Friday, September 21, 2018

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.    

This is true of nature, this is true of biological life, and it's true of our psyches as well.  When Persephone sings at the balance points of the year, at the crossroads, I believe in listening to Her song,  whether it occurs in the bright lit flowering fields, or is an echo issuing 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.  I myself have felt that emotional frailty, anxiety, the "taste of winter" (even in Arizona!) that this time of planetary change brings.   I continue to attempt to allow those feelings to educate me by the process of their arising.   You try to discover the language and content of all the songs the Persephone sings,  what the soul is trying to tell you.  You don't "transcend" the voice of Persephone, you mature and change, you keep on moving, as She does.

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.

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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Our Lady of the Desert Spring

 Our Lady of the Desert Spring,
 Nuestra Señora de las Aguas :

We pray you hear our prayers, oh Lady of the Desert Spring.
Our Lady of the dry Arroyo, come to us, hear our prayers. 
Mother of the cottonwoods, the palos verdes, refuge for all, 
 bless all those who suffer thirst.   Spread your mantle of green
 and turquoise, your shining artery of life, upon  the red earth of our lives."

Rezamos que escuche nuestras plegarias, Señora de las Aguas.
Nuestra Señora del Arroyo Seco,  ven a escuchar nuestra rogativa. 
Madre de los álamos, los palos verdes, refugio de todos,  bendice
 los que padecemos de sed.  Despliegue sobre esta tierra roja de
 nuestra existencia tu manto de verde y turquesa, tu radiante arteria de la vida.
.......Ann Waters, from "The Awakening:  Our Changing Earth" (2013)

I am delighted to have this Icon I made this summer  in Raices Taller Gallery here in Tucson, for their current show (see below).  The opening was fantastic!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

On the Beach: Oct. 11th, 2001

On the Beach

Oct. 11th, 2001

One month after the world ended.
The little island world we, the privileged few,
could pretend was safe, forever, and righteous.
The fallen towers, the fiery messengers
of unfathomable destruction yet to come.

Tourists walk here, barefoot on the beach.
They came here, I imagine, as I have
to remember, not to forget.
To remember a red dog and a yellow-haired child
as they enter the water, their cries of goodly shock
and honest forevers cold, blue, and always new.

A white heron stands 
balanced in perfect equanimity upon one leg.
Wave forms overlay my feet, 
transparent hieroglyphs of infinity:

    Her way of speaking
    Her manifest, unspoken words.

A brown man lies spread eagled on the cliff.
He is cast between sky and sea and land,
sand sunk, leaf-molten, blackberry thorn, the Green.
Toes, fingers, flesh reaching into the green redeeming Earth.
He is rooting himself. He is taking himself back.

    I lie down in grateful imitation,

a stranger in companionable human proximity,
sharing this rite of re-membering.

I see a girl, walking on this very beach.
Yesterday, and 30 years ago
(how did I get here from there?)

She is sourcing,
sourcing the one who lives here,
a river Goddess with no name.

She has made a mermaid offering
of sand and stick and seaweed.

I can hear her sand prayers sound here still,

   wave resonant, 
   purified by fire and time,
   memory rooted, 
   sky seeded, they ring true still,

   here, in Gaia.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Remembering Abby Willowroot, Artist of the Goddess


                           "Art speaks the soul of its culture".......Abby Willowroot

I was very saddened to learn of the recent death of Abby Willowroot.  Abby was an extraordinary and prolific artist whose many designs, in particular her "Spiral Goddess" became icons throughout the Neo-Pagan world, so much so that many are generic today, and few know they originated with Abby Willowroot and her pioneering exploration of ancient symbols.  

Abby was a philosopher and organizer as well as an artist, and the founder of an international project called The Goddess 2000 Project.  Hundreds of women and men around not only the U.S. but around the world created art, poetry, and rituals dedicated to "the Goddess with 10,000 names"  to be shared as we approached the year 2000, the new Millenium.  I myself organized  a Spiral Dance ritual, with the help of 20 Collaborators, which was presented at the Unitarian Church here in Tucson in October of 2000, as my contribution to the Goddess 2000 Project.

"Weaving" from The Spiral Dance, Unitarian Church,
 Oct. 27, 2000, as part of the Goddess 2000 Project.
And not least, Abby was my friend. I remember we met at Harbin Hot Springs, during one of the festivals there.  We both smoked, and so we found ourselves in the small smoking area again and again, and of course conversations ensued.  In 2000 we went to Bali, and had the adventure of a lifetime in that beautiful island.  I'm glad that I was able to talk Abby into going, and that is how and where I'll best remember her.

Goodbye Abby. I know you missed your husband Tom - surely he is there with you now.  And  I know you are dancing among the Goddesses you served so faithfully, the Goddesses your art and life brought to so many of us.  Thank you seems too small a word.

Me, Nyoman, and Abby in Ubud, Bali in 2000.

What is the Goddess 2000 Project?

With the motto "A Goddess on Every Block!" The Goddess 2000 Project is "A Grass-roots Goddess Art Project."  All over the world pagan groups, circles, and solitary folks are making Goddess statues, painting Goddess images, and building labyrinths and other projects in preparation for the new Millenia. The next thousand years belong to the Goddess, lets make Her feel Welcome by putting a Goddess image on every block in America, and thousands more around the world!

Some projects that are being made as part of the Goddess 2000 Project include: Statues made in wood, plaster, concrete, clay, paper-mache, textiles and metal. Paintings of all kinds of paint. Some people are making Goddess Collages, Quilts, Banners Murals, and Labyrinths. Smaller pieces are also being made by many folks. Ideas for projects are endless.  Many of the Goddess pieces are for public display and many are being displayed only in people's homes and in their gardens.
Anyone can make Goddess Art, you don't need to be an artist. If you love the Goddess, you will honor Her with whatever you make.

......Abby Willowroot

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Old Masks, New Ceramics

The word Personality is derived from the Latin ‘persona ‘, or ‘mask‘.  In ancient Greece players in the sacred Mystery plays always wore masks.  We can imagine these actors, in the course of the play-cycle which formed the Mystery celebrations, assuming first one mask and then another as roles changed with the play being performed. Thus we might conceive of the immortal soul in the metaphor of life’s Mysteries - assuming first one personality, persona, or mask, then another as it plays its allotted part in the successive Mystery plays which form the changing cycle of spiritual experience."
 Dion Fortune, Metaphysician (1935)

In the course of working this summer, I had many "leftovers", pieces that didn't work or were broken.  Rather than discard them, I saw them as "Shards" as well.  Lying among the shards they were a kind of personal archeology, "artifacts" used and discarded in the course of a lifetime.  So these pieces came from them.  It seemed surprisingly appropriate especially for someone who has had a career as a mask maker...........

We all wear so many masks in the course of a lifetime.  Where, indeed, is "the I", the famous Buddhist question.  It is a profound spiritual metaphor as well - the soul, moving through personalities, experience, lifetimes.  Ultimately, we are not the masks, the "personae" we wear, we are the Journey.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Magician

"The Magician stands with his arm raised in the classic gesture of inspired invocation.  He draws the white light of universal energy (the Above) through his  skilled hand, his will, and then through his heart, to manifest on the physical plane (the Below).  As his creative energies manifest, they are broken into the "rainbow" components of the physical world in all of it’s lovely diversity.

The Mage is an artist in every sense of the word, for his magic arises from a skilled and disciplined understanding of the tools he has to work with, his intention, and a  connection to the infinite realm from which all manifestations originate.  The Magician card urges you to remember that you are the artist - the  Mage - of your life, and now is exactly the time to manifest what you desire.  There are many talents and resources at your hand, and you may "invoke" your potential now through wise use of will, vision and inspiration."

I seem to be going through a process this summer.  A lot keeps bubbling up like lava from some fiery underground reserve, some primal source that urges me to create some new lands, and possibly level a few landscapes existing in the process!  So today I consulted my very own "Oracle", the Rainbow Bridge Oracle deck, which I finished some 10 years ago and mostly have ignored ever since.  What came up was "Meloncholy - the lessons of depression".  The solution?  "The Magician".  Wow.  Never let it be said we don't receive guidance when we ask for it!  WE are indeed the Magicians and Artists of our lives.

To view the entire deck:  THE RAINBOW BRIDGE ORACLE

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Poem for Some Friends on Growing Old (by May Sarton)

For ten years I have been rooted in these hills, 

The changing light on landlocked lakes,
For ten years have called a mountain, friend, 
Have been nourished by plants, still waters, 
Trees in their seasons,
Have fought in this quiet place 
For my self.

I can tell you that first winter 
I heard the trees groan.
I heard the fierce lament 
As if they were on the rack under the wind.
I too have groaned here, 
Wept the wild winter tears.
I can tell you that solitude
Is not all exaltation, inner peace
Where the soul breathes and work can be done.
Solitude exposes the nerve, 
Raises the ghosts. 
The past, never at rest, flows through it. 

Who wakes in a house alone 
Wakes to moments of panic.
Who wakes in a house alone 
Wakes to inertia sometimes, 
To fits of weeping for no reason. 
Solitude swells the inner space
Like a balloon.
We are wafted hither and thither
On the air currents. 
How to land it?

I worked out anguish in a garden. 
Without the flowers, 
The shadow of trees on snow, their punctuation, 
I might not have survived. 
I came here to create a world 
As strong, renewable, fertile
as the world of nature all around me—
Learned to clear myself as I have cleared the pasture,
Learned to wait,
Learned that change is always in the making
(Inner and outer) if one can be patient,
Learned to trust myself.

The house is receptacle of a hundred currents.

Letters pour in, 
Rumor of the human ocean, never at rest,
Never still.... 
Sometimes it deafens and numbs me.

I did not come here for society
In these years when every meeting is collision,
The impact huge, 
The reverberations slow to die down.
Yet what I have done here
I have not done alone,
Inhabited by a rich past of lives, 
Inhabited also by the great dead, 
By music, poetry—
Yeats, Valery stalk through this house.
No day passes without a visitation—
Rilke, Mozart.
I am always a lover here,
Seized and shaken by love. 

Lovers and friends 
I come to you starved 
For all you have to give,
Nourished by the food of solitude,
A good instrument for all you have to tell me,
For all I have to tell you.
We talk of first and last things,
Listen to music together,
Climb the long hill to the cemetery
In autumn, 
Take another road in spring
Toward newborn lambs,

No one comes to this house 
Who is not changed.
I meet no one here who does not change me.

How rich and long the hours become, 
How brief the years, 
In this house of gathering, 
This life about to enter its seventh decade.

I live like a baby 
Who bursts into laughter
As a sunbeam on the wall,
Or like a very old woman 
Entranced by the prick of stars
Through the leaves. 

And now, as the fruit gathers 
All the riches of summer
Into its compact world, 
I feel richer than ever before,
And breathe a larger air.

I am not ready to die, 
But I am learning to trust death 
As 1 have trusted life. 
I am moving 
Toward a new freedom
Born of detachment, 
And a sweeter grace—
Learning to let go. 

I am not ready to die,
But as I approach 
I turn my face toward the sea.
I shall go where tides replace time, 
Where my world will open to a far horizon.

Over the floating, never-still flux and change.
I shall go with the changes,
I shall look far out over golden grasses
And blue waters.... 

There are no farewells. 

"Gestalt at Sixty" by May Sarton
 from Selected Poems of May Sarton