Because of the base word where, modern ears often interpret this line as asking the question: “Where are you, Romeo?” In fact, it’s asking, “Why are you Romeo?”– from Miriam-Webster’s word history
Wherefore art though peyote? Why are you Peyote? Are you on earth for us to know, and to talk with as a friend? And to bring us together in beauty for the strength of our family and our people? Are you here to heal our bodies and our minds, and to refresh our spirits with a song and a prayer? And to bless us to see your divine creation as the artistry of design through your eyes?
There is an old herbal medicine concept called the Doctrine of Signatures which was the belief that plants visually inform us about their medicinal use:
For thousands of years, people have also used a plant’s appearance to divine its medicinal properties. A broad concept called the “doctrine of signatures” holds that features of plants resemble, in some way, the condition or body part that the plant can treat.
Peyote is a circle, a mandala, it points in every direction, skipping none. Now I’m no clinical herbalist but I’d say that’s an indication this medicine is good for everything. Let’s see… there’s a word for this… Oh right. Panacea. Something good for everything. I’ve been known to comment after a tipi night kneeling in prayer that peyote is good for everything but the knees.
It is round like an eye. To me that says it’s good for the eyes. It’s good for mine, and my eyebone’s connected to my heartbone. I am a collector of peyote art. Anything- any media, any style. Anything peyote, or about peyote. I’ve got scarves, gators, moccasins, oil paintings, beadwork, posters, pottery, t-shirts, yarn paintings… I’ve also made more than my share of peyote art as well. Music, ceramics, and yarn paintings mostly.
I basically live with what could be a peyote art museum. Even my refrigerator is an excuse for medicine to be good for my eyes.
I feel like through art, the medicine can visually speak with us. It is part of its way of doing its healing work by helping us accept beauty into our lives. And so, through the art that’s found its way to me, I allow the medicine to speak to me loud and clear, and often.
I wanted to let the medicine be good for your eyes today. Honestly, presenting the visual evidence of the medicine’s inspiring effect on human souls is half the fun of making these posts. Whatever words I use are merely a way of making sure the medicine speaks silently. I doth sayeth too much.
This will be a rather lengthy entry but the words will be few. Much of the artwork presented for your edification here is from the Lorax personal collection. Some is from online sources. Wherever I can give attribution to the artist I will. But who is the real artist?
The Lorax is a child of the 60’s who is very fortunate to have known many interesting people. From accidentally having an extremely meaningful run in with the Dalai Llama, to growing up with Cesar Chavez spending summers in my family’s home, I have tried to remember something from those people that the medicine sent my way. Or sent me to their ways.
The Farm in southern Tennessee is a well established “back to the land” community. Co-founders Stephen and Ina May Gaskin were teachers, and authors, publishing books focused on philosophy, consciousness studies, and natural childbirth. I was blessed to spend time at The Farm in the 80’s. One of our sons was actually born there. But that’s another peyote story for another post.
Stephen and Ina May and the folks at The Farm Book Publishing Company were fond of embedding medicine into farm art and book covers, mostly subliminally, so that you could only notice if you noticed. Or something like that. Ina May’s classic, Spiritual Midwifery, is a common sight on the bookshelves of the Woodstock generation and must have sold millions. Every cover has a mosaic of sublimated Buddha-like peyote buttons. At least they are to my eyes.
Once while chatting with the two of them, I asked if there were someone I needed to ask in order to obtain rights to reprint some of the farm’s peyote art in the journal we published. “Friend, Stephen explained in his southern style, “That is what you call church art. It is as devotional as any religious art has ever been. And as such, there is no human you need to, or can ask. Share it in the spirit which it was made.
It is in this spirit I will leave you to your own listening through your own eyes. I hope it brings beauty to your day.
Ceramic earthenware by the Lorax
If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here. While these visions did appear. Willam Shakspeare
Are you still with me? Eye could go on for several pages of this wherefore art though. But you should rest your I’s for now.
Medicine of life. Thank you for the inspiration you bring to our lives. Help us to see the beauty in the world around us and within us. Open our eyes to your Love.
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