Appointment with the Wise Old Dog by David Blum
David Blum, who died in 1998 at the age of 62, was an internationally renowned conductor, composer, musicologist, and writer who wrote about classical music for The New Yorker and other publications. The native Californian was known for leading his first group, a chamber ensemble of young artists, when he was only 17 years old. He later founded the Esterhazy Orchestra in New York City, which was dedicated to the music of Franz Joseph Haydn, recording the composer’s works.
But long before he died in Washington state after an extensive battle with cancer, Blum had also turned to the visual arts and documented some of his vivid dreams with colorful oil pastel paintings to explore his psyche and better understand the unconscious. His work of art and the recording of dreams gained importance to him when he fell ill.
Now his widow, Sarah Blum of Northampton, has published “Appointment with the Wise Old Dog: A Bridge to the Transformative Power of Dreams,” a hardcover book of 43 of David Blum’s folk art paintings and his accompanying writing on the source of Every Dream and His Meaning (including the classical music that evoked the dreams).
The book is a continuation of a short DVD from 1998 entitled “Appointment with the wise old dog”, on which the self-taught painter Blum spoke about his experiences with recording his dreams with art. He believed that the documentary, which includes an introduction by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, a close friend, could help others realize their own spiritual strengths during a time of crisis.
As Ma says in the introduction to the film: “[David’s] inner world … is a very personal one, but it has a message for all of us. It reminds me of the wondrous power of the human mind. ”
The book, writes Sarah Blum in an introduction, is the end result of years of combing through the extensive diaries, dream diaries and paintings of her deceased husband. An effort that, in their opinion, was spurred in part by a “grassroots movement” that resulted in 20,000 copies of her husband’s DVD making its way out into the world.
David Blum began keeping a diary when he was 17, and as the book reports, this was the age at which his first significant dream came true, although he would not paint his memory of it until 10 years later. Later he also underwent a Jungian analysis of his dreams.
But, as Blum reports, this initial dream of a long haired woman named Mairi, who led him through a wheat field that wavered to the tribes of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, would become an important emotional and spiritual guide for him in the years that followed.
“For a painfully shy, introverted teenager in his seventeenth year, this dream had the influence of a Pauline experience,” wrote Blum. The shimmering vision of this earth angel – the union with wind and wheat – is of dazzling beauty. ”
For a painting titled ‘Z’, which shows a European-looking village with a capital Z hovering over a golden road that runs through the city center, Brum relates that he once dreamed of going through an Italian town of this kind to go. Years later, he and his wife were visiting Ravenna, a town in northern Italy, and noticed a single Z on a picture of the robe of Jesus Christ on a 6th-century mosaic in an old church.
“When I asked our guide about the choice of the letter,” writes Blum, “she explained that the Greek letter Z stands for the Greek word Zoe and means eternal life. For a moment the letter Z flashed in front of me at the end of the golden freeway and startled me with its lively presence – perhaps even more intensely than two decades ago. ”
The images are not presented chronologically, but in thematic sequences; For example, the character of Mairi reappears in some pieces as a regular guide for Blum.
Murray Stein, founding member of the Interregional Society of Jungian Analysts, writes in an introduction that the readers of Blum’s book “should be prepared for a deep immersion into the life of the soul” and that his pictures “open up the archetypal to us” depths of the psyche. They speak to us, soul to soul. ”
A spiritual journey of hope and healing by Jacqueline Haskins Engel
As early as 2003, after the US forces invaded Iraq, Jacqueline Haskins Engel, who was then living in Easthampton, published a small scrapbook entitled “Healing Thoughts in Troubled Time,” a collection of personal essays and reflections she had written to help her face the deep concern she felt for the war – and she hoped others would find comfort in her words, too.
Haskins, who now lives in Ludlow, has now released a second scrapbook, “A Spiritual Journey of Hope and Awakening,” which she hopes will provide some comfort to people in the uncertain times of the pandemic.
In her new work, Haskins tells how she discovered she had spiritual intuition over 40 years ago. A community college professor she’d befriended seemed uncomfortable when one morning a shadowy presence she believed was her professor appeared at her bedside and said it had come to see herself to adopt. A few days later, Haskins learned that her professor had died.
“Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was the first of my many spiritual encounters that followed,” writes Haskins.
More events or visits would follow over the years – a former nun told her she was “spiritually inclined” – and those experiences helped her in her efforts to better understand her own life and to try to comfort others, she says .
Haskins, who previously worked in health care, including serving as a consultant, says she was once a practicing Catholic but no longer follows an organized religion. Nevertheless, she draws strength from various traditions and “firmly believes in the presence and power of the Blessed Mother and the angels and saints of God, whose guidance is always present in my life”.
And as Haskins publishes this work now, given the fear and disruption the pandemic has caused, she hopes others will “find threads or words that speak to them and bring hope and healing into their own lives”.
Anyone wishing to receive a copy of A Spiritual Journey of Hope and Healing can contact Haskins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Pfarrer can be called at email@example.com.