Sunday, April 23, 2017

James Lovelock and Gaia Theory

James Lovelock, with biologist Lynn Margulis, developed the Gaia Hypothesis, which is now  Gaia Theory .  After the massive outpouring of support for the sciences and climate change research from yesterday's Earth Day marches around the U.S. and in Washington, D.C., I felt like honoring their work.  

They offered a new, and yet very ancient, one might say "original" paradigm to the scientific community, and to the world.  Gaia theory is widely accepted by the Earth Sciences community, and certainly  Gaia  captured the imagination and hearts of many others  in my generation -  to artists, mythologists, philosophers and theologians.  Lovelock proposed that the Earth is a living being, self-regulating, interdependant in all its systems, responsive to change.  And we participate in that organism's evolution.  

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day!

Photo courtesy J.J. Idarius

We have a beautiful mother
Her hills
are buffaloes
Her buffaloes

We have a beautiful mother
Her oceans
are wombs
Her wombs

We have a beautiful mother
Her teeth
the white stones
at the edge
of the water
the summer
her plentiful

We have a beautiful mother
Her green lap
Her brown embrace

Her blue body
everything we know.

Alice Walker

"Speak to the Earth, and it shall teach thee"



Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Silbury Moment with the Bard............

                                                            Photo by John Haxby

I re-found this delightful Telling from Celtic Mythology by the great Bard, Robin Williamson, with images of Silbury Hill, which I once Circled..... and just had to share it again.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Shadow Effect - reflections

 "Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."
   Carl Jung

"You must go into the dark in order to bring forth your light. When we suppress any feeling or impulse, we are also suppressing its polar opposite. If we deny our ugliness, we lessen our beauty. If we deny our fear, we minimize our courage. If we deny our greed, we also reduce our generosity. Our full magnitude is more than most of us can ever imagine.”   

  Debbie Ford

I was remembering "The Shadow Effect"  (see trailer  below about the movie), which was mostly narrated by, and based on, the work of psychologist Debbie Ford, who wrote "The Dark Side of the Light Chasers", a book I've liked since I discovered it in the late 90's.  I enjoyed the movie, particularly the appearances of Deepak Chopra and James Van PraaghI admire Debbie Ford's work, although I have to confess, all that hugging in the workshops would no doubt drive me up a wall.  I'm just not a hugger.  And sometimes I get annoyed by the "do these exercises, make this realization, and you'll fulfill your destiny and be all you can be" idea..........I don't really believe in destiny any more, and trying to "be all you can be" can have some serious setbacks, like exhaustion, arrogance, and self-delusion. Which is "shadow", now that I think about it.   Sometimes the prize is not about getting richer, more love, or a better job, not about "getting" anything - it's about deepening our souls, and in the end, that's all that matters.  But I'm a crank sometimes, and what this movie has to say is  nevertheless vital, pragmatically, personally, and collectively, because it's about the essence of integral consciousness.

"The well of your joy is as deep as the well of your sorrow" 

 Kalil Gibran

 I've often written about the importance of the The Dark Goddess, and the importance of the Dark Goddess to all of planetary life now.  In other words, it's urgent that we develop true compassion for ourselves, and thus, each other, holistic compassion.    As individuals, the scales of Maat tip when too much of ourselves are unconscious, hidden away in the so-called "shadow" aspects of psyche. That's the true meaning of balance.
 Perhaps I should begin with one of my own "shadow" aspects, the "victim" archetype. I felt like sharing the following quote from Carolyn Myss because I agree with some (not all)  of her observations about what she called "woundology".
"One day, in passing, I introduced a friend of mine to two gentlemen I was talking with.  Within two minutes, my friend managed to let these men know that she was an incest survivor. Her admission had nothing whatsoever to do with the conversation we'd been having, and what I realized was that she was using her wounds as leverage. She had defined herself by a negative experience.  In workshops and in daily life I saw that, rather than working to get beyond their wounds, people were using them as social currency.  They were confusing the therapeutic value of self-expression with permission to manipulate others or define themselves with their wounds. Who would want to leave that behind? Health never commands so much clout!"

Carolyn Myss,  Why People Don't Heal and How They Can
  I want to comment first, as she does, that actual victimization, and the psychic wounds that arise from these experiences, should not be negated, nor should the "blame the victim" phenomenon ever be allowed to occur  Further, a sense of victimhood can be learned from our parents, and can have roots that extend far back into family and cultural history.  Having said that, I also believe, from my own experience in therapy, that healing and self-understanding comes from being able to tell our painful stories, and by the telling we can integrate those stories into the larger story, developing compassion for ourselves and strength from those experiences.  We "fore-give", and move fore-ward.  The question of whether this role is a shadow issue arises when one lingers in the role of "victim" because it is familiar, and more importantly, it has great power because it  allows one to avoid responsibility for anything, and even provides a kind of social currency with others. To put it another way - you can't win with such  a "victim".

In the past few years,  entering my 60's and becoming a SAGA (no "crone" for me.  Saga is so much better, a Finnish derived word that means both "old woman"  and "long story") I've been noticing how much the "victim" or "wounded" archetype has big real estate in our world, as well as my own past persona.  It's a shadow aspect that is rarely spoken about, because, frankly, it has so much leverage and ambiguity attached to it.  I've also had to notice that there are individual interactions with people and groups that are about supporting each other's insecurities - and success, leadership, or individual accomplishments can be punishable by ostracism.  Believe me, I've been in circles with "victims" (myself included) that could deflate any natural leader or brilliant contributor in no time flat, and continually reduced the group to a comfy  "circle of mediocrity". 

Shadow Work is harsh.  I think a stubbornly internalized and unrealized  need to retain the role of  "victim" is on the same page as the unconscious need to dis-empower or denigrate the perceived gifts and strengths of others.  We cannot afford to genuinely victimize ourselves by clinging to the exhaustive role of  "victim" at a certain point in the quest for maturity - equally, we cannot afford to "make ourselves small" and hide our light so that others will "like" us, nor unconsciously coerce this tyranny on others so we won't feel "threatened".  Empowerment is like the symbol of the Tree of Life - as above, so below, as without, so within. The roots run deep, into dark waters.

 "He governs the flowing of all waters, and the ebbing, the courses of all rivers and the replenishment of springs, the distilling of all dews and rain in every land beneath the sky.  In the deep places, He gives thought to music great and terrible; and the echo of that music runs through all the veins of the world in sorrow and in joy; for if joyful is the fountain that rises in the sun, its springs are in the wells of sorrow unfathomed at the foundations of the Earth."   J.R.R. Tolkein, "The Silmarillion"

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Story Masks: Bast

 I've been wanting to share my archive of not just masks, but stories from the 20 plus years of the "Masks of the Goddess" Project.  Here is the story of Bast, from a 2000 performance directed by Diane Darling.   I think Bast was pleased............


Her paws whisper on temple floors
Her eyes 
luminous as the moon
Her ears pricked, 
alert to danger
Her whiskers sense currents from the unseen world.

Guardian of cats and women and children
Posessor of the uchat, the all-seeing eye
Bast wards against dangers in the spirit world -
Evil beings, enchantments, nameless things
Visible only to cats.

Daughter of Ra, the sun
Lady of the East, the Moon
Her eyes hold light in darkness 


Ra the mighty sun appears at dawn as a baby
At sunset he is dying, and when he dies
Darkness falls.

But Bast prowls the Nile, gazes into the setting sun
Holds his fire in her eyes
Shining in the dark, until Ra is born again.

Bast is Mistress of the science of relaxation,
Bast luxuriates in her sensuality and agility
She plays  with her children:
But leaps ferociously to their defense.

She is The One Who Tears, Little Lion -
Her sharp claws are the vengeance of Ra. 

Those who love Bast honor every cat.
Speak to them with respect
Lay gifts at their paws.
They call to her:

“Mau Bast! Mau Bast!”

Here is her blessing
Her secret wisdom is yours to know:

Sunny spots are best for dreaming.
Never waste a moonlit night,
and accept reality with supreme indifference

To the opinions of mere mortals.

by Mary Kay Landon with Diane Darlilne (2000)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Story Masks: "The Bone Goddess"

I love stories, discovering the stories that "wrap themselves around old bones" and wrap themselves around each of us.  With masks, the story is as much a part of the mask as the mask itself.  Masks are by their very nature "vessels for Story",  stories ever evolving in mysterious ways. If you let the mask "talk to you", much can be revealed.  While re-visiting the  Superstition mountains not so long ago, I remembered an encounter I had once with a persona of the land, a Numen of the mountain.  She spoke, I listened. Her name, I think, was the Bone Goddess.  


I was the first one.
I am this land,
and you no longer know me.

Ah well. So what. I've been here a long time.
A long time.

In the beginning, I was alone. 
Alone in this place.
Me, and Old Man Mountain, 
sleeping beneath the hot sun. 

Running when the sun was young,
waking up the People in my country: 
Ho, Hare, Snake, Mallow, Saguaro. 
There were more People then.
Some have gone.
We spoke together then, laughed more. 

These ones,  these new ones, 
they think they own the place.

Ha! They dig and dig, 
but they will not find me!

Listen, I will tell you something, 
since you have come here with your hands empty.

You are full of holes.

Sometimes a person stands up and just walks outside
and keeps on walking into the sun, and does not know why.
There comes a time when you have given so much of yourself away 
there is nothing left, when you have become transparent,
when you can be seen through to the bone, 
when your spirit has become woven into bad things.

That's when you find yourself in my country.

Walk into the desert
sit beneath a cholla and be silent.  
Notice the shapes of bald mountains. 
Old Man, sleeping. 
The shape of his shadows, 
the shape of the sky, the color of shadows. 
That is when you must find beauty 
in a cholla 
crack in the sun like an old bone. 

That's the time when you must collect your own shadows.

I may help you. 
Bring your offerings if you wish, 
I will give them to the Bird People, the Mouse People, the Lizard People,
walk in the shimmering heat, the silence, you may find me.

If I want you to.
I may tell you stories that wrap themselves around old bones, 
around quartz and turquoise, pottery shards, 
stories of Snake and Coyote 
and cracks in the land like a spider web, 
full of light.

And I may not.

I was the first one. This is my place.