Saturday, January 17, 2009

Reflections on Visioning

"Spider Woman's Hands" - 2007 (Alden Dow Fellowship)

Back in Truth or Consequences for a little while, I find grief, and a feeling of lack of purpose are my frank companions. I miss my brother. There are many things I wish I could have said to him, when I had the chance.

I'm about as psychic as a brick these days (and perhaps that is unfair to bricks, since I have never actually had an intimate conversation with one.) But that is why I was pleased when a bit of magic happened this morning.
"Spider Woman's Hands" - Mississippian Gorget, ca 1300 ad.

I was in my studio trying to finish up the paper I will be reading at the Claremont Conference on Pagan Studies soon - it's on Spider Woman, of course. Last night I was up late trying to find out (unsuccessfully) who or from where the "prophecy of the return of the Spider Woman" came from. I confess, writing academic papers is frustrating to me, and so I wander around the vicinity of the typewriter, taking every chance to get distracted. So I bent down to check on the heater, and (I swear!) a tiny little brown spider fell down on it's web seemingly from the top of my head! I carefully positioned a plate under my nose to catch it, and then moved it to the window to watch it. Once again, a little spider (I would be alarmed, were it ever a large one) has dropped down from my head or my hat right before my nose. Spiders have done some pretty interesting things around me in the past few months.........

I like to think it's Spider Woman's way of saying "hello".

I've been thinking about visions. There was a time when I was blessed with several significant visions (by visions, I mean visionary experiences had while in a conscious or voluntary trance state, and not while asleep) that have very much informed my life and my art.

I'd like to say that visions are Grace, divine gifts. Among the Lakota, long preparations were made for the Vision Quest, in order to invite visions, and when a vision occurred it was shared collectively, discussed, and determined if it had prophetic or ceremonial significance for not only the individual recipient, but for the entire tribe. This is something we have entirely lost, and indeed, we cannot differentiate between someone who has had a true vision (which, in native wisdom, would be considered a gift), and a schizophrenic.

(I think of the great visions of St. Teresa, or the works of Hildegaard Von Bingham. I do not think they would fare so well in today's world.)

"The Universal Mind Lattice", Alex Grey

I remember a conversation years ago in Brooklyn with Alex and Allyson Grey about the shared vision they had while taking LSD. Their need to communicate that vision resulted in "THE SACRED MIRRORS". The need to understand it set them on their spiritual path (by the way, they have recently bought a retreat center in upstate NY where they are planning on housing the Sacred Mirrors and developing a center for sacred arts. Visit the link above to learn more.)

Here's the point - true visionary experience is meant to be shared. Art is one way, ceremony or ritual is another. To be given true vision, which is archetypal, collective, and exists on multiple layers of meaning, and then deny it's value, is an enormous waste. So here I am this morning (and I just noticed a single shining transparent spider thread stretching from my window pane to some infinite point into the air..........well, I've been feeling lately that these gifts I need to share, communicate. A blog is a good place to start; maybe someday I can produce a few paintings as well.


This occurred in 1989. I was driving on an interstate in Virginia heading north. I became very tired, and pulled off the road. Almost immediately, I fell into a half-sleeping, half-trance state.

My little red Toyota pick up began to fly! It seemed as if it could fly not only through distance but perhaps through time as well. I looked down and I was over a green landscape, green and misty. Below I saw patterns of dolmens laid out in a spiral. There were lines of people who were coming up a hill toward that spiral pattern, reverently, as if in a ceremonial procession.
Then I was in a Southwestern landscape. I found myself contemplating petroglyphs on a cliff - spirals, figures, circles, layers of petroglyphs that receded into the rock face. And then I was flying over Los Angeles! I saw freeways making vast, snakelike patterns across the land, culminating in a figure eight infinity sign. What this means to me is that the living Earth, Gaia, speaks through the land, and through us, across the ages - even now, unseen, ever present.

And then I opened my eyes to a soft Virginia morning. In the "Song of Medusa" (with the voice of my character "Sibyl") I described that vision, from the imaginary perspective of a Neolithic shaman):

"I do not know the meaning of such a vision; perhaps it belongs to some distant past or a future beyond imagining. But I do believe this: the Song of Her purposes is written upon the land in all places, and in all times."

THE SONG OF MEDUSA, Lauren Raine & Duncan Eagleson


This vision came with help from a teacher of mine, Jewel. Jewel is a true shaman, who lives on her land which she has developed as a teaching center, THE SOURCE, in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. When I met Jewell I was living in Brattleboro, Vermont. I was divorcing from my former husband, Duncan, and was full of the grief, anger, and remorse that comes with the ending of a marriage.

I went to see Jewell for an energy healing. When she put me on her table, she said prayers before she began.

I slipped into a trance state - it seemed as if I was watching short clips from movies, without any sound. I saw African men drumming around a fire, then the body of an emaciated black woman lying on a bed, a ceremonial room of some kind with thousands of orange marigolds, a white man, balding and heavyset with glasses, and many more.

At some point, I felt I was pulled backward, given some distance, so that these "movie clips" became like a patchwork quilt, all occurring at once. I remember thinking how beautiful they were from that perspective.

Suddenly, a Great Being arrived. I cannot actually describe that presence, because there was no form - she was composed of light. The only identification I felt I could make was that she was female. She didn't speak to me, only radiated the most intense compassion I have ever felt. She also radiated a profound sense of humor! It was as if she was saying, "Look Lauren, take a good look at this. It's going to be alright. You'll meet again. Don't take on so."

I shall never forget the power of that radiant being. I later learned that Jewell begins her sessions with prayers to the Goddess Tara. And to me, that was the Goddess White Tara; which is why I have prayed to her and tried to honor her with my masks ever since. And,come to think of it. I've been very fortunate in that way!

Om Tare Tu Tare Tare Soha

Mana Youngbear as "Tara", 2004

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

Couldn't get the link to "Medusa" to work. I liked this text a lot! Just wanted to tell.