Root Energy Rain: an ink drawing

Root Energy Rain
by Kaethe Kauffman

A large orange, purple and green tree spreads beyond the picture frame. We see the yellow and green roots below. Lines extend downward from the roots deeper into the soil, as if seeking nutrition. These lines illustrate the miraculous energy exchange between the rich nurturing dirt and the living tree.

The straight lines at the bottom of my picture are a common motif seen in Navajo art. Usually these lines project beneath a rounded thundercloud symbol, as if they were rain falling, a revered natural resource essential to grow crops in the arid Southwest desert.

I use the repeated vertical lines as a design that also signifies nature’s act of feeding the earth. However, I place them underground, symbolizing the sustenance a tree receives from accumulated debris.  With years of amassed disposals from nature and humans, a miracle occurs. Wonderful microbes break down natural wastes (and some synthetics) into food for plants. Roots push deep into the dirt and find this nutrition, an invisible process to our eyes. I’ve visualized and hopefully honored this sacred process in my drawing, Root Energy Rain.  

The Underworld has always been a fertile place for the human imagination.  Receiving sustenance from underground is archetypal and depicted in the powerful Greek myth of Persephone. As a young woman, she was captured and raped by Hades and flung far beneath the Earth’s crust into his domain. Psychologically destroyed, over time, she began to mend and eventually learned to help others in their journeys through Hell. She became a nurturing spiritual source. When she returned to the upper world each spring, her positive powers brought plants back to life, into mature growth. However, during the winter, she always returned to Hades to help others Persephone remains a remarkable symbol for our psyches that can suffer terribly. Sometimes we feel as if we’d be cast down into Hell. Yet, we can rebuild and grow by exploring inner resources hidden deep within our minds, much like the probing roots of plants seeking nutrition. A tree and its invisible roots contain a powerful healing paradigm. I’ve visualized and hopefully honored this sacred process in my drawing, Root Energy Rain.