Iliad Terra

Message from the Urushi God and the Art of Kintsugi

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There is a deeper mystery here.  I could not sleep as the rashes on my hand and face burned and itched and throbbed all night long.  So, I decided to get up and listen deeper to the pain.  Perhaps there was a message being communicated to me.  

It was 4:00 AM.  I wiped the calamine lotion off the wounds and poured cold water over my face and hands.  And basked in the momentary relief and decided to do research.

Five days ago, I decided to mend a broken relationship by creating a kintsugi repair on a soup bowl. This bowl was from Japan given to my beloved son.  I brought the bowl and the Ursuhi oils to my studio and began the repair process.  Inadvertently I touched my face with the Urushi lacquer. A day later my face and hands showed the reaction. Swollen eyes, nearly shut, seeping through my skin, inflamed face, and hands.  Eventually, I ended up in the ER.

I tried to trace the cause, allergies, resonance, or perhaps the Urushi.  Spiritual causes crossed my mind.  What was it I was holding back, what were the energetic causes of this calamity? 

I canceled my meetings for the week as my situation worsened.  

Through the process of elimination, I deduced and confirmed that the cause was the Urushi lacquer I was using to heal deep broken scars.  How ironic. And what a convergence of deep synchronicity that brought me to this point.  

To do justice, I am now inclined to write a story that illustrates and narrates truly what the Urushi God is teaching me, through the art of Kintsugi.  But to share this with you I must go back three years, when the real bowl shattered.

The Art of Kintsugi and Repairing a Precious Bowl

Three years ago, a precious bowl that I had precariously held in my hands for 9 years after my divorce in 2008, fell from my hands and shattered to pieces.  That bowl was my relationship with my beloved son.  I held him in my imperfect embrace for nine years after the marriage fell apart in a thousand pieces.  I helped him as a struggling single father, without any support other than my naïve and desperate notions about fatherhood.  

And so, three years ago, at the age of seventeen he lashed out and left home.  I have been trying to put together the pieces of the relationship for three years now.  Each step cutting me and teaching me along the way.

A year ago, my partner received a mysterious gift from her friend in San Francisco.   It was a boxed kit of Kintsugi with Urushi lacquer.  I was familiar with the art of Kintsugi through my brief study on Wabi Sabi. and felt inclined toward it.  And so immediately thought of repairing a cracked soup bowl that belonged to my son. And repairing it as a way of bringing healing through Kintsugi meditation.

A month afterward, my partner’s sister gifted me a small book titled “In Praise of Shadows” which is deeply focused on appreciating Japanese Urushi lacquer under candlelight. At that point I had not made the connection. Of the Kintsugi kit my partner received and the book I had received.

I must pause here, and share that about two years ago, while moving a painting to my studio, a precious painting I had created around the time of my divorce was damaged and torn during the move.  Intuitively I had decided to keep it and one day repair the painting while celebrating its scar.

So, this brings us back to what happened five days ago.  Without much thought, I decided it was time to repair the broken bowl, and the torn painting.  At the time, there was no connection in my mind between the two tasks. Or for that matter, the book and the Kintsugi kit.

As I set out to repair the two broken objects, a day later the rashes appeared. And so the process of discovery of what had caused the rashes.  But during this journey, a deepening call that this was a spiritual synchronicity started to emerge.

And so, tonight, in the agony of another sleepless night, I decided to get up and research the roots of the Urushi Lacquer.  That is when I arrived at the Urushi tree, and its process, and learned more about the spirit of the Urushi tree.

My lessons became cerebral, spiritual, and physical all at once, a convergence of moments in time…  I discovered the sublime tradition of Urushi Lacquer. And its connection to the divine and nature, the subtle forms that are revealed through the process. 

The Urushi Lacquer is a living spirit. And the Urushi poison is an initiation to become one with the message of the tree. To be connected to source and nature through the art form.

By enduring the pain and suffering from the reaction, one develops deep bonding with Urushi. One finds the pathway to living in nature.  And this process led to the art of Kintsugi. The art of repairing broken precious bowls with deep medicine from the Urushi tree. Ultimately, a poison that heals, and is in fact celebrated with gold and pure lacquer.

I learned that another word for Chopsticks in Japanese has a different meaning. Which is a bridge between the source of nourishment provided by nature and our bodies.  And so Urushi lacquer chopsticks and bowls, close the Omega. This connects the energetic circuit that runs through our resonant being.

And now, early in the morning, as the sun has begun to rise, I am heading back to bed, wondering about it all.  My pain, my suffering, and the poison medicine provided by Urushi God, the “In Praise of Shadows”, my recent painting the Color of Choice, my repairing the broken bowl with Kintsugi, and the trip to Kanab, which is another larger ripple of the story, and I may decide to share it in another story, or even a short book about healing…

For now, I am relieved that I am in communication with the Urushi God, and she has provided me the subtle and cathartic lesson through an initiation poison.  When I awake, I will celebrate my pain with a bowl of Mama Cacao and finish the Urushi painting.

Good Night.

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