Sunday, February 22, 2015

Florence Greene 6/27/1917 ~~ 2/22/2015



Mother, Social Worker, Opera Singer, World Traveller, Gardener, Humanitarian, lover and protector of all animals...............
 
Good by Mom, journey home.  I will miss you.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. 


 Mary Elizabeth Frye





Girl and Horse, 1928

You are younger than I am, you are
Someone I never knew, you stand
Under a tree, your face half-shadowed,
Holding the horse by its bridle.

Why do you smile?  Can’t you
See the apple blossoms falling around
You, snow, sun, snow,
listen, the tree dries
and is being burnt,  the wind

Is bending your body, your face
Ripples like water
Where did you go
But no, you stand there exactly
The same, you can’t hear me, forty

Years ago you were caught by light
And fixed in that secret
Place where we live, where we believe
Nothing can change, grow older.

(On the other side
of the picture, the instant
is over, the shadow
of the tree has moved.  You wave,

then turn and ride
out of sight through the vanished
orchard, still smiling
as though you do not notice)

Margaret Atwood

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Scatterlings of Africa..........Johnny Clegg and Juluka

  
 1993 L-R: Derek De Beer, Mandisa Dlanga, Solly Letwamba, Johnny Clegg, Steve Mavuso, Keith Hutchinson

Here's an artist hero not well known in the U.S.  Johnny Clegg is one of South Africa’s most celebrated sons. He is a singer, a songwriter, a dancer, anthropologist and a musical activist whose infectious crossover music has  broken through all the barriers in his own country. In France he is fondly called Le Zulu Blanc – the white Zulu.  I still cannot listen to  Johnny Clegg and Juluka  without finding myself dancing around the living room, remembering my African dance moves, and  feeling the vivid, imagined  landscapes of South Africa as I move.  Johnny

In 1969, Clegg formed the first prominent racially mixed South African band, Juluka, with  Zulu musician Sipho Mchunu. The name Juluka is based on the Zulu word for "sweat". Because it was illegal for racially mixed bands to perform in South Africa during the apartheid era, their first album Universal Men  received no air play on the state owned SABC, but it became a word-of-mouth hit.  Juluka's / Clegg's music was both implicitly and explicitly political; not only was the fact of the success of the band (which openly celebrated African culture in a bi-racial band) a thorn in the flesh of a political system based on racial separation, the band also produced some explicitly political songs. For example,  the later Savuka album Third World Child in 1987, with songs like "Asimbonanga" ("We haven't seen him"), which called for the release of Nelson Mandela, and which called out the names of three representative martyrs of the South African liberation struggle – Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge, and Neil Aggett.

As a result, Clegg and other band members were arrested several times and concerts routinely broken up.  Juluka were able to tour in Europe, and had two platinum and five gold albums, becoming an international success.

http://youtu.be/4M4DDjyStyU



http://youtu.be/OlpKDYJRzMk


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Butterfly Mind, Pollen Heart



Beauty above me, 
Beauty below me,
Beauty before me,
Beauty behind me,
I walk in Beauty.

Navajo (Dine`) Prayer

"Art is not a thing, it's a way of life" 

(seen on the billboard of the First Congregationalist Church this morning in La Verne, Ca.)

Although it is the 1st of February, Imbolc, the "Festival of Lights", I returned from the Conference in Claremont very thoughtful, inspired by speakers there, in particular, the activists for the Earth, ecologists and theologians, that spoke about our deepening crisis, and the need for all to become involved in activism, and re-mything culture, for our beloved Home, our Mother Earth, Anima Mundi.   

I have often felt, as so many do, despair in the past few years.   At 65, I feel myself becoming old,  physically limited.  As an artist, buying into the gross materialism of our world, I often absorb the feeling that what I do has no effect, no use in the face of what is occuring now.   Thanks to Wendy Griffin in particular, her eloquent and impassioned "call to arms" at the Conference on Pagan Studies last weekend.  She closed with a call to speak, do, create in all ways possible - for the Earth, for the future.   And synchronistically I received a note from Abby Willowroot, founder of the Goddess 2000 Project, commenting on the article below, which I wrote at May Day in 2012.  Abby is a great Pollinator herself, and I thank her for guiding me to this post again, because what I wrote then is what I need to remember now.  Thank you Wendy, thank you Abby.

We can all participate in the transformation that must occur now. each in our unique ways with our unique gifts.  We are pollinators for the future,   a future that must cherish and preserve all beings of the Earth.

May 1, 2012

 I love the painting above, which I found in a magazine; I don't know who the artist is, but thank him or her often for this  "Butterfly Woman" from whom thoughts like butterflies emanate out into the world to do their work. Perhaps the artist will forgive me that I do not know his or her name........but be glad that the work has gone forth to do its work in my heart and imagination.  Pollen:  agent of new life, new hope, transformation.  

As we (well, some of us) wind our way to the May Pole, and plant that metaphor into the still fertile earth, weaving our dreams into the ribbons of this ancient ritual of fertility, perhaps I can find a way to image the celebration of love and hope with a vast, global cry for help that sounds like a beating heart beneath the surfaces of our lives, just beneath our feet.  As the drums and penny whistles sound, as we dance, may we all become Pollinators for our time, for the future.

Like the woman who walks above, this is my prayer:    May we have butterfly minds, pollinator hearts. 

Peace March against the war in Iraq, San Francisco, 2003

 
The ancient Greek word for "butterfly" is ψυχή (psȳchē), which means "soul" or "mind".  And I have often found them mysteriously "soulful", as they seem to flit in and out of mystery.  The picture above, for example - it was from the San Francisco Chronicle at the time of the great peace march against the incipient Iraq war, and shows three friends with their "soul icons" - me in the mask of Sophia, Alan Moore, founder of the Butterfly Gardeners Association, and Nicole, creator of "Cosmic Cash".  Note that her icon, also, has occurred in this synchronistic photo.  

Transformers, pollinators .......... they begin their lives as caterpillars, build a crysalis, and generate imaginal cells........... 
"When a caterpillar nears its transformation time, it begins to eat ravenously, consuming everything in sight. The caterpillar body then becomes heavy, outgrowing its own skin many times, until it is too bloated to move. Attaching to a branch (upside down, we might add, where everything is turned on its head) it forms a chrysalis—an enclosing shell that limits the caterpillar’s freedom for the duration of the transformation.....Tiny cells, that biologists actually call “imaginal cells,” begin to appear. These cells are wholly different from caterpillar cells, carrying different information, vibrating to a different frequency–the frequency of the emerging butterfly. At first, the caterpillar’s immune system perceives these new cells as enemies, and attacks them, much as new ideas in science, medicine, politics, and social behavior are viciously denounced by the powers now considered mainstream. But the imaginal cells are not deterred.  They continue to appear, in even greater numbers, recognizing each other, bonding together, until the new cells are numerous enough to organize into clumps. When enough cells have formed to make structures along the new organizational lines, the caterpillar’s immune system is overwhelmed. The caterpillar body then become a nutritious soup for the growth of the butterfly."


from Imaginal Cells and the Body Politic by Anodea Judith Ph.D.
Photo from: http://www.fishersville-umc.org/classes/nac/Pics/week0401.htm
 If we can see that our thoughts participate in  pollinating the future, we can  perhaps find ways of living with simplicity and honor, even in a time so very out of balance.  Regardless of where one is, there is a profound need to "walk in Beauty".  To be "on the Pollen Path".

Without the grace of the pollinators, the butterflies and hummingbirds and bees, there will be no future.  This idea is fundamental to spiritual traditions of native peoples of the Southwest, including the Pueblo peoples, the Navajo and the Apache.  As shown above, when this young Apache woman came of age and entered into her fertile years, she was honored by the tribe with symbolic pollen.

 "The Pollen Path" is a healing and initiatory ceremony/concept among the Dine` that variously enacts a mythic journey, and demonstrates a cosmology of non-duality.  "Pollen Path" art and sand paintings often show the union of opposites, such as red sun and blue moon, as well as mandalas, the balance achieved within the circle.   In keeping with May Day, Psyche in Greek mythology was a beautiful girl who was loved by Eros, the god of Love. Here is "fertility", generation, pollination..........the union of soul/mind with love.  

As I imagine a "pollen path" for our time,  and emanations of hope and beauty,  I reflect as well that some butterflies, like the Monarch or the Painted Lady, are migratory.  Monarch butterflies will migrate over very long distances, as amazingly frail as they seem.  Some travel from Mexico to the norther parts of the United States and into Canada, a distance of over 2,500 miles. 

Lastly, a few thoughts from one of my favorite storytellers, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, on the work of the Butterfly Dancer.  May we all, women and men, young and old, become Butterfly Dancers this May Day.
  "The (Hopi) butterfly dancer must be old because she represents the soul that is old. She is wide of thigh and broad of rump because she carries so much. Her grey hair certifies that she need no longer observe taboos about touching others. She is allowed to touch everyone: boys, babies, men, women, girl children, the old, the ill, and thedead. The Butterfly Woman can touch everyone. It is her privilege to touch all, at last. This is her power. Hers is the body of La Mariposa, the butterfly." 

"La Mariposa
" from Women Who Run with The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Clarissa Pinkola Estes  tells the story of waiting to see the "Butterfly Dancer" at a ceremony.  Tourists, unused to Indian Time, wait throughout a long, hot, dusty day to see the dancer emerge, expecting, no doubt a slender, ephemeral Indian maiden, and they are no oubt they were shocked out of their patronizing cultural fantasy to see at last the grey haired  Dancer/Pollinator emerge, slow, not young, with her traditional tokens of empowerment.

"Her heavy body and her very skinny legs made her look like a hopping spider wrapped in a tamale. She hops on one foot and then on the other. She waves her feather fan to and fro. She is The Butterfly arrived to strengthen the weak. She is that which most think of as not strong: age, the butterfly, the feminine."
Because in the agricultural ritual these dances symbolize and invoke, call in, the forces that initiate the  vital work of pollination, this is no job for for an inexperienced girl, no trivial token flight for a  pretty child. It's a job for one who has lived through many cycles, and can seed and generate the future from a solid base.
"Butterfly Woman mends the erroneous idea that transformation is only for the tortured, the saintly, or only for the fabulously strong. The Self need not carry mountains to transform. A little is enough. A little goes a long way. A little changes much. The fertilizing force replaces the moving of mountains.

Butterfly Maiden pollinates the souls of the earth: It is easier that you think, she says. She is shaking her feather fan, and she’s hopping, for she is spilling spiritual pollen all over the people who are there, Native 
Americans, little children, visitors, everyone. This is the translator of the instinctual, the fertilizing force, the mender, the rememberer of old ideas. She is La voz mitológica."


"La voz mitológica". The mythic voice.  The Mythic Voice re-enchants the world around us, lending luminosity to each footstep, and pollinates, energizes, en-chants those who hear.   It is transparent, permeable.  And one way to walk the Pollen Path.


* The Pollen Path http://unurthed.com/2007/05/24/the-navajo-pollen-path/