Sunday, November 27, 2011

In the Belly of the Goddess - Gobekli Tepe

Since posting about the Bosnian Pyramids, I received an email from my friend Susan about another megalithic mystery I was not aware of,  the buried temples of Turkey, Gobekli Tepe a ceremonial  landscape that may very well be 12,000 years old.  Gobekli Tepe  means  "Belly Hill" or "Hill With A Navel".   According to Wikipedia, 

"Göbekli Tepe is the oldest, human-made religious structure yet discovered. The site is located on a hilltop, and contains 20 round, (now) subterranean structures, four of which have currently been excavated. Each building has a diameter of 10–30 meters, and is decorated with massive (mostly) T-shaped limestone pillars that are the most striking feature of the site.  That neolithic people with such primitive flint tools quarried, carved, transported uphill, and erected these massive pillars has astonished the archaeological world, and must have required a staggering amount of manpower and labor.  In the structures, two pillars were placed in the center of each circle, possibly to help support the roof, and up to eight pillars were evenly positioned around the walls of the room.  Many of the pillars are decorated with carved reliefs of animals and of abstract enigmatic pictograms. The pictograms may represent commonly understood sacred symbols, as known from Neolithic cave paintings elsewhere."  Wikipedia

The structures on this site were built about 12,000 years ago (10,000BC) during the last ice age,  and intentionally buried about 8,000 years ago. No one knows who these people were, what the massive buildings were for, or  why they were buried. After 13 years of work only an estimated 5% has been uncovered.  Amazing........pyramids in Bosnia, and stone circles in Turkey, of such great antiquity.***

Turkey is near the area called the Fertile Crescent, until recently regarded as home to the earliest human civilizations of Mesopotamia, the "Cradle of Civilization".  These lands now so disturbed by conflict, revolution, war  and the struggle for  diminishing reserves of oil ,  the source of power for our civilization......are also the homeland of the ancient Great Mother, the lands of Innana, Ishtar, Astarte, Lilith, and the Shekinah, the feminine face of God in Judaism. 

As so often happens, a synchronicity, a thread from the Great Web,was thrown my way when I received an email from a colleague, Israeli artist Dorit Bat Shalom, inviting me to join a group of artists exploring peacemaking in the Mideast on the same page with Susan's link to "Belly Hill".  What came to mind immediately was a conversation Dorit and I had long ago, a conversation that has a resonance for me with this mysterious site. 

We were speaking of  the degradation of the feminine throughout western culture, religion, language.  When even God is gendered male to the exclusion of the other half of the human psyche, and further, defined primarily as a warrior god,  we are split and divided.  Humanity is divided against itself, and the Mother archetype is degraded.   Speaking beyond politics to an ancient wound,  Dorit asked,  

"How can there ever be peace without the Shekinah?  The Shekinah, the Goddess,  has been driven away from the holy lands. We  can not heal without Her."  

The Goddess has many faces - the Trilogy of Maiden, Mother, Crone, the Divine Feminine, the Dark Goddess, and Mother Earth.  Archeologist Marija Gimbutas pointed out the cultural bias of our time when she suggested that so called "fertility fetishes" (read that "paleolithic pornography") such as the famous Venus of Willendorf were not
 just fetishes, but probably represented instead the prime Deity, the "Great Mother".   Here is the immeasurably ancient womb/tomb idea, the original source of burial ritual, as well as death/rebirth ordeals of being buried alive  in shamanic societies.  New life, the primal mystery,  our ancestors observed, comes from women,  thus, life comes from Mother Earth as well, and returns to her womb again for rebirth. The Belly of the Mother.

Once again, one can only ask in awe, why would ancient peoples go to such difficulty to create vast megalithic ceremonial structures, charting and coursing the land with circles, pyramids,  avenues, creating sacred landscapes that were, perhaps, hundreds of years in the making, and thousands of years in use?  Gobekli Tepe, and possibly the pyramid complex being discovered in Bosnia, make Stonehenge, and Avebury, and the strange Callenish stones of the Hebrides.....seem modern.  Still, there seems a continuity.  I speculate that these sacred landscapes  were sited with a knowledge of, and reverence for,  the energies of the earth, the  geo-magnetic and spiritual forces.  They sited them to contain and utilize the "Geomantic Source"  for their spiritual life, which might very well have included the primal mystery or enactment of the   birth-death-rebirth cycle ( a relatively "recent" example of this was the Eleusinian Mysteries which lasted some 2,000 years, and whose origins may go back to Minoan, and even Neolithic times. ****)  The site's Turkish  name,  which means  "Belly Hill" or "Hill With A Navel"  is an interesting coincidence  when one considers this so ancient site in the "cradle of civilization".  "Navel of the World"......certainly, a site with revered circled enclosures,  which could have imitated the circles of planetary, seasonal life, perhaps, the round womb of the earth Mother.   Perhaps, a complex dedicated to the first and most ancient of human rites, coupled with an experiential understanding of the power of earth energies that we need to reclaim.   

"Ancestral Midwives" (2009)

The author of one of the articles about Gobekli Tepe  I read made some (annoying) conjectures about the "Garden of Eden". 

("Do these mysterious stones mark the site of the Garden of Eden?"
I wish mythology was a part of all curriculum, because so few people take the time to explore some of the origins of the very mythologies that inform our culture and religions.  But then, people don't like to have their myths disturbed, because, after all, it's quite disturbing.  You just might end up having to change your worldview!

Long before there was a "Garden of Eden, original sin, or snakes that seduced Eve and hence left her responsible for all the miseries of mankind" there was the Great Mother and Her circular rites.  Gimbutas has suggested that before the Goddess was even personified as Hathor, or Isis, or Inanna,  She was the mysterious place and force of birth and death, Mother Earth. 

In Biblical lore, the snake is "Eve-ill".  Sometimes the evil snake is personified as Lilith, the shadow Goddess who is a temptress in the Tree of Life, talking Eve into disobeying God.  When Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, he drove out the earlier Druidic religion, and their reverence for the magical forces of nature.  But what is the snake in antiquity, why is this symbol so very  ubiquitous, once sacred, then with the advent of Patriarchal religions, profane?  In ancient Egypt we see the snake mounted at the forehead (the third eye or vision center) of all images of gods, goddesses, and royalty.  In fact the most ancient word for "goddess"  in Egypt was the same word as that for cobra. 

The snake (sometimes represented as dragons)  represents the sinuous, serpentine, moving energies of the earth - which move across the land like the passage of the wind, the  passage of water currents, like rivers undulating across a plain.  Since apparently early cultures always identify the Earth with the feminine, with the Great Mother and Her womb/tomb/rebirth cycle - hence the relationship between goddess and snake.  I believe the snake was also identified with geomagnetic phenomena, the leys and  invisible movements or currents of esoteric earth energies.

It may well be that we lost "Eden" not for disobeying  the rather arbitrary rules of a God who often displayed a bad temper, but rather, when human consciousness changed, along with the mythic structures that supported culture.  What might the ancients teach us now, in the 11th Hour of a civilization that is not sustainable, and has lost its primal reverence for the Great Mother, for Gaia? 

"Eleusis" probably derives from a pre-Greek (Cretan)  Goddess of Childbirth, Eileithyia or Ilithyia who was adopted into Greek religion.  "According to some authors her name does not have an Indo-European etymology, which for R. F. Willets strengthens her link with Minoan culture. "The links between Eileithyia, an earlier Minoan goddess, and a still earlier Neolithic prototype are, relatively, firm," Willets wrote. "The explanation is as simple as it is important. The continuity of her cult depends upon the unchanging concept of her function. Eileithyia was the goddess of childbirth; and the divine helper of women in labour has an obvious origin in the human midwife".  Wikipedia

I never rains but it pours, and another friend brought to my attention another possibly 12,000 year old monument complex, discovered off the coast of Japan.  What do we really know of  history? 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks Giving

 How marvelous is that garden, where apples and pears, both for
the sake of the two Marys,
are arriving even in winter.

Those apples grow from the Gift, and sink back into the Gift.
It must be that they are coming from the garden to the garden.


Beautiful little video with quotes about Gratitude from Shakti Gawain, Osho, Rumi, many others.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Revisiting the Bosnian Pyramids

When I was in Glastonbury, and attending the Symposium, everyone was much excited about the Bosnian Pyramids, a topic that has only become newsworthy for the past 5 years or so.  I had never heard of them, but the prospect of a huge ceremonial complex, consisting of 3 pyramids and some other possible structures in Bosnia is now becoming acredited by the archeological community, thanks to the work of Dr. Osmanagic, a Bosnian archeologist who has studied extensively the pyramid complexes of South America.  He is  currently teaching in the U.S. as well as excavating in Bosnia, and he is responsible for naming them the "Pyramid of the Sun", and "Pyramid of the Moon".

Apparently (surprise!) some studies have shown that electro magnetic energies are different around, and within, pyramids than normal earth energetic fields.  It could be possible that when ancients built pyramids, a phenomenon found throughout the world, they were demonstrating an understanding of geomancy  we've lost, an understanding, perhaps, of how to focus and utilize geo-magnetic forces and "earth currents", possibly to promote shifts in consciousness, facilitate trance states, and for health benefits as well.

What's surfaced recently about the Bosnian pyramids is that they may not only include the largest pyramid in the world, but also their antiquity may be astoundingly ancient.  Dr. Osmanagic has sought extensively some kind of  organic material on or within the pyramids to be used for radiocarbon dating,  in order to  determine the approximate age of the structures.  Finally, in 2010 excavations,  organic materials have apparently been found (at Sonda 20)  on the "Pyramid of the Moon" Pyramid. The  remains were found in the surface layers of some of the large stone blocks that had been uncovered and were sent to labs for radiocarbon dating at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland.

Radiocarbon dating showed the organic material to have an age of 10.350 years........which could mean that the terrace of the pyramid might have been built 10.000 years ago. "This could  completely change our understanding of what European history and the first advanced civilizations were"  Osmanagic remarked.  For myself, I've always been fascinated by the legends of Atlantis, the mythic civilization Edgar Cayce said had its final demise 10,000 years ago.  It's been pretty much established that the legend of Atlantis stems from the ancient explosion of the volcano Thera in the island of Santini, an eruption that sent a devastating tsunami throughout the ancient world and was probably responsible for the demise of the Minoan civilization, about 3,600 years..

But if these pyramids are indeed 10,000 years astounding.  Perhaps they did represent a truly ancient civilization that had advanced knowledge, advanced enough at least to comprehend earth energies and how to focus them.  Fun to speculate............

Article from:

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Our Feet Don't Hear

I talked about summer, and about time.  The
pleasures of eating, the terrors of the night.  About this cup
we call a life.  About happiness.  And how good it feels, the
heat of the sun between the shoulder blades.

He looked neither up nor down which didn't necessarily
mean he was either afraid or asleep.  I felt his energy, stored
under his tongue perhaps, and behind his bulging eyes.

I talked about how the world seems to me, five feet tall, the
blue sky all around my head.  I said, I wondered how it seemed
to him, down there, intimate with the dust.

He might have been Buddha - did not move, blink, or frown,
not a tear fell from those gold-rimmed eyes as the refined
anguish of language passed over him.

Mary Oliver (from "The Truro Bear")

Old pond,
frog jumps in -


We have been underground too long,

we have done our work,
we are many and one,
we remember when we were human.
We have lived among roots and stones,
we have sung but no one has listened,
we come into the open air
at night only to love
which disgusts the soles of boots,
their leather strict religion.
We know what a boot looks like
when seen from underneath,
we know the philosophy of boots,
their metaphysic of kicks and ladders.
We are afraid of boots
but contemptuous of the foot that needs them.
Soon we will invade like weeds,
everywhere but slowly;
the captive plants will rebel
with us, fences will topple,
brick walls ripple and fall,
there will be no more boots.
Meanwhile we eat dirt
and sleep; we are waiting
under your feet.
When we say Attack
you will hear nothing
at first.

Margaret Atwood, from "You Are Happy"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meanderings on Mortality and Creativity

"Green Heart Icon"
 I've been in the hospital having a tumor removed...........that sounds so dramatic, but it's not really.  It's a long process of visiting doctors, X-rays, waiting, researching,  etc.  I've been aware of the situation for almost a year, and it's one of the reasons I went to Glastonbury. There is nothing like the prospect of a life-threatening disease to put things in perspective, and quickly!   Everything is colored with a light more brilliant, sweeter,  revealing how precious each fragment is, each memory, each familiar voice, object, taste.  When it seems that that familiarity, that stream of thoughts, contacts, experiences we call our lives may be endangered, the privilege of it all taken away in the forseeable's priorities change quickly.

My friend Ro has come up with the term "SWE" - stupid waste of energy.  You evaluate where the power leaks and "SWE"'s are.

Anyway, I've been in a kind of stasis, waiting to find out.  Now the tumor is removed, and my biopsy is really good.  That was the news I got on 11-11-11, and I can't help but think that's a very  magical day indeed to get the "go-ahead" with a new year! I'll take it!

My great gratitude to my friends,  who so generously offered me their prayers and would have been so much harder without you.

One of the things I meditated on as the scary day of surgery approached (11-9-11) was creativity.  Creativity, and our unique expressive gifts in life, which come down to the same thing.  One is the eternal, seamless source, the other the mortal (and hence not immortal)  means.

Creativity, to me, is the Divine made visible.  When we are Makers, the Divine expresses through each of us, whether we're making a mathematical theorem or a new recipe for lemon cake.  How can anyone look at an orchid, shamelessly pretending, in the hope of being pollinated, that it is a beautiful bevy of  magenta tipped butterflies in flight......without seeing the Goddess at Her easel? Without appreciating the gorgeous humor, and creative intelligence, behind all things visible? 

When I was a kid in a long-ago Bible class, I had an "ah-ha" experience.  I could not understand the "God" that was so often put before me as we plowed through the Book,  a God of terrible vengence. Even now, I shudder to think of children internalizing some of these stories as divinely inspired. How about this, for example, from the Holy Book?
"And  the Lord spake unto Moses, saying "Avenge the children of Israel"..............and Moses said unto them, "Have ye saved all the women alive?.......Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.  But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."    Num. XXXI, 1-18
I remember reading this, and trying to fathom how the noble Moses, made so visible by Charleton Heston delivering the Commandments......could be involved in what was actually being described here. 

All those women, old ladies, babies  and little boys hacked up with swords,  the little girls carried off to be raped, sanctified by "God" and His prophet.   How could I reconcile this horror?   Other options were needed.

And how sad that a fragmented history of the bloody genocide practiced in ancient battles, fought beneath the banner of a tribal war god sometimes called Yahwah........should appear within the same book as  "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" (Luke 6:27).  Or, and this passage, a favorite of mine, which is not from the Bible at all, but rather from the long hidden Nag Hammedi Gospels, attributed to the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (the Twin)*** :

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you do not bring forth what is within you,  what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

There it is!  The Divine Creative Force, expressing in everything and everyone. Early Christians called it "gnosis", knowledge of God within.   Joseph Campbell called it your personal  "bliss"......... it's the joy of creation,  and if we bring it forth, it energizes and informs and expands our lives.  If not, the energy contracts, turns self-destructive, dark, stagnant.  Maybe, that's even one of the places tumors can come from.

Be that as it may, I think it's so important to not "give your power away", which can mean appreciating, in fact thoroughly enjoying, the gifts that life has put on your banquet plate.

There's a wonderful passage in the ancient Sumarian stories of the goddess Inanna where she goes to visit Enki, the head of the Gods.  In a celebratory mood, he calls forth some heavenly beer, and the two get drunk together.   Enki gives Inanna many empowerments or gifts (called a "me") -  from the art of sexual seduction to the governing of cities to the making of cheese. At a Witchcamp I attended this cycle was ritually enacted.  As  Enki offered each "me" (I always found that ancient word for gift or power interesting), Starhawk, in the role of Inanna, said loudly with conviction and gusto:

"I'll take it!"

I think that's what you have to do, and it's not always easy.  There are so many forces that discourage both creativity and talent  - one does not necessarily get love or acceptance for being "gifted".   I think of my own small dysfunctional family, and the kind of "dumbing down" I've always had to do in order to be tolerated by my envious brothers, who felt that any form of success on my part somehow diminished them. I've seen this operate in groups as well, groups that do not know how to facilitate or address this unconscious collective shadow aspect (a friend who prefers to remain anonymous calls it the "mediocrity prerequisite").    I do not mean to sound harsh, but many people live in toxic spheres where they are being energetically rewarded for being stupid, uncreative, or a "victim", and punished for not being so.  For not using their divine "Me"'s.  And I guarantee that if you live that way long enough, you will demand the same currency from others.   It can take a long time to heal.........

Well..........I have a lot to be grateful for this coming Thanksgiving.  Most of all, all the inspiring people I've been privileged to encounter who are busy expressing the Divine Creative Force***** joyfully - may we all, like Inanna, loudly proclaim:  "I'll take it!"

****  Elaine H. Pagels further commented that: 

"The Gospel of Thomas also suggests that Jesus is aware of, and criticizing the views of the Kingdom of God as a time or a place that appear in the other gospels. Here Jesus says, "If those who lead you say to you, 'look, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds will get there first. If they say 'it's in the ocean,' then the fish will get there first. But the Kingdom of God is within you and outside of you. Once you come to know yourselves, you will become known."........Here it says, "It's inside you but it's also outside of you." It's like a state of consciousness. It's hard to describe. But the Kingdom of God here is something that you can enter when you attain gnosis, which means knowledge.....The secret of gnosis is that when you know yourself at that level you will also come to know God, because you will discover that the divine is within you." 

Read more:

**** Here's a link to Cultural Creatives TV - enjoy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"A Small Act" Movie

I sponsor a little girl in Nepal through Plan International,   a non-denominational children's sponsorship program, as well as assisting village girls in Nepal to remain in school through the Nepal Youth Foundation. I love this film because it reminds us of the great good a simple act can do. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vision Questing


The divine manifestation is ubiquitous,
Only our eyes are not open to it.
Awe is what moves us forward.

Live from your own center.
The divine lives within you.
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary.
Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen,
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.
Today the planet is the only proper “in group.”
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.

You must return with the bliss and integrate it.
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.
The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.
The spirit is the bouquet of nature. . . .
Sanctify the place you are in.
Follow your bliss. . . .

~ Joseph Campbell 
"The Sacred Mirrors" (
Joseph Campbell in his "The Power of Myth" interviews with Bill Moyers famously said "Follow your Bliss.......and doors will open where you don't expect them to."  Bill Moyers agreed in his own way, commenting that he felt sorry for people who seemingly  "had no invisible means of support".
"Spiral" by Catherine Nash

Thinking of Catherine Nash's project (in the previous post), I'm reminded of my own journey that began with a book I wanted to write just after I finished my MFA, a project that took me across the country as well.  Perhaps the reason I feel like telling this winding story on my blog is two-fold:  I'm encouraged by Catherine's project, and it seems important to pass on the good news that we so very often, if we undertake that which we feel passionate about, find that doors open where you least expect them to. When I look back at many of the creative undertakings in my life, I have to admit the presence of the miraculous.  If there is any point to sharing this journal, it may well be my effort to affirm this perception, express my clumsy gratitude.  Life really is far more magical than we can imagine, and we're usually too busy to notice.
"First Chakra" by Beth Ames Swartz

"Life is what happens when you're making
other plans."......... John Lennon

In 1987, I graduated from the University of Arizona, feeling very unsure of what it might mean to be an artist.  I found many aspects of the art world cynical and devoid of depth or relevance.   I remember the conversations Catherine and other fellow students had about  New Age spirituality, my fascination with tribal arts, pouring over Kandinsky's "Concerning the Spiritual in Art", or Jose Arguelles "The Transformative Vision", my utter delight at seeing Alex Grey's "The Sacred Mirrors" in Art Week for the first time.  Now there was something that truly moved me.

"You develop your skills and technical expertise, and then trust the process. You learn all you can learn, and then go into the studio and forget everything. There is an emptying out, being willing to confront not knowing. We really do not have a language in this culture for these kinds of experiences."..... Beth Ames Swartz
 So I boldly, if naively,   announced that I would go on a Vision Quest to write a book based on interviews with transformative, spiritual artists.  I made a book outline and proposal, interviewed my friends, and then made a list of some of the artists I wished I could interview, among them Alex Grey, Ingo Swann, and others.  I had one small problem:  I was a virtual unknown in the arts world.  How could I get anyone to take me seriously enough to let me interview them?

Synchronicities are like touchstones, you follow one and it leads to another.  Around this time I had a memorable dream - I was in construction gear with a hard hat on, and I was working on a big steel bridge.  Next to me was a black man in similar gear, and after a while he put down his tools, and said to me "we're just going to have to go to the authorities for help."  The "authorities"?  But amazingly, a few days later  I received a little booklet in the mail, which I have no memory of ordering,  from, I believe, Lucis Publishing.  It was an Alice Bailey pamphlet titled "Building and Bridging:  The New Group of World Servers".  Bridges, I thought, there it is again.

The following week, I was invited to a party, where I met an artist named Beth Ames Swartz, whose installation "A Moving Point of Balance" was soon to be on view at the University Art Museum.  I didn't really know anything about her, but at the party I shyly introduced myself, and rather audaciously told her I was writing a book about spiritual artists, and could I interview her.

Beth not only agreed, but told me she was one of the founders of the Transformative Art Movement, was organizing a conference, and would I like to have her list of contacts!  "I'm into bridge art" she told me.  That evening, when I looked through the papers she had given me, I found myself with a  list that included a number of the artists I had been thinking of, including Alex Grey.  Now I had a personal introduction from Beth!

So I booked a crafts booth at a Renaissance Faire near New York City to pay my way, and off I went, on a journey that took me to NYC, and later Los Angeles, San Francisco, and points in between. So many surprising things happened!  I got my interview with  artist Rafael Ortiz about his Physio-Psycho-Alchemy, for example,   not because I sought him out, but because a co-worker at the Renaissance Faire mentioned that she knew him, and he was organizing some kind of conference about spiritual art at Rutgers.  Which is also how I became involved in Rafael's Art and the Invisible Reality Symposium, where I met many other artists pursuing spiritual expression.  And the Quest continued.
"The problem is we’re so skimpy and stingy, so timid about asking. The Universe is willing to give; its there for the asking.  When I work, I feel that ‘seamlessness” every much, because half of the time I don’t know where the ideas actually come from. They come in all kinds of forms. An idea can be formed in a sound, or in a very articulate kind of language….but it’s all part of the same thing. This comprehension of holism is very important at this point in time. I think it is also very important to the planet for us to be able to think in those terms"...........Rachel Rosenthal
I tried for a quite a while to get my book published, but was never successful.  To be honest, I think it was my own fault this was so - I had an underlying lack of confidence in myself that, in retrospect, undermined me every time.  Perhaps someday I'll go back to the project, with new perspective and much greater confidence.

And I know Catherine's "vision quest" to her book, like everything she has done, will be a journey that will  connect and inspire many.