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

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"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".)