Friday, June 15, 2018

"When the Word for World Was Mother"....... a re-discovered Performance from 1986


"Once upon a time the Word for World was Mother"

In 1986 I labored on a series of paintings, and an accompanying  electronic audio piece based upon re-mything the Biblical "Adam and Eve" story.  The performance was in collaboration with the wonderful Tucson artist Catherine Nash MFA.

 The painting, which was shown only once for that show, was big - 9 feet by 5 feet, and did not long survive being dragged around the country.  I still love it, and since I've been trying to archive my work these days, I confess that I still am sad that my "Gaia" painting had such a short existence.  I wanted to speak about the Tree of Life and our Mother Earth as being untended, degraded, forgotten.  The three figures represented the three aspects of the Goddess, and I wanted also to talk about how they were rising again in the world, confronting us all with the damage to our planet, our Mother Earth, and to the human spirit.

Only recently have I fully realized that these themes have never left me, occur over and over in, well, just about everything I do, one way or another.  I also recently realized that in pre-Biblical times, and also in early Judaism, the great Mother Goddess Asherah 2 was symbolized by a tree, and her devotees carried what was called an "Asherah pole", a piece of wood, to symbolize Her.  I think I have been a devotee of Asherah for a very long time, and perhaps this painting was my own attempt to speak for Her.

Much of my work then was inspired by Starhawk's Spiral Dance  and Charlene Spretnak's 

The Politics of Women's Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement.  1  Years later it was my privilege to work with Starhawk and the Reclaiming Collective, and I made the "Masks of the Goddess" Collection for the 20th Annual Spiral Dance in 1999.  And I was also privileged to meet Charlene Spretnak in the 90's. 


The Performance piece that accompanied this show, and others,   I also lost in the course of the years,  until just recently I found some old cassette tapes.  I had them turned into CD's, and then my friend Kathy Keller re-mastered them a bit for me.  And now I have them back!  So I'm delighted to share and archive "When the Word for World was Mother" on my Blog!  



 


2.

It is typical of establishment thinking to call, as Wikipedia does, an Asherah pole a "cult object" and Asherah a "fertility Goddess", even though this deity was regarded as a great deal more.   With an established patriarchal biblical backdrop,  it would not occur to the powers that be to call the biblical God "a tribal war god", or  the "Fall from the Garden of Eden" cult myth.  Paradigms are viewed through the language.   The  Wikipedia authors discussing Asherah  also mention (right away I might add)  that she is the "consort" of  a male god, establishing, mythologically speaking, her subordination.  When one considers that western religion has evolved to include a monotheistic male god who creates completely alone with no wife, has no mother, nor a daughter.........well, no surprise there.  The Mother archetype  is long gone in western theology.   What artists, scholars, spiritual leaders, archaeologists and mythologists were doing in 1982 to return the Divine Mother to the world............is more important than ever.   


Friday, June 8, 2018

Chubasco! Monsoon! Waiting for the Rains...........

"Our Lady of the Desert Spring", performance from "The Awakening",
 a Play directed and produced by Annie Waters in Willits, Californis (2013)

In Southern Arizona, June is like January in, say, Minnesota - we just try to endure and survive it.  It's mind boggling hot in June, and dry, the month when fires start, when plants and people wilt, when kids fry eggs on the pavement a few times before becoming bored with it all.  Shimmering heat waves seem to rise from the asphalt pavement of parking lots, and people hurry from one air conditioned space to the next.  


We, and the parched and thirsty land, await Monsoon Season.  Chubasco, the great magnificent storms that, if all is well, begin in mid July and last sometimes into September.   The storms that seem to roll in the afternoons, announcing themselves with thunder and lightening, the delightfully scary and loud darkening of the sky, and then Boom!  A blessed wall of water descends (if the Thunder Gods are so inclined). 


Suddenly the streets fill with water, a river runs down Broadway, cars stop, and a few of us just stand in the rain getting drenched by the blessing of it all.  And then, just as quickly as they rolled in, the Katchinas, Chubasco, the Numina of the waters.........blow away, off to some other part of the desert.  Then you stand amazed at the river your street has become, the sound of emergency vehicles and car horns are heard (because there are always fools who try to drive in the midst of the downpour), magnificent rainbows are seen over Tucson, the pungent scent of chapparell is ubiquitous, and all are refreshed.  

Within two hours, the streets are dry, and seemingly overnight, the desert has greened and flowered.   Most of our water for the coming year comes from the Monsoons - if these patterns of rain should change, life here would cease.  Water is life.   Yes, we love our Monsoons!  


Sunday, June 3, 2018

"The Human Heart"........a poem by Campbell McGrath

"The Heart Sutra" (2009)

THE HUMAN HEART

We construct it from tin and ambergris and clay,
ochre, graph paper,
a funnel of ghosts, whirlpool
in a downspout full of midsummer rain.

It is, for all its freedom and obstinacy,
an artifact of human agency
in its maverick intricacy,
its chaos reflected 
in earthly circumstance.

Its appetites mirrored by a hungry world
like the lights of the casino
in the coyote's eye. Old
as the odor of almonds in the hills around Solano,

filigreed and chancelled with flavor of blood oranges,
fashioned from moonlight,
yarn, nacre, cordite,
shaped and assembled valve by valve, flange by flange,

and finished with the carnal fire of interstellar dust.
We build the human heart
and lock it in its chest

and hope that what we have made can save us.


Campbell McGrath

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wendell Berry - A 2013 Interview


"Accept what comes from silence. Make the best you can of it. Of the little words that come out of the silence, like prayers prayed back to the one who prays.  Make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came."
“It’s mighty hard right now to think of anything that’s precious that isn’t endangered.  There are no sacred and un-sacred places -  there are only sacred and desecrated places. My belief is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts.” 
Wendell Berry

I was moved to share an interview with Wendell Berry, who has sometimes been called a
prophet of responsibility,” by another "prophet" I admire, journalist Bill Moyers.  Berry  lives and works on the Kentucky farm his family has tilled for 200 years, and is a true visionary and advocate  for the Earth.  He is a prolific writer, a poet, and an environmental  activist.  In 2011, he joined a four-day sit-in at the Kentucky governor’s office to protest mountaintop mining, a brutally destructive method of extracting coal. Moyers explores Berry’s views on civil disobedience as well as his strong opposition to agribusiness and massive industrial farms. They also discuss Berry’s support for sustainable farming and the local food movement.

“We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. 
And to take good care of it we have to know it.  And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.”

Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry: Poet and Prophet is a collaboration between Mannes Productions, Inc. and Schumann Media Center, Inc., headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism and media programs to advance the understanding of the critical issues of democracy for the benefit of the public.




Sunday, May 27, 2018

Barbara Gregson's Book on Community Theatre Arts


Theater Artists Play is a new book by my friend and colleague Barbara Gregson, and for all those interested in Masks, Performance arts, Mime, Storytelling, and perhaps most importantly, creating meaningful and beautiful theatre with all kinds of people and all kinds of communities - this is a book well worth owning.   Barbara has worked with many communities to create theatre, including schools, senior centers, prisons, handicapped - you name it - in the course of her 40 year career.  She has more knowledge and energy about how to help people "tell their stories" than anyone I've met.  Bravo Barbara, for publishing this seminal book!



Theater Artists Play    is  available on Amazon and also from her Website.  If you order from her directly she will send it back signed.  Gregson Theater brings mime, acting, masks, performance/mask making, set design, playwriting and other theater arts training to individuals and organizations of all types from schools to prisons and nursing homes. 

Theater Artists Play is an inspirational guide to creating  your own theater work. The book is for all would-be, used-to-be and wanna-be actors, mimes, storytellers, dancers, musicians, writers, and those who want to heal and tell our stories through the magic of theatre arts.  


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Poems of Love and Parting



I started writing this post on  May Day, Beltane, and here it is some 20 days later.   Spring is in full bloom,  the Maypole has been danced, birds are courting in my garden, my bee hive looks like it has produced a new Queen and is getting ready to swarm (I will keep a good distance for a while!), and Persephone is back from the underworld, pollinating everything she touches. The subject I wanted to think about was Love.

Recently I had my cards read by a reader I know from the Faires.  Right on top of the spread was The Lovers.  Which bothers me, because romantic  partnership, all that,  is something I kind of (gratefully) put away, forgot about, and moved on from years ago.  It has become an abstraction.   Thank the Goddess, I'm a happy cat lady these days and my romantic adventures and sorrows seem  over.  She said that I would meet a companion, which seems improbable, but life is full of surprises.

But "Love"........I found myself thinking about love again (the Greeks had some 8 different words for different forms of love). I found in my files many love poems I wrote over the years for men that I loved,  and I realized that I never shared a single one of them with any of the people I wrote them for.  It's too late now, but I can share them here.  Some of them  bring back the memories they wrap,  like a fragrance carried on the wind.   Reading these poems I am graced to realize a profound truth about love:  it is always a blessing, no matter how painful the partings were.

 The first poem, At Beltane,  I wrote after realizing that someone I felt passionate love for  would never  return my affections.   What do you do with love that you realize will not go forward into some future relationship? Make a Benediction, for the gift that it is and was.  In retrospect, I  wish I had given him the poem......

Yellow Sails I wrote when I was about 21.  I don't remember the name of the person I wrote it for any longer, age really does take the names out of things.....but memory is more than names.  We may lose the names  within the stories, but not the heart of them.  This was a boy/man as young as me, and he committed suicide.

In Praise of Waters I wrote after I was divorced, in the dismal wake of that experience so many others have also shared.  One of the  most painful, and yet transformative moments of a divorce  of any kind is the remembering of, not the other's wrong doing, but your own piece of the failure of love, and hopefully the opening of the heart and spiritual growth that brings.  Again, what do you do with that?  You let pain as well as joy in  until your heart breaks  where it must and should, and overflows with the Waters of the World that truly  heal and  mature us.

"The Rune of Ending"  I was trying to make some kind of blessing for myself and my  ex-husband on the occasion of our severing and divorce.  Not long after I left my home on the East Coast and literally rode off, with my cat, into the sunset to make a new life for myself in California.  A canyon that opened between us indeed, a canyon many have had to turn and walk away from, with painful regret, remorse, and finally with gratitude, to move forward into the future.  We have not been in contact in many years, but I do know that indeed he met another woman, and they are still together, and I believe they are well suited for each other.  And I am glad for them.

"I Stood Poised"........I don't know how to explain that poem, the last "love poem" I ever wrote.  The story is complex, but it began with a very strange experience.  I attended a talk, and walked into a room with some 30 people sitting in a circle.  In the back a man sat with a woman partner.  From the instant I saw him, there was no one else in the room - I had an enormous sense of deja vue, like I had been looking for him for a very long time.  Ironically, once the program started, it turned out he was the presenter.  We worked together for a while,  and although he never acknowledged  me other than as a professional,  I believe  there was a relationship between us that spanned lifetimes.  I think what I experienced as  "love" for him was a recognition of other realms of experience, realms that inexplicably opened sometimes for me in his presence, along with many synchronicities.  I cannot explain it here, and ultimately, I had to let all my questions go, and disconnect from the attempt to "understand".  It was a "Mystery" for me, and had something to with what people call Karma and fate.  

The last poem, "The Green Man", is about spring, the great Eros of nature within the Great Round of the year.  That Round includes human beings, as much as we seem to be bent on denying our place in the cycles of nature.  All hearts are renewed with the coming of the Green Man, the  Pagan  catalyst of new life.  He is always there, calling among the trees. 










At Beltane

Set me free now.........
You walked among my dreams, and
I will bless you as I go.

I pause at the door, key in hand
breathing in the last of you.
Pleasure that pierces heart and reason:
there are no words to frame this.

All I can give
is to give it back 

Back to World.
To the dreaming earth
the singing waters,
dancing flames,
to the open sky.

To the Circle at the center of all things.
World, here is my heart's unspoken delight:

I offer it back to you, 
to play among the leaves,
to light  my dappled path.
I open my hand
a scarlet bird 
flashes among the trees.

Fly free,
Bird of Paradise
fly into the morning
from the other side of forever.

(1989)



Yellow Sails   

Your fey mark 
glows on your forehead
a brand, a signature.

I have covered you 
with my tokens, with kisses I
embedded in you like tattoos, 
each one says

"remember me, remember me"

although I know you won't.
They will dissolve more quickly than memory
in whatever stream
bears you off.

I loved you from the shore, 
never really touching you
still, I regret nothing.

You were that which is worthy,
the pale light of another landscape
a castaway.

I will remember you
as you are now:
a boat, sailing into some brave distance
your yellow sails spread
glad and bright
on the horizon.

(1972)



In Praise of Waters

How are we turned,
again and again,
to find ourselves 
moving into the shadow land
where our best and finest intentions
drift out of true, and into the truly opposite?

     love becomes hate
     hope turns into despair
     inspiration hardens into dogma.

Perhaps
we must find our faces again
in dark waters.

Revealed among fallen leaves
our reflected sins
our cherished scars,
the dappled shapes of light and dark
that surface toward a whole.

There is something that wants us to open

that pours from the crevices
where we have broken

     Something that laughs 
     like a river in the morning.

1997


The Rune of Ending

What can be said now

when all words are spent
when the final word has been spoken?
We go now to our separate houses
relieved, at least.  A course has been named.

     Our lives are severed, our story is told.


We will each surely tell that  story, 

and strive and laugh
and talk late into the night,
and kiss lips salty with tears and with love

     but not with each other.


Here the tearing  ends,

here ends remorse and reprisal
here end dreams and plans.

We will not travel to Scotland, 

to walk among ancient monoliths 
in the white mists of our imaginations.
We will not walk again on a warm beach in Mexico,
toasting each other with margaritas.

That was once, it has to be enough.

I will not call you mine, 
you will not call me yours, 
and our cat is now your cat, 
our teapot is now my teapot.
I touch a potted plant, 
remembering its place
on our breakfast table.

     We divide the spoils,

      humane, courteous, fair

A canyon has opened between us.

we are each old enough
to know its name 
to view its depths without passion.
There is no bridge to cross this time.

Beloved,
I must now forgive myself, and you.
Cast my stone into this abyss
and bless the woman
who has not yet come
to stand by your side
and wave with grace 
from across this canyon's lip

     then turn

     and walk my own path.

1997


I Stood Poised Upon the Edge of Town
and Heard the Blue Stars Singing


Weary ideas rise and fall
into blessed exhaustion 
at last I touch that essence, 
that blood-red honey wine,
this strange distillation.

I entered a lucid dream, 
I found a lucid life.

Through my open window,
I see a black, far horizon
and I hear the blue stars singing 

memories of memories:
I wish I could tell you
what I have seen
in the homelands. 

Perhaps, in that country,
we are of each other at last
You take my hand, we walk together
in that green and splendid meadow.

I offer you a glass,
you raise your cup to mine.
Lips touch
a butterfly rises between us,
flies into the morning
from the other side 
of forever.

Through an open window,
I hear the stars singing.......
But I write this in a small, dark room 
here, and now,
wishing I could be young again,
wishing I could feel
something other than foolish.

I will always remember you
between, 
always between
regret and joy
hello and goodbye
delight and sorrow
truth and lies

that bright 
endarkened landscape

I saw you in.

(2002)
















The Green Man

I walked among the trees
I wore the mask of the deer.
Remember me,
try to remember.

     I am that laughing man 

     with eyes like leaves.

When you think that winter will never end
I will come.  You will feel my breath, 
warm at your neck.
I will rise in the grass,
a vine caressing your foot.

I am the blue eye of a crocus
opening in the snow.
I  am a trickle of water, a calling bird,
a shaft of light among the trees.

You will hear me singing
among the green groves of memory,
the shining leaves of tomorrow. 

      I'll come with daisies in my hands,

      we'll dance among the sycamores
      once more.






**My thanks again to Robin Williamson, the Bard indeed, for a few images
     I will never forget, including "eyes like leaves" and "songs of love and  
     parting".  The blood of the Green Man runs true in him. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Vibrant Voices: Women, Myth, and the Arts



I'm very pleased to be included in a new publication by ASWM (I just attended their Conference in Las Vegas in March).   For all those interested in Women's Spirituality, Goddess studies, Women and Mythology, and the work of Marija Gimbutas and her Colleagues, this books will be greatly appreciated and insightful! 
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We are proud to announce the publication of Volume 2 of our ASWM Proceedings. This beautiful full-color volume highlights the work of 33 artists, scholars, and poets.  Vibrant Voices:  Women, Myth, and the Arts. Carol Christ, author of Goddess and God in the World and A Serpentine Path," calls it: “A stunning testimony to the importance of the path-breaking, boundary-crossing work of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology.” And Miranda Shaw, author of Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism and Buddhist Goddesses of India, says “Vibrant Voices is an essential guide and touchstone for all future work on women and mythology.”

To celebrate, Vibrant Voices and Myths: Shattered and Restored are both 20% off until May 30th! Follow the links and use promo code ASWM at checkout, or give the folks at Goddess Ink a call and they can take the order over the phone! 505-225-2142.

Save the Date!

"Women Rising! New Visions for a Post-Patriarchal World" Women's Spirituality Conference, October 12-14, 2018. Sponsored by the Women's Spirituality Conference of California Institute for Integral Studies.

Our thanks to all of you who attended our 2018 Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Conference. Your scholarship, enthusiasm, and support for one another created a welcoming community for all. We will be back in 2020. 

Your ASWM Board of Directors 
Copyright © 2018 Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Association for the Study of Women and Mythology
P.O. Box 150018
Van Brunt Station
BrooklynNew York 11215