The Woman Speak Journal 2012

I’ll be one of your bright beacons there to show the way…As I wrote the words a feeling of completion washed over me like a wondrous wave of peace and power that only truth can bring. In the front yard, the yellow poui, attebeya the maiden in her yellow dress someone remarked, shimmered and sparkled against a clear cerulean sky. The sultry breeze caressed her limbs and sprinkled yellow blooms like gold dust across the cool green blanket where I had laid beneath her. Nature was playing her sweet seductive song of spring and my heart, completely free, was beating to its blissful rhythm. The winter of my spiritual life was over, I had come full circle. Like the lovely maiden in her yellow dress, I was golden, drenched with sunlight and magnificently in full bloom.

It is my belief that we arrive here on the planet with a purpose and with an awareness that we are a part of something much greater than ourselves. Everything in creation instinctively lives, dies and is reborn in this awareness, all working in harmony for the greater good of the whole. As human beings with free will we differ from the rest of creation in this regard. As we lose the pure innocence that we come here with, the awareness of Unity Consciousness begins to fade and gets buried somewhere deep within our subconscious. There is a longing caused by this awareness and because we are not conscious of its source, we are continually trying to satisfy it from the outside in. Our natural knowingness about the journey, our purpose and our part in the greater service to the whole, gets muddled in fear, doubt and pressures from the outside world. It is the longing and the search for purpose that keep us moving forward on the inward journey home, on the mystical Path that lies somewhere etched within the Circle of Life.

The circle of life is a phrase that we are all familiar with. I wonder, however, how many of us really stop to consider that, within the ultimate circle of birth, death and rebirth, there is a series of full circle events that occur. These events, which sometimes overlap, all begin and end on that mystical path and are continually moving us closer to our final goal of Self-Realization.

Mother Nature is, of course, our greatest teacher when it comes to of the Circle of Life. Whether it be the cycle of the day or of the year, or the phases of the moon, she reminds us that all of nature is in a constant cycle of renewal and that, whether we realize it or not, so are we.

I am a visual artist and the circle of life has an extra special significance for me. It was the theme of my very first one woman exhibition, Lumiere, held in the Bahamas. As it were, Lumiere was also the beginning of a new circle for me, one that began at the end of a full circle event that I would like to share with you.

I come from a small town located on the North Shore of Lake Huron in Canada, Blind River. I left at the age of eighteen to attend University and never returned there to live. After obtaining my Bachelor of Arts Degree, I found employment first in Toronto, and then in Montreal. On my 25th birthday, I relocated to The Bahamas to marry and it has been my home ever since.

There are two things of particular interest that I will note concerning my childhood. I have been told that I was one of those children who never lose their awareness of Unity Consciousness, and, looking back now, I can see that I was always looking for someone or something that would reflect back my inner knowing. The second thing is that, although I always loved art, I was not one of those children that anyone would remember as being born to be an artist. My purpose had yet to be revealed.

Life took its course, I taught French, I ran two local businesses and I became a wife and a mother. There came a time, that many would refer to as mid life crisis, when the status quo was no longer working. The circle that had taken me from daughter to wife to mother was no longer fulfilling the longing that was welling up inside of me. It was at this point in my life that I began to paint. It started as an undeniable need to create that I actually felt as a tugging in my solar plexus; it was my purpose that was making itself known. A new circle of creativity was taking form and I was filled with joy and excitement.

From 1993 to 1999 I painted with a vengeance, and everything that came out of me was mystical and magical; I had not only found my purpose but I had found my religion as well. In 1999 I was a part of an exhibition, Between Friends, that I refer to as my big coming out show as a visual artist. I’ll always remember renowned Bahamian poet Marion Bethel commenting that she saw many prayers in my work …that really meant so much to me. The show was a huge success on all levels. This wonderful circle of creativity continued to grow and to flourish and my art became my spiritual teacher, it was the mirror I had been looking for reflecting back my inner knowing. My statement at this time was:

In searching my heart I found my purpose;
In exploring my purpose I found my Self”
— Claudette Dean

Many exhibitions followed and my work continued to be a spiritual autobiography of sorts. It was circa 2004 that I began noticing a growing feeling of discontent. It came to a head in 2005 while painting for a show called “Timeline” whose theme dealt with a retrospective look at my life and explored aspects of both my Canadian heritage and my new life as a Bahamian. (This has special significance considering what happened next.) With this growing sense of dissatisfaction I knew that I was once again nearing the end of a circle. It was soon after Timeline that the real full circle event came to pass.

Blind River celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2006. (Please bear in mind that this is some thirty-two years after I left for University.) I went home in 2005 for my mother’s 75th birthday and I had taken a few Timeline catalogues with me to give out to my family members. One of my sister’s friends, who happened to be on the board of the town’s museum, saw the catalogue and asked if I would be interested in holding a one woman exhibition at the museum as a part of the town’s centennial celebrations. I was ecstatic and of course agreed to do it. The show, Across a Sea of Dreams, was another success. For the first time, at one of my exhibition openings, I had all of my Canadian family there as well as my Bahamian family. I was presented with flowers by the mayor of the town, I appeared on local television news and to top it all off, the town purchased a piece of my work which now hangs in the Town Hall. I had really come full circle!

I returned to the Bahamas completely refreshed and settled back into my studio to work. I began painting, and through the paintings I produced, the theme of the body of work revealed itself to me; it was the Circle of Life. This new circle which had begun with Lumiere continued to expand with the production of new paintings that would become Inner Sanctum, another one woman show, my first to be held in Nassau. While painting these new works, a profound awakening occurred within me. My art, up to that point, had been my private altar, my teacher, my mirror. The time had come for me to share my altar, to have my art be a mirror for others. The urge to use words, as well as images, to convey my inspiration, made itself known. As I sat in my studio gazing at my painting Luna, which depicts the moon goddess in all of her phases, the words came pouring out:

Poem: Mystical Madame by Claudette Dean

Madame Moon tugs at my heartstrings,
Sending provocative messages with the tide
That I too am a mystical Madame.
A beautiful but empty vessel
Desperate to be filled with your fiery elixir of light,
Eager to share it with the darkness.
A willing accomplice, as is she,
Ready to flood hidden holes of longing with light and
Ignite sleeping hearts...
Which, like sun kissed lotus buds, burst open!
Perfuming the dawn with the sacred fragrance of
Your love in full bloom.

Claudette Dean
September, 2009

Mystical Madame was my first poem; a few more followed and they all became an integral part of my show Inner Sanctum. The circle that began with LUMIERE and now included Inner Sanctum had brought with it the gift of poetry as another means of expressing the inexpressible.

A significant circle of sharing had begun. As I opened the window looking out into the garden, the perfume from the white oleander was more intoxicating than usual as it came wafting in on a sultry southern breeze; the neighborhood songbirds were in full chorus and even the knock knock knock knock knock of the woodpecker against the shady coconut tree seemed like sweet music to my ear. A flirty pink hibiscus, basking in the afternoon sun, leaned lazily against the windowsill; a discreet invitation to stop by, it would seem, for the young monarch who was paying a visit to all of the lovely maidens in the garden. Like the sensation of butterfly wings against the edge of my heart, the awakening had been heralded. I had fallen completely into Love and felt compelled to write.

Poem: I Fell into Love Today by Claudette Dean

I fell into LOVE today.
The tangled knots of longing
Finally unraveled…and
Into the fiery flames I slipped.

A last memory lingers still…
The imprint of your sacred face
Etched upon my soul… dissolves
Into a shimmering shoreless sea.

Blissfully submerged
In your still and cooling waters,
I gently fade away…
Can you see me still?

I fell into LOVE today.
Should you look for me now,
I’ll be one of your bright beacons
There to show the Way.

Claudette Dean
Freeport, Bahamas,
March 13, 2012


Claudette Dean