Monday, September 29, 2008

Post Script.......

In the liminal landscape of the traveller who can, at moments, be a pilgrim, there is a thin line between synchronicity and dream.

I'm interested in syncronicities, and so I notice them, and perhaps, because I notice, I create a resonance on the web. In other words, perhaps the Web itself "notices" me, and enfolds me in the enormous generosity of the "great conversation"

To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings.

The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. Everything is waiting for you.

-- David Whyte

from Everything is Waiting for You

©2003 Many Rivers Press

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spider Woman at Wickliffe Mounds.........

"Sun Circle" & "Spider Woman's Cross" on gourd
(and "the threads" reflections on the glass case seem to have created!))

I have always felt that my imagination is most open to the ubiquitous, syncronic voice of the Divine when I'm on the road. In other words, like many Americans who grew up in cars (and were probably conceived in one as well), I do my best thinking when I'm behind the wheel of on a highway somewhere. Travelling puts me into the creative liminal state of "between"- free from all the demands and paradigms that "destinations" impose ( the people, duties, reality tunnels, and potent unconscious imprints that "fix" the mind into "place"). Travelling is one of the ways I can hear the "conversation" ...... it turns down the noise.

I went to Paducah, Kentucky, on a lovely bright day full of vast green oaks, and later, heading south, decided to take a detour and visit Wicklife Mounds, an archaeological site that was once the home of a tribe of prehistoric Mississippian Native Americans. Going back as far as 1,000 years, these people built ceremonial areas, chief's houses, and burial houses on earth pyramids and stepped rectangular mounds. Over time, the mounds grew in elevation as houses were destroyed and rebuilt. Art, pottery, and religious and tribal iconography belonging to these diverse peoples are found throughout the Southeast, with iconic associations as far as Central Mexico, the Southwest and the Gulf of California, and as far north as Canada.

I didn't expect to find Spider Woman everywhere! But there She was! Casting her threads my way. I guess I'm not really surprised though - the first thing I encountered as I walked into the little visitor's center was the "Spider Gorget" above. Later, I thought of my "Spider Woman's Hands" piece when I saw the ubiquitous "Hand with Eye", also found on ceremonial jewelry (gorgets made from shells), and pottery.

No one really knows the specific meanings of these symbols to the peoples who once lived, warred and traded throughout the Southeast. Yet within them, I personally find a continuing beauty, a familiarity, a continuing trail. The cross is ubiquitous, the symbol of the balance and ultimate unity of the the 4 directions. The Sun Circle is also completely ubiquitous. I find it interesting that the cross is found on the back of Spider in their (presumably) ceremonial gorgets - perhaps why, when it occurs in Navajo rugs (much later and among a very different people who migrated into the South West) it's still called "Spider Woman's Cross". Yet here as well as in the religious symbolism of the peoples of the South West, it seems that Spider is associated with the Earth Mother, and with creation.

To me, the "Spider Gorget" will always be profound. At the center is the weaver "Tse Che Nako", "Thought Woman" to the Keresan Pueblo peoples. Spider, spinning the world into being with her imagination, in partnership with the illumination of the Sun, spinning and weaving all things together with her "silky essence". From her very own body, from her own substance, she spins and creates.

The cross represents (to me) divine balance within an ever expanding and infinitely interconnected web of life. The Hand with Eye may represent the Divine manifestation, as well as consciousness itself.

I was amazed to see objects with this Hand in circles (and I think of my own obsession with "Spider Woman's Hands". Here is a quote from an anthropologist who studied Zuni petroglyphs in the South West, among them the occurrence of "hand" symbols. (I apologize for the use of "primitives" in the description. A more ethnocentric era.).

".......when hands were so at one with the mind that they really formed a part of reconstitute the primitives' mentality, he (Cushing, in the 1880's) had to rediscover the movements of their hands, movements in which their language and their thought were inseparably united.......the Zuni who did not speak without his hands did not think without them either." 1

And so the Hand with Eye is a symbol of active consciousness (?) Perhaps, to create (weave) with active intention.

Here's another little synchronicity I found in the course of following this thread, one that is a kind of personal poetic, as I am always fascinated with words and their origins. "Wickliffe" might become "Wick - life", which I have little doubt is it's origin. "Wick", from which we get "wicker ware", "wicca", "witch" and "wick" as in the wick of a candle (this association is with an English word that meant both "weave" and "alive").. ...... so, I'll take WICKLIFFE to mean "Weaving Life" with a double affirmative!

What really matters is the necessity, profoundly so now, to understand that we are all intimately interconnected, entrained, entangled, and woven together into World, interconnected within the processes of manifestation. We absolutely must develop a webbed vision now. And that's what artists can do, provide potent and lasting vision.

Great Mother

Thank you for this day, My life,

My strand on the Web,

The vibration it makes.

Keep me in tune, In harmony

With your purpose.

Let me serve.


*Here's a lovely article I found by an astrologer about Spider Woman -

1 Levy-Bruhl 1985: from ROCK ART SYMBOLS OF THE GREATER SOUTHWEST, Alex Patterson, Johnson Books, Boulder, Colorado.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Artist's Oracular Cook Book

~Recipes to Serve the Muse~

In the summer of 2005 I was blessed with a residency at the Artist's Enclave at I Park, in East Haddam, Connecticut. At the time, I was busy creating my own version of the Tarot ("the Rainbow Bridge Oracle", which I still haven't finished.....)

It has always been an I Park tradition for each resident to come up with a special "cocktail recipe" when they leave. And so, in the course of that truly magical summer, this little book became my contribution. I'm not sure I believe in "channelling", but if I ever have done so, this was probably the most notable example. For myself, I have often wanted to create a bridge, a way to "ask the Muse" a question or two in the course of the often frustrating creative process.

I still open my little handmade book and "pick a card" when I feel stumped. It works for me.

Now my little book is up on Blurb.

I confess, I think self publishing is the best thing since they invented granola.

More than you can Imagine is possible

When you Believe that it's possible.

Respect your Demons.

They are worthy opponents.

They are there to test your courage, your valor,

and your ability to make decisions.

They will force you to fight for your vision,

and for your heart.

Is your studio a sacred space?

Even if, for now, it's just a notebook,
or a table in the kitchen.

Are your art works touchstones,
talismens, field notes, and road maps
gathered from a life-long journey

that sometimes feels like a pilgrimage?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Puerto Rico, Storms, and Doors............

All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
and intense
round every living thing.

What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

David Whyte

Returning, after barely a week, from Puerto Rico, where I went to visit a friend I haven’t seen in over 30 years, who is recovering from cancer, after a long healing process, and no small amount of miracle.

I thought I could stay here to housesit for them, write, and see about getting involved with the Ann Wigmore Institute here, in order to do some healing on myself. But after a very short time in their house I went into severe asthma, and had to go to a hotel…….it is clear my own health “challenges” make life under these circumstances untenable here, and return I must from the amazing intensities of this tropic………

Intensities…….that’s what the tropics are, life at its most vibrant, virulent, creative, predatory, colorful………it is impossible to be in the midst of this potency of life and not become intoxicated with it. Intoxicated or terrified, take your choice.

Lately I've been thinking of my experiences as, well, kind of like meals. How do they TASTE?
The more present I become, the more each experience, each day, seems to fill me, nourishing and energizing, or toxic, making me slow, dull, digestive. "The world is not with us enough - oh taste and see!" the poet said, and it's true.

I had a room with a balcony at the top of a hotel called the Lazy Parrot, in Rincon. I’m sure it’s a hopping place in its season, with the two bars below and tiers of balconies looking out over the green hills that wind down to the ocean, famous here for surfing and snorkeling. However, I seem to have arrived at off season, and I felt a bit like a character from Stephen King’s “The Shining”, with a whole hotel to myself at night, not even an attendant in sight, empty bars ringing with the ghosts of bands and booze and laughter and sex, below me, two levels, empty blue pool, palm frond chairs, wind, wind, wind, the wet, heavy tropical air, wind blowing over wicker tables. As the storm progressed, the lights went out, and there were no candles, or even attendant to ask about candles.

So, I sat in the state of Storm, with nothing to do but witness and participate.

I do not think I shall ever forget standing on the balcony, the sounds of the koki frogs, a woman calling for her dog in Spanish “Limon, Limon!”, and watching the sudden illumination of lightning as it revealed an advancing mass of vast clouds, rolling in from the distant ocean. I could not but be awed by the truth of that moment, our lives, our plans, our hopes and petty plans existing in the brief moments between those storms.

Of course, it was all too irrisistable and I had to open the door. Behind it was another door.)


The house I live in
is made of doors

pretending to enclose rooms
constructed of memories

Some rooms are tombs for the heart,

full of damp bones, old letters
and useless ornaments.
I remember a pink room that pressed me
until I couldn't breath,
and a yellow room, big enough to hold the sky
or a troupe of elephants dancing on a thimble.

Some rooms diminish, some rooms compress.
Rooms can be tricky.
What I chiefly remember are doors.

I live in a house of doors.

Behind one door, I saw her sitting there
The sign on the door said 1969, and it was
February in Berkeley.
The plum trees were red in the rain,

steam rose from an espresso machine
and some kind of smoke
rises from the girl who listens to the boyfriend
whose name I don’t remember:
I close the door and the girl slips away behind me,

riding a train I can see in perspective,
riding to a vanishing point.

An onion, that's it.
All those layers.
Just when you think you can name yourself,
you discover new layers,
you’re forming a new skin,
a new ring.
But there's a core.

And where does that core start?
This room I live in.

These walls.
Today, they seem to be getting thin.
I can almost see through them today
Today I feel
like a Chinese box,

one inside another.
I think I may be the gate
that opens into another room
made of clouds,
or sky,
or something
I can't name.

you open a door, any door

and you have to walk outside
into something tender:
into a quiet yard

because of a voice you hear
or a bell
or a train
pulling away