Category Archives: The Creative Process

Messages to myself about how to navigate impediments which hinder the creative flow in hopes my answers may be a beacon to others.

Jasmine Snippet #71

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

When she stood on the bank, inspecting the clothing Ahearn had pulled from the stream, nothing got past Thorne. She had information the others did not and preferred to keep it that way. When she examined the dress, she recognized the stitching. Her friend Abigale created a signature way of using a needle and thread that no Armildian could replicate. It was what made her family’s work the best in the Kingdom. Abigale’s excellence as a seamstress, also granted her royal status. Thorne was very proud the day her friend from childhood became a Royal Seamstress.

Thorne knew something else that few did. Abigale had a secret. As she sewed, she put prayers in every stitch.Not that long ago, she visited Abigale, when she worked on the very dress she held in her hand.

She remembered the dress particularly because they’d been joking about it. “If only you could stitch some humility in those seams…” Thorne had laughed.

“Oh, I know you,” Abigale had replied, “if you had your way, I’d be sewing other things into it, like getting exercise, discipline and probably learning swordsmanship…”

“Are those things so bad?” Thorne returned.

Abilgale suddenly became serious,”Her Highness already told me the purpose of the gown, and I am bound to serve her intentions.”

“All right, all right, mercy!” Thorne cried dramatically, in an effort to return to the light-hearted banter. They both knew their queen had strategic reasons for everything. The gift of the dress to the King of UR’s daughter was a political calculation. The power of their gift meant everything. If they wanted to achieve a successful alliance, the style and materials of the gown had to be very well thought out, just like all the other gifts they sent.

Abigale had first thought to design a high-fashion dress for someone who fit the description of a vain, demanding little brat who was spoiled by her father and cuddled by her nursemaid. Then she remembered, this girl was motherless. The father spoiled her as a way to express his love.

According to the general gossip, the girl seemed to be overly attached to her nursemaid.  Everyone in court commented on it. Most thought it odd. Usually little girls rebel from their nursemaids as soon as possible. Some claimed the nursemaid had a hand in the princess refusing eligible suitors. All agreed, the nurse-maid exercised too much control over the princess.

As to clothing, people reported the princess only wore high style court clothes when in public. Ot was said that when by herself, the princess wore more modest attire. So the style and fabric of the gown had to be in between. “Don’t make it too rich, nor too common,” was the advice given to her.

That’s when Abigail came up with the brilliant idea to make the dress please the nursemaid instead. That would further ensure the princess would wear the frock more often. The gown had to also be enchanting to all that looked upon it in court. Abigale was equal to the task and produced a stunning and effective work of art.

Thorne was selected to serve as Ambassador after the Armildian Nation sent their gifts to the King of UR. They hoped their gifts, sent previous to their visit, would grant them favor. Due to URian etiquette, they went so far as to arrange a male escort for Thorne.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

 

Jasmine Snippet #69

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

Within the fire, an image of the Queen appeared. She glared at Rogan with burning eyes. Before she could utter a word, Rogan launched into his prepared speech. As he bowed low, he professed his allegiance and deeply apologized for his failure to respond sooner. “I have been in the company of a most suspicious and difficult woman,” he found himself saying about Thorne, “she never gave me a moment’s time to myself. I could not risk her suspecting my true motives. The task has proved to be more difficult than we anticipated…”

The Queen regarded him through the licking flames but remained silent and impassive. Her dancing orange-yellow grew brighter and more intense. He could not look away. Then he became aware of the intrusion of her focused stare. The sharp energy pierced him in the forehead, like an arrow. Fortunately, he had the mental rigor not to give over to fear. His defense was to call up and concentrate his thoughts on how forthright and dependable he was.

He quickly launched into consciously visualizing his intended report. Good thing he had most of the morning to consider how he wanted to convey his information. Soon, he conjured up several powerful thought images of Thorne. In his mind, he showed Thorne as greatly upset over UR’s demise and how she beat her fists on a chair in frustration.

Melantha laughed, and broke her gaze. Due to the timing, Rogan wondered if he had been effective in limiting Melantha’s mental probing. He was unsure about how well he had been able to block her from his mind. He wanted to believe his visualization was successful, at least to a degree. Not knowing, he was finally at a loss of what to say.

“Your thoughts betray you, Rogan the Red.” She said at last, “What would your poor family think if they knew you covet this v-e-r-rr-r-y captivating woman?” Rogan bristled at the mention of his family. He had tried not to think of what torture Melantha would impose on them if he failed to carry out her schemes. The freedom of his homeland was also at stake. According to their pact, the evil Queen would not move against Roth as long as he worked as a spy against the Armildian people.

His agreement with her had been deceptively easy to make. He knew nothing of these boastful maidens who lived in the south. It meant nothing to him to spy on their country. His idea of a spy was to stay in the mountain passes, hiding behind rocks and trees to report the movements of people and supplies. But his assigned task proved to be more difficult than he bargained for.

Melantha told him to mingle among the battle maidens and befriend them. He was ordered to make himself indispensable. To achieve that, he had to spend time with them. The longer he stayed in their lands among them, the more admiration and compassion he felt for them. As he witnessed the honor and valor of these people, he could not help but to respect the Armildians.

That only made his task that much harder. He really wanted to help them, but the needs of his own country would always precede. All Rothians knew first hand how Melantha could suck the life-force from the land and its living creatures. Her slow advance had been methodical, but deadly. Nothing but a black wasteland was now left of the three Kingdoms that used to stand between Medrylthorn and Roth.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #70

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

Two Red Faction cards from “JASMINE: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” game

The demon minions roamed everywhere on those once fertile lands. Because they were ugly, stupid and mindless, Rogan had been fond of repeating, “they have no cells in their heads to think.” The behavior of the minions was something Rogan could not abide. They always did what they were told, without question. There was no deviation from the material law set down by their queen. They thoughtlessly complied with everything she expected of them.

If one was struck down in anger, another was always there to replace him. Rogan often wondered if they could be interchangeable—a large bureaucracy of stick stupid thugs? Indeed, Rogan could never detect if they possessed any type of personality. He thought not. But he conceded they were probably capable of distinguishing differences among themselves.

But before even his country, there was his wife and children to consider. He loved them dearly. Melantha exercised complete control over their lives. It pained him to think they could come to harm. When he recovered his thoughts, he realized he had again been within Melantha’s gaze.

She spoke at last, “They are the damned and probably are resigned to being damned. They have no creativity or higher faculties. Your charms are completely lost on them. Nuance is not in their grasp. All is as it should be.”

Rogan was crushed. When did she start back reading his thoughts? He was about to speak when she halted him. Although the fire was now dwindling, she rewarded his work with a vision of his wife, his beautiful red-haired Rachel. She was holding his little daughter and his young son was running up to hug them both. They all looked happy, healthy and well-cared-for. Rogan’s yearning for them swelled and his desire to touch and hold them in a sweet embrace overwhelmed and overtook him. He reached his hands into the fire and burned his fingers. He heard Melantha’s cackle.

“Continue with your planned journey.” She ordered, “give me news as you can. I’m particularly interested in this white maiden you’ve stumbled upon, as well as the Dockalfarian. You did very well. How lucky you are. I was prepared to give you a completely different vision of your dear ones. I am sure next time, you will take measures not to disappoint me again when I call.”

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #68

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

Rogan The Red as pictured in Installment #13.

The stone in Rogan’s trouser pocket became hot enough to burn his leg. The rock had steadily gotten hotter during the past three days. He knew The Fire Queen was getting more and more impatient for his report. He simply had not gotten a large enough chunk of time to give his report. He valiently tried not to focus on the consequences of non-compliance.

To answer Melantha’s burning call, Rogan needed to convince Thorne and the others that it would be best if he went back to Oxted alone as not to arouse suspicion. He’d collect supplies that were needed for their up-coming journey and promised he would immediately join them at any place of their choosing. He used his smoothest voice and manner to convince Jasmine that this was a good idea. She urged everyone to give Rogan a list of their needs and a means of payment. With this simple request, Jasmine proved she had leadership skills. She was so good at her first command, that everyone complied without issue.

As he left on horseback, Rogan shook his head as he mulled over what had just transpired between all parties in the early morn. It was nothing short of a miracle. Who would have thought this motley crew, himself among them, would ever consider traveling together? And for Thorne to offer her sword? What was that about?

If anything had ever surprized him, it was that. He could never have guessed this proud Armildian was capable of demeaning herself to serve another, unless she actually acknowledged the young, naive but somehow wise Jasmine as her superior. Yet, he knew that Jasmine represented everything Thorne detested. Women!  With all his experience with them, he still could not fathom them.

Of course, he would need to report to the Queen of Fire most of what happened. He wanted to leave some things out. He planned to spend quite a long time describing how devastated, then furious Thorne was to learn UR had fallen. The Queen would relish that. He would smooth it all out by reporting how he was accompanying Thorne in her travels to find another ruler in the north. But how would he explain Jasmine and her dwarf protector?

About three quarters of the way to Oxted, after Rogan was sure he was not being followed, he turned off the trail to find a remote locale, which served his needs. At a clearing, he quickly collected dried branches and other materials to make a fire. For a roaring fire to appear, all he needed to do was to toss the very hot obsidian rock into a pile of kindling.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Life is Art; Art is Life

“Life is Art; Art is Life.”

It’s my motto. (I made it up the phrase some time ago, but I’m sure someone before me can claim true authorship.)

Life is Art

This means that everything I do is an artistic (as well as a sacred) act — it’s a Magical Dance with Beauty. Thus, I actively search for meaning through synchronicity, symbols and archetypes. As such, it suggests something profound about my relationship to reality as an artist. I tend to be much more fluid than conservative in my World View.

Darlene’s most current business card.

For me, unicorns, dragons, and fairies DO exist. Wouldn’t it be a boring place if they didn’t? That’s where it becomes weird for pragmatists. In their hard-boiled, sensible reality, armed with science and reason, they tell me why mermaids (etc…) can never actually be real. As well as “impossible,” they’ll claim it’s just “fantasy.”

What’s wrong with fantasy? I find myself being sad for them. By choice, sensible people can never travel the paths I have traversed, nor can they understand my rich knowing of the strange and fantastic inner/outer realms. It’s only through my art (which represents the footprints of my experience), that I can offer them a glimpse…

The Power of Fantasy

With more and greater possibilities, fantasy totally encompasses reality. It’s outside the limiting, containing box, an opening of more ways people can relate to their world. Why not perform a cosmic dance on an asteroid? Or swim with the mermaids under the sea? Fantasy is my state of being free. I’m not totally mental. My freedom is tempered by the knowledge of my physical surroundings and the shared reality of the people around me. But because I believe more, I see more.

I’m not stuck in my own little world when it comes to “consensual” reality. Oh, I’m always aware of my surroundings and what is expected. But at the same time, co-existing and super-imposed upon it, is a dream-scape of incredible splendor. That is the state of mind I enter into when I create.

Maybe there’s something to not taking reality so seriously. Gloomy reality doesn’t have as much of a grip, or a pull on my outlook. Of all the cruel happenings in the world today. I choose to shift my focus away from the negative. A wonderful friend once introduced me to the concept that, whenever I view in the media or aired on television, the aftermath of a tragic accident, to scan the scene for the helpers. They are always there. Often, they are behind the announcer.

Look for the Helpers

Notice the helpers behind the scenes. Witness the miracle of their presence. When you do this, you can truly “see” the miracle of them in action, and forgo the disturbing details of the tragedy, the fear and the violence.

Watching such a newscast can be an incredible opportunity to help the helpers help. It’s possible to effect change by offering up your prayers and energy, real time. After a while, you may begin to suspect the helpers may not always be entirely human. And what a privilege it is, to work with angels…

Truly, I believe focusing on the positive, while acknowledging the negative, is the best way to navigate around the invasive, in-your-face evil that parades so openly now-a-days. What if I choose to believe I can effect positive change by energetically adding my healing intent to the scene (and to my art)? As long as I have no attachment to out-come, there is no ego-investment to taint the process. Isn’t keeping open to potential (as opposed to despair) a better use of one’s energy?

Art is Life

Art is my Life. I work through the lens of fantasy, possibility and potential. The art I bring forth integrates the meaning of symbols, psychology, and archetypes with images and words. I dedicate my art towards the empowerment of the feminine, the delight of the imagination, the freed intuition, to heal, and to inspire the young at heart.

Thank you for being my witness.

Jasmine Snippet #67

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

After spending countless days in dark, dank and twisting tunnels, Bardulf enjoyed the light of UR’s main Castle Palace. He had only been there a single day when the men who patrolled the free lands to the north of UR arrived. They brought with them a cloak and a gown. Bardulf immediately recognized the clothes as belonging to the Princess Flavia of UR. She had worn that very frock the last time he saw her.

The clothes were the only sign they found of the princess. When questioned, they said there was no body to be found. Nor was there any signs of a fight. The clothing was neither bloodied or torn. It was as if the clothes had simply been taken off and discarded. Bardulf was about to dismiss his messengers when they indicated there was more to their story.

“Well, what is it?” He barked.

Even though Bardulf was clearly annoyed and impatient, those men were reluctant to speak. Finally, in their stammering, Bardulf understood that in the same place they found the clothing, they had also encountered a horror they were reluctant to speak of. Many of the fellows who served with them had been turned into stone. Because they had walked upon the same hallowed ground of an ancient temple, they grew afraid the same fate somehow awaited them. When Bardulf finally dismissed them, they quickly and gladly withdrew.

That clinched it. In Bardulf’s mind, he was up against the son of King Aranbrod, a male heir and a rival for the throne he usurped — something much more deadly than a lost princess. No wonder the “princess” never married. He imagined this young Prince to be clever in disguise and strong in magic. To get the upper hand, there was only one thing to do.

After giving his trusted stewards and ministers instructions and orders to carry out, Bardulf called for a horse and a small retinue of men to accompany him. He had the Tome of Wisdom wrapped carefully in leather and placed within his saddle-bag. Then Bardulf set out immediately, speeding for his Castle Swartzborg, to reunite with Gryth, his prized dragon-lizard.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #66

The notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

Bardulf was beside himself. The Tome of Wisdom did not make sense! It was written for the “Prince” of UR. Where was this Prince of UR? He was unaware King Aranbrod had any other progeny besides the spoiled and easily controlled princess. He did not consider her to be a much of a problem. He had not imprisoned her already with his magic ring? It was only a matter of time before her hiding place would be found.

If anyone was to blame, it was Heta. Curses—that he did not strike her down when he first recognized her. Curses—he allowed himself to be taken in by her pitiful act of weakness. Had it not been for her, those two would never have escaped their capture. Yet again, he cursed Heta.  She was solely responsible for the disappearance of the Princess Flavia of UR. That cursed woman would never have managed such a thing if he had remained at the camp. Heta had to have waited until after his strategy session, and after he had left with his main contingent to go to battle.

The rest of the soldiers who remained broke camp and travelled as escort half the way to Swartzborg Castle before they realized the two were no longer among them. Upon questioning, every one of his soldiers swore both women had travelled with them as far as the cross roads. All agreed they found it strange that the two did not eat or drink, nor did they speak the entire journey. The women remained as still as statues the whole way but were very easy to manage.

Castle card for Bardulf’s faction in Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game by DARLENE.

His men wasted too much time searching near the place they discovered the disappearance. Bardulf’s needed presence in battle prevented him from hearing about this happenstance in a timely manner. Nor could he participate right away in the search. But once he was able to focus on the problem, he knew no one under Heta’s enchantments could ever locate where they fled. He thought the only one who could pierce Heta’s magic was he himself. And this proved to be correct.

Only one thing made him laugh. How funny it was to have Heta lead him straight to this incredible book of magic. It was so delightful to have Master Erlkyng’s book in his hands! He relished reading  what secrets and incantations these pages revealed. With this book, he felt invincible. Yet, a small thought still nagged at him.

Who was this lad for whom the book was written and dedicated? If anyone had the power to rival him, apparently it would be this boy prince. He stilled the fear growing within him. The lad may exist, but it was Bardulf who possessed his book, thus claiming his power.

But still, he could not overlook that Heta was a factor in all this. Under the guise of Ermengarde, Heta had raised what he thought was a pale, young girl who trembled in fear around him. He slammed his fist upon table as he decided nothing was beyond that witch. Things were not as they seemed. Was it possible the princess was actually a prince in disguise? Perhaps, instead of seeking a girl, he should be searching for a boy?

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #65

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

Bardulf Faction Card from “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

Bardulf returned to UR’s main castle. He let it be known that he had conferred with his brother wizards. He reminded everyone, not only was he the King of UR, but he was acknowledged as The Mage Supreme of a secret unnamed brotherhood.

It was, of course, all a pretense. There was no secret brotherhood of wizards. But who could possibly challenge this? Fear was his ally. Fear would quiet outspoken members of the populace. Fear would prevent them from entertaining ideas of an uprising. It was better they fear the wrath of a bunch of powerful mages should they attempt anything. His lie should go a long way in discouraging all thoughts of hope.

With the Tome of Wisdom in his possession, he felt powerful and capable of anything. He would conquer more lands and soon become powerful enough to rival his uncle in the north.

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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Jasmine Snippet #64

The notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Every evening, Melantha’s chief demon minister, a human-like creature she had formed from a favorite snake, gave her a litany of all the news collected from the day’s reporting, from inside Medrylthorn to the front lines. And every evening, Melantha drank it all in. Her spacial awareness was very keen. She could easily visualize all the movements and happenings within her sphere and relate them to each other in her mind. At first, she was only mildly concerned that Bardulf had been missing from the reports. But it had been several days now.

“What news of Bardulf? Has he been located?” she asked.

Her demon minister slithered towards her. “Yes-s-s-s,” he replied, eager to please, “the Dark Prince just emerged from the dwarf mines-s-s-s, northwest of UR. After all this-s-s-s time, he was-s-s-s angry his-s-s-s men still failed to locate the UR’s Princess-s-s-s. He cruelly punished those who brought him the unwelcome news-s-s-s.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes-s-s-s. The Dark Prince carries-s-s-s with him a large book. To obtain it, he boasts-s-s killing many little people living in the caverns-s-s-s under the mountains-s-s-s. He will not allow the book out of his-s-s-s sight.”

After Melantha dismissed her minister, she started to deliberate. Little people—could he have slain the Guardians of Wisdom? Did Bardulf chance upon the Erykyng’s Crystalline Caves? Is the book he carries the fabled Tome of Wisdom, which contains the history of the Mid-Realm?  Does the book also contain Erlkyng’s knowledge on how to destroy her magic and power? Erlkyng was the only being in the Mid-realm she had ever feared because he learned her secrets.

Fire Queen of Ildshoii Castle from an unpublished panel.

Suddenly, Bardulf became much more of a threat to her security. Maybe Bardulf was not the buffoon she thought he was. After all, his own growing network of spies rivaled her own.

At the beginning, Melantha determined Bardulf’s weakness was his ambition and his burning desire to learn magic. He proofed to be the perfect choice to undermine and conquer UR. She had made herself indispensable to all Bardulf’s desires and even gave him powerful magical incantations to use against UR. She now regretted that decision.

He performed her practices very well — almost too well. She realized Bardulf had a better knack for magic than she gave him credit for. Now, with that book in his possession, he might prove to be much more problematic and unpredictable. She wondered what other weaknesses Bardulf had that she could exploit.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #63

The Story of Jasmine Notes continue:

Ildshoii Castle, carved from shiny black obsidian rock, rose high above a crown of volcanos. The dark castle was the domain of Melantha, the ruler of Medrylthorn. The Fire Queen possessed the patience of a spider. Not only did Melantha control the volcanic lands of Medrylthorn, her invisible web of evil stretched across the Mid-Realm, reaching towards Bardulf’s strongholds to the south east. She had only to pull on certain threads of her intricately woven network to discover details about the plans of her enemies.

Ildshoii castle card from the “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game by DARLENE

Her magic fed upon the misery of others. And throughout her patient years of plotting, her magic only got stronger. Although the penetration of her poisonous plans had been slow, methodical and thorough, there were those who could still resist her. Those lands Melantha could not control, she surrounded with her evil, watching – always watching – for a vulnerable weakness to present itself.

Though she could not directly effect the splendid Kingdom of UR, she knew her magic could. She manipulated an ambitious upstart by the name of Bardulf. He did not know she considered him as one of her many minions. She provided him with the magical means to be successful in his bid to defeat UR’s king and it amused her to give him the title, “Prince of Darkness.”

Melantha was very aware of Bardulf’s blunder concerning the disappearance of the King’s daughter. Subsequently, this meant the “Prince” would encounter trouble in totally securing his rule. But that was not immediately important to her. As far as Melantha was concerned, UR was already hers.

Melantha’s interest returned to the Armildian battlemaidens, whose iron will proved to be difficult to subdue. She laughed at how well she thwarted the Armildian’s attempt to seek UR’s assistance. The fall of UR happened just before the Armildian Ambassador could reach the Kingdom. Because these battle maidens seldom lost, she savored their disappointment, imagining with glee the distraught looks on their faces when they learned of this set-back.

But they were not yet caught within her web. The Armildians were clever and resourceful. They would try to seek help elsewhere, maybe Dockalfar. If perchance, their ambassador succeeded in making an agreement with the Ice King in Tarrent, Melantha would surely face fierce resistance. She would make doubly sure her spy could be trusted.

Her deliberations were interrupted by the appearance of one of her demon ministers. Without looking at him, she asked “What news have you for me today?”

© 2018 DARLENE

I AM A FAN of “THE STORY OF JASMINE”

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