Saturday, June 3, 2023



"As a Jungian analyst and a historian, I would like to offer an archetypal overview of why the current crisis may have come into being; showing when, where and how the masculine and feminine archetypes – reflected in the image of a God or Goddess – became separated, and why this separation has had such a deep impact on Western civilization. I am not speaking only of the pandemic but the far greater challenge of climate change."

                     Anne Baring from A Crucial Time of Choice

I take the liberty of posting this important article by psychologist and mythologist Anne Baring Ph.D because it so eloquently and succinctly describes how Western culture evolved patriarchy, how we forgot that God was ever also a woman, and why patriarchy's values must end and the Goddess must return to the world, if we, and our fellow Beings on this beautiful planet, are going to continue.  

A personal note:  I keep intending to make this Blog more "autobiographical".  But each time I sit down to write, I am struck with the increasing tempo of the great world crisis, and I remember the voices of such great thinkers, philosophers, herstorians, theologians, and activists as Dr. Baring;  and suddenly, my story just merges in my mind with the greater collective story.  


                ERASURE OF THE FEMININE 

                                            Ann Baring

Owing to the research that I and others have conducted over the last 40 years, we now know that in the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras, the principal deity worshiped was the Great Mother. In this forgotten cosmology, there was no Creator beyond creation. Creation emerged from the womb of the Great Mother. All species, including our own, were her children. Everything on Earth and in the Cosmos was connected through relationship with her. 

Then, around 1,500 BC, there was a change so great that its repercussions are keenly felt in all aspects of Western civilization. This change was the replacement of the Great Mother by the Great Father. As the monotheistic Father, God brought creation into being as something separate and distant from Himself, so nature became split off from spirit and was no longer sacred. Simultaneously, the rise of powerful city states in the Middle East led to the creation of a succession of vast empires, territorial conquest, and war. 

Although the architectural, artistic, and literary creations of these empires were extensive, the suffering created by them was also widespread. Millions of young men lost their lives to war and died in atrocious pain. Millions of women and children were killed, raped, or sold into slavery. Deep traumas were created in the collective psyche of humanity that are unhealed to this day. During millennia of war, we forgot about nature and our relationship with her. Gradually, we developed the idea that we were above nature, entitled to control and dominate her for the benefit of our species alone. 

Another event contributed to the loss of the sacredness of nature—a forgotten event that also had a devastating effect on women and the planet.[1] 

The Jewish people once worshiped both a Goddess and a God—a Queen and a King of Heaven—who together created the world. But in 621 BC, under a king called Josiah, a powerful group of priests called Deuteronomists took control of the First Temple in Jerusalem. They removed every trace of the Goddess Asherah, the Queen of Heaven, who was worshiped as the Holy Spirit[2] and Divine Wisdom, and also as the Tree of Life—a Tree that connected the invisible and visible worlds, and whose fruit was the gift of immortality. The shamanic rituals of the High Priest which had honoured and communed with the Queen of Heaven were replaced by new rituals based on obedience to Yahweh’s Law.[3] 

But the Deuteronomists didn’t stop there. They also created the Myth of the Fall with its punishing God and its grim message of guilt, sin, suffering, and the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.[4] They demoted the Goddess—whose title was Mother of All Living—into the human figure of Eve. They blamed Eve for the sin of disobedience that brought about the Fall and for bringing sin, suffering, and death into the world. Henceforth, all women would be contaminated by Eve’s sin and would have to be under men’s control lest they create further disasters. From it there developed the idea that the whole human race was tainted by original sin, punished for a primordial act of disobedience. The created world was no longer a manifestation of the Tree of Life but was viewed as contaminated by the Fall, no longer sacred. Woman’s long oppression, even persecution, stems directly from this myth. Her voice was silenced for millennia. 

Yahweh was left as the sole transcendent Creator God; The Divine Feminine aspect of God was deleted from the image of deity. The only place where the concept of the sacred marriage survived was in the mystical Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, known as the Voice of the Dove.[5] The Divine Feminine was not only banished from Judaism, but also from Christianity which took its image of God from Judaism. Islam also had a sole male creator god. The end-result of this new polarizing cosmology was that life on earth was split off from the divine world; nature was split off from spirit. Men came to be identified with spirit and women with nature. Body was split off from mind and mind from soul. Sexuality was sinful. Woman’s only role was to obey and serve man and carry his seed. All this was a complete reversal of the earlier cosmology focused on the Great Mother. 

There is one further factor that needs to be included in this story: the deliberate decision by the Roman Church to wipe out all trace of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene. Think what it would have meant for the development of Western civilization if the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene had been celebrated by the Church founded in his name. Had their marriage been recognized and Jesus not turned into the celibate Son of God, Christianity would have had a totally different history without a celibate male priesthood and without the terrifying persecution of women in the witch trials that scarred Europe for five centuries. We might have been spared the disastrous association of sexuality with sin and the misogyny and mistrust of women that affects our culture to this day. 

Because of this history, we have been on the wrong path for more than two thousand years, out of alignment with the Earth and the Cosmos. It has led us to this time of crisis and of awakening, and to the need for a new, yet very old story that tells us we are the life and breath of the Divine in human form and that all life is infused with Divinity.[6] 

Materialist or reductionist science is built on the flawed foundation bequeathed to it by patriarchal religion and has dispensed with both God and the soul. It tells us that the universe is without life, purpose, or meaning. When the physical brain dies, that is the end of us. The highest authority is the rational mind. We are separate from the world around us. The master story is technological progress and unlimited growth. 

I think this explains why, in a worldwide culture influenced by the secular philosophy of science, we have come to believe that it doesn’t matter what we do to matter—that nature and matter are not sacred, that we are not part of that sacredness. This is why there is no foundation for morality in our relationship with the Earth. What we think we need, we take. 

                                                       from "The Red Book"

Jung could see the dangers of this materialist philosophy and commented: 

"As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos, because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional “unconscious identity” with natural phenomena… No voices now speak to man from stones, plants, and animals, nor does he speak to them believing they can hear. His contact with nature has gone.[7]" 

Once, long ago, the world was experienced as alive with spirit. Nature was part of a sacred cosmic whole. In spite of horrendous persecution, Indigenous peoples of the world have kept alive this awareness of the sacredness of nature and the idea of our kinship with all creation. 

The new story emerging in quantum physics tells us that the universe is a unified field. Our lives are part of a cosmic web of life which connects all life forms in the universe and on our planet. Every atom of life interacts with every other atom, no matter how distant. A new vision is struggling to be born—a vision of our relationship with an intelligent, living, and interconnected universe. 

We are called to a profound process of transformation that is manifesting as a new planetary consciousness: a consciousness which recognizes that we are part of a Sacred Web of Life. We need a science and a technology that does not seek to dominate nature but works with nature, humbly respecting its harmonious order. We need women who truly embody the Feminine to guide us,[8] working with enlightened men, to restore the values and the practices that can transform our relationship with the planet into one of love and care. 

This pandemic carries an urgent message for us to wake up to the small window of opportunity we have to change course before it’s too late. This means change in every sphere of life: change in the very concept of what it means to be human and living on this extraordinary planet—change above all, in our relationship with the Divine Feminine. We tread a path which is on the knife-edge between the conscious integration of a new vision on the one hand, and the virtual extinction of our species on the other. Which path will we choose? 

This essay is derived from a talk given for Humanity Rising, August 11, 2020


[1] See Betty Kovacs, Merchants of Light (Claremont: The Kamlak Center, 2019) 

[2] This loss of the Holy Spirit was repeated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE when the Hebrew feminine noun for the Holy Spirit—ruach—was translated first into the Greek word pneuma which is genderless, and then into the Latin spiritus sanctus which is masculine. The Christian Trinity was rendered entirely masculine and the former feminine gender of the Holy Spirit was permanently lost to Christianity. 

[3] The books of the Old Testament Scholar, Margaret Barker, give the facts of this story in detail. 

[4] Genesis 2 & 3 

[5] See Anne Baring, The Dream of the Cosmos, rev. ed. (UK: Archive Publishing, 2020), chapter 3. 

[6] See my talks on Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Christianity  

[7] Carl G. Jung, Man and His Symbols (New York: Random House, 1986), p. 95 

[8] By this, I mean women who are not taken over by the will to power. 


Anne Baring b. 1931. MA Oxon. PhD in Wisdom Studies, Ubiquity University 2018. Jungian Analyst, author and co-author of 7 books including, with Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image; with Andrew Harvey, The Mystic Vision and The Divine Feminine; with Dr. Scilla Elworthy, Soul Power: an Agenda for a Conscious Humanity. Her most recent book, The Dream of the Cosmos: A Quest for the Soul (2013, updated and reprinted 2020), was awarded the Scientific and Medical Network Book Prize for 2013. The ground of all her work is a deep interest in the spiritual, mythological, shamanic, and artistic traditions of different cultures. Her website is devoted to the affirmation of a new vision of reality and the issues facing us at this crucial time of choice. 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Seamless Creativity

Untitled Lauren Raine  (1970)

"We slowly pull focus, lifting up and away from being embedded in our lives
 until we attain an overview.  This overview empowers us to make valid creative choices."

Julia Cameron, "THE ARTIST'S WAY"*

I have been thinking about the  trans-personal nature of creativity,  the way it can sometimes seem to express dimensions of perception that transcend time or even one's "individuality" as the vision or the poem dips its roots into the collective mind. 

I was recalling a group I used to belong to whose members were mostly practicing and  retired therapists. I often felt somewhat ill at ease in their company, being without the psychological vocabulary or training they possessed. In retrospect, sometimes I felt it was the way they, as therapists, tended to "pathologize" or generalize that  made me uncomfortable. It is, of course, understandable that they should do so, and that they might often  see  others through the lens of their training and practice a standard of mental health and normalcy. And yet..........something was missing for me. Perhaps what I missed was a  larger room, a room big enough for  the "Mystery".   At the time, I did not know how to articulate that.  


                     Untitled (1972)

There is a thin line between trans-personal, trans-formative, "non-ordinary states", and madness. Those separations, of course, can have something to do with the cultural matrix one is living in. But sometimes "madness" is also brilliant insight. Sometimes creativity arises  from a liminal zone that should not be "explained" too comprehensively or dismissed because it is outside of an "acceptable emotional or psychological spectrum". Just because we cannot see ultra-violet with our eyes does not mean it is not there. But we can imagine ultra-violet:  perhaps we could imagine what it sounds like, or how it tastes, or what it "feels" like. 


            Untitled Lauren Raine (1985)

Carl Jung, who formed the concepts of synchronicity and the collective unconscious, had "spirit guides" that he considered a source of  crucial insights. He described them as aspects of his  psyche which he could produce, but which could also produce themselves. Were they "Aspects" that had their own life? Or were they discrete entities themselves?  Among his "guides" were  the archetypal mentor figure Philemon, an ancient Vedic scholar, and Basilides,  an early Gnostic teacher in Alexandria., Egypt. Also one thing about Jung's background that is not well known is that his family was deeply interested in Spiritualism, and included members who were known locally as mediums. This would have pre-disposed Carl Jung to the possibility of "spirit guides" that could communicate with him and advise him.


 untitled Lauren Raine (1985)

 "Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness, or perhaps of sub-consciousness....I wouldn't know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness."........... Aaron Copeland

There is a continuing dialogue within the arts community about  artists as shamans. I both agree and disagree with this comparison. We are a culture that by and large has lost its shamans. I do not mean, of course,  to negate the work of  reclamation and innovation contemporary shamans, such as Sandra Ingerman (Soul Retrieval) or her mentor Michael Harner, who have studied universal traditions and evolved  new forms of contemporary shamanism, have contributed to today's world.

Artists have been marginalized and displaced in the contemporary world and seek meaningful identity and purpose in a society that at best patronizes them, and at worst disregards them altogether. How many times have people asked me what I do, and having told them that I am an artist, their response is "What's your real job?". I do not tell a lot of people I am an artist.  Claiming or seeking a meaningful identity as a contemporary Shaman in the arts is entirely understandable. 

Yet it is presumptuous for many artists to call themselves "shamans", thus co-opting a word and a primal practice associated with it that has a very long lineage indeed.

Traditional shamans, while their practices and symbol systems may vary widely, universally have a great deal of structure within which they work - they have cultural and tribal support within traditional systems that go back through many, many generations. They have  systems of "visioning" and healing, ordeals or initiations, rituals, and practices for cyclical auspicious occasions,  and means of psychic protection that have evolved for hundreds of years. They have visible and "invisible support" that provides a strong container within which their responsibilities and experiences are clear, honored, are  often hereditary, and they are generally expected to be mature and richly experienced before they can  begin practicing as shamanic healers. It is not a random, chaotic process at all (although certainly Heyoka or Trickster Shamans have their place in worldwide cultures). 

"In the case of the Sami, my Shaman teacher was trained in her culture for thirty-five years before she could practice hearing on people outside of her extended family. When I pondered this, given the fact that she was born into a prestigious lineage of Shamans and that her talents were obvious when she was a child, I wondered why she had to study for so long before treating those outside of her kin group............My Shaman teacher was not only a healer, but she was also a student of folklore. This is important, because she always insisted that the three principal sources of her shamanic knowledge were Sami folklore (tales, legends, and so forth); teachings from the ancestral lineage-from her father, who was her mentor, and from other ancestral spirits, who spoke to her from the spirit world; and teachings from spirit entities (what we might call "spirit aides" or "power animals."


I was once privileged have a conversation with one of the founders of Eco-feminism,  Gloria Orenstein.**  Dr. Orenstein is a Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at USC in Los Angeles.  In the 80's she became friends with, and worked with,  a hereditary  Sami shaman.

I will  always remember the story she told me about the first time she went to visit her mentors' family in Finland. It was winter, very dark, and they had driven for many miles into the countryside, at last arriving at a house where she was given a room to sleep in. She said that she lay in bed wondering if she was crazy,  coming all the way from Los Angeles in the dead of winter. She tried to sleep but was disturbed by  voices speaking  outside the window. They seemed to be calling for  "Caffe, Caffe".  

In the morning she asked her hosts why people were outside in the freezing  night, asking for coffee!  They responded that this was a very good sign:  it meant she would receive help. It seems that in Sami land, like flowers and food offerings in Bali, or whiskey to the Orishas of Cuba, coffee was an offering acceptable to the spirit world.


'St. George and the Dragon" (1970)

Does the creation of truly visionary art make one a shaman? I do not believe so. However, art process - Flow - can be called shamanic within its healing and revelatory  capacity, the way it can reveal the seamlessness and timelessness  of our inner lives, and the way it can touch collective roots that extend far beyond our individual perception. There is a liminal dimension to the creative process one can hardly fail to notice.

Now in my 70's,  I am interested in the synapses and links as I review my long life. Going over some of my very old drawings, I was amazed to see within them a kind of "code" or touchstone that repeated over and over throughout the years. I  found the drawing above,  for example,  which I did when I was about 18 years of age,  of "St. George and the Dragon". I was copying part of the drawing from some old Masters photos - certainly the "St. George" with the sword was from some painting I must have been looking at.  At 18,  I knew nothing  about feminism, the Goddess,  or much about mythology either, although I had looked at various paintings depicting the slaying of dragons by St. George.

And yet I can read what became my life purpose, like hieroglyphics, in this little drawing, now, from the vantage point of age. 

Here is a divine female figure, which I symbolized with wings, who is naked and full breasted. She is no bound or chaste maiden in need of rescue from a dragon. She seems to have a snake around her waist and in her hand, she is turning away from the Hero, and appears to be falling.  As she falls she is merged with the rather tragic, sympathetic  looking figure of the dragon about to be slain by George (who looks nothing at all like a saint to me.  In fact, he looks kind of like my abusive boyfriend of the time.) This is a classic heroic tale - so why did I make "George" so un-noble?

Behind him is a barren, rocky land, in contrast to the depths below the dragon figure, with vegetation bubbling up from the dark earth, and even  something that looks like a dark moon shape as well.

The meanings I can now draw from these symbols represent many years of study and discussion and ritual and growth and collaboration with colleagues and mentors,  as we became feminists, and as we mutually evolved  Eco-feminism and Goddess theology. I have come to see over the years a new meaning of the myth of St. George and the Dragon:   wherein the "dragons" of the ancient pagan earth religions, and the sacred symbols of the ubiquitous snakes of the Goddess, were banished, slain, re-mythed and de-sacralized in the course of patriarchal religion and culture.

In 1970 Merlin Stone was researching and writing about the banished Goddess  and the development of patriarchal religions (her groundbreaking book When God Was A Woman was published in 1976**).  Around that time Marija Gimbutas was shaking up the archeological world with her vision of the World of the Goddess in prehistory.  But I was not exposed to these ideas until much later. Yet when I was, the work of the Goddess truly became my life work.

The drawing really is a kind of "future memory".
"Skin Shedder Mandala" Lauren Raine (1985)

 *Cameron, Julia:  The Artist's Way:  A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,  March 18, 2002, JP Tarcher/Putnam NYNY

**Ornstein, Gloria: "Synchronicity and The Shaman of Sami land" in Uncoiling the Snake:  Ancient Patterns in Contemporary Women's Lives (A Snakepower Reader). Edited by Vicki Noble. Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1993

**Stone, Merlin:  When God Was a Woman  265 pages, Hardcover, First published January 1, 1976 Harper & Row, NYNY

Sunday, May 14, 2023

The Sixth Extinction: Program by 60 Minutes

I am stunned by how almost all the people I tell about my SHRINE FOR THE LOST: THE SIXTH EXTINCTION (currently on display in Flagstaff) have never heard of the Sixth Extinction.  A vast number of our fellow Beings are vanishing every day.  As they go the complex Ecosystems they are part of become disturbed, then out of balance, and then can begin to fail.  We are a foolish species indeed to imagine that this does not also affect us - that we are not a part of those Ecosystems.  This is one of the most profound tragedies of our time.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Telling the World in a Time of Drought: Artists as Myth Makers


An article I wrote shortly after the election of Trump.  Felt like re-visiting it as I continue reflections  on the (endangered) role of the artist in our world, and extending that, the role of all of us as visionaries and story weavers.  

Recently I travelled cross country, joining conversations that always seemed to end with a question. Since many of my friends are artists, and I include writers, performers, ritualists, dancers, storytellers, and a number of shamans in the category as well, the question seemed to come down to “what do we do now?”

How do we, in a time that seems bent on eliminating or diminishing education, free speech, environmental preservation, social ethics, women's rights and possibly even any kind of consensual truth? As practitioners of the arts, increasingly marginalized by society and now "redefined" by AI, how do we find meaningful identity?

My own response is that I believe it’s vital for artists to remember that we are myth makers. Throughout history, artists of all kinds have possessed the imaginal tools to invent and re-invent the myths that were the cultural underpinnings for their time. They have also, from a shamanic stance, often been those who could "walk between the worlds" and return to speak or illustrate what was learned there.   I believe this is a sacred calling. 
Phil Cousineau, author of  Once and Future Myths: The Power of Ancient Stories in Our Lives (2001) cautioned that if we don’t become aware of both our personal and our cultural myths which “act like gravitational forces on us”  we risk becoming overpowered, overshadowed, and controlled by them. Myths are in many ways the templates of how we compose our societal and personal values, as well as how people organize their religions. As Cousineau commented further, “the stories we tell of ourselves determine who we become, who we are, and what we believe.” 

 “We give our mythic side scant attention these days and so a great deal escapes us and we no longer understand our own actions.  In most cultures, theatre and dance are considered holy rituals, but in the United States, these arts have become strangely secular.”
Leslie  Saxon West,  Choreographer, METAMORPHOSES (The myths of Ovid)
The human mind has a unique ability to abstract. A stone is not always a stone – sometimes it becomes a symbol of something, a manifestation of a deity, or it can also become intentionally invisible, even when it stubs our toes. An interpretation of  God is something that whole nations have lived or died for.  And depending on the aesthetics of a particular culture, foot binding, skull extension, or hair sprayed bouffant hairdos can be experienced as erotic beauty. If the worlds we know are, indeed, experienced through the lens of the stories we tell about them, then how are those stories serving or not serving the crucial time we live in?

          "The World is made of stories, not atoms"
            Muriel Rukeyzer
A renunciate myth of the Earth as  just a "resource" to be exploited, as something "not real", or as a place of sin and suffering to endure until one achieves one's "heavenly reward"...........does not serve the environmental crisis facing a global humanity.  Deeply embedded patriarchal stories that make women lesser  and subservient beings are not only unjust, but also represent an enormous loss to the common well-being of humanity, because they  do not release the vitally needed creative brain power of half the human race. A cultural mythos that celebrates violence and competition, that makes guns a symbol of power,  do not contribute to the nurturance, cooperation,  and sustainability we will need if we are to survive into the future as we confront Climate Change.  Stories of “rugged individualism” may not be as useful in a time when science, sociology, ecology, theology, and even physics are demonstrating that all things are interdependent
  "What is the new mythology to be,  the mythology of this unified earth as of one      harmonious being?"
 Joseph Campbell
So what are the new stories arising that can help us to evolve into a wiser, sustainable world? And further, how can they be brought fully alive in comprehensive ways that have vitality and impact?  This, I affirm again, is the ancient sacred calling of the artist, the poet, the storyteller, the ritualist.  

I remember years ago participating in a week long intensive with the Earth Spirit Community of New England. The event took place in October, in celebration of the closing of the year, the time of  going into the darkness of winter. The closing ritual occurred at twilight. Bearing candles, different groups wove through the woods toward a distant lodge from which the sound of heartbeat drums issued. Slowly the lodge filled, illuminated with candles.
As we sat on the floor, lights gradually went out, we were blindfolded and the drums abruptly stopped. We felt bodies rush by us as hands turned us. The sounds of wind, and half understood voices, someone calling, someone crying, or a bit of music came from all directions. As we lost any sense of direction or time we became uncomfortable, frightened and disoriented. I felt as if I was in a vast chamber, the very halls of Hades, listening to echoing voices of the lost. And when it felt like the formless dark would never stop: silence. And the quiet sound of the heartbeat drum returned, re-connecting us to the heart of the Earth. As blindfolds were removed I found myself in a room warmly illuminated with candles. On a central platform sat a woman enthroned in brilliant white, illuminated with candles and flowers. At her feet were baskets of bread. Slowly we rose, took bread and fruit, and left the  Temple. And as we left, on each side of the entrance, stood a figure in a black cape. Each had a mirror over his or her face – mirror masks, reflecting our own faces. 
Now that was a potent ritual telling of the myth! We had entered mythic space, we had participated together in the Great Round of death and return to the light – and none of us would ever forget it.

People think that stories are shaped by people.


In fact, it’s the other way around.  — Terry Pratchett

I am here suggesting that artists, troubled as my friends and I have been, step away for a while from the complex questions of identity so beloved by the art world, cast aside as well the dismissiveness, even hostility, of the current anti-intellectual environment.  Instead, let us view ourselves as engaged in a sacred profession, "midwives" (that includes men) who are bringing in the new stories, the new myths that are needed now.

We are pollinators of the imagination,  holding  threads in  a great weaving of myth, threads that extend into a time yet to come, and far back into a barely glimpsed past. If as the poet Muriel Rukeyser famously said, “the world is made of stories, not atoms” (Rukeyser, 1978) the only real question for us now is:  What kinds of stories are we weaving?  

Lauren Raine (2017)

Keller, Catherine.  From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self,  Beacon Press  (1988)
Baring, Anne.  A New Vision of Reality” from her website
Cousineau, Phil. Once and Future Myths: The Power of Ancient Stories in Modern Times,  Conori Press (2001)
The Earthspirit CommunityTwilight Covening (1993)
Rukeyser, Muriel.  The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser McGraw (1978)