Monday, February 25, 2013

Homeric Hymn to Earth

To Earth the Mother of All
I will sing of the well-founded Earth,
mother of all, eldest of all beings.

She feeds all creatures that are in the world,
all that go upon the goodly land,
all that are in the paths of the seas, and all that fly;
all these are fed of her store.

Through you, O Queen, we are blessed
In our children, and in our harvest
and to you we owe our lives.

Happy are we who you delight to honor!

We have all things abundantly:
our houses are filled with good things,
our cities are orderly,
our sons exult with feverish delight.

(May they take no delight in war)

Our daughters with flower-laden hands
play and skip merrily over the soft flowers of the field.

(May they seek peace for all peoples)

Thus it is for those whom you honor,
O holy Goddess, Bountiful spirit!
Hail Earth, mother of the gods,
freely bestow upon us for this our song
that cheers and soothes the heart!

May we seek peace for all peoples of the well-founded earth

Homeric Hymn XXX, adapted by Elizabeth Roberts
 


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oracular Snakes



 

I've been at Pantheacon, and up in Willits, California, to meet with Annie Waters and Mana Youngbear about the performance they will be doing in March with the Numina masks............I am so delighted to be able to share my art with them and their community!  More later.........

I' ve been thinking about the photograph above  Mana Youngbear portraying DAWN, standing before the "Evolutionary Cauldron" for the Winter Solstice ceremony created by Ann Waters and the Community of Willits on December 21, 2012.  Having had some dramatic (and quite beautiful) "spirit photographs" occur in  my own ritual theatre performances in the past, I pay attention to visual "signals" that occur when we enter the sacred circle of ritual, the realm of the Goddesses and the Archetypal Powers.  Carolyn Myss talks about Symbolic Thinking, and no where is it more dramatic than when we enter the collective, and yet deeply personal, Mythic Realm.   And the language spoken is the language of  metaphor, dream and oracle..........
http://goddesschess.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/athenian-snake-goddess-now-identified.html
It is the Year of the Snake in Chinese reckoning.  Above is a very old  Greek bas relief of Demeter, who became Ceres in Rome, the Goddess off nature and the cycles of nature that produce, ultimately, the grains (she hold wheat in her hands) that sustain  life.  Just a few days ago, on Valentine's Day, women around the world danced  and  demonstrated against violence toward women for Eve Ensler's One Billion Rising.    In the old kingdom of Egypt, the word for "snake" and the word for "goddess" was the same.  I cannot help but reflect, seeing the image above, that what is  rising in Dawn's Cauldron is a snake, the ubiquitous symbol in the ancient world for the serpentine energies, the winding waters and cyclical seasons of the Goddess, of  Mother Earth.

Snake may have been diabolized in the Bible, but elsewhere snake is an ubiquitous symbol for the feminine divine, the interwoven forces of nature, for healing, and in the East, "Raja Naga" is associated with Tantra, the snake of the  Kundalini force of generation and sexual/spiritual union.  Snakes received a bad rap in Biblical terms, with the "fall from grace" occurring because snake (sometimes identified with Lilith)  tempted Eve with an apple.  Which is too bad indeed, as the  life/death/rebirth cycle represented by snake, whose shedding skin is a symbol of regeneration and rebirth, is among the most primal metaphors.  The Biblical "Fall from Grace" of Eve, and of Snake, represents the fall from grace with nature we have inherited  which at this time in hisstory is becoming catastrophic. 

Klimpt's HYGIEA
Yet the old origins of Snake Medicine are still to be found everywhere, for example, in the ubiquitous symbol of pharmacology, the Chalice and Snake of the Greek Goddess Hygiea.   The “Bowl of Hygeia”*** is  the most widely recognized international symbol of pharmacy, along with the snake entwined staff of the healing God  Aesculapius (and there, by the way, you find the "chalice and the blade", the male and female symbols entwined with the powerful creative force of the rising or entwined Kundalini.  All over Walgreens.)  The pharmaceutical association doesn't see it that way, but rather describes the universal symbol as "Hygeia's classical symbol was a bowl containing a medicinal potion with the serpent of Wisdom (or guardianship) partaking it.  This is the same serpent of Wisdom, which appears on the caduceus, the staff of Aesculapius, which is the symbol of medicine."   

Snake is good  MEDICINE. apparently, and the conversation in the garden of Eden may have been misunderstood!
In ancient Egypt, in the earliest of iconography, the word for Cobra and for Goddess were virtually the same.  The Uraeus  (from the Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), "rearing cobra") is the  upright form of a cobra used as a symbol of  royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient Egypt.  The Uraeus was  a symbol for the goddess Wadjet, one of the earliest Egyptian deities. She was the  patroness of the Nile (and here again one sees the personification of the serpentine movements  of water identified with snake and with the feminine).. The pharaohs wore the Uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet's protection and reinforced the Pharaoh's claim over the land.  There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE.

So I reflect, as we enter the year of the snake, 2013 (thirteen is another ancient feminine symbol or number that has been diabolized by patriarchal process - there are 13 lunations or menstrual cycles in a year, thus, the magic number 13, sacred to the Goddess Freya, becomes "bad luck" on Her day, Friday the 13th)......that perhaps the rising now is the arising of the Goddess in our world, the Goddess that rises practically with feminist activism, and spiritually with reverence for the Earth, and for the universal  source of life.

Snake has so much to teach us.........here's to her arising in the Year of the Snake!

http://www.artvalue.com/photos/auction/0/42/42294/hirst-damien-1965-united-kingd-the-bowl-of-hygeia-and-the-ser-1746433.jpg

***"The “Bowl of Hygeia” symbol  is the most widely recognized international symbol of pharmacy.  In Greek mythology, Hygeia was the daughter and assistant of Aesculapius (sometimes spelled Asklepios), the God of Medicine and Healing.  Hygeia's classical symbol was a bowl containing a medicinal potion with the serpent of Wisdom (or guardianship) partaking it.  This is the same serpent of Wisdom, which appears on the caduceus, the staff of Aesculapius, which is the symbol of medicine."

Goddesses and "Oracular Snakes"



 

I've been at Pantheacon, and up in Willits, California, to meet with Annie Waters and Mana Youngbear about the performance they will be doing in March with the Numina masks............I am so delighted to be able to share my art with them and their community!  More later.........

I' ve been thinking about the photograph above  Mana Youngbear portraying DAWN, standing before the "Evolutionary Cauldron" for the Winter Solstice ceremony created by Ann Waters and the Community of Willits on December 21, 2012.  Having had some dramatic (and quite beautiful) "spirit photographs" occur in  my own ritual theatre performances in the past, I pay attention to visual "signals" that occur when we enter the sacred circle of ritual, the realm of the Goddesses and the Archetypal Powers.  Carolyn Myss talks about Symbolic Thinking, and no where is it more dramatic than when we enter the collective, and yet deeply personal, Mythic Realm.   And the language spoken is the language of  metaphor, dream and oracle..........
http://goddesschess.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/athenian-snake-goddess-now-identified.html
It is the Year of the Snake in Chinese reckoning.  Above is a very old  Greek bas relief of Demeter, who became Ceres in Rome, the Goddess off nature and the cycles of nature that produce, ultimately, the grains (she hold wheat in her hands) that sustain  life.  Just a few days ago, on Valentine's Day, women around the world danced  and  demonstrated against violence toward women for Eve Ensler's One Billion Rising.    In the old kingdom of Egypt, the word for "snake" and the word for "goddess" was the same.  I cannot help but reflect, seeing the image above, that what is  rising in Dawn's Cauldron is a snake, the ubiquitous symbol in the ancient world for the serpentine energies, the winding waters and cyclical seasons of the Goddess, of  Mother Earth.

Snake may have been diabolized in the Bible, but elsewhere snake is an ubiquitous symbol for the feminine divine, the interwoven forces of nature, for healing, and in the East, "Raja Naga" is associated with Tantra, the snake of the  Kundalini force of generation and sexual/spiritual union.  Snakes received a bad rap in Biblical terms, with the "fall from grace" occurring because snake (sometimes identified with Lilith)  tempted Eve with an apple.  Which is too bad indeed, as the  life/death/rebirth cycle represented by snake, whose shedding skin is a symbol of regeneration and rebirth, is among the most primal metaphors.  The Biblical "Fall from Grace" of Eve, and of Snake, represents the fall from grace with nature we have inherited  which at this time in hisstory is becoming catastrophic. 

Klimpt's HYGIEA
Yet the old origins of Snake Medicine are still to be found everywhere, for example, in the ubiquitous symbol of pharmacology, the Chalice and Snake of the Greek Goddess Hygiea.   The “Bowl of Hygeia”*** is  the most widely recognized international symbol of pharmacy, along with the snake entwined staff of the healing God  Aesculapius (and there, by the way, you find the "chalice and the blade", the male and female symbols entwined with the powerful creative force of the rising or entwined Kundalini.  All over Walgreens.)  The pharmaceutical association doesn't see it that way, but rather describes the universal symbol as "Hygeia's classical symbol was a bowl containing a medicinal potion with the serpent of Wisdom (or guardianship) partaking it.  This is the same serpent of Wisdom, which appears on the caduceus, the staff of Aesculapius, which is the symbol of medicine."   

Snake is good  MEDICINE. apparently, and the conversation in the garden of Eden may have been misunderstood!
In ancient Egypt, in the earliest of iconography, the word for Cobra and for Goddess were virtually the same.  The Uraeus  (from the Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), "rearing cobra") is the  upright form of a cobra used as a symbol of  royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient Egypt.  The Uraeus was  a symbol for the goddess Wadjet, one of the earliest Egyptian deities. She was the  patroness of the Nile (and here again one sees the personification of the serpentine movements  of water identified with snake and with the feminine).. The pharaohs wore the Uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet's protection and reinforced the Pharaoh's claim over the land.  There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE.

So I reflect, as we enter the year of the snake, 2013 (thirteen is another ancient feminine symbol or number that has been diabolized by patriarchal process - there are 13 lunations or menstrual cycles in a year, thus, the magic number 13, sacred to the Goddess Freya, becomes "bad luck" on Her day, Friday the 13th)......that perhaps the rising now is the arising of the Goddess in our world, the Goddess that rises practically with feminist activism, and spiritually with reverence for the Earth, and for the universal  source of life.

Snake has so much to teach us.........here's to her arising in the Year of the Snake!

http://www.artvalue.com/photos/auction/0/42/42294/hirst-damien-1965-united-kingd-the-bowl-of-hygeia-and-the-ser-1746433.jpg

***"The “Bowl of Hygeia” symbol  is the most widely recognized international symbol of pharmacy.  In Greek mythology, Hygeia was the daughter and assistant of Aesculapius (sometimes spelled Asklepios), the God of Medicine and Healing.  Hygeia's classical symbol was a bowl containing a medicinal potion with the serpent of Wisdom (or guardianship) partaking it.  This is the same serpent of Wisdom, which appears on the caduceus, the staff of Aesculapius, which is the symbol of medicine."

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Power of Shamanic Art

 

My friend Denita is an artist, teacher, and psychologist who specializes in helping others access their deep creativity.  Recently she wrote this article for  AY Atelier Art  and Art 4 All People, and gave me permission to reprint her article here.  You can have a look at her  art as well  here.  Thanks Denita!



The Transformative Power of Shamanic Art 

by Denita Benyshek, PhD


Several years ago, I participated in a shamanic drum ceremony given by the anthropologist, Dr. Ruth-Inge Heinze. Her powerful, sustained drumming gave me a vivid, astounding, and meaningful series of visions. The progression of the visions and the symbolic conent of the visions were similar to what I experienced during artistic creativity. As I learned more about the calling, training, initiation, and practices of shamans, I recognized more and more similarities to my own artistic way of being. In shamanism, I found a model of how and why I make art.
Although I am formally trained as an artist (with both a BFA and an MFA in painting), I was so fascinated by the multiple relationships between artists and shamans, including the intent to heal, that I pursued a graduate certificate in the psychology of creativity, a masters degree in marriage and family therapy, and then a doctoral degree in humanistic and transpersonal psychology.

                                         



What is a Shamanic Artist?

My research (Benyshek, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c, 2013d) demonstrated how contemporary artists serve as shamans. Shamanic artists are socially designated spiritual practitioners who voluntarily regulate their attention for the purpose of obtaining information generally unavailable to their community, which is used for the benefit of communities and individual members of those communities.  All of these properties must be fulfilled for an artist to fully qualify as a shaman.

Artists might have some, but not all, of the shamanic properties. These artists can be thought of as having family resemblances to shamans. Like sisters who resemble their mother in certain ways, some artists are similar to, and also different than, shamans.

There are many different ways in which artists fulfill shamanic properties, such as dreams, prayer, ritual, purported psi experiences including divination and relationships with spirits, interaction with the Zeitgeist, genetic influences, neurological functions,  personality types, androgyny, learning to see, mastering craft, a symbolic kind of dismemberment and disintegration that is followed by reintegration and rebirth, relationships with nature, alternate states of consciousness, intent to heal, and much more! If you want additional information about artists and shamans, you may read some of my publications online.

For myself, formally studying artists as shamans confirmed my way of creating art and provided meaningful support. The model of shamanism “understood” how my psi experiences and dreams relate to my artistic creativity, how many ways of being and many realms and different times and memories and insights and immediacies are integrated into one work of art. In my paintings, poems, and performances, I represent a kind of visual/mythic/symbolic stream of consciousness, those seemingly disparate elements that are intimately associated in the imagination. I realized that I could perform my work, whether making art or conducting research, as a spiritual practice for the purpose of providing beauty, knowledge, meaning, and healing.


The Benefits of Art: 
Have You Taken Your Dose of Art Today?

Contemporary artists are most likely to fulfill the shamanic property related to providing benefits to their communities. These benefits are found in statements made by many artists as well as studies on the benefits provided by the arts. Art can provide for psychological, social, physiological, and/or spiritual needs of individuals and communities.
There are many studies showing positive effects result from art engagement.

The visual arts can provide topics for conversation that strengthen relationships and form community (see Wikström, Theorell, and Sandström, 1992). Novels like Black Beauty (Sewell, 1907), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe, 1852), and The Heroic Slave (Douglass, 1853/1975) contributed to major social changes. Artists today work to create beauty amidst despair, provide spiritual experiences to a materialistic society, build bridges between different ethnicities, help folks form deeper relationships with their own souls, and much more.

An artwork can provide a screen onto which an individual can project internal conflicts or emotions, safely experiencing dissociated emotions in an externalized form, for a limited time, within a beautiful container. Ecstatic catharsis can result, with greater insight resulting, and then these insights can be intergrated into an individual’s sense of self.

Listening to music resulted in surgical patients needing less anesthesia (Ayoub, Rizk, Yaacoub, Gaal, & Kain, 2005), reduced pain, anxiety, depression (Guétin et al., 2011), lowered heart rate and blood pressure in cardiology patients (Bradt, 2009), decreased anxiety from pressures to excel in gifted students (Cadwallader & Campbell, 2007),  positively effected intelligence, mental health, and immunity (Avanzini et al., 2006), and improved fluency, ease of movement, and levels of antibodies, while also decreasing levels of stress hormones in people with Parkinson disease (Enk, 2008).

When surgeons listen to their favorite music during surgery, their surgical skills improve. For two weeks, seniors listened to music from their youth. At the end of that time, they stood straighter, grew in height, were happier, and had improved physical signs of health. Amazing!
At a certain neurological level, the brains of people reading novels respond to stories as though the readers were really, physically part of the story. In the mind of the reader, fiction becomes reality. Is this a form of magic?

During receipt of benefits from spiritual, healing art, art audiences are partly functioning as shamanistic (shamanlike) communities. A contemporary audience might not label individual artists as shamans. Nonetheless, when an art audience receives benefits from a work of art, the work’s artist is implicitly designated as a shaman.

When an individual is engaged with art (as an artist, member of the audience, or collector), art can evoke memories, make new connections, heighten awareness, discharge repressed emotions, halt patterns of repression, lead to self-discovery, create empathy with individuals or cultures, remind society of social ills needing attention, and lead to individual and societal healing.


Audience members utilize their own creative processes during art engagement. The efficacy of shamanic art is quite dependent upon the talents (inborn) and skills (learned and developed) of individual art audience members. I believe that audience members and collectors will benefit even more from art as they learn how to invite, engage, undergo, and accept the transformative benefits offered by art.


The Role of Art Collectors

Art collectors play a critical role in the artist-artwork-audience-society system, providing a type of social support and acceptance to shamanic, healing artists that is unavailable elsewhere. Collectors give themselves opportunities to develop deeper  ongoing relationships with works of art, through repeated encounters and a prolonged, appreciative gaze. The artist has thrown the ball. The collector catches the ball. Both roles are important!

I’ve always found it fascinating that whenever I meet someone who owns my art, we are immediately elated and enjoy a deep sense of connection. It is a special relationship that continues no matter how far apart we are. Collectors purchase art that is personally expressive of who they are. Thus, my collectors and I have some quality, experience, memory, dream, some phenomena in common. Somewhere in the Venn diagram of spirituality, our souls overlap and unite.

Surrounding one’s self with art can strengthen one’s self knowledge and contribute to self actualization. Buying art is an unabashed act of personal strength, expressing individuality and freedom: This is what I like. This is what I choose to live with every day. This is who I am!

                                   



Sources of Inspiration, Doorways to Soul

If I find myself mentally thinking of some tune, I begin whistling or singing that tune, to bring it further out into the physical, sensate world. Moving my body with the tune strengthens the kind and level of integration with self. Sometimes such movements feed ideas for my works of art.  In my studio, I listen to music to establish mood, sustain creative flow, and facilitate entry into light creative trance. Listening to Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro over and over and over supported me in making art that was profoundly personal, feminine, honest, strong, and caring. I also learned all of their songs and can sing every word of their lyrics, copying the singer’s inflections and expressions. But, when I play piano and sing Joni Mitchell’s songs, or sing Laura Nyro a cappella as a birthday gift for a friend, I offer my own interpretations and the songs are transformed into different shapes and colors.

When I was at the Ucross Art Foundation in Wyoming, I decided to paint spontaneously. Yet, while working on the oil painting, Woman and Man: The Human Animal, I realized I had dreamt about this painting – and my studio at the Ucross Foundation – months before I arrived. In the realm of dreams, I already knew what the art studio looked like.

In the graphite drawing, Prelude to Confluence, multiple sources of inspiration are present: wilderness and culture, male and female, growth and harvest, dream and fulfillment. Shamanically, I am bringing together phenomena considered opposite. In my drawing, the opposites dance in a conjunctio oppositorum, making love and creating beauty.   The large collage, Sonata in Joy Major, was created in response to works made by other artists that were dark, desultory, destructive, aggressive, or victimized. I wanted to make a work of art that was enlivened by color, movement, nature, that would give viewers a sense of joy. The watercolor Thanks Giving is a quiet and mystical celebration of the natural qualities of fecundity, pregnancy, possibility, birth, growth, and fruition. The Sacred Ladder of Light, engraved and collaged glass with embroidery, celebrates the spiritual, creative power of women.

My paintings can be seen as acts of celebration, wisdom, insight, and healing self-expression that are also intended to move and heal viewers, communities, and society, even relationships with nature. Many works, such as the drawing Beginning of a Long Journey, depict the journey of individuation or stages in the hero’s journey.


Invitation

I invite you to slow down and linger, gaze meditatively at my artwork. You can  discover your source of inspiration within the reality of my artwork. Enter through the painted door, cross the collaged threshold into a living realm of beauty, meaning, knowledge, experience, and reality of self, where you can meet your self and embrace your soul.
Many blessings,

Dr. Denita M. Benyshek
January 19, 2013, Snoqualmie Valley,
Washington


Biography

Dr. Denita Benyshek is a professional visionary artist, an internationally recognized researcher on contemporary artists as shamans, and a psychologist who provides psychotherapy and coaching services to artists and creative individuals. The artist-researcher-healer’s education includes a BFA and MFA in painting, training in dance and theatre, study at Pilchuck Glass School, a graduate certificate in the psychology of creativity, an MA in psychology – marriage and family therapy, and a Ph.D. in humanistic and transpersonal psychology.  
Dr. Benyshek’s conference presentations integrate scholarship, visual art, poetry, dance, and theatre. Articles, chapters, and PowerPoint presentations by Dr. Benyshek can be read and downloaded online.  

A recent study (Cardeña, Iribas-Rudin, & Reijman, 2012) entitled “Art and Psi,” published in The Journal of Parapsychology, described some of Dr. Benyshek’s precognitive and remote viewing experiences as part of the discussion about artists and paranormal phenomena.

  © 2013, Denita Benyshek


References:

Avanzini, G., Besta, C., Lopez, L., Litta, E., Koelsch, S., & Majno, M. (Eds.). (2006). The neurosciences and music II: From perception to performance (Vol. II). New York, NY: New York Academy of Sciences.
Ayoub, C. M., Rizk, L. B., Yaacoub, C. I., Gaal, D., & Kain, Z. N. (2005). Music and ambient operating room noise in patients undergoing spinal anesthesia. Anesthesia and analgesia, 5, 1316-1319.
Benyshek, D. (2013a). An archival exploration comparing contemporary artists and shamans. PhD, Saybrook University, San Francisco, CA.
Benyshek, D. (2013b). Art audience as shamanic community: How art meets psychological, social, and spiritual needs (Wang, Trans.). In G. Shuyun, W. Weibo & Q. Fang (Eds.), Modern artists and shamanism (Vol. II of Encyclopedia of shamanism). Beijing: 商務印書館 (The Commercial Press). Retrieved from Art Audience as Shamanic Community: How Art Meets Psychological Needs.
Benyshek, D. (2013c). An Overview of Western Ideas regarding the Artist as Shaman (Wang, Trans.). In G. Shuyun, W. Weibo & Q. Fang (Eds.), Modern artists and shamanism (Vol. II of Encyclopedia of shamanism). Beijing: 商務印書館 (The Commercial Press).
Benyshek, D. (2013d). The artist as shaman. ReVision, a Journal of Consciousness and Transformation, 32(2), 54-60.
Bradt, J. A. (2009). Music for stress and anxiety reduction in coronary heart disease patients Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Vol. 2). New York, NY: John Wiley.
Cadwallader, S., & Campbell, J. (2007). Gifted students beat the blues with heavy metal. Coventry, England: University of Warwick.
Cardeña , E., Iribas-Rudin, A., & Reijman, S. (2012). Art and psi. Journal of Parapsychology, 76(1), 3-23.
Douglass, F. H. (1879). The heroic slave. In J. Griffiths (Ed.), Autographs for freedom. Boston, MA: John P. Jewett
Enk, R., Franzke, P., Offermanns, K., Hohenadel, M., & Koelsch, S. (2008). Music and the immune system. Paper presented at the meeting of the 14th World Congress of Psychophysiology – The Olympics of the Brain, St. Petersburg, Russia. Retrieved  from http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de
Guétin, S., Giniès, P., Siou, D. K., Picot, M. C., Pommié, C., Guldner, E., . . . Touchon, J. (2011). The effects of music intervention in the management of chronic pain: A single-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Clinical Journal of Pain. Retrieved from http://www.prohealth.com/ibs/library
Sewell, A. (1922). Black Beauty: The autobiography of a horse. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, & Company.
Stowe, H. B. (1852). Uncle Tom’s cabin or life among the lowly (Vol. I & II). Boston, MA: John P. Jewett & Company.
Wikström, B.-M., Theorell, T., & Sandström, S. (1992). Psychophysiological effects of stimulation with pictures of works of art in old age. International Journal of Psychosomatics, 39(4), 68-75.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Black Madonna Mask



 "Whom should I turn to,
   if not the One whose darkness
   is darker than night,
   the only one who keeps
   vigil with no candle,
   and is not afraid --
   the Deep One, whose
   being I trust ..."

  Rainer Maria Rilke
Although I am not Catholic, nor grew up Catholic, I have always been fascinated by the Black Madonna, and by the many pilgrimages, some that go back a thousand years or more, to revered Black Madonna shrines throughout Europe.  Many believe that the origins of the Black Madonnas are in earlier Isis icons, which were ubiquitous in Rome and elsewhere in the very early days of Christianity (Paris is derived from the name of Isis, "par Isis", city of Isis). Certainly, if this is true, pilgrimage to the Mother of the Son of God is much the same as was the pilgrimage, once, to Isis, Mother of the Sun.

But there are others, including myself, who see the Black Madonna as possibly representing the ancient Earth Mother.  In the middle ages, black Africans were rarely, if ever, seen in Europe.  The blackness of the Madonnas may represent the black and generative earth, the source  that is the womb from which all life comes.

 To Earth the Mother of All
I will sing of the well-founded Earth,
mother of all, eldest of all beings.
She feeds all creatures that are in the world,
all that go upon the goodly land,
all that are in the paths of the seas, and all that fly;
all these are fed of her store.

Through you, O Queen, we are blessed
In our children, and in our harvest
and to you we owe our lives.
Happy are we who you delight to honor!
We have all things abundantly:
our houses are filled with good things,
our cities are orderly,
our sons exult with feverish delight.
(May they take no delight in war)

Our daughters with flower-laden hands
play and skip merrily over the soft flowers of the field.
(May they seek peace for all peoples)
Thus it is for those whom you honor,
O holy Goddess, Bountiful spirit!
Hail Earth, mother of the gods,
freely bestow upon us for this our song
that cheers and soothes the heart!
(May we seek peace for all peoples
of the well-founded earth)

Homeric Hymn XXX, (adapted by Elizabeth Roberts)

(with thanks to Diane Darling and Mana Young)

Monday, February 4, 2013

"Flipside" - Movie About "Between Life" Studies

 Back in the late 80's I belonged to a group that explored past life memory through group hypnosis (using tapes by Robert Monroe and the Monroe Institute), as well as individual sessions with a therapist. Many of the "regressions" were like film clips - I observed what was happening, without entirely understanding what the meaning of the scenes I saw meant.   What was convincing about the experiences I had was how very mundane most of them were.  I have a good imagination, and unconsciously or in a dream state can no doubt invent colorful stories about Atlantis or ancient Egypt.

But my regression sessions were none of that.  A young soldier in some middle eastern time or country, whose most treasured experience was drinking beer with an admired captain, shortly before being speared and dying at the age of 17.  A life in the 1700's as a French nanny, always in service to people to whom she was invisible and disposable,  never having anything of her own. (It is strange how I always found French pronunciation easy).  Many of the regression experiences were, seemingly, lifetimes (as I think the majority of humanity has also had throughout the ages) essentially lifetimes with very little freedom, one way or another. It may be these "regressions" arose because of my need to work on these issues in this time.  Freedom is historically a very new idea, and for women, slaves, and various ethnic groups to be included in the equation, an even newer idea........perhaps I needed to see these imprints in order to live a more empowered life.    Not to sound completely grim -  there were also some  inexplicable, and beautiful, regressive visions as well. 

 I wrote about Michael Newton a while back, a well known hypno-therapist who spent many years developing his work with what he calls "between life states".  One of his best known books is Journey of Souls, and his therapy is now practiced internationally.  I have never experienced regression of the kind he described, but I do find his work fascinating.  I was pleased to learn recently, thanks to Darren's Blog  about a recent movie by Richard Martini about Newton, other colleagues, and excerpts of interviews and regressions.    The film maker describes the inception of his project on his blog Flipsidethefilm.blogspot.com:

"I began this project wanting to make a documentary about the Afterlife from a spiritual perspective, with a number of points of view.  When I came across Michael Newton's work ("Journey of Souls") I realized that if what he was saying was true, it was revolutionary.  I set about to either disprove or prove what he claimed; that 7000 of his clients said the same things about the afterlife during a deep hypnosis session, before he'd published his first book.  So I chose 15 different subjects and filmed them under deep hypnosis.  And remarkably; the confirmed his research.  There are interviews with a number of hypnotherapists who practice his technique - who are now in many countries around the world.  (You can find a Michael Newton trained therapist near you at NewtonInstitute.Org).  This is not past life regression - this is way beyond that, where a person gets to see why they chose their previous lives, why they chose this life and what the two have in common."
 I look forward to seeing the film, and applaud Mr. Martini for his work.

 http://youtu.be/xK7vndjaUJg



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sig Lonegren on Imbolc

Bridget
Bridget Milking a Cow
Glastonbury Tor

Not a week goes by that I don't think of Glastonbury, England.  I really felt at home there.  Fortunately, wise Geomancer Sig Lonegren keeps me posted on Glastonbury events.  Here's what Sig recently wrote on his Blog about Imbolc.

Time to begin to germinate those seeds!  Thanks Sig!

 
 "Imbolc is that time of the Celtic yearly cycle when the seed that was planted at Samhain (1 November) and lies dormant through the dark of the winter, by throwing out that little cotyledon, moves by itself for the first time.  It is analogous to the quickening in the human reproductive cycle.  It has a life of its own.  The ewe's milk starts running around this time, and on the Glastonbury Tor, which is astronomically oriented to the Imbolc sunset, Bridget is seen milking a cow.

In Vermont, and underground chamber called Rodwin is also oriented toward the Imbolc Sunset.

Rodwin
Rodwin, Northern Vermont, USA
Imbolc Sunset Sunset

snowdrops
The Snowdrop, Bride's flower,
is one of the first of true veriy early spring flowers.  

Here in Glastonbury, the Pilgrim Reception Centre sponsored a new Holy Thorn (the old one on Wearyall Hill was vandalised).  This cutting from the old Holy Thorn was planted several days ago at the Abbey Car Park next to a new World Peace Pole and a Glastonbury bench for visitors to rest on.
new holy thorn
The New Holy Thorn and World Peace Pole
In the Glastonbury Abbey Car Park

Imbolc is the time when ideas or plans that have been lying fallow in the dark all winter are now ready to begin a life of their own.  What projects have you been thinking about that are ready to begin to move, to manifest?  Use this time of Imbolc to feel that quickening, and  ready to give birth?
The Blessings of Bridget
Be With You
This Imbolc!

}:-)
sig's sig
Sig Lonegren
Mid-Atlantic Geomancy

http://www.geomancy.org
SunnyBank Centre
Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8JE
England
sig@geomancy.org

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bridgit's Day

"BRIDGIT" danced by Linda Johnson.  Photo by Thomas Lux.

As it's IMBOLC,   Bridgit's Day.   I felt like posting my own "Bridgit's Poem" (1999), and the  Hymn to the Sacred Body of the Universe as told by the wonderful poet Drew Dellinger.   And the "Voice of Bridgit" by Diane Darling!

Diane Darling as Brigid, photo by T. Lux
I am Brigid,  Lady of the Celts
Creatrix of the Island of Ireland
Midwife to new life in the spring.

On the last dark night of January,
 leave a cloth outside your door -
For I shall be abroad on Brigid’s Eve.
I am Lady of the Flame, Mistress of changes,
I shape the bright metals:
gold and silver and spirit

Feel my hand on yours as you craft your lives.
I am Lady of the Well, the deep well
That reaches into the darkness
and rises to the light.

I am the fount of Inspiration
for poet and bard.
My song is sung in all the lands,
by bird and bard and babe.

Call me by my many names:
Breezh, Bridey, Brigit, Breed
Sweet Mary of the Gaels, midwife to Christ
When once again amongst us he is born.

I am with you, children of the children of
The Lost Isles, the Western Shores
Far flung, far from your homelands:
I have not forgotten you.

Remember me when the poet sings
When the cow rises from the calving
and the fever leaves the brow.
Raise a glass of golden mead to Brigid,
Lady of the Celts.

by Diane Darling (1999)
http://spheresoflight.com.au/content/images/Brigit%27s-mead.jpg
 http://www.currentmiddleages.org/conchobar/brewing.html

 BRIDGIT

"God's abstention is only from human dialects;
 the holy voice utters its woe and glory in myriad musics,
 in signs and portents.
 Our own words are for us to speak,
 a way to ask and to answer."
Denise Levertov
 There are some gifts that come to us
just once or twice in a lifetime,
gifts that cannot be named
beyond the simple act of gratitude.

We are given a vision so bountiful
we can only gaze with eyes wide,
like a child in summer's first garden.

We reach our clumsy hands
toward that communion
that single perfection
and walk away speechless, blessed.

And breathe, in years to come
    breathe,
breathe our hearts open
aching to tell it well
to sing it into every other heart
to dance it down, into the hungry soil
to hold it before us
that light, 


    that grace given
    voiceless light


Lauren Raine