Saturday, September 24, 2016

Persephone: Goddess of the Equinox

Persephone (2016)

Persephone, it seems to me,  is truly the Goddess of the Equinoxes, because She is both symbol  of spring and life's renewal when she returns to her mother Demeter at the turning of the seasonal Wheel, and she is also Goddess of death, wife of Hades, and Queen of the Underworld in the ending and dormant times of  turning of the wheel.  

Having said this,  I allow myself here to move out of the great universal language of archetype, and will get a bit personal.  The truth of life in nature is that everything is changing, everything dies to become something else, or at least, make way for something else.  As beings embedded in nature, this is true of us as well, whether we like it or not.  The summer ends, and as we feast on the delightful fruits and breads of the harvest, we barely notice, indeed, deny, the slow creep of winter.  And yet that beautiful, or horrific, or both, Leveler is already advancing over the horizon, implacable and indifferent.   Both Demeter and Hades have jobs to do.  

This is true of nature, this is true of biological life, and by golly, it's true of our psyches as well.  When Persephone calls, I believe in listening to what She has to say, whether it occurs in the bright lit flowering fields, or is a painful cry echoing from caverns deep in the Underworld.  And that is the point at which Hecate appears with her torch (but that is another story).  

We all love the Song of Persephone in the spring, the song that tells us "this is the time to BE", to feel the honey sun on your shoulders, to love, to move away from the lonely tunnels of the mind and into the great Conversation of the fields, of the planet.

When Persephone calls from the caverns, not so easy.  Recently I had a meltdown from out of seemingly "know where".  All of a sudden, I couldn't sleep, found my face full of tears that would not emerge from my eyes, was angry, very angry, and having just completed a massive project building a studio, wanted nothing more than to jump into my car and drive east and just keep going, free.  I didn't, but I really, really wanted to.   I decided doing such a thing was very ill advised, although I'm not opposed to such trips when the necessity arises, but I did allow myself to go a bit crazy.  I allowed myself to have those feelings, to walk in the desert, to drink too much, to be educated by the process of their arising.   That's one of those "calls from the deep" that must be heard, no matter how uncomfortable.  You try to discover the language and content of that dark song too, what you need to know to become more fully human, what the soul is trying to tell you.  You don't "transcend" the voice of Persephone, you mature and change, you keep on moving.

This is Persephone's time of Balance, of Equinox, Her Integral being.  Which moving away from psychological jargon simply means realizing that we must, somehow, say "yes" to all of it, and keep moving, keep dancing the light and shadow dance.  Persephone will dance with us, will educate, if one can only accept this Moving Point of Balance.   

We are all, in the final analysis, Wanderers.

"Pesephone II" 2016
"Persephone the Wanderer" 
by Louise Glück,

In the first version, Persephone
is taken from her mother
and the goddess of the earth
punishes the earth—this is
consistent with what we know of human behavior,

that human beings take profound satisfaction
in doing harm, particularly
unconscious harm:

we may call this
negative creation.

I am not certain I will
keep this word: is earth
“home” to Persephone? Is she at home, conceivably,
in the bed of the god? Is she
at home nowhere? Is she
a born wanderer, in other words
an existential
replica of her own mother, less
hamstrung by ideas of causality?

You are allowed to like
no one, you know. The characters
are not people.
They are aspects of a dilemma or conflict.

Three parts: just as the soul is divided,
ego, superego, id. Likewise

the three levels of the known world,
a kind of diagram that separates
heaven from earth from hell.

You must ask yourself:
where is it snowing?

White of forgetfulness,
of desecration—

It is snowing on earth; the cold wind says

Persephone is having sex in hell.
Unlike the rest of us, she doesn’t know
what winter is, only that
she is what causes it.

She is lying in the bed of Hades.
What is in her mind?
Is she afraid? Has something
blotted out the idea
of mind?

She does know the earth
is run by mothers, this much
is certain. She also knows
she is not what is called
a girl any longer. Regarding
incarceration, she believes

she has been a prisoner since she has been a daughter.

The terrible reunions in store for her
will take up the rest of her life.
When the passion for expiation
is chronic, fierce, you do not choose
the way you live. You do not live;
you are not allowed to die.

You drift between earth and death
which seem, finally,
strangely alike. Scholars tell us

that there is no point in knowing what you want
when the forces contending over you
could kill you.

White of forgetfulness,
white of safety—

They say
there is a rift in the human soul
which was not constructed to belong
entirely to life. Earth

asks us to deny this rift, a threat
disguised as suggestion—
as we have seen
in the tale of Persephone
which should be read

as an argument between the mother and the lover—
the daughter is just meat.

When death confronts her, she has never seen
the meadow without the daisies.
Suddenly she is no longer
singing her maidenly songs
about her mother’s
beauty and fecundity. Where
the rift is, the break is.

Song of the earth,
song of the mythic vision of eternal life—

My soul
shattered with the strain
of trying to belong to earth—

What will you do,
when it is your turn in the field with the god?

“Persephone the Wanderer” from Averno by Louise Glück.
Copyright © 2006 by Louise Glück.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Brushwood 2016 by Theresa Guzman

You that create the diversity of the forms:

Open to my words
You that divide it and multiply it

Hear my sounds

Ancient associates and fellow wanderers
You that move the heart in fur and scale

I join with you

You that sing bright and subtle
Making shapes 

that my throat cannot tell

You that harden the horn
And make quick the eye
You that run the fast fox 
and the zigzag fly

You sizeless makers of the mole
And of the whale

aid me and I will aid you

I make a blood pact with you

You that lift the blossom
and the green branch
You who make symmetries more true

Who dance in slower time
Who watch the patterns

You rough coated
Who eat water
Who stretch deep and high
With your green blood
My red blood 
let it be mingled

Aid me and I will aid you

I call upon you
You who are unconfined
Who have no shape
Who are not seen
But only in your action
I will call upon you

You who have no depth
But choose direction
Who bring what is willed
That you blow love

upon the summers of my loved ones
That you blow summers

 upon those loves of my love

Aid me and I will aid you

I make a pact with you

You who are the liquid

Of the waters
And the spark of the flame:
I call upon you

You who make fertile the soft earth
And guard the growth of the growing things
I make peace with you

You who are the blueness of the blue sky
And the wrath of the storm
I take the cup with you

Earth shakers
And with you
the sharp and the hollow hills
I make reverence to you

Round wakefulness 

We call the Earth
I make wide eyes to you

You who are awake

Every created thing

both solid and sleepy
Or airy light,

I weave colors 'round you

You who will come with me

I will consider it Beauty
I will consider it

Beauty, beauty

Published by  WARLOCK MUSIC, LTD.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sophia Speaks - the Veil

Back in 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq, I directed a performance at the Black Box Theatre in Oakland, California.  Included in that event was a ritual dedicated to Hagia Sophia, the Feminine Face of God in early Christianity,  to pray for the arising of the Great Mother, to pray for Peace.

Our event closed with a meditation in the dark, and when the lights came on they beheld Ann Waters aspecting the Goddess Sophia, the light rising from chaos and darkness.  I shall never forget the power of that.

And also the power of this extraordinary music/poem by the Bay Area group The Veil.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

"The Way of the Mask" - Workshops for 2016 and 2017

With a new studio on my property, I'm so happy to be able to offer more intensive workshops this winter and fall in beautiful Tucson (yes, we do have the best winters just about anywhere).  Depending on availability, participants can also stay here as well, affording workshop members  a chance to share meals and informal discussions as well as the class activities.  

 3 Day Mask Arts Intensive Workshop 
                        for women

November 11 - 13, 2016   and 
April  7 - 9,  2017  

Limited Housing**  is available  for $50.00 extra.  

Introduction and check in begins Friday evening,  and Workshop ends at Noon  with a potluck lunch on Sunday.  In this workshop we'll  draw on our mythic imaginations as we explore ways to invoke the Goddess within through the creation of durable theatrical masks. We will also discuss ways to use these  masks for storytelling, ritual, community performance and personal exploration.  You take home the means to continue the work, alone or with your community.  

 To learn more, please visit:  the Masks of the Goddess Project.

 Note: There is a $20 fee for supplies. Bring  a story about a Goddess archetype you wish to explore.   

 "The masks of the goddess workshop was a pivotal event in my life.....I have been feeling
 the Goddesses waking up ever since.  They  were there, definitely there."

Lorraine Hogan, Kripalu Participant 

To read more about making  masks: 

**As available.


3 Day Mask Arts Intensive Workshop
for Men and Women

November 4 - 6, 2016  and
April 14 - 16, 2017

Limited  Housing**  is available  for $50.00 extra

Introduction and check in begins Friday evening,   and Workshop ends at Noon with a potluck lunch on Sunday.  Although masks can be experienced as art objects,  by their very nature they are active rather than passive.  They are  "vessels for our stories".   We'll draw on our “mythic imaginations” as we explore the creation  of  durable theatrical masks.  Is there a Persona  that awaits a face, a story, a voice?  Creating a mask is a way to open the conversation.   We'll learn:

·         To sculpt masks from our faces,  creating durable theatrical masks.
·         Explore personally significant stories of  mythic Archetypes.
·         Discuss approaches to working with masks  for  performance, community,  and   
           educational purposes.

Note: There is a $20 fee for supplies.   Bring  a story, and art materials that you might wish to include in a mask. 

 To read more about making masks:

                    "Myth comes alive as it enters the cauldron of evolution,
  drawing energy  from the storytellers who shape it." 

Elizabeth Fuller,  The Independent Eye Theatre ​

**As available.​​

*A $100.00 deposit is required for workshops, which can be purchased via Visa, Mastercharge, Paypal, check or money order.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Heyoka Masks......

I have always been fascinated with the concept of the "Sacred Clown".  Among the Lakota they were called Heyokas, clown priests.  Sacred clowns are found among the Pueblo peoples as well, for example the black and white striped clowns of the Zuni, or the Hopi.  It's said that even at the most serious and important of rituals, the Clowns, and only the Clowns, may do whatever the spirit moves them to do, which can include making rude noises, pinching bottoms, or appearing anything but reverent.  

When I organized ritual events and ritual theatre, along with calling the quarters and making a Sacred Entranceway, I always had Sacred Clowns.  And just like the Heyokas, they could do what they wished in the course of the otherwise scripted ritual.  Because they are those liminal ones, the ones that circle the periphery, they are possessed by that  aspect of life that is mutable and changing, and thus is beyond the pairs of opposites.  Heyoka is the chaos from which order and form come, and to which they can and will ultimately return,  Perhaps the only appropriate expression is humor.  

Heyoka is the hilarious  laughter beyond the seemingly serious procession of life............

"Sometimes we encounter Heyokah the Trickster Teacher on the Sacred Path. This contrary clown is a Spiritual Counselor to us humans who teaches us through laughter and opposites. Heyokah will make you wonder if what you are doing or saying is actually correct, which will then make you think and figure it out for yourself. When the Trickster Teacher gets you to look at the beliefs you use as a crutch on your own, you might find the crutch breaks and you land on the ground on your rear end. Heyokah has taught you a lesson! If the opposite happens and the crutch stands firm and holds you up, you have gained a Knowing System for your life.

Many tribal traditions have Trickster Teachers who dress in costume for Ceremony and wear regular clothing in their daily life. The Plains Indians called their Divine Trickster, Heyokah. The Hopi and Pueblo called him Koshario. Their jokes do not stop, however as they are teachers. All Heyokahs operate through opposites. These trickster teachers impart their wisdom to seekers in the exact opposite of how we might try to find the answers ourselves. The laughter that results is usually a lesson for the entire community.

Heyokah is known for creating lessons at the expense of another’s seriousness. This will break the bonds that destroy balance in our lives. The Trickster Teacher will not create a lesson of laughter that would harm the soul of the seeker. He will see this insecurity and turn to laughter toward himself, knowing the seeker will still get the message.  In Native traditions no one would have found offense if this Spiritual Counselor used them for a lesson.  In fact, most would have felt quite honored to have Heyokah play a trick on them. Anyone seeing the prank or talking about it later would also grow from the lesson."

Beverly Two Feathers

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Interviews with Transformative Artists - Rafael Ortiz

This morning, out of the blue, I received a call from someone who wanted to know if I knew Rafael Ortiz.  I haven't seen Rafael since 1992, but his name always evokes respect for his genius and vision.  The caller wanted to know if some drawing by Rafael was "worth anything", and I found his mindless greed and lack of any effort to understand what Rafael was disturbing that I hung up on him.  I am sorry that something from his hands and imagination are in the hands of such a person.   But there is a synchronicity in here, ravelled threads of a long ago coming forward for weaving, for my attention.  There is, I believe, a buried treasure here, and perhaps I have a responsibility to it still.  

"The Fifth Chakra" by Beth Ames Swartz from "A Moving Point of Balance"

Last week I received a call from my friend Vernita, who I also haven't seen in many years, who used to be the Director of Artist's Talk on Art in Soho in the 90's, and in 1990 she helped me organize a talk on Art and Spirituality with ATOA that featured Rafael Ortiz, Beth Ames Swartz, and Alex and Allyson Grey.  
Alex Grey "Universal Mind Lattice"

Our phone call was mostly about the profound need to revive that Conversation about art and spirituality in the face of an overwhelmingly mercantile art world.  And hanging up I thought about the passion I had to pursue my book project (SEEING IN A SACRED MANNER:  Conversations with Transformative Artists) back in the late eighties, and how supported I actually felt in my quest, often in quite miraculous ways.  (But that is another story (a pretty good one, actually, of what can happen when you give yourself up to a  worthy project...........)

It was my privilege, after finishing graduate school in 1987, to share conversations about art, spirituality, and cultural transformation with some extraordinary artists. Travelling across the country to meet  them in New York City, in Arkansas, or in California I realize now I was also trying to understand my own reasons for making art.  The art world I had just come from seemed soul-less to me, full of abstractions that seemed to spiral into mind-boggling incomprehension, and often very cynical.  I wanted to find those who where driven - inspired - by a passion and a vision that went beyond the intellect, beyond "cultural construct", and certainly beyond money.  

"Your work is about your life" painter Kathleen Holder told me,"and if you are fortunate enough to do great work, it not only is about your life but it transcends your life and touches many others. "  

"Sympathetic Magic" Kathleen Holder
Although I was never able to publish these interviews these artists so graciously granted me in a book, several were published in a few small periodicals. I have never felt right about them simply disappearing into my files, and perhaps this strange synchronicity of hearing from Vernita, and then that man wanting to know "what it's worth".....means it's time to share them again as I may. 

So I may post some of them in upcoming posts, and I think I will make a point of posting them (I have permissions) on my pages at Academia.Edu.  Although these interviews took place some 27 years ago, these voices are  potent and universal.  Perhaps they can help other young artists on their paths, just as they so graciously helped me.

They are Worth a great deal.  

"Hands"  Lorraine Capparell

" Within the participatory traditions in art, there is no passive audience. That's a recent idea, which is part of the compromise, the tears and breaks from arts original intentions. The ancient art process was a transformative process; it wasn't a show, it wasn't entertainment.  Art becomes entertainment within a culture that objectifies. If one can enjoy that transformative experience, and certainly in early cultures it was enjoyed, you could perhaps say it was "entertaining". When you say entertainment now, what is meant is that it doesn't change you in any way, what it does is to help you to forget.
We need to see ourselves again as part of a brilliant, shimmering web of life. An artist at some point has to face that issue. Is the art connecting us and others in some way, or is the art disconnecting ourselves and others? I think it's not enough to just realign ourselves personally either - our art should also do that for others, and further, it must happen outside of the abstract. It must be a process that in its form and content joins us with the life force in ourselves, and in others.  And that's not going to be easy. But I do believe that secrets and solutions exist in native cultures of the world. They spent thousands of years uncovering those possibilities, and enough has survived through different traditions for artists to find more than enough inspiration"
Rafael Ortiz



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hymn to Inanna by D'vorah

Inanna by John Singer Sargent 

She of all knowing, dark wisdom....She of the deep abyss, snake’s descent, owl’s knowing...woman of the dark, the light:  We praise you, we stand in awe marveling at the myriad surprises you hold in store for us.  Your power, your mystery.

Lilith-Ishtar-Shekhinah, we worship you, in all your aspects; we sing your name.

Walk with us as we yearn to understand you... Never let us forget your presence in, around and through us, as we seek to proclaim and praise you in every corner of the world, in your many guises, by every name.

Walk with us as we love you, when we are angered by you, when we fail to comprehend you and when we renew our resolve to serve...

Be patient with us as we must be with ourselves, and each other... holding your presence even when we doubt or despair. Let us continue to walk in this new millennium as healers, casting new roles for ourselves and others, weaving new threads of oneness and wonder Ishtar-Lilith-Shekhinah, keeper of the mystery:

Be with us through ecstasy and harmony through death and destruction

And You, Inanna, who were given the setting up of lamentations, the care of children, the rejoicing of the heart, the giving of judgments,  the stirring of sexuality, the making of decisions.

In the eye of this wisdom, rising forth from the power of your being, your foresight, your is it we ever got lost, taken over, subsumed?

How did we ever become convinced we were not worthy to serve you, that you were the god/not the goddess? How did you, or we, allow ourselves to be 

and burned?

As we build a new world, allow us always to remember our inner strengths, to come from a place of understanding and compassion.  Yet let us not be swayed from our goals, and never let our kindness become weakness.  Help us to remember the lessons of our strongest foremothers and so defend ourselves when necessary, without apology,

speak for what we believe in,
take unpopular action, 
take what is rightfully ours with or without “permission.”

Work with us, inspire us, protect us as we weave your work - our work.

Help us, sweet dark lady of the night, holy winged figure of the light—rageful, wise judge, warmest heart, soulful visionary... highest priestess of the Temples to whom every knee must bend and every tongue give homage.

It is your word we write now upon the doorpost of our house and upon our gates…
Your word, acts, images and thoughts we share, rage at, weep with and learn from.
For It is You who makes rise our greatest laughter and love, happiness and peace, passion, tenderness and compassion.

You who sees and gives us our greatest anger and storm, temper and venom, jealousy and vengefulness; You from whom and with whom we learn to combine these things in the best ways possible...  as we embody and become You, in Our divine selves.

Sweet, dark Goddess/es of the earth and sky, river and mountain, night and day, Heaven and  Hell.

We seek to embody your passion, your wisdom, your strength.

Be with us now.

D’vorah bat Rita  2008
           (Adapted from a liturgy written in 1999)