Monday, May 28, 2007

Threads of the Spider Woman - a personal and artistic journey

"It is through the poetry of myth, mask and metaphor Spiderwoman comes alive. The rock surface of an ancient petroglyph site is merely a veil between the observer and the other transcendental realms; it becomes a portal through which to enter the world of Spider Woman. As others have written before me:

"She is with me now as I tell you these stories."

Carol Patterson-Rudolph, Cultural Anthropologist

“Speak to the Earth and it shall teach thee.” Job XII:8



It's my privilege to have been awarded a fellowship at the Alden Dow Creativity Center, at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan, to develop "Threads of the Spiderwoman" - a Cross-Disciplinary Community Arts Project exploring the legacy of the Spiderwoman, past, present and future. I'm also very grateful to the Puffin Foundation for the opportunity they have given me to further production of this as yet unmanifest work......so I'm doubly delighted at the opportunity to weave this tapestry of masks, storytelling, and community into a whole.
I'll also be attending their annual
Creativity Conference , held at Northwood University July 12th through 15th. Alden Dow was one of the first architects to receive a fellowship with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin, and was Michigan's architect laureate.

Although I find it an intimidating prospect, I intend this journal, on Spiderwoman's great global Web otherwise known as the Internet - to be a record of my artistic and spiritual pilgrimage as I travel down the threads She may cast my way as I pursue my quest. And, since the Telling is never really alone, I'm most glad and privileged to include the insights, stories, art and observations of any others who may care to join in this weaving. Ah ho. And......so may it be.

Grandmother Spiderwoman is also called "Thought Woman" by the Pueblo people of the Southwest. Spiderwoman is a Creatrix deity among the Navajo, the Lakota, the Zuni, Hopi, and Pueblo peoples......and it's said that She is so small, she can sit on one's shoulder and never be seen. And yet, and yet, She inspires us with her wisdom, helps us to truly see the Connections, by whispering in our ears. And yet, and yet.........She is, after all, everywhere. So how do I find my way back, or forward as the case may be, to that deep experience of "connection"? How can I weave not only a community arts project, but my own understanding, my own experience of harmony?

Spiderwoman's Web is ancient, is ecology, is human lineage, the evolving global society, a new paradigm, and old paradigm, is non-human lineage, is contemporary, is the future, is now, is All My Relations. The little thing, the big thing, the invisible, urgent, now. Her threads spiral out from a perfect center, extending into all planetary endeavors, a symetry of ultimate interdependency. I cannot help but feel the Internet, the strand upon which we meet at this very moment, is yet another of Her latest appearances.....and I find that a hopeful thought.

Spiderwoman's “Web” is what quantum physicists call “Entanglement Theory” - increasing evidence that everything , from stars to subatomic particles, is ultimately interdependent, timeless, one. Perhaps scientists are now telling what Native American storytellers long ago told - what we think and what we do affects everyone and everything. We are all Relations.


Perhaps one way to begin is to share here an excerpt from "Spiderwoman Speaks", last performed at "Restoring the Balance", a community ritual in Tucson, Arizona in 2004. I wrote the piece, and performed it myself back in 1999 when I was the creator of "Rites of Passage Gallery", in Berkeley, California. Just as in Tucson, we concluded our ritual theatre event with Spiderwoman extending a Web for all participants present to tie or hold, thus connecting with each other by literally "weaving" the audience into a web.
Walk into the desert and sit beneath a cholla.

Be silent. Notice the shapes of things,
The shapes of bald mountains, a hawk against the sky.
The shape of shadows,the shape of the sky,
the shape of your own shadows.

There are stories, here,
stories woven into the land,
in the roots of things.
Roots, and stories,
running underground,
running through the dark.
Stories that wrap around old bones,
and pottery shards,
stories of those who are gone,
and those who are yet to come.

And cracks in the land
like a spider web,
full of light.

Once, you could see the Web
just as plain as day.
Songlines, leylines, threads, connections,
the pattern.
Each shining thread connected
to each shining, lightwoven strand.

You don't need to climb a mountain
to get the big picture. All of its snaking rivers
and twining roots
are inside of you.
All those threads........
that come right out of your hands
and right out of your hearts.
All those threads that just go on forever
that go on forever
down into the Earth,and into each other,
and into all your stories,
and into everyone you'll ever know,
and into all those who came before you,
and all those who will come after you.

Call to me, I'll answer
you'll see me in the mirror,
in dreams, in syncronicity,
anywhere you look.

Oh, Metaquiesin.