Wednesday, March 29, 2017

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUAL with Al Gore - Trailer and Preview



Nothing is more important than this.  Nothing.  Once again, I applaud former Vice President Al Gore, author of EARTH IN BALANCE, and collaborator of the film AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (2006)    Gore is a true American hero, who has devoted so much of his life to waking people up to climate change and environmental destruction.   Please see the film share the film and don't let it stop there.  Literally, everything depends on it.


https://youtu.be/h1Etl9UjIxI

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quan Yin Sculpture...........


I've made a number of sculptures dedicated to Quan Yin *** and this is the most ambitious one in progress. Quan Yin, the manifestation of Divine Compassion throughout Chinese Buddhism, represents the Bodhissatva - the Great Being who "hears the cries of the world" and returns, again and again, to aid the suffering of the world.  She is often shown, like Tara of Tibet, with many arms, and has been called "thousand armed Quan Yin"....the arms being the many ways she can help and assist those in need.  

I don't know why I have felt the need to create so many Quan Yin images, exactly.  I have felt so much this past year the hardening of hearts, division, anger, and mean spiritedness in my country, and have become quite political with the rise the far right agenda and the election of Trump.  As above, so below - in the process I have seen a lot of anger and division coming out of me as well, not all of it manifesting in a good or wise way, and I do not feel in balance these days.  So making masks, making art about Quan Yin (and I am also making a painting about the Archangel Micheal), whether I realize it or not consciously, is an act of invocation.  For the world, but most especially for myself, the lack of compassion and understanding that I find in myself as well as in the world these days.  

As I love to tell my students, but don't always remember myself.........art making can be a great act of invocation, a great act of healing, an act of magic if you will.  When my model and I were working on the sculpture above, we both felt a kind of light in the room, a yellow, calm, serene light/sensation.  The Goddess was with us as we invoked Her through our creative process.  And it really doesn't matter if you even "believe" in the Goddess Quan Yin.   I'm not sure that "believing" is anywhere near as important as simply wanting help, wanting guidance, opening the heart.  I don't "believe" the Divine Ones care what we call them or what form we give them.  But making art can thus be an act for us of devotion and spiritual practice or transformation.  The art object, finished, becomes an icon, a talisman to remind us.  
I wanted to make a Quan Yin that, instead of the idealized and beautiful, but iconic, representations, looks like a real woman in the real world of today -  Bodhisattva walking among us, working among us, hearing and responding to the pain of the world, bringing healing and love.  And not a beautiful young woman either, idealized, but a woman in her middle years, reflecting the experience that comes with embodiment.  

And I had to throw in a photo of the gifts of my friend, my lemon tree.  Giant lemons!  I don't go Wassailing around the lemon and lime trees, but I do make a point of thanking the tree when I harvest the lemons around this time of year.  Perhaps I should Wassail too!  Certainly I am ever reminded of the generosity of the World, the friendship of the garden that so graciously gives us these gifts.



***


Kuan Shih Yin - Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion

The Sanskrit name "Avalokiteshvara" means "the lord who looks upon the world with compassion".  Translated into Chinese, the name is "Kuan Shih Yin"or Quan Yin.

Kuan: observe
Shih: the world / the region of sufferers
Yin: all the sounds of the world, in particular, the crying sounds of beings, verbal or mental, seeking help

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is the embodiment of great compassion. He has vowed to free all sentient beings from suffering. Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is has great powers and can help all sentient beings. His skilful means are limitless and he can appear in any form in all the six realms of existence to relieve the suffering of the sentient beings who live there. He vowed to rescue those who call on him when they are in suffering, for example, when caught in a fire, shipwrecked or facing an attack.

In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha said that if a suffering being hears the name of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva and earnestly calls out to the Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara will hear the call and relieve that being from his suffering.

According to the Huayen Sutra, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into forms that suit the nature of those to be helped. His manifestations or transformation bodies are countless.  e.g. if a boy or girl is about to gain some enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into a boy or a girl to teach the child.
e.g. If a monk is about to attain some enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into a monk.

In short, he can appear as a monk, a nun, or a normal person like you and me. The purpose of such transformations is to make people feel close to him and willing to listen to his words.

In China, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is represented in female form and is known as Kuan Yin. Probably because of Kuan Yin's great compassion, a quality which is traditionally considered feminine, most of the Bodhisattva statues in China since the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 - 907) have appeared as female figures. In India, however, the Bodhisattva is generally represented as a male figure.

In her hands, Kuan Yin may hold a willow branch, a vase with water or occasionally, a lotus flower.  The willow branch is used to heal people's illnesses or bring fulfillment to their requests.  The water ( the dew of compassion) has the quality of removing suffering, purifying the defilement of our body, speech and mind, and lengthening life.

In Buddhist art, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is sometimes shown with eleven heads, 1000 hands and eyes on the palms of each hand (Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva). The thousand eyes allow the Bodhisattva to see the sufferings of sentient beings, and the thousand hands allow her to reach out to help them.

Sometimes, he is represented with one head and 4 arms. This is the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, worshipped by all Tibetans as "Chenrezig", the Holder of the White Lotus. It is in the male form which has two hands in the praying gesture while the other two hands hold his symbols, the Crystal Rosary and the Lotus Flower.

There is a sacred place for the worship of Kuan Yin in China - the Putuo Mountain. It is actually an island located near the city of Ningpo, in Zhejiang Province. There are many stories of Kuan Yin's miraculous appearances at Putuo Mountain.

Actually, anyone can be like Kuan Yin. You may say that you don't have a thousand eyes or a thousand arms or that you lack skillful means, but it is your compassion that can transform you into a Kuan Yin. With your eyes and hands, you can help others. With your compassion, you can bring peace and tranquility to this world.

The Mani Mantra (The Mantra of Universal Protection) : OM MANI PADME HUM

from:  Buddhanet

 Kuan Yin  at Putuo Mountain

Thursday, March 23, 2017

TOMORROW - a New Film by the Transition Network

TOMORROW - the Film!
TOMORROW” CAN BE SEEN IN THEATERS IN APRIL TO COINCIDE WITH EARTH DAY CELEBRATIONS 

Transition Network has been one of the leading inspiration of the narrative and the spirit of “TOMORROW”.
 
TOMORROW is an upbeat environmental documentary directed and narrated (in English) by actress Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds) and activist Cyril Dion.

Together, they traveled to 10 countries to visit Permaculture farms, urban agriculture projects, community-owned renewable initiatives. They introduce us to people making a difference in the fields of food, energy, finance, democracy, and education.

See TOMORROW at these Theaters or set up a screening in your town or city:

Northern California:
  • San Francisco: Vogue Theater – April 14th to 20th – Q&A with Director Cyril Dion and Robert Reed on April 14th
  • Sebastopol: Rialto – April 14th to 20th - Q&A with Director Cyril Dion and Robert Reed on April 15th
  • Berkeley: Elmwood – April 14th to 20th - Q&A with Director Cyril Dion and Robert Reed on April 15th
Southern California
  • Los Angeles: Fine Arts – April 18th – Evening event with fundraising opportunity - Q&A with Director Cyril Dion
  • Los Angeles: Laemmle’s Music Hall – April 20th to 21st – Q&A with Director Cyril on April 21st
  • Pasadena: Laemmle’s Pasadena Playhouse – April 22nd to 23rd
  • Claremont: Laemmle’s Claremont – April 22nd to 23rd
Mid-Atlantic region
  • New York City: Village East – April 21st to 27th - Q&A with Director Cyril Dion on April 22nd
  • Rhinebeck: Upstate Films – April 24th
  • Washington DC: Film Fest DC – April 24th and 26th
  • Rockland, ME: Strand Theater – April 21st - 27th
More info here on the film's release in the U.S., including contact info of the distribution team, prices for screenings and more! 

Watch Trailer Here

Press Kit Here

And the film is also a book! The English language paperback edition of Tomorrow will be available in the U.S. on April 5th. Chelsea Green Publishing is making a special 50% (20 books or more) to Transition initiatives screening the film, or using the book as the basis for a discussion group. For more information, please contact Darrell Koerner at dkoerner@chelseagreen.com303.963.5612.
Mission: Transition US (TUS) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves as the national hub for the international Transition Towns movement. Our mission is to catalyze and strengthen a national network of citizen-powered groups who are building local resilience through community action.

We accomplish this mission by:
  • Inspiring people to take action in their communities
  • From water and energy to transportation and agriculture, we help local people gain the skills they need to build a resilient communities and localized economies
  • Training local leaders to educate, organize and mobilize their communities
  • Identifying and sharing best resilience-building practices
  • Providing a knowledge hub of resources and models
  • Connecting emerging leaders to this vital movement and to each other
We are working in close partnership with the Transition Network, a UK based organization that supports the international Transition Movement as a whole.



Monday, March 20, 2017

At the Equinox.......



















The Big Thaw

starts with a trickle

water running through silence
as innocuous as breath

a slight relaxation
at the corners of the mouth.

Just when winter
has become a habit.
An old coat the sun peels off 
with just  a touch,

your foot
leaves a signature
in new mud
shiny as  new skin
or fresh, primed canvas

You notice a blade of grass
green, defiantly green.

Inhale,
you take your coat off

a crocus opens
in the blue iris

of some one's glance.

Vermont, 1982

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Save the NEA and the NEH

Much of what has "made America great" is our culture of arts and scholarship.  The NEA supports everything from the Metropolitan Ballet to film festivals, craft faires, arts in the school programs, arts for veterans, exhibitions, museums, NPR, as well as new artists in all disciplines.  The budget for he NEA and NEH is just about nothing when compared to the national budget.  Ending the arts funding is dismantling American culture, as well as silencing and censoring dissent.  We should not be trying to "justify the arts" any more than we should be trying to justify protecting the trees, or the water, or the air, or caring for the young, or the aged.  

What we should stop doing is justifying what is happening to America under the Trump regime.

A community orchestra performance, a new work from an emerging playwright, art therapy for a returning veteran, local ­library classes in Braille, free standardized-test preparation, and Bert and Ernie. Thousands of such programs could be gutted under President Trump’s proposed budget.
The budget plan, which calls for the elimination of four independent cultural agencies — the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — also would radically reshape the nation’s cultural infrastructure.

Although the budgets of the four organizations slated for elimination are negligible as a percentage of the larger federal budget, they play a vital role in a cultural economy built on a system of federal stimulus. Federal dollars are used to leverage state, local and private funding that supports a complex network of arts organizations, educational entities, museums, libraries and public broadcasting affiliates.

saaca
The National Endowment for the Arts: About Us
If the arts have impacted your life and you want to see these essential programs continue to flourish and preserve our cultural heritage, enhance our education system and help us build better communities, go to the Americans for the Arts Action Center and send a customizable message to your elected representatives in Congress. 

Actively recruit your friends and family to do the same. Generously, share information on social media, using the national hashtags – #SAVEtheNEA, #ArtsVote, AND tag your Congressional members.
 
But beyond the numbers, we know the arts matter for a wholly human reason--they illuminate, they console, they articulate. In short, they help us to explore and express the wonderfully messy business of being human.   Art defines us through our thoughts, perceptions, creativity, and other qualities that make us human.

At SAACA, you have taught us that the arts are not political, but essential to our humanity and our future.  Through your support of our community events and programming, you have proved this very thought to be true for over 20 years here in our community.

Because of you, we know that a strong nation requires creativity, imagination, collaboration, risk-taking and resilience. These skills, taught through artistic practice, are the core drivers of innovation.


The arts are directly connected to the long-term strength of America’s economy, education and and at the State level in Arizona, sustainable growth.   IF YOU BELIEVE THIS TO BE TRUE, THEN WE ASK YOU TO JOIN US AND MAKE OUR VOICE HEARD.
This blueprint must be considered by the Congress who ultimately makes the decisions about the funding levels of federal programs, including outright elimination. The budget process is very long and very political, and there will be many opportunities to influence how members of Congress vote on this issue. Fortunately, federal support for our arts and cultural agencies has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past, and if members of Congress don’t understand the broad and deep support these agencies have among citizens like ourselves – they are about to find out. As part of the Arts advocacy campaign in Arizona, we are asking you to go to the Americans for the Arts Action Center and send a customizable message to your elected representatives in Congress.

Actively recruit your friends and family to do the same. Generously, share information on social media, using the national hashtags –  #SAVEtheNEA, #ArtsVote, AND tag your Congressional members.

Learn more about our Mission and Vision for the Arts in Arizona HERE.  DonateVolunteer, Attend an Arts & Cultural Event today!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Waters of the World Revisited


"We welcome you to Avalon
Thank you for bringing the Waters of your lands.
Together we'll make a great medicine of love."


I'm pulling away for a while from politics to try to recover my balance, and looking back to do that. In  2011 I went on Pilgrimage to Glastonbury, and also presented at the Goddess Conference there.  The ritual process at the Conference, the raising of energy they did, and the profound power of the Sacred Place that is Avalon.........I shall always cherish.   An important ritual for all times and places, reciprocity with the waters and land and the group.   I wanted to touch those waters again.



August, 2011, Glastonbury, U.K.

The Goddess Conference here at Glastonbury ended yesterday with some beautiful rituals, and I find myself feeling at a loss to write it all, but I'll try.  Having done week long ritual cycles in the past, as well as leading a few around the work of the mask, I've experienced the kind of "group mind" or entrainment that happens when one works together in sacred space and "mythic mind".  That sounds pretty lame and academic - forgive me.

Imagine gathering the first day in groups of people who come from different parts of the world - in my case, from the "west".   We have all brought water from our homes, and speaking of this, we pour our water into a vessel, which later will become added to a vessel for all participants. As an opening ceremony, each group approaches the Priestesses of Avalon in a barge, "rowing" to share our waters to the magic isle.  This water will be joined with rituals at the "holy wells of Avalon", the Chalice Well and the White Spring.  Later small vials of this charged, healing, universal "water of the well, water of the world" are given to each of us to carry back, and we will all make a procession with our banners through the streets of Glastonbury to the river (which once was a great lake, the legendary home of the Lady of the Lake) to pour some of this water into the flowing waters.

Quite a wonderful sight, to see so many blue clad, singing women and men gathered waist high in the stream, with our vessels of water, and a woven mermaid!  Then a sharing of fruit, to remind all that the Goddess gives to us the fruits of the Earth, always, to share, and to receive.

The closing ceremony included a "give away" where all present exchanged gifts.  And I leave with my heart open, and my vials of water to share with other waters, and to remember.

You know, I honestly feel rather speechless - moved, changed by this experience, the ceremony, the people, the place.   The work is about the Goddess, and it is collective, and a field opens that is also deeply personal and transformative.  A "mystery".  One sees with mythic eyes, with archetypal vision, and waking life becomes a revelation.  For example,  at the river yesterday, I picked a branch of elderberries, finding them beautiful, and wanting to add them to the "fruits" being shared, but decided it wasn't a good idea.  I wasn't even sure they were edible.  Some seeing me with them in my hand told me that they were very magical, connected to the Crone and the Goddesses of the underworld.  That's why they were called "elderberry".  She also said they made medicine from them, and Elderberry wine.

I carried those darkly beautiful berries all the way back, thinking as I returned (wet) from the river, and pouring our waters into the worlds waters thus, about my soon to be 62nd birthday.  I'll be eligible for early retirement now.  I'm entering old age, and I don't know what it means - it's this cycle of my life now.  Sometimes, to be honest, I feel very sad and lonely in the midst of it all.  Elderberries, bearing elderberries from the river...............  Crone medicine.

When I got to the cafe at the Assembly Hall, gathering for the closing rituals, the cook was saying to someone "Oh, someone left a nice bottle of elderberry wine here last night.  Potent stuff.  "(!) 

I was amazed. since I was standing there with the same berries in my hand - so I asked her if I could try it!

And so I sat, waiting for the "gifting ceremony", with a nice glass of (like she said, potent stuff!) elderberry wine in my hand, feeling awed, and as if, on top if it all, I had some very magical "medicine" that had just been gifted to me, even before the "gifting ceremony" had begun.  Elderberry wine.  Healing tonic....... gifts of the crone goddess, potency.

It works that way. The huge generosity of world, and when people come together in love and ritual.........when we forgive, love, and join the waters.........

At the closing ceremony, after the procession to the River Brue,  white veils were drawn as the Priestesses/Facilitators withdrew behind the stage.  The "mists of Avalon" closing on the Mystery..........and we left for our various  homelands, bearing our vials of  "holy-wholly" water.

From the Well of the Lady, the Well of becoming...........the joined Waters of the World.

Speechless.



At the closing of the Conference, the "Waters of the World" were taken to the river, in procession, and given to the river to bear them, with the blessings of all those gathered,  to join the waters of the land and ocean.  





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

More on Stars

Photo by Wally Pacholka
Recently I shared some poems of mine about Stars, and I was delighted when Roscoe, a writer friend, shared back some of his own reflections, which he kindly allowed me to share in the Blog. 

NIGHT RIDER
by Roscoe Mutz

            I do not consider myself a particularly religious person in the traditional sense; I abide church services and rarely find the sacred in holy buildings, but when the sun goes down and the sky is clear I feel the spirit move within me; an ancient impulse to worship returns and my pulse rises.  As I bike through Tucson at night, my thoughts on the sacred echo those of Emerson:

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile. 


            Clipping in both the LED headlamp and flashing red strobe tail light and rolling up my right pant leg constitute the ritual preparation of the elements for my two-wheeled eucharist.  The clearly cratered moon with its twinkling celestial counterparts are an ever changing and astonishing natural stained glass memorial of the dynamism of the eternal.  Orion guards and guides my spiritual journey.  The pungent aromas of wood smoke a suggestion of incense.  In the silence, a prayer.  The wind whipping by my ears is the whisper of angels, or, perhaps, the voices of my ancestors that reside within me.  The hum and buzz of the wheels send soothing energy to loosen my knotted inner self, a sensation similar to how a meditative ohm or belting out the chorus of a familiar hymn can reverberate down into my body, soothing the gnarled visceral being hardened by the rigors and stresses of weekday living.  And with a little faith, releasing the handlebars to come up out of my bow and spread my hands wide, truly giving our envoys of beauty a reason for such admonishing smiles.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Synchronicities.............



I've had a number of striking synchronicities lately, and wanted to put them into this journal.  Synchronicities, for me, are like touchstones along the path, made of the same stuff as vision and dreams, pointers, contacts.  Sometimes, like dreams, I try to see what they may mean.  Sometimes, I see synchros as being "within the dream", threads cast on the great net of Spider Woman reminding us of the web of being underneath the fabric of ordinary life.  

So what to make of these?  The first concerns my mother, who died on February 22, 2015.  On the 22nd I felt myself really missing her, and lit candles before her picture in remembrance.  A few days later Blogger notified me that a new comment had been posted on, of all things, the obituary post I made for her two years ago!  While it is obviously some kind of spam, it repeats the "22" motif.  Just a computer generated spam, or a little "hello"?  It made me smile, anyway.

Spam Synchro

Blogger has left a new comment on your post "Florence Greene 6/27/1917 ~~ 2/22/2015": 

At Take Free Bitcoin you may claim free bitcoins. Up to 22 satoshis every 5 minutes. 

Publish 
Delete 
Mark as spam 

The next has been going on for a while, and concerns "a gift of feathers".  For several months now I've been finding feathers all over the place.   On the doorstep, in the living room, in my studio..........even the cat brings them home.  I've amused myself by saying "it must mean angels are around."  So last week I had a visit with a colleague of mine, Patricia Ballentine, who is a priestess in Phoenix.  She brought with her Fr. Jorge, a Catholic priest who is part of a very progressive church in Tempe, Arizona.  It was a real pleasure to talk with Fr. Jorge, and we discussed masks and the use of sacred masks in many indigenous cultures.  He particularly liked my mask of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  And the conversation culminated with Fr. Jorge planning on commissioning me, in May, to create masks for  the Four Archangels!   am excited about this very much, and especially since I have recently been working on a painting dedicated to Michael!  

I also might add that about a month ago I received a call from a woman who wanted me to put some art in a show she was sponsoring.  I did, and just recently looked at her full name  - it is T.  Angeles!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Desert Stars

Photo by Wally Pacholka


"Who wants to understand the poem must go to the Land of Poetry"
...... Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

To Stars

With age, I've learned to watch my feet.
I've become cautious of falls,
the honest frailty of bones
and equally fragile, the choices
found at every crossroad.
Time makes us bend.
We learn the habit
of looking down.
I was blessedly no where
just some where between 
"here" and "there"
a truck stop off I-40
falling off the edge of the world
into a nameless desert town,
disappearing
into a sweet black halcyon midnight
After a summer rain
wet, shining asphalt
the smell of diesel, and chaparral
(below,  some where between
my feet and eternity)

reflected, you made your puddled,
gracious descent:
luminous Orion,
and faithful Sirius,
the dog star.
Antares, the scorpion's tail,
the Pleiades,
dancing in Indra's shining jewel net.
And the Big Dipper
offering,
offering forever

                    (2003)



I Stood Poised Upon the Edge of Town
and Heard the Blue Stars Singing


Weary ideas rise and fall
into blessed exhaustion,
the mind retreats

I taste the  blood-red honey wine
I entered a lucid dream,
and found a lucid life.

Through an open window, 
Night reveals a black, far horizon
a landscape layered 
with memories made of memories

I hear the blue stars singing

     "Wait for me,
       Wait for me"

I wish I could tell you
what I have seen
in the homelands.

Perhaps, 
in that country,
we are of each other at last......

You take my hand, we walk together
in that green and splendid meadow.
I offer you a glass,
you raise your cup to mine.
Lips touch

a butterfly rises between us,
flies into the morning
from the other side
of forever.

Through an open window,
I hear the blue  stars singing.......
While I write this in a small, dark room
a cluttered here, a  mute now

wishing I could be young again,
wishing I could feel
something other than foolish.

I will always remember you
between, 
always between
regret and joy
hello and goodbye
delight and sorrow
truth and lies

that bright
endarkened landscape
I saw you in.

(2002)