Thursday, November 21, 2019

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 bill berry, jr.

Publisher and CEO, aaduna &
Member, Rockford Kingsley's Advisory Board
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mano Mannaz
 

 

"I like to think of art being anything creative that is done with care and an aim for beauty so it doesn’t really matter whether it is a hobby or not to me."
 
 

    

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Interview With Mano Mannaz 
 
bill berry, jr.
 
 
Mano Mannaz resides in Glastonbury, Somerset, United Kingdom. She holds a Biology Honours degree from the University of York, UK and has had several pet cats over the years. Single, she spends as much of her free time as possible pursuing painting, gardening, metaphysical/spiritual research and enjoying music. Mano’s poetry was featured in the spring/summer 2011 issue of aaduna. Starting October 3 in the fall 2011 issue, aaduna’s Penalver Gallery presents her artwork, called “Avalon Grail Quest.” s. Madison, whose poetry first appeared in the Premier/Winter 2011 Issue of aaduna, resides in Jersey City, New Jersey. A poet, writer, performer, and instructor, her personal interests center around poetry, music, great food, travel and personal growth.
 
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bill berry, jr.:
Hi Mano. Thank you for talking to me from “across the ocean”. Let’s get started. 
 
You are different aspects of creativity…videographer, poet, photographer, collagist, a multi-dimensional artist. And through each expression, there is a deep spiritual and humanistic aspect to your work. How did those characteristics get rooted in you, and when did you know you had to express yourself artistically?
 
Mano: 
I have had a strong spiritual connection with Nature since my childhood and I would try to express this artistically when possible even though this was not particularly encouraged by those around me.  On a practical level, I made a lot of my own clothes in my teens and this probably helped me to express myself creatively when other avenues of expression where not available.
 
At school, Biology and Art were my favourite subjects.  However, with “you will never make a living as an artist” ringing in my ears, I studied Biology to degree level, going on to work as a Laboratory Technician for a number of years. But, in my spare time, I continued to explore different creative avenues by taking evening classes in various media.
 
In recent years I have lucky enough to be able to make more time for my artwork and this has shown me the importance and spiritual value of the creative process.  Scientific studies of Animal Behaviour have highlighted a fundamental difference that makes the Human body unique: the fact that we have ‘the opposable thumb’ on our hands.  This gives us the dexterity needed for designing and making complex tools and this means that we can develop our creative abilities and potentials in ways which are completely impossible for other species.
 
As I explored my desire to be creative by experimenting in various directions, I began to understand that sometimes there must be the time to ‘be free’ and play in the sense of discovering the best or most appropriate avenue for personal expression without worrying about the outcome or pressure that it must earn money.
 
I then began to see how playful creative expression, in whatever media, (it can be something as simple as spending time redecorating your home!) can become a doorway to opening up a deeper sense of Spirituality through the discovery of aspects of the Self which have previously been hidden or buried.  So I am now convinced that the opportunity to develop personal creativity, in whatever ways appeal to the individual, should be classed as a Human Right!
 
bill: 
And if personal creativity is in fact a human right, what differentiates the “artist” from the hobbyist? Is it that artists eventually present their work to the public for self-recognition, acceptance, critical review, or to earn a living? Or is there more to this equation than my possible oversimplification?
 
Lately, I noticed that for many artists, regardless of medium in which they work, music plays a pivotal role in the creative process. What types of music do you listen to and who are your “can’t be without” musicians? How does music or these musicians influence your work?   
 
Mano:
I like to think of art being anything creative that is done with care and an aim for beauty so it doesn’t really matter whether it is a hobby or not to me.
 
With regard to someone else seeing my work, I find it better not to think about this when I’m working because it then becomes a worry about what the other person might think.  I find it much better for me to just do it and change it if it doesn’t work for me as a function of my judgment/critical process.
 
Music, mostly I listen to BBC Radio 2 when I'm painting because they play the more tuneful pop songs, the ‘golden oldies’ as well as the 'better' new ones.  This way there is something upbeat but not too demanding in the background to keep me going.
 
bill:
While the music may keep you going, what are the stimuli that prompt you to start work on a piece? And at that initial point, do you know where you are headed, or does the final piece really take shape within the journey of the creative process? 
 
Mano:  
There seem to be several stimuli which inspire and influence work but they do have one thing in common; ‘the journey of the creative process’ that you refer to.
 
With the paintings I sometimes receive a more or less clear image in my mind which I then translate as best I can onto the canvas.  In other cases, there is an initial phase which seems to arise from a more inspired source which is beyond what I already know or can conceive of.
 
In this kind of inspired mood I might impulsively mix colours and see what ‘emerges’ on the canvas or I might begin by making an area of texture on the canvas by pasting paper shapes onto it.  The creative challenge then is to invent a way of resolving this ‘primordial texture’ into something which makes visual sense.
 
These paintings are a leap of faith because they take some time to complete and I don’t know where I am going with them.  They are done in stages, moving them on a bit at a time before getting stuck and having to wait for what feels like instructions before I can do some more.  However, the final result always interests me because it is something new and it has emerged out of a journey of self-discovery which I could not have predicted.
 
The collages are created from images and colours cut out from magazines or newspapers.  I combine these elements into one image with the aim of communicating a particular energy, mood or feeling which is beginning to surface into my awareness but is initially pre-verbal and not easy to ‘grab hold of’.  After the image is made, I always spend some time looking at it; giving it time to ‘speak’ so that I can receive its message more consciously.
 
The Collages are usually made quickly; a short communication trip rather than the longer, more explorative journey that is needed to discover the previously unknown via the paintings.
 
bill: 
And in these journeys of “self-discovery” and listening to your work ‘speak’, what are some of the personal nuances that you have discovered about yourself? And are you surprised by anything that you have unsheathed about who you are?   
 
Mano:
The easiest way to answer is to say that the more that I have allowed myself to listen to my work, the more surprising it has become.
 
As I understand it now, the paintings, collages and the poems have created avenues for a dialogue between my day to day awareness and the more metaphysical aspects of life. Some of these works have expressed key aspects of my personal spiritual journey and other communications have been more about the spiritual relationship which is possible with a sacred landscape, in particular, the area in and around Glastonbury where I have lived for many years.
 
It is well known that Glastonbury has been linked with the Isle of Avalon, the Grail Tradition and King Arthur for hundreds of years but it was still a surprise when aspects of this symbolism began to appear in my work because I was not choosing these themes consciously.
 
Eventually, I was forced to conclude that I was being inspired by the mysterious Otherworldly legacy of Avalon and the Grail Tradition was a spiritual reality which still imbues Glastonbury with its ‘Treasure’. The latest paintings have continued to express new aspects of these Grail Teachings so this element of surprise continues!
 
bill:
For those readers who may not be familiar, please explain [briefly] the historical significance of the Isle of Avalon, the Grail Tradition and King Arthur, and since you live in Glastonbury what is the reality of these traditions versus what has become somewhat mythical due to novels and movies? What are the Grail teachings?
 
Mano:
The History bit: From an ancient text by Taliesin, a Druid Bard, it seems that Arthur was probably a Celtic Christian ruler in southern Britain, most likely during the 7th Century. Taliesin’s work describes Arthur’s quest to find the Cauldron of Plenty in the Otherworld, a Shamanic or inner journey in modern terms.
 
Much later versions of Arthur’s story describe how he was taken by the Ladies of the Lake to the Isle of Avalon when he was wounded and dying. Here, there is a historical fact which seems to link the physical Arthur directly with Glastonbury.  In 1191, an ancient grave was discovered in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey and, to everyone’s surprise no doubt, the words engraved on the lead grave marker clearly explained that the bones buried beneath it were those of King Arthur.
 
Subsequently, an elaborate black marble Tomb was made to house these valued relics and this became a famous place of Pilgrimage.  However, the Tomb and its contents disappeared, presumably carefully hidden, before the destruction of Glastonbury Abbey in King Henry VIII’s infamous Dissolution of the Monasteries (1539).
 
Excavations have revealed its former position and this is now marked in the Abbey Ruins.
 
The Grail Tradition and its Teachings: In my understanding, the Arthurian Grail Romances can be said to discuss, in story form, the sorts of life issues and the moral dilemmas that are encountered in the spiritual search.  However, this does not explain why they were written and why their connection with Glastonbury has continued to inspire so many people.
 
At this point, Glastonbury’s history seems to morph into a kind of Da Vinci Code epic, so please bear with me as I try to nutshell it.
 
In spite of persecution by the Roman Church, there is still some original documentation that verifies the Glastonbury Legend; that Joseph of Arimathea and a group of Disciples came to the Isle of Avalon in the years which directly followed the Crucifixion.  A wooden church was made and, over many hundreds of years, this gradually evolved into the Glastonbury Abbey, the largest and most important monastery in Britain.
 
The First Church was founded by Joseph of Arimathea on the ground which is now the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey but no Pope will ever admit to this publically.  Why?
 
After few hundred years, Joseph of Arimathea’s First Church became Celtic Christianity, a doctrine which blended the new teachings that Jesus had given His Disciples with the spiritual wisdom which was already being taught by the Druids.
 
The Druid Mystery Schools would have taught methods for the type of Shamanic Questing that King Arthur made, ways of making the inner journey to the Source of Life, to the mysteriously bountiful Cauldron of Plenty in the Otherworld, the realm of Spirit.  In addition, the Druids explained the spiritual importance of working with the ‘Four Hallows’, the subtle energies of Nature that we now call the Four Elements, Earth, Water, Fire and Air.
 
But, as the Church of Rome pushed to become the controlling force in the Christian world, some aspects of the doctrine of the Celtic Church were labeled ‘pagan’ so they could be denied. Jesus had actually given the Teachings of the Four Elements to Mary Magdalene and they are recorded in her Gospel but later this document was persecuted and Mary’s name was dishonoured.  Two partial copies of Mary’s Gospel have been discovered in the same kind of way that the famous Dead Sea scrolls have surfaced so we now know that Jesus did talk about the Four Elements with his Disciples.  (I like to think that it was these Teachings that inspired the Celtic Christian Monks in their beautiful, Celtic knot-work designs).
 
Later, because of persecution, these Teachings would have been passed on secretly by Brotherhoods who were linked with those members of the European aristocracy who were descended from the sacred bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.  This meant that, in the 13th and 14th Centuries, with royal patronage, the Grail Romances could be written in such a way as to share this knowledge publically in a disguised story form; Arthur’s 7th Century search for the Cauldron of Plenty in the Otherworld becoming Perceval’s 13th Century Quest for the mysterious bounty of the Holy Grail after he is shown the symbols of the Four Hallows in the Otherworld Mansion of the Fisher King.
 
In Glastonbury, it seems that one of these Brotherhoods, known locally as the Cult of Joseph of Arimathea, continued to teach covertly until the Monastery was destroyed in the Dissolution. And, as I spent more and more time in the Abbey Ruins, I began to realize that it was some members of this group, now in Spirit form, who were involved in initiating, inspiring and guiding my work.
 
bill:
I wonder how you deal with the spiritual and possibly physical embodiment of inspiration, forces, and teachings that existed centuries ago. Do you consciously feel that you exist between centuries, and without sounding too “existentialist”, do you feel you are re-incarnated in some way, at least as far as your creativity? Also, a few months ago, you lost your Dad. How did you put that loss in perspective? 
   
Mano:
I have encountered the Grail Teachings in several past incarnations so it seems likely that these memories were subconsciously influencing my desire to seek them out again in this current lifetime. Also, looking back, I can see how the spiritual guiding forces that we call destiny were influencing the twists and turns of my life direction through inspiration, dreams and intuition as well as past-life remembering. However I think that the experience of creating the artwork and poems was probably the strongest avenue for re-embodying these Teachings because this meant that they could be updated into symbolism which is more in tune with the 21st century.
 
At one point I did some research on the ways that Christian symbolism has developed over the centuries and this made it easier for me to interpret the coded messages in a series of stone carvings which have survived in Glastonbury Abbey. These carvings were designed by one of the former Abbots and sometimes I could feel his spiritual presence as I walked around the Abbey ruins, his sense of pleasure being palpable when he realised that I was beginning to understand the secrets that he was wanting to communicate some 500 years ago.
 
My first past-life memory was in the form of a nightmare; a repeating dream sequence of drowning in the sea after the ship was sunk in a 17th century war. This memory was vivid and undeniable so I decided to train in the kind of hypnotherapy techniques that are associated with Past Life Regression Therapy so that I could more easily integrate my own far-memories and then help others in my Healing Practice.
 
I also researched other people’s reports of their Near Death and Between Life Experiences so that I could learn more. This gave me the understanding that we all belong to Soul groups so we can help each other in our spiritual lessons and these relationships can also have past-life connections which may need to be healed before they can empower the current lifetime.
 
Past Life Regression has certainly helped me trust in the Immortality of the Soul and this helps to soften the emotional loss when loved ones pass over into the Realm of Spirit, especially when they are elderly and infirm as was my father’s situation. Several close friends have passed over in the last few years and, while there has always been the sadness of losing their physical presence, there has also been a sense of their joy as they released the physical realm and returned to the Light of the non-physical realms of consciousness.
 
bill:
I appreciate your willingness to share and your affirmation(s) when dealing with loved ones who have passed. Thank you. Moving on…
 
You have an art exhibition coming up at a local gallery. What can viewers expect and what should they be looking for or is experiencing art an in the moment experience, which can’t or shouldn’t be pre-programmed?  
  
 
Mano:
I have already talked a bit about the ways that my pictures emerge as communications from the non-physical dimensions of reality.  This new set of paintings is strongly focused on expressing the dynamic flow of information which constantly moves between the non-physical or sacredness of Avalon and the landscape which we might call the geography of Glastonbury, the physical place.
 
The sacred geometry of the Flower of Life appears in many of the paintings as a way of expressing Avalon’s Spirit of Place, the underlying spiritual ‘energy template’ arising from Goddess Mother Earth and underpinning the physical forms of Nature.
 
Other recurring features in the paintings include spiral energy forms inspired by Orbs, the subtle energy forms of coherent light which are often captured on digital photographs taken at Sacred Sites.  In the Exhibition, I am hoping to communicate something of my perceptions of these realms and, if I have been effective, my hope is that viewers may receive some insights of their own when they experience the paintings gathered together.
 
bill:
It has been a delight chatting with you, and learning the spiritual and cultural underpinnings of your work, as well as a sense of Glastonbury history. In closing, do you have any words of advice for the Rockford Kingsley readership? 
 
Mano:
I have very much enjoyed this opportunity to share my work so, first, I would like give Bill a big ‘thank-you’.
 
Many insights have emerged as a direct of result of this email-chat but one important one stands out.
 
I was impressed by Bill’s insightful questions but, with very little experience of expressing my creative processes in word form, it was often a challenge because I had to dig deep to discover the most appropriate answer.  Sometimes, my search (Quest!) for the right words almost became a problem, but, in the end, they always emerged and I learnt much from the challenge of engaging with the process.
 
In terms of words of advice, I would like to frame this insight as a Positive Affirmation:
 
“I am the one who enjoys the challenge of changing life’s problems
into opportunities for expanding my creative potential.”
 

 

  

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