Working in the deserts of the world, Ariel has created a unique aesthetic that is inextricably linked to visible and invisible energy that is present in all of life. Although most of us use various forms of energy on a daily basis, we do not appreciate that it is a mysterious power that science had never fully understood or explained.

Although the concept of natural energy as a matrix that envelopes all life is not widely accepted in the West, it is a shamanistic principle that is common to all indigenous cultures in the world. Ariel has used black and white infrared film to photograph regions of the world inhabited by indigenous cultures who accept a spiritual dimension of existence. Her photographs taken in the American West, Australia, New Zealand and Africa encourage us to confront a metaphysical reality that there is an underlying essence or mysterious power that is present in all things.

In indigenous societies, it is the shaman who is most familiar with "other realities" that are invisible to the human eye. They are natural born psychics who are trained to interact with spirits and the spirit world through trance and other extraordinary states of consciousness.

Ariel's on-going project to photograph worlds not perceived by the human eye comes at a time when modern physicists acknowledge a parallel world with subatomic dimensions. Although discussions about invisible realms are considered taboo in many scientific circles, there are many scientists in the world who speak openly about the elusiveness of nature, subtle energy and alternative forms of consciousness. Examples include British Nobel Prize winner and physicist Brian D. Josephson who proposed the existence of parallel worlds and physicist David Bohm, who coined the term holomovement to describe an invisible reality that is in a constant state of change and flux.

Silence and stillness can promote intense spiritual introspection and act as a trigger to access invisible realms. As Ariel explains, "The silence of nature acts as a bridge to what shamans call 'other worlds.' When you're free of distraction, you can approach the world of the spirit. Nature is one of the strongest triggers we have for accessing alternate states of consciousness. Many religions of the world teach people to reach this reality through sedentary meditation but shamans throughout the world can achieve a state of altered consciousness regardless of their circumstances."

Ariel has found hundreds of what shamans would call power spots using silence and stillness in conditions of extreme heat and light. Black and white infrared film has provided her a means to capture her visions. Ariel's study of shamanism has provided a philosophical and metaphysical foundation for her journeys to deserts around the world but her true insight concerning the vibrational hot spots she has photographed comes from a communication that summons her. According to Ariel, the recordable vibration that is found in all of nature is most pronounced in the desert. "Rocks and minerals have a frequency of light and sound that is particularly strong in the desert," says Ariel. Ariel grew up in Tripoli, Libya where the first desert she experienced was the Sahara. Her father, who was a geologist, would take her on day trips where the desert's heat, light and wind demonstrated their vast power.

The energetic waves Ariel has photographed in landscapes are a treasure she has unveiled through an enigmatic medium that is capable of recording temperature and vibration. Although results from infrared film are always elusive and unpredictable, the energy that is recorded reflects the shamanistic perspective that there is a fluid energy field or signature that is present in rocks, plants, animals, clouds, wind and all other life forms.

Ariel has traveled extensively through the American West and has photographed hundreds of locations that represent an expression of the earth's subtle and invisible energy veins shamans would call spirits. Shown in this portfolio are the gypsum sand dunes at White Sands National Monument near Alamogardo, New Mexico and the rock surfaces at the Petrified Forest National Park in northeast Arizona.

At White Sands National Monument, Ariel discovered the stunning white sand was swarming with life. The National Parks Department shields the White Sands National Monument from commercial development and reports that there are 60 species of plants and 44 species of mammals that live in the gypsum sand dunes. Many Indian tribes have lived in New Mexico including the Apache, Navajo, Pueblo, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho.

Although the Indian nations of New Mexico are extremely secretive about their ceremonial practices, it is rumored that the shimmering dunes at White Sands have been used for vision quests. A Native American's personal identity is tied to a vision quest not only to prepare for entry into adult life but also to confront challenges throughout life. Isolation is a key requirement for the vision quest ceremony that requires seekers to fast and pray at a remote location to receive information about their life's path.

"The idea that rocks, wind, plants, animals and even humans have a spirit is a foreign concept to most people and, as a result, spirits in nature will remain hidden for those who refuse to shift their belief system," says Ariel. "Those interested in exploring the truth will find pockets of energy if they listen. Eventually, the web of the spirit world that is present will capture your attention with their energy."


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article by Mary Jo Fahey

Mary Jo Fahey can be contacted via email at:


Ariel can be reached via email at:

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