January 2016 - Illumination
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In the Cave of the Heart
Illuminating our Spiritual Winter

CJ Shelton in Merlin's Cave, Tintagel CornwallEach of us, at some point in life, goes through a significant episode that is both a test and an invitation. This usually follows a typical pattern: after a period of progress towards a goal, achievement or success in some area of life, suddenly, out of the blue, we are filled with self-doubt, hit a wall of unknowing or experience an event that turns our world upside down. We may feel abandoned by beliefs that have up to now guided our life and realize that what once was a source of faith has turned into the source of our questioning. Such moments can make us feel very alone …

The mystic, St. John of the Cross, called these times a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ and almost every great spiritual figure throughout the ages - Moses, Buddha, the Hindu sages, Christ and the desert fathers - encountered a similar experience. All spoke of this strange and enigmatic part of the ‘path’ but more importantly they taught“… the onset of interior darkness is not what we think it is. Entering a spiritual ‘winter’ is actually the invitation for spring to arrive … and often a necessary surrender to a state of unknowing is the very thing that allows the light of understanding to enter.” (Guy Finley)
Solstice at Stonehenge by CJ Shelton
"Solstice at Stonehenge" by CJ Shelton

Our very human fear of the dark can lead us to misunderstand the true significance of these times as our mind frantically projects distress out into the cold emptiness … but the dark itself does not hold anything to fear. Like the child whose loving parent turns on a light to reveal there is nothing hiding in the shadowy corners of their 'monster-filled' bedroom, we must be a loving parent to ourselves. No matter how dark a situation may seem, we can turn on an inner light of our own, make the shadows disappear and reveal the real power hidden in the moment. Then the same Spirit that illumined the great spiritual teachers can awaken within, to help us understand the true purpose of this time of uncertainty.

This type of power brings confidence, clarity, wisdom, compassion and fearlessness. Such higher states of consciousness do actually already live within us, but to truly realize them we must be willing to illumine the unknown parts of ourselves; Cave Art at Altamirato be willing, like our ancient ancestors, to crawl for a time through labyrinthine chambers, deep within the earth, and witness strange beasts and shamanistic figures, illuminated only by the small flickering flame of a tiny torch.

Caves are prevalent motifs in many myths, legends, and religious cults. The cave, as a symbol, is closely related to the human heart, the place where the self and ego unite within us. Caves can also be secret passageways to the underworld, places in which to make contact with long-lost powers and other mysterious forces. In popular legend, caves are often home to gnomes, dragons and buried treasure as well as initiation rites in many tribal cultures. Modern psychologists interpret the passage through a cave in a person's dream as the search for the meaning of life.

The isolated monks of ancient Iona and Lindisfarne in the British Isles must have intuitively understood this as they painstakingly scribed their sacred texts in cave-like monasteries struggling to bring the light of Christian faith to the darkness of a strange new land. The Book of Kells
Some of their manuscripts were embellished with a process known as ‘illumination’, a term that comes from the Latin word for ‘lit up’ or ‘enlightened’. Illuminated LetterIt refers to the use of bright colours and gold leaf on only the first letter of a paragraph. Sometimes these initials were purely decorative but often they marked important passages or were used to enhance the meaning of the text.

Haloed Saint FigureHalo motifs were also used in the form of a circular ring of light surrounding the head of an enlightened or holy person. Christian artists believed a halo to be symbolic of the light of grace bestowed by God but, pagans too, used halos to signify power, majesty or prominence of some sort. Comic books are a contemporary pop culture art-form that still uses halos to represent power … not inspired by God, mind you, but earned through some sort of strange mutation or accident. The X-Men, for example, are mutants who represent the next stage in mankind's evolution; whenever they use their mutant powers, the energy is often represented graphically as a halo.

Like cave artists petitioning their gods or island-bound monks praising a haloed Christ, it is during our own 'spiritual winters' as well as the dark month of January, when we too retreat within, to reflect, ponder and ask our own big questions. When we enter this ‘cave of the heart’ willingly - or sometimes forced, as the case may be - treasure is ours to be discovered, but only if we are willing to cast the light of our own consciousness on the darkness we find within. By surrendering to the process and descending with awareness, we can then illuminate even the furthest recesses and discover the light within our own souls.

Pulsar by CJ SheltonThat light is the Divine Spark, the remnant of the spiritual part of us, returning to its center in the ‘cave of the heart’ to be re-ignited by the spiritual fire that comes directly from Source. Once this takes place, our human mortality then takes on the level of holy immortality … and the spiritual being within us is in control once again.

I have several creative opportunities coming up to help light up this deepest heart of winter. On Saturday January 30 there is Celtic Illuminations which I only run once a year. Like the monks of old, you can learn to draw and paint your own illuminated letter, word or initials. This workshop is limited to just four participants so be sure to contact me to reserve your spot. On Saturday February 6 is my popular Seed Dreams” Intention Mandalas which can help focus the light of clarity on your goals for 2016. You can check out a full listing of all this winter's offerings on my website or click on the links in this newsletter.

May you enjoy the dance!

CJ Shelton
Artist, Instructor & Healing Arts Practitioner

Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit through
the Symbol of the Circle ...

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THE STORY BEHIND THE PIECE ..."The Heart of the Kingdom"
This piece is part of my sacred geometry series and based on a pattern I refer to as “The Four Worlds”. Reminiscent of ‘the cave of the heart’, at the very centre of this design are four hearts aligned to honour the Four Kingdoms of minerals, plants, animals and humans. Many spiritual traditions believe that human beings are now actively in the process of evolving into the fifth kingdom, that of the Sacred Human.

The dynamic square (a square positioned on the diagonal to create a diamond shape) encloses the heart-centre which is, in turn, held within the container of a protective circle. Outwards, in four directions, radiate the spiritual energy being awakened at the centre of ‘the cave’. The soft purple and white tones of this piece indicate the opening of the crown chakra, our connection to Spirit.

Original SOLD
Cards with this image $10
"INTO THE MYSTICAL" Learning & Sharing Circle
Moon QuestEvery 3rd Thursday evening of the month
NEXT CIRCLE - Thurs. Jan. 21, 7-9pm
Like-minded hearts and minds come together in this illuminating monthly gathering of friends ‘on the journey’ who share a common interest in all things of a mystical and spiritual nature.
Sat. March 5, $10
Please join us in the tent! To learn more about the Red Tent and what it's all about visit

RED TENT ENERGY CIRCLE at Whisper Lane Healing, Thurs. Jan. 28, 6-8:30 pm, $20

"COLOUR ME RED" A RED TENT CREATIVE CIRCLE Red Mandalawith CJ Shelton at the Alton Mill, Sat. Feb. 13, 1-3pm, $30
Colour and create as we celebrate all things red!
Sat. Jan. 23, 12-5pm
Sun. Jan. 24, 12-5pm

Join me at the Alton Mill's winter celebration for one of our most popular events of the year! Drop by my studio #206 on Saturday during the festival to make your mark in my Snowflake Challenge ... No Two Are Alike!
ART IN THE ROUND Intro to Mandala Making
Book your own session anytime for groups of two or more. A great gift idea or a fun Girl's Day out!
DRAWING LESSONS - "Seeing With New Eyes"
Sun. Mornings 10am-12pm
Sun. Afternoons, 1-3 pm
Wed. Afternoons, 1-3 pm

Student DrawingBuild your drawing skills and learn to see the world through an artist's eyes. Newbies and more advanced welcome. Start anytime | Pay as you go.
Sat. January 30, 10am-4:30pm
Illuminated LetterLet’s get knotty! Create and paint your own  ‘illuminated’ initials, word or name in traditional Celtic knotwork style.
$135 per person
Seed Dreams MandalaSat. Feb. 6, 10am-3pm

experience a beautiful guided meditation and set your goals while learning how to draw one of the most powerful patterns in sacred geometry.
$85 per person
Sat. Feb. 27, 10am-4:30pmCeltic Triskele Mandala

This full day workshop is an introduction to the art of creating traditional Celtic style spiral patterns
$135 per person
The balancing energy of my signature piece "The Moon Tree" and many more of my mandalas can be yours to wear. Ten different designs to choose from. Pendants $40.00 each. Available at my studio or by special order.

Moon Tree Pendant by CJ Shelton
Shamanic Consultations & Spiritual Mentoring
Are you in search of answers or experiencing a challenging life transition? 1-on-1 sessions can be booked with me at the Alton Mill or Breakthrough Centre in Brampton to help you find solutions.

MARI® Mandala "Soul Symbol" Interpretation
Explore the 'language of your soul' in a 1-on-1 self-discovery mandala making session with interpretation and a symbol 'reading' that lets your inner wisdom shine through. Sessions by appointment at my studio. Visit my website to learn more.
“The Divine Spark in every individual is ordained to become a well-rounded, fully defined center of pure, white, radiant Light, a dynamic nucleus or center of fire that is the expression of love and compassion, kindliness and generosity, devotion and adoration.”

~ Rosicrucian teaching from
Copyright © 2016 Dancing Moon Designs, All rights reserved.

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