Kristine Ambrosia initiated her first performance pieces while a student in 1975, previous to that her drawing and painting had already indicated a strong tendency toward oracular communication with the archetypal. This natural tendency to intuit the presence and character of inner archetypal beings reached a climax in 1976.
In an extended period of seclusion that she later understood to be the traditional shaman's "call" to vocation, she began the long, slow, demanding work of cataloging mythological beings and learning how to speak the language of the Quest. Her inheritance of the shamanic mantle took some four or five years of difficult coping with a new sense or reality, one informed by vast spaces of intuitive rather than the cramped confines of the rational.
During 1985, her abilities reached a point of maturation in a triptych of ritual performances, where she communicated her quest to the public within the framework of post-Modernist and post-Industrial. The innate paradox that an artist linked to such an ancient way of thought might be able to bring fresh life to current art forms is simply a reflection of the modern crisis of consciousness; our loss of mystery and the living reality of myth.
The task of bringing a sense of initiation, of passage into a culture where every trace of it has been obliterated by rationality is beyond the means of any single individual, however the need of humanity for mythos is universal and lies much deeper that the conscious world of glass and steel. As the tragic events of the 1940's proved, if we will not try to raise new myths from the depths ourselves, they may come back to haunt in the darkest ways. Tim O'Neil
The following article by Kristine Ambrosia describes the process that she uses for developing a performance.
When I prepare for a performance, I am led by a guiding force that seems to be outside of beyond my waking, conscious self. The way of preparation that seems to work best for listening to this inner voice is something very similar to a Zen 'emptying out' of awareness. With a 'beginner's' mind, fresh and clear, I walk into a receptive space with no preconceived structure on my means of communication for the next performance.
With the most recent performances, such as Taiyo-O-Dode ("Sundance"), I was driven two months beforehand into a very reclusive, receptive way of life.
In that state there are three levels of trance which I undergo. First, is a very deep exclusively 'listening' experience, usually done in highly isolated environments. The second level is a state of listening done while immersed in water with an assistant taking dictation. The third level is the state of receptivity that I experience during the actual performance. That third level is induced by physical and mental procedures, like hanging suspended, which places one into a deep state of mediumship or automatism.
Within this state my music, painting and computer art are done.
The first level of trance for "Sundance" involved going to a Zen retreat near the ocean. I prepared myself by sitting in the Zendo (meditation hall), clearing my energies out, then going to the sauna/shower/pool room to prepare my body for the reception of the high-level energy transference that occurs when I like to the communicating force.
At that point, I began to receive detailed, step-by-step information on the upcoming performance. At times, I also used a series of shamanic dances and movements involving breath control that were also received in trance. Finally, I began the grounding process with a series of showers and saunas.
For the second level of trance, which was done simply, in a bath tub, I seemed to sink immediately into trance and information started pouring through me. It was, again, a very detailed set of instructions for the sounds and actions of the performance. In essence, the entire body of ideas and images for the performances are done in these states of trance mediumship and shamanism.
The third level of trance, which occurs during performances, involves a preliminary preparatory energy shift which is caused by shamanic dance combined with breath control. This causes an interior role-change that deeply relates to the archetype dominating my interior journey.
It also generates the energy needed for the next stage, the actual shamanic journey. I like to think of that experience as a reverse mode of conscious association. Generally, this all occurs as a result of hanging upside down, suspended by my feet.
This is followed by what I call the "association": the actual contact with the archetypal entity with whom I am going to communicate. The actual method here may involve piercings or submersion, or whatever technique that was given to me in trance. This is usually accompanied by a psychic 'linking up' with the other shamans in the performance and the shaman's assistants. In combination with their energies, I am able to reach the purest forms of oracular receptivity in which voice, sounds and painting flow through quite easily.
After this brief period, which is usually 4-5 minutes, I then go into a deep state of repose during which I begin to recover my own sense of individuality. After about an hour, I am usually entirely 'back in my body.'
I feel that in many ways, I was really born as a trance medium. Since a very early age, I can remember going through opening up processes to reach a state of interior 'listening.' I also consider myself to be a person capable of reaching "pre-literate" states of mind very easily.
From 1975 to 1983, I went through various stages of a major shamanic initiation that opened up the 'primitive' mind to me. A book about that experience, "Running Through a Hall of Mirrors" is scheduled for a Spring 1986 completion date. During that period and since, I have felt a strong affinity with the primal or primitive forces. As a trance medium, I communicate with 'entities' or forms outside of myself that reflect these primal forces and integrate the results into my art.
During the performances, if I stay free from preconceived notions, a very fertile source of knowledge and wisdom embracing many areas of interest begins to erupt into awareness.
Besides this wealth of oracular knowledge, another reason that I am brought to perform is to subject myself and those who assist me to a high-energy form of induced evolution. Many of the people that I have worked with have experience their innate intuitive receptiveness pushed forward to a major degree. During performances, a silent form of teaching comes forward through the 'airwaves.' Learning experiences occur then that don't seem to come through any other medium.
In the performances, the musicians and shaman's assistants use the information that I have given them previously from my trance sessions to set up an environment conducive to these high levels of receptivity and learning.
They also help set up the energy patterns necessary to bring the entities to our level of awareness. Even the audience plays a role besides mere passive observation. Their energy adds to the field of reception perceptibly. Throughout time, the 'body' that ritual performers make with the audience is indivisible. Only after this body is merged does the phenomena really happen.
Spinning Sigil: April 27th, 1985 at Ambrosia Transpersonal Communications Studio (Berkeley, CA)
The theme of "Spinning Sigil" developed out of an earlier work, "Spinning Jackal," which centered around an invocation of Anubis, the Jackal-headed god of the dead. This work though, was strongly aquatic in mood. As each of her works centers on an archetypal, entering, entity this one seemed to focus on a South Pacific origin. The practice of piercing and scarification as performed that evening has strong ties to that region of the world.
Beginning with a background of slow ritual chanting, tympani and temple gong, Kristine reclined upon the stage directly underneath an 12' high wooden frame and winch. Her feet were linked to the hoist and she was slowly raised in an inverted position to the full height of the frame. As she was raised her assistant slowly spun her somewhat like a dervish dancer. Under these conditions, she entered the first level of trance.
Her voice, played through a bank of harmonizers and delays mirrored the deepening state of trance, reminding one of the ethereal sound of the Noh plays of Japan.
After undergoing full induction into the trance, she was lowered and helped by her assistant over to another performer (Eric Love) who was bound to a large St. Andrew's cross. Guided by the assistant, Kristine accomplished a very simple piercing of the chest. Previously, his chest had been sewn with lead weights by Kristine, Fakir and Monte Cazazza. The effect of her breaking the skin was that she and Eric fell into deeply altered state of awareness.
Kristine, aided to the floor, was handed a computer graphics pad, which is activated by the simple pressure of her finger (she has learned how to manipulate the pad while still in a trance).
The journey and communication complete, she retired to a back room to begin the long process of re-entering consensus reality.
The same evening, Fakir Musafar performed a piece entitled "Fleshhooks," a variation on the Mandan O-KeePa or Sundance ritual. Fakir had his assistant lay on a bed of nails, and placed Kristine in a Kavandi (a metal frame with sharp metal spears used in India), while he had himself hoisted by two hooks attached to piercings in his chest. -Tim O'Neil
Typed by Cheryl Vega 6-11-95