Painting & Sacred Arts


manitou kristena west 1986

Living Life in a Sacred Manner 
Navajo Song of the Creation

The earth is looking at me; she is looking up at me
I am looking down on her
I am happy, she is looking at me
I am happy, I am looking at her.


The sun is looking at me; he is looking down on me
I am looking up at him
I am happy, he is looking at me
I am happy, I am looking at him.


The black sky is looking at me; he is looking down on me
I am looking up at him
I am happy, he is looking at me
I am happy, I am looking at him.


The moon is looking at me; he is looking down on me
I am looking up at him
I am happy, he is looking at me
I am happy, I am looking at him.

the Shamanic Call

In 1986 I worked in a frame shop and we were working on South American headdress' made of parrot feathers. These remarkable headdress' were worn on top of the head, placed over a tall a basket weave crown so the feathers towered over the wearer.

I had to hand-stitch the feathers back into the shape as it was old and worn. We had a number of these feathered crown headdress we were making acrylic boxes for LA museum.

While working on these shamans ceremonial regalia, ( I knew nothing about shamanism!) I wondered into the feathers or wandered into the feathers.... Who wore these? what kind of life, so unlike mine, did the wearer/s have? It was difficult to imagine a life-style so vastly different from my own American one. I had a friend of mine come to the shop after hours, and placed the feathered piece around his neck, and so this painting was born.

Later that year, I took this painting along when I moved to New Orleans. I hung directly across from my bed, so I could gaze upon it. One day, I just allowed my gaze to settle into the painting, and the faces started to change! I don't mean, eyes getting blurry and so forth. This face shape-shifted into hundreds of men and womens faces through time and different ages...each beautiful and noble..each background shifting, transforming, as each face shifted.

and I heard as clear as a call in a non-personal voice- "MANITOU! MANITOU! MANITOU! MANITOU! MANITOU!"

Nothing like that had ever happened to me, this was a watershed experience. Shortly after that,  I was reading a book and suddenly a sentence LEAPED out at me. "They had creator spirits, they called Manitous."

This is the painting, that I,  in one of our many fires here in southern California, pull off the frame and take in my car when we have to evacuate. This is a teacher. And after years and years of considering, I think the spirits residing in this headdress, called me to study shamanism and learn about these indigenous cultures; the beauty, magic, love and interconnection with the spiritual worlds they took as a given. _

-Kristena West M.A.

The Artist’s Wound is a Loss of Soul

If our first creative outflow was put down or suppressed, we probably suffered humiliation and great embarrassment. If we were traumatized by the disparagement of our creativity, then some part of our soul left during the wounding.

I would like to say that any soul loss resulting from other kinds of trauma will affect our creativity as well. But within this chapter I am concentrating only on the art wound. Many depressed and blocked creative people, as well as people who call themselves “wounded artists,” are suffering from soul loss due to an art wound. Soul retrieval is a wonderful healing to bring back that artful soul piece that fled the body due to shock or shame.


Suffering soul loss around an art wound is very common. The stories I hear from men and women about how their artistic fountain ran dry or was shut off are truly disheartening. Soul loss from an art wound is just like soul loss from any other trauma—wounds are wounds. And that soul part will have to come back into your body in order for you to have your spiritual essence and your artistic sense.

Spontaneous soul retrieval is a possibility. Some people take in-depth workshops on recovering creativity and have transforming experiences around their creativity. Their soul part comes back. From that point on they are imbued with the ebb and flow of creativity again. You know you’ve had a spontaneous soul retrieval around your art wound if you begin playing with art again, on a continuing basis.

I have developed a workshop for soul-retrieval healing in the areas of art; lost creative practice and our wild women ju-ju. 

If your interested in reclaiming soul essence from a loss of creativity, email us or take one of our inner-soul work art classes!