Friday, May 26, 2017

The Hidden Sky

The Hidden Sky:  Fibonacci Movie from Cara Reichel on Vimeo.

When I find something I love, it stays with me, revisited over and over again. The Spiral...............the Spiral Dance, the Spirals of Fibonacci, the elegant, eternal, mysterious spiral of time and space.  This video was one of the  "trailers" for a play some 7 years ago that was based on a story by Ursula Leguin called "The Masters" (a story not without relevance today, as it concerns a scientist who is silenced by an oppressive theocracy in a post apocalyptic world.  )   Below I also share the Prologue to the tale.

The Hidden Sky: Fibonacci Video
music and lyrics by Peter Foley
book by Kate Chisholm
based on the short story “The Masters” by Ursula K. Le Guin
directed by Kate Chisholm

The Hidden Sky: Prologue Movie from Cara Reichel on Vimeo.

"Science and religion collide in this sophisticated and mythic new musical. At the center of the conflict is Ganil, a young woman whose passionate longing for knowledge leads her on a dangerous journey in pursuit of lost and forbidden truths. With an eclectic score featuring lush choral singing, this compelling tale of spiritual awakening illuminates the complex dialogue between faith and reason."

“The power of Foley´s score effectively communicates the exhilaration of intellectual discovery… The melodic urgency, rhythmic variety, harmonic invention and orchestral sophistication of his music compel the attention. Foley acknowledges a range of influences from Sufi music to the rock band U2, yet what he has made of them is something uniquely his own.”

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Hidden Sky:  Fibonacci Movie from Cara Reichel on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Coreopsis Journal of Myth and Theatre (and Artist in Residence for 2017)


An Artist’s Statement

By Lauren Raine

“Myth comes alive as it enters the cauldron of evolution, 
drawing energy from the new storytellers who shape it.”

– Elizabeth Fuller, the Independent Eye Theatre

Mythos is the archetypal ground on which cultures are built, the sometimes fluid template of religions, and the means by which we decide what is sacred and what is not.  In other words, as the poet Muriel Rukeyser famously said, “The world is made of stories, not atoms.”  Artists are technicians of story.   So what are the stories that we are telling about our world, and how are they manifesting?  How are we, as artists, acting as myth makers?

Ritual is a way of bringing the storied realm into the physical realm.  There is something incredibly transformative about not simply observing, but becoming part of the story.  By putting on the mask, or passing the magical chalice, or touching the Earth with imagined roots we embody mythos.   Meaningful ritual is by and large lost in the contemporary world – but it’s a potent, creative field that is wide open for artists to re-animate.

When I went to Bali to study temple mask traditions I was fortunate to produce collaborative masks with Balinese mask makers while there. In traditional cultures, such as Bali, sacred masks are regarded as “vessels for the gods” to gain entry into this world, to bless or to instruct.  Their sacred mask traditions inspired me to create the Masks of the Goddess collection, which was devoted to the divine feminine throughout the world.  As the masks were used by dancers, storytellers, and ritualists, I found myself in a grand conversation, and the masks themselves gained energy, story, and “manna” from those who used them.    After 20 years, they are still travelling, most recently to the Parliament of World Religions.

Another series of masks, collectively called Numina after the Roman word for spirits of place, is a celebration of my lifelong conversation with the numinous intelligence in nature, and I offer them to others to give them voice. We have always personified the vast, mysterious and yet intimate forces of nature, as gods and goddesses, as kachinas, as the fey.   What might the Spirit of the River have to say as humans pollute our waters?  What might the Spirit of the Forest speak of?  What knowledge could the the Mountain Gods impart?

How might we use theatre, and participatory ritual, to engage others in the Great Conversation?  How might the renewal of contemporay Ritual Theatre help us to "re-enchant" the world?

Lauren Raine MFA

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Goddess Timeline

Here's something wonderful -  "The Goddess Timeline - 30,000 years of images of the Sacred Feminine"  is by artist Constance Tippett   (, and can be purchased as a beautiful poster on her website. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

"Using the father tongue, I can speak of the mother tongue only, inevitably, to distance it -- to exclude it. It is the other, inferior. It is primitive: inaccurate, unclear, coarse, limited, trivial, banal. It's repetitive, the same over and over, like the work called women's work; earthbound, housebound. It's vulgar, the vulgar tongue, common, common speech, colloquial, low, ordinary, plebeian, like the work ordinary people do, the lives common people live. The mother tongue, spoken or written, expects an answer. It is conversation, a word the root of which means "turning together." The mother tongue is language not as mere communication but as relation, relationship. It connects. It goes two ways, many ways, an exchange, a network. Its power is not in dividing but in binding, not in distancing but in uniting. It is written, but not by scribes and secretaries for posterity: it flies from the mouth on the breath that is our life and is gone, like the outbreath, utterly gone and yet returning, repeated, the breath the same again always, everywhere, and we all know it by heart." 

Ursula K. Le Guin

Friday, May 12, 2017

Lost and Found Masks.............

"Flower Deva Mask"

I've made so many masks over the years that I never found a story for, although perhaps those who bought them found their stories and continue to find "voice" for them.  Sometimes a face would just kind of  appear in my imagination, or in the woods, or while working in my garden,  insisting that I make a mask for that special Persona.  So I did, but never really learned more about what those personae had to say or tell or dance.  I  found some images of some of those masks in my files, and just had to share them here, at least, to share their names.  All of these masks have left me, sold or given away............I like to think they are happy with the faces I found for them...........  

"Butterfly Fairy" 

One of a series of very large "butterfly masks" I made for a photography  trade show in NYC.  I wish they had thought to send me a photo of some of the people who used the masks...........would have been fun!  

"Fire Elemental"

There was a time when I make many "Fire" masks, being very drawn to that element.

"Wood Elemental"  (from Devils Hopyard State Park, Connecticut)

Two mystical, magical, wonderful residencies at I-Park Artists Enclave in East Haddam,  Connecticut resulted in lots of masks that spoke to me from the woods, the ponds, the dappled light of an incomparable Summer Solstice there.

"Bone Being" (a Samhain mask)

A very old Pagan mask, one of the "Mother of Bones" Masks I used to make, the Crone aspect of the Goddess and the turning of the year into darkness.


I made a series of masks for the Elusinian Mysteries plays some people I know were staging in California, but they never used them, or even seemed to notice I had made them, so they ended up sold off at a Renaissance Faire.  Too bad, the series was rather beautiful, I wanted to make them look old and antique, and I think I succeeded fairly well.  This was Hades.

"Luna Moth"

This was a Luna Moth experience I had during one of my wonderful summers at Brushwood Folklore Center in Western New York.  I had never seen such a thing as a Luna Moth before, and finding one that was dying, I needed to at least celebrate it's incredible beauty.  So I kept it in a box and used it for the model of this mask.  When it died I gave it back to my favorite tree, feeling very blessed by that beautiful little life.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Puzzle Synchronicity

I had a funny, and illuminating, synchronicity the other day, one that I think I need to take to heart!

I can see the street from my dining room window, and sitting at the table I noticed a couple of brightly colored  boxes in the street directly in front of my house.  It seemed strange that they were there, and no other trash or debris, so I went out to investigate.  They turned out to be two puzzles, both new and still in packages inside the boxes.  I have no idea of how they got there, except someone must have dropped them.

Just that day I'd been thinking of several things.  One was the habitual depression if not outright despair I' ve been feeling since the election, a despair that always seems to be heightened after a morning read of Facebook news. Sometimes lately I feel paralyzed by it.

The other thing I'd been thinking about was going to visit a friend in Sedona when I make my cross-country trek this summer - it's a bit out of the way, but it's been on my mind.   I remember in the 80's when we used to make our "pilgrimages" to Sedona, to walk the "vortexes".  I used to always stop there when I was passing by, and walk in Boynton Canyon in particular.    I'm not as idealistic a I used to be,  but Sedona is still a special place,  beautiful and considered by many a power place or sacred place.

So what were these puzzles?  One was "Sedona"...........and the other was called "White House Holiday"!!  Sedona - going to  a special place where people think about geomancy and spirituality and art.  And taking a much needed "holiday" from what's happening in the news and in the White House!  

I think these puzzles so kindly provided by the Goddess of synchronicity and serendipity are not so difficult to put together..........

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Conversations Our Feet Don't Hear

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

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

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

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

Mary Oliver (from "The Truro Bear")

Old pond,
frog jumps in -


We have been underground too long

we have done our work,
we are many and one,
we remember when we were human.

We have lived among roots and stones,
we have sung but no one has listened,
we come into the open air
at night only to love
which disgusts the soles of boots,
their leather strict religion.

We know what a boot looks like
when seen from underneath,
we know the philosophy of boots,
their metaphysic of kicks and ladders.
We are afraid of boots
but contemptuous of the foot that needs them.

Soon we will invade like weeds,
everywhere but slowly:

the captive plants will rebel
with us, fences will topple,
brick walls ripple and fall,
there will be no more boots.
Meanwhile we eat dirt
and sleep; we are waiting
under your feet.

When we say Attack
you will hear nothing
at first.

Margaret Atwood, from "You Are Happy"

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Joanna Brouk - Farewell to a Friend

I just lost my oldest friend, the composer, poet and writer Joanna Brouk. We were young artists in the halcyon years of Berkeley, and her art has travelled with me across the years. Joanna was one of the early composers of synthesizer music, and she worked at Mills College and the University of California in the early 70's, and she was one the early collaborators of the Hearts of Space radio show. I remember her "Gong Piece", a beautiful work using a Japanese gong.........I had a copy of it on reel to reel tape, and carried that around for years until it finally disintegrated.   She and I and another friend, Felicia, collaborated on a book of poems,  and it was my delight to reconnect with Joanna many years later, in 2011.

Since then we've visited several times a year, and I've watched Joanna's music be re-discovered (she was invited to perform in France this Spring), as well as she was finally ready to release the first edition of her "Lost Eros" books, a project she was excited about.  Creativity was flowing for Joanna, it was my privilege to experience her inspiration and enthusiasm,  and it seems impossible that that conversation is suddenly not to be continued.  But what I find I remember best.......the two of us just sitting on the beach,  watching the pelicans come home. Or watching movies with popcorn.  Or working on her garden, hauling humongous bricks around.  I remember she had a bee hive in a tree, and I was planning on visiting in the summer, to see how the garden was coming along with the new improvements.  

Lost Lovers of Atlantis

In  a recent release of one of her albums I heard the sound of a woman's voice singing - and suddenly remembered that was me, singing at the bottom of the stairwell at Kroeber Hall, while she recorded me, 45 years ago. The last time I saw her she visited me in February for the Gem show, and was excited about going to France for a concert. We talked about the book she was working on, how weird it was to be growing old. We were sure we had more adventures ahead......

I remember Joanna used to say that she just "heard the music of the spheres" and she did strange abstract drawings trying to "write down" what she heard. In many ways her music was an effort to re-member that music that was already there. The same with her poems, which she said were more about "the space in-between than the actual words". She's fine, I know, but I feel grief for her son. And for me. Grief is always really about us, the ones who are left behind.

 I don't know how to honor her except to share a bit of what she contributed to the world, the world she was a true artist in:   a pollinator of souls.

light of morning
the fairest light, the fairest light
has come

softly, I feel its coming

night has given
night has given
a place to morning
breath returns and moistens
the grass the birds feather

no longer do I hide
no longer do I hide
gone into darkness

light has come

Joanna Brouk (1972)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Happy Beltane to All!

From the Edinburgh Beltane Festival

Happy May Day to all!

(I don't jump around fires much any more, but I hope all of you are)  And great photos from the Edinburgh Beltaine Festival!

 Some good words about this sacred day from Celestial Elf Blog:

The Beltane Festival

Beltane or Beltane is the Gaelic name for the festival that begins on April the 30th or Beltane's eve and continues on 1st May and is a celebration of purification and fertility. The name originates from the Celtic god, Bel - the 'bright one', and the Gaelic word 'teine' meaning fire, giving the name 'bealttainn', meaning 'bright fire'. Marking the beginning of the Summer season with the lighting of two great bon-fires on Beltane's eve signifies a time of purification and transition, these fires may be made of the nine sacred woods, Alder, Ash, Birch, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Oak, Rowan and Willow.

Heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, Beltane festivals were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits.

Significantly, as the Goddess (Brigid) moves through her various phases, Beltane sees the womanly aspect of the Summer Goddess banish the Old Crone aspect of the Winter Goddess in readiness for the maternal time and the fruits of nature to follow.

As this is one of the magic turning points of the Sacred Seasons, the veil between worlds is thought to be especially thin, and as a result many of the Fairy Host, the Sidhe and the Tuatha De Danann may be seen crossing between the worlds.  Particularly, the Faery Queen is thought to travel about on this night and if you gaze too long on her enchanted beauty she may whisk you away to live in her Other realms outside of time for an eternity.  The Faery Queen also represents the May Queen, although in practice the honor is usually carried out by young women who are soon to be married.
For the May Day is the great day, 
Sung along the old straight track. 
And those who ancient lines did ley 
Will heed this song that calls them back.
........Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

The May Queen at Beltane

Along with her May King, mythically a Jack in The Green, the Green Man or Horned God, is to take part in the Great Rite and so Open the way for the Summer. This is the Sacred Marriage of the God and Goddess, often reenacted by a symbolic union during which the Athame (magical knife symbolizing male energy) is placed by the King of May into the Chalice (Sacred Cup symbolizing female energy) held by the Queen of the May.  For a more detailed account of how this ritual was enacted in earlier time, I refer the reader to Marrion Zimmer Bradley's moving account in her fiction The Mists of Avalon.

Following this union which serves to Open the way to the Summer Lands, festivities ensue, particularly that of dancing around the May Pole. The May Pole itself is a symbol of the union of the God and the Goddess, as the red ribbons represent the fertility of the Goddess, the white represent the fertility of the God. Men begin the weaving by dancing under the upheld ribbon of the first women facing them, accompanied by music, drums beating or chanting. The dancers move forward, stepping alternately over and under each person who’s dancing toward them. The dance continues until the Maypole is completely wrapped, then the ribbons are tied off and the wreath from the top is tossed to the earth to bring its gathered power into the ground.

Whilst such public festivals are not as widespread as they once were, famously at Padstow in Cornwall there still is held an annual 'Obby-Oss' day, which is believed to be one of the oldest survivng fertility rites in the United Kingdom.   St. Ives and Penzance in Cornwall are now also seeing a revival of similar public festivities.

Beltane Lore

During Medieval times, a man might also propose marriage by leaving a hawthorn branch at the door of his beloved on the first day of May. If the branch was allowed to remain at her door, it was a signal that the proposal was accepted. If it was replaced with a cauliflower, the proposal was turned down.

The Celtic Moon month of Hawthorn is the time for lovers to attend to matters of the heart, as the Celtic fire festival of Beltane heralds the start of summer.  Crosses of birch and rowan twigs were hung over doors on the May morning as a blessing and protection, and left until next May day.
The dew on the May day morning is believed to have a magical potency - wash your face and body in it and you will remain fair all year.

Going 'A-Maying' meant staying out all night to gather flowering hawthorn, watching the sunrise and making love in the woods, also known as a 'greenwood marriage'
Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight, Or he would call it a sin; But we have been out in the woods all night, A-conjuring Summer in! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Not Man Apart" & the Dark Mountain Project


     "The Answer"

by Robinson Jeffers*
Then what is the answer?

Not to be deluded by dreams.
To know the great civilizations
have broken down into violence,
and their tyrants come, many times before.

When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor
or choose the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted 
and not wish for evil; and not be duped
by dreams of universal justice or happiness.
These dreams will not be fulfilled.

To know this, and know that
however ugly the parts appear
the whole remains beautiful. 

A severed hand is an ugly thing,
and man dissevered from the earth and stars and his history...
for contemplation or in fact...
appears atrociously ugly. 

Integrity is wholeness,
the greatest beauty is organic wholeness, 
the wholeness of life and all things,
the divine beauty of the universe.

Love that, not man
Apart from that

or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions,
or drown in despair when his days darken.
photo by MicStephens

I've been trying to find a way to articulate what I feel for a long time now.  This past year especially, I've found myself  overwhelmed with the destruction of the environment, and the immanent changes that are upon us.  Our global civilization, with all its promise,  and yet just in its infancy,  increasingly looks like a runaway train.  To mature, in the little time that has been given us, to meet the challenges of climate change and our evolution and promise  as a common humanity on a small to sustain that dream?

Now that the U.S. has put  Trump*** and what he represents into power, I despair.  He and his Republican  regime are calling global warming  "A Chinese hoax" even as the poles are melting, the permafrost is melting, and islands are disappearing.  They pound their chests and threaten nuclear war as they  withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Accord, prepare to end the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Energy Act, renew the pipelines that leak poison into our rivers.    I watch America become dismantled, our Constitution increasingly broken, the tyrant minds of greed and violence like the Dark Lord of Tolkien's books overtaking America.  Yes, that despair I've been feeling for a long time has deepened, and I find myself increasingly asking myself, "How do I live in these times?"

 Every generation, perhaps, has to ask that.  Or perhaps not.  Perhaps many generations behind me lived with a surety of continuity in their families, countries, tribes, environments, that, even if not true (because change is the only constant), was true for their time.  But I have lived in an extraordinary time, when change is too rapid to assimilate, and not only our tribes and nations are threatened, but our very planet, the Mother Earth we take as the ultimate changing, is threatened.   And humanity, for all of our  beauty and brilliance, is still in its infancy.

It's always been with me, this "Before the Deluge" (which is also an important movie) mentality.  It took different forms, but it was always there, the shadow that hung over my generation, born just after WWII with its inconceivable violence, and in the shadow of the nuclear bomb.  For all the prosperity of the 50's, we knew what horror humanity was capable of, and we knew life was tenuous.  I remember the surrealism of the "get under your desk" exercises, the Cold War, and the bomb shelter my father made in the closet, with a barrel of water and stacks of canned beans and tuna fish.  It was always there, the Shadow.

Berkeley was ahead of its time, and in 1970 I remember taking recycled bags to the Food Co-op.  We spoke of "voluntary simplicity", and of  Zero Population Growth, and in 1973 I had a tubal ligation so I would not contribute further to the problem.  We fought for the redwoods, we talked about growing our own vegetables, and we marched, and marched.  We marched against Vietnam, we marched for Women's Rights and birth control and abortion, we marched for Free Speech, and we began to march increasingly for the Environment.  People did sit down strikes at the nuclear power stations that so dangerously sat atop California fault lines, they chained themselves to old growth redwoods to keep forests from being clear cut.    I saw the evolution of the Women's Movement and the evolution of Environmentalism, and then the evolution of Eco-feminism, which saw the profound relationship between the two evolutionary threads.  I remember when Time Magazine did its Endangered Earth edition in 1989.  Almost 20 years later in 2006 I saw the former Vice President of the U.S., Al Gore, produce "An Inconvenient Truth", shown in all major theatres.   Not much changed.

I've come to agree with the founders of the Dark Mountain Project, and their Manifesto.  Our civilization is not sustainable, our worldwide  economic system is manifestly unethical, and our descendants cannot have the hope and privilege we have known.  And as I say that I acknowledge that the majority of human beings on this planet have never had the hope and privilege that I have.   The question is, how do you live with that?

For myself, I'm going to focus on what I love, and hope to learn to be a loving person in the time that I am granted here.  And I aspire to live in as much simplicity and gratitude as I may. Despair, anger, polarization, none of this is helping me.   My work has always  been an effort to share Her image, in many different forms and with many different faces.  I'll continue to make my shrines, and reliquaries, and words of praise to Her, in all of Gaia's vast diversity and indescribable beauty.  It has been a privilege to live within Gaia, and a privilege to live in this time.  It has been a privilege to  live.  Let my life become a prayer of gratitude, and perhaps some of those threads will go forward to those who are yet to come.  Perhaps they will not curse all of us.  But we'll never know.

A manifesto for change

"The Dark Mountain Project is a network of writers, artists and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilization tells itself. We produce and seek out writing, art and culture rooted in place, time and nature."

The Dark Mountain Project was initially created as a journal by the former  deputy editor of the Ecologist, Paul Kingsnorth.  He and colleagues became disillusioned with the narratives of environmentalism, and so they decided to write their own.  Eventually this evolved into a large artistic, literary, and scientific community, as well as workshops and the "Uncivilization Festivals".  As he explains:

"Out of this huddle came a slim, self-published pamphlet that we called Uncivilisation: the Dark Mountain Manifesto. It was a clarion call to those who, like us, did not believe that the future would be an upgraded version of the present, and who wanted to help forge a new cultural response to the human predicament. It called for a clear-sighted view of humanity's true place in the world.  We had no idea if this would resonate, but it did - all over the world. We sold hundreds of manifestos and attracted enthusiastic support from thousands of people. A movement began to coalesce. What was most fascinating – and telling – about it was the common thread running through it. So many of the communications we received were from people who professed a profound sense of relief. They too had been going through the motions about 'saving the planet' but had long since stopped believing it. Coming across other people who didn't believe it either, and who wanted to forge a new way of looking at the future, got a lot of people very excited.

To me, this is the most exciting thing about the Dark Mountain Project. It has brought together people from all over the world, from varied backgrounds – writers, poets, illustrators, engineers, scientists, woodworkers, teachers, songwriters, farmers – all of whom are tied together by a shared vision. It is a vision that a few years back would have seemed heretical to many greens, but which is now gaining wide traction as the failure of humanity to respond to the crises it has created becomes increasingly obvious. Together we are able to say it loud and clear: we are not going to 'save the planet'. The planet is not ours to save. The planet is not dying; but our civilisation might be, and neither green technology nor ethical shopping is going to prevent a serious crash."

*Much of Jeffers' poetry was written in narrative and epic form, but he is also known for his shorter verse and is considered an icon of the environmental movement. Influential in some circles, despite or because of his philosophy of "inhumanism", Jeffers believed that transcending conflict required human concerns to be de-emphasized in favor of the boundless whole. This led him to oppose U.S. participation in World War II, a stand that was controversial after the U.S. entered the war

** Paul Kingsworth on the founding of the Dark Mountain Project:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

James Lovelock and Gaia Theory

James Lovelock, with biologist Lynn Margulis, developed the Gaia Hypothesis, which is now  Gaia Theory .  After the massive outpouring of support for the sciences and climate change research from yesterday's Earth Day marches around the U.S. and in Washington, D.C., I felt like honoring their work.  

They offered a new, and yet very ancient, one might say "original" paradigm to the scientific community, and to the world.  Gaia theory is widely accepted by the Earth Sciences community, and certainly  Gaia  captured the imagination and hearts of many others  in my generation -  to artists, mythologists, philosophers and theologians.  Lovelock proposed that the Earth is a living being, self-regulating, interdependant in all its systems, responsive to change.  And we participate in that organism's evolution.  

 "Once upon a time the Word for World was Mother."

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day!

Photo courtesy J.J. Idarius

We have a beautiful mother
Her hills
are buffaloes
Her buffaloes

We have a beautiful mother
Her oceans
are wombs
Her wombs

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

We have a beautiful mother
Her green lap
Her brown embrace

Her blue body
everything we know.

Alice Walker

"Speak to the Earth, and it shall teach thee"