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An Elk Showed Me a Sign of Peace

A vision seen in 1985 by Georganna Malloff


I got a painting fellowship in Banff, in the Canadian Rockies. It was fall/early winter, and I was cold as only a Californian in Canada can feel. Native-born Canadians learn at an early age how to bicycle in shorts and T-shirts in below-freezing weather. I bundled up so only my nose poked out, and even my nose froze. Anyway, I tried to hike the trails around Banff but always ended up in the hotpools. It was (and is) a very good place to have visions. One day...


I saw this elk rising above the steam, larger than life. I focused on the antlers, and realized they were a sign of peace. Elk, like moose, can be fierce fighters, though not often to the death. But sometimes they lock horns, and both are doomed. So if the animals generally know when to cease hostilities, can't humans learn? Before we get in one too many battles and lock horns? I've always been a peacenik, though I have inherited my father's temper. War never resolves anything, just wastes our energy and resources and creates new problems. Every war brings on a new form of illness, mental or physical. We don't have to look far to see this. The big flu of 1918 killed more than the war itself. What plagues are we brewing?

An elk looming over tiny people playing music. A tree with golden leaves and bark leans overhead; snowy crags on horizon.
The daisy is the flower the beautiful hippies offered to the National Guardsmen during the Vietnam peace movement, even slipping them into the mouths of their guns.

The three small people are witnesses. I've been reading a very interesting contemporary book, Neil Gaiman's American Gods, in which some of the immigrants brought their countries' myths and gods with them, and nurtured them with shrines, dances, stories (all forbidden by the churches). Gods became little people. At least we could carry them in our pockets. Time to bring them back!

The ageless mountains also bear witness.

Originally there were three other paintings (long scrolls or wall hangings) in this series, but they burned along with my house.

--Georganna Malloff


I wanted to include this one, dream or vision or whatever. Because we sure could use a sign of peace right now... elk or not.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: dreams of deer, elk, and such-like critters - snow - hot & cold - peace and pacifism - giving and gifts - The Northwest Coast - dream paintings - more Georganna: Cosmic Maypole - Blue Skies - a strangely parallel painting: Thirteen Peace Signs In Time of War

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