The March Centerfold for the Secret Message Society is Hillary Rain. The first time I met her in person she asked me if I had ever heard the song Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars. I told her I had not, but planned on doing so right away. "It reminds me of you and your mystery," she said.
Being in her presence is sensorially captivating. I have drank beers and grapefruit shots "on the house" with her in a Texas bar to the music of Johnny Cash. We share tattoo memories and the heat of our fire signs. I have celebrated solstices and rebirths in her presence. She loves extravagantly and even though she is one of my closest friends, she manages to maintain her own mysterious allure which makes her ever fresh and new. She blogs at Spirit, Soul, Earth, takes stunning self-portraits and has the most sultry voice you ever did hear. I'm thrilled to have partnered with her in a joint dark love project: The Wild Mystics - Into the Dark Night eCourse. (Our Spring session begins tomorrow!) She has proved time and time again to be a safe place to honor my most shadowy secret messages. I can't wait for you to get to know this enchantress a little better!
THE LUCKY 13!
Secret mutant power:
Intuition + seeing through the dark!
current art medium/creative endeavor I am exploring:
Mmmmm … sharing this here first! I am exploring creative endeavors using my voice as art and for art.
a secret message i found in the last week:
It all began when I was slumped in my chair absorbing a just-received painful reminder that someone I love with all my heart still considers me a mission because in their eyes I am hell-bound.
To distract myself I was scrolling through Instagram, and ironically it was something you wrote that caught my eye. My friend Elora shared an image of her hand holding a clipped page which read: “Do I have the grace for this?” It came at me like a whoosh. Do I have the grace for this? This. Yes. Even now I take a deep breath. All is grace.
a stranger i interacted with recently:
I’ve really had to think about this because I’ve been home for several days!
So I would say that sending a little love and admiration to some sweet souls through Instagram and to a creative photographer I adore is about the extent of it. This question is a welcome reminder to be aware and present through all my interactions. Maybe I’ll unearth a surprising story!
A word that means a lot to me right now:
It is word made flesh, the embodied soul. I am making my life a work of art. It’s a lot harder and more intentional than I expected, and way more enthralling.
When I don’t feel like my art matters I tell myself:
I say well, Rain, you matter. And I start there.
Actually, reality is a bit more chaotic. Reality involves huge four-letter words pressed hard onto unsuspecting lined paper, a mad desire to torch everything I’ve ever done, delete all my social media and hitchhike to California. (If I ever disappear, now you know.)
I knew I was an artist when:
I knew I was an artist when I was a little girl who liked to make things: hand-stitched paper books, calico dolls and prairie skirts, long dreamy stories scrawled in pencil by the fire.
But then life happened and the stormy winds of perfectionism, criticism, hurtful comparisons and words swept my art right off the table. I gave up being an artist when I tried to make my art into something I thought it should be: paintings, inked landscapes, you know— perfect, what real artists do. I wasn’t a real artist. My clumsy attempts at oils, pastels, and pencils? Just, no. But one of my favorite classics holds a secret message about realness. I stumbled across it a few years ago and you could’ve heard the angels sing, it was so divine.
Here is a quote:
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand … once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real
I gave up being a real artist but my art would not let go. My art loved me. My art gently prodded open my eyes and whispered, “Hey. Look at me. I am real. You are real.” And slowly it all became clear. My tools? Soft sable brushes with sleek black handles. My colors? Smoky grays and violets and earth swept along the smooth curve of the eye, iridescent glimmers along cheekbones, warm bronze under the chin. My pencils? Creamy onyx and indigo. My paints? Crimson and cream on lips. My canvas? Warm, breathing skin.
Recalling my years as a makeup artist reminded me that there’s no one definition of art, and that being a real artist means being true and following your own authentic path. I own it. I am an artist. Awakening to all the ways I create through writing, photography, movement, voice, stories—returning to my true self—even if it looks different than other incarnations of art reminds me when I forget and continues to bring me home.
A rule I like to break:
The rule that says don’t trust yourself or follow your heart.
The rule that says there’s only one best way to do things (writing, business, eating, even marriage). The rules that say I must choose either-or. The rules designed to silence or shame me; the doors marked forbidden (forbidden is a word that secretly means “what you seek is here”), the furtive glance of the eye, fearful murmurs and worried conjecture that all lead to pressure and other murky, unspoken rules.
This is what the Secret Message Society means to me:
The Secret Message Society is a movement of artists who see the real you when you’ve forgotten your own truth.
They hold up a mirror and prop open your eyelids with ink-stained fingers all the while ordering, “Look! Look at yourself. This is you. See how ravishing you are.” They will push their own breath into your lungs and inflate you when you are flattened by the storms of doubt. They remain devoted to their own Soul-voice. They are a tribe of mysterious and beautiful people gathered close whispering “Hey artist. You are. You are. You are.” Strangely, it is in rhythm with your own heart.
Here is something I created that I want to share with you:
This makes me breathless because I made something enchanting for us. I created an intimate sojourn through soulful embodiment called Wild—A Holistic Approach to Love.
Through creative soul-prompts (fresh, provocative, unusual, sultry, fun!) and assignments for self-portraits and he(art)-journaling, this eCourse is a creative and sensual foray into holistic wellness and love. It is the art of witnessing your Self, an invitation to compassion, and healing through self-portraiture and art. Wild is born out of my blood + bone.
We gather for six weeks beginning May 4th. I have a shimmery array of juicy guests and offer a healthy dose of poetry, philosophy, and prose; you’ll be guided through soulful experiences to deeply connect with your body + receive creative tips on lighting, makeup, and finding your own unique style. Plus I touch on a few bonus topics that usually show up when working with issues surrounding the body. Oh, and you will see skin … lots of skin. Whether that’s a warning or a promise is up to you. ☺
If we meet on the street we’ll know each other as undercover artists by:
Oh, it’s in our eyes. And the sway of our hips.
A sort of embodied sensuality which can’t help our wanton disregard for conventionality. Artists possess mystique which reveals itself even when we don’t want it to … it leaks from our hearts and seeps through our soulskin like the dew rising from dark caves underground to kiss the face of morning.
Hillary Rain is an artist and wild mystic who writes about the soul-led life and bohemian spirituality. Along with her dear friend Mandy Steward, she and a brave gypsy tribe are quietly gathering at a moon pool near you. The Soul is calling. The shadowlands await. They embark at dawn. If you’re meant to join, there’s still time. Register here.
Each month I am featuring one Secret Message Society Member, both in the Zine and on my blog. I want you to see some of the creative ways these artists think, explore, live. When you open the Zine to the middle you will see an enticing double page spread designed by the centerfold artist. There will be a companion post here on my blog where I ask them a Lucky 13 questions. Want to join our grassroots movement of artists who are actively collecting, creating and inviting Secret Messages into their life?! You can subscribe here and/or get more details.