Assiah 9

Gathering the Shards (c) Cat Charissage, 2015

Happy Solstice!  I recently finished this painting with the darkness of winter and the grayness of parts of our lives in top of mind.

The little pieces that look like glass shards are actually little pieces of a cd, and they reflect the light so beautifully in the varying lights of the day; I wish the photo could reflect that accurately.  As I painted, I was thinking of the story from Kabbalah that in the ongoing creation, God pours out Godself into spheres of light, which then, not able to contain the magnitude of “Godness”, shatter.  All of creation is filled with these shards of light from the spheres, shards which contain/reflect the magnitude of that which is greater —- greater than the cold of a north hemisphere winter, greater and brighter than the grayness that seeps into most all of our lives.  It is our task, according to the Kabbalah, to gather these shards, to mend, to repair, our world.

For me, this goes way beyond “thinking positively.”  It’s  a way of being in which I choose (often not too successfully) to not only notice, encourage, and gather whatever Light I see around me, but to also bring Light to all that is within my reach, to the extent that I am able.

I was also thinking of ancestors, known and unknown, genetic bloodlines and chosen, “real” and imagined.  I was thinking of how so many of our ancestors lived through great hardships, some of the least being living in shared accommodations and needing to take public transit, and how they survived, and thrived enough to allow us to live and take our place in this beautiful and broken world.  In my poem I write about one of my imagined ancestors.

I offer to all of you the blessing of Light in the darkness, shimmer in the grey.  May we all bring whatever light and healing we can to all within our reach.

Here is the poem that accompanies this painting:

You Already Know      — Cat Charissage, December 2015

Sometimes I see you,

shimmers of iridescence,

shimmers of light

in the midst of gray.

Sometimes, in my dreams or in my day,

I see a world of color,

of red, blue, yellow birds

in the grey trees against the grey sky next to the grey sidewalk

alongside the even darker grey asphalt of the street.

Red, blue, yellow . . . when mixed, can make a rainbow of color.

Possibility, hope, promise. . .

Of what worth is a rainbow’s promise in a grey world?


The grey world is what I also see.

Spirit-numbingly, heart-breakingly clearly

I see in the dark:  darkness.

How to hold both?

How to hold on to whatever shards of light might also be?


Actually, I know I can only hold the darkness,

see the suffering,

choose to witness

if, and when, I can also hold beauty and light.

The beauty and the light allow me to bear the darkness.

But on those days when even the sun, always with us, cannot be seen,

where can I find you?

Desperate to know you, Light of Life,

where can I find you?


I hear my East-European great grandmother say,



“Alchemy.  Transformation.

When you can’t find the light,

bring it, make it.

Wear the colors of alchemy:

red, black, yellow, white — the snow will do for the white —

add some clear blue eyes to see truth,

and a green bag to hold close to you what is ever green.

Bring the light.

Make the transformation.

Be the alchemist.

We were called witches,

but we are really alchemists.

We bring transformation;

We are those who return the light.”


Tell me more, grandmother.

Stay with me, show me!


“You know,” she says.


Bring, transform, return,

see clearly.

I know

you already know



Do I?

Will I?