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Get a print of art by Sunny Strasburg for your child’s room, a birthday or holiday gift for your loved one. Also available, Custom Visionary Portraits (Click HERE for details)
Every art piece is printed on high quality canvas, full bleed, with archival ink, and a gloss fixative glaze. Each print is hand-signed by the artist. The art is ready for stretching or mounting and framing. Click on the purchase link next to each image to get yours
“BABA YAGA” by Martin Stensaas, Sunny Strasburg, Ben Wiemeyer. This original painting is available on Etsy:https://www.etsy.com/listing/206184371/baba-yaga-by-martin-stensaas-art-of This was started at Sacred Spaces Village at Burning Man during the sets of Desert Dwellers and David Starfire with the three of us put in the background of the python skeleton painting, laughing and dancing onstage.. Later, in our SLC art studio, Martin and I added the figure of Baba, her magpie, and the landscape. Many hours in this one. I think its my most favorite so far! Check out the details in the album “Details of Paintings”. Painting is 40″ x 38″ oil on canvas
Nuguar” by Martin Stensaas, Benjamin Wiemeyer and Sunny Strasburg. Acrylic on Canvas. 33″ x 30″.
I had a dream the night before I painted the Jaguar into the canvas. Here is the dream…..
She is waiting in the shadows of the forest. The dappled shadows of the jungle hide her perfectly, and I have a difficult time making her out. Then I see her eyes. And I notice there are serpents (all female), intertwining on the forest floor….caduceus. Jaguar is patient. She is watching the serpents, waiting for just the right moment to pounce. Then the message comes to me…”Timing is everything. Moderate your energy.”
This piece relates to our collective experience as well. As a collective unconscious, these times are calling for special awareness. I see what humanity must embody. To be patient, yet alert. And to take the right opportunities, but conserve our collective energy.
There is a right time to take action.
The plants are cultivation and medicine. Humanity’s amazing ability to form and shape what nurtures us.
And the crystal mountain with the alpenglow in the distance is the dream, the aspiration we have to reach the apex of human experience. Our Highest Selves.
16″ x 20″ digital print on canvas. Signed by the artist. Shipped in tube, ready for stretching on frame.
The Valkyrie. “These goddesses carry out the will of Odinn in determining the victors of the battle, and the course of the war. Their primary duty is to choose the bravest of those who have been slain, gathering the souls of dying
heros or warriors found deserving of afterlife in Valhalla. They scout the battle ground in search of mortals worthy of the grand hall. If you are deemed by the Valkyries as un-worthy of the hall of Valhalla you will be received after death by the goddess Hel in a cheerless underground world.”
The new mother sitting ion the forest floor has just given birth all alone in the jungle. She pays respect to Coatlique- the goddess of birth and death in childbirth. She is the goddess of all mothers. She is the death that must occur in order to open space for new life to emerge. Our heroine has successfully navigated what primordial people call, Woman’s Vision Quest.
Like a wet tooth in the sunlight,
A smile in the glare,
A shiny hollow fang.
Some new element carried within
Aluminum rises almost to space
From the fuzzy jungled mountains
Up through the florid coat of air.
This treasure arcs.
By what miracle do we arrive
Here at the pinnacle of time?
The whole infinity engine
At our backs
The parabola of our emergence.
Within this cone of experience
Rides this improbable rarity:
Our collected family
Having maneuvered the past,
Even nourished in careful craft
As single cells under glass,
In the prefect medium,
We are always playing God.
Once again, spores of the future
In a gleaming hull.
Over the Sea
Through the light and over the living skin,
Thick air on trees,
In and out of lungs,
These vapors, risen off the ancient Dream.
We have been
Over these waters so many times.
Through these distances, rain and river.
The air, too, slowly pulled
Through shell, rock, volcano, and leaves.
Oxygen, carbon, and on through the profusion…
All this a fossil
Of a long gone Great Grandfather Star,
A parting gift from the Core.
A comfortable knowing
Of souls that fit,
And the littler voices,
Variations on a soul:
Shared and split, shared and split.
We look out the windows of the plane:
Sapphire night deepening into stars.
And little golden webs of light below.
Behold the patterns these creatures make,
Decorating the darkness.
Around us, little golden voices
Shared and split
Shining in the void
So rare and concentrated
These gems of long-ago
The Crone : medium: graphite and digital
16″ x 20″ digital print on canvas. Signed by the artist.
We begin life in Solutio- the element of water. We are One…merged with both our personal Mother, as well as the Cosmic Mother.
As we grow and develop from adolescence into adulthood, we feel the itch to explore the bigger world. We heed the call of the wild. We leave what is known and embark on our own heroine or hero’s journey. We enter the dark depths of the unknown–the Calcinatio, the element of fire. It is here we find our ultimate fear– the Dragon of our shadow. We must conquer this dragon in order to snatch the treasured pearl it clutches in its claws. The symbol of this pearl is our individuation.
During the next stage of development, we emerge into Sublimatio- the element of air. We have successfully navigated our own fears and life’s challenges, and arise triumphant. The kundalini rises from the fire of will into the airy expanse of a spiritual zenith.
As we move into the phase of pro generation, and feel closure in the sublimated celebration, we descend from the lofty heights of Sublimatio down into Coagulatio, the earth element. We ground back into Mother Earth. In our adventures, we have developed into wise old crones and wise men.
As crones, we have returned home after a long, arduous journey. The thirst to have new experiences and challenged is quenched and we are satiated.
In the place of Grandmother/Grandfather, we sit back and muse. We culminate life experience and knowledge and pass it along in story. And then we prepare for our own deeper descent into Mother Earth, into the arms of Death.
Gaia : medium: graphite and digital
20″ x 24″ digital print on canvas.
This piece, Gaia was inspired by a dream of climbing up a giant goddess’ leg as she lumbered out of the water. In the dream, I was male, and so tiny. She glanced down at me briefly and smiled– as one might notice a grasshopper, and kept on moving. I clung to her leg desperately, in utter astonishment and awe of her power.
Balam with Shipibo Octopi : medium: graphite and digital
20″ x 20″ digital print on canvas.
Crimson Ribbon Atonement
Sunny Strasburg, MFTI
*names have been changed
I am gripped with fear. My heart is pounding in my throat.
I look over at the man I’ve spent the past twenty years with and he looks like a stranger. Marty smiles, reassuring me, nonplussed. Marty is ready to delve into every nook and cranny of both inner and outer space. He seems perplexed by my doubt and writhing fear.
I swallow hard and lean over to whisper in Marty’s ear, “Screw this. I’m out of here.”
“Should I leave?!”
Here’s that damn, benevolent smile still, and a pat on the knee, “I can’t make that decision for you. Only you can.”
We are all seated on the floor in a circle, our backs leaning against the wall. The lights dim in the circular thatched hut. It looks quite beautiful. Imagine a jungle scene and a group of twenty people all dressed in white, glowing in the dim light. The image of lambs going to slaughter flashes in my mind.
The presiding shaman walks in and a hush sweeps over the circle. Deep reverence for all that is holy settles over us. We all know there is no chance at even attempting to be elusive or fake here. These experiences are notoriously ego shredding and humbling.
The shaman begins speaking in a firm, crisp Spanish. I can’t understand her, and this intensifies my anxiety.
“What did she say?” I hiss to Marty.
The “Helpers” pass out puke buckets into which we are to purge the evil spirits. Everyone smiles and nods as the buckets are placed in front of them. This is nuts. How in the hell did I agree to participate in such insanity?
Suddenly the translator’s commands interrupt my escape plan,
“Breathe Deeply. Breath is essential in this practice.”
As a Jungian therapist and regular meditator, I am keenly aware of all the defense mechanisms and elaborate mental constructs we create to defend against facing the unknown. We have a strong propensity to create the illusion of control as a coping mechanism, and to help us make sense of what seems like a chaotic world. Inevitably, what lives beneath a desire for control is straight up fear—the fear of chaos.
This fear of chaos is nothing new. Our ancestors’ food supply was completely dependant on the weather. Its moods affected their basic survival. In order to create some semblance of control, they performed rain dance rituals. Elaborate rituals of sacrifice and prayer have been created to mediate our fear of death—the ultimate surrender of control.
And the fear of chaos continues, perhaps even intensified, today. Maybe we check our stocks online five times a day to be sure our investments are still there—to gain a sense of control over an unpredictable environment.
Today, we are feeling more out of control than ever. I believe that has partly contributed to the pervasive archetype of the apocalypse in the psyches of North Americans. There are vast arenas of life where we have no clue about how it all works, let alone an ability to participate in the outcome. For example, a very small percentage of North Americans know how or where their food is grown. Most of us have no clue how to survive without the food production complex we take for granted each day. Ponder the enormous amount of trust we place in the elaborate system from seed to growth, fruit, collection, transport, shipment and finally, sale to bring that banana from Chile to your fruit bowl.
And in the past few weeks, knowing I would be here tonight, facing all of those fears, has created an acute awareness of my need for control as a way to negate my very intense fear of unpredictability.
By all accounts, a spectrum of stories has ranged from absolutely terrifying to sublime, but involved dissolution of ego and surrender of all control.
The shaman calls us up one by one to take the sacrament. When I crawl on my hands and knees to the altar, I beg, “Chico….Suave….Muy Sensitiva!”
She’s an alchemist, pouring the brew back and forth in different containers.
Her eyes twinkle and a warm smile spreads across her face. It reminds me of a sunrise. She hands me the cup and says, “Salud, Sunny.”
The Circle repeats, “Salud, Sunny”
I hesitantly swallow the contents.
Rewind back three months ago. I am standing in my kitchen crying and looking out of the window at the snow falling. I am in the throes of addiction. Not to heroin or cocaine, but to coffee, stimulation, chaos, sugar and deep sadness. A chronic ennui has settled in and I feel numb. I desperately want off this treadmill of the anesthetic boredom and the chronic low level anxiety that pervades my life.
I wonder, where has my sparkle gone? I used to be curious and inquisitive, precocious in my connection to synchronicity and magic. I feel alone and disassociated, although I am surrounded by a doting husband, three rambunctious kids and tons of friends.
I also feel void of spirit. My job as a therapist has me caught in an intellectual reductivism in which everyone, including myself, seems like a tribe of lost souls– sad, dysfunctional and misguided with distorted coping skills and elaborate defense mechanisms.
When the offer came to go deep into the jungle to meet the “Ultimate Grandmother Spirit” it felt like it was time, perhaps even a second chance at rekindling a holy relationship to this life of mine.
As I sit in the circle awaiting the effects of my medicine, I send out a series of last minute, desperate pleas for help, “Please Grandmother, help me find magic. Help me overcome these addictions. Help me love myself.”
I wait in grueling anticipation. From all accounts, this isn’t going to be a gentle, Sunday drive. It will be a gut wrenching (literally), gritty, ego stripping, denial blasting rollercoaster ride. And I am trapped in the rollercoaster car. It’s ratcheting up a gigantic hill.
But just now, a delicate vision of a neon triangle begins subtly pulsing on the horizon. The shaman begins a lilting whistle—an ancient melody thousands of years old. It’s so beautiful and soothing. I feel my jaw soften and relax. However, this nice effect is bluntly interrupted by someone 10 feet away belching loudly, and then retching with a splash in their bucket.
Then another and another…in some kind of crazy call and answer Barf-o-rama.
“Oh my God! This is ridiculous!” I say out loud.
My husband begins shaking uncontrollably and lurches forward, puking into his bucket.
But then, thankfully, I am saved by my attention shifting back to the pulsing triangle against the velvety black backdrop of my closed eyelids. A face emerges almost like a toy pinscreen. Her face transforms into a jaguar and star constellations spread out and away from her divine face.
I whisper, “Mother.”
The vision morphs into a tactile sensory one, rather than visual. My awareness moves into the body of a jaguar cub. I can literally feel my face as if I had a blunt, furry muzzle and my articulate fingers and hands have been replaced by big, club-like paws. I knead these paws into a warm, soft belly, seeking a nipple to suckle.
I am startled by a warm breath in my left ear, She says, “You are of the Puma Clan.”
This medicine had been working in my body for weeks before I actually took it. I found it to be unsettling and strange. A special diet was requested of the pilgrims. I was strongly advised to give up sugar, salt, miscellaneous foods, alcohol, and most challenging in my case, caffeine. It was extremely difficult, that is the caffeine and sugar part. I realized I hadn’t gone without either of those substances for a single day for the past six years. The withdrawals were intense. It was very enlightening to realize how I had been abusing my body to kick start it with empty energy. Force it to take action—get through long days at work, to exercise intensely, and power through long study hours in graduate school.
My utter exhaustion had been masked for years. Adrenals were blown; thyroid was on the fritz—burning out on caffeinated nitro.
Then, the night before ceremony, as I was stirring to consciousness from a vivid, strange dream, I heard a gong and loud, and these clear words.
The fading dream was of certain family members, and how our family culture was pushing what we didn’t want to face down into the shadows of the subconscious. I realized I individually do the same thing. I saw how my past actions have turned my heart cold to Marty, my kids, family and friends. This disassociation was a form of blind cruelty- both toward my self and them. I had been twisting a blind knife, unknowingly. However I remain responsible for their confusion and hurt. I had become so afraid of being victimized, that I turned into a zombie, unable to love and connect fully with anyone, including myself, and therefore becoming the victimizer—emotional neglect. This happens to be a quite common affliction in the West, a coping strategy that most people employ. Out of a fear of abandonment, I was continuing the legacy of that two sided coin of victim/victimizer.
Heaviness gripped my chest and I began to uncontrollably sob. Marty rolled over and soothed me, which only amplified my guilt. I sobbed and confessed my guilt of a closed heart. Of course he accepted my apology, but this exoneration was not his to give. I felt we are all in a great, karmic wheel. I had to fully and undeniably experience how I have affected others before I could be forgiven.
Finally the retching in the circle has subsided. My jaguar-cub awareness shifts into a past life vision of an existence as a Spanish Conquistador traveling to the New World. I feel pride in my heart to serve the Queen. I am an important representative of my country, and a spreader of the true word of the Holy Church. I am standing in tall grass. It is incredibly hot and humid. I am weighed down by the partial armor I’m wearing, and can smell the sweat, saturated in my clothing. We stand, weapons drawn as the natives emerge from the jungle. They are innocent and small, like children or animals. They reach out to us and we brutally cut off their hands.
The next horrific scene jumps ahead to the devastation after the massacre that followed. There are natives strewn across the jungle floor, their bodies bloody and rotting, covered with dirt and leaves. Baskets are spilled, and children are starving next to dead mothers.
Again I am sobbing with guilt. I thought I was doing well for my country and for my faith, but now I realize that I have been extraordinarily cruel.
Then Jaguar Mother startles me again and repeats her firm words in my ear, “You are of the Puma clan.”
I flew back through time and landed in yet another past/future(?) lifetime as an indigenous man living somewhere in South America. I am sitting in a long house with others. I am young, having just walked through the portal of becoming a man, sitting with the party of hunters. Each month, on the full moon, we hunt the nocturnal animals at night. We are preparing little bundles of cooked paste—a magical vine/leaf combo that makes us able to see in the dark– night vision. I note that it is comparable to the technology we employ in the modern times (metal, silicon and plastics to create weapons, computers and vehicles). In this life as an indigenous, we use plant and spirit “technology” to enhance performance.
This lifetime has an ease and harmony—a counterbalance to the last vision as a Conquistador. We speak gently to each other, smile and joke with love in our hearts.
The shaman’s ancient melodies tune in again. The harmony becomes synaesthetic crimson ribbons spilling from her tongue. Each note becomes a ruby feather slowly falling to the ground. I am now lucid enough to form organized thought. I have this incredibly strange realization that several iterations of my “Selves” are split and having a myriad of experiences. One part is witnessing- void of emotion or judgment. This is the ego, or separate Self, merely observing. Another Self is organizing thoughts. Yet another is tuning into the music and the ribbon metaphor. And yet another had turned inward and scanning my physical body.
As I scan my body for illness or disease, I am told to send love to each organ. I begin with my uterus, thanking it for the way it has beautifully served me, nurturing and bringing my three children into my life. I send love and thank my ovaries, my large intestine, my liver…each organ and system is thanked and sent love for all it has done to support and host my soul in this lifetime. When I reach my thyroid, I see it’s energy is a bit off. To heal it, I am told to do yoga postures which will open the throat chakra, to breathe deeply, continue being gentle with my body, and compassionate toward myself. My thyroid gland turns into an iridescent, blue morpho butterfly and vibrates as Grandmother heals it.
I ask Grandmother if I am too hard on my body by exercising too much. I am surprised at her response, that no, our bodies are meant to be used. She showed me that throughout human existence, we have worked all day and modern, sedentary life is not what our bodies are evolved and built to do. She added to continue with the diet—lots of organic, fresh vegetables and fruit, less sugar, and no coffee. It was surprising to me how practical her advice was—like a real grandmother might offer!
Another shift and I found that one of my Selves is scanning members of my families’ bodies. In one, I could see a fatty lump on one side of the heart and the need to exercise more and eat less sugar and fat. I also see that the colon was developing problems and to encourage the person to get a colonoscopy. It is conveyed that because this person has suppressed trauma both from childhood, and then built upon this suppression in adulthood by further denial, it was resulting in a physical manifestation of coagulated, toxic energy in the body….A symptom of a heavy heart.
I scan another person’s body and it comes to me that she is overall healthy and that it was beneficial to her physical health that she lost weight recently. This had averted a disastrous path and was cleansing for her mind, body and spirit.
Suddenly, this triggers a sadness I have about my family being estranged and distant. I request Grandmother to heal the split. (Incidentally, two days after the ceremony, my mom sent me a message she was invited, out of the blue, to her brother’s house for dinner, where the entire family, aunts, uncles, cousins were gathered. She felt very healed to reconnect after ten years of distance). I request Grandmother to help me become less judgmental and more tolerant of others’ differences. I ask to be willing to listen and open my heart more to those who are different than I am.
Once again, my dominant awareness shifts back into my present time and space. The beautiful chirping insects and croaking frogs are not just the usual background textural noise, but layered deeply and singing along with the shaman. The volume is becoming louder and louder and louder in intensity until it’s a deafening roar. Then a “RRRRrreeeaaaaaoooOOOOooowWWW!” and a “WWwhhhooooosssshhhhh!”. All sounds disappear, leaving only a faint crumpling, wax-paper sound.
The imagery shifts and one of my Selves stands up and leaves my physical body sitting in lotus position. I walk down to my room on the farm. I go outside, to the beautiful, outdoor shower I had been enjoying all week. Standing in the space, to my utter shock and amazement is Brad looking absolutely radiant, just showered, with a towel wrapped around his waist. I am so surprised because Brad was killed the year before in a horrible car accident. He was young and beautiful and just awakening to his potential and intrinsic joy. His death left many, many people in deep grief and sadness at a beautiful life ended prematurely. But here he is, incredibly real, with the big, infectious grin I remember.
The first day he arrived at the farm a week ago, one of the helpers, Jake warmly greeted us. I was taken aback at how much he resembled Brad- his face and mannerisms, even his voice had an uncanny similarity. I was so impacted by it, I had remarked to Marty on the way to our room that I was shaken up by the resemblance. I had shed a few tears reminiscing about Brad because Jake had evoked such a strong presence of him.
In the vision, Brad looks deeply into my eyes and says, “Thank you, Sunny. Thank you for the way you helped me. I came to tell you I am OK.” I lean forward in my lotus position and spontaneously move into child’s pose, crying. The image of Jake’s resemblance to him flashes in my mind as a question. Brad rests a hand on my shoulder and says gently, “Sunny, its no accident he looks like me. I am here with you. You helped me and now I am here to help you.” I receive an understanding that all my psychotherapy clients heal me as much as I heal them in a beautiful balance of co-creation and collaboration.
One by one, each of the autistic children from the school, the site of my first internship, approaches me with a huge smile and thanks for my care. Their faces come close to mine and hold my eyes in deep compassion and connection—a silent gesture of deep appreciation and gratitude. All of my therapy clients appear, from the drug rehab center to my present clients, one at a time in a wordless parade of gracious smiles and loving, twinkling eyes. And I cry, I cry with gratitude for their thanks, for allowing me to witness and accompany them on their beautiful unfolding journeys into self awareness, and most of all for healing me along their journeys. Then the parade extends to my children, my family, my friends, past co-workers and even old enemies, each person presenting a smile and deep, witnessing eyes of appreciation.
The exquisite exchange of energy we have provided one another, for growth and ever-increasing self-awareness is duly noted and witnessed. I also see that the art I create is incredibly powerful as a healing tool. And that it’s creation and distribution is an important contribution to help heal people in this time of great change and challenge.
These are the sounds, sights and smells that my journey concludes with. I find myself landing, touching the earth again. I sink down into the cushions I have been sitting on and drift off to sleep with the shaman’s lullabies to accompany me.
In what seems like a moment later, we are awakened with the shaman’s clear voice, this time in English (?).
“Now we are going to ask each person how you are feeling and if you want to share.”
It had been six hours. As I listen to each person in the circle speak, it becomes clear that every single journey has been completely varied in content and emotion. Some experienced intense horror and fear, others bliss, and some, transcendental expansion.
My journey was “muy suave” as requested. Spirit conveyed that much of my shadow work had extended outside of ceremony in the weeks of preparation.
We all stand up slowly, exhausted and stagger outside. The moon is full, the sky is full of glitter, giving us a light show- not only are the stars outrageously sparkly, but the fireflies are continuing the constellations in 3-D all around us. We are standing in an iridescent cyan fairy land. Pilgrims dressed in white blink wide-eyed and innocent, like babies just born. Our hearts are cracked open and swollen so big, we can almost see them beating in one another’s chests. We hold one another and cry in gratitude.