Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Earth Shrines

"Gaia", 2005

"I who am the beauty of the green Earth and the white moon among the stars,
and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your soul to arise and come unto Me."

The Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente, adapted by Starhawk

I was very kindly invited today to have a show here at T or C, beginning in March at PARISI on Broadway, by Jerry Trumbull the proprietor. I am delighted to have a chance to show my "Earth Shrines", mixed media sculptures I did mostly in 2005 that will be right for Earth Day. I ecstatically created them at I Park Artist's Enclave in Connecticut that year. It was during the time of the summer Solstice, and I feel that in my rambles in that green, vibrant place the "numina" graced me with a daily conversation.

"She will rust us with blossum,
She will forgive us, She will seal us with Her seed."

Robin Williamson

"The Black Madonna" Mixed Media

I am always fascinated with the Black Madonna, the Earth Mother hidden beneath Catholic iconography. The Black Madona of Compostella is in the famous Spanish cathedral to which pilgrims walk on the "Camino". I would love to walk the Camino, if I had the stamina to do it.....but the Camino is found in many places, and not only in Spain, and there are times in all of our lives when we find it necessary to seek out sanctuaries of the Black Madonna, to "compost" our lives and find ways to re-dedicate ourselves.

"Green Hands V", cast paper

I seem to work with hands, over and over, hands that are rooted in the Earth, hopeful expressions of both our roots in Gaia, the living being that is our planet, and our need to be co-creators with Gaia.

"The Five Elements" Cast Paper

This was created from found objects on my wanders across the land.


"Persephone" Mixed Media (2005)

The myth of Persephone has always fascinated me, because Persephone is such a profound metaphor for the life/death/rebirth cycle of nature. And since we are also a part of nature, our lives as well.

"Earth Shrine II" (2005)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Winter Star

"Animus" by Denita Benyshek

We need to see ourselves again as part of a brilliant, shimmering web of life. An artist at some point has to face that issue. Is the art connecting us and others in some way, or is the art disconnecting ourselves and others? I think it's not enough to just realign ourselves personally either - our art should also do that for others, and further, it must happen outside of the abstract. It must be a process that in its form and content joins us with the life force in ourselves, and in others.

Dr. Raphael Montanez Ortiz *

I just returned from WINTER STAR, the wonderful 4 day event held by ACE at the Atwood Resort in Ohio. Such inspiring people - and I was amazed as always that I could pull off another "guerilla Mask Making" workshop. This time we discussed the spiritual, metaphorical, theatrical and psychological possibilities of the mask in the first talk, and in the second 2 hour period, somehow managed to get almost 20 people to cast faces and hands. Plaster flew, laughter and chaos rained, and success all around! It was also a great pleasure to spend time with my friend Judith who lives in a community in Pennsylvania that has been around for 30 years, with many permutations. Sitting around the dinner table with her friends, who've been sharing resources and land for many years, reminds me of what is possible when people share cooperation, affection, and a dream. The highlight of the event for me were presentations by SIDIAN MORNING STAR JONES, who is the grandson of Rolling Thunder, and by artist DENITA BENYSHEK


Denita is pursuing a Ph.D. about the artist as shaman in contemporary society (with the Saybrook Institute in California). During 15 years of teaching in remote, Native American villages in the Alaskan bush, Denita Benyshek's paintings developed far from the coastal art scenes. Her artwork was included in Redefining Visionary Art, New York City, curated by Suzi Gablik and Ehud Sperling. In addition, she received numerous grants, exhibited widely, and is represented in many public art collections including the Glasmuseet (Glass Museum) in Ebeltoft, Denmark. She taught at the College of Folk Arts and Culture in Pskov, Russia, worked on films, and created multi-media performances. See her WEBSITE. (

Denita Benyshek

Denita's art and presentation were inspiring, evocative. Perhaps what I am most grateful to her for re-opening a conversation I entered more than 20 years ago, and have not re-entered for a long time. Artists are marginalized in our world, and artmaking is within popular culture regarded as a "hobby" more often than a meaningful career or a spiritual path, and this takes a toll on the profound creative dialogue possible between artist and society, let alone the healing and integrative potential of art. I was reminded by Denita that the Shamanic Function of art is vital to cultural evolution, vital to the creation of a language that can address the "other realms" of being. Reclaiming the sacred function of art, I believe, is more important now than ever, as we stand collectively on the precipice of becoming a global humanity. It is essential that those who are practitioners of the arts affirm their endeavor.http://www.rosencomet.com/winterstar/2009/images/performers/SidianMSJones.jpg

SIDIAN MORNING STAR JONES is the grandson of the Native American Medicine Man and author Rolling Thunder. He was a student of theology and spirituality when he met Stanley Krippner PhD, who encouraged Sidian to write book reviews for the Association of Humanistic Psychology magazine and give talks at universities and events including University of Massachusetts, Amherst, University of Munich, Germany and others. He has founded the Redefine God Project, a network for "Open-Source Spirituality", and maintains a blog called The Daily Cultist. Sidian's ideas and network are very contemporary, and I think the theology and network discourse he is developing is at the heart of the paradigm we are entering. See his WEBSITE. (http://www.redefinegod.com/profile/sidianmsjones)

WINTERSTAR was a wonderful time to reconnect with old friends, and make new ones! And to see a bit of the snow fly over a beautiful frozen lake, remembering the quiet ghost of spring just beneath the surfaces of the land, and our lives.


* This quote is from an interview done with Dr. Ortiz in 1989 (from an unpublished manuscript "Seeing in a Sacred Manner" )

Raphael, who teaches at Rutgers University, organized the "Art and the Invisible Reality Symposium" at Rutgers that fall, which brought presenters from all over the world to discuss art and spirituality, including Gloria Ornstein and the Sami shaman she apprenticed with in Finland. It was a great privilege to meet him, to be granted an interview with him, and to participate in that important gathering of artists, shamans, and mystics.

More on that later...............the conversation has once again begun within my imagination! Thankyou to Winterstar!

Monday, February 2, 2009


I was a hidden treasure and desired to be known:
therefore I created the creation in order to be known.
-- Sufi creation myth
I love that funny little Sumerian stele of Lilith (which is posted on my previous post). I always imagine her in some ancient desert, under a starry sky, suddenly appearing amid the flickering light of a campfire, with her owls and her beehive hairdo. To learn more about Lilith, visit the Lilith Institute, founded by Deborah Gren Scott, who teaches women's studies at the New College of the California. Lilith certainly got her share of mythological scapegoating. 

From the "night side/dream side" aspect of the great Mother Goddess Inanna,as well as the midwife who helped women to give birth at night, she evolved through time to the innumerable Hebrew "Lilits" endlessly tormenting otherwise chaste men in their beds and dreams, even as their wives slumber innocently beside them. Lilith was called the "great whore" - the archetype blamed and punished throughout history in various ways for those "unchaste lustful thoughts" which surely would not arise otherwise. Feminist writers including Susan Brownmiller and Germaine Greer have written brilliantly about this. 

I cannot end this ramble about Lilith without throwing in one of my favorite homilies. The word "Whore" derives from earlier Semitic words that originally meant "Priestess" and/or "Fertile": Hora, Hara. "Hara" is a term still used to indicate the 2nd Chakra, "womb" or sexual/creative center. And to this day, the "Hora", a Circle Dance, is still danced at Jewish weddings. The evolution of this word within our language, from a term of respect and possibly a sacred term, to the worst kind of insult that can be cast on a woman, is telling in many ways. 

Following a Jungian thread, this western Dark Goddess, the "Goddess of the Outlands", cast out into the mythic periphery as fearsome, but ever dangerous demon.... is also the initiator of fertility, priestess of the rich life of the unconscious, as well as the one who leads the "Circle Dance" of integral self-awareness. 

I wanted to thank "Crooked Smilee" for her kind comment. Grief is indeed a strange mate. Her blog is "The In-Between Space" (crookedsmilee.blogspot.com) Here is how she describes her blog: 

"The convergence point between the spiritual, social, & political realms in human awareness::: between illusion and reality...truth and lie.... discernment and denial....reason and intuition....emotion and deep knowing." 

 Surely Lilith is a Goddess of the "In-Between" spaces, the "Interstices". And that is also why she has so much power to transform us. Here's what David Jeffers, an artist and scholar of the Kabala, had to say: "There are references in the Kabala to what is called "breaking the shell". The mind set of "what you believe" is the shell, and Lilith is about breaking the shell. You have to fall apart sometimes to be put back together; because that's the only way you can be reconstructed. You cannot veneer these teachings on top of who you think you are. " 

Syncronicities to me belong to those "Interstices". They may well be, as physicist F. David Peat** suggested in his book SYNCRONICITY - The Bridge Between Mind and Matter breakthroughs that hint of the deeper, integral nature of reality. (see also the Pari Center ) Am I making any sense? Well, I'll continue to blunder around. In other words, here we are living our lives on three dimensional terms, making our plans in space/time as we understand it, and every so often a pebble, a dust mote, a breeze, a conversation from the fifth or sixth dimensions penetrate our perceptions, before vanishing again, leaving one confused, amused, but with just a tiny glimpse of something vastly unfathomable and yet strangely familiar.

"Syncronicities provide a bridge between inner and outer worlds, between our private thoughts and external, objective realities. Within a synchronicity, patterns of external events mirror an inner experience. To distinguish synchronicities from mere chance occurrences Carl Jung stressed that they must always involve "meaningful coincidence" that lie beyond any explanation involving causal links and connections. In this way syncronicities reveal to us an underlying world of patterns, forms and connections that transcend any division between the mental and the material."**
"I believe that all coincidences are messages from the unmanifest – they are like angels without wings, so to speak, sudden interruptions of life by a deeper level"
.... Deepak Chopra

How are we linked, really? What threads are we throwing out and finding resonance with, at any given moment? I was thinking last week of writing about "Between", because last week I read from my new book "A House of Doors", and chose two poems that feature the idea.

 "To Stars" is one of them - I hope it captures a little of those "between" places where other forms of perception live. And, within the awe, a great song of belonging. 

To Stars 

With age, I’ve learned to watch my feet. 
I’ve become cautious of falls, the true frailty of bones, 
and equally fragile, 
the choices found at every crossroad. 

Time, I’ve discovered, makes us bend - 
we learn the habit of looking down. 

After a summer rain, 
the smell of diesel and chaparral
I was blessedly nowhere, 
just between “here” and “there”
A truck stop off I-40
I was falling off the edge of the world 
in a nameless little desert town,
my feet disappearing
into a sweet black halcyon midnight:

then you made your puddled, gracious descent: 

Luminous Orion, 
and faithful Sirius,
the dog star Antares, the Scorpion’s tail, 
the Pleiades dancing forever, 
arms entwined in Indra’s shining jewel net,
and the Big Dipper 
offering, offering forever

I heard you singing:
"Wait for me, Wait for me"

**From the catalog (2006) of the Pari Center, founded by F. David Peat and colleagues:

"Synchronicities are those mysterious and inexplicable coincidences that occasionally erupt into a life. At times we may feel that those around us are confined to a narrow world of logic and physical law, a world that admits no hint of mystery. This can give rise to a feeling of isolation within an indifferent universe and an increasing complex society whose members are reduced to ciphers. Synchronicities, by contrast, offer a doorway into a very different world. A world that also has resonances with the deep insights that have been revealed by the new sciences.

True synchronicities are more than mere chance occurrences. They are characterized by a sense of meaning and numiniousness. They provide a bridge between inner and outer worlds, between our private thoughts and external, objective realities. Within a synchronicity, patterns of external events mirror an inner experience; likewise dreams and fantasies may seem to flood over into the external world. To distinguish synchronicities from mere chance occurrences Carl Jung stressed that they must always involve "meaningful coincidence" that lie beyond any explanation involving causal links and connections. In this way reveal to us an underlying world of patterns, forms and connections that transcend any division between the mental and the material.

Synchronicities also act as markers of time, moments of transformation within a life that occur in chairos, when “the time is right”. Thus, while causality ties us to our past, synchronicity can link us to our future. They can also act as significant encounters when a door is opened through which we can pass. One notable encounter took place between the psychologist Carl Jung and the physicist Wolfgang Pauli. This meeting of people from two very different worlds led to Pauli’s series of dreams which caused him to explore the relationship between psyche and matter and believe that the time was at hand for the "resurrection of spirit” within the world of matter.