Trailblazer Interview: Aviva Gold – Creativity, Healing & Art Medicine

Aviva Gold Interview

Grace: Hi. This is Grace Quantock from gracequantock.com and we’re here with another Trailblazer Interview. Today we are speaking to the amazing Aviva Gold.

Aviva, hello, thank you for joining us.

Aviva: Hello. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Grace: Thank you. Aviva has been an art therapist, a clinical social worker, psychotherapist and an artist. For the past thirty-five years and today, she has grown into an art medicine woman.

She has taught her transformative Painting from the Source Method Worldwide and major workshop centres such as Omiga, Findhorn, and has taken the painting from the source teachings all across the world.

She is currently creating a source retreat in Oracle, Arizona. Aviva is a true proverbial wellness trailblazer, so we’re so honoured that she’s joining us today. Thank you.

Aviva: Oh, you’re so welcome. It’s my pleasure really – I’m honoured.

Grace: Thank you. Just to begin, I wanted to ask: can you tell the people who might not have heard yet, what Painting from the Source is?

Aviva: Yes. Let’s see, it’s a name that I gave to a very natural process that human beings have been doing ever since the first being took a piece of charcoal out of the fire, and rubbed it on a cave wall.

It’s ancient, it’s connected with being human. It’s also a method that I put together, that I developed, to help people in our culture get back to that primal place of creativity that we’re all born to do. So, in a nutshell, that’s it. I can elaborate more, I’m sure you’ll ask questions.

Oh, well I can say that the method that I use has to do with painting for a process. Painting through the experience of painting rather than having a goal, like the classical academic art training. I purposely use a non-archival kindergarten material – like paper, pens and water paint. No tempera paint, poster colours – that’s what I’m saying now and I’m sure more will come.

Grace: That’s actually the part that I found very challenging in the beginning, because I came across Aviva’s work when one of my therapists introduced me to it. I had experienced that the power of art therapy, having worked with an art therapist, but Aviva’s work opened so much more for me.

We connected via email and we started this conversation around the gold being in the wounds. This process around healing, and how we can work with the process when maybe we’re healing something emotional, something physical.

Can you maybe say a little bit about how this method and this engagement in the process, not the result, can be beneficial for the people who maybe are dealing with chronic illness or feeling broken, or feeling like a misfit.

Aviva: Oh my goodness, where to begin.

I want to tell the listeners also that… you may have also mentioned that I have a book, which is available, easy to order, that will really go into details on all of this. One of the first things that come to mind is, in the workshops, I have a couple of little signs up on the wall with little sayings on them. One of them is, “What you think is your destroyer, is your redeemer.”

In other words, what you think is the biggest wound, what’s out to get you, what is going to destroy or kill you – within that is what will save you. What will heal you, what will nourish you and help you be able to offer the same kind of magical work to other people in your life.

That’s one part. I want to make it very clear to people that this isn’t art therapy in the clinical sense. I also come from a background as a painter and in art education. What happens is, once we tap into this healing place of painting where time is lost.

I mean you can’t paint in this way and also be in your mind. After a while, your mind just lets go and you come into the moment of the movement of the paint on the paper. That in itself is very healing to the nervous system and the mind.

But there are other elements where if you paint long enough, and you keep going and you stay with it – you come to a place where all the principles of aesthetics and balance; whatever great art is. The magic, the soul that’s in great art; the time and the prayer that went into that painting process – those elements also come through.

Another thing I tell people is, you know the story of Beauty and the Beast – it’s a classic story; most people know it. That the Beast could only turn into the incredible, handsome, wise prince that he was with Beauty at him in compassion and love.

This is almost like painting the Beast to get to Beauty. So, in the process, when you’re in this natural state and you’re allowing yourself to channel whatever needs to come through, often, any traumas: physical, emotional, spiritual that you’ve had – even in other lifetimes, if you believe in other lifetimes – will come up in the painting process. That can be daunting and frightening to people.

But it’s going through it, staying with it. Sometimes if you need a guide in the beginning – if it’s really frightening material in the beginning – to midwife you through it. That can be good. When you stay with it, then at a certain point the healing goes through you and Beauty starts coming through.

If I missed anything or any questions you still have, please ask.

Grace: Thank you. That was beautiful, I could feel it resonating, and there’s so much depth.

Aviva: Yes.

Grace: Really, there’s so much that we could delve into there. I did want to kind of pull a few bits out of there, reflect, and say, firstly, yes, Aviva’s book is fantastic; I will post about it in the body of this post.

Aviva: Thank you.

Grace: It does take you through the process but then people do need extra midwifery through it, you do offer one-on-one help for them if somebody’s getting…

Aviva: Yes we have Skype sessions, absolutely. I do that with people all over the world.

Grace: So, if anybody needs that, you can go to Aviva’s site and find that there.

Aviva: Right, paintingfromthesource.com.

Grace: Thank you. I was just about to look and say, “Now, where did I put that?” – paintingfromthesource.com

What I’m really sharing, what I think can be very challenging is the idea that the very thing that we’re struggling with can be something we need to go towards. That’s something I work a lot with people in my coaching, around working with illness, because often we see the pain and the struggle as something very solid – and something very impenetrable.

When we’re running from it, all the evidence just chase us and then we can’t work with it. All your life is doing is trying to get away from the pain. When you meet it and greet it; or sometimes you say, “Hi, you showed up today. I would really rather you havd’t shown up today, but you’re here.”

It’s that moment of coming towards it. It kind of leaves me in this, not of resistance, but when we’re working with it and the way I work on the basis of…

A few years ago, I would have thought, “Excuse me; I’m not talking to my pain. This is the thing, which is keeping me in bed. This is the thing, which is taking everything from me. Yet, because of that, it is the very thing I needed to talk to. It was one of the biggest parts of my life – a constant presence.

Opening up a dialogue with that can be hugely important but also hugely terrifying. For some people we can be so disassociated from our bodies, we can get so disconnected especially if we’ve been over-medicalised.

Actually, having a conversation with yourself and with your pain can seem inconceivable. I think, as you say, well if you’re painting long enough get into the flow, then that’s the way to tap back into it and to come home – to be able to make these understandings, these ideas, and these conversations.

Aviva: Right. That’s beautiful, that stimulates a few things that I want to share. The whole title “Painting from the Source”, is what it sounds like. For me, the source is many things. It’s part of your own biological and historical make-up. It’s your mind.

But the important part of the source for me is it’s an eternal soul aspect of life. It’s a place… you see I do believe that we come from the stars – because it’s a physical fact. Anybody that studies Chemistry or Physics knows that’s where it began and that’s where we come from.

The source is this place that – you know you can have any name for it, it’s all the same. Every religion has a name for God, the energy that started the Universe in motion. Okay, that’s pretty covers everything. Every belief can fall onto that.

When you look at things that way, you see that there may even be Karma from other lifetimes that we’re carrying – or from who knows what or where. Like it’s a big question. It’s not, “Oh, I definitely believe this or that,” but, just to keep it open that there are reasons why trauma happened and physical accidents and also diseases and things that we think are such a terrible thing in our life.

If you see it as a spiritual gift, that there are messages in it and if we see life as this magical occurrence – this cosmic, universal, divine, magical occurrence – that’s the way to use whatever happened to really grow and give.

You’re a perfect example of that in your life. I was very touched and impressed by your Ted talk. I, too, couldn’t be doing the work I did if I hadn’t had really strong wounds that come from a really painfully dysfunctional family and history. Both carrying all the Jewish guilt, the Jewish angst, pain – and all the whole baggage that comes along with that. Plus, you know, family – that was very difficult and painful.

It was… made a decision to live fully or die. At some point, there was a crossroad and thank our lucky stars and our guides that we chose the road to live.

Another little sign that I have up in the painting room, which addresses exactly what you’re talking about, is, “The only way to get around it is to get through it.”

Those of you who understand the principles of homeopathy, which I can explain in a second, every remedy in homeopathy is a poison. If you take too much of it, it will kill you. It’s a watered-down version of a real serious poison – animal, mineral, vegetable poison. It’s specific for a malady, for an ailment. When you think of it that way, that you need to take and cuddle up to, the pain, and what we think is destroying us in order to move through it and have the healing we need.

All these are messages from the divine – every symptom. I do believe from all my life experience, my dreams and the channelling that I do that dreams that we have when we go to bed at night, physical symptoms that we have and the paintings we paint – all come from the very same source. If you alter one, you’ll alter them all. So that if something gets changed in a painting or in a dream, where you confront the nightmare figure in the dream and you ask your gift from it or on the physical plane – it will alter all the other places.

If something changes in a painting or a dream, then the physical symptom will shift. If you alter something on the physical realm, then it will shift in the dream and the paintings.

Even if you don’t believe it or believe any of this, it’s very, very powerful to pretend you believe it while you’re processing, while you’re painting, while you’re creating, while you’re talking to the symptom.

Very often, like in my workshops, what I might have you do or someone in a similar suggestion is to actually do a really, big graphic painting of the pain – of the being that is holding you. It would look really, really scary. It’s so strong, paint it so strong, that onlookers that look at the painting without even knowing anything about you, will gasp and just feel it in their gut. Then talk to it and dialogue with it and seek the message.

Grace: That’s such a good idea to as a step in and yes, that level of expression could be so powerful. You just want to clarify a few points, that’s okay.

A few things you touched on are things, which I’ve written about in some context before because I believe there’s some very, very powerful things that we’re talking about here. Unfortunately, some people – sometimes colleges around blame around disability.

For example, I once had a teacher and doing energy work. We were outside and she said something. She said, “Of course Grace, it’s your fault you’re ill.”

I said, “I’m sorry?” and she said, “Yes, that’s because you did bad things in past lives and that’s why you’re disabled.”

Of course, her arm issues, they were just from “this life”, but me – I had apparently must have killed a lot of people and that was why the wheel chair – murder equals punishment in the wheelchair.

I just thought, “Whoa, that’s nonsense. That sounds like it’s God’s punishing you and crippling you. That sounds like some very disability and warped judgment happening. We’re not going to listen to that. I’m aware that that’s not what you said and I just wanted to clarify that because I also know, these topics are so sensitive.

Aviva: Absolutely.

Grace: I don’t want anybody to go away with the wrong impression.

Aviva: Because there’s more. Actually, what I’m going to say next really addresses that. You know there is no way of knowing why something happens. But the truth will come through the painting or the dream.

Very often, because of our sensitivities, because of who we are, I could even reframe that in a very different way. You came in as a being – I don’t even know where to begin with this.

Sometimes, some of us are chosen to be messengers for a larger, cosmic pain. It’s more of a compliment than something derogatory. If you know what I’m saying.

Grace: I do. If that resonates with somebody, then that’s fantastic.

Aviva: …who are channelling. We’re ten people, we’re painting; these incredible beings are coming through that are really look horrifying, devastated and just really scary. That particular person may suffer from certain ailments or psychic things or not being able to sleep well, or certain disturbances.

What we discover is that there are some people who are chosen to be the messengers for something that’s going on in the whole planet, because the beings knew. The angels – whoever the divine source in its wisdom – knew that that was what they could use us for.  That is a total opposite. Thanks.

The point is to use what you’ve been given, without necessarily knowing it. Exploring it, what does this have to say? When you dialogue with this being, and you hear its story, it’s amazing what it could tell.

I have seen miracles – that’s all I want to say. I’ve been witness to unbelievable miracles – just unbelievable miracles. This is very deep stuff and I feel very fortunate for that. Does that address what you’re saying?

Grace: It does, thank you. I do really encourage people to connect to it, with your book, with your work and with you. If they’re feeling like this is something that they’re needing some support through.

Because this is very, very deep stuff – you know collective unconscious. We’re talking some really, really, deep, big things. For some people, it’s feeling like a greater purpose really works for them. If you think that, then that’s fantastic.

I know that for some people they’re feeling not like they want to do that, and that’s okay, too. I think, possibly, in the Ted talk that being disabled doesn’t oblige you to be an inspirational speaker, yet some people, “Hey, I’ve done it.” They chose to.

Some people, it’s something else that’s going on and yet, toward the dialogue with the pain – I think it’s so, so important.

Totally, and those shifts affect you. When you shift your relationship with your pain and deepen your relationship with your body, that’s going to impact your family – and in that way, impacts the world.

Because, I think that the person is poetical, if we’re going to go a little retro here.

I just wanted to ask, if you could ask listeners to do one thing that would be beneficial to connecting to their source and to their wellness – what do you think might be?

Aviva: Well, you know I could tell you, but I also have a 5-minute – actually, a little video. It’s on the homepage of my website with the first few minutes I’m introducing myself. But then, I have some little things, just to get some crayons and paper or markers or anything.

Think of something that they want some enlightenment on, some more information about. Then, just pick up the materials, maybe even in your non-dominant hand if you feel self-conscious. It’s the non-dominant hand that might be more connected in with the part of the brain that’s more intuitive and less habit – or you can use both hands. Just do a drawing and see what happens.

Then, take a pen and paper and let the drawing speak. You might even do the writing with your non-dominant hand. That could be very interesting and see what it says to you, yeah.

Grace: I can’t wait to do that.

Aviva: It’s simple as that. As I said, just go to the home page. I think on the upper-left is a place – it says, “hands on sampler”. Yeah, try that.

Just to tell people it’s all part of a bigger plan. Again, if you don’t believe that the universe is basically supportive, pretend you do. As they say, “Fake it, until you make it.”

Grace: Try it on for a day.

Grace: That’s all at paintingfromthesource.com.

Thank you for joining us, I feel restored and deepened by this conversation.

Aviva: It’s my pleasure, too. That’s so sweet, I’m so happy about that.

Grace: Thank you. Thank you everybody for listening and do check out Aviva’s work. I look forward to hearing more about your paintings and transformations yourself. Thank you.

Aviva: Thank you.

Grace: Bye, bye.

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