Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gloria Orenstein on Shamanism

Shaman (1993)

For years I've been wanting to share this article by one of the most eloquent Eco-feminist writers I know, Gloria Femen Orenstein.  The article is  extracted from Toward an Ecofeminist Ethic of Shamanism and the Sacred .

I heard Dr. Orenstein speak in 1989 at the Symposium for Art and the Invisible Reality, produced by Dr. Rafael Montanez Ortiz, at Rutgers University.   She was accompanied by her teacher, and friend, Ellen Maret Gaup-Dungeld who was a traditional Sami shaman.  I remember well how powerfully Ellen Maret cleared and raised the energy of the auditorium she spoke in by 'singing the yoik'.  More information about Gloria Feman Orenstein is available at the bottom of this post.
Toward an Eco feminist Ethic of Shamanism and the Sacred .

The shamanic worldview considers all of creation to be both spiritual and sacred. This dimension is as sacred as the spirit world. Thus, what happens to us while alive and awake, although interconnected with what is taking place in the spirit world, is also of great importance shamanically, and, of course, is also sacred.

Through the spiritual journey Shamans pick up vital information from other realms, in much the same way that we get our news from abroad via satellite and TV. By the same token, one could not characterize the human experience by the "core" activity of tuning into the news from abroad, even though this is a necessary part of our daily lives. Naturally, when Shamans work in the here and now, they are calling upon forces that reconfigure our ordinary concepts of space an time. Whatever their powers for certain kinds of work, they are not necessarily journeying out of the body, but they are expanding our concept of what a body is and relating to the body as an energy field composed both of spirit and matter.

Once again, from my own experience in Samiland, I know that I was always waiting to meet my "power animal," and my Shaman teacher was always taking me to the real reindeer, the real birds, the real mosquitoes. It wasn't until she communicated with birds, brought them to us, talked with them, and sent them away, or until she "psyched out" the problem of a lost reindeer, that I began to understand how the neo-shamanic narrative from contemporary workshops had actually blinded me to the fact that real animals are also spirit and power, and, at least to my Shaman teacher, they were every bit as important, or even more so, than her owl spirit guide who had appeared to her in childhood.

Sometimes I used to feel that I had a more "shamanic" perspective than she did, because I was always coming up with sophisticated symbolic interpretations of dreams and I was always looking for "power animals," while she seemed to be more interested in the real animals and she understood the figures in dreams to represent the spirits of real people. The truth is that she made less of a distinction than we do between real and spirit people or animals. To her, all was real, all was spirit, and all was sacred, simultaneously. There was no contradiction in that.


Through our education in the scientific worldview of the Enlightenment, we have become alienated from the earth and have forgotten that the earth is also a heavenly body. We have ceased to take into consideration the powers of the forces and the knowledge of the cycles that govern our lives. We hardly ever give a second thought to gravity, for example, without which we would all be floating off into space, and we certainly never think about the real magnetic force of the North and South poles. We also take for granted the amount of light and dark we experience each day. But what if an that were to change? What if we were suddenly plunged into a world in which the sun never set or never rose? What if we were to go to live at the magnetic North Pole? 

Then we would begin to experience syndromes similar to jet lag, and we would take seriously the implications of the revolutions of the earth on its axis around the sun. In Samiland during most of the fall and winter, the sun sets very early in the morning. During the summer, the sun doesn't set until well after midnight. The rituals women have begun to perform in the feminist spirituality (Goddess) movement have begun to put us back in touch with an awareness of the solstices, the equinoxes, and the lunar cycles. But how does this all relate to ecofeminist ethics and to Shamanism? Because of our geo-cosmic ignorance and amnesia, we fail to take into consideration the fact that certain powers can only be obtained and put into practice in certain places on the earth and at certain times during the year or during the larger cosmic cycles.

 It is interesting that when it comes to sacred herbs, we recognize that they grow in certain places and that people who cannot obtain certain herbs cannot experience their effects. However, herbs are portable, and this suits our purposes, for we can transport the products of the Amazon jungle to California via plane. However, we can never transport the magnetism of the North Pole to California. Nor can we manifest the effects of the Arctic midnight sun in Los Angeles. 

When I travelled to Samiland, I became aware of the effect that the magnetic North Pole was having upon me. It was causing me to enter a deep trance state when I slept, and it was when I was in such a deep trance that I was able to hear the voices of the ancestral spirits. As I ate Sami food, I noticed that my hair and skin began to take on other characteristics. This might have been due to the purity of the air, the water, and the food, as well as to the intensity of the earth's magnetic field in which the food was grown. We have noted that people are sensitive to light deprivation and that they become depressed when they do not receive enough light. Have we thought about what an overabundance of light might do to a person or how light might affect one's consciousness? In Samiland in the summer, when the sun sets well after midnight, sometimes as late as 3:00 Am., one enters altered states, highs, and expansive states of consciousness.

Westerners always want to bring Shamans to the United States, put them on American TV talk shows, and have them perform miracles on our turf to prove their powers. When a Shaman from Samiland insists that you must travel to the North Pole in order to study Sami Shamanism, an American may tend to balk and dismiss the Shaman as a phoney. I brought my Shaman teacher to the United States to participate in a number of conferences (such as Ecofeminist Perspectives: Culture, Nature, Theory-held at U.S.C. in the Spring of 1987), but she always insisted that my real training would not take place in the United States, but in Samiland.

She was right, because my progress was intensified as soon as I came into the magnetic field of the North Pole. The results of culture shock and jet lag, when combined with the magnetism of the North Pole and the surplus of light in summer, catapulted me immediately into a shamanic state that was intensified by the presence of two powerful Shamans. It is important for us to honor the geo-cosmic realities of shamanic cultures and to realize that certain things cannot be transported elsewhere.

One of the main features of summer in Samiland is that suddenly the marshes become swamped with mosquitoes. The Sami love their mosquitos, because they realize that "the white man" cannot stand them, and so the mosquitoes have, in some sense, kept their land from being taken by outsiders. Most people cannot bear to live with those mosquitoes. As I mentioned before, Sami Shamans communicate with their mosquitoes, and they understand that they can be messengers, guides, and protectors.

 Ultimately, as we come to respect the geo-cosmic specificities of particular cultures and as we realize that there are things that cannot be bought, sold, commercialized, and commodified, such as magnetic fields and sunsets, (whereas people have already commercialized sacred waters and herbs), we must develop an ethics and a politics that will protect the earth and the cultures that reside not only in "places of power" or in places where we can obtain special products, but everywhere on our planet, for we must remember that the specificity of each location has its own potency. In this way, by raising our consciousness about the geo-cosmic specificities of gravity, light, magnetism, solstices, equinoxes, lunar cycles, indigenous plants, animals, climate, and so forth, we may come to value the variety of diverse cultures and regions whose multiple knowledges all serve to enhance life everywhere on our planet in an astonishing number of ways. Most of these geo-cosmic teachings can only be acquired in the particular region in which they originated.

Finally, if we are to awaken our own shamanic abilities, perhaps lost in the mist of time for some but founded in the traditions of the Early European Tribes for others, then we must attune ourselves to precisely those same forces as they manifest in our own bio-regions. In some cases this may require us to learn about our region from the indigenous tribes in our area; in other cases we must set about discovering the power of the places in which we live on our own. This is our challenge, if we want to save the earth. We must not run away to other "exotic' cultures, but we must begin by exploring our own backyards.


By universalizing and essentializing a "core" concept of Shamanism, we tend to ignore the practical and political use to which shamanic powers can also be put. When Ellen Maret Gaup-Dungeld led a contingent of women from the reindeer ranches of Samiland to stage a sit-in in the Norwegian parliament in order to protest the hydroelectric power plant that the Norwegians were planning to erect over the Alta-Kautokeino River on the day that Prime Minister Gro Bruntland stepped into office, she used visions to create her political itinerary. 

When the new prime minister did not return to hear the Sami women (after twenty-four hours, as she had promised), Ellen Maret asked the women present to relate their dreams. Some had dreamed of flying to Rome, so she requested an audience with the Pope at the Vatican (in order to obtain publicity for their cause); another dreamed of flying over large cities, so she planned a strategic visit to the United Nations in New York. Ellen Maret did not make the kind of separation that we, in the West, would make between those dream-inspired journeys to Rome and New York and other dream-inspired journeys to the spirit world. Nor did she consider the dream to be an inferior means of establishing a political itinerary. Being a political leader was being a spiritual leader, and vice versa.

Because Shamans from indigenous peoples do not separate spirit from matter and do not privilege a "core" shamanic experience over a this-worldly journey
, knowing that both are sacred, both are real, and both are spiritual, focusing exclusively on lower, middle, and upper world shamanic cosmology in our courses excludes the important political function that shamanic vision often serves. Furthermore, she took the visions of women to be as relevant as those of a Shaman. She did not establish a hierarchy among women as visionaries. These women from the reindeer ranches were considered to be the very people whose dreams (spirit-world contacts) would help the Sami to save their land and protect the earth. Here is ecofeminism in action.


In conclusion, I would Like to suggest that we begin to take the shamanic means of obtaining knowledge seriously in our culture. First we must begin to return the various shamanic practices to their specific cultures. We must not be reductive, but must see the complexities posed by the diversity of shamanic practices around the world. This will be enriching to our understanding of what Shamanism is, in the long run. Then we must set about creating a shamanic practice that is indigenous to our part of the world and our culture. However, we must revise many of our own cultural assumptions from an ecofeminist perspective. 

White Westerners must cease to project their white Western fantasies of the exotic, the glamorous, and the romantic onto other cultures. We must always assume diversity, and not make assumptions about being the same all over the world just because some aspects of them may appear similar to us. We must also resist thinking in a dualistic manner. We must remember that in Shamanism, spirit resides in matter, and all that exists is sacred. We must also resist thinking in hierarchies, privileging the spirit world and its entities over the material world and its inhabitants. Nor must we engage in elitist assumptions about whose visions have the most wisdom. We must respect the folk of every culture, remembering that their experience contains wisdom, and we must seek out women teachers whenever possible, for they have generally been the guardians of earth wisdom (because of women's socially constructed roles, and not because of any inherent or "essential" characteristics).

We must also learn the folklore of the cultures we visit and remember that what we consider to be "lore" and "legend" may have actually taken place in that culture and that these stories often contain real lessons for us that we would do well to heed. We must remember to seek spiritual protection, and we must become aware of the risks involved in shamanic practices, as well as the dangers incurred when working with people of power. They are also very human, and like non-Shamans, they may be tempted to abuse their power. 

Above all, we must cease to trivialize the spirit world. We must begin to take seriously the reality of spirit-especially those of us who engage in spirituality rituals. We should practice these rituals believing that the rituals we engage in are real events that do communicate with the spirit world. As we are taught in anthropology and folklore courses, we must not exploit the sacred ways or appropriate the sacred objects of other people-especially not for commercial purposes. 

One of the first things I was taught was that you must replace everything you take. Rather than stripping a foreign culture of its material and spiritual possessions, we should begin to contribute to its survival. We must begin to set standards for the practice of Shamanism, in order to protect the population from charlatans and new age dilettantes who know nothing about the spirit world and less about human consciousness and psychology. A new age neo-Shaman might easily jettison an ardent Shaman student into a state of severe mental or physical injury, simply due to the kind of ignorance, arrogance, and lack of responsibility that typifies much of the dabbling that takes place in this movement. We must remember that Shamanism is just as serious as surgery. Would we like to have our brains operated on by someone who had not been trained in medical school?

From the eco-feminist perspective on ethics, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is the misogyny and dualism at the root of white Western civilization that have caused the exploitation of both women and nature. On the other hand, we must not guilt-trip ourselves to the point of endangering our lives. Somehow we must come up with a balance in which we honor both non-Western cultures and ourselves for all that is beneficent, while constantly maintaining a critical position toward all forms of abuse of power.

If we take the lessons of Shamanism seriously, and  revise our cosmology in time, if we practice eco-feminist ethics while honoring both the material and the spiritual realms, then, I believe, there is real hope for us to heal the earth, our homeland.


Gloria Feman Orenstein is Professor in Comparative literature and the Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society at the University of Southern California. She is the author of The Theater of the Marvellous. Surrealism and the Contemporary Stage, The Reflowering of the Goddess and co-editor of Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism.   I  highly recommend her book The Reflowering of the Goddess, (1990), published by Pergamon Press, New York. (ISBN 0-08-035178-6).
For more information:   Gloria Feman Orenstein

Monday, August 27, 2012

At the River

 I gave up trying to be practical or even logical and drove to California, credit card in hand and tent in the back of my car to do a little soul retrieval with water. Visited my friend Joanna in San Diego, walked on the beach and met a blue heron.Now along the Russian River, soul retrieval in progress (soul download?). Below are reflections retrieved from another post about rivers...........

"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"
I wanted to  look into the depths of this quote. Perhaps he speaks of what storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes * called "Rio Abajo Rio, the river beneath the river of the world".  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."*

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 remember the greater life.  And 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. 

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 to follow.
"...[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 work of the SEER, residing within each of us. The River beneath the River of the World.

"The Hidden Sea" (2010)
* (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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The World is Made of Stories

"The world isn't made of atoms, it's made of stories"

....Murial Raiser

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Anne Baring and the Return of the Goddess

"I Rest in You, A Seed" (1992)

"Perhaps we can now understand that the concept of soul embraces an immense web or matrix of relationships which is concealed behind the veil of matter. But can we also understand soul to include visible nature; the physical aspect or manifestation of life which arises out of the invisible, out of what cannot be seen, rather like the stem of a flower arises out of the depths of the soil or the stars emerge in the night sky?"
Recently I had one of those short conversations about the importance of myth, spirituality and symbolism in the face of overwhelming "here and now" problems with a woman who is very involved in feminism and women's issues. We were standing in line together, and she asked me, after I'd shown her a book I had in my hand on Goddess culture and contemporary Women's Spirituality, if I believed this was really important in the face of the huge global issues of gender inequality and injustice?

Whew.  I couldn't answer that one in 5 minutes, no way.  I said yes, which was about the best I could do at the moment.  Then went home and found a book by Jungian psychologist Anne Baring, whose eloquence on the subject far exceeds my own, at least with the printed word.  It helps to share it here....
I operate from a construct of ideas that have become second nature to me and my contemporaries, assumptions that it is often easy to forget others may not be familiar with.  Archaeologist Maria Gimbutas, and activist philosopher Riane Eisler, for example,  have been very influential in informing my worldview.

It's interesting to me that when I speak of the "return of the Goddess", so many people take this to mean the ascendancy of a female hierarchy, much as there is currently a long established hierarchy based on male values and power. Patriarchal culture and psychology is profoundly based on heirarchical thinking, and as I have so many times noted, hierarchal thinking, and the trivialization of anything that is "feminine identified" is deeply, unconsciously, and systematically embedded in our cultural paradigm.  To talk about the Goddess, be it women's spirituality, myth, or Mother Earth, requires stepping way out of the conventional box.  But if one doesn't believe we live in a cultural construct that is patriarchal,  just  look around and see where the priorities lie.  Education, environment, children,  all are secondary in budget, and in media, to the ongoing preocupation with war.  I think it's time to send those  Sky Warrior Gods, whether they're called Zeus or Yawah,to their rooms and let Mother clean up some of the mess.

"The religions of the last 2500 years - all formulated by men - were, not unsurprisingly, focused on the masculine aspect of spirit and neglected the feminine aspect of it. They excluded from the word 'spirit' nature, body and the material world. What was once imagined as the Great Mother - all nature and her mystery - came to be seen as separate from spirit and desacralised. (Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake in 1600 for refusing to deny that God was present in nature). 

We need now to bring together body, soul and spirit so that life is not so fragmented, so that we know ourselves in our wholeness, know that our lives, our consciousness, our being and our body, are inseparable from the life and consciousness and being of the universe.  The effects of the loss of the feminine aspect of spirit on our civilisation are incalculable. Instinctive knowledge of the holy unity of things, reverence for the complexity and inter-relatedness of all aspects of life, trust in the powers of the imagination and exercise of the faculty of intuition - all this as a way of relating to life through participation rather than through dominance and control, was gradually lost."

Anne Baring 

"The Goddess" (1982)

Effects of the return of the feminine principle: 
-Return of the idea of cosmic soul or anima-mundi.
-Recovery of a sense of relationship with nature.
-Recovery of a sense of the sacred.
-Recovery of the instinctive, feeling values that are so vitally important for our connection   with soul  and spirit.
-A better balance between thinking and feeling
-Greater sensitivity to other people's needs and feelings in the field of human relationships. A sense of global connection with others.
-A greater respect for the body  
Anne Baring

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sophia Speaks

I will be your shade in the wasteland.
Take my symbol from this day forth
of my never ending promise.
I will be where your eyes look
I will be there when they're resting
None but me will fill your chalice.
I will be your light and ale and water.
Come with me, and begin again.
I am Sophia: Know Me.

THE VEIL Copyright © 2002
from "Sophia Speaks"

"Know Thyself" is the threshold to Sophia. In the Gnostic Gospel of Saint Thomas, Sophia is called "The silence beyond comprehension." Sophia means wisdom, "to know" in Greek. In early Gnostic Christianity, Sophia was, like the Shekinah of Judaism, the female aspect of God. Churches were dedicated to Her, among them the great Basilica of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. 

I have always admired the visionary power of this Invocation to Sophia performed by The Veil in 2002.


Margarita Slevin - lyrics, spoken word, synthesizer
Deirdre McCarthy - vocals, percussion, drums
Mark Ungar - electric and acoustic guitars
Scott Irwin - drums
Cat Taylor - electric violin

To Listen and visit their website:   The Veil


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Economics of Happiness Film

I learned about this film from the Transition Network and would like to see it -  I take the liberty of copying the synopsis below.   I know it's a lot for a blog on art, but I feel this networking of people, and media, dedicated to really addressing what is going on today and finding solultions is so vital, provides hope as well as understanding of the problems, and is the very best of what The World Wide Web can offer us in this time of global emergency.  Spider Woman no doubt approves.


 Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There are personal costs too. For the majority of people on the planet, life is becoming increasingly stressful. We have less time for friends and family and we face mounting pressures at work.

The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, an unholy alliance of governments and big business continues to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, people all over the world are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization.

The film shows how globalization breeds cultural self-rejection, competition and divisiveness; how it structurally promotes the growth of slums and urban sprawl; how it is decimating democracy. We learn about the obscene waste that results from trade for the sake of trade: apples sent from the UK to South Africa to be washed and waxed, then shipped back to British supermarkets; tuna caught off the coast of America, flown to Japan to be processed, then flown back to the US. We hear about the suicides of Indian farmers; about the demise of land-based cultures in every corner of the world.

The second half of The Economics of Happiness provides not only inspiration, but practical solutions. Arguing that economic localization is a strategic solution multiplier that can solve our most serious problems, the film spells out the policy changes needed to enable local businesses to survive and prosper. We are introduced to community initiatives that are moving the localization agenda forward, including urban gardens in Detroit, Michigan and the Transition Town movement in Totnes, UK. We see the benefits of an expanding local food movement that is restoring biological diversity, communities and local economies worldwide. And we are introduced to Via Campesina, the largest social movement in the world, with more than 400 million members.

here's the trailor  on UTUBE if you can't get Vimeo:  http://youtu.be/VkdnFYDbiBE

And if that's not enough,  here's a list garnered from their website (www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org) of films available that address the problems of capitalism, globalization, unsustainability, and ecology, along with many hopeful alternatives and experiments. 

Films for Change

Affluenza – On the ‘ailment’ of consumerism.
Ancient Futures - A documentary about indigenous livelihoods in Ladakh, India, by Helena Norberg-Hodge.
Atamai Village - According to Helena Norberg-Hodge: "One of the most beautifully made inspirational films on eco-villages".
Baraka – Montage of unforgettable images; a collage of life in all its beauty and brutality.
Bag It – “Is your life too plastic?”
Big River – A 30-minute documentary about the ecological consequences of industrial agriculture, by the makers of King Corn.
Cannibal Tours – “Affords a glimpse at the real (mostly unconsidered or misunderstood) reasons why 'civilised' people wish to encounter the 'primitive' … where much of what passes for values in western culture is exposed in stark relief as banal and fake.”
Captialism: A Love Story – Michael Moore’s latest feature takes a piercing look at the ‘mother of all problems’.
Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood
Exporting Harm: The High-Tech Trashing of Asia – Find out the toxic reality of where your old electronics go after you take them for 'recycling' or throw them out.
Fed Up! – An entertaining and informative overview of our current food production system from the Green Revolution to the Biotech Revolution and what we can do about it.
Food, Inc. – Exposes America's industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers' rights. “You’ll never look at dinner the same way.”
Fowl Play – On the industrial egg industry and the suffering it entails; a parable of how society has become disconnected from what we eat.
Fourth World War – A story of men and women around the world who resist being annihilated by globalization.
Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth - "One man takes on City Hall, Wall Street and the Pope as he questions society's most fundamental beliefs about prosperity.
Garbage: The Revolution Starts at Home – A typical Canadian family agrees to keep its garbage at home rather than export it 'out of sight, out of mind'. Shows the true hidden costs of the consumer class lifestyle.
Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage - Shows how today's waste crisis is intrinsic to capitalism, and how anti-litter campaigns were devised by corporations to disarm restrictions on disposable packaging.
Harsud: Making of a Ghost Town – The socio-cultural costs paid by local communities in Maharashtra, India, in the name of “development”.
Home – Spectacular aerial footage of the Earth shot in fifty countries by Yann Arthus- Bertrand; a clarion call for humanity to become aware of the full extent of its spoliation of the Earth and change its patterns of consumption.
In the Forest Stands a Bridge – A beautiful record of the dying art of bamboo bridge making in Arunachal Pradesh, India, and the tribal community that makes it possible.
Iskay Yachay: Two Kinds of Knowledge; Loving Teacher; Being a Wawa in the Andes; other films by PRATEC (Andean Project of Peasant Technologies)
John and Jane – Unsettling look at the reality of call centers – and cultural imperialism – in India, and modernity’s profound loneliness and confusion.
King Corn – About two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives the U.S. fast-food nation. Raises troubling questions about how we eat – and how we farm.
Let’s Make Money – Eerie truths about the casino called the international financial system.
Life and Debt – A story of some of the impacts on Jamaica of international financial institutions, structural adjustment and free trade policies, and mass tourism.
Manufactured Landscapes – A stunning look at the ‘monstrosity of globalized commerce’ focussing on China.
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media – Unforgettable look at the information propaganda machine and its complicity in wars and other disasters, by the same people who later made The Corporation
Mother Earth – The amazing work of P.V. Sateesh and the Deccan Development Society to revive traditional agro-ecological knowledge, seeds and practices in Andhra Pradesh (no website information available)
No Impact Man – A New York City-based family resolve to live for a year with the minimum environmental impact
1000 Days and a Dream – A multi-year struggle by villagers against a coca cola factory in Kerala) (http://thirdeyefilms.org/)
Our Daily Bread – A montage of unforgettable, disturbing images of the inner workings of the industrial food system
Our Synthetic Sea – The health and environmental crisis of plastics, saturating the oceans, sea life, and ultimately, us
Pig Business – The true cost behind the factory-farmed pork in supermarkets, who’s behind it, and what you can do about it
Schooling the World – Beautifully shot on location in Ladakh, looks at the impact of Western-style schooling on indigenous cultures
Surplus – The emptiness of consumerism in the rich world juxtaposed with the suffering to create it in the poor.
Surviving Progress - "Everytime history repeats itself, the price goes up."
The Age of Stupid – An old man living in the devastated world of 2055, watches 'archive' footage from 2008 and asks: why didn't we stop climate change while we had the chance?
The Century of the Self; The Power of Nightmares; The Trap: What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom? – A riveting series of films exposing, among many other things, the power of media and propaganda to manipulate
The Coconut Revolution – When the islanders of Bouganville kick out a multinational mining company, they undertake to rediscover their traditions and regenerate their local economy
The Corporation – An unflinching anatomy of the most powerful institution of our time; essential viewing
The End of Poverty? – “The first film to succinctly explain how our economic system has created poverty and why it is the foundation for the current financial crisis”
The Future of Food – On the perils of industrial food system generally, but especially about genetically mutilated foods
The 11th Hour – Industrial capitalism has brought every life-support system on Earth to the brink of collapse. A broad-ranging examination of this, the most pressing crisis of our times
The End of Suburbia – On the ‘peak oil’ phenomenon and all its implications to survival of oil dependent industrial ‘civilization’
The Global Banquet – Exposes globalization’s profoundly damaging effect on our food system in easily understandable terms
The New Rulers of the World – Renowned journalist John Pilger explores the connection between oppressive regimes and corporate globalization in Indonesia
The Planet – A powerful portrait of the devastating effects of the global economy on the environment worldwide
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil – An inspiring and solutions- oriented film that’s especially good to show after End of Suburbia
The Slow Poisoning of India – On the devastating health effects of pesticides in India
The Story of Stuff – Simple and short – but powerful – animated explanation of the problems of globalization and consumerism, and a call for a radically different path
The Take – Workers in Argentina dispossessed by the vicissitudes of 'structural adjustment' decide to 'take' back their workplaces, minus bosses and hierarchy
The War on Democracy – John Pilger's look at the movements for genuine democracy in Latin America, and the imperial forces that oppose them
The World According to Monsanto - Investigative expose of the notorious chemical- biotech company
The Yes Men, and sequel, The Yes Men Fix the World – Hilarious yet serious pranksterism against corporate power run amok
Toxic Sludge is Good for You: The Public Relations Industry Unspun
Urban Roots - A film about urban farming in Detroit, Michigan, a city facing industrial collapse and depopulation.
We Feed the World – Traces the sources of some of the industrial food system in Europe, making the links to environmental destruction and injustice ‘somewhere else’ along the way
What a Way to Go – “A middle class white guy comes to grips with peak oil, climate change, mass extinction, population overshoot and the demise of the American lifestyle”
What Would Jesus Buy? – Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping take on America's suicidal consumer binge during the Christmas holiday 'shopping season'
What's the Economy For, Anyway? – “A humorous monologue about the American economy today, challenging the ways we measure economic success – especially the Gross Domestic Product”
Yap: How Did They Know We’d Like TV? – “A witty and disturbing view of cultural imperialism at its most cynical and blatant”

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Muses Hard at Work

"With every passing hour our solar system comes 43 thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in the Constellation of Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress."

---Ransom K. Ferm

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Transition Network


The Transition Network began in the UK, and has expanded to become global, with a U.S. Transition  Network site that is rapidly expanding as well. (http://www.transitionus.org/about-us)

The work they're doing is extraordinary, and for any who may not be aware of these two organizations, and their programs, I'm pleased to share links here, information about the movie "In Transition", and a little video from one of the founders.

To see the moviehttp://vimeo.com/8029815

"‘In Transition’ is the first detailed film about the Transition movement filmed by those that know it best, those who are making it happen on the ground. The Transition movement is about communities around the world responding to peak oil and climate change with creativity, imagination and humour, and setting about rebuilding their local economies and communities. It is positive, solutions focused, viral and fun.  In the film you'll see stories of communities creating their own local currencies, setting up their own pubs, planting trees, growing food, celebrating localness, caring, sharing. You’ll see neighbours sharing their land with neighbours that have none, local authorities getting behind their local Transition initiatives, schoolchildren making news in 2030, and you'll get a sense of the scale of this emerging movement. It is a story of hope, and it is a call to action, and we think you will like it very much. It is also quite funny in places."

One of the upcoming online events presented for free by Transition USA  is  by Starhawk, a woman who is a true visionary leader. I've been privileged to work with her in the past, and look forward to this:

Heart and Mind of the Circle

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 5:00pm - 6:15pm

Note:  All Transition US online events are listed in Pacific Time
Register and you will receive your unique dial-in number and PIN via email.


Working in groups of equals is the heart of our work to change the world.  We value community, yet groups are often very challenging places to be.  How do we create groups and organizations that are warm and welcoming, that value and empower participants, and that bring out the best in each of us?
In this teleconference, we’ll explore the personal sustainability that is the ground of effectiveness.  We'll consider social permaculture—the principles and agreements that lead to healthy and functional groups—as well as the agreements we make with each other, the way we make decisions, and how we handle the conflicts that inevitably arise.
Check out Starhawk's new book on this subject before the call if you can.
Presenters: Starhawk

Friday, August 10, 2012


I don't write poetry anymore, which makes me sad sometimes.    I don't know where the poems went.............but it's good sometimes to open old journals and remember younger selves.........

Yellow Sails   

Your fey mark 
glows on your forehead
a brand, a signature.

I have covered you
with my own tokens, with kisses
embedded in you like tattoos, 
each one says

"remember me, remember me"

although I know you won't.
They will dissolve more quickly than memory
in whatever stream
bears you off.

Never really touching you,
still, I regret nothing.
You are that which is worthy,
the pale light of another landscape
a castaway.

I will remember you
as you are now:
a boat, sailing into some brave distance
your yellow sails spread
on the horizon.

Lauren Raine


How are we turned
again and again
to find ourselves moving
into the shadowland
where our best and finest intentions
drift out of true,
and into the truly opposite?

   Love becomes hate
   hope turns into despair
   inspiration hardens into dogma.

we must find our faces again
in dark waters
revealed among fallen leaves,
our reflected sins,
our cherished scars,
the dappled shapes of light and dark
that surface toward a whole.

There is something that wants us to open
Something that pours from the crevices
where we have broken

Something that laughs like a river in the morning


What can be said, now,
when all words are spent
and the word has finally been spoken

we go now to our separate houses
relieved - at least,
a course has been named.

Our lives are severed, our story is told.

We will each surely tell that story, and  laugh
and talk late into the night, and kiss lips and thighs salty
with tears and love;
but not with each other,
not again.

Here the tearing ends, here ends remorse and reprisal,
here end dreams and plans.

We will not travel to Scotland, to walk among imagined
monoliths in the white mists of our imagination.
We will not walk again on a warm beach in Mexico,
toasting each other with margaritas.
That was once.  It has to be enough.

I will not call you mine,
You will not call me yours.
And our cat is now your cat, our teapot is now my teapot.
I touch a potted plant, remembering its place
on our breakfast table.
We divide the spoils, humane, courteous, fair.

A canyon has opened between us, we are each old enough
to know its name, to view its depths without passion.
There is no bridge to cross this time.

Beloved, I must now forgive myself,
and you,  cast my stone into this abyss
and bless the ghost woman

who has not yet come
to stand by your side
wave with grace from across the canyon's lip
then turn, and walk my own path.