Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tagore's Love Poem

"The Lovers" (1995)

Unending Love

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times...
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it's age old pain,
It's ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Rabindranath Tagore

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Composting with Ursula Leguin

"I do what the poet Gary Snyder calls "composting" — You let everything you do/learn/think/read/feel sink down inside yourself and stay in the dark, and then (years later maybe) something entirely new grows up out of that rich darkness. This takes patience."
Ursula K. Leguin

As an artist, I've been feeling dull as a brick lately, in contrast to the influx of inspiration that came to me from my trip to England this summer.  Well, being knee deep in renovation and repair of my home, and family responsibilities, can do that. Should I get depressed about the contrast, the seeming loss at present of those elevated insights and just plain sights?  It's harvest time now, almost Mabon, and I'll gather apples in grateful celebration among the (construction) debris.  Composting.......composting the house at the moment.  What I experienced this past summer will surface, in time, it's voice isn't lost.

I love the biological magic, and poetic metaphor of Composting.  There's the  Great Round every time I take my left overs to the compost pile - everything gets transformed, broken down and remake, rots and gets seeded again, including me.  When I was younger the so-called dry periods were almost unbearable.....I had to be in full creative intensity all the time, or there was something wrong, I didn't measure up.  Gratefully, I can say I'm glad that has been replaced with patience, and a tiny bit of wisdom I've gathered over the years, knowing that my creativity is part of the Round as much as anyone, or anything, else.  While my art "composts" along with the rest of me,  I reflect on a few more good words from my favorite writer, Ursula Leguin:  

"Writing is my craft. I honor it deeply. To have a craft, to be able to work at it, is to be honored by it."

"One of my favorite things the poet Shelley said is, "The great instrument of moral good is the imagination."

"And while I'm quoting quotes, Socrates remarked, "The misuse of language induces evil in the soul." That's a good one to remember when listening to a politician or reading an advertisement."Webthing brings you to navigation links

And of course I can't resist bringing in the Black Madonna when I reflect on the Great Round of the Sacred Compost Pile, because I see Her magic there in the rich, teeming, transforming soil every time.   I've shared it before, but I never get tired of the  overlay, the mythic "songlines", that trace the ancient pilgrimages to the Black Madonnas of Europe (which are still going on).  One of the most ancient, and significant, was the famous journey that concluded at the Cathedral of Santiago at Compostella,  the endpoint of "The Camino", the traditional pilgrimage still made by thousands today across Spain.

Pilgrimage routes to Compostela

It's believed that the earliest pilgrimages were made to the "Black Madonna of Compostella", a very ancient effigy. Compostella comes from the same root word as "compost". Compost is the fertile soil created from rotting organic matter, the "Black Matter". The alchemical soup to which everything living returns, and is continually resurrected by the processes of nature into new life, new form. Matrix/Creatrix. Matter. Mater. Mother.
"From this compost -- life and light will emerge. When the pilgrims came to the Cathedral at Compostella they were being 'composted' in a sense. After emergence from the dark confines of the cathedral and the spirit -- they were ready to flower, they were ready to return home with their spirits lightened."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Life After Life" - the Movie

 I belong to a group called the Tucson Friends of IANDS  that meets at Unity church to share and discuss NDE's and related phenomena - they also bring speakers to Tucson.  They are affiliated with a much larger organization called the International Association  for Near-Death Studies. Recently they brought to my attention an award winning movie recently made about the subject by filmmaker  Peter Shockey (I take the liberty of copying from the website some bio about him and also Raymond Moody, the physician whose books about people who have died and been revived, and the experiences they share, have had a huge following for over 30 years.)

I hope to have a chance to view the film soon.  I find it fascinating, and encouraging, to see the continuing popular dissemination of this research, which not so very long ago were consigned to the fringe arena of the occult, or viewed as heresy by religious interests.  A recent film, Hereafter,  with Matt Damon and directed by Clint Eastwood, explores the subject in drama form.

Imagine a world without the fear of death?  I have a brother who has been in a vegetative state, on life support, for three years now - because of legal issues, and my family's terrible fear of death, I am not able to let my brother's body die, although I am certain that his spirit is no longer within it.  One of the reasons I belong to IANDS is because I believe this research is of great importance to our world and time, and our ability to grasp the interconnectedness of all life.  
"The LIFE AFTER LIFE film is the result of an ongoing labor of love - the amazing collection of real-life testimonials were selected from thousands of cases, and are the culmination of years of research, publications, books and specialized media-training by a broad spectrum of contributors."
 Dr. Raymond A Moody is the leading authority on the 'Near-Death Experience,' or NDE - a phrase he coined in the late seventies. Dr. Moody's research into the phenomenon of the NDE had its start in the 1960's, following an electrifying story told by a university professor (that professor, Dr. George Ritchie is one of the gentlemen interviewed in the LIFE AFTER LIFE film).

Peter Shockey is the producer, director & screenwriter of LIFE AFTER LIFE. His own true story - of how he responded to his father's terminal diagnosis - became the narrative for the film, in which Peter appears as himself.

The trailor for the  movie is also available at:  http://vimeo.com/1188776

Life After Life Trailer from Peter Shockey on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Talking with the Gods & Sacred Places

"Australian dream time seems strange to us because we distinguish stories from places.  For the aborigines places are stories:  song-lines.  To "settle" a wild place means to create not only houses and farms but also the stories that make them a home.  For native Australians, their deserts are home because they are verdant with stories."

David Loy, The World is Made of Stories

A few last thoughts on sacred sites (well, not last, but as I return to the many lists, calendars and responsibilities of my current life, I must put aside my passion for a little while).....this time thanks, once again, to spiritual dowser Sig Lonegren, who has spent many years exploring  sacred places, in England, Europe, and in the U.S.  I find his premise fascinating.  

As a dowser myself, I've experienced shifts in energy - which means also shifts in  consciousness and perception -many times when visiting areas that are geomantically potent, be it the henge of Avebury,  or the labyrinth at Unity Church in Tucson. Sites are able to change consciousness (raise energy) because they are intrinsically geomantically potent, and/or  they also become potent because of human interaction with the innate intelligence of place, what the Greeks called "genus loci".  Geomantic reciprocity - as human beings bring intentionality, reverence and focus to a particular place, building sacred architecture, or engaging in ritual.  The conversation becomes more active as place accrues myth, story in the memory of the people, and the memory of the land.   Sacred places have both an innate and a developed capacity to transform consciousness.  And the power of myth is important if we wish to engage the numinous presence, to  "talk to the Goddess and petition the Gods".

"To the native Irish, the literal representation of the country was less important than its poetic dimension.  In traditional bardic culture, the terrain was studied, discussed, and referenced:  every place had its legend and its own identity....what endured was the mythic landscape."

R.F. Foster

Why would the ancient people who built Stonehenge spend generations hauling monstrous (and apparently specific) stones hundreds of miles to pose them in  circles, laid  in various alignments with the skies, seasons, and land?  

According to Sig, who references psychologist  Julian Jayne''s controversial book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, possibly because, as human culture and language became increasingly complex,  we began to lose mediumistic consciousness,  a daily, conversational Gnosis with "the One".  We became more individuated.  With the gradual ascendancy of left-brained reasoning he suggests the ancients developed a concern with how to continue contact with the gods, the ancestors, the numina of the land.  Stonehenge was a temple on a sacred landscape - according to Sig, it may also represent a "last ditch effort" to keep in touch with the spirit world, to enhance communal experience.   As the rift between personal gnosis and spiritual contact deepened, and especially with the later development of patriarchal institutions, gradually the tribal and individual Gnosis was replaced by complex religious institutions that removed individuals from the earlier tribal mind, and rendered spiritual authority to priests who were often viewed as  the sole representatives of  the  Gods or God.

Perhaps this capacity is returning to us, a new evolutionary balance. As crisis engulfs us, we need, once again, to re-member how to  "speak to the Earth". 

"I have been arguing for decades that these (sacred) spaces were special places that enhance the possibility of connection to the other side - to the One.  Please judge what follows in that context. You may well find that it challenges some of your paradigms you hold about the past.  It combines two separate lines of investigation that support the perception that these spaces really “did what’s on the box.”  The gods came to earth.  And us humans in great numbers communicated directly with them.  (I end with a counter argument just to keep things in balance.

Since the mid-seventies when I began work on my Masters’ degree on Sacred Space, one of the major themes I have chewed on has been the shift from the dominance of that more intuitive right brain in prehistory to the analytical left brain brought to us by (IMHO) the increase of influence of the Patriarchy.  The book that really turned me on initially was The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes, first published in 1976 (see "Works Cited" at the bottom for all book references).  

 I must say that this has been one of the most stimulating and thought-provoking books I've ever read, and is a must in the development of consciousness studies.  I don’t agree with some of what he has to say, for example, his choice of a particular word to describe how our prehistoric ancestors received their right brain information - "hallucinations."  I don't think that's what they were, and later on, I'll go in to why I think so.  But on the whole, I found his thesis most useful in forming my perception of this shift in consciousness. 

It began with the Neolithic Revolution - the increasing use of agriculture rather than hunter gathering.  It facilitated a shift in consciousness.  My understanding was that the driving factor in the construction of purpose-built sacred spaces in prehistoric times was the loss of the ability of more and more of humanity to connect on a conscious level with the world of spirit.  I felt, and still do, that the archaeoastronomy, sacred geometry and Earth Energies all enhanced the ability of this connection as we became more and more left-brain/rational.  I wrote about this at great length in my first book, Spiritual Dowsing, initially published in 1986."

Sig Lonegren

Jaynes, Julian. 1976. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. (Available from Amazon Books.)
Lonegren, Sig. 2007. Spiritual Dowsing. Glastonbury, England: Gothic Image. History of the earth energies, healing and other uses of dowsing today. A book for the spiritual pilgrim. Initially published 1986. ISBN 978-0-906362-70-9.  (Available from Amazon books).