Monday, April 9, 2018

Remembering......."The World is Always Talking to us"

 
"I let my life be guided by a strange language that I call “signs”. I know that the world is talking to me, I need to listen to it, and if I do so I shall always be guided towards what is most intense, passionate and beautiful. Of course, it is not always easy.  If you trust life, life will trust you."
        Paolo Coelho


My life these days is so preoccupied with mundane matters that my visioning self cries to be heard and known again.  I find it difficult to write as well, so I look back in the midst of the rediculous multi-tracking laundry list that my life currently seems to be.  Yes, I need to change this, no argument.  Not so easy to do sometimes.......

One thing I so often find my heart moving back to are the summers I spent at Brushwood and at Lilydale  in western New York state, the summers spent living in the woods at that campground, in a little trailer, nights illuminated mostly by campfires, oil lamps, and the sounds of drums.  I always was renewed in a deep way there, and the prospect of not being able to go this summer........ah,  I wish I could.  It will be a summer of Tucson's heat, monsoons, and time to create some art, but my heart has always remained in the East.  Always.

So, although the frenetic pace of my committments right now make my day very flat and "tone deaf", never the less I do not forget that World is always speaking to us, if we can but listen.  Soon, soon, let the Conversation be renewed.

Sometimes the best, most profound  things can't be told, hence the origins of the word "mystery", which is from the Greek, a word identified with the Eleusinian Mysteries  meaning "that which cannot be spoken".  But this is a journal, so I'll try.....perhaps that inability to express what I experience as a "mythic"  universe has to do with the coming together at times of so many different dimensions, multiple levels of synchronicity, metaphor, and perception.   See?  How do you talk about it  except through poetry, art, or metaphor?  Here is journal entry from one of those Summers, I felt like sharing it again.

"There's a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in." ~~~ Leonard Cohen


Journal Entry  July 17, 2013 

Once I got on the road synchronicities and insights  have flooded into my daily life - that's what happens when you enter "liminal zones", those places, times, and activities that are transitional, that put us into the creative space of becoming.  Travel can do that, art process and meditation can do it, and critical times in our lives can do it as well.  My wise friend Wendy talks about the "shamanic initiation", those events in our lives that "crack" us open, times that challenge our beliefs and assumptions.  Painful as those times are, they are also times when door open into new vistas of perception and possibility.
In Chautauqua county, my other life floods in, along with the rain and humidity I've missed in the desert.   Lilydale's and Brushwood's  energy is high, and there is  also such joyful elemental energy there, which you feel as soon as you arrive.  Joining a circle at Lilydale, I found my old sensitivity still present, if rusty, and was able to take several "messages"  as well as receiving significant information for myself from the facilitating medium, Stephanie.  She commented accurately on my bad ankle, saying that it was to make me "slow down"......and at a Sunday service, another medium singled me out (even though I was hiding in the back row) and told me I needed to "slow down" again. Hmm.......I need to think about that.

Stopped for several days to visit Wendy, a friend I met in 2003.  Wendy is a true Medium - her sensitivity began  at 4  when she suffered kidney failure and almost died.  She was also struck by lightning as a child.  She believes these two events brought about her sensitivity.  It  took her many years, and a painful childhood, to come to grips with those gifts.  Wendy amazes me, as she lives simultaneously in two or more worlds, all day long, every day - and it's difficult for people who aren't mediums themselves, or well educated in metaphysics and the "paranormal" to understand her.  She's a successful career woman, living in a town and profession where her gifts are completely unknown to her colleagues, and she's also a medium who sometimes chooses to do readings, helps with hauntings, is an artist, and for fun, goes ghost hunting with colleagues. 

I feel Wendy has helped me to understand my own perceptions  a great deal in the course of our conversations.  To work "inter-dimensionally", as mediums do, one must learn to think in,  as Wendy puts it, "Dream Time" terms, which includes thinking symbolically and without the construct of sequential time as we understand it "in the flesh".  For her, spirits are all around, familiar spirits come to help her or just to visit, people in need of help, people who want to contact someone (usually associated with someone close to her).  Sometimes she sages the room because she has energies she doesn't want there, or just doesn't have the time.

She has a "ghost hunter" machine, a little machine that makes white noise.  I sat for half an hour with her while she asked questions, and hear the machine produce scratchy, sometimes lucid, responses, from what sounded like different voices trying to talk through a very bad phone connection.  I clearly heard "hello", "Wendy", and other short phrases.  I also smelled pipe smoke, and Wendy's face lit up.  "That's my Dad" she said.

This past Solstice there was a tragedy at Brushwood - a young woman had heart failure and died suddenly.  I remember seeing this young woman several times before the event, and being unable to stop looking at her for two reasons - she looked  very much like a very young version of my own daughter, very vulnerable, and she also "glowed" - there was a luminosity about her and I couldn't stop staring at her.  When I told Wendy about this sad event, she said that people who are dying always have a "glow" to them.  She said when she sees that in people, she knows they are getting ready to leave, because time, in the spirit world, does not have the same meaning it does here.  When I went to the area she died in, I did prayers to the Mother for her - and was surprised in my meditation there to clearly see the image of a tall woman taking the hand of a young person, and a sense of peace.  What I take from this, having talked with Wendy, is that I also saw this young woman as looking like my daughter because, perhaps, that energy of Mother, her own and the divine Mother, was what was needed to help her spirit.  I am no expert on this highly subjective experience.........

Spending time with Wendy can be intense!  I hope someday, perhaps when she retires, she'll become interested in perhaps living and working at Lilydale, because she's a powerful healer on a multitude of levels, a true shaman.   She gave me a great gift, which it's going to take me time to unfold, although my friend said that in the spirit world, it's "already done", because all time is happening at once.

We had been talking about the very convincing  documentary on Animal Planet about mermaids washing up with whales after the navy's horrific sonar testing.  It's a hoax, of course, although tragically the death of so many whales is not.  We were sitting at the table drinking coffee and Wendy's eyes misted.  She said "Excuse me, but someone is here, and I think it's important".  She said that a very tall, thin, very black man in a flat, disc like mask that was black with a white band across the eye holes and a red spot on the "forehead" was standing right behind me.  He put his hands on my shoulders (as a blessing?).  He told her he was something like "samarai" but it was a difficult accent for her to understand, and that he wanted me to help in some way.  He said that I would help to "revive Yemeja". 

Then Wendy said she perceived a large number of people, his tribe.  They were showing her images of the ocean, and offerings to the ocean, fruit, baskets, fish, and small white shells.  Tears were running down her face (Wendy says that when the energy is very intense this happens) and she said that he was thanking me.  Then they were gone.  Wendy said this was "high voltage", and for a while she continued to have tears in her eyes.  For myself, not perceiving this, I said that I was grateful, I thanked him and them, and said that I would do what I could to the best of my abilities.


I think this will unfold in the future, its meanings.  But I reflect that Yemaja, Mother Ocean, is an Orisha* originating in West Africa among the Yoruba people and perhaps others, is often shown as a black mermaid.  The destruction of intelligent life in the ocean, the whales, the dolphins, by navy sonar testing, is very real.  We are, indeed, killing Yemeja as well as the whales.   I am among many artists, mythologists, and activists who are trying to change consciousness about our living earth, to revive the sanctity that our ancestors once had.  Before it's too late.



I looked on Google for flat disc masks such as a tribal shaman might wear, and found that there are indeed many such in Africa, although I have not found one such as Wendy described.  However, I did discover that there is an extensive group of people with a long cultural history called the "Songhai", which sounds quite similar to "Samarai", and some of their domain touched the western ocean on Africa's shores.



*Orisha are Spirits  of nature and are responsible for the rules which govern nature.  Orisha are anthropomorphized with human characteristics for the purpose of understanding their essence and being able to extrapolate psychological constructs.Orisha Worship came to the Americas with the African slave trade over a period of 400 years.   In addition the slaves blended their African practice with the Catholic religion to hide their overt practices from Europeans.  In this manner, the traditions of Lukumi and Santeria were born.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Stones that Remain..........

Photo by Martin Grey
                    Avebury
Sometimes language bears in its fossil rock
things once commonly known, now information
available to us only as tourists
as here poke through the earth
through the welter of houses from the last thousand years
through country roads, prim churches, blowzy pubs,
through male and female stones, the huge breast
called Silbury Hill, vast and cumbersome
works of a people whose will slumbers
in the stone circles, rows, wordless
as the thoughts of the sheep that graze.


Yet that will is potent, not with the dumb ferocity
and shapeliness of mountains, not with the bodily
eloquence of frightened or curious sheep.
Here are erected runes of language partly designed
to be read by clouds or goddesses, left for us
too carefully wrought to be ignored.
Sometimes with my hands on the warm/cold stone
I almost think I hear it in my bones.


Marge Piercy



I share with poet Marge Piercy a deep wonderment at the presence of the Stones, set so laboriously and intentionally by such distant ancestors, to mark circles, leys, energy ebbs and flows and currents, Solstices and Equinoxes, moon crossings, and other, more mysterious means and ways that are remembered now only by the stones themselves, and the language of the land.  Yet when I walked among those stones, at Avebury or elsewhere,  I always felt the whispering of the "songs that remain". 

"Where Time began and will Begin",  Scottish Bard Robin Williamson once said as he began his telling of an ancient story from the Mabinogian,  "I make reverence to the Ancestors and the Spirits of those yet unborn".  Perhaps the Beloved Silence I remember him speaking of is that  Silence that contains the language of stones......and holds the songs of the  Bards as well, the "songs that remain when we are gone" . 



https://youtu.be/n63UbX5kzAc

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Gaian Reflections approaching the Vernal Equinox

Apple trees in Avalon (the Chalice Well garden) 2011

I am a lover of the steady Earth 
and of Her waters

She says:


"Let the light be brilliant 
for those who will cherish color";
what if there be no heaven?
She says:
"Touch my breasts
the fields are golden"


Her songs are all of love
life long
every blue yonder
Her grass harp rings

unlettered 
in Her rivers our cherished sins
our musts drift voiceless
in Her clouds

She will rust us with blossom
She will forgive us
She will seal us with her seed



From "Verses at Powis" by Robin Williamson

The Vernal Equinox  is the stillpoint when the time of light and the time of dark are in balance, when the day and night are equal.  After the Equinox the days lengthen as Summer comes.   In this time of chaos and fear, may this day of Balance remind us to  invoke the principle of Balance within the small circles of  our lives, knowing that as we do so, we invoke this virtue in the  greater life of  Gaia, the living Goddess of which we are a part.   I've often quoted the song above, because it so often sounds in my memory and heart,  a touchstone gifted to me and so many  others by the Bard.  When I feel overwhelmed or despairing,  those touchstones are important to return to, they can illuminate the path once again.  They belong to the  "Re-Membering".  She will seal us with Her Seed.  

Blessed Equinox!  



Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Association for Women and Mythology Conference 2018


The 2018 Conference for the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology will be held March 16th through March 18 in Las Vegas and I'm honored to be presenting a paper on Spider Woman: A Creatrix Myth for Our Time.



The speakers will be extraordinary!
Animal, Earth, Person, Story
At this year's conference we will explore earth and animal mysteries in myth and ritual, along with research into new partnerships of humans with animal and plant worlds to ensure the welfare of planetary systems. We have many wonderful presenters joining our program for this conference, including Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Kathy Jones, Sherri Mitchell and Gala Agrent. We are very happy to be able to include as our special guests a number of Native American and Indigenous scholars and artists. Others you will see include: Max Dashu, Vicki Noble, Annie Finch, Mara Keller, Starr Goode, Cristina Biaggi, Lucia Birnbaum, Malgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Miriam Robbins Dexter, Genevieve Vaughan, Heide Goettner-Abendroth, Frances Bernstein, Nancy Vedder-Shults. And many more! We will also feature films like "The Breast Archive" and "Under the Husk," including discussions with the filmmakers. Plan to come early to join us for an optional tour to the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet. And stay for a day of Modern Matriarchal Studies on Sunday.

Here's the powerpoint slide show for my presentation:

https://www.slideshare.net/laurenraine/spider-womans-hands-a-native-american-myth-for-our-time

My websites: www.laurenraine.com
and www.masksofthegoddess.com



Learn more and register for the Conference: https://womenandmyth.org To see the Schedule: https://womenandmyth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SCHEDULE-MARCH-7.pdf/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SCHEDULE-MARCH-7.pdf

Sunday, March 4, 2018

"Some Day" - wonderful "flash mob" in Israel

So inspiring, so good to hear these  voices singing together for the Human Family!  Thanks as ever for my friends the MacGregors at their Blog Synchro Secrects  (http://blog.synchrosecrets.com/)

https://youtu.be/XqvKDCP5-xE




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dead Languages

 

A poem from the collection "Late in the Day" (2014), reflections from the long study 
of language by a master writer.

Dreadful, this death, dragging
So many lives and lively minds along
After it into unmeaning. 
Endless, imbecile silence.

The more ways there are to say Mother
The wiser the world is.
Never are there enough
Words for Well done!  Or Welcome!

A line of verse revives lost Aprils.
In the name for Home lie whole nations.
The unused word may be the useful one.

Old nouns are in no hurry.
Old verbs are very patient.
The water of life is learning.

May elders ever tell the mythic origins
In the almost lost old language
To children cheated of knowledge
Of their own holy inheritance.

May myopic scholars scowl
Forever at fragments of inscription
So that the young may yawn
Log over grim grammars, learning

To speak the tongues unspoken
And hear a human music otherwise unheard.


Ursula Leguin


https://soundcloud.com/92y/urs

Saturday, February 10, 2018

"Numina", and the Intelligences of the Living Earth


NUMINA:  Spirit of Place, Myth and Pilgrimage
By Lauren Raine MFA

"To the native Irish, the literal representation of the country was less important than its poetic dimension.  In traditional Bardic culture, the terrain was studied, discussed, and referenced:  every place had its legend and its own identity....what endured was the mythic landscape."

    R.F. Foster 1

The Romans believed that special places were inhabited by intelligences they called Numina, the "genius loci" of a particular place.   I personally believe many mythologies may be rooted in the actual experience of “spirit of place", the numinous, mysterious, felt presence within a sacred landscape. 

To early and indigenous peoples, nature includes a “mythic conversation”, a conversation within which human beings may participate in various ways.  Myth is, and always has been, a way for human beings to become intimate and conversant with what is vast, deep, and ultimately mysterious. “Mything place” provides a language wherein the “conversation” can be symbolically spoken and interpreted, as well as personified.    Our experience, and our relationship with Place changes when Place becomes "you" or "Thou" instead of "it". 

  In the past, "Nature" was not just a "backdrop" or a "resource"; the natural world was a vast relationship within which human cultures were profoundly embedded and interactive.   The gods and goddesses arose from the powers of place, from the powers of wind, earth, fire and water, as well as the human mysteries of birth and death. 

In India, virtually all rivers bear the name of a Goddess.  In southwestern U.S., the “mountain gods” dwell at the tops of mountains like, near Tucson, Arizona where I live, Baboquivari, sacred mountain to the Tohono O’odam, who still make pilgrimages there.  This has been a universal human quest, whether we speak of the Celtic peoples with their legends of the Fey, ubiquitous mythologies of the Americas, or the agrarian roots of Rome:  the landscape was once populated with intelligences that became personified through the evolution of local mythologies.   

"The Desert Spring", mask from 2013 performance with Ann Waters
 The Romans called these forces “Numina”.  Every valley, orchard, healing spring or womb-like cave had its unique quality and force - its Numen.   Cooperation and respect for the Numina, the animating intelligences of place, was essential for well-being.  And some places were regarded as imbued with special power, they were special places of pilgrimage.

With the evolution of patriarchal monotheism and religions that increasingly removed divinity from Nature and from the body, and, in the past century, the rapid rise of industrialization, we have increasingly looked at the world from a "users" point of view instead of a participatory one.  This overview tends to view the natural world as an object to be used or exploited, forgetting indeed that virtually all pre-industrial human cultures have rich traditions that teach that  the world is alive and responsive.   From Katchinas to the Orisha, naiads to dryads, the Australian Dream Time to Alchemy's Anima Mundi, every local myth reflects what the Romans knew as the resident “spirit of place”, the Genius Loci.

In those reverent traditions, sacred places may be locations where the potential for revelation, healing, or transpersonal experience is especially potent, and many contemporary places of pilgrimage carry on this mythos. It’s well known that early Christians built churches on existing pagan sacred sites.   An example would be the numerous sacred wells that are dedicated to a Black Madonna in Europe, or a Saint in England, in much the same way the Oracle of Delphi was dedicated to Gaia, the primal Earth Mother of Greek mythology, and later to the God Apollo.

"Gaia", 2013 performance with Ann Waters
Contemporary Gaia Theory 2 proposes that the Earth is a living, self-regulating organism, utterly interdependent and always evolving.  A system of relationships.  If one is sympathetic to Gaia Theory, it follows that everything has the potential to be “conversant” in some way, whether visible or invisible.    Ancient Greeks built their Oracle at Delphi because it was felt that it was especially auspicious for communion with the Goddess Gaia, and undoubtedly it was a site that was sacred to prehistoric peoples prior to the evolution of Greece.  

There is a geo-magnetic energy felt at special places on our planet that change consciousness, and can catalyze insight, healing, or visionary experience, perhaps even, as the Oracle of Delphi believed, prophecy.  Before they became contained and mythologized by religions or designated by prehistoric monuments, these sites were intrinsically places of numinous power and presence in their own right.  

They touch all who visit, and ultimately, no particular belief system is needed for them to have a transformative effect, although human architecture and the accumulation of human psychic energy and visitation may amplify this effect.  

Roman philosopher Plinius Caecilius commented that:

"If you have come upon a grove that is thick with ancient trees which rise far above their usual height and block the view of the sky with their cover of intertwining branches, then the loftiness of the forest and the seclusion of the place and the wonder of the unbroken shade in the midst of open space will create in you a feeling of a divine presence, a Numina."3

Many years ago I lived in Vermont, and one fall morning I stumbled down to the local Inn for a cup of coffee to discover a group of people about to visit one of Vermont's mysterious stone cairns on Putney Mountain.  Among them was Sig Lonegren 4, a well-known dowser and researcher of earth mysteries who now lives in Glastonbury, England.  Through his generosity, I found myself on a bus that took us to a chamber constructed of huge stones, hidden among brilliant foliage, with an entrance way perfectly framing the Summer Solstice.  


No one knows who built these structures, which occur by the hundreds up and down the Connecticut River, but approaching the site I felt such a rush of vitality it took my breath away.  I was stunned when Sig placed divining rods in my hands, and I watched them open as if I had antennas, quivering as we traced the “ley lines” that ran into this site.    Standing on the top of the somewhat submerged chamber, my divining rod "helicoptered", letting me know that this was the “crossing of leys”; a potent place geomantically.  

Months later friends gathered in the dark to sit in that chamber and watch the Solstice sun rise through its entrance way.  We all felt the power of the deep, vibrant energy there,  and awe as the sun rose illuminating the chamber.   None of us knew what to do, so we held hands and chanted.  We were all as “high as a kite” when we left.  

Earth mysteries researcher John Steele 5 wrote in  the 1989 book EARTHMIND  (in collaboration with Paul Deveraux and David Kubin) that we suffer from "geomantic amnesia".  We have forgotten how to “listen to the Earth”, to engage in what he called "geomantic reciprocity"; instinctively, mythically, and practically, to our great loss.   We disregard for short term economic gain places of power, and conversely, build homes, even hospitals, on places that are geomagnetically toxic instead of intrinsically auspicious.   Remembering, re-inventing, and re-claiming  what inspired early peoples  may be important not only to contemporary  pilgrims, but to creating future human societies that can be sustainable.

The act of making a pilgrimage to a sacred place is among the oldest of human endeavors. The Eleusinian Mysteries combined spirit of place and mythic enactment to transform pilgrims for over two millennia.  One of the most famous contemporary pilgrimages is the "Camino" throughout Spain, which concludes at the Cathedral of Santiago at Compostella.  Compostella comes from the same root word as "compost",  the fertile soil created from rotting organic matter -  the "dark matter"  to which everything living returns, and is continually resurrected by the processes of nature into new life, new form.  As researcher and mythologist Jay Weidner has pointed out, pilgrims finally arriving in Compostella after their long journey are being 'composted' in a sense.  Emerging from the dark cathedral, and the mythos of their journey, they were ready to return home with their spirits reborn.

In 2011 I visited the ancient sacred springs of Glastonbury, the Chalice Well and the White Spring as well as participating in the international Goddess Conference there.   Making this intentional Pilgrimage left me with a profound, personal sense of the "Spirit of Place", what some call the "Lady of Avalon".  Pilgrimage opens one to blessing and vision, and can take us out of the ruts of our daily lives into transpersonal communion.

Sacred Sites are able to raise energy because they are intrinsically geomantically potent, and they also become potent because of human interaction with the innate intelligence of place, the Numina.  “Mythic mind” further facilitates the communion.   Sig Lonegren, who is a dowser, has spent many years exploring sacred places, and has commented that possibly, as human culture and language became increasingly complex, verbal, and abstract, we began to lose mediumistic consciousness, a daily Gnosis with the "subtle realms" that was further facilitated by symbolism, mythology, and ritual. 

With the gradual ascendancy of left-brained reasoning, and with the development of patriarchal religions, he suggests that tribal and individual Gnosis was gradually replaced by complex institutions that rendered spiritual authority to priests who were viewed as the sole representatives of God.  The “conversation” stopped, and the language to continue became obscure or lost. 

Perhaps this empathic, symbolic, mediumistic capacity is returning to us now as a new evolutionary balance, facilitated by re-inventing and re-discovering the mythic pathways to the Numina.


References:

1 Foster, R.F., The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland (London: Allen Lane/Penguin Press 2001)

2 The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. The hypothesis, which is named after the Greek goddess Gaia, was formulated by the scientist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s.


3 C. Plinius Caecilius Secundus minor, Epistula 41.3, from Nova Roma, www.novaroma.org/nr/Numen

4 Lonegren, Sig, Mid Atlantic Geomancy, website and blog (http://www.geomancy.org/)

5 Steele, John, Earthmind: Communicating with the Living World of Gaia, with Paul Devereaux and David Kubrin (Harper and Row, 1989)