Friday, May 15, 2020

Leo Kottke and "Pamela Brown"

With the "pause" of the Covid19 Crisis, we all seem to have more time to contemplate, remember, and reflect..............I was surprised when I found myself humming a song by Leo Kottke that I haven't thought about since the 70's, as my first husband took the album when we divorced in 1979!  I just felt like sharing it here because it is just such a perfect homage to the serendipity that forms our fates, or better put, our storylines!  

For that matter, I guess I haven't thought about Paul in a number of decades.  We parted young and amiably, and not too long after I was gone he met his life partner, they got married, and we long ago fell out of touch.  But thinking of serendipity, and for that matter, Leo Kottke's Pamela Brown,    there is a perfect woven fabric of story-threads in our brief time together as well.  

Paul and his best friend Peter were from Canada, near Toronto, and after graduating, decided to take his volkswagan bug and go to Mexico.  They drove down the California coast and visited the famous political hotbed of Berkeley, where their car broke down.  I was living in a warehouse with a lot of artists in Berkeley then (back when there actually were warehouses and arts districts full of artists).  In those days if you had a volkswagon  you were politically correct to fix it yourself, and there were do it yourself manuals for "The People's Car" .  In Berkeley there was a garage where you could also rent space to work.  So Paul and Peter decided to hang out in Berkeley for a while while they fixed the Volkswagon.

Meanwhile, I and my artistic comrades were planning our Warehouse Halloween party.  I had a young man who was going to join me at the party, and on the other side of town,  Paul had met a woman who invited him to come with her to the same party.  The party was a great success, but both of our prospective dates didn't show up, and Paul and I got together out of sympathy.  

In the course of our time together in Berkeley, Paul's brother, David, came to visit and decided to remain in San Francisco, where he became a photographer.  His younger sister, Pat, also came to visit, and became a nanny for one of the artists in the Warehouse, and ended up meeting a young man from Sri Lanka there.  They married, and she moved to Sri Lanka with him, and they had three children.  And Peter, Paul's travelling friend, met Belinda while in Berkeley - they married and had a son.  Paul and I left Berkeley, and moved to Wisconsin, where Paul remained, met his future wife, and together they eventually moved to Texas.

So............Paul, Peter, David, and Pat never went back to Canada.  Marriages happened, and children were born.  New careers.  All because a car happened to break down in Berkeley, and I and Paul got dumped by our dates for a Halloween party.  Serendipity!

Friday, May 8, 2020

New Masks that Await Their Stories

"Mask for the Crossing of Dimensions (Center)"

Years ago I heard a famous Hopi potter talk about how many of the intricate designs on her bowls just "turn up" in her dreams,  and "bother her" until she makes them, and then they finally leave.  I  was very seriously and academically trying to figure out if  art could be "shamanic" at that time - this very simple explanation of visioning by a revered Native artist stuck with me.  No fuss, no muss, just day to day "instructions" that the artist received and translated into bowls that were full of "mana", full of essence.  

"The Healer (East)"  

It's been many years since then, and I find that I also seem to get "downloads", images that pop into my head, and won't go away until I make them.  I suppose it could be said that I'm a kind of mask shaman, although at present I have no tribe to serve, which I find frustrating.  Still, here is a collection of masks that came from.........well, I don't know where, but they wanted to be made.  I am hopeful that those who can use them, and find their stories, will turn up on the horizon in the future.  

"The Maker (South)"

Because masks are meant to be participatory, "vessels for story, vessels for transformation, vessels for invocation".  As I myself so often have said.................

"The Oracle (West)"

There is one last mask I need to make in the series, for North, and that would be "The Reaper",  the function of psychopomp, the one who helps people to make the transition from this life into the next.  Instead of a skull, I see a face with butterflies all around it. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Remote Viewing the Future with Stephan A. Schwartz

remoteviewing - Psychics BlogI find the interview below with a famous explorer of the paranormal and consciousness studies fascinating. Stephan A. Schwartz has extensively worked with the phenomenon of Remote Viewing and non-local consciousness since the early 70's, and the predictions he collated from hundreds of participants then for 2050, while unimaginable then, have, as he says in this 2017 interview, "come true" now. Among the things that remote viewers saw back then: the submersion of the entire state of Florida, virtual reality, the end of the Soviet Union, the breakup of the USA into politically independant bio-regions, religious terrorism, cities under domes because of increasing heat, and corporate ownership of governments.

(Recorded on February 5, 2017)

Stephan A. Schwartz is a Distinguished Consulting Faculty of Saybrook Institute, the columnist for the journal Explore, and editor of the daily web publication His other academic and research appointments include: Senior Fellow for Brain, Mind and Healing of the Samueli Institute; founder and Research Director of the Mobius laboratory. His government appointments included Special Assistant for Research and Analysis to the Chief of Naval Operations in the 1970's during the Cold War. Dr. Schwartz was the principal originator of research using Remote Viewing in archeology, and in the course of his studies used Remote Viewing to locate Cleopatra's Palace, Marc Antony's Timonium, ruins of the Lighthouse of Pharos, and sunken ships along the California coast.

He is the author of more than 130 technical reports and papers. His Books include: The Secret Vaults of Time, The Alexandria Project, Opening to the Infinite, and The 8 Laws of Change.
In the video presented here he discusses a project in which he was engaged from 1978 through 1996, at a time when Remote Viewing was being funded by the military. In one aspect of his work he asked individuals who attended his workshops and conferences to envision life in the year 2050 through his standard Remote Viewing protocol. He describes the care that he took to avoid suggesting answers himself. The astonishing results consistently described situations that have turned out to be true or possible for today, but were hard to imagine as probabilities in the 70's and 80's when he was doing the research. Among those "impossible" remote viewing trends was the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the development of virtual reality, and the submersion of the entire state of Florida due to Global Warming.
This interview is through New Thinking Allowed, and the host, Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD, is author of The Roots of Consciousness, and Psi Development Systems. Between 1986 and 2002 he hosted and co-produced the original Thinking Allowed public television series. He is the recipient of the only doctoral diploma in "parapsychology" ever awarded by an accredited university (University of California, Berkeley, 1980).

Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Coming of the Summer................

"SO SOME OF us are now learning to listen in to and maybe even converse with the elemental utterances of things that don’t speak in words, tuning our ears and our skin to the discourse of multiple other-than-human beings: each redwing blackbird or storm cloud or naked chunk of sandstone jostling with the rest of existence." ......David Abram

The long, hot, introverted summers of Tucson are, like the long winters of the North lands, a time to go inside (quite literally), to  retreat.  With the Pause and strange Silence of the Covid19 Crisis, this seems particularly apt.

It is true, the advent of Summer can sometimes be rigorous, but life here has its own rythems, and just like living in a very cold climate, you adapt.  Then, and provided you have a good cooling system, you can quite learn to enjoy this time.  There are so many plants, flowers, and animals that come forth in the summer - they are citizens of the desert, and it is their time.  Yesterday, for example, I saw a tortoise on my walkway!  Everybody is up by 5:00 when it's cool, and by noon you're inside.  After the sun goes down people emerge again.   The hot desert moon hangs, intense in the heat, over all, and walks in the desert can be very magical indeed.  Just bring water, water, water, because one quickly learns here that without water, there is no life.

A truly Ambitious Agave getting ready to Bloom
Hot or not, it is still almost summer, and the adapted life of the desert is responding.  May is hot and yet, it is still Spring.  

The giant saguaros produce a  crown of beautiful white flowers which quickly become sweet purple fruits (native people make wine and preserves from them) and you see la Paloma, the desert doves, feasting on them. The doves make their mournful call, but actually it's a mating call. 

Agaves shoot up enormous once in a lifetime blooms, a pole of flowers that, when finished and gone to seed, marks the end of their lifetime, their one and only Masterpiece. 

Suddenly I find my garden and feeders full of baby birds as well, and busy finches.  The males sit on the fence glaring (if that is possible) at my cats, chirping over and over:  

"CAT!  It's a CAT!  CAT!  Watch out!"

My cats ignore them, although the Kamicaze swoops of the bigger and more aggressive Mockingbirds they find hard to ignore, and often hide under a chair or two to escape his vigilance.

 As May advances into June, the veneer of greenery in the desert dies back, waiting for the monsoons to come in July, when suddenly,  the vast storms roll in every afternoon, thunder and lightning, pour down floods that disappear within an hour or two...............and almost overnight the desert greens with seeds that have been dormant all year, waiting for this time.

It's easy to live inside of apartments, cars,  cyberspace and televisions today, immune to the subtle voices of nature, the "great conversation".  Because I'm a gardener, I seem to always have an ongoing wonder at my rooted "friends".   I remember when I was living in upstate New York, and suffered from asthma.  Every morning I would walk out into my garden and there would be mullein plants, springing up in very odd places I had certainly not planted them.  A herbalist friend remarked, seeing this phenomenon, that the spirit of the plant was trying to help me out.  Mullein is specifically useful to people with lung problems, both as a tonic and as an herb to smoke that clears the lungs.  A true Medicine Plant, a generous plant, responding to my need.   How often do we take the time to thank them?  We don't even notice............but our ancestors did.  

I had that same experience with "fairy circles", also in New York.  We lived on 40 acres, and I remember, being very involved in Pagan spirituality, I was eager for "signs" in the fields of Devas.    I left offerings, I talked to the trees.  And sure enough, there were a number of times when I would take a walk and see grasses grow up in pretty clear circles.   Fantasy on my part?  Maybe, but other people saw the  "circles".  I like to think the fey folk were saying hello.
Mushroom Fairy Circle (not my picture)
The Desert too has its spirits, its Numina, and if you listen, you can converse with them.  Friendliness has much to do with opening the conversation.  Every season I am honored when my  my Night Blooming Cereus cactus put on such a spectacular show.  I pat the cactus in the morning, thanking it for giving me such beauty.  I am often astounded to see buds, even a rare fruit, in what seems to be out of season on it.   Coincidence?  Maybe the cactus just likes me, and is responding to my great appreciation for its artistry.  Why not?  As an artist myself, I know I respond to appreciation.  What is a flower, but the Masterpiece of a plant, a great big shout of Joi de Vie?

Night Blooming Cereus
The Chance To Love Everything
by Mary Oliver

All summer I made friends
With the creatures nearby –
They flowed through the fields
And under the tent walls,
Or padded through the door,
Grinning through their many teeth,
Looking for seeds,
Suet, sugar; muttering and humming,
Opening the breadbox, happiest when
There was milk and music. But once
In the night I heard a sound
Outside the door, the canvas
Bulged slightly – something
Was pressing inward at eye level.
I watched, trembling, sure I had heard
The click of claws, the smack of lips
Outside my gauzy house –
I imagined the red eyes,
The broad tongue, the enormous lap.
Would it be friendly too?
Fear defeated me. And yet,
Not in faith and not in madness
But with the courage I thought
My dream deserved,
I stepped outside. It was gone.
Then I whirled at the sound of some
Shambling tonnage.
Did I see a black haunch slipping
Back through the trees? Did I see
The moonlight shining on it?
Did I actually reach out my arms
Toward it, toward paradise falling, like
The fading of the dearest, wildest hope –
The dark heart of the story that is all
The reason for its telling?
Found Poetry:"The Barbed Heart Finds Refuge Among the Palos Verde Forest"

Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Transformative Vision of Tara

  Om Tare, Tu Tare,
  even in the darkest prisons, 
  you offer your hand:
  Your touch cools hatred and grief.
  From you, the demons of delusion fly
 Praise Tara, whose fingers adorn her heart
 Light radiates from a wheel in Your hand.

It is an irony that the most profound and meaningful things in my life I, by and large, cannot talk about.  I share  my visionary or intuitive perceptions hesitantly, if at all, because ours is not a culture in general accepts visionary experiences as true or meaningful.  And yet, for me, and I believe many others, they are true touchstones as I navigate the passages ebbing and flowing through my life.    

The other reason is because these experiences, which are so important to me in forming my worldview, belong to "the Mystery".  "Mystery" is derived from a Greek word that means "that which cannot be spoken", and probably relates to the ritual Mysteries of ancient Greece.  Participants were forbidden to speak of them, and to this day we do not know what occurred at the great, once in a lifetime Elusinian Mysteries although we do know they were about the triple Goddess Persephone/Demeter/Hecate.  And indeed, some experiences seem to be too profound to speak of, it diminishes them.  Perhaps the spaciousness of poetry is best, because the Poem has wide spaces for the imagination to roam.

I've been re-reading "Journey of Souls" and other books by Michael Newton Ph.D.  and others from his  Newton Institute recently.  Newton, and later his students, used hypnosis to bring thousands of people into altered states of consciousness, wherein they would consistantly, even if they did not particularly "believe" in past lives, describe past life events and, more importantly as far as Newton's research was concerned, "between life experiences".  The work is fascinating to read about, and there is no doubt that Newton devoted his life conscientiously to it, ever seeking to understand (sometimes in very dry, academic ways) what his patients and clients revealed.

Perhaps because of re-reading his books, I felt like sharing a very important vision  I had in 1997, a vision that helped me to begin a new life and release the past, and a vision that  became the inspiration for all the masks I made dedicated to the Goddess Tara. I've come to the conclusion that such visions, such experiences, are personal, but they also are universal, and as such, I should share them.   It was a profound gift.

White Tara Performance, "Goddess Alive", 2002,
conceived and directed by Macha NightMare
In 1997 I was getting divorced, and all ties were severing between us.  The ending of the marriage did not bring out the best in me, and I felt a great deal of remorse, emotional confusion, and grief.  In my effort at healing and self-growth that summer, I went to a well known energy healer, and Shaman,  in Massachusetts,  Jewell.  She put me on her table, and I went immediately into a trance state.

I found myself standing before what seemed like  "clips"  from  movies - each scene was rapidly replaced by another scene.  I still remember those "clips" quite vividly  - a ceremonial room decorated with  orange marigolds;  an emaciated old black woman lying on a dirty bed;  a heavyset white man with glasses, bundled up in a kind of fur parka;  African drummers, drumming with passion around a fire, and more.  Gradually,  I felt myself "pulled back", so that I seemed to be watching these scenes from a greater distance, as if they formed a patch-work quilt of moving images.  I remember thinking how incredibly beautiful it all was from that perspective, like a great, colorful work of art.
White Tara at the Parliament of World Religions (2015)

Then I became aware of an immense energy - a being that radiated (there's no other way to describe it) tremendous compassion.   

She had no form, just intense white light.  The only thing that seemed identifiable was that I felt the Being was female;  and I felt she was communicating something like "Don't take on so, Lauren, look at all of this.  You'll meet again.  You can move on now."  

I might add that she also radiated an equally huge sense of humor;   I felt  like a little child getting a pat on the head from an Angel, or a Goddess.   If that makes any sense........

And then I came to on Jewell's table.  After we spoke, I learned that Jewell often began her sessions with a prayer from the 21 Praises to Tara, a  series of Tibetan prayers to the  21 Manifestations of the Goddess Tara.  To me, that visitation was White Tara, Goddess of Compassion, manifesting to help me move forward to a new stage of life. 
I've revered Her ever since, made a number of masks for Her.  And indeed, shortly after that Vision, the divorce came through and I moved to a new home, and life, in California, even as my former husband found a new partner and life as well.

 Mana Youngbear as "White Tara" (2004)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Storms and Memoir

                 All this petty worry
                while the great cloak of the sky
                grows dark and intense 
                round every living thing.

               What is precious inside us
               does not care to be known
               by the mind in ways 
               that diminish its presence.

               David Whyte 

In this strange time of isolation, as the silent storm of the Pandemic Covid19 fell  like a blanket over Tucson,   I was  determined to renew my writing, and work on this Blog as a true journal.  However, I find that I have writer's block! What to write about that is "personal"...........and do I dare to be "personal", or is "personal" really even relevant, as storms break over the global creations of humanity?  

Still, I find that the quietude of this isolation  has found me  collecting memories, excerpts that  arise as dog-earred touchstones, like shuffling through the random pages of a book, in this case,  the book of my life.  I by no means fail to understand the suffering of so many as the Covid19 pandemic continues.  I've been on  a healing journey since the beginning of the year, and although I am much better than I was now,  my energy is still very much compromised, forcing me to move slowly, do little.  Like the empty streets of Tucson, I am "paused".  

Someone once said I should write memoirs.........well, I suppose I'm of an age when people do that, although I am taken aback by the vanity of such an idea.   And yet........I have seen some beauty  in my time, and that collateral beauty keeps  coming back, like a fragrance or a flavor.  I suppose I've repeated myself a few times............if caught at it, please forgive me. 

I've been thinking of friends I've lost.   Among them Felicia, who I did a large painting of as the "High Priestess" in the Tarot  when we were young students at Berkeley.  I worked so hard on that painting.........and now, like all my early work, I have no idea what happened to it.  It has taken me so  many years to learn to value my work, my time, and in general myself...........I look back at all of that early work, most of which I threw away, with regret, because much of it was beautiful.  

Felicia and I lost touch when I moved away in 1976.  And then, amazingly, we made contact again in 2007, when I happened to publish some of the Poems Felicia had left me all those years ago on my website.   When Felicia and I re-connected she was living in Washington D.C., and she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Shortly  after that she went to Germany to undergo an experimental treatment that brought the cancer into remission, for a while. 

In 2008 I went to Puerto Rico, where Felicia was staying with a friend, for a short but very memorable visit  after she had completed her treatment.  I saw her for the last time in 2009 when I was Resident Artist at Wesley in Washington, D.C.

Above is a picture I took of Felicia taking a nap in my hotel room in Puerto Rico.   Felicia passed through  doors that I can't open more than ten years ago.  I miss her.  

Puerto Rico:  I remember the heavy, tropical  atmosphere, as I happened to be there in the season of storms.  Intensities……. that’s what the tropics are, life at its most vibrant, virulent, creative, predatory, colorful………it is impossible to be in the midst of that potency of life and not become intoxicated with it. Intoxicated or terrified, or both. 

I had a room with a balcony at the top of a three story  hotel called the Lazy Parrot, in Rincon. I’m sure it’s a hopping place in its season, with  two bars below and tiers of balconies looking out over the green hills that wind down to the ocean, famous  for surfing and snorkeling. However,   I  had arrived at hurricane  season, and found myself pretty much alone in the hotel.  I felt a bit like a character from Stephen King’s “The Shining”, with a whole hotel to myself at night, not even an attendant in sight, empty bars ringing with the ghosts of bands and booze and laughter and sex.  Below me an empty blue pool, palm fronds and  chairs tied to the wall, and the wet, heavy tropical air,  whispering over wicker tables. 

I do not think I shall ever forget standing on the balcony, the sounds of the frogs seeming very loud, hearing a woman call for her dog in Spanish “Limon, Limon!”, and watching the sudden illumination of lightning as it revealed an advancing mass of vast clouds, rolling in from the  ocean. I could not but be awed by the truth of that moment, our lives, our plans, our hopes  existing in the brief moments between  storms. 

As the storm progressed, the lights went out.  There were no candles, or any attendants to ask about candles.  So, I sat in the state of Storm, with nothing to do but witness.

Fortunately for me, the storm did not make landfall at the hotel,  I did not have to find a basement to hide in, or hear the sounds of crashing glass and trees, and the morning brought breaking dawn as the tropical storm veered off in a different direction.    But I'll never forget that night of vigil, and the Collateral Beauty. 

I know that sometimes
your body is hard like a stone
on a path that storms break over,
embedded deeply
into that something that you think is you,
and you will not move
while the voice all around
tears the air
and fills the sky with jagged light.

But sometimes unawares
those sounds seem to descend
as if kneeling down into you
and you listen strangely caught
as the terrible voice moving closer
and in the silence
now arriving

Get up, I depend
on you utterly.
Everything you need
you had
the moment before
you were born.

~ David Whyte ~

Where Many Rivers Meet