Why CaptCliff Makes Peace Pipes

Kabuki Pipe
The Peace Pipe and the Therapist
I first began making pipes as a part-time hobby sometime in the 90’s. Actually I dont quite remember anymore it’s been so long and memory fades. Initially I was interested in the idea of the Native-American peace pipe, it’s use in sacred rituals, as well as it’s visual representation as a “peace offering”. As a result much of my pipe art has a “tribal” look. I later began giving away some of my handcrafted pipes as birthday gifts to certain friends either as “retro looking” smoking devices or as home decor/display items. My friends’ enthusiasm for my art encouraged me to improve upon my 8the grade Edgewood Junior High School woodworking skills and begin to create more elaborate pipes and stands made from colorful found objects and sustainable materials including bamboo.


Precisely why I give a certain pipe, pipe stand or sacred container/box to someone is not always clear to me. If I know the person’s spirit animal or animal “totem” then it’s often a no-brainer. Other times it’s just part of some unspoken creative or spiritual process that seems to underlie my pipe fetish/hobby. While often tongue-in-cheek and consistent with my super sarcastic personality I also consider my pipes to be a semi-serious form of healing art. The recipients of each pipe are the chosen “holders” of the energy (both male and female) imbued in each pipe and I like to believe they connect me to their new owners in some positive heart-centered way.


As a creative process (a bit like “free association” in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis) I just let the pipe-making “come” to me as I make them. I listen to what my inner voice (who I sometimes refer to as my “Picasso Pooh” aspect of self) has to say about the pipe I’m working on and the manner in which I choose to “adorn” it. I usually know if it is coming out right by how the process flows and what materials seem to want to be included (versus what falls off much to my frustration and OCD-ish dismay). If I find myself struggling to make something work, it probably isn’t right. Either way I often end up with alot of glue, paint, and bits of fabric on my hands and finger nails by the end of the day….It’s not a good look unless you happen to work at Cirque du Soleil.


In Kabbalah it says we “give by receiving” and we “receive by giving”. By giving someone something unique, “special” and meaningful I also receive something positive from the pipes “receiver”especially if they choose to think of it in the same kind of way. At the very same time I think of myself as enriching and improving my connection to God…one peace pipe at a time. I believe there are over 400 of them at the last counting. Dont judge me. The deeper meaning or personal significance that each pipe represents is sort of the metaphysical cherry on top. While the act of smoking with my pipes is optional (sort of like nudity at the right designated beach) they can also be used as purely symbolic elements in a personal ceremony or ritual like a wedding, a divorce or a funeral or just as a potent visual representation of something unusually important.


Spiritually speaking, I believe we are here on Earth in this confusing, conflict-ridden and complicated world not just to survive, amass wealth and compete with one another for survival but rather to explore the “art of living” through increased compassion, greater love, more forgiveness and if possible radical transcendent understanding. Sometimes such lofty objectives are easier said than done. Marriage vows, for example, speak of a lifelong mutual commitment to love, cherish and “be there” for our chosen mate. At times, however, we forget and fail to keep such a sensible and fundamental agreement. My peace pipes are therefore also meant as an everpresent reminder to give and seek forgiveness and to remain present (mindful) and focused on our own goals and individual core values. Just as we are free to choose a profession or life path filled with meaning, inspiration and creativity, we can also choose the kind of art, music, and mythology to use in our personal healing, recovery, and continual growth.

Cliff Mazer, Ph.D.

About captaincliff

Psychologist by day, insomniac Pirate blogger by night, this Child of God likes to share sarcastic social commentary as well as topsy-turvy observations about life, love and the pursuit of zaniness, a functional form of insanity in an increasingly insane world
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