The Alchemist’s Brush

A Story of Becoming an Artist

Shiloh Sophia

In pursuit of the intangible magic

that converts base into beauty

you approach the canvas with awe.

You wonder how you got here.

And why it took you so long. It feels like you were called.

Fear grips you as you stare into the unopened opening.

Your canvas, that permeable membrane.

A physical place representing and holding space

for the world between worlds that you seek.

How can it be that this grace is yours

that without earning your place here at this threshold

the “in between” becomes available? Freely given.

Freely given to gifted and novice one and all.

This work is not just for the talented or gifted

it belongs to all beings who dare to wield the brush.

Yes. This is your moment of reckoning and release.

No Philosopher’s Stone encoded to confound.

Perhaps the canvas will become your Philosopher’s Stone.

No secret codex or symbol or faith grappling

from someone else’s story of old or new or now.

Just. You. And. This. Cosmic Moment called:


Shall I say that word again, that which has become

honey to the tongue of the bitter?

That has opened the way to becoming?

Painting. Image making. Symbol gathering.

Intentional creating. Prayer making.

Story healing. Self renewing painting.

Overcoming voices that taunt and torture

a new voice begins to emerge that is your own

and she asks you to release birds from cages.

You with your heart and hopes ablaze

take that which has need of transformation

to that portal of possibility and make your mark.

Marking out your intention onto that canvas with

fierce flaming tips and smudges of charcoal and tears.

You become alert. Engaged. Awakening begins. Awe ensues.

You listen as requests for chalices to hold elixirs

and flowers for hair and mantles of red thread to wear.

She asks for new territory to explore and old stories to banish.

She asks for you to listen…here inside of you. She shows you

the alchemical domain where the future unfolds her legends.

That which is written in your bones begins to light up the sky.

Yesterday’s stories become tomorrow’s material

for pulling strands of pure pigment from the edges of wounds

and somehow, yes, making magnificence from those colors.

This image begins to emerge that now defines you for you

instead of someone else’s view. And in a blink of stardust

from a winged eye…You. Feel. Different. What was that?

Could that be healing itself?

Could this be true medicine? An antidote to the violence within?

A voice of vision breaks the sound barrier.

Breathe. Stroke. Swirl. Sing. Sway. Swish.

Call out. Call in. Cast out. Caress.

Renew. Reshape. Remember. Reveal. Resound.

Humbled. Praise. Wonder. Arms raised.

Indistinguishable from prayer the name of

the Divine parts your lips without known consent.

Walking a sacred path requires practice and

you knew this, but had yet to find your method

for weaving that call within to make it manifest into form.

The canvas has become the shape of the container

into which you pour the contents of your stories and visions.

And the context? Oh yes, the context is: This is soul work.

Your body has knowledge of this sacred rite.

Being that we too were made in the image

of the Divine becoming form enfleshed in light.

This longing to create in one’s own story and image

was passed down from ancestors who painted

birth and bison on cave walls. Icons of family life.

There is a deep remembering rising up now within you

as access is finally granted to the story chambers and

with your compass and the tenderness of an archeologist:

You look inside the cave of self.

Haven’t you heard? Brushes are magic wands.

Giving language and form to the unspoken.

Through this creation, lives are opened.

The alchemist’s brush continues her sacred work

 with the fire of your heart as crucible

from the shadows of self you reveal your gold.



To My Students

There are clans of seekers gathering whose

stories are different than yours but also the same.

 You will take your rightful place in that circle.

Long ago, perhaps you believed you didn’t have something to say.

Or didn’t have language for who you were and what you know.

Bring your painting with you and the stories she tells.

Your paintings are the keepers of the unspoken stories within you.

That which you didn’t know or have access to before, you can now navigate.

The oracle you sought was within you, and has now become form.

And there is gold is in this of immeasurable value:

The story painting that is healing you

can also bring healing to others. This is part of why you came.

The over-culture and systems and structures externally

and internally will continue to wage their wars

against form. Beauty. The feminine. Watch!

Do not go to sleep on your watch!

Whatever it is that lights your soul-fire, don’t let that fire go out.

You have become the Gold the Alchemists sought.

Artists are the narrators of the people.

The ones who tell the stories no one else tells.

        This mystery has been placed into your hands for holding.

What is the story that is your to tell?

Shiloh Sophia

For the Graduating Class of Color of Woman 2013 – September 30