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The Dharma Queens is a body of work inspired by the ancient practice of Siberian Shamanism. As I read about these northern cultures and their fascinating religion, I wondered about the phenomenon of ‘altered states of consciousness’ and the relationship to self-awareness, creativity, and healing.
What do Saints and Shamans actually experience in trance or in religious ecstasy?
Ancient Siberian cultures ‘deified’ nature. They understood that the animate and inanimate were imbued with spirit. It was Shamans who communicated with this spirit realm.
Elaborately costumed and masked, the Shaman performed a ceremony of hypnotic drumming, chanting and frenzied dance, lasting many hours. This induced a condition of hysteria and exhaustion necessary to enter an altered state of consciousness. In this state the Shaman interacted with ‘entities’ that sometimes acted as helpers, sometimes as tormentors.
As the intermediaries between seen and unseen worlds, Shamans experienced a broader consciousness, fulfilling their society’s important role as psychological and spiritual healers.
The Dharma Queens are five female Shamans. Each figure represents a psychological trait that limits our ability to be fully conscious and self-aware. Each has transcended the limitation she embodies and is haloed in the global tradition of an enlightened person.