Monday, June 30, 2014

Hobby Lobby, and "Religious Freedom"


Well, we may be losing the separation between Church and State, which the founding fathers thought was a pretty good idea at one time......but there is an upside to this.  I can refuse to serve Republicans because it's against my religion. ***

I probably shouldn't rant, but..........here we are, a global humanity facing a universal environmental crisis that will surely make life very, very difficult for future generations, a crisis  directly related to overpopulation.  And what are the wise  fundamentalist Patriarchs in power worried about?  Not the misery of those future generations, living in a tragically diminished environment, the loss, starvation, and diminished opportunities they will suffer,  but women's freedom to have birth control or control their bodies at all, because "the Bible says so".  At such times I honestly feel there is no hope.

I might also add that the aggressive,  oppressive actions, and fear-based concept of Christianity these fundamentalists espouse is very distressing to  progressive Christians, and so very ironic, and disrespectful, when one reads the compassionate teachings of Jesus of Nazareth found in the New Testament, or studies the Gnostic teachings of early Christianity.


  How about below?  If that's "love", hate seems downright friendly.


 

***
For a list of 100 of the companies, including Hobby Lobby, responsible for this action, and to Boycott:

http://now.org/resource/birth-control-mandate-lawsuits/

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"Numina" Article Published in Coreopsis Magazine




I'm pleased that my article (below)  has been published  in Coreopsis for the Summer edition.  Great magazine. 

Numina: Spirit of Place, Myth and Pilgrimage
by Lauren Raine MFA

ABSTRACT:
The importance of Pilgrimage to the formation of mythology may have much to do with the actual interaction between place and society throughout human history. The ancient Romans called “spirit of place” the Numina, and this personification of place is found throughout all early and traditional cultures.


 

“To the native Irish, the literal representation of the country was less important than its poetic dimension. In traditional Bardic culture, the terrain was studied, discussed, and referenced: every place had its legend and its own identity….what endured was the mythic landscape.”

R.F. Foster, (2001, p. 130)

 The Romans believed that special places were inhabited by intelligences they called Numina, the “genius loci” of a particular place. I personally believe many mythologies may be rooted in the experience of “spirit of place”, the numinous, felt presence within a sacred landscape. 

To early and indigenous peoples, nature includes a “mythic conversation”, a conversation within which human beings participate in various ways. Myth is, and always has been, a way for human beings to become intimate and conversant with what is vast, deep, and ultimately mysterious. Mything place provides a language wherein the “conversation” can be spoken and interpreted, and personified. Our experience changes when Place becomes “you” or “Thou” instead of “it”. 

In the past, “Nature” was not just a “resource”; the natural world was a relationship within which human cultures were profoundly embedded. The gods and goddesses arose from the powers of place, from the powers of wind, earth, fire and water, as well as the mysteries of birth and death. In India, virtually all rivers bear the name of a Goddess. In southwestern U.S., the “mountain gods” dwell at the tops of mountains like, near Tucson, Arizona, Baboquivari, sacred mountain to the Tohono O’odam, who still make pilgrimages there and will not allow visitors without tribal permission. This has been a universal human quest, whether we speak of the Celtic peoples with their legends of the Fey, ubiquitous mythologies of the Americas, or the agrarian roots of Rome: the landscape was once populated with intelligences that became personified through the evolution of local mythologies.


 The early agrarian Romans called these forces “Numina”. Every river, cave or mountain had its unique quality and force – its inherent Numen. Cooperation and respect for the Numina was essential for well-being. And some places were places of special potency, such as a healing spring or a sacred grove.

As monotheistic religions developed, divinity was increasingly removed from nature, and the natural world lost its “personae”. In the wake of renunciate religions that de-sacralized nature and the body, and then the rapid rise of industrialization, nature has become viewed as something to use or exploit, rather than a relationship with powers that require both communion and reciprocity. Yet early cultures throughout the world believed that nature is alive, intelligent, and responsive, and they symbolized this through local mythologies. From Hopi Katchinas to the Orisha of Western Africa, from the Undines of the Danube to the Songlines of the native Australians, from Alchemy’s Anima Mundi, every local myth reflects what the Romans knew as the resident “spirit of place”, the Genius Loci. 

Contemporary Gaia Theory revolutionized earth science in the 1970’s by proposing that the Earth is a living, self-regulating organism, interdependent and continually evolving in its diversity.  The Gaia Hypothesis, which is named after the Greek Goddess Gaia, was formulated by the scientist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. While early versions of the hypothesis were criticized for being teleological and contradicting principles of natural selection, later refinements have resulted in ideas highlighted by the Gaia Hypothesis being used in subjects such as geophysiology, Earth system science, biogeochemistry, systems ecology, and climate science. …………….In some versions of Gaia philosophy, all life forms are considered part of one single living planetary being called Gaia. In this view, the atmosphere, the seas and the terrestrial crust would be results of interventions carried out by Gaia through the coevolving diversity of living organisms.


If one is sympathetic to Gaia Theory, it might follow that everything has the potential to be responsive in some way, because we inhabit and interact with a vast living ecological system, whether visible to us or not. Sacred places may be quite literally places where the potential for “interaction” is more potent. There is evidence that Delphi was a sacred site to prehistoric peoples prior to the evolution of Greece. Ancient Greeks built their Temple at Delphi because it was a site felt to be particularly auspicious for communion with the Goddess Gaia. Later Gaia was displaced by Apollo, who also became the patron of Delphi and the prophetic Oracle. Mecca was a pilgrimage site long before the evolution of Islam, and it is well known that early Christians built churches on existing pagan sacred sites.

There is a geo-magnetic energy felt at special places that can change consciousness. Before they became contained by churches, standing stones, or religious symbolism, these “vortexes” were intrinsically places of numinous power and presence in their own right.

Roman philosopher Annaeus Seneca junior commented that:

 "If you have come upon a grove that is thick with ancient trees which rise far above their usual height and block the view of the sky with their cover of intertwining branches, then the loftiness of the forest and the seclusion of the place and the wonder of the unbroken shade in the midst of open space will create in you a feeling of a divine presence, a Numen."


Personal Encounters

Many years ago I lived in Vermont, and one morning I went down to the local Inn for a cup of coffee to discover a group of people about to visit one of Vermont’s mysterious stone cairns on Putney Mountain, the subject of a popular book by Barry Fell, a Harvard researcher, and under continual exploration by the New England Archeological Research Association (NEARA). I had stumbled upon their yearly Conference. Among them was Sig Lonegren , a well-known dowser and researcher of earth mysteries who now lives in Glastonbury, England and was then teaching at Goddard College in Vermont. Through his spontaneous generosity, I found myself on a bus that took us to a chamber constructed of huge stones, hidden among brilliant foliage, with an entrance way perfectly framing the Summer Solstice.

Fell and others suggest that Celtic colonists built these structures, which are very similar to cairns and Calendar sites found in Britain and Ireland; others maintain they were created by a prehistoric Native American civilization, but no one knows for sure who built them. They occur by the hundreds up and down the Connecticut River. Approaching the site on the side of Putney Mountain, I felt such a rush of vitality it took my breath away. I was stunned when Sig placed divining rods in my hands, and I watched them open as we traced the “ley lines” that ran into this site. Standing on the huge top stone of that submerged chamber, my divining rod “helicoptered”, letting me know, according to Sig, that this was the “crossing of two leys”; a potent place geomantically.

According to many contemporary dowsers, telluric energy moves through stone and soil, strongest where water flows beneath the earth, such as in springs, and also where there is dense green life, such as an old growth forest. Telluric force is affected by planetary cycles, season, the moon, the sun, and the underground landscape of water, soil and stone. Symbolically this “serpentine energy” has often been represented by snakes or dragons. “Leys” are believed to be lines of energy, not unlike Terrestrial acupuncture lines and nodes, that are especially potent where they intersect, hence dowsers in Southern England, for example, talk about the “Michael Line” and the “Mary Line”, which intersect at the sites of many prehistoric megaliths, as well as where a number of Cathedrals were built.

At the time I knew little about dowsing, but I was so impressed with my experience that months later I gathered with friends to sit in the dark in that chamber, while we watched the summer Solstice sun rise through its entrance. We all felt the deep, vibrant energy there, and awe as the sun rose to illuminate the chamber, we all left in a heightened state of awareness and empathy.


 Earth mysteries researcher John Steele wrote in EARTHMIND, a 1989 book written in collaboration with Paul Deveraux and David Kubrin, that we suffer from what he called “geomantic amnesia”. We have forgotten how to “listen to the Earth”, lost the capacity to engage in what he termed “geomantic reciprocity”. Instinctively, mythically, and practically, we have lost the sensory and imaginative communion with place and nature that informed our ancestors spiritual and practical lives, to our great loss. 

We diminish or destroy, for money, places of power long revered by generations past, oblivious to the unique properties it may have, and conversely, build homes, even hospitals, on places that are geomagnetically toxic instead of intrinsically auspicious. Our culture, versed in a “dominator” and economic value system, is utterly ignorant of the significance of place that was of vital importance to peoples of the past. Re-discovering what it was that inspired traditional peoples to decide on a particular place for healing or worship may be important not only to contemporary pilgrims, but to a way of seeing the world we need to regain if we are to continue into the future as human culture at all. 

Making a pilgrimage to commune in some way with a sacred place is a something human beings have been doing since the most primal times. Recently unearthed temples in Turkey’s Gobekli Tepe reveal a vast ceremonial pilgrimage site that may be 12,000 years old. The Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece combined spirit of place and mythic enactment to transform pilgrims for over two millennia. 

One of the most famous contemporary pilgrimages is the “Camino” throughout Spain, which concludes at the Cathedral of Santiago at Compostella. Compostella comes from the same linguistic root as “compost”, the fertile soil created from rotting organic matter – the “dark matter” to which everything living returns, and is continually resurrected by the processes of nature into new life, new form. Pilgrims arriving after their long journey are being metaphorically ‘composted’, made new again. When they emerge from the darkness of the medieval cathedral in Compostella, and from the mythos of their journey, they were ready to return home with their spirits reborn.


In 2011 I visited the ancient pilgrimage site of Glastonbury, England. Glastonbury’s ruined Cathedral once drew thousands of Catholic pilgrims, and Glastonbury is also Avalon, the origin of the Arthurian legends, a prehistoric pilgrimage site. To this day thousands still travel to Glastonbury for the festivals held there, and for numerous metaphysical conferences, including the Goddess Conference I attended. The sacred springs of the Chalice Well and the White Spring have been drawing pilgrims since long before recorded history, and many people come still to drink their waters. 

Making this intentional Pilgrimage left me with a profound, very personal sense of the “Spirit of Place”, what some call the “Lady of Avalon” and taking some of the waters from the Holy Springs back with is ever a reminder of the dreams, synchronicities and insights I had there.



Sacred Sites are able to raise energy because they are geomantically potent, and they also become potent because of human interaction. “Mythic mind”, the capacity to interpret and interact with self, others and place in symbolic terms (as, for example, the way the Lakota interpret “vision quest” experiences) further facilitates the communion. 

Sig Lonegren, who is one of the Trustees of the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, and a famous dowser, has speculated that as human culture and language became increasingly complex, verbal, and abstract, we began to lose mediumistic, empathic consciousness, a daily intuitive gnosis with the “subtle realms” that was further facilitated by ritual. Dowsing is a good example of daily gnosis. “Knowing” where water is something many people can do without having any idea of how they do it. Sometimes, beginning dowsers don’t even need to “believe” in dowsing in order to, nevertheless, locate water with a divining rod.
With the gradual ascendancy of left-brained reasoning, and with the development of patriarchal religions, he suggests that tribal and individual gnosis was gradually replaced by complex institutions that rendered spiritual authority to priests who were viewed as the sole representatives of God. The “conversation” stopped, and the language to continue became obscured or lost.

Perhaps this empathic, symbolic, mediumistic capacity is returning to us now as a new evolutionary balance, facilitated by re-inventing and re-discovering mythic pathways to the Numina.


References:

Foster, R.F.(2001) , The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland (London: Allen
Lane/Penguin Press), page 130.
Lovelock, J. and Margulis, L., (1970) The Gaia Hypothesis, quote is from Wikipedia
Retrieved on: May 11, 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis
Seneca, L. Annaeus junior (65 A.D.) Epistulae Morales at Lucilium, 41.3.
Retrieved on: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistulae_morales_ad_Lucilium
Fell, B. (1976, 2013). America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World, Artisan Publishers, N.Y.
Lonegren, S. (2013) Mid Atlantic Geomancy, Blog. Retrieved on: http://www.geomancy.org/
Steele, J. (1989). Earthmind: Communicating with the living world of Gaia, with Paul Devereaux
and David Kubrin. Harper & Row: N.Y. Page 157.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reflections on Kali Ma

"Mask for Kali" (2014)

I seem to be dreaming masks again these days, and thus, this new Kali mask insisted upon being made.............

Kali Ma is greatly revered by millions of Hindus.  As religious archetype, She can be very hard for Westerners to understand.

Kali is the Dark Goddess, found throughout India, in Tibet manifesting as Black Tara, as far away as Bali manifesting as Rangda.  She is beloved, and She is terrible, a personification of the  transformative powers of the Three-fold Mother Goddess  as destroyer and changer.   The Goddess as three-fold (as Maiden (birth), Mother (sustainer), and Crone (destroyer)) is an ancient symbol of the ever changing processes of life.....the Trinity is probably Indo-European in origin, and is found in the  Hindu Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva trinity, and perhaps in the Father/Son/Holy Ghost Trinity as well.   

Kali's tale begins when the Hindu Gods could not defeat a plague of demons that were destroying the Earth.  They called at last upon Durga, who manifested Kali.  And it was Kali who destroyed the demons - but in her ecstasy, she could not be stopped, and so the Gods called upon her Consort, Shiva, to enter the battlefield to stop her.  He lay down before her,  and when she stepped upon his body, Kali at last stopped and ceased her blood lust.


Kālī  means "black, dark coloured", and is also drawn from the Sanskrit word for time.  Kāla primarily means "time" but also means "black" in honor of being the first creation before light - the "black matter/Mater" from which all is born. 

Severed heads adorn Her necklace, Her skin is black as night, and Her tongue protrudes from Her  face with the lust of battle, as well as the immense laughter of Kali, destroyer of illusion, who sees beyond all appearances. Kali's dance is the destruction that must occur for each new beginning, the ending cycle that begins a new cycle as well. Kali's love is tough love; yet the dancing feet and the flaming sword of Kali are among the most powerful expressions of Divine Love.

Here is the destruction of that which has become corrupt, rotten, but interestingly, within this imagery there is also often a Tantric meaning,  the arising of the power of Kundalini, symbolized by the erect penis of Shiva, the Eros that is the vitality of creation, the new seed.

"Kālī means "the black one" and refers to her being the entity of "time" or "beyond time." Kāli is strongly associated with Shiva, and Shaivas derive the masculine Kāla (an epithet of Shiva) to come from her feminine name. A nineteenth-century Sanskrit dictionary, the Shabdakalpadrum, states: कालः शिवः । तस्य पत्नीति - काली । kālaḥ śivaḥ । tasya patnīti kālī - "Shiva is Kāla, thus, his consort is Kāli" referring to Devi Parvathi being a manifestation of Devi MahaKali.  Other names include Kālarātri ("black night"), as described above, and Kālikā ("relating to time"). Kāli's association with darkness stands in contrast to her consort, Shiva, who manifested after her in creation, and who symbolises the rest of creation after Time is created. "
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali


KALI
by Lauren Raine

Once upon a time,
The world became overpopulated by demons
They filled the world with their insatiable greed
and reproduced themselves endlessly

They ate the light of day,
They soiled the air
They consumed the trees, 
They swallowed the waters
They devoured the lands with insatiable greed.

Eating, eating eating!  Fill me!

Until there were no more things of beauty made
or new dreams dreamed
or children born.

The Gods called to Me,
The unborn ones called to Me.

The time had come 
to say Enough.  And.....NO MORE!

I am the Goddess of  No More!


I, I am the one who devours....fool!
I, I am the shadow,

the flame,  the dancing feet
of all those whose lives are wasted
by the demons of greed and arrogance

I....I  am the Mother
of those who are yet to come!

Jai Ma, Kali Ma! 
Kali Yantra
KALI
by Drissana Devananda
I wanted to create a performance for Kali. As I drove to the event, I brought a costume, and a live snake with me, thinking the snake represented the serpentine energy of the kundalini. I had a sense of what to do, but I didn't have a script, a plan. 

When I went on stage, and I took a newspaper, and acted as if I was reading a paper.   I just let the mundane despair come out. "I can't stand it!" I said, and then I turned my back to the audience, just breathing, and whispered, "When I meditate, sometimes I become a Goddess......." 

Then I put on the mask. And a hot, hot energy seemed to rip through me. I turned around, faced the audience, and words just fell out of my mouth.

As I picked up the snake, I remember saying, "This is the Kundalini, this is the serpent." I spoke about how we channel that enormous energy into sexuality, but we don't understand that it can rise further into our hearts, our vision centers, infusing our entire being. All of this was spontaneous! I genuinely can't say it was I, Drissana, who did it. When I went into the dressing room later, I was shaking. It was as if Kali had left, and I was just this small, exhausted person, who for a moment had been inhabited by that ferocious intelligence.

Kali is the surgeon. She cuts away what has to go. I ask for that quality when I have to cut something out of my life; an addiction, or a relationship that no longer is about growth. And I ask it be done precisely, this cutting away of dis-ease, malignancy, the aspects that no longer serve. Kali was the last resort savior. When the Gods couldn't kill the demonic forces that ravaged the Earth, they called on a woman's wrath.

We all have the ability to call the Goddesses into ourselves. I can do this in my dance, but in everyday life it's more difficult. That's why I thrive on performance, because I can freely let those forces work through me. What I forget is that we can call on them at other times. We've forgotten that the Goddess dwells within us, all the time, and not just when we wear a mask, or are in workshop, or a ritual. We are, in Tantric terms, extensions or emanations of the Gods and Goddesses - we are their material aspects. We're not bodies that are seeking the spirit, we're spirits that are seeking bodily experiences.

Remembering is a devotional practice. In the Hindu tradition, everyone has a deity they focus on as their personal deity. In the West, as we begin to reclaim the Goddess for spiritual practice, we each need to create a relationship with the Goddess form we have chosen, in order to manifest what we need for spiritual and emotional growth, to invoke the help we need. That practice is not just cerebral. We function out of our whole self, our bodies and spirits. The body-mind. That is where we re-member, we communicate with the Goddess within ourselves.

Performance 2000, Photo courtesy Tom Lux
Women need to become angry. Now. About the women of Afghanistan, the meaningless wars, the destruction of our environment. The demons of insatiable lust are devouring our planet. Those souls who await the future are being denied their birthright. Kali is the catalyst for saying "No more". She's the voice of women whose voices aren't being heard, women who need to open their mouths and speak for the first time. 

It's time to embrace the sword of Kali and start cutting away the delusions that are destroying our world. This is the ferocious mother who says "get away from my children, or I'll kill you."

Mothers today aren't saying that. They're giving their children away. Giving them away to war, giving them away by allowing our environment to be depleted, giving permission to the powers that be to destroy their future. 

This is the dance of Kali.



**These are two of  the "spirit photos" from a 2004 ritual theatre performance called "Restoring the Balance". I always felt very blessed, or affirmed, in these surprising photos, which I shared with the cast, although not with others after a while, realizing that many people did not believe they were "real".   Quynn Elizabeth, a Shamanic practitioner in Tucson, invoked and performed with the Kali mask - and amazingly, these goat-like images appearing three of the photographs from that segment of the event.  Later we learned that in India goats have been sacrificed to Kali - something we did not know. Below is seen the back of Quynn's head, and appearing behind her is a kind of figure eight or infinity symbol, and the "goat".   Perhaps, the meaning of this phenomenon, is that Spirit was providing a symbolic "sacrifice" for our dance........ 
From "Restoring the Balance" (2004).  Photo courtesy Ann Beam.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Syncronicities and Kali



I've been having a cluster of synchronicities of late, so much so that I have to laugh, and I try to figure out the "meaning" of it all, although I think interpreting synchronicities, like interpreting dreams, is not a one, or even two, or even three dimensional matter.  Also,  interpreting a synchronicity, like interpreting a dream, is archetypal and collective, but it is also "site specific" and very personal.

I've been negotiating for years about a collection of masks for someone.  I admire her work and dedication  very much, but I have found her very difficult to work for.  Well, impossible, for me at least.  She cannot make the collection she wants in leather, and so, in the course of this project,  I've made 5 sample masks, drawings designed to be especially carved by Balinese artists in wood, created a blog for her, researched and archived the unique symbology of her project, even made an elaborate latex mask to see if that worked.  Many hours of speculative work, completely unpaid.  Nothing seemed to please her, and nothing ever seemed clear to me.  The  only mask she seemed to like is one I made 4 years ago, a "Black Tara" mask, and although she had previously rejected it and asked for  masks that were very specific in their traditional symbology, suddenly she sent me pictures of this mask (which I had sold to a collector)  and said she wanted it. 


The Tibetan Black Tara is very much related, in meaning, cross-cultural origins,  and in appearance, to the Hindu Kali. 

Serene Zloof performing Kali


Photo courtesy Lena Grace
Interestingly, a mutual acquaintance of ours is a woman who bought a number of the original "Masks of the Goddess" collection 6 years ago, and I'm pleased to say has been using them  in her own work with the Goddess and her community. One of the masks that she owns is the mask of Kali, a mask I made in 1998 using my own face as the base.  That's a potent mask, and has been used in some significant performances.*  I myself have danced with fire in it, invoking Kali with dance and spoken word.

Anyway, this commission wasn't going to work.  I found myself walking around the house muttering to myself "The heck with this, she can drive someone else nuts!"  Maybe she feels that way about me too.   I decided to withdraw from the project. 

Within a day of making this decision, but before sending an email that released the project, I received a strange email from a woman who wrote that Lena (the woman who owns the Kali mask) had lent her the Kali mask, and she was making a musical about the Goddess.  She further went on to give a link to a mask maker ("with integrity" she said) who she was using for her musical, a woman who makes her masks out of latex and not leather.  I didn't much like the "with integrity" comment, wondering if that meant I somehow lacked it, and I also did not bother to inform her that the Kali mask is made of leather...........no matter.  What is significant in this is that within a day of my deciding to not pursue the project any further, I get an email from someone who, not knowing about the situation, gives me a link to another mask artist, one who does not use leather, which I immediately passed on appropriately, and hopefully all are now happy and this artist will pick up where I left off.

Later that day I was driving to do some errands, and I noticed I had been humming a song.  It was Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker"!

Personally, this synchronicity has a lot of, well, internal significance.  Making masks is what I do, my mastery gained with experience, training, endless repetition, study, and always the help of the spirits.   The process is always infused  with synchronicity and the collective mind.  Magic, in other words.  I realize that what I was doing was compromising in too  many ways, and I had  lost my desire to do the project.    A worthy project, but not for me to do.


So, Kali stepped in! 

Within a day of all this, by the way, still pondering what the meaning of this was for me, I received this from a group email:




So...........in my experience, or interpretation, of working with both Synchronicities and with The Goddesses, there is personal work, transformation, that they offer, and they are also often reflections of a greater, integral reality.  Kali, Black Tara, is, for me, about releasing what has to go, has to be cut away with Kali's sword, in the world, or perhaps, in more simple ways, within our lives.  I do not blame anyone in this, rather, the piece of this that is for me has to do with the ways that I do not respect, or trust,  my own knowledge, experience, and gift.

But when we work with Kali, when we work with the Goddess, we work with a great power rising in the world, the Dark Goddess striving to transform and heal.  And She works with us, whether we realize it or not.  I think, as I work now on a new Kali mask, that greater meaning is what I'm going to meditate upon...........
Performance 2000, Photo courtesy Tom Lux
 


Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Summer Solstice - Joy to All


Someone was the Sun
calling from across
the little island fields

we turned and took the last
glimpse of the closing lid

"Let's go, shall we?"

I could not answer
but only followed after

just someone's glance
along the rock path.





.......Felicia Miller



 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Now I Become Myself"


 There is a joy I find,  as I prepare to turn 65, a joy I find in the "coming into Myself" that age brings, at last, at last knowing who you are, the masks peeled away.  And the joy of knowing yourself in that beautiful field of Unknowing as well, the field of evergreen becoming.  Thanks to May Sarton for this poem.......
Now I Become Myself

Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
‘Hurry, you will be dead before-’

(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)

Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.

Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

May Sarton

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Last House on Luna Pier



to stagger ashore,
free, cured of use;

simply to be, itself, a green bottle,
a message delivered,
a sailor, like me

Beloved Poems are, to me, like precious gems I keep in my memory box.  Sometimes I bring them out at need, to wear for a while, sometimes they are more like butterflies, mysterious creatures that seem to flitter across my inner landscape, messengers from the  Other Lands, asking me to remember, taste, touch............... For some reason, the words of  Frank Polite , words that  I've been hauling around in my box of literary treasures for some 35 years, did that today.

I met him at the Cafe Med in Berkeley back in 1975, and he gave me a book of poems, "Letters of Transit".   He never could have known that that little book was a friend, the poems travelling companions over the years, among my own restless "letters of transit".  "The Last House On Luna Pier" was one of those jewels in the box.  In 1989 I was at the Cummington Community, and saw that he had dedicated one of his books to them;  I wondered if the room I slept in had maybe been the room he wrote in?  All I knew of him was that he had moved to Toledo, and much later, I learned that he passed away in 2005.  I never got the chance to thank him for what he gave me...........

A number of years ago, while on the interstate from Michigan to Toledo, I saw the turnout for Luna Pier, made wholly mythical in my mind and heart for decades, a misty place of silent blue herons, the wounded presence of Frank's "Lake Goddess Erie". Did I turn off? No.......I knew that the Luna Pier Frank seeded my imagination with was something I would never want to change.

Frank's writings have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, Poetry, The Nation, Yankee, Exquisite Corpse, The North American Review and Denver Quarterly. He lived in Ohio, and for more information or to purchase some of his books, visit: FALLEN CITY WRITERS.  Thank you Frank.

GOOD ADVICE

1

Do not rush to be disappointed with yourself.
Rather, make a world drag you to it
behind 24 mules of irrefutable proof, & you
still digging in your heels all the way
before you say, "I'm disappointed with myself."

2

Trust only inauspicious beginnings,
the modest seed. What comes
dancing toward you tossing flowers,
soon perishes.

3

It is the weed of life
that grips the garden to your need,
that roots you deep into its soil
which is immortal.
Photograph by Brian Comeau
LUNA PIER (8)

A sea change leans against the pier
in tumult. I know why I'm here.
Cold streams, contending with the warm
grip the rocks as never before
in my life, and hurl up salt at my door.
What drifts in now is mine, cut loose,
thrown overboard, or drowned:
a wooden spar, a beached bone, a yard
of torn sail like an indecipherable
parchment. Even a shoe drifts in, kicked
around out there God knows how long.

I listen now. I witness. I do not
touch or twist at the integrity of each
survival. It is enough to have arrived
at all, embodying sea changes;
to stagger ashore, free, cured of use;

simply to be, itself, a green bottle,
a message delivered,
a sailor, like me.

 LUNA PIER (9)
I promise a poem to a blue heron.

Every morning, for a week or so, it stood
in the marsh grasses outside  my window,
perfectly still,
one leg poised in the air
as if it were about to kneel, or dip
its quill into a blue pool,  or disappear.

I never saw it move.

And when I turned elsewhere, to poems,
or coffee, or pacing the room,
the heron would be gone.

That last morning...
solitude of the blue heron.
Black branches of trees,
a light snow falling
through eaves of Heaven.

LANTERN

Next year I'm forty years old.
I don't know what hump I'm over.
To have made it this far, what
does that mean? Where am I?

Where have I been? Like you,
I've been places, New York, Asia,
Great fields uncut by wire
or river, mountains leaping up.

And O yes, oceans. I felt my way
deeply into each, into the mind
shafts permitted me, into
a flower (perfect on mescaline,

I laughed and wept for hours)
into the tenderness of people...
I've loved, worshipped stones,
written poems to moon and stars,

and depending on the deep and dark
of my downheartedness, I lit
a flame in my forehead like a toad,
imagining myself, at various

times, Lord of Earth, Light in
the forest, even...God.
Down the road with my lantern, I
lifted up the broken, the poor,

the ignorant, the hopeless, only
to come down to this: to be all of
them myself, at once. So what's
it all about? I don't ask anymore:

I am one with the insect and cloud.
I beg my life to lay me down at last
gently if possible, or fast, the way
a horse, plunging into darkness

kicks a stone out of its path. 


THE BLACK BUTTERFLIES

The black butterflies of night
Clipped for sleep to nightshade and widow grief,
Or in shaking luminous flight
On paired and silver wings, are rare,
And rarely seen by human sight.

Yet, they are there, surfacing
Out of range of neons and streetlights,
Preferring underleaf
And the dark offshores of air
To man and moth-maddening glare of things.
Tonight, As crisis after crisis
Cracks our skies like lightning,
I think of death,
Of different ways of dying,
And of Egypt and the myth
That once held black butterflies
Sacred to Isis.

They lived forever in flight
In her private groves, compelled like
Flickering minutes
Never to touch leaf nor stone,
Never to rest, except upon her nakedness
When she turned to love.
And here is death to be envied;
To be crushed to a personal breast
Between goddess
And whatever bird, beast, lover
Fell to her lips.
We are something else. . .

Myth and love will miss us
When the night is suddenly turned on,
Turned blank white,

And the black butterflies
Appear against that vellum sky
As far, flitting, burnt-out stars.

 

My face inside
my cupped hands
my fingertips 
at my hairline
like soft pods
tapping the earth.
What is alive
at such times?
The night, the

silence of thought
wrapped in itself.
My skull is
a shell tuned
to emptiness, like
Love itself
before desire
created all things.