Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Persephone - A New Bas Relief

 


Persephone is so much about the Turning of the Year, the Goddess of Equinoxes, the Balance point at which the regeneration of spring begins, and the diminishment and going in to the Dark of winter begins as well.  I think that's where this sculpture arose from, feeling the incipient life beneath the Earth, the stirring of spring.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Life Between Life: the Work of Michael Newton

 

Recently I've been re-reading  "Journey of Souls"  by Michael Newton Ph.D.  The book has been around since the 90's, and there are several other books Dr. Newton wrote about his many years of research as well.  Dr. Newton began as a hypnotherapist, and as he recounts, stumbled on a patient who "re-membered", from a transpersonal state, being in the spirit realm, between lives on earth.  

He, and his colleagues  worked with hundreds of people to explore the subject of life between life and to help people understand the "soul purposes" of incarnation.  Although Dr. Newton  passed away in 2016,  his work is carried on by the Michael Newton Institute, which trains practitioners in between life therapy.

I have found his books enormously comforting as well as fascinating.  Over and over his subjects recount leaving their bodies at death to return "home" to their Soul Groups - groups of souls that chose the lives they will incarnate in,   together,  over and over.  It is as if a "soul group" is a kind of collective Soul, encompassing the individualities of its members,  and ever growing and learning together.  For those who are afraid of death, or are suffering the loss of a loved one, I urge you to read this book.  I also offer two interviews with Michael Newton that I found on UTube.   





Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Memoirs 2: Lithographs and Other from the 80's

"Gaia" (1985)


I wanted to finish sharing these "forgotten" Lithogrgaphs from the 80's.  This was the height of New Age.  Extraordinary people like Carolyn Myss Energy Healing, Gloria Orenstein with Ecofeminism, Psychologists such as Stephen Levine and Jack Kornfield bringing Vipassana meditation and Theravada Buddhism into contemporary psychology, Starhawk, M. Macha Nightmare, and their colleagues creating the Pagan religious path for Goddess spirituality and a return to Nature,  Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman bringing Shamanism into the modern world,  Joseph Campbell inspiring everyone with the Power of Myth, Shirley Maclain and Crystals................ so much, such a glorious international opening of spiritual re-discovery and re-invention.  Yes there were excesses, as always will happen, but I am always annoyed at the mindless censorship and cynicism with which people now scoff at "New Age", not realizing how many important ideas practices and institutions arose from the era of openness and re-discovery 

"Day of Radience" (1985)

I love this piece, which spontaneously gave a photo in my studio of the artist Catherine Nash a "halo".  She is a powerful artist whose work is highly spiritual:  I was not surprised then, nor am I now.

"A House of Doors" (1987)

"A House of Doors IV" (1988)

"The Daemon Lover" (1987)


A HOUSE OF DOORS  was the theme for my MFA show in 1987, and I produced a number of paintings and also a Spoken Word poem (in collaboration with Catherine Nash)  inspired by the amazing works of Laurie Anderson.  I am thinking I will make the next post about that particular show.  

"Skin Shedder" (1986)

By 1985 I had discovered the evolving Pagan community and ritual practice,  and also began to learn about the Goddess.  I was inspired reading Starhawk and The Spiral Dance deeply.  When I began to learn about the many, many manifestations of the Divine Feminine throughout the world, it felt like a vast sustenance and truth was entering me, to fill up the emptiness I had often felt in my lack of religion.  Here was, as Gloria Orenstein , one of the founders of EcoFeminism, wrote in her book THE REFLOWERING OF THE GODDESS the return  of the Great Mother to a world desperately in need of Her.  Here was the need for a new Iconography that I, as an artist, could entirely respond to and devote myself to. 

"The Summer Solstice" (1987_

"The Winter Solstice" (1987)

"Herne" 1988)

 

"Skin Shedder Mandala" (1987)


Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Woman at the Roots


First came this strange painting, which I finished just before the New Year.  For years now I've been making sculptures that are "rooted", now I attempt to paint them, not so easy for me.  I think this calm face among the rooted earth is winter born, dormant and waiting.  Waiting for what?  That will be revealed in time, for now, resting, dreaming, sustaining.  
But the Painting desired a poem, and I found the poem I needed  (below) by Sharon Blackie, author of one of my favorite books, IF WOMEN ROSE ROOTED. It's perfect for the advent of a New Year, my own, and as a collective Blessing as well. I excerpt from her poem Peregrina:

Only lend me a loom and I will
take up the threads of this unravelled life.
I will weave a braid from three strands of seaweed
I will wind it three times around my finger
I will dig my salt-encrusted hands into the soil
and wed myself to the thirsty
brown roots of a new beginning. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Memoirs 1: Lithographs from 1985

For my Father, and Time (1985)

 "Who has twisted us around like this, so that no matter what we do, we are in the posture of someone going away? Just as, upon the farthest hill, which shows him his whole valley one last time, he turns, stops, lingers--, so we live here, forever taking leave."

Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Eighth Elegy", Duino Elegies (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

I have been thinking lately that this Blog is beginning to form itself into a kind of "scrapbook of memoir". Sometimes I have thought that I've basically said everything I have to say, and now it's more about looking back, as well as finding ways to say it again.  In our world that relentlessly seeks "the new" I give up, I stop along the road, take a drink of water, and look back more and more these days.

 Perhaps because I have had a few encounters with mortality this year, including open heart surgery in July and now preparing for removal of a tumor (which I am assured is not life threatening).......perhaps because of that I look back on the road and notice old beauties.  So, having stated that, I think this new year will see this Blog often becoming Memoir.  And I give myself permission to repeat myself!

Songs the Rain Sings (1985)

I was looking through a "lost" collection of lithographs I worked on in graduate school in the 80's.  They were all made the hard way on  litho stones (and it's mindboggling to think that that is how newspapers once were produced).  I used old photographs mostly.  The photographs were from a box of family photos I inherited, or sometimes old photos from "the Warehouse" artist studios where I lived in  Berkeley in the 70's.  Some of those old photos became magical windows for me, icons that  "time travelled" into fantastical worlds.  Like, for example, the small lithograph above, which is from a 1920 snapshot of my mother. 

I often used images of my mother as a child at the beach.  I didn't know it at the time, but I think they revealed the mystery of  time for me.  The recuring child that my mother was is ever the Observer. And of course, there was The Beach............Perhaps that child-and-mother represented to me that part of ourselves that lives and sees outside of time, outside of the dramas of our lives, outside of the polarties - the creative, innocent Soul before the great oceanic Oneness we came from, and eventually return to.

Not all the photos I played with were old family photos:  among my finds were  photos of friends posing as models (at that time people always it seemed had to be painted in the nude).  I think of that time and place, a young artist in Berkeley in the early 70's,  as the "Halcyon Years".  

"All Aboard!" (1985)


"Sybils" is a strange image.  One of the definitions of "Sibyll" is:  "a woman in ancient times who speaks  the oracles and prophecies of a god."  Thus,  Sibyll would live, at least in part, outside of time, hence the bones. And yet the pregnant Sibyll...........perhaps I was thinking of life ever renewing itself, the circle.  And of course, there is my mother, on the Beach, observing.

"Sybils" (1985)

A photo I found of my grandmother Helen, who died before I was born. I don't think she had a happy life, being buffeted by a controlling and even cruel mother, and an unhappy marriage.  Although my grandfather was a well meaning man, he was domineering and no doubt emotionally explosive.  My mother married the same kind of man. 

Here I envisioned this unknown grandmother, who I only knew from old photos,  as an observer,  watching me across the generations as I rest with my cat,  Pumpkin, somehow aware of her presence.  

"Ancestral Visitations" 


Here is the Observer again, and this time she ventures into the world of myth and archetype, a place I love to go.  We all know the sad fate of Icarus, who flew with his wax wings too close to the sun, causing them to melt and he fell to his death.  But what if he had a sister, a sister who did not make his mistake, and flew joyfully wherever she wanted to go, escaping gleefully her captors?  Like most of the accomplishments of women throughout his-story, she has been erased.  But here I, and the Observer, bear witness to her exhuberance as she flies far and wide.  Perhaps she went to Crete, or even Egypt, where she finally landed, had a lovely nap and lunch, made some friends, got a job, met a guy she married,  and lived to a ripe old age.  Why not?

"Icarus Had a Sister" (1985)

Here below is one of my favorites from the series, Leda and the Swan.  I guess this is about as close to erotic art as I ever got.  Yes, Leda was seduced by a God.  But she also brought to that encounter her passion to fly, and thus loved this numinous, winged creature, flying with him for those few hours.  I am sure, in their pleasure, he took her to some beautiful visionary heights.

"Leda and the Swan" (1985)

I think I'll stop here, and bring the other Lithos into another post.  I am glad to share them here, they have been chirping for exposure in my closet for many years, some of my "lost children".  I still love them.


Tuesday, January 16, 2024

"Crossing Over"


I found this short video excerpt (below)  from the 2 season television show DEAD LIKE ME (which I found wonderfully clever, funny, and often poignantly true) while searching for the music of Metisse.  I had, just the day before, been discussing mediumship, some of my conversations with mediums at Lily Dale that I met, and the paranormal experiences I and others have had.  Some of the mediums I have met say that there are  spirits that are "earth bound", and don't or can't "cross over".  My friend, who is a highly intuitive counselor, asked "how do mediums help people to cross over?"  A question I also wonder about.

Then synchronistically this excerpt turned up in my search. "Daisy", in the film, is a "Grim Reaper", one whose job it is to help recently dead souls accept their death, and cross over.  Reapers, however, cannot cross over.  In the story Stan, who was gay, has just died and wants to go to a Church, which Daisy agrees to take him to.  He has a lifetime of hurt and anger at God for being different.  And he receives an answer that shatters the windows of his spirit, freeing him.   It rings true for me somehow, and I don't mean that in any religious context.   The music, words, and acting, are a kind of "sacred poem" to me.  Beautiful.............

https://youtu.be/E0NjcpfzAUY?si=DibwVnUKN2uC19kT

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Beannacht ("Blessing") for the New Year


 On the day when

the weight deadens

on your shoulders

and you stumble,

may the clay dance

to balance you.


And when your eyes

freeze behind

the grey window

and the ghost of loss

gets in to you,

may a flock of colours,

indigo, red, green,

and azure blue

come to awaken in you

a meadow of delight.


When the canvas frays

in the currach of thought

and a stain of ocean

blackens beneath you,

may there come across the waters

a path of yellow moonlight

to bring you safely home.


May the nourishment of the Earth be yours,

May the clarity of light be yours,

may the fluency of the ocean be yours,

may the protection of the ancestors be yours.


And so may a slow

wind work these words

of love around you,

an invisible cloak

to mind your life.


~ John O'Donohue