Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jesse the Jack Russell

Ok, I can't help myself.  I'm in a UTube kind of full moon mood.

There's a big difference between the intelligent  existentialism of a cat like, say, Henri, and dogs.  I'm a cat person, but I have to admit, this Jack Russell Terrier would come in handy.  

Jesse has the life of a domestic slave.   Henri, on the other hand, is considering running for office:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Thousand Hands of Quan Yin - Stunning Performance by Deaf & Blind Performers

Thousand Hand Guan Yin-"Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is an astonishing performance in celebration of the Goddess of Compassion, Quan Yin.  It is even more astonishing when one learns that this Chinese production was performed by deaf  and blind performers.  Quan Yin, like Tara, is the embodiment of infinite mercy and assistance to all who call on her.  She is "She who hears the cries of the world".   Avalokitesvara means  "Lord/Lady who looks down", a  Bodhisattva who embodies compassion. Kuan Yin has a thousand arms with which to scatter blessings, a thousand arms with which to bring help to those in need. What an amazing invocation these performers make!

The Martian Chronicles

 Rock Hudson:  "How should we live?"

Martian:  "Anyone with eyes can see the way to live."

Rock Hudson:  "How?"

Martian:  "By watching life, observing nature, and cooperating with it.  By living life for itself, don't your see?  Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being.  Life is its own answer.  Accept it and enjoy it day by day.  Live as well as possible.  Expect no more.  Destroy nothing, humble nothing, look for fault in nothing, leave unsullied and untouched all that is beautiful.  Hold that which lives in all reverence, for life is given by the sovereign of our universe, given to be savored, to be respected. But that’s no secret." 


 I miss Ray Bradbury.  I miss when aliens were wise beings more evolved than us.  I've always loved this quote from the movie.  


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Daniel Dancer's Sky Art

"If we can make a creative crack in the world's deadly abstractions,
the divine will rush up bringing great bounty with it." 

Here's one of my favorite Green artists.  His medium?  People! His canvas?  The Earth!  I take the liberty of copying below from his website.

 Daniel Dancer, who lives in Oregon, became fascinated with sky art while traveling in South America in the 80's  and encountering the  Nazca Lines of Peru. When he returned home, he began working with Kansas field artist, Stan Herd, who creates giant images on the Earth by using a tractor as a paint brush and crops for color. 

One day, Daniel decided to bring an entire elementary school out to perform as beads on the headband of a 25 acre Indian head. . A decade later the parents of one of the "bead kids" told him that the experience taught him that things aren't always as they seem . . . that a Big Picture View of the world is really important!
450 children perform as "beads" on headband of  "The Native American,"
a 20 acre field image  by Stan Herd  (photo © Daniel Dancer 1989)
 In an earlier time, art was more than what someone else did for us to collect for the walls and tables of our homes. We were all artists and doing art was a part of life which connected us to the whole of nature.  Daniel Dancer's art, events and residencies are an effort to reclaim this way.  Whether crafted alone in a sacred manner upon the ravaged areas of Earth, or with a community of others, his way of art is medicine for ourselves and the Wild.  His  practice is a deep way to give thanks for the beauty which surrounds us and to seek forgiveness from Earth for the damage inflicted by humankind. Through story, intention and participation with others, each piece becomes a way to activate a healing responsiveness from our culture. Uncollectable, his works have real and intrinsic Earth herself

Dancer's decade long photography work with Stan became the material for a five-year touring show with Exhibits USA called Fields in Focus: Art For the Sky, and a book called Crop Art and Other Earth Works. Daniel's fascination with developing humanity's big picture vision led him to work with Lighthawk (the environmental air force) aerially documenting the human impacts upon the natural world. His interest guided him across the continent in the creation of varied found art works upon the Earth that made the most sense when viewed from above. Believing that "only from the sky can we truly understand our rightful fit in the world," Daniel's mission is to awaken what he calls "sky-sightedness". To awaken this way of seeing the world he founded Art For the Sky in 2000.
Daniel's work as a conceptual artist and educator has been shaped by his travels worldwide in search of styles of being that engender happiness and sustainability. His striking images of beauty and destruction have been published in hundreds of publications worldwide and viewed in galleries across America. It is precisely this interface between wild nature and devastation that most greatly informs his work and which led him to try to reach as many people as possible through sky art.  Working with communities from Alaska to Australia Dancer has documented his work in various ways. An Exhibits USA tour called Sacred Ground-Sacred Sky: An Eco-Experience became their second most requested show in its five year tour across the country. This 32 picture educational exhibit is currently seeking a permanent home where it can be on public display. All of Dancer's work to date is documented in his book, DESPERATE PRAYERS: A Quest for Sense in a Senseless Time. Dancer is the founder of Rowena Wilds, a 200 acre, eco-community near Hood River, Oregon where he lives in his Earth-sheltered home built of recycled and Earth friendly materials.  

Peace Dove with Rose, Portland, OR. 2002

Beyond the Sky - Grand Rapids, MI  2011

"This is the first of a 3D series of imagery called "Emergence." Here we see a mysterious "Pool
of Potential" that has opened up in the Earth, made up of children. Two giant albatross
are seen flying these "souls" into the reality of their birth . . . special souls that are visionary
and evolved and will help lead people into harmony with the planet and one another.
This is the first image where people play "themselves" rather than pixels on something else."


Polar Bear Sky - Culminating Maryland's Green School Youth Summit, 700 participants
form a polar bear standing on an tiny iceberg floating in the ocean . . . an iconic representataion of global warming. Maryland's Governor O'Malley is the lone man on the ice. The 350 in red is the number climate scientists say is the maximum parts per million of greenhouse gasses we can have in our atmosphere. It is now 390 and going up.


World Oceans Day in Victoria, BC 

 An endangered marbled murrelet made with 1000 students and teachers swims in a sea made of 1500 pairs of blue jeans and icebergs made of sheets. The 350 signifies the maximum parts per million of carbon we can have in our atmosphere to survive global warming.

Sky Whale, NSW Australia, 2007
A humpback whale made of bark chips and sand was built for the finale of the 5 Lands Walk. This annual festival is a 10K "walkabout" along a coastal path that knits five communities together in celebration of nature at the height of the humpback whale migration. 
Butte College, California sustainability students depict a raven flying over Earth as the polar ice caps are melting. Raven has a message: Achieve a ceiling 350 parts per million of carbon in our atmosphere or risk climate catastrophe. Fall, 2009.

Dancing Crane. Hinkle Middle School 5th graders bow down before the image
of a sandhill crane created out of mulch, in a ceremony to welcome these great
birds to the the soon to be restored Snowden Wetlands near White Salmon, WA.
A collaboration with Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute (2008)

bidder 70
Power to the Peaceful
On February 28th, 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah, activists took to the streets to sing, march and do sky art in a display of solidarity with Tim DeChristopher, aka "bidder 70", whose trial for civil disobedience in defense of Utah wilderness and climate justice began that day.

Raising the Dove peace mandala during Alliance for Peace Conference
in Vancouver, WA. 2008  (see 90 sec. movie)

Daniel Dancer's book shares his travels as he creates healing art in ten endangered ecosystems. He reflects on spirituality, indigenous knowledge, quantum physics, psychology, and ecological principles. The result is a  hopeful gift for apocalyptic times. Entertaining,  and beautifully illustrated.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Spirit Photos and Energy Work

O Great Mother Goddess

We call on you now.
Rise up from your roots.
Hear us, our voices of pathos.
See our dancing feet,
With our hearts, we drum you back. 

Erica Swadley
  I've been doing  energy work  that is about the ways we block ourselves with negative patterns....not just as ideas, but as unconscious fields, "resonance".   I don't know how to describe the work, to be honest, except to say that it's come to me in a rather miraculous way.  I thank Lonnie for her generosity!

This past week she gave me some "homework".  We were working on the way that I have, in the past ten years, shut down much of my psychic sensitivities, because of being in an  unsupportative environment (family) as well as some negative experiences in the past. Living in a field of "unbelief" creates unbelief.  But now it's time to open again, so that I can be  more integral in all aspects of my life.  Filtering experience through what we "believe" has a lot to do with what we actually experience (remember the old saying that to a thief, the greatest saint in the world is just a set of pockets?).

Homework was to do something that "takes back power from not believing".  I  said that I would share my spirit photos, because they are one of the most extraordinary affirmations I've ever received.  Taken at a performance/ritual called "Restoring the Balance" by photographer Anne Beam in 2004, I've always felt there was a reason they happened, and  they were meant to be shared because spirit had something to say. But I've received all kinds of negative dismissals from people about them, including people who think I, or Anne, "photoshopped" them.  I didn't, and I know Anne didn't either.
Spider Woman weaving with audience

To read about the performance, and the way it came to be, there's an article on my website:  "Restoring the Balance - a Celebration of the Great Mother".  It's too difficult to show these photos with the entire context without re-writing the article, but in brief, different masks from my collection were used to perform stories of the Goddesses.The event was inspired by my meeting with a Native American storyteller, Grey Eagle, who spent  years among the Inuit in Alaska as an activist, sharing their stories and rituals.***

We used the "Story of Sedna", the wounded Earth/Ocean Mother of the Inuit, and their rituals of atonement and attunement as the focus for our performance, which was above all created as a ritual for the same purposes of Earth Honoring and Healing.  Synchronistically, as we were rehearsing the performance, we learned that a new planet had been discovered beyond Pluto, which had been named "Sedna".  The photos were taken by Anne of that performance/ritual on April 9th, 2004.   So here goes:

In this photo, Erica Swadley is performing the role of "Sedna's Shaman".  In the rituals that are done for "restoring the Balance", prayers and confessions are "gathered" by a female shaman (Grey Eagle told me this), who then takes them to the suffering Sedna deep in the depths of the ocean.  She brings the prayers and "promises to create a better life story" to her, and cleans her body from the filth that has fallen down upon her.  She combs Sedna's long hair, and brings to her the love and regrets of her people, asking her to forgive them, thanking her for food and life,  and to restore the balance.  Erica, I believe, chose this role because she herself is an experienced shamanic practitioner and healer, as well as a poet.  The photo shows her before the story begins, doing a prayer dance to invoke Sedna.  Notice the strange, but beautiful, overlay of two faces in this photo.  Erica is a white woman in her early 60's. The younger face, that seems to have white stripes painted on her cheeks, looks distinctly non-caucasion to me.  It's not Erica's face, and I don't believe she was praying/dancing alone.

Quynn Elizabeth rehearsing "Kali"

The "Invocation to Kali" was done by another prominent shaman in Tucson, Quynn Elizabeth.  Quynn had ritually worked with Kali in the past, and the Kali mask was a good fit.  Here she is in the dress rehearsal with the mask - note that her costume is black.  And here she is dancing at the performance itself.  There were theatrical lights on her, but nevertheless,
notice how she seems to "disappear". 
Quynn Elizabeth invoking "Kali"

Quynn Elizabeth performance and " emerging goat"
Last picture of dance for "Kali".  A goat?

This is the most striking can see the back of Quynn's head and her back, and there is a "figure 8" shape, and in front of that what Anne and I decided had to be a goat.  That seemed pretty bizarre, but later I thought about how in India goats and sheep were sacrificed to Kali when devotees went to pray.  Perhaps, symbolically, Kali was accepting our "Offering", and provided us with a "goat".     


Anne called this photo "the visitor".   It's the end of the performance,  all the cast has emerged and is circling in a dance just before the music stops and everyone takes a bow.  You can see the audience and the dancing cast, and between them a white form that looks like a head and shoulders.  Here's the photo after I put it into negative:
"Visitor" in negative
It looks even more like a face with high cheekbones.


My favorite photos from the performance are those of dancer, Tarot instructor and Wiccan Priestess Morgana Canady performing the role of Spider Woman.  I used the story of Spider Woman, the great Weaver, to demonstrate the truth of interdependancy and interconnection as she wove a web (literally) with the audience from many cords that came from a "sacred hula hoop" she held around her waist.  For that brief while, as the entire room chanted "All One, All One" everyone there was connected to threads that were held by cast and audience, extending to the last aisle.  Morgana, aspecting Spider Woman and acting as a "filiment" at the center to raise the energy with the audience that will release the prayer/intention of the ritual, also seems to disappear in light.

Here Morgana prepares to "weave", building energy.

Here's the Web made of strands of cord being created with the audience.


Shapes that obscure a shot of the audience during the "weaving" segment - looks a bit like a hand to me.

My favorite photo - "Spider Woman's Hand".   The cords are from the "web" Morgana is weaving, cords the audience is holding and extending back.  The black blob on the right is one of "Spider Woman's assistants", who is wearing a black cape.  We have no idea what the little white spots all over the place are, perhaps they are like orbs, energy forms.  Just above the black caped shoulder is a hand that is weaving!  That hand cannot be explained, except that it is, for me, who has written about Spider Woman for many years, a hand of blessing and of  affirmation.  (And, interestingly, I went on to receive a fellowship at the Aldon Dow Creativity Center in Michigan in 2007 for a community arts project I called "Spider Woman's Hands".)

Why were we given these spirit photos?  I believe because Spirit wants us to know that we don't create sacred performance, ritual, or art alone.  We are given "invisible means of support".  Also, because the message that Grey Eagle (who passed away in 2006) gave us about Restoring the Balance with Mother Earth, and the return of the Divine Feminine is profoundly, profoundly important.  They want us to pay attention.

So, there's my "homework" Lonnie.  And as before, I am truly grateful for all the support I have received in all ways.  Blessed Be on Mabon, the Autumnal Equinox.

Mana Youngbear bringing the Grace of White Tara

*** Whenever I touch on this work, it always gets very synchronistic.  As I was beginning to write this article this morning, out of curiosity I googled "Restoring the Balance Ritual" to see if my previous article came up quickly on the internet.  My article came up number one, and after it a native American based site called "Earth Mother Crying" (  (remember that the story of Sedna concerns Sedna crying and suffering beneath the ocean, and her Shaman going to comfort her).  If that wasn't enough, there is a rather long quote from a teacher (I want to investigate who he is further) called "Grey Eagle" on the page above.  He talks about the "5th Hoop" ..... which gives me insight into my long art project, the Rainbow Bridge.  And whoever is writing in the site talks about the importance of the return of the Feminine, and says that a great healing is going to start in Alaska!

Ok, my attention is fully engaged now, and I'm going to pursue this more in the future.  But for now, I need to close, but copy below a few words from the site above, which has provided me with such a splendid synchronicity.

"They say that this is necessary to help keep the balance of Mother Earth. And that there are keepers of this balance that are around the world like us.......In moving into this time of the World of the 5th Hoop, it is going to be a time of great healing.....and the Hopi say that it is going to start in the North. I have learned just recently that it is going to start in Alaska.....................
The signs of this time of healing that is to start are: When the children bring back the spirit to the village; when the young start speaking with the wisdom of the elders; when the leadership energies start shifting to the feminine side; when this hoop of the 100 eagles feathers gets completed. And when the White Bison shows up. These are all the signs of the movement from the 4th to the 5th Hoop.

Your intuition is going to tell you what I am saying is true. The world for the last 4,000 or so years has been stuck in the male energy side. The male energy is thinking from the brain. It is a management from the top down. It is more aggressive. It does not use intuition or feelings from the heart. It is a different kind of energy. It is not a bad energy. It is just different than the female energy. Female energy is healing, nurturing, loving, caring, touching, sharing. The world spiritual leaders know now that these energies have shifted to the female side.

The center of the top of the energy entrance to the Earth Mother is here through Alaska. The spiritual leaders say that a host, hosts of angels, are coming through Alaska-- spreading out throughout the world for this healing to take place.

Notes:  I found the  "Grayeagle" above on a few other sites.  This is not the Grey Eagle I met, of course, but I am fascinated by this synchronicity:   

"Blue Thunder, Teacher from among the Eastern Shoshone people, sent this significant message from Grayeagle from the Yukon Territory of Canada."  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Nature of Sacred Space by Sig Lonegren

 The Nature of Sacred Space

A tone poem Sig Lonegren wrote .........rediscovered it and felt like posting it.

All the Earth is Sacred,
With Every Step We Take
          so the chant goes,
          and, of course, it is true.

               where it is
               easier to
               the Spirit
                     than others.
                where it might be
                easier to
                at one
                     with the One.

It's the Nature of Sacred Space.

                  It might be easier
                  to feel at one with the One
                  in Avebury Stone Ring

than, say, in Hell's Kitchen;
                  or in Mesa Verde
 than in Times Square.

                  So, there are places on this Earth
                        Where Spirit is concentrated;
                          Where it's "more sacred."

The weird thing about this concentration
is that everyone who goes there sees Spirit differently.
Some encounter Spirit
and see Jesus
Others see Mohammed,
or Cerridwen.
Then there's the Little People
and Manitou...

Dowsers are the same. . .             
          No two dowsers,
even if they
had the same
         find the same thing   
                    when dowsing in sacred space.

Some find energy leys and domes of water,
others find Curry and Hartmann Grids,
then there's Michael and Mary Lines,
and Aquastats and Track lines,
not to mention "energy lines"
and Maltese Crosses.
The list goes on and on.
So, why does everyone
see it differently?

     I think it has
to do with
               the level of consciousness
of the individual,
          his/her set of expectations,
     What s/he's ready to "see."
Hmm. . . Who decides that last one - what we're ready to see?

Maybe it is Spirit.
Not some dumb energy with no consciousness.
But the Energy of Spirit with total eternal consciousness.

Maybe it is the Spirit of the Place
who decides what we see...

Sig Lonegren

The Nature of Sacred Space  ©1998

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hobby Lobby wants to deny women employees birth control

Drop your suit or I'm dropping your store

Actually, going to Michaels is just fine with me from now on in.  By the way, is there anywhere in the Bible where Jesus says that women not have access to birth control?  What's next, a new Inquisition?

 Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts retailer founded by evangelical Christians, just announced that it's suing the government over certain women's health provisions of the Affordable Care Act--mainly, they don't want to have to provide their employees with insurance coverage for some forms of birth control, like IUDs or the morning after pill.  If they win, the result could be devastating for women, enabling other businesses to deny female employees birth control.

We've got to speak up. Hobby Lobby is a business like any other, and depends on its customers and good public relations to be successful. If enough of us speak out and show Hobby Lobby's Chief Executive David Green that the public is outraged by this move, they might have to back off, and it might make other companies less likely to try the same thing.

Our message to Hobby Lobby CEO David Green

"All women deserve affordable access to birth control and its a woman's personal, medical decision on which form to use. I won’t be shopping at your store until you drop this suit, and I’ll be telling my friends to do the same."

Please sign and forward petition:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11: On The Beach

ON THE BEACH (Oct. 11th, 2001)

One month
after the world ended

The little island world we,
the privileged few, could pretend
was safe, forever, and righteous

The fallen towers,
fiery messengers
of unfathomable destruction yet to come.
Tourists walk barefoot
on the familiar beach.
They came here, I imagine,
as I have, not to forget,
but to remember.

To remember driftwood and high tide
a red dog and a yellow-haired child
as they enter the water -
their cries of goodly shock
and honest forevers
always new, always cold, always blue.

A white heron,
balanced in perfect equanimity
on one leg.
Wave forms overlay my feet
transparent hieroglyphs of infinity.
Her way of speaking.
Gaia.  Her manifest, unspoken words.

A brown man
lies beside the mossy cliff, spread-eagled
between sky and sea and land.

Sand sunk, leaf-molten,
blackberry thorn - into the green
toes, fingers, flesh
reaching into the green

redeeming Earth.
He is rooting himself.
He is taking himself back.

I lie down in grateful imitation, a stranger
in companionable human proximity,
sharing this rite of remembering.

I  see her now,  a girl
walking on this very beach
Yesterday, and 30 years ago.
sourcing the one who lives here
        A river Goddess with no name.
She has made a mermaid offering
of sticks and sand and seaweed.

Companions arrive, offer shells,
and return to Berkeley.
To Vietnam, the Cold War,
the Berlin Wall,
the war, the wall,
the war, the walls.
The war,
and the summer of love.

("the revolution will not be televised")

A generation to end war, raise hell, raise consciousness,
raise Atlantis, and raise the new and Golden Age

("the revolution will not be televised")

How did we get here
from there?

I call you back, girl.
I call you back.
I am at the other end
of this life now
your feet touch mine
beneath the sand,
I follow them
on the beach

Your sand prayers
ring here still
The Earth
is my witness.

Lauren Raine (2001)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Butterfly Woman Synchronicity

 "Butterfly Woman mends the erroneous idea that transformation is only for the tortured, the saintly, or only for the fabulously strong. The Self need not carry mountains to transform. A little is enough. A little goes a long way. A little changes much. The fertilizing force replaces the moving of mountains.  Butterfly Maiden pollinates the souls of the earth: It is easier that you think, she says. She is shaking her feather fan, and she’s hopping, for she is spilling spiritual pollen all over the people who are there, Native Americans, little children, visitors, everyone. This is the translator of the instinctual, the fertilizing force, the mender, the rememberer of old ideas."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, "Women Who Run With The Wolves
I had a strange synchronicity that has personal meaning for me, although I am not sure I can convey it well to others.  When things like this happen I consider them not to be dismissed as  if i get that "ah ha" feeling. The power of the message has to do with what is going on in one's life at the time, as well as one's personal symbol system.  Interpreting synchronicities is much like interpreting dreams to me, both universal and very personal.  I've written about this before. This one, for me, is a reminder.

Click to preview bookIn 2003 I started gathering materials for my book about the Masks of the Goddess, their travels throughout the U.S., and the stories and people who told them and danced them. I was writing about two masks, the  amazing story of the Cornmother mask, and another mask I made, Butterfly Woman, based on readings of Clarissa Pinkola Estes about the Hopi.  I remembered that Christy Salo  (whose story is below) told me that she had, in the course of gathering materials for her performance as Selu, met a Hopi woman who was visiting Isis Oasis, and that she had given her some 300 year old sacred cornmeal to bless her performance.  

I wrote to Katherine** in 2003.  She has worked with Hopi elders and activists, and founded a non-profit in San Diego called "Touch The Earth Foundation" back in 1993.  I hoped she would tell me more about why she felt moved to offer that corn meal, and also hoping she would tell me about the Hopi Butterfly Woman.  I never heard from her, and the book was eventually finished. And then, out of the blue, almost 10 years later, she answers me!

 (I have to add that I just closed my AOL email account, and if the email had come a month from now it would have bounced back to her.)

Reading Katherines words about her foundation work just today (I knew nothing about her other than that she gave corn to Christy and was Hopi) I was surprised to see that she wrote about "rainbow hoop" work with diversity groups - and her  logo is at right.  That concept of the "rainbow corn", like the coming "rainbow tribe"  was why I painted a rainbow on my mask.....but until this month, I have never seen her logo or read anything by her.   I feel heartened by this, because it remembers me to the interwoven threads that connect us all beneath the surfaces of things. It encourages me in mythic work, and that of my colleagues, women and men.  And I thank the Goddess, in all of Her many forms, for weaving these messages through us all.

Corn Mother (Selu to the Cherokee) sustains us. Butterfly Woman  bears the important job of pollinating the corn so that it will bear fruit and feed and sustain the next generation......(traditionally she was performed by an old woman, because it was believed that a woman with experience and "weight" was suited to do the job.  I like that....)

Butterflies are not only ephemeral creatures that embody the perfect metaphor for transformation. They are  the final life stage of the caterpillar, responsible for laying the eggs that will ensure future generations of butterflies. They are  generators of the future, because as Pollinators  they must also see to it that not only caterpillars, but many other kinds of life are able to have a future. Just as diminishing populations of honey bees threaten the food crops, so too are these creatures potent. 

What is the pollen?  The pollen that generates new civilizations, and new paradigms......that pollen is made of stories.
"And here too come visitors to the dance, some of whom are very starved of their geno-myths, detached from the spiritual placenta. They have forgotten their ancient Gods. They come to watch the ones who have not forgotten."
In  "Women Who Run With the Wolves", Estes tells of  the Butterfly Dancer, slow, sure, with her traditional tokens of empowerment.
"Her heavy body and her very skinny legs made her look like a hopping spider wrapped in a tamale. She hops on one foot and then on the other. She waves her feather fan to and fro. She is The Butterfly arrived to strengthen the weak. She is that which most think of as not strong: age, the butterfly, the feminine."
 "She is La voz mitol√≥gica" Estes reminds us, the "Mythic Voice". 

What's a mask?  A mask is a way to invite a persona, or to "invoke" (join with) an archetypal being, to  express within oneself and within the collective experience of ritual and theatre.  In the early days of theatre, whether in Greece or Japan,  all actors used masks.  To wear a mask that is deeply archetypal, such as the mask of a Goddess or God or an animal power (as contemporary participants did with the masks in my "Masks of the Goddess" collection) is, within indigenous traditions, to "bring the deity to Earth" to bless, prophesy, and instruct, to tell the sacred stories and legends, and to enliven and "seed" the imaginations of those present.  
So back to my book about masks, and my 9 year old email to  Katherine,  just now answered.
So here's the email.........

--Original Message-----
From: katherine cheshire
To: Laurenraine ; kc4bepeace
Sent: Thu, Aug 30, 2012 1:36 pm
Subject: Re: Butterfly Woman/Selu

Dear I do remember you. I even remember the hosts of the gathering were a tad miffed at my blessing the spirit of the Mask and your lovely
dance.  I can not address your issues at the time as i am off to to
South Dakota at Crazy Horse, When i return let us re-connect and in the
mean time rest assured i will help you if i can.
Blessings and Balance,
In Peace, 
Dee See Mana-Ma
Katherine Cheshire

Original message:
From: ""
Sent: Monday, December 1, 2003 1:57 PM
Subject: Butterfly Woman/Selu
Dear Katherine,

I know you don't remember me, but I met you in the Spring of 2002 when I was organizing, with others,  an event with my Masks of the Goddess in Oakland.  I write for two reasons:  one is gratitude, because you gifted a dancer with some sacred corn, which was used, as a blessing, in a performance devoted to Selu, Corn Mother.  I take the liberty of copying below this quite magical story, which is included in the book I'm writing.

The other is that I have made a Butterfly Woman mask.  It was inspired by Clarissa Pinkola Estes story of the Butterfly Dancer among the Hopi.  I know nothing about the story of this Goddess.  I know you are a very busy woman, but I thought I might as well ask if you have any interest in writing something about Her story, or meaning?  I have no publisher as yet, but am submitting my book, and have good faith that it will find a publisher, and I can offer contributors publication, exposure, and referral when that happens.

With gratitude for what you contributed to the magic of our Dance,

Lauren Raine

Excerpted from "CORNMOTHER"..........
"Indigenous people have always known corn metaphorically in two or more of the four senses, mother, enabler, transformer, healer; that I use throughout this weaving.  Although early European settlers took the grain only, there is evidence in America today that the Corn-Mother has taken barriers of culture and language in stride and intimated her spirit to those who will listen, even if they don't know her story or call her by name."

   Marilou Awiakta, "The Corn-Mother Incognito.  Or Is She?"
   from SELU - Seeking the Corn-Mother's Wisdom

Corn is the staff of life for the people of the Americas, and Corn Mother has many names.
Among the Cherokee, Corn Mother is Selu.  Selu's very body is the sustaining grain.
The story of Selu, like the myth of Demeter/Persephone, is the death and resurrection cycle of the grain mother.  But it is also, from the wisdom of the Cherokee, about understanding the reciprocal nature of being in right relationship with the Earth.

Selu's sons, being ignorant, fearful young men, discover her secret.  Selu knows this, and nevertheless compassionately teaches them to preserve the seed corn, her very essence. 
Selu's immature sons witness a mystery they are not able to understand, and make arrogant assumptions that bring disaster - the same human immaturity expressed by the forces of modernism that today bring destruction to the environment.  The  Mysteries of the Earth Mother are shared through reverence, cooperation, and a willingness to listen.  In loving generosity,  Selu offers her children another chance,  to atone,  to bring themselves back into alignment with the natural order.  Perhaps, even now, Selu compassionately holds out to us the opportunity to weave our understanding back into "good relationship" with the elemental and diverse intelligences that are the vast web of life we participate within, the past, and the future we co-create.     

Indigenous cultures understand that we are engaged in a quiet, mythic, and miraculous Conversation with nature.  There is a message in the sudden flight of a bird, an answer to their questions in the vision granted by a sacred place, or synchronicities that guide the way to an important revelation.  At times, we are "seeded", we are generously given kernels to nurture us, and to pass on.  I like to think the rainbow mask of Corn Mother was such a seed from the hand of  Selu, graciously instructing us on how to dance.

I had given masks to choreographer Manna Youngbear, who was directing a ritual performance at a theatre in Oakland.  Several weeks before her event, I attended a group meditation.  As I sat cross-legged on the floor, I found myself absorbed by a vision that had nothing to do with the ceremony I was participating in.  When I closed my eyes I saw a Native American woman wearing a deerskin costume. She was dancing with an ear of corn in each hand.  I opened my eyes to a room full of meditating people, then closed my eyes to again see her dancing to a chant I could almost hear, ears of multi-colored corn shining in her hands.  When I returned to my studio, I made a mask, and placed ears of corn on each side of the face.

A friend had just given me a little prism, and as I worked on my new mask, it cast lovely rainbows around the studio.  I had been reading about Black Elk, the great  Lakota shaman.  As a young boy, he foresaw the destruction of his people, the "hoop" of the Lakota nation.  But he also prophesized a future "hoop of the nations":  a great circle, composed of many interlocking circles. A  Rainbow Tribe encompassing people of all colors.  It seemed to me that Corn Mother, who nurtures all of Her diverse children on Turtle Island, was at the very center of Black Elk's vision, and so I painted a rainbow on the mask's forehead.

"When I held up an ear of calico corn"  Cherokee poet Marilou Awiakta wrote, "we would think about this wisdom of the Corn Mother.  How the different kernels are ranged around the cob, no one more important than the other.  How each kernel respects the space of those on either side, yet remains itself - red, black, white, yellow or combinations of those colors.  How the Corn-Mother, in Her physical being, exemplifies unity in diversity, "from the many one" - democracy."

Just before her performance, I learned there was one dancer in Manna's cast who had no mask.  Christy, who had created a dance for Green Corn Woman.  Now she had a mask - and when Christy danced, she blessed the audience with corn meal she received from a native American teacher.

Interview with Christy Salo (2002):

I made a bouquet of corn for Manna and Stephen's wedding, with a necklace of rainbow beads on it I bought at a garage sale.  I used this same bouquet to dance Green Corn Woman at our performance.

The wedding was at a retreat center in Geyserville, California.  After the ceremony, I met a woman walking about the property.  She told me she really didn't know why she was there!  She had been heading to Oakland, and felt an urge to turn off the road.  When she drove by the sign for the center, she impulsively pulled in as well.  And there she was, in a lovely place with a wedding in progress.  As we talked, I recognized she was the woman I had bought the rainbow beads from, the same beads that were decorating Manna's bouquet, even as we spoke!  She was a touchstone on my "journey to Cornmother".

When Manna cast her show, she asked if I wanted to dance Corn Mother.  Manna is part Cherokee, so perhaps that was what she was thinking about.  I had been making collages with corn in them for years, and it seemed right.  We didn't have a mask for the Corn Goddess, but I was inspired to create a dance anyway.  I  knew very little about the Native American Corn Mother.  I intended to visit the library, but a friend turned up with a wonderful book called BROTHER CROW, SISTER CORN that was full of indigenous corn legends.  I also stopped at a used bookstore, and opening a rather esoteric book at random, discovered I was looking at an article about the Corn Maiden.  I was further stunned to find it was illustrated by Vera Louise Drysdale.  Vera was the first woman I met, years ago, when I lived in Sedona.  I was ready to begin.

Corn Mother among the Cherokee is called Selu, a funny  synchronicity,  as my own last name is Salo.  I felt I was following an invisible thread - and the feeling of familiarity continued as I created a costume.  I was looking for materials I associated with Corn Mother, and a few days later, Manna left me a message. "Christy" she said, "There is a Hopi woman at Isis Oasis you need to meet!  She gave me some 300 year old corn meal to give to you!"

I felt the spirit of Corn Woman encouraging me!  I thought about what She personally meant to me. Corn Mother is about the wealth that comes from the work of forgiveness.  How can we be fed and sustained, how can we create peace, if we cannot learn the lessons of forgiveness,  if we cannot learn tolerance for our differences?  That is the beginning place for the cooperation we will need in order to evolve.

I've always conceived of the Rainbow as actually being a circle.  Half of the rainbow disappears into the ground, into an underworld realm, where it exists beneath the Earth, hidden, but present.  Like the Corn Mother.  And aren't we all Her children?  Especially in America, where we have come together with our mixed bloodlines:  we all have "rainbow blood".  I believe our challenge is to understand our true relationship to each other,  to widen our vision to see the future Black Elk prophesied, the creation of a Rainbow Nation.

We received the new mask around the time of the lunar eclipse, in May of 2002, and decided at that auspicious time to consecrate it with some dried corn.  As we did, a flash of light went off in the room!  At first we thought it was a light bulb that blew out, but looking around, realized there were no electric lights that had been on in that room.  We looked at each other amazed,  and we felt the presence of Corn Mother.

**Touch The Earth Foundation was founded in 1992 to provide education and instruction in cross-cultural customs and beliefs.

"When we open a door, such as a “Medicine Wheel”, we must be mindful that the spirits are of our pure intentions; they are gifted and hosted with corn meal or tobacco in some parts of the world. Then, after the ceremony, give thanks and close the door behind you so mischief will not change your intentions of Universal Balance and Peace. Think of  Brothers from Tibet, they often make Mandalas and often they take many days, even months, to accomplish. And after the ceremony the prayers and divine message and Mirror to the Universe is destroyed and returned to Mother Earth as the Reflection is already in the other worlds. We live in the world of temporality and so it must be destroyed so the intention will not be misused or become stagnant." 

Catherine Cheshire, from Global Meditations (2004)