hush fell over the room, so I told this story:
Once upon a time, a certain moneylender had two debtors.  
One owed five hundred denarii, the other fifty.  
When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both.
Now, which one of them do you think will love him more?
The one for whom he cancelled the larger debt, I suppose.
Ah, you judge rightly, Simon.
All the other guests turned and looked at Simon admiringly.

But I turned and looked at the woman...really looked at her.
She lifted her face to me, and for the first time that night,
 our eyes met.   I held her gaze for a long time.
 I knew her.
Finally, the room grew quiet again, and still gazing at her,
I spoke to Simon and said:

Do you see this woman?

The question hung in the air.

Simon, When I came to your house, you gave me no water
to wash my feet, no kiss of greeting;
but this woman has not only 
washed my feet with her tears
and dried them with her hair,
she has kissed them, and kissed them and kissed them!  
You did not  offer to anoint my head with oil, 
but this woman - she could see how tired I was,
  and anointed my feet with precious oil.

Oh yes, she has loved much, 
for her sins, which were many, are forgiven.
 You are not well acquainted with forgiveness, Simon.
For those who are forgiven little.

Then I spoke to the woman directly and said, 
Your sins are forgiven.
Then the room really started to buzz!
Who does he think he is...forgiving sins...bah!

So I said to her, lifting her up,
Woman, your faith has saved you; go in Peace.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Creation Two Ways: A Visual Meditation

This video, Creation Two Ways, is really at the heart of what this new blog is about.  Although it falls into the mandala category (and can also be found on my other blog), the alteration process used to transform my  photographs into digital mandalas, is what Sacred Alter is all about...taking one art form and transforming it into another by a means beyond my natural capability.

Creation Two Ways, is a creative response to some of the material I am currently engaging with in an online course, Women on the Threshold, offered through Abbey of the Arts.   This week we have been immersed in the life, writings,  music and art of Hildegard of Bingen.    Mandalas are something Hildegard and I  share in common.

If you are not able to view the video on my blog, you can watch it here on YouTube.  It is best viewed in full screen if possible.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Coyote Was Here

Coyote Was Here (Stacy Wills, 2012)

is Tom Sawyer
with a brush,
making work
look like fun.

is Br'er Rabbit
in the briar patch,
getting what he wants.

is a trickster, dressed
in grandma's clothes,
carrying magic mirrors
wherever he goes.

is strong medicine;
 a wounding -
that heals.

-Stacy Wills (9/23/2012)

Coyote Was Here was inspired by the amazing and talented story midwife and songstress, Trish Bruxvoort Colligan.  It was she who introduced me to Grandmother Coyote during Week 3 of Women on the Threshold, a twelve week,  community online class offered by Abbey of the Arts.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Image for Visio Divina

Our Lady of Sorrows (Stacy Wills, 2012)

Visio Divina (Latin for divine seeing) is the practice of praying with images.  Like Lectio Divina (divine reading), it has four basic movements:

1.  Read the text...or in this case...the art, slowly.   Notice the colors, the shapes,  the lines, the subject.  What catches your eye first?  What feelings are stirred within?  What emotions are evoked?  What do you like about the image?  What do you dislike?

2.  Gaze...take a deeper look.  Engage with your imagination.  What is happening here?  What do you see?    Is there a deeper meaning that emerges?  Can you place yourself in the piece, and if so, where?  What do you see from that perspective?  Are there any memories that arise?

3.  Respond...with prayer.  Have you been reminded of a situation, an experience, a person or issue that you would like to lift in thanksgiving or intercession?  Offer your prayer to God.

4. into  the quiet center of your being, and  listen for what the  Spirit is saying. 

You can use any type of art (photograph, collage, painting, sculpture, etc.) in the practice of Visio Divina.  You are also more than welcome to use  this image to practice with.   If you do, I would love to hear from you. :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Seed Has Taken Root in My Heart

Welcome to the Sacred Alter - yes, that's "alter with an e" as in "alteration."   The art on this blog has been created using a combination of traditional mediums and then altering them digitally.  It is about the  art of transformation...the art of going beyond one's natural capabilities...something akin to with God all things are possible.

 In December of 2005, I found myself at a crossroads.   A decades long battle with depression coupled with a series of significant losses in my life had me reeling.   In the midst of that long, dark night of the soul, I yearned for a creative outlet, and finally found one in drawing and painting mandalas.    My first blog, A Magic Mom and her Mandalas is dedicated to that art form.

Mandala-making satisfied my creative appetite for many years, but then I began exploring  new ways of art-making such as collage and photography.  I discovered the digital world, and was able to do things with my art that went beyond the scope of my limited  capabilities.  Soon I was using a combination of traditional mediums plus digital alteration to achieve the desired effect on a fairly regular basis.

"from now on, my story lives in you" (collage, mixed media, digital 2012)

I have no formal art training, so I'm making it up as I go...learning on the fly, absorbing knowledge along the way, finding inspiration in all sorts of places...taking source images, such as photographs, collages and hand painted pieces,  into the digital play with them, layer see what they will become.

This  blog is the beginning of a dream...a seed has taken root in my heart...and I do not yet know exactly what will come of it, but I know it's there.     I invite you to take from these images what you will.  If you find meaning in them...or they speak to you in some way...I would love to hear from you.