Wednesday, February 24, 2010


An odd poem I rediscovered recently, originally inspired by Margaret Atwood's Circe/Mud Poems.** I re-read this collection recently, after reading Atwoods (much later and incredibly witty)
The Penelopiad as well. The voice of "Lexus" turned up later after writing the first poem, no doubt to protest the indignity of being caught in someone else's epic.


I cannot recall how it happened.

I was on fire, I do remember that,
my imagination a tropical sunset
enflamed, exaltant

and for one shining
Hallelujah of an hour
everything I touched

You squeal your indignation
through ruddy snouts:

It was a misfire, I swear it.

In the splendor of my exuberance
this was nothing I anticipated.

Tell your handsome Captain
I will petition the Gods this very day.
I have grown old, absent minded

in my solitude
my spells go astray

be patient, dear ones.
Meditate upon this dark, fertile
squalor of sensuous mud
you find yourself
so horizontal in.
This low rooting through an
odoriferous cosmos of fragrant compost.

Are you so undone
by the base pleasure of it all?

This nosing, snorting self-knowing,
the delight of a half fermented carrot?
Never a sow smelt so sweetly fecund before
nor was love so simple.

Surely we have become sleepy,
half-drowned by the lethargy
of our two-legged dignity.

Consider this, if you will,
an interlude of primordial grace.

All I wanted
was a touch, a kindly word,
a little ease.

Eight long Gods' forsaken years
on the stinking boat, and before that,
war, war, war, blood
and lamentation.

Who are you,
to name me thus?
Is your worth and wit
so much greater than mine

to dole out shame,
because I dared to love you
in my clumsy way?

Did I not bring you flowers
admire you from afar?

HE is adored by Goddesses,
hears the Sirens sing his wild praises,
returning at last to patient little Penelope,
his pretty kingdom.
Ballads, sung at last
beside his flowery grave.

Me - bale, Lexus, bale!
hoist the mast,
and don’t piss on the foredeck.

Who are you, to unmake me thus?
To twist and shape me
as suits your capricious humor
because my face is unlovely,
my gestures naive?

Who are you to judge my folly?

what magnitudes I glimpsed,
what private splendors
lived once within this breast?

Lauren Raine (2000)

There are so many things
I wanted
you to have.
This is mine, this tree,
I give you its name,

here is food, white like roots, red,
growing in the marsh, on the shore,

I pronounce these names for you also.

This is mine, this island, you can have
the rocks, the plants
that spread themselves flat over

the thin soil, I renounce them.
You can have this water,

this flesh, I abdicate,

I watch you, you claim
without noticing it,

you know how to take.

Margaret Atwood, CIRCE/MUD POEMS, (1972)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Rio Abajo Rio"

"Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. "

Norman MacLean, "A River Runs Through It"
The quote above has always been so beautiful to me that I wanted to meditate on it for a moment, take a look into the depths of these waters. Perhaps he speaks of what storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes * called "Rio Abajo Rio, the river beneath the river of the world". Perhaps "El Rio" is also what Jung called the Collective Unconscious, I don't know. But Estes' speaks of the great River of Story, the universal waters flowing beneath the surfaces of all things.

In her wonderful book Women Who Run With the Wolves *** she writes,
"Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayer making, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts. And even with these well-crafted practices, much of what occurs in this ineffable world remains forever mysterious to us, for it breaks physical laws and rational laws as we know them."*

Having just finished my workshop sponsored by the Southern Arizona Friends of Jung, I'm always amazed at what happens when people enter the magic circle, the liminal zone outside of the mundane world, where it is possible to speak to the Goddesses and Gods, where the masks can tell their hidden stories. Whether tapping, if only briefly, the wellsprings of El Rio in grief, creativity, meditation, or through the sudden psychic upwelling that can happen when the so-called ego cracks and splinters, it is always a blessing when the waters are revealed, for they remind us of the greater life.

If the river of story has a voice, it's a voice that contains all voices, human and planetary, and the song it sings may be Om, may be "Nameste", I am Thou. Thus, Estes, who is a Jungian psychologist, believes that to simply experience this great river of being is not enough; one must also instinctively participate in some way, find some way to open a pathway, a well spring, for others.
"...[W]hat Jung called 'the moral obligation' to live out and to express what one has learned in the descent or ascent to the wild Self. This moral obligation he speaks of means to live what we perceive, be it found in the psychic Elysian fields, the isles of the dead, the bone deserts of the psyche, the face of the mountain, the rock of the sea, the lush underworld - anyplace where La Que Sabe breathes upon us, changing us. Our work is to show we have been breathed upon - to show it, give it out, sing it out, to live out in the topside world what we have received through our sudden knowings, from body, from dreams and journeys of all sorts."

I respectfully submit that this is so for any creative person, this is the work of the SEER, residing within each of us. The River beneath the River of the World.

* (p.30, below)
** (p.96, below)

*** Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, Hardcover, 560 pages, Random House Publishing Group, 1992

**** I find I've been pulling out these drawings that I did  in the 70's.  Maybe, my desire to renew this acquaintance with my younger self is also an effort to see the River that runs through it.........sometimes, in looking at old work, one can be amazed to see the same storyline...........

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Felicia Miller 1952 -2010

For three weeks

the cool moon
bound by occult cords
moves through the houses
of memory and sleep
distills night in a bowl

But on the night of the full moon
what is mirrored
in a still pool?

Felicia Miller (1972)

A friend I reconnected with several years ago, Felicia, a friend I knew more than 30 years before in the Halcyon days of Berkeley, when we were both very fortunate to be young in that creative ferment of place and time, a friend whose poetry travelled with me, like the paintings I did of her so long ago, down and up the road, companions..........passed away a few days ago after a long struggle with cancer.

When I saw Felicia in D.C. this past fall, she was very thin, very tired, but still generous with her time and thought. I remember pulling out one of her poems, and reading it to her and her friend. She said she hated it. I felt sad to think that all these years I've cherished work she abandoned, disavowed, long ago. Still, I think it was important that I read the poem, remind her perhaps of that work, that self............I don't know.

Brilliant, mystical Felicia was entirely a creature of water. Our meetings always seemed to occur by oceans, whether at a 1975 Rhododendron Festival near Mendocino, or in 2008 at a cafe near the famous surfers beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico . I remember her best on the streets of Berkeley, with her ubiquitous necklace of sea shells, telling us stories from her treasured, antique book about the Undines , the people who lived beneath the waters of the Danube. I've always secretly felt that Felicia was really a mermaid herself, one who left her element to walk on the land for a while, perhaps, never entirely comfortable away from her true home.

I painted Felicia several times, once as "The High Priestess" in 1975. By a strange and lovely synchronicity, I heard, just a few weeks before her death, from a long ago friend, Richard Meyer, who I also painted as a Tarot archetype at that time - Richard became "The Magician". When I told him about Felicia, he called her also, after 35 years.

El Rio Abajo,

The River Beneath the River of the World.

The River we all hear, some more than others. Felicia, I'll miss you. Swim free and wild, now.
We love you.

The green plants


from water air

the soil

from water earth


earth water

air light

earth and sunlight


vibrating waves


grasses in the sun

Felicia Miller (1970)

Someone was the Sun
calling from across
the little island fields

we turned and took the last
glimpse of the closing lid

"Let's go, shall we?"

I could not answer,
but only followed after
just some one's glance

along the rock path.

Felicia Miller (1971)

Did I see you?
feel your smile
as you

People cross bridges
cars pass under them
or water
you waited
then jumped

(it must have happened quickly)

but what was it that rose in you

like a slow Phoenix
new wings


Felicia Miller (1971)


"Then in the half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops.

Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters. "

Norman McClean
"A River Runs Through It"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A little Web sight........

Here's one of those interesting things that happen with the internet......a little syncronicity. This photo of an unframed painting was sent to me by someone who told me it had my name on the back, and was given to him by his brother back in the late 1970's. He apparently carried it around, rolled up, for 30 years.

I had no recollection of either him, or his brother, who lived at the time in Santa Monica. But the painting is clearly mine. I have no idea what its travels have been, but it's good to see, as I prepared to teach my "Masks of the Goddess" workshop again, these Goddess "faces" surface, surprising me. I see that I was following the same kinds of threads, long ago, and had forgotten all about it, just as I had forgotten this painting.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Upcoming Workshop and Lecture in Tucson

Valarie James as "Sophia", 2003

A Lecture and a Workshop

LECTURE: Fri., Feb. 12, 2010, 7:30pm—9:30pm

$15.00* members / $20.00*

Lecture held at:

Bloom Educational Center
Grace St. Paul’s
Episcopal Church
2331 E. Adams St.


Sat., Feb.13 & 20, 2010

Tucson Mountain address to be given registrants.

Archetypes of the Divine Feminine—Lecture by Lauren Raine

Lauren Raine’s book Masks of the Goddess: Sacred Masks & Dance has helped people explore and choreograph archetypes of the Feminine Divine and the Great Goddess in workshops, theatre, ritual and dance. Her project included creating thirty masks that highlight the importance of the goddess studies to women and to our multi-cultural world. She will share info about the masks, goddesses and the Divine Feminine. There will also be discussion and personal

"Saraswati" (2006) (India)

The Goddess Within — A Two-Day Workshop

The workshop is a chance to explore “the Goddess within.” We will draw on the power of our mythic imaginations as we explore archetypes of the Divine Feminine through mask making and storytelling. In this workshop you will:

• Sculpt a mask from your face
• Explore personally significant stories of the Goddess
• Learn approaches to working with sacred masks
• Experience the transformative power of working with aspects of the
Divine Feminine, and take home the means to continue your exploration.

Note: There is a $10 fee for supplies. Bring a “Goddess story” of your own—mythic, contemporary, or personal— that matters to you, along with found and natural objects you might want to use in your mask.

For more information see


$60.00 early bird registration, $80.00 later. *Membership is $25.
$20 for senior or student.


To register or for more information—see or call 520-327-3485.
Mail pre-registration information (name, address, phone, and email) and check to:

Southern Arizona Friends of Jung • P.O. Box 64267 •Tucson, AZ 85728-4267

Amaterasu, "Great Woman Who Is The Sun" (Japan)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Conference 2010 Presentation

I had a wonderful time at the Conference for Pagan Studies at Claremont College in California this past weekend. So many inspiring presentations! My gratitude to so many of the people I was privileged to meet there, and especially Kahena, who organized the event - I can hardly wait for next years conference.

A friend asked if I would post my Power Point presentation, and I'm most happy to, since I'm proud of the sequence of images that represent my 5 year project dedicated to Spider Woman. So here it is reduced to jpegs.