Inside the Belly of the Whale begins with “Blue Dream” — a series of dark, watery images. In “Taking a Long Breath” and “Entering the Belly,” the story progresses through archetypal images of hope and horror. “Traveler’s Embrace” is a progression of scenes evoking images of the orphan, birth, death, and the unavailable mother. “Brought Back,” “Living in the Shadow,” “Portal,” and the final image, ”The End/Beginning,” move the viewer up the steep, stark climb out of the hidden, ever closer to the possibility of wholeness.
Griffin chose particular film for each section, in order to reinforce the emotions and texture that section evokes. For example, she used Polaroid transfers to create “Taking a Long Breath,” “Entering the Belly,” and “Brought Back”; Polaroid Blue to create the first chapter,
“Blue Dream”; black and white film for “Traveler’s Embrace” and “Portal”; and color negative film to capture the images in “Living in the Shadow” and “The End/The Beginning.”
We hope that these images bring up something for you, triggering you to visualize, in writing or other media, your own thoughts and feelings on grieving.
Inside the Belly of the Whale is a visual narrative of the spiritual transformation of the author and artist/photographer, L.L. Griffin, triggered by the death of her mother and the downward spiral Griffin’s life took afterward. The Biblical story of Jonah and the whale both gave Griffin the title and inspired her story. Modern life rarely acknowledges – and frequentlypathologizes – grief. But when we bring grief into consciousness and honor it, it can become part of a larger, experience of transformation and rebirth. Carl Jung called this kind of transformation the “night sea journey”; the great mystics called it the “dark night of the soul.” Grieving can bring the soul to stillness, thus readying it for profound spiritual change.
Griffin’s journal is also your journal. It is a right-brained approach to processing grief. This journal is a journey, a sequence of “scenes” – visuals, photography, that which is to be seen – accompanied by spaces that are empty spaces for your own visuals, writing, sketches, reflections, thoughts.
Griffin’s scenes attempt to make sense of her dreams. To create these images required her to be with the pain, shed her mental skin, get raw, and become authentic. She moved into and through the belly of pain, to a place of new beginnings.