Saturday, January 23, 2021

Four Years Ago: Remembering the Women's March!


The March in Tucson - "Sophia", "Quon Yin", and "Spider Woman"

"6,000 years of patriarchy, and the best you can come up with is Donald Trump?"

Oakland, California - thanks to Annie Waters and Friends

And elsewhere:  New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and all around the World.

 (All photos below from  The New York Times)

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

"Joanna Hearing Music"

"Joanna Hearing Music" (2021)


My continuing efforts to "get my hand back" - I'm  pleased with this painting, as it has been in my mind for a long time.  I wanted to make a painting to honor my friend the Composer  Joanna Brouk, who passed away in 2017.  She used to tell me that she "heard the music" first, and often her composing happened afterwards.  She was one of the most extraordinary and brilliant people I have ever known, and hardly a day goes by that I don't miss her.  

Wherever you are, Joanna, I hope you like this painting.

"I still see shapes when I hear music
It was never my desire to be “out there”
It was just my joy to do it
I hear music still
I write every day.
The writing and the music come from the same place.
There’s a lot of stuff coming through still
Last night I was awoken by Goddess dreams
And that happens a lot."

Joanna Brouk 
as told to Douglas Mcgowan, August, 2015

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Silly Paintngs

I can think of nothing profound today to note in my Blog (well, there is so much profound going on all around me that, in truth, I am speechless) I'm just going to post a couple of my experiments.  I'm trying to find my way back to painting,  braving the blank faces of all these canvases I've collected.  Wow, I am rusty.  So I've just been making silly paintings, and not worrying about whether they are good or not or have any "meaning".  But here's a few I find I like anyway.  

It is good to find my friendship with paint again!  I have so many old paintings that have either been destroyed, lost, mostly given away, or sit in a dusty closet...............I think I shall review them and make their aquaintance again.

Painting is the most challenging art to me, and those who master it are truly remarkable people.  It's also very sad that art in general is not valued, and particularly now painting is a doomed end for most people who do it.   People only value paintings if they end up in some kind of museum or gallery that says "they have value", and reduce the aesthetic experience to a dollar sign instead of a window into another world................... I think, to honor my "lost children" my next post will be all the paintings I've done  and have a record of that were destroyed or lost.  

Friday, January 8, 2021

Reincarnation Reflections


An onion,  that's it. 

All those layers. 

Just when you think you can name yourself,

you discover new layers, you’re forming a new skin,

a new ring.  But there's a core.

And where does that core start?

 I've been reading Beyond Reincarnation by Joe Slate Ph.D.   I'm a fan of the work of Dr. Slate, a psychologist, teacher,  and researcher into the paranormal and spiritual, who developed group as well as self-hypnotic methodologies to explore consciousness that are highly effective.

In the 80's I was fascinated with reincarnation, underwent some life regressions through both group  and individual process, and I continue to  be fascinated, although I no longer pursue regression experiences.  I suspect  because, at 71, I'm close enough to having to summarize  and wrap up this incarnation to worry much about previous ones!  

I do believe that the research, and better, experience of "life regression" is so important, because it can experientially as well as conceptually  free people from the fear of death.  My experiences of past life regression, along with my many encounters with spirit communication and friendships shared with mediums I have known, as well as listening to those who have had near death experiences, has done so for me.  Negative religious propaganda, like "eternal punishment in hell",  or "suffering because you have bad karma", etc.  has created so very much personal and social trauma.  "Carne" is Latin  for "flesh" or "meat".  "Re-incarnate" - to become physical, carnal.   How extraordinary the hypnotic experience was,  to discover there are  "other people" within "you".  As the Buddhists say, in light of such visionary experience, "where is the 'I'?"

"Old Masks" (2018)

I think that the deepest, most timeless moments I remember  (outside of  the  intimacies and conflicts and  discourses of relationships that "grow a soul")....are those  visionary moments I have been privileged to experience, some spontaneous, most voluntary.   In the realms of visioning  many-layered possibilities and truths reveal themselves in ways that cannot always be understood in  a concrete, "in-carnated" sort of way.   Or even in a temporal cannot think of visioning as structured in a time progressive way, any more than one can understand a dream as occuring in "time".  There  is no time in dreams. 

In the 80's I belonged to a group that met weekly to explore spiritual exercises, meditation, and past lives.   I  also worked with a counselor  who did past life regression.  Our group used tapes from  Robert Monroe (the Monroe Institute)  tapes.  I read anything I could get my hands on, from Edgar Cayce to Roger Woolger*** and others.  The most meaningful discoveries I made on that subject  I have  continued to learn from, again as one learns from dreams - they  return throughout one's life.  Dreams exist outside of time or space as we understand it in our waking lives, and I believe  the structured experience of time  is much of what the   "in-carnate" experience is about.  Time is different in dis-embodied experience (a medium told me this is one of the reasons "earthbound spirits" hang around houses - they have no sense of time as we do).  

I find that my visioning experiences  remain for me as vivid and lucid in memory now as they were 30 years ago or longer.  They are footnotes on the unfolding story of my experience.   Their meaning unravels to reveal patterns as the story unwinds, the story being my life.

What made  reincarnation work striking for me  was how very mundane what surfaced usually was.  I have an excellent imagination as a trained artist, but alas, I never turned up a lifetime as Cleopatra, or a priestess of lost Atlantis, or a great Renaissance artist.  I would have enjoyed that!   What came up were scenes  of  impoverished lifetimes, short lifetimes, and lifetimes in which I was a servant, slave, or otherwise indentured to a group or individuals. As well as a  more primitive tribal lifetime, in which I had more status, possibly as a kind of shaman or a herbal healer.

untitled drawing (1975)

Which, when you think about it, is basically what most human lives are and have  been.   Only a few elite have ever had the freedom  to define their own lives and/or  the lives of others in powerful or creative ways, and if you were a woman or a minority of some kind, your chances were even less so.   Perhaps, I might add, consensus and egalitarianism was more so in tribal societies, or pre-patriarchal societies.  But certainly,  for what little we know of history and the advance of civilizations, for the commoner, life was pretty constrained, and it was always framed by hunger.

I remember very clearly, for example, a regression to a lifetime as, apparently, a young foot soldier. By the way, the regression process, for me, was always like having little glimpses into particular segments of a life, segments that had particular meaning.  In this case, the regressionist  asked that I look at my legs, and I saw that   I wore some kind of knee length tunic, had sandals and brown skinned, hairy legs.

When  I was asked to go to an important event, I found myself at a rough table in some kind of smoky,  dark room.  I was with a group of young men, all dark eyed and black haired.  We were drinking some kind of beer, and were joined by an older man with a beard (he actually could have only been about 30 or so, but I was in awe of him).  I was completely delighted that this person of authority would join us.  

Later in the regression, I saw myself killed by a spear at about the age of 17.  I hadn't done anything in that short life really,  and it says something that apparently the most exciting, treasured  thing that  ever happened  was I got to drink beer with a Captain.  Now that is a lot more convincing than had I seen myself on a throne surrounded with gold.  And there were other regressions along those lines with very little self-determination, and much hunger.  

I sound grim, I suppose, remembering this subject.  But actually I think the lives that surfaced in doing that work, and at a time when I was getting my Master's Degree, were important to the empowerment and sense of self I sought as I struggled to become a professional artist and teacher.  It was as if Divine Wisdom needed me to look at those particular lifetimes to heal them in this lifetime of so much more freedom, wealth and privilege.  Which brings one to the idea that we need to balance or heal traumas not only from this life, but from others as well, that there are  patterns that persist within the integral "story" of our souls.

"Form Is Empty" (2008) 

There was a very intense regressive process that occurred with a psychic we worked with as a group in Sedona.  She took each of us into a trance state separately, and in my case, I found myself a young girl of about 16 in what seemed to be  17th century France (it's interesting that I've always been in love with the French language, and pronunciation comes easily to me).  Essentially,  the girl was a peasant in a country estate, and was taken to the manor house by  a youngish aristocrat to become  his servant and occasional mistress, of whom he quickly tired.  She didn't have many choices about the situation, and was placid and resigned.  He was married, and the girl (me) became a nanny to his children.   There was a fire on the estate, the wife was killed, and the aristocrat and family, along with servants, apparently were moved to a city, where I continued my life as a servant in his home.

Eventually he found another wife, a young woman I felt great affection and sympathy for, as he was both negligent and abusive to her.  When carried to the time of death, I was apparently in my 50's, alone and exhausted in a grey room.  I felt "grey".  And interestingly, that sense of being "grey" is my first conscious memory from childhood, until one day I looked down and saw that I was wearing a dress, had little feet, and came to the rather adult realization that I was a little girl!  After that, the "grey" went away, and I became  involved with the experience of growing up.  I do not know if that "grey" pertained to that lifetime in France, I just remember it as a sadness or resignation that I identified as a color somehow.

I remember that the therapist called that an "unclaimed life", that I had cared for other people's husband, other people's children, lived in a house that was not mine, and  had no value to much of anyone other than as a servant.   She said it came up because I needed to understand what it would be like to have "my own" life now, to claim "my own" power, to make my own choices.  This was a theme in these sessions, and now, with the perspective of a long life, I see that it has been a theme running through the life of Lauren Raine.    And the lives of many others, of course.  

There were some surprising regressions that I still ponder over.  In 1987 I began working with crystals, and making crystal jewelry.  One regression that I did with our group (we would share our experiences after trancing) was entirely inexplicable, and yet, still strikes me as lovely.  I seemed to be an old person who was a kind of village shaman or herbalist.  I was so old, or perhaps so on the periphery of the tribe I lived with, that my sex didn't even matter, I couldn't tell if I was male or female in the visioning.  I seemed to live alone  in a hut of some kind that had lots of herbs and bones and rocks I had gathered.  

There was a woman who came to us, a teacher.  She was so different from us, racially and in other ways.  She was from a much more sophisticated culture.  She had fair skin, was tall with dark hair, and wore black, and I was completely in awe of her.  She taught me that everything I believed was wrong, was naive.  One of the things I saw her do was to sit before a big crystal, and placing her hands on it.  As she concentrated,  she "dematerialized" - she and the crystal just disappeared.  And then she came back!

"The Heart Sutra" (2008)

I still have that vision clearly in my mind, and the deep reverence "I" felt for this person.  The last part of that regression concerned me watching her die.  I was with a lot of people, and we were gathered around her, and strangely, I could hear what she was thinking.  Which must mean that I was not incarnate myself!  She was very frustrated to be dying!  She keep thinking that her work wasn't finished, while a multitude of souls were gathered around her in love and in respect.  

I still think on this priestess or whatever she was, and wonder.  Was she from Atlantis?  Was there an Atlantis?  Did people know how to "dematerialize" with crystals?  Was it all just from my imagination, since I was working with crystals at the time?  One of those elegant mysteries.

I do feel that when we seek "vision" through various practices, such as my own experiences of working with healers, psychics, or through guided meditations, or we have significant dreams, or have a spontaneous visionary experience (often brought on by trauma) they are providing information needed for the particular time they occur.  I had my "tribal shaman" meditation while being fascinated with crystals in the 80's, and at that time I was making amulets with crystals. 

"Skin Shedder Mandala" (1987)

I accessed my lifetime as an ignored and exploited servant in France while I was in a short but very abusive relationship with a man that took me a while to heal from.  Ironically, I entered into that relationship just as I was completing my MFA, and receiving attention and praise for my artwork,  and preparing to go into the field of teaching as a professional artist.  I grew up in a family with a father who was both neglectful and abusive to my mother, and as is common in such households, I proceeded in my 20's to have a number of abusive relationships.  I look back at that time, and cannot help but feel that I made myself a "victim" immediately after achieving success and acclaim because success and acclaim was either something I felt unworthy of, or a responsibility I could not endure.  Being a victim, being ignored and neglected  (I call this my "cleaning lady persona") can, in a way, be a miserable yet comfortable place to be, devoid of personal responsibility, familiar and predictable.   In fairness to myself, I was also, in this lifetime as well as perhaps others, taught that my work was not important or worthy - thus I have often found myself denigating or dismissing what was really the best of my talents and efforts.

Throughout my life this has been an issue I have had to deal with, as women especially have to deal with this externalized as well as internalized reality.  I think my experience of seeing a lifetime as a French servant was showing me a deep pattern, with feminist significance as well as personal,  I was working on shifting in this lifetime.  It may well be that the abusive and arrogant man I had that brief but miserable relationship with was the same "aristocrat" I glimpsed in that past lifetime.   If so,  as a "realist of a larger reality", he was my benefactor by playing that role so that I could perceive the pattern.  To grow and learn, and also, to perhaps aid others with that understanding.

"Open" (2010)

***Roger Woolger was a psychologist, therapist, and researcher into Past Lives Therapy, Buddhism, and metaphysics.  His many articles and books are well worth reading.  He also collaborated with his former wife, Jennifer Barker Woolger, in one of my favorite books about the Goddess and Goddess Archetypes, a book that had deep significance for me and which I used in my workshops.  And there is a story I could tell about Jennifer Barker Woolger that concerns synchronicity and the Goddess.

But I'll tell that later.

Front Cover

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Poetry for a Winter Solstice

luminaria on Serpent Mound in Ohio

You, Darkness


You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything –
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! –
powers and people –
and it is possible 
a great presence is moving near me.
I have faith in nights.


Rainer Maria Rilke

December Moon


Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.
Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.
Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?
How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we'll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.


May Sarton

Pledge of Allegiance


I pledge allegiance to the soil
      of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
      one ecosystem
      in diversity
      under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.


Gary Snyder

Friday, December 18, 2020

Why We Need the Dark - Solstice Reflections


"We’ve rolled back the night so far that soon we will come full circle and reach the dawn of the following day. And where will that leave us? In a world with no God and no wolf either — only unrelenting commerce and consumption, information and media ... and light. We need a rest from ourselves that only a night like the winter solstice can give us."

A post from 2017 I felt like revisiting - as always, my thoughts, particularly at this time of year, turn to "Endarkenment" as the Balance and partner of "Enlightenment".  :

I remember a winter night many years ago, when I lived in the country in upstate N.Y..   I shared a house with a second story living room that had a big picture window,  A  mid-winter snowstorm had left us stranded in a shimmering blanket of snow.  One could look out on that field of white, illuminated by the dark sky, the moon, and an occasional star,  into a vast,  dark silence.   For a while the lights went out, but we had no shortage of candles, and somehow that makes the memory even sweeter for me.  The intensity of the dark and the silence the snow that long ago December was not frightening, but intimate,  a landscape for sleep, for the incubation of dreams, a place to heal from the frenzy of achievement and obligation, a darkness ripe with dormant life.  A place where we could lie together in the warmth of our bed, becoming aware of  the occasional sound of snowfall, or an animal moving outside.  

I remember recently seeing a time lapse film of cities - vast networks of light, sky scrapers and traffic rushing along freeways like blood coursing along arteries, and I was struck by how much it looked like some kind of organism frenetically pulsing and extruding itself and consuming everything around it.  The truth is, it had a terrible beauty - the shimmering, glittering urban  triumph of humanity over nature, over the darkness.  Or is it truly "triumph"?  How is it possible we have so forgotten that we are not the conquerors of nature, but part of nature?  Have we failed to see, in our blinding pursuit of speed and of "illumination" that we are also animals, participating in the cycles and seasons of the life of Gaia, needing rest, incubation, renewal, and the sweet silence of the dark.

Newgrange at the Winter Solstice

In the years since, I have so often thought of those winter nights. 

I  take the liberty of reprinting here a wonderful article by Clark Strand, whose book is well worth reading.  He has had such nights too, of that I'm sure. 


December 19, 2014

WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — WHEN the people of this small mountain town got their first dose of electrical lighting in late 1924, they were appalled. “Old people swore that reading or living by so fierce a light was impossible,” wrote the local historian Alf Evers. That much light invited comparisons. It was an advertisement for the new, the rich and the beautiful — a verdict against the old, the ordinary and the poor. As Christmas approached, a protest was staged on the village green to decry the evils of modern light.

Woodstock has always been a small place with a big mouth where cultural issues are concerned. But in this case the protest didn’t amount to much. Here as elsewhere in early 20th-century America, the reluctance to embrace brighter nights was a brief and halfhearted affair.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. But few of us will turn off the lights long enough to notice. There’s no getting away from the light. There are fluorescent lights and halogen lights, stadium lights, streetlights, stoplights, headlights and billboard lights. There are night lights to stand sentinel in hallways, and the lit screens of cellphones to feed our addiction to information, even in the middle of the night. No wonder we have trouble sleeping. The lights are always on.

In the modern world, petroleum may drive our engines but our consciousness is driven by light. And what it drives us to is excess, in every imaginable form.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the availability of cheap, effective lighting extended the range of waking human consciousness, effectively adding more hours onto the day — for work, for entertainment, for discovery, for consumption; for every activity except sleep, that nightly act of renunciation. Darkness was the only power that has ever put the human agenda on hold.

In centuries past, the hours of darkness were a time when no productive work could be done. Which is to say, at night the human impulse to remake the world in our own image — so that it served us, so that we could almost believe the world and its resources existed for us alone — was suspended. The night was the natural corrective to that most persistent of all illusions: that human progress is the reason for the world.

Advances in science, industry, medicine and nearly every other area of human enterprise resulted from the influx of light. The only casualty was darkness, a thing of seemingly little value. But that was only because we had forgotten what darkness was for. In times past people took to their beds at nightfall, but not merely to sleep. They touched one another, told stories and, with so much night to work with, woke in the middle of it to a darkness so luxurious it teased visions from the mind and divine visitations that helped to guide their course through life. Now that deeper darkness has turned against us. The hour of the wolf we call it — that predatory insomnia that makes billions for big pharma. It was once the hour of God.

There is, of course, no need to fear the dark, much less prevail over it. Not that we could. Look up in the sky on a starry night, if you can still find one, and you will see that there is a lot of darkness in the universe. There is so much of it, in fact, that it simply has to be the foundation of all that is. The stars are an anomaly in the face of it, the planets an accident. Is it evil or indifferent? I don’t think so. Our lives begin in the womb and end in the tomb. It’s dark on either side.

We’ve rolled back the night so far that soon we will come full circle and reach the dawn of the following day. And where will that leave us? In a world with no God and no wolf either — only unrelenting commerce and consumption, information and media ... and light. We need a rest from ourselves that only a night like the winter solstice can give us. And the earth, too, needs that rest. The only thing I can hope for is that, if we won’t come to our senses and search for the darkness, on nights like these, the darkness will come looking for us.