Saturday, May 31, 2014

Remembering "Rites of Passage" Gallery

The Morrigan prepares for Battle!
Found these great old photos of myself invoking Fire at the Gallery I had in Berkeley, California. Being a double Leo, I've always had a thing for fire.  And a lot of great photos of other people.   What a great group of people I knew there.....thanks to all for the memories!  They say "if you build it they will come" and it was so very true - create the space for magic to happen, and it will.  Make the Circle sacred, and all the more so.  ***






 
 
 
 
 


***I've often thought of opening a gallery again, here in Tucson, especially since Tucson's "art district" is diminishing to just about nothing, along with most American cities, thanks to gentrification, "real estate" investment, and a relatively hostile society that tends to think of the arts as unimportant, if not suspect, and if they should be around at all they should color coordinate with the sofa, or sound good on a Hallmark card.  Alas, I can't afford to do it any longer.

I have many times  ranted about the importance of low rent districts, and cultural creatives.  There would not have been Modernism and Post-Modernism if there hadn't been cheap warehouse in Soho.  There would not have been the Visionary Arts Movement, the Summer of Love, and the Beat Poets movement if there hadn't been cheap rent in Haight Ashbury.  There would not have been a genre of poetry, art, and music that has profoundly impacted American culture  if there hadn't been cheap rent and coffee houses in the Village.  There probably would not have been Impressionism if their hadn't been The Left Banke.  These were places where creative people could come, create and share ideas, show their work, perform, speak, and they could still eat.  Without cheap rent...........would there have been a Rothko, or a Seurat, or Bob Dylan, or Alan Ginsburg, or Pete Seeger, or..................?

The fact is, all of this is changing in our urban centers.  The arts are being de-centralized, and even more trivialized (I like to call it "Cultural Soul Loss").............because there are so few spaces where people can live, work, or show.  It's no secret that innovative arts (innovators in general) usually don't "sell".  And most non-commercial  galleries generally don't make money................well, I see I'm ranting again.  I wrote an article about this when the Muse Community Arts Center (Requiem for the Muse)     was destroyed 10 years ago, to become condos.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bast


Her paws whisper on temple floors
Her eyes are luminous as the moon
Her ears pricked, alert to danger
Her whiskers sense currents from the unseen world.

Guardian of cats and women and children
Possessor of the uchat, the all-seeing eye
Bast wards against dangers in the spirit world
Evil beings, enchantments, nameless things
Visible only to cats.

Daughter of Ra, the sun
Lady of the East, the Moon
Her eyes hold light in darkness

Listen:

Ra the mighty sun appears at dawn as a baby
At sunset he is dying, and when he dies
Darkness falls but Bast prowls the Nile,
gazes into the setting sun
Holds his fire in her eyes
Shining in the dark, until Ra is born again.


Bast is Mistress
of the science of relaxation.
She luxuriates in her sensuality,
She plays  with her children
But leaps ferociously to their defense -
The One Who Tears, Little Lion -


Her sharp claws are the vengeance of Ra.

Those who love Bast honor every cat
Speak to them with respect
Lay gifts at their paws.
They call to her:
“Mau Bast! Mau Bast!”
They petition her blessings by stroking her soft fur
Which She may accept, or ignore.

Here is her secret wisdom:

Sunny spots
are best for dreaming.
Never waste a moonlit night,
and accept reality with
supreme indifference 

To the opinions of mere mortals




.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#YesAllWomen: Rebecca Solnit on the Santa Barbara Massacre & Misogynist Violence

This is what the return of the Goddess  means to me, just as much as the beautiful, nurturing, and contemplative.  The Return of the Goddesss is also, and profoundly,  the arising of women, who say, like the brilliant author  Barbara Solnit, "Look at this.  Take a good look at what it really is, how it's everywhere,  and what it does.  And it has to stop.

Misogyny kills.

#YesAllWomen:  Rebecca Solnit on the Santa Barbara Massacre & Viral Response to Misogynist Violence

 "Santa Barbara is grieving after a 22-year-old man killed six college students just after posting a misogynistic video online vowing to take his revenge on women for sexually rejecting him. The massacre prompted an unprecedented reaction online with tens of thousands of women joining together to tell their stories of sexual violence, harassment and intimidation. By Sunday, the hashtag #YesAllWomen had gone viral. In speaking out, women were placing the shooting inside a broader context of misogynist violence that often goes ignored. In her new book, "Men Explain Things to Me," author and historian Rebecca Solnit tackles this issue and many others. "We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern," Solnit says. "Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender."

http://youtu.be/iIHg7IY_31s



http://youtu.be/PmexrnazNhE        
(Part 2 of interview)




**See also, 

By The Numbers: How The Santa Barbara Shooting Reflects A Culture Of Violence Against Women

CREDIT: Adam Peck/ThinkProgress
  • More than one in three women will experience rape, violence, and/or stalking at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetimes.
  • Eighty-five percent of intimate partner violence victims are women.
  • About three women are killed by their partners every day. One in 13 murder victims are killed by their intimate partners.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. One in six women with bone or joint fractures is a recent victim of abuse.
  • Violence is often paired with controlling behavior: women whose partners are jealous, controlling, or verbally abusive are significantly more likely to report rape, physical assault, and/or stalking from their partners.
  • A domestic abuser who has access to a firearm is more than seven times more likely to kill his partner.
  • Between 2009 and 2012, 40 percent of mass shootings started with a shooter targeting his girlfriend, wife, or ex-wife. In nearly 60 percent of mass shootings during the same time period, the gunman killed a current or former spouse, partner, or other family member. In at least 17 incidents, the shooter had a prior domestic violence charge.
  • The leading cause of death for women at the workplace is homicide, most often at the hands of an intimate partner.
  • While the rate of intimate partner violence declined by 64 percent between 1994 and 2010, most of that decline came before 2001, and since then the fall has slowed and stabilized while the overall crime rate has kept dropping.
  • Domestic violence support services get more than 75,000 requests for assistance on a typical day, but last year they had to turn away more than 9,000 people thanks to tight budgets.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lilith, and new Book Endeavor

I began my new archival book "The Goddess Suite".  While many wonderful scholars, like Patricia Monaghan and Max Dashu, Anne Baring, Jennifer Barker Woolger, Jean Shiboda, and others have written extensively about the historical, and archetypal, importance of the "Woman with A Thousand Faces"..........still, I feel I need to archive the stories that have come from the women and men I've been privileged to know over the years of working with masks of the Goddess.  What I really want is to share are the many performance excerpts from those years, and most importantly the techniques we developed to work with masks  devoted to the divine feminine for healing, re-discovery, empowerment, and, of course,  community ritual  theatre.  A lot of magic happened, and I keep trying to pass that on.  So I may repeat myself many times in the course of this blog..........for any who may read this, forgive me.

For some reason, I began with  Lilith, and I reflect on the little garden magic going on right now, the quite miraculous repeat bloom of the "Night Blooming Cereus".  Well, surely that is Lilith's flower, because her name means (more or less)  "Night", her domain is the liminal night landscape, and her gift is  night vision. 

I found the excerpt  below, which I wrote for a short performance piece some 15 years ago, I had completely forgotten about it.  This was around the same time I did the fascinating  interview (below) with David Jeffers, an artist and musician in San Francisco  I greatly admired: 

"Lilith as Dream Guide"


This is a famous painting by the British artist John Collier.  Like Blake, I believe Collier was intuitively tuned into something not very well articulated in his time.  His sensual Lilith is unapologetic, and she is  embraced by the Serpent, which is the serpentine Kundalini force, rising from the Earth, and through her body. 

I think that painting might have been the  beginning point of my Lilith piece - unapologetic as well, she is "herself", unbroken, elemental, and sympathetic.

LILITH


There are times  I find myself drawn to him.
Or he draws me, in his dreams, his lonely sleep.
There are times
I'm pulled by a past so lost I can no longer even invent it.
We were innocent then.  Wandering a newly risen world
it's seedlings and sproutings, it's empty waters and warm sun.
He and I, I and him, one being really, in two bodies, rolling together
in the sweet and simple mud, rain and sun and light and dark

Before the words, and shapes and endless dividing of things.
The logic of fragmenting and naming,
and then breaking again, and again, and again,
each piece
smaller and harder and denser and slower.
And colder.  Colder.

You see, I grew enraptured by the ferocity of  World.

Her vast generosity, Her dangerous spiral mysteries.
Stars reflected in dark tide pools,
vines that curled eager tendrils around the curious finger,
fragrance of hyacinth and hyenas calling across the night.
But Adam wanted to make the world into his own measure.  I was his first attempt.

So I grew wings.

The more he tried to seize me,  the farther I flew into azure skies,
elemental passions, deep black waters,
empty deserts, bone yards and jungles,
the more I hungered for the moon.

He demanded his way
Or no way. 

And when his tantrums failed, he made for himself
a womanless and jealous  God
who would have no other.

I rose!  I flew!
Not for any price.....not for  bread or any ease.
Not for any price
would I be anything less than what I am,
Damned if I do and damned if I don't!
So I left  and found another lover.

Ah, Samael.....his hot wings and volcanic heart,
his sweet and terrible kisses.
Samael, who comprehends neither sin nor virtue,
only the splendor
of the ever changing moment. 

What soarings we had!
What flights, what heat, what progeny!
Adam, and his quiet,  frightened wife
placed amulets at his door
painted their bed with magic words and  self-imposed
shame, invocations to his cold-eyed God
who made of me a demon
I still remember him
when the whim  or the wind takes me
I kiss his sleeping lips
when he calls me in his dreams.






The Night Blooming Cereus.........an Encore Performance!

 .
I've had a bit of  magic happening right in my own back yard this Spring................my Night Blooming Cereus cactus less than a month ago decided to produce a spectacular 6 blooms (I took pictures and wrote about it).  This extraordinarily beautiful, and rare, flower usually blooms only once a year, and that at night (although if you get up early in the morning you can see them still).  The very delicate flowers close up and wilt in the heat of the day.  Normally, after a blooming cycle, the cactus produces a purple fruit, and doesn't do it's spectacular show again until next year.

To show my appreciation for the artistry of this fabulous cactus, I've been thanking it.  And to my amazement, it produced a whole new array of buds.  I've never seen anything like this.......and this morning I awoke to the beautiful blooms below!  I'm amazed, and feel very much like thanking the Devas of the Cereus for their generosity!





Monday, May 19, 2014

Sai Baba, Spiritual Authoritarianism, and Gurus in General.........


I recently watched the documentary below about Sai Baba, the Indian Guru who had a massive following throughout India as well as in other countries, and who we now know was a pedophile who sexually abused many young boys, which was covered up.  Fascinating how followers of Sai Baba (at least, at the time of this  documentary) were immune to any criticism or allegations of their guru.  "To them it was just another test of their faith". That same "faith" can be seen in the faces of those who cheered on Adolph Hitler - he too became an idealized "Father" ("Der Fuerer"), and another  "God Man".  I reflect on the ways "faith" has become a pseudonym for all kinds of abuse, regardless of the form it takes, and this unyielding "faith" is, in its essence, related to the hierarchy and authoritarianism intrinsic to patriarchal culture, whether it occurs in India, Texas, or Germany. 

  Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad   are heroes of mine, because their writings so deeply embody true "new paradigm" thinking.  They coined the term "renunciate religions", used to describe doctrines in  religious systems that, hidden or blatant, teach us to renounce  nature, the body, sex and material existence as either not sacred, not heavenly, or "not real".  Since woman is the source of birth, all of these aspects of being alive on the Earth are usually associated with the untrustworthy feminine.   In patriarchal religions from ancient Greece on forward, sexual  "purity" is highly valued,  and women are scapegoated and distrusted, one way or another,  for inspiring sexual desire. 

In their book THE GURU PAPERS they so elegantly "unmask" these deeply embedded  aspects of contemporary religion and mysticism.  And as they point out, "renunciate" and authoritarian  systems of religious thought are a profound disaster for contemporary times, for the environmental crisis, because they are so very inappropriate for the environment, for a global society, and for women.***  

As they point out as well, the emphasis on "purity", whether a Hindu Guru or a Catholic  priest, usually results in abuse of power and its denial.

"Lying about sex is so rampant in every culture that structures what is sexually permitted it is commonplace to be inured to it and accept such lying as a given. But it is the lie, not the sex, that's the real issue.  The lie indicates the guru’s entire persona is a lie, that his image as selfless and being beyond ego is a core deception.  Many think that though a guru lies about his personal behavior, his message is still essentially true. Lying here as elsewhere is done to cover up self-interest.  If  the guru’s message is that purity without self-interest is the ultimate achievement, not only did he not achieve it,but he does not even know if it is achievable.  If being self-centered is an unavoidable aspect of being human, then any ideology that denies this will necessarily corrupt its promoters and believers.This why images of "purity"are always corrupt." **


http://youtu.be/hOjk2NpKMFM


 

**The Guru Papers:  Masks of Authoritarian Power 

          by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad

Guru Cover 1/99The Guru Papers demonstrates with uncompromising clarity that authoritarian control, which once held societies together, is now at the core of personal, social, and planetary problems, and thus a key factor in social disintegration. It illustrates how authoritarianism is embedded in the way people think, hiding in culture, values, daily life, and in the very ideals people try to live by. Thus our basic problems are not the inevitable outcome of human nature, but rather are shown to stem from deep authoritarian implants. This offers new grounds for hope. The Guru Papers powerfully attests that unmasking and decoding hidden authoritarianism can disempower it, increasing the range of human freedom and possibility. The book also elegantly argues that this process is essential for human survival.

 

 ***  Witness the strange relationship conservative Christians and evangelicals make between Biblical thinking and the denial of climate change.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Desert Summer ........

The long, hot, introverted summers of Tucson are, like the long winters of the North lands, a time to go inside (quite literally), retreat.  After you get over the rigors and limitations of  The Inferno, and provided you have a good cooling system, you can quite learn to enjoy this time.  The snowbirds are all gone, the students are gone, and Tucson is a much quieter place. Everybody is up by 5:00 when it's cool, and by noon you're inside.  After the sun goes down people go out again, the cafes open, music is hear from bars, people like me are in the yard watering the plants and having a glass of cold wine.  The hot desert moon hangs, intense in the heat, over all, and walks in the surrounding desert can be very magical indeed.  Just bring water, water, water, because one quickly learns here that without water, there is no life.

Hot or not, it is still summer, and the adapted life of the desert is responding.  The giant saguaros produce a  crown of beautiful white flowers which quickly become sweet purple fruits (native people make wine and preserves from them) full of birds tearing at them. The desert doves make their mournful call, but actually it's a mating call.  The veneer of greenery in the desert dies back, waiting for the monsoons to come in July, when suddenly, , the vast storms roll in every afternoon, thunder and lightning, pour down floods that disappear within an hour or two...............and almost overnight the desert greens with seeds that have been dormant all year, waiting for this time.
  




mullein
It's easy to live inside of apartments, cars,  cyberspace and televisions today, immune to the subtle voices of nature, the "great conversation".  I remember when I was living in upstate New York, and suffered from asthma.  Every morning I would walk out into my garden and there would be mullein plants, springing up in very odd places I had certainly not planted them.  A herbalist friend remarked, seeing this phenomenon, that the spirit of the plant was trying to help me out.  Mullein is specifically useful to people with lung problems, both as a tonic and as an herb to smoke and breath.  A true Medicine Plant, a generous plant, responding to my need.   How often do we take the time to thank them?

I had that same experience with "fairy circles", also in New York.  We lived on 40 acres, and I remember, being very involved in Pagan spirituality, I was eager for "signs" in the fields of Devas.    I left offerings, I talked to the trees.  And sure enough, there were a number of times when I would take a walk and see grasses grow up in pretty clear circles.   Fantasy on my part?  Maybe, but other people saw the  "circles".  I like to think the fey folk were saying hello.
Mushroom Fairy Circle (not my picture)
The Desert too has its spirits, its Numina, and if you listen, you can converse with them.  Friendliness has much to do with opening the conversation.  Ever since my Night Blooming Cereus cactus put on such a spectacular show a few weeks ago, I've been patting the cactus in the morning, thanking it for giving me such beauty.  I'm absolutely astounded to see a multitude of new buds on it now, and thrilled with the prospect of a new show of these rare, ephemeral blooms once again.  Coincidence?  Maybe the cactus just likes me, and is responding to my great appreciation for its artistry.  Why not?  As an artist myself, I know I respond to appreciation.


Night Blooming Cereus
I've decided to give myself a "retreat" for a while,  and one of the things I'm going to do in the course of the next few weeks is work on a new book that's called "The Goddess Suite - A Community Portfolio of Excerpts from Performances, Rituals and Writings 1998 - 2014", which will archive the materials I have for communities in the future who may wish to use them.  I still receive emails from people who are interested in working with the Goddess masks, and along with my friends Mana, Annie, and Macha, I believe it's important to archive and share as much as I can the processes we all developed in working with sacred masks, ritual theatre, and telling and inventing new stories about the Divine Feminine through the art of the mask.  What I think is humming underneath this project is the possibility of me returning to working with groups directly myself. 

I think, every single day now, about what happened last summer when I was visited by the spirit of an African Songhai shaman - I think about the call he left me with to "revive Yemeja".  Yemeja has been called   the "Mother of the World"........ as an artist, as I keep saying to myself and to the other artists in my network, we need to take seriously our job, our unique power to "re-myth culture".  As the New Stories Foundation points out, so much of what happens in the life of humanity has to do with the stories we tell about the world and ourselves.  We need stories about the Great Mother, the Goddess with a Thousand Faces.  If I can help in this endeavor, I will.  So, I'll just keep on keeping on, and see what seeds get planted now in the quiet time..................

Found Poetry:"The Barbed Heart Finds Refuge Among the Palos Verde Forest"

Friday, May 16, 2014

"They Weave The World With The Stories They Tell"..........


Another ceramic piece I've been working on, finally finished.  Part of the Spider Woman Series........................

I seem to do this imagery over and over..............the words represent to me what we use to construct our ideas of what we and the world is.  Beyond words being "woven" into the New Story there are fragments of symbols, petroglyphs, shards of other times and other languages, somehow also part of the mix.  We're manifesting so much with the stories we tell about the world, so what kinds of stories are we weaving?


 "Tse Che Nako, Thought Woman, Weaving The World Into Being" (2007)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Years of Living Dangerously - Important New Show on Climate Change

 http://www.commercialpressuresonland.org/sites/default/files/images/palm-oil-plantation.jpg

A friend asked where she could view this, so I'm posting this for her any any others that may want to know.

http://youtu.be/brvhCnYvxQQ

http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/


published on Apr 6, 2014
Hollywood celebrities and respected journalists span the globe to explore the issues of climate change and cover intimate stories of human triumph and tragedy. Watch new episodes Sundays at 10PM ET/PT, only on SHOWTIME.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Vermont Defies Monsanto, And They Want To Sue The State!

 

While GMO's are illegal in a number of countries, including Mexico, Poland and France, in our country the Big Corporations are going to take the state of Vermont to court (and if they win, presumably the taxpayers themselves can Pay Monsanto Even More Money)................for insisting on the right to let people know what's in their food, and labeling products GMO if they are.  Just think:  you can not only be NOT ALLOWED to know if you're eating GMO corn, or salmon, but you can end up paying taxes to reimburse Monsanto, Bayer, and other corporations for any profits they may have lost as a result of people not wishing to purchase their products.

Support Vermont, and support what's left of democracy.

IN VERMONT, the GMO battle between the people and corporate greed rages on. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed GMO Labeling Bill H.112 into law 2 days ago. But the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), made up of companies like Kellogg's, Nestlé and Monsanto, seems to be allergic to the democratic process - and fearing that consumers will reject genetically engineered foods - has announced that it will sue Vermont to overturn the law. This suit is in addition to their attempts at the federal level to outlaw states' rights to pass laws mandating GMO labeling.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day


POEM TO PACHAMAMA

Santa Tierra, Pachamama, giver of beauties
gentle as raindrops or the claws of tigers,
red as the eyes of ancient tortoises,
redolent as coffees in the damp cool night,
round as ferns glowing green in dark forest,
thunderous as moth wings, rainbows, still pools…

You crack open our hearts
with feather-soft fingers,
flood us loose from our fears with such force
we can only be healed of our bitter tears.

we feed you, Pachamama,
our shell shards and offerings,
nestle down in your warm sands
to nurture our new becoming
the whispering lullabies of Mama Cocha.

we dream lavender and roses, 



sunlight fluttering on leaves,
lightning rippling on violet hills.
we wrap our roots deep in your fiery heart,
open owl eyes within your dark womb,
to radiant crystals, gushing fountains,
sweet-grass and sage, swift merlins, yellow lotus,
the crawling glory of beetles.

You are blood and bone of all, Nuestra Mama,
birther and healer, bringer of death,
we cherish you, Nuestra Amada,
as saguaro cherishes water,
as aspen cherishes sunlight,
as the dying cherish mercy;

and we bless you, Sagrada Mama,
in our hearts, our words, our deeds;
we aid your precious children,
and we grow your sacred seeds.


~Leslie Morris Britt ©2009

http://wildreiki.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/shamanic-gifts-of-power-poem-to-mother-earth/

We have a beautiful mother
Her hills
are buffaloes
Her buffaloes
hills.

We have a beautiful
mother
Her oceans
are wombs
Her wombs
oceans.

We have a beautiful
mother
Her teeth
the white stones
at the edge
of the water
the summer
grasses
her plentiful
hair.

We have a beautiful
mother
Her green lap
immense
Her brown embrace
eternal
Her blue body
everything we know.

Alice Walker


 


** Both works are by Judy Chicago "The Birth Project"

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"Numina" Article Revised



NUMINA:  Spirit of Place, Myth and Pilgrimage

By Lauren Raine MFA

"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 1

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 2 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.”2


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.”3


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 4, and under continual exploration by the New England Archeological Research Association (NEARA).  I had stumbled upon their yearly Conference.   Among them was Sig Lonegren 5, 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 5 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 6 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 Composella, 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.


Footnotes:

1  Foster, R.F., The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland (London: Allen Lane/Penguin Press 2001)

2   Wikipedia:  The Gaia Hypothesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis)

3  L. Annaeus Seneca junior, (Epistulae Morales at Lucilium 41.3]

4  Fell, Barry, PhD., America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World, (1976) Artisan Publishers, 2013 Edition, 352 pages

5 Lonegren, Sig, Mid Atlantic Geomancy, website and blog (http://www.geomancy.org/)

6  Steele, John, Earthmind: Communicating with the Living World of Gaia, with Paul Devereaux and David Kubrin (Harper and Row, 1989)

Curry, Andrew, Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, Turkey's stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization,  Smithsonian Magazine, 11/2008, ,http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gobekli-tepe-the-worlds-first-temple-83613665/#4uZO1s0yHlpACGLu.99