Sunday, December 23, 2007

The 100 Friends Project


I need a counter to my Holiday blues (which have been a long and hopefully transformative process this year) and I would like to introduce my friend Marc Gold, and his 100 Friends Project.

Marc is an amazingly energetic psychologist and teacher from El Cerrito, California, who now spends half of his year travelling around the world giving money to needy individuals and small organizations, and half in the U.S. fundraising. On his website, you can learn directly about the people who receive the funds people donate. In his own words, the project began in 1989,

"When I visited India for the first time. I met a Tibetan woman in the Himalayas who had terrible ear infections, and I was able save her life with antibiotics that cost about $1.00. For another $30 I purchased a hearing aid that restored her hearing. I was shocked to learn something so important could be accomplished with so little. I began raising money among my friends, as much as people were able to donate. Then, in 1992, I traveled to India with over $2,200 in donations, with the goal of distributing it as directly and intelligently as possible. The rest, as they say, is history. "

It's so important now, with the onslaught of despair and orchestrated fear in the media, to remember that there are many, many heroes like Marc, making a big difference. He's inspired me to travel next year myself, and I may be doing volunteer work or even starting a handcrafts business for women's products in the course of my travels. Thank you, Marc.

And as a further counter to the cynicism I'm too often guilty of myself, I copy below from the 100 Friends Website Marc's network page, in case anyone else may be inspired to do something similar to what he's done. So, wishing all of us a Global and Merry Christmas!


Tips & Hints from Marc Gold: How to Change the World While Traveling

How do you prepare? Get a lot of education about the place you're going to -- through reading, watching videos, talking to people, surfing web sites. Learn about the area's history, politics, and geography. Get there with as much knowledge as possible. Learn 20 phrases in that language. People appreciate that, and it goes a long way toward making connections. Do special research into the problems of that country. Find out what the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are doing. Meet with them when you get there.


How do you raise money? Talk to people. Write a letter (see sample letter) and send it to everyone you know. If you don't have 100 acquaintances, so what? Do you have 40? Start a web page. It's all about making the time and having the guts to follow through. Become a non-profit [this is actually more affordable than you might realize. Create a newsletter. Have photos to send, or to show on your web page. The most important part of raising money? ASK for it.


How do you know whom to donate to? You meet trustworthy people, and you keep going back to them. Meet with people at NGOs once you're in the country, and ask them to connect you to good people who are especially worthy or needy. Be cool. Hang out for a number of days. Get to know people before you start talking about money. Trust your instincts. It's easy for money to go into the wrong hands. One family member can keep it from the others, or it can introduce jealousy. You learn as you go. The longer you do it, the stronger your connections will be, the more you'll know whom to trust -- and they'll connect you with honest, reliable, deserving people in the community. Do a web search for NGOs or NGO directories in the region you're planning to visit. Visit the World Organization of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) or Taking It Global.

Here are some links from other "Global Ambassadors" that are very helpful:

http://www.ethicaltraveler.com/profiles.php
http://www.intentional-traveler.com/index.html
http://www.theculturedtraveler.com/Archives/Nov2004/Lead_Story.htm
http://www.responsibletravel.com/Copy/Copy100061.htm
http://www.sustainabletravelinternational.org/ecodirectory/responsibletravel.html
http://www.adventure-life.com/travel_details/sustainable.html
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/columns/traveller_archive/2003jul30/index.htm
http://www.sustainabletravel.org/case_studies.htm
http://www.imaginative-traveller.com/planet/projects.asp
http://www.backpacknation.org/
http://www.studenttraveler.com/mag/05-04/scoop.php

(Marc's website is Copyright (c) 2004 Judy Wolf )


Friday, December 21, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

PAX GAIA


I'd like to share an upcoming conference I've just heard about, by a national group called "Sisters of the the Earth". They offer impressive speakers, including Dr. Mary Tucker of Yale, addressing the issues of earth-based theology, as well as presentations by artists and ritualists. The conference will be held this year at Los Gatos, California July 10th through the 13th, 2008.

SISTERS OF EARTH BI-ANNUAL CONFERENCE
July 10-13, 2008
Presentation Center, 19480 Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos, CA


2008 Conference Theme: PAX GAIA


Holding the vision for Pax Gaia (the Peace of Earth) is seen as the most compelling challenge of our time. Geologian, Thomas Berry, introduced this theme after 9/11 in an essay reflecting the urgent need to embrace a cosmology of comprehensive peace. It is a peace that transcends Pax Romana (the peace of an empire) and Pax Humana (peace among humans). We are called to the Great Work that engenders Pax Gaia. To this end we create and foster
deep cultural therapies that address the deep cultural pathology of our time that has brought about such ecological damage (T. Berry, Evening Thoughts, 2006). The 2008 Sisters of Earth Conference will provide ample opportunity to network and share stories, music, art forms,
ritual and prayer, etc. . all through the lens of our theme - Pax Gaia.


What can we imagine as the cultural therapies that will engender Pax Gaia? Is it through our teaching, art, music, dance, poetry, lifestyle changes . the outer green projects and the inner
transformational work? What is needed? Come and share your Pax Gaia stories, network with kindred spirits.


Key speaker: Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker is pleased to join our 2008 SOE Conference. She is co-founder and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology. Since 1987 she has been a member of the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment at the UN Environment Programme
(UNEP). She served on the International Earth Charter Drafting Committee and is now a member of the Earth Charter International Council. Mary Evelyn is vice President of the American Teilhard Association and teaches Religion and Ecology at Yale. (www.yale.edu/religionandecology)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sig Lonegren and Geomancy


I ran across the Mid Atlantic Geomancy site while surfing the Web and was delighted to rediscover the mind, friends, and research of SIG LONEGREN http://www.geomancy.org/

I met Sig in 1982, when he serendipitously set me on a spiritual quest that ultimately defined my art's quest, and my religious affiliations. It's funny how we are led, in the most unlikely ways, to the teachers we need.

I was living at the time in Putney, Vermont. I had a little crafts business, and was specializing in bars, dancing, and drinking too much. One fine Saturday morning I headed down to the Putney Inn from my studio, and was amazed to see all kinds of interesting looking people wandering around the Inn doing interesting things.

Some of them had tables with books, and were from NEARA (the New England Archeological Research Association). Some had weird looking pendulums. On the lawn in the front of the building was a circle of people. I liked their energy, so I hung around, curious. Within 15 minutes or so, a van arrived, and a very energetic man in blue jeans with a pendulum (Sig) gathered the group, and without knowing I wasn't included, ushered me into the van with them, even though I had no idea what they were doing, or where they were going.

It seemed like fun, I thought Sig was cute, it was one of those beautiful Vermont days when the land was inhaling and exhaling an intoxicating, mysterious green breath, and I was hungover anyway. So I went.

For the next few hours we visited three different stone chambers around Putney, two hidden on Putney Mountain, one virtually in the back yard of a local resident.

If you've never heard of Barry Fell, or "America B.C.", or "America's Stonehedge" in New Hampshire, or read any books about ancient geomantic sites (like Earthmind by John Steele (who I later met at a symposium at Rutgers), or Manitou, by Mavor and Dix) - then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.

There are over 500 prehistoric sites, from cairns and underground stone chambers very similar to sites in Ireland and Great Britain, to astronomical sites marked, like Stonehenge, with huge stones to mark the positions of the solstices, equinoxes, and other celestial events, scattered throughout New England, many concentrated along the Connecticut River. Barry Fell and others believed them to be the remnants of a long ago Phoenician/Celtic colony that preceeded the European, or even Viking, visits to the "new lands". Others, like Mavor and Dix, argue that they were religious and ceremonial centers for native Americans, some of them still maintained until well into Colonial times.

But archeology wasn't what this little group was exploring. We were exploring earth energies, and Sig gave us all divining rods ("L" shaped coathangers) to determine the location of the leys* to see how each site was built on a place of geomantic intensity. I was absolutely flabbergasted even though I had never done this before, and didn't even "believe" in it. It just worked, the rods bent and swayed when they were in my hand. In time, a good dowser can experience his or her divining rods much as antenna, as sensors.

To continue my story, a year later a group met (I put it together) at one of these very sites to watch the Solstice sun rise through a chamber that was aligned with it perfectly. 13 of us gathered, and although we knew nothing about ritual, we did know that this was a powerful and magical place, that we were sitting where ancient people once sat to watch the sun rise over the green mountains, participating in the significance of the event. That was my first ritual, long before I ever heard of Gaia, pagans, goddesses, shamans, or anything similar.

Who would have thought a chance meeting would lead me on a life long journey?
But sometimes it works out that way.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

George Carlin on Pace, Progress and Love




A Message by George Carlin was sent to me today. I found him eloquent, reflecting on my earlier entry in this Blog about "Pace, Progress, and Hecate"(November), and felt like copying it here.

A Message by George Carlin

The paradox of our time in history is that we spend more,but have less, buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We write more, but learn less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait.

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind. AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. If you don't send this to at least 8 people....Who cares?

George Carlin


Just the other day I was talking with a friend who had lived in Tempe, Arizona. Tempe is the home of ASU, a mega-university, and is part of the vast sprawling urban complex that Phoenix has become. She lived there in the early '70's - my memories go back to the '50's, when I was a child.


We were talking about the "Tempe Beach". Actually, I was doing the talking, because she never heard of it - but I remember the "Beach" vividly. Back then, Tempe was just a little college town, and in the '50's, only rich people (very few of whom lived in Tempe) could afford a private swimming pool. The Tempe Beach was a huge public swimming pool that took up a whole block, and in the summer, when it was too hot to swim in the day, as soon as the sun went down families arrived with towels in hand, to swim, and eat hot dogs and ice cream from stands at the "Beach". It was a riotous scene of kids in plastic swimming caps and boxer shorts leaping in and out of the pool, a legion of life guards, flirtatious college students posing for each other, and young families socializing at picnic tables.


The "Beach" is long gone, and public swimming pools like that are pretty much long gone as well. Private swimming pools are very common now, and people can swim with all the "privacy" they could want in their own back yard, along with spending a lot of time and money maintaining that privacy (not to mention the enormously wasteful water use all this privilege of "privacy" requires). But I doubt, even with the obsession Americans seem to have with insulating themselves thoroughly from contact with "strangers" - that there aren't many people like myself, who would take the color, fun, and crowds of the "Beach", if they could still get it.


The demise of the "Tempe Beach" reminds me of the demise of the "diners" my 90 year old mother still remembers fondly (at 90, she does a lot of time shifting, and I think the faces and tastes of a diner in New York 60 years ago are more vivid to her now than anything on her morning tv tray) - breakfast, for her as a young working woman, involved a whole community of people. A restaurant was a bunch of people, cooperating to share an experience called "breakfast". Her eggs came with a waitress, cooks, dishwashers, and the regulars she got to know by virtue of eating there regularly.


For me at least, a disposible egg mac muffin and a throwaway coffee alone in the car on the way to work.......is no good tradeoff. Not just environmentally, and nutritionally, but emotionally and psychically as well.

As I write, I sit in the Epic Cafe, with its free wi fi,. Most of the little round tables here have laptops on them and people emersed in cyber space (like me). Some of the people have earplugs on, and not a few have their cellphones on the table. They're doing business, schoolwork, whatever. I don't know how I feel about it. I suppose, because I'm here, I've given up and joined the parade.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Closing the MASKS OF THE GODDESS Project

(Mana Youngbear with her cast at Spring, 2002 performance)

"Myth comes alive as it enters the cauldron of evolution, drawing energy from the storytellers who shape it." Elizabeth Fuller, The Independent Eye

"The mythologies of our present culture are heading us to destruction...we are being called upon to participate in revising the mythic assumptions that we follow." Suzi Gablik, Art Critic

I have a whole lot of thanks to offer for the journey these masks have taken me on over the years. The many wise and brilliantly talented people whose dances and stories have become threads woven into my own life stories in the course of my travels with the masks. I think, even though the collection is going, that the work isn't entirely over.
I've long been disatisfied with the book I've been trying to write about the project. I've actually had several rounds of submissions to publishers and agents, visualizing a coffee table/art book, a treatise on mythologies of the Goddess, and essays I've written about the importance of the Goddess as collective and personal archetypes.

None of it worked out. I've come to the conclusion that what I want to document is a very personal process, a "patchwork quilt" of stories, images, and quotes, my own, and many that I've gathered from others along the trail. Because the trail has truly been a CHAUTAQUA - not my own, but a Chautaqua, a gift of tremendous generosity, carried down the road by many. My privilege is that I was able to provide some measure of my own gifts to the process.
My notes on Hecate (here), and Spiderwoman (also on this blog) touch a kind of personal quality I want. Fact is, its enormously difficult to publish a book commerically these days anyway, so if I'm going to document this long project in a way that satisfies my soul, I might as well do it exactly the way I want to, because I'll probably end up publishing a limited edition of the book myself anyway.

(Ann Weller as "Sophia", 2002)

Good inquiry often starts with a question. So what are the "masks" of the Goddess? I don't mean the collection on my website, rather, the metaphorical and spiritual and psychological "masks". How do they exist within each of us, how do we wear them, consciously, and unconsciously? Are there new ones, nameless ones, ancient ones, future ones? What happens when a woman, or a group, "invokes" an archetype of a goddess? When one "wears" a mask, metaphorically or literally, I've often found that so much story, energy, collective mythos comes forward, inhabits us, co-creates with us, "anima - ates". To engage the Goddess in any form is to open a Conversation, a mysterious process of syncronicities, empowerments, insights, and plenty of "shadow work" as well.

Just yesterday I was thinking about Sophia. On the path before me, while walking, I saw a white dove (probably an albino mourning dove).............. a rare sight. Doves are the sigel of Sophia, Goddess of wisdom.

THE MASKS OF THE GODDESS - Benefit Auction



Dear Friends,

Since 1999, my "Masks of the Goddess" have traveled across the U.S. for exhibits, rituals, and community performances. The Goddesses have appeared in theatres in Sebastopol and Tucson, in the woods at the Starwood Festival, at the Chapel of the Sacred Mirrors in New York City, at Syracuse University's "Matrilineage Festival" and the Mask Symposium at the University of Southern Illinois, and many others. In 2006 it was my privilege to see the full collection reunited at the 27th Annual Spiral Dance at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco.

Now new projects call, and it's time for the masks to find new homes. So I'm offering them, through an auction, to you. I've purposefully made the prices low because I want to see them go to people who will continue their mythic journey. I'm also delighted to offer 30% of the proceeds to benefit The Independent Eye - the magical theatre ensemble of Elizabeth Fuller and Conrad Bishop, so they can develop their new initiative in visionary puppetry, "The Mythic Kitchen". (http://www.independenteye.org/)

The auction begins November 27, and lasts until January 27. To learn more, or bid on a mask in the collection, enter my gallery at http://www.rainewalker.com/ and visit the Auction page. Thank you for your support over the years - I'm so grateful for all we've shared. Metaquiesin.
Lauren Raine

Linda Johnston as " Bridgit" (photograph courtesy Thomas Lux)

Kathy Hutaluhta - "Cornmother Blessing" (Photo courtesy Ileya Stewart)


Mana Youngbear as "Amaterasu" (photo by Ileya Stewart)

Monday, November 19, 2007

November is also Thanksgiving.......

(Illuminated paper sculpture by Catherine Nash)



I have failed, in the course of pursuing my threads and poetics about November, to add that November is also the month of Thanksgiving, at least, in the United States it is. The end of November. And that makes sense to me ~ how can we talk about the closing of the year, going "into the dark", and honoring our ancestral strands ~ without, finally, arriving at GRATITUDE? For all that has been and been given, the gift of life not the least, the tapestry we each are woven into, and weavers as well?



Perhaps Gratitude is the soil, the enzyme, the only appropriate medium to plant any seed in.


PERSEPHONE'S FEAST DAY

When all the names are gone
when there is nothing left
for memory to feed upon
November hides
an unborn rhythm
of bells.


Perhaps all the wastes
of love and time
ferment their healing, here
in these nigrado depths,
becoming at last albedo,
the medicine.


There is no valor today in rooting
among decomposing fragments
of so many lives ~


I offer now bread, red fruit, red wine.
To life. Come to the table, all.
Here is a rich conversation
harvested from the last
living garden.


A dappled pear, an apple, a pomegranate.
A butterfly in it's chrysalis, winged, moist,
the slow rebirth of color
deep in the depths of this dream.


The weathervanes will turn again.
The wheat has new life in it yet.
The blessing will still be given.




Lauren Raine, 2005

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Reflections on Pace, Progress, and Hecate



Thought Woman Weaving the World into Being - 2007

"They move too fast to see more than the surface glitter of a life too swift to be real. They are assailed by too many new things ever to find the depths in the old before it has gone by. The rush of life past them they call "progress", though it is too rapid for them to move with it. Man remains the same, baffled and astonished, with a heap of new things around him but gone before he knows them. Men may live many sorts of lives, and this they call "opportunity", and believe opportunity good without ever examining any one of those lives to know if it is good. "

"Lord Dorn", from ISLANDIA, a novel by Austin Tappan Wright, 1942

The above quote lit up the page I was reading, and I felt moved enough to forsake my electric blanket, and come to the computer to copy it on my blog.

It's 4:00, I'm reading the book DANCING AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD - Thoughts on Words, Women and Places, by Ursula Kroeber Leguin. I have a cold or virus, and a recent conversation with my friend Barbara of San Francisco, about the dark, and menopause, and the crone Goddess Hecate, Guide through the Underworld, lie in bed with me, not entirely comfortable companions.

Now what does this comment have to do with Hecate, and my personal journey through the month of November, the month of endings, celebration of the dead, composting of the year, leaves, souls? What does this have to do with the saturnine retreat from just about everything, including my own creative process, that I've been going through ever since I returned to Tucson? Well, a lot. I see a long and winding spiral developing here, and I'm going to follow it down and around, imagining in my mind the thoughts, threads and connections similar to brown leaves, blowing across a dark November pavement, forming some winter crysalis, a pattern not yet under the snow, but soon, very soon it will be. Not to be revealed or read until the snow (which has not yet fallen) thaws in life's spring resurgence.

I love the quote above, from a popular 1940's Utopian novel, because its character, Lord Dorn, says it so well. Personally, I can't keep up anymore. I find myself retreating from the continual "stimulation" , hiding out, needing to get as far away sometimes into the wilderness as I can. What I feel a loss of is "depth experience". As our world accelerates, we find it harder and harder, I believe, to touch things. To touch the depths of the stories of our lives, to touch each other, to relish and taste what we have within the onslaught of "more, and more" - to touch the earth and the layers of lives that preceeded us, although we carry them within. I think the pace of our lives has taken away the time needed, the cyclical time reflected in all organic systems...........to "compost". To rot, fall apart, re-turn into the dark, re-form, be re-formed by the organic, collective forces we are woven into in the cycles of the planet, and our souls.

"In Western traditions" author Jay Weidner writes, "there was once a vast pilgrimage that took place in Europe. Pilgrims made their way towards the town of Compostella in Spain, where an ancient effigy of the BLACK MADONNA is housed. The word Compostella comes from the same root word as compost. COMPOST is the living, black material that is made from rotting fruits, grains and other organic matter. From this compost -- life and light will emerge. When the pilgrims came to the Cathedral at Compostella they were being 'composted' in a sense. After emergence from the dark confines of the cathedral and the spirit -- they were ready to flower, they were ready to return home with their spirits lightened."

Many Roman gardens used to have a special shrine devoted to the morose god, Saturn. A place, it was understood, one went to be alone, to brood, perhaps to grieve. As I get older, and my personal energy reserves are more concentrated and precious, I have come to believe that giving meloncholy its due, discovering what the gifts of depression are, taking time to experience the depths revealed in Saturn's solitary corner of the garden - is essential to nourishing, indeed sustaining, our spirits. Just as Romans understood the need to have a shadow-dappled seat dedicated to Saturn in the gardens of their lives, I think a seat devoted to Hecate, goddess of the underworld, in a contemporary garden, might be similar in design and purpose.

So who is Hecate? She's the crone aspect of the triple Earth Mother Demeter/ Persephone/ Hecate. Like Saturn, she is old. An old woman, past menopause, past many life passages, well aquainted with various portals that separate these seeming doors. A Gatekeeper, and a light bearer. She is part of the whole that is the Goddess, and she is within each of us.





"In us is also a dark angel (Hekate was also called "angelos") - a consciousness (she was also called "phosphoros") that shines in the dark and witnesses such events because it is already aware of them a priori.........Part of us is not dragged down but always lives there, as Hekate is partly an underworld Goddess."

The Dream and the Underworld, James Hillman

As Barbara pointed out (vehemently enough to demand I write it down, but after all, she did invoke and perform Hecate in 2001.....) - Hecate is the patroness of women (and men) who are no longer producing hormones. What are hormones? Well, from Gaia's point of view, they're very potent drugs that induce us to want to reproduce, and thus carry on the evolutionary experiment, braving the painful and even sometimes lethal consequences of childbearing. When estrogen is gone, as I've heard so many women say, many of life's illusions seem to peel away. Veils that have muffled all kinds of personal illusions, beliefs, and ideals fall away ..........and there you are. Revealed. Clarified. Pissed off that you've wasted so damn much of your precious time and energy on such nonsense, such dramas, such theatre, outraged and shamed that you were so stupid, immature, brainwashed,........human.

You begin to see the storylines more deeply, the threads that weave the plot. Just recently, for example, I've painfully re-experienced many moments in my mother's marriage to my father, understood at last how trapped she felt, how he enjoyed humiliating her, and how she felt she had to call enduring his cruelty "love" in order to emotionally survive. I see, of course, that I've carried on some of the same story in my own life, the same blinds. Time to "fall apart" has helped me to find compassion for my mother, and myself.

Occasionally, you also notice you are wise in your genuine, candid, and almost perfect Ignorance.
Maybe Hecate, in her mask and role as an old woman, standing so close to the final portals of this world, moving freely into the veiled realms - may be said to represent the SOUL aspect of self. "Part of us is not dragged down, but already lives there........." as Dr. Hillman said. Already lives there, the gestalt, the storyteller as well as the story. Looking at the yin/yang symbol I wear on a ring, I remind myself that somehow the various parts of my being are, like the dark teardrop and the white teardrop, in flux and co-creation. This weaving of story is not only enlightenment, it is also "endarkenment", the self that waits, is circular, un-named, yin. That "already lives there."

Already lives there, yes. But one does not converse with Hecate, and gain the benefits of Her guidance, without stopping, listening. Perhaps she will not come at all, until we fall apart, can't go any farther, run out of gas, slow the pace, fall off the treadmill. Thus, the necessary time to grieve, to be revealed, to make the pilgrimage to Compostella ..............comes about, and one may then see Her, poised, with her candle, at the doorway. She won't let you get away with anything - she'll illuminate it all, as you begin the journey. She will not make an appearance during commercial breaks, or at any "convenient time". I don't believe you'll find her in a day spa, and I don't even believe she has patience with prozac or anything that blunts the descent.

Hecate dwells in the Caverns, she dwells in the Depths.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Changes and Syncronicities


It's been a long time since I've written in this blog. Much has changed since I came back to Tucson, or perhaps it's easier to say that returning, I was immediately cast into any number of internal sea storms that precede change. My environment in Tucson is unchanged. Just me. I'm changing.

Returning several things happened: I became depressed. And angry. My life seemed so lonely here, purposeless, my concerns for my mother and troubled brother overwhelming and something I feel powerless to change or even talk about, many of my connections with others now seemed superficial. Feelings of needing to move on, not knowing where to move on to.........and so on. In other words, after my wanderings, I returned to find myself immersed in melancholy and confusion, feeling ashamed for feeling that way. After all, haven't I been talking about interconnectedness, and community, and healing, for all these years? How could I find myself in this Saturnine morass?

There are times when, like it or not, various illusions that have sustained a worldview, a personal myth, a relationship, the cocoon of a personality............breakdown, activate, digest, bloom, become......obvious. I found myself unhappy with myself, and just about everything else. That wasn't supposed to happen after my wonderful summer!

Meanwhile, butterflies turned up. Fluttering by at appropriate moments in the course of my thoughts, flying over my windshield while waiting in traffic as if to say "follow me". Then a woman from N.Y.C. called, and wanted two custom "Butterfly Women" for a convention. After making those masks (which I'm quite pleased with, they were beautiful), I also received an invitation to join "The Butterfly Connection", an arts organization in Ft. Worth, Texas! Depressed, and recovering from surgery, butterflies flutter metaphorically, creatively, literally, bringing their message of beauty, mystery, CHANGE.

I'd like to make a comment here about Butterflies. When the caterpillar is neatly cocooned in its crystallise, it's not necessarily having a great time, or even a nice nap in there. The "Imaginal Cells" (yes, that's what they are actually called) are enzymes and agents of change that basically reduce the poor caterpillar, and all of it's juvenile memories of munching contentedly on glossy summer leaves...............to SOUP. Change is rarely effortless, or comfortable.

One of the painful discoveries I made in the course of the past 6 Saturnine weeks is that my Masks of the Goddess project, at least as it has been for the past 8 years, is over. I need to move on, bringing closure to both the project and the past, a place and time I realize I'm stuck in. I no longer have the means to continue to keep the collection circulating, financially or emotionally. Coming to this realization has forced me as well to be honest with myself about many negative feelings that have accumulated like soot over the years as well - feelings of disappointment, anger at others, anger and shame at myself for often being unfair in my expectations of others. I feel lightened now, having done this "8 year life review". And all throughout, butterflies occurred.

Alan Moore, who created the Butterfly Gardener's Network, has often said that butterflies are messengers. I could write about magic, synchronicity, and Butterflies at considerable length, but first, I I think I need to write about the syncronicities that have occurred just recently, the reason for putting the cover to Robert Hopke's 1997 book
THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS - Synchronicity and the Stories of Our Lives
at the top of this page. Because, well, I've been given such an affirmation!

1997, ten years ago, was a visionary, intense year for me. My marriage was over, my psyche was wide open as I grieved the past and also opened to new life and possibility. That fall, after the papers came through, I left my home on the East Coast, and by early November, was settled into my little trailer on the grounds of the Arizona Renaissance Faire. Since the Faire is out in the desert outside of Apache Junction, and didn't open until February, I had lots of time to go crazy, dream, heal, and grieve, in relative isolation. I didn't have a clue what the next step was, but I did begin to learn about the Internet, and was enjoying my first computer, creating my first website. I had November, 1997 through March of 1998 to figure out what I was going to do next.

I began to get on the Web, looking up anything I could think that interested me. Transformative arts, masks, art and consciousness, ritual theatre, women's spirituality...........and every time, without fail, everything came up either San Francisco, Berkeley, or Marin Country, California. Without fail.

I lived in Berkeley in it's heyday, and went to U.C. Berkeley. I left in 1976, to move to the East Coast. I hadn't thought of returning to California, but now my interest struck. The clincher was when I searched for "The Center for Symbolic Studies", founded by Stephen Larsen in Rosendale, New York. I wanted to ask his wife, Robin, to write a recommendation for me, as I'd taught a workshop and given a performance there.

Up came "The Center for Symbolic Studies", in Berkeley, California. The founder, Robert H. Hopke, had just published a book called: "There Are No Accidents - Synchronicity and the Stories of our Lives".

I'm not sure it gets better than that, but perhaps Dr. Hopke has stories to match. Being at the crossroads anyway, that was the clincher. I packed up my van at the end of the season, my cat, and my laptop and headed back to Berkeley after 20 years absence, prepared to sleep in my car if necessary until I found a place.

Fortunately for me, my idea of finding a place in Berkeley was based on my memories of 1976. Otherwise, I might have been daunted indeed. On a glorious spring day, I rolled onto Telegraph Avenue, parked my van, and decided to have a cup of coffee at the Med before I began my new life. I walked in, stood in the cappachino line, and ran into an old friend, Joji Yokoi, who remembered me after all those years. Remembered me, bought me a coffee, and offered me a room in his house while I looked for a place.

I didn't have to sleep in my car even one night. Two months later I was Judy Foster's roomate, working with Food Not Bombs, and celebrating the summer Solstice with Starhawk and Reclaiming (Judy was one of the founders of Reclaiming). A year after that I had my Rites of Passage Gallery in Berkeley, created the Masks of the Goddess for the Spiral Dance, and was fire dancing with Serene Zloof and her friends. Everything that happened in those years ...... seemed like that. Seamless.

And then I returned to Arizona, in 2000. I've often wondered what it might have been like if I'd stayed, kept my gallery, continued the life I was enjoying so much in Berkeley. There was a period when I was desperate to return to California, to return to the life I had, the project that seemed to vital there, and so difficult to generate here - but of course, you can't really do that. You can't go back.

Concluding my project, selling the masks, brings up a lot. So I was delighted when I attended, just yesterday, a meeting of the Southern Arizona Friends of Jung. Their subject was the Divine Feminine, and I enjoyed sharing both my masks and knowledge with them. And there on the coffee table was Dr. Hopke's book, which one of the members had brought in randomly. It's not a common book at all, but to me, it was like a talisman. In the warmth of the group and their appreciation for my work I felt - affirmed.

The talisman opened, and closed, my ten year journey. A postcard from Spiderwoman. I don't know what to say at such moments, except, Thankyou. GRACE.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Anima Mundi - the World Soul


Here's another quote from Paulo I love. I love his way of speaking about how we are, each and every one of us, ensouled in not just our bodies - but the entire world.

"We spend all our life trying to lock ourselves inside a bloc of coherency, certainty and opinions. We do not understand that we are in the flowers, in the mountains, in the things that we see on our way to work every day. We rarely think that we came from a mystery - birth – and are heading towards another mystery – death."

Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Journey's end

Well, I'm back in Tucson and I guess the journey is over, for now. I hope there will be other journeys, other Chautauquas. Perhaps the last syncronicity is that the Tannahill Weavers are going to be playing here on Sunday - my onetime friend from Scotland, Kerry McNeil, gave me their music some 20 years ago, and I have listened to them ever since. I rarely spend money on concerts, but this.........yes!
I like this blog, I like that I have this journal and I can add to it anywhere I am. So I guess I'll keep it, and see where I go from here.

I've been reading Phillip Slater's "THE PURSUIT OF LONELINESS - American Culture at the Breaking Point", which was written in 1970. Sadly, this brilliant book is more relevant now than ever. I may do some writing in the future about reflections I've had on it.

So here is something inspiring, from To visit Paulo Coelho's "Warrior of the Light" ezine, something I just felt like sharing.

The good fight

“I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith,” says Paul in one of his Epistles. And it seems appropriate to remember the theme now that a new year is stretching out before us. Men can never stop dreaming.
Dreams are the food of the soul, just as food is to the body. In our existence we often see our dreams come undone, yet it is necessary to go on dreaming, otherwise our soul dies and Agape does not penetrate it. Agape is universal love, the love which is greater and more important than “liking” someone. In his famous sermon on dreams, Martin Luther King reminds us of the fact that Jesus asked us to love our enemies, not to like them. This greater love is what drives us to go on fighting in spite of everything, to keep faith and joy, and to fight the Good Fight.

The Good Fight is the one we wage because our heart asks for it. In heroic times, when the apostles went out into the world to preach the Gospel, or in the days of the knights errant, things were easier: there was a lot of territory to travel, and a lot of things to do. Nowadays, however, the world has changed and the Good Fight has been moved from the battle fields to within us.

The Good Fight is the one we wage on behalf of our dreams. When they explode in us with all their might – in our youth – we have a great deal of courage, but we still have not learned to fight. After much effort we eventually learn to fight, and then we no longer have the same courage to fight. This makes us turn against ourselves and we start fighting and becoming our own worst enemy. We say that our dreams were childish, difficult to make come true, or the fruit of our ignorance of the realities of life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid of fighting the Good Fight.

The first symptom that we are killing our dreams is lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life had time for everything. Those who did nothing were always tired and could hardly cope with the little work they had to do, always complaining that the day was too short. In fact, they were afraid of fighting the Good Fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams are our certainties. Because we do not want to see life as a great adventure to be lived, we begin to feel that we are wise, fair and correct in what little we ask of our existence. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day life and hear the noise of spears clashing, feel the smell of sweat and gun-powder, see the great defeats and the faces of warriors thirsty for victory. But we never perceive the joy, the immense joy in the heart of those who are fighting, because for them it does not matter who wins or loses, what matters only is to fight the Good Fight.

Finally, the third symptom of the death of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon, not asking too much of us and not asking more than what we want to give. So we feel that we are “mature”, leave aside the “fantasies of childhood” and guarantee our personal and professional success. We are surprised when someone our age says they still want this or that out of life. But deep in our heart we know that what has happened is that we gave up fighting for our dreams, fighting the Good Fight.

When we give up our dreams and find peace, we enjoy a period of tranquility. But our dead dreams begin to rot inside us and infest the whole atmosphere we live in. We start acting cruel towards those around us, and eventually begin to direct this cruelty towards ourselves. Sickness and psychoses appear. What we wanted to avoid in fighting – disappointment and defeat – becomes the only legacy of our cowardice.
And one fine day the dead and rotten dreams make the air difficult to breathe and then we want to die, we want death to free us from our certainties, from our worries, and from that terrible Sunday-afternoon peace.

So, to avoid all that, let’s face 2007 with the reverence of mystery and the joy of adventure.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Syncronicity and the Stories of our Lives

..




"The stories that we live, the stories that the symbolic nature of syncronistic events bring to our awareness, are mythic. Yet how many of us think of ourselves as characters in a story, no less as characters living out a myth? The unusual occurance of a syncronicity serves to heighten our sensitivity to the sacred and symbolic dimension of our everyday lives. But why do so many of us resist such a way of thinking? Why would we want to dismiss or ignore the story we are living?"

Robert H. Hopcke
THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS - Syncronicity and the Stories of Our Lives
Riverhead Books, 1997

Back in Tucson now - Spider Woman's threads fall across my path. The subject seems to be Syncronicity - something I'm always aware of, and think so often about, and yet veer away from because of my (human) tendency to immediately imbue each experience with "meaning" and a personal destiny. I don't believe it's that simple, although I do believe the phenomenon of Syncronicity has to do with the nature of consciousness itself, interconnectivity, and Weaving.
Perhaps the best way to understand them, for me, is to think of them as Spiderwoman's Way of Saying Hello.

"Theatre comes from the same Greek word as Theology -
 'theos' or 'god'" ---Robert Hopke

Two syncronicities greet me on my return......the first as I was unpacking. I found a little pack of souvenir cards I picked up in Beatrice, Nebraska when I went to visit my grandmother's grave in June. The first card on the top of the deck was - Chautauqua!

Honest! Here's the other: Opening my email, there was an order from a woman who wanted a mask. I learn that Teri lives in Indiana, so I told her about my enthusiasm for the area I had just visited in Indiana, French Lick and West Badon Springs. Guess where Teri lives? In Jasper, just down the road. Her son worked in the French Lick spa while the murals were being re-painted (the rococco painter was imported from Hungary). And she also tells me the reason it's called "Pluto Water" was probably because of the high sulpher content, which perhaps equated the springs with the underground realm of Pluto in the minds of the first European settlers. She tells me also that her son saw statues and other mythological artifacts of Pan, left over from the earlier days of the spa. Apparently the Jesuits confined them to the basement long ago, and there the old boy still resides, still too risque for the locals.*

Well, I'm back in Tucson, and once again, my creativity seems to dissipate like water evaporating into the desert sand. I don't know how much longer I can bear to live here, because outside of love and responsibility for my very elderly mother, I've never been able to really feel I belong here, although I know many people who do. Arizona is the fastest growing state in the country - and now, ironically, with real estate speculation and developers foaming at mouth in ecstasies of greed - the arts district is almost extinct.

Syncronicity - sometimes it's so funny I have to laugh. I pulled out a book I bought in 1998 by a Jungian psychologist then living in Berkeley, California, Robert Hopcke. Here's a story that I swear is true, about a series of syncronicities that led me to a new passage in my life, to opening a gallery and creating the Masks of the Goddess series, so fraught with Spiderwoman's threads that it's virtually a tapestry.

In 1997 my ex husband, Duncan, and I finally divorced and my life in New York with him, and our community, wholly ended. I left the East Coast in November 1997, shortly after the papers finally came through, to winter at Apache Junction (I had a trailor on the Arizona Renfair grounds) and sort out what was next, as well as giving myself the time to grieve and process. It was a time of enormous psychic and emotional opening for me. I had begun to follow a trail of syncronicities and signs earlier that year, touchstones - if for no other reason than that I felt so lost and unsure about everything. It was a "year of magical thinking".

During that fall I remember I had been sitting at a bench with my morning coffee, thinking about the internet, which I had just become interested in. I looked down, noticing something shiny at my feet. It was an earring - a silver spider web! I put the earring on, feeling it just might be a sign of some kind, and sure enough, a few days later I was approached by a friend who was starting a website business. Would I be interested in a website? They offered me a very good deal, and within the month I had my first computer, and we were designing my website, http://www.rainewalker.com/

In Arizona, I began to learn about my computer in earnest, and to explore the Internet. I wore my silver spiderweb earring always in my ear, imagining it a talisman from Spiderwoman that would, surely, somehow, lead me to the connections I was meant to have. And my prayers were mostly..... "what's next, Universe? Where do I go from here?"

One day I got on the Internet and searched for just about everything I could think of that I was interested in (since my laptop was Windows 3.0 dialup, this took some patience). I searched for Transformative Arts, Ritual Theatre, Mask Theatre, Healing Arts, Creation Spirituality, Sacred Dance........ and every time, absolutely every time, it came up Berkeley, Marin County, or San Francisco, California. Every time.

What finally clinched it was when I looked for "the Center for Symbolic Studies", a place in Rosendale, New York, created by Steven and Robin Larsen, where I had presented a performance. I wanted to get a letter of recommendation from Robin.

It came up "The Center for Symbolic Studies" in Berkeley, California, and belonged to Dr. Hopcke, who had just published a book called: THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS - Syncronicity and the Stories of Our Lives.

Well, that was enough for me. At the end of my season, I packed up my van and cat and headed to Berkeley, California, where I hadn't been for 20 years. Twenty years can bring a lot of changes, and fortunately for me, I still had in my mind the easy going Berkeley of my hippie days. I had no idea, among other things, of how difficult it could be to get a place to live there. But I was determined to follow whatever daemon, destiny, or folly was leading me on, and I resolved to sleep in my car until I found a place.

Arriving in Berkeley I parked near Telegraph Avenue, and headed for the familiar Cafe Med, where I used to hang out when I was at the University. I immediately ran in to someone, Joji Yokoi - who after 20 years still recognized me. Joji generously bought me a cup of coffee, and offered me a room in his house until I found a place to live.

I didn't have to spend a single night in my car, as it turned out. Not one.
Here's another one I "have on film"........ Can't resist sharing this syncronicity as well. The above is "Cosmic Cash" made by a lovely woman who lives in San Francisco named Nicole. I met Nicole through Alan Moore, the originator of the Butterfly Gardener's Organization, a network for World Peace. Nicole's Cosmic Cash is something she distributes for good karma and mindfulness whereever it's needed. And Alan, of course, knows more about Butterfly magic than anyone I ever met.

The photo below was taken from a photo published by the San Francisco Chronicle, shortly after the big Peace March against the war in 2003. Alan, Nicole and I marched together - I chose to wear the mask of Sophia, the Goddess who embodies peace, truth, and wisdom. Alan has his butterfly, me my mask, and on the right side of the photo - Nicole (standing with her back to the camera) - has her Cash.
* (Mythologically speaking, I have to comment that it's worth considering the cultural significance of a universal vision of a tortured, bleeding, and suffering man as the sacrificial center of so many public altarpieces - and a happy, sexy fellow playing a pipe and chasing nymphs is consigned, for almost a century, to the basement for "obscenity".)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Afterward - Syncronicity and Spiderwoman in Indiana

The moon is full and the night is very hot, somewhere in Missouri. Cicadas drone their mating calls, an August chorus. I’m still allergic to everything, wondering if my dignity is forever gone along with the use of my nose. But Magic has been afoot. Quite often I don’t write or talk about days like this, because I doubt others will see the wonderful intersections and weave that I see, worse, we'll try to figure out what it all "means".

Syncronicities are Spider Woman's way of saying "hello".

When synchronicities chose me, or I blunder into them, they flurry about with such literary qualities that I sometimes think its like being inside a novel where the plot is about to become clear. Ephemeral, transparent, funny, poetic strands.

“Tse Che Nako, the Spider,
is sitting in her room thinking of a story now.
I’m telling you the story
She is thinking.”

I had my map on the motel bed, ready to open yesterday a.m. I was thinking about two things. The first was the fact that I was 30 some miles from industrial Gary, Indiana, and the road was apparently flooded there. This could mean hours getting through Gary. And then there was Chicago. The prospect was not appealing. The other item on my mind were my friends Morgana and Phil, who live in Indianapolis. I’d been thinking of visiting them since Spring, but now assumed it was too late to just “pop in” unannounced.

I glanced at my dog-eared map, which had long ago lost its cover. Now the cover was page two of “Routes of Interest”, and my eye fell on “Indiana” (right in the center of the page, with “Louisiana” below it.) The authors suggested I take a scenic drive through West Baden and visit historic French Lick Springs. The prospect of possibly discovering a new hot spring seemed attractive, and I opened the map to find that I could head on down to Indianapolis, maybe convince my friends, on short notice, to have dinner with me, and if not, take a hilly route to a possible soak and end up on 64, which would eventually lead me to route 70, across Kansas, and the welcome road to Colorado.

The moon was fulling, and butterflies kept flying in and out of my field of vision. I decided a trip to Indianapolis was a good idea, and headed down the road, taking my bearings at Roseville. I would follow the “rose line”, a symbolic idea related to the Goddess that I’ve been thinking of before the Da Vinci Code.

I wondered why the place was called French Lick. I later learned that the area, before it was settled by white people, had been an important migration route for buffalo because of salt licks in the area. The new settlers had literally followed the buffalo to the wells. The first Europeans to settle at French Lick were French Jesuit missionaries, and one of the first businesses established in the area had to do with salt mining.

“Routes of Interest” informed me that I could have a soak at the Pluto Baths for $20.00. This is no longer true - any soaking areas where the public might have once taken the curative waters are now replaced with expensive spas. I don’t know why they were called Pluto Waters either, but there on the ceiling of the French Lick Spa were huge, Rococo, paintings of Pluto, Persephone, Orpheus, Eurydice, Cerberus, and the Underworld.

I felt a bit like I was within a personal mythic event, because the myth of Persephone and Hades has been significant to me for many years - my little novel, THE SONG OF MEDUSA, was based on it. I have identified with the Persephone archetype strongly in my past - Jennifer Barker and Roger Woolger wrote eloquently about this in their 1989 book "The Goddess Within", a book that informed much of my interest in Goddess spirituality. A page mark in my own story. It is interesting to note that Pluto means "wealth". The wealth of the below, the hidden, the depths of the earth. Or, as Robert Bly has pointed out, the inner life of the psyche:

"Pluto, or Hades, took Persephone downward and inward. She went to live with Pluto, whose name means "wealth", and so all of us go, when we go into "walled garden" to encounter the wealth of the psyche, which is especially rich with grief." (Iron John, 1990)

What the area meant to the native people who lived there, I do not know, although I’m sure it was, like all places where healing waters bubble out of the earth, a sacred place. Maybe it was a place of pilgrimage, in the same way that people still go to the Chalice Well in Ireland. It is still a place where native people make Vision Quest. Where they go to "talk with the Earth". I thought of Phil making his prayer ties while he was there in the Spring for his ceremony, I thought of the Irish who still tie “Klooties”, which are essentially prayer ties, on bushes near holy wells and springs, and I thought about the prayer ties Kathy Space and I just created in Midland, resting on a podium at my show just a few weeks ago.

Morgana and Phil are extraordinary people, extraordinary healers. They’re a rare and complimentary partnership, Phil specializing in massage and physical therapy, and Morgana is a Reiki master, intuitive healer and psychic. In the past year they had begun working at a metaphysical store in Indianapolis, and their dream had long been to open a healing center of their own, but the financial means was never available. When I met them two years ago while we were camping at Brushwood, we took an immediate liking to each other, and I traded one of my Earth Shrine sculptures in exchange for body work with Phil, and Morgana gave me the first degree Reiki initiation and I’ve often used the Reiki to ease breathing when I’m asthmatic. Both Morgana and Phil exude energy. Phil has participated in the Sun Dance for years.

When I got to Indianapolis, I met them at a Border’s bookstore, and they took me to the metaphysical center where they worked. Indianapolis - my mind was full of judgmental images of hostile rednecks, motorcycle races, and my fear of Baptists.

Many of my lessons this year have been about tolerance, and learning that I also am walking around with many assumptions and judgments that get in the way of what I preach. If the “Hoop of the Nations” Black Elk envisioned is going to manifest, if the unity of diversity within Spiderwoman’s Web is going to harmonize - well, the process begins within each one of us. And so, waiting for my friends in a bookstore in Indianapolis, I idly picked up a local paper, which had a beautiful painting of Gaia as the Tree of Life right there on the cover. How many times have I painted this image myself?

“Never Make Assumptions” The Four Agreements

Morgana gave me the 2nd degree Reiki initiation. Then Phil worked on my eternally stiff neck, and I joined Morgana’s healing class where we did a meditation, and invoked Thoth, also called Hermes by the Greeks, god of healing, the god who brings “messages“. (He was on the ceiling of the French Lick Spa as well. Go figure.) By the time we had dinner, I was buzzing with energy.

My strand to weave this summer has been about coming out of the depression and disillusionment (and health issues) I’ve been mired in for so long, to become clearer, detox my spirit as well as my body, and begin a new year truly new. To re-weave my spirit back into the Web, into a renewed experience of connectedness. To open my heart again, which has become closed in many ways, for all my talk of unity. I’ve just had my birthday, in fact, I left Michigan on my birthday, August 19th, which seemed fitting. The ritual process was not just designed for the community of Midland, Michigan, but was my personal ritual process as well.

I learned that Phil went on his Vision Quest, preparatory to doing the Sun Dance this summer - at the state park in French Lick. The heart of French Lick is the recently restored white towered building behind formal gardens - West Baden Springs, “The Carlsbad of America”. This historic building was once called the “8th Wonder of the World” because it boasted the largest suspended glassed dome in the world. Restored finally only within the past year to its original turn of the century splendor, 6 stories of guest rooms, spas, restaurants, and bars encircle a huge sunlight center, with inlaid marble tiled floor, and statues of the muses. Its stunning, an amazing architectural feat. I felt the ghosts all around me of a more elegant time, the guests come to "take the waters".

Here’s the synchronicity that tops them all. After the stock market crash of 1929, the owners. Bankrupt, sold the famous resort to the Jesuits for a dollar. For years it was a Jesuit seminary until 1967, when it was purchased by the Whitings of Midland, Michigan, and became a campus of Northwood University until 1983. Northwood, on whose campus I had just spent the summer! After that the building sat desolate until it was restored just this year!

Spiderwoman is still with me. I proceed down the road, awed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chautauqua


"What is in my mind is a sort of
Chautauqua - like the traveling tent-show Chautauqua’s that used to move across America, an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer. The Chautauquas were pushed aside by faster -paced radio, movies and TV, and it seems to me the change was not entirely an improvement. Perhaps because of these changes the stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and is broader, but it seems to run less deep. In this Chautauqua I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply to dig deeper into old ones that have become silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale, and platitudes too often repeated.

There are eras of human history in which the channels of thought have been too deeply cut and no change was possible, and nothing new ever happened, and “best” was a matter of dogma, but that is not the situation now. Now the stream of our common consciousness seems to be obliterating its own banks, flooding the lowlands, disconnecting and isolating the highlands and to no particular purpose other than the wasteful fulfillment of its own interna
l momentum. Some channel deepening seems called for."

Robert Pirsig, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"



Now that the project has ended, or at least is going to grow without needing me - well, what's next? Should I end this blog? I haven't been the most faithful blogger, and I honestly don't know what's next. But it gives me pleasure to see the process of the past few months archived here.

I know I called this journey a "vision quest", but it would be better to call it, as Robert Pirsig wrote - a Chautauqua. I happen to be in Chautauqua county again, at this very moment, enjoying the green saturated, moist light that inhabits this place, a peculiar place of geomantic potency that has been called “the burned over zone”. Because so much religious fervor, utopian dreams, and spiritual experiment has occurred here in the past 150 years, from the Suffragettes and Lily Dale school for mediums, to the Shiloh Community and the origins of Mormonism.

I hit the road looking for vision and adventure, and succeeded, although mostly its been about weaving into a more harmonious pattern various loose threads and frays of my self. Among other things, a lot of shadow work - getting to know on a more familial basis my demons, and realizing the real value of the conversation. I think I understand now why the fallen angel was called "Lucifer", which means "Light bearer". Because the shadow brings so much illumination, if we can but engage the dialogue.

But this has, now that I think about it, been a Chautauqua for me. Bringing forth what I know and have to share to a new community. It hasn't been easy, which is what makes it most valuable for me. I've learned a lot.

So, the question that rolls west with me now is - how do I define myself as an artist now, what is next? If I'm going to continue with my Chautauqua, then it will require a rigourous discipline on my part. Matt Burke, the other resident artist I made good friends with this summer, shared not a few conversations with me about this subject. The fact is, very few people do care, even those who are close to you. After years of returning to Tucson with my new work and adventures, I've become used to few if anyone I know acknowledging what I bring back, artistically or intellectually. That's how it is these days.

You have to let it go, and not concern yourself with how many people care about what what you're doing, not care about how much money you make or don't make, not care about what any institution or magazine or even colleague thinks art "is". Ultimately, it has to become your spiritual path, your meditation, your thread that weaves you into harmony and depth.

"The truest art I would strive for would be to give the page the same qualities as Earth: weather would land on it harshly; light would elucidate the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding. Finally, the lessons of impermanence would teach this: loss constitutes an odd kind of fullness, and despair empties out into an unquenchable appetite for life"

Gretel Ehrlich
"The Solace of Open Spaces"

Thursday, August 16, 2007

reception tonight august 16th at the Midland Arts Center



Tomorrow I leave Midland, Fellowship completed, and Spider Woman's Web spun and still spinning. The show and talk last night was a great success! And I am very pleased that Kathy Space, and the Creative Spirit Center in Midland have decided to continue this Community Arts Project and will have another exhibition of the pieces, with new work as they include new participants, later in the year.

My sculptures will remain with Kathy to be included in the future show. Beyond that, I'm very happy indeed that the Web was woven, and continue to weave, even if I'm not here!

No artist could ask for more.

My gratitude to many: to Kathy Space and Space Studio, my collaborator. To the participants who worked with us to create this project. To my friend and colleague Matte Burke, for his insight and creative inspiration in the course of this residency. To Christiana and Nancy from the Center for all of their support and help. To the Midland Arts Center, and Northwood University for housing and resources, as well as the many days I've spent in the forests around the University.

And especially, to the Alden B. Dow Creativity Center - and the spirit of Alden Dow, whose presence is deeply felt here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Show at Midland Arts Center

"Thought Woman Weaving the World"

I wanted to post some of the images from the show that I'll be having with the other Fellows next week at the Midland Arts Center (August 16th from 7:00 to 9:00). My community arts project "Hands of the Spiderwoman - Weaving Ourselves Back Into the Web" will be on display, and I'll be giving a brief talk. I look forward to seeing participants there! And also look forward, after the residency ends next week, to some "down time" to process the work and insights of this summer.

Thanks again to so many who made the work possible, and most of all, to the Aldon B. Dow Creativity Center.


"Hands of Spider Woman - Healing the Rift"

Icon #7"We are the Weavers, We are the World"


"The River Face"

"Dancing on the Bones"


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rilke

What we call fate

does not come to us from outside:

it goes forth from within us.


Rainier Maria Rilke