Friday, March 29, 2013

The World According to Monsanto: A Terrifying Look

A farmer is seen holding Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean seeds at his family farm. (photo: Dan Gill/AP) 

They say that all evil really needs is enough good people who say nothing, and I think the amazing passivity with which Americans are allowing Monsanto to change, own, and modify our food source is terrifying.    I posted previously about the "Monsanto Protection Act" that was just passed, and feel, in good conscience, that I need to post further for the benefit of any who may not knowBelow  is the   documentary "The World According to Monsanto".   Having watched it, I BELIEVE EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE THIS FILM.  This is truly monumental, and frightening, whether we're hearing a French scientist report that the universally used weedkiller Roundup "provokes the cell division leading to the formation of cancer", to the almost complete  loss of independent farms and  biodiversity in Uruguay.   

In India farmers are being driven to suicide because they can no longer, due the fact that Monsanto completely controls the cotton seed market,  afford to plant their traditional crops (Monsanto and the Seeds of Suicide)........(see also "The World According to Monsanto" below to understand the problem).  As a result, they are falling deeper and deeper into debt, losing their lands, and being displaced from traditional homelands.

In North America as well,  Indiana farmer Troy Rouse talks about being sued by Monsanto and the "gene police" phenomenon.  (Consider:  if you grow organic or conventional,  and your neighbor grows Monsanto, the two will  inevitably cross and you will be legally liable to be sued by Monsanto when they field test your seeds.)  Further, seed crops are being designed to be sterile, so that future planting must be purchased anew from the corporation.    What this could mean is that essential crops could be potentially controlled by a corporate entity demanding a tax which it can determine at will.   They're doing this in India now.

We need to educate ourselves as to what lobbyists are accomplishing - it is frightening indeed to allow Monsanto to control  food production, as well as unleashing biologically modified crops with very little testing, and certainly no long term understanding of what the consequences of such tampering could mean.

As a mythologist,  I cannot help but reflect that the two most popular Epics of the 20 years was "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter", both about a "Dark Lord" intent on sacrificing everything in the pursuit of power.  When I think of forces in the world like the arrogance and soul-lessness of Monsanto, I think of these films, reflecting the shadow of our crucial time.

 "Monsanto's talk of ‘technology' tries to hide its real objectives of control  where genetic engineering is a means to control seed.  These are the promises Monsanto India's website makes, alongside pictures of smiling, prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. This is a desperate attempt by Monsanto and its PR machinery to delink the epidemic of farmers' suicides in India from the company's growing control over cotton seed supply - 95 per cent of India's cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto."......GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of superpests and superweeds.   The highest acreage of Bt cotton is in Maharashtra and this is also where the highest farmer suicides are. Suicides increased after Bt cotton was introduced - Monsanto's royalty extraction, and the high costs of seed and chemicals have created a debt trap.  As Monsanto's profits grow, farmers' debt grows........Monsanto's seeds are seeds of suicide." ultimate seeds of suicide is Monsanto's patented technology to create sterile seeds. (Called "Terminator technology" by the media, sterile seed technology is a type of Gene Use Restriction Technology, GRUT, in which seed produced by a crop will not grow - crops will not produce viable offspring seeds or will produce viable seeds with specific genes switched off.) The Convention on Biological Diversity has banned its use, otherwise Monsanto would be collecting even higher profits from seed............ A Monsanto representative admitted that they were "the patient's diagnostician and physician all in one" in writing the patents on life-forms, from micro-organisms to plants, in the TRIPS' agreement of WTO. Stopping farmers from saving seeds and exercising their seed sovereignty was the main objective." 

Read More:

Thanks to Janie Rezner for article.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Gospel of Thomas the Twin (Revisited)

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save 
you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring
forth will destroy you." 
 The Gospel of Thomas (Nag Hammadi)
"Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate,
for all things are plain in the sight of Heaven. For nothing
hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain
without being uncovered."
The Gospel of Thomas 
Yesterday I received several emails  that were classic fundamentalist  "Hate Mail".......... you know, the "rightous" would be saved, and the "un-rightous" (me) were (and they always are so gleeful about the idea) to be tortured eternally in the fiery realm of Hell (to read about the origins of "Hell", or "Hella", underworld Goddess visit this post) unless I was "saved".  I deleted them immediately, as shocked as one might be to suddenly see a scorpion crawl out from under your morning coffee cup.

And yet, it also made me sad.   Even in the contemporary Bible, there are inspired early teachings of non-violence like  "love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, do unto others".........etc.  I am saddened when I consider that the early teachings of Christianity, focused around an inspired Teacher, who taught voluntary simplicity and  lived in austere poverty,  teaching in parks or by the wayside for free, sleeping in a bed if it was offered or on the ground if not.   A Teacher who was a revolutionary for his time and, like most revolutionaries,  was persecuted by the establishment of his time and killed for his dangerous ideas.  Whose teachings included the importance of realizing that we are all, ultimately, "twins" think that these origins should have come  to be associated with such hateful drivel.  Which might be laughable, except for all the "god fearing" suffering it engenders,  the Inquisitions, the "holy wars", the use of "God" to justify just about anything..........  I am always amazed at how few people actually take the time to research, even just a little, the historical origins and the mythic landscape from which Christianity grew out of. 

As the primary religion in the U.S., Mexico, and South America, with a new Pope ensconced in magnificence in the is a strange evolution.  Thinking of these things, I felt like pulling up a little article I wrote in 2011 to meditate on again........

Looking at Christianity from its Gnostic origins, then, what exactly does it mean to "be saved"?  Saved from what?  I am certain that "hell" and "brimstone" did not come along for a very, very long time after Jeshua of Nazarath gave his teachings in a olive grove.

  The Gospel of Thomas 

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you."

The first quote above,  from the Gospel of Thomas (found in 1945 with the Nag Hammadi Gospels, which were very early writings from the advent of  Christianity and apparently hidden because they were considered heretical)......came into my mind yesterday.  I have not thought of this beautiful quote for many years.  When I began my "vision quest", shortly after graduate school,  to learn about art and spirituality I wrote this quote into the margins of notebooks.  The second quote also, I feel, contributes to these reflections.
According to Wikipedia, the introduction to the Gospel of Thomas states that "These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down." Didymus (Greek) and Thomas (Aramaic) both mean "twin".   Some scholars have pointed out that there was a widespread tradition in early church documents, as well as some surviving Christian traditions, that Jesus had a twin brother, by the name of Didymos Judas Thomas, but most feel this is unlikely.   My sense is that the meaning of "twin" can be understood, from the vantage point of the early Gnostic Christianity, as a metaphor.  All are  "twins" of the great teacher, with the same potentiality and the same  origin - this idea, of course, along with most of the Gnostic sects,  would have been highly heretical as the church became an institution and developed the latter idea of Jesus as divine savior, with it's hierarchy .

"Gnosis (from one of the Greek words for knowledge γνῶσις) is the spiritual knowledge of a saint or  mystically enlightened human being. Within the cultures of the term's provenance (Byzantine and Hellenic) Gnosis was a knowledge or insight into the infinite, divine and uncreated in all rather than knowledge strictly into the finite, natural or material world. Gnosis is a transcendental as well as mature understanding. "  Wikipedia
I've been thinking a great deal about what Jung termed "Shadow".  I believe this  saying from the Gospel of Thomas  is significant to an understanding of this concept.  I carried it about as an encouragement to be an artist, to affirm deeply the life-affirming creative impulse. But one does not have to be a professional artist to "bring forth that which is within".  It is interesting that in his book THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS:  The Gnostic Wisdom of Jesus***, Jean-Yves Leloup refers often, in his translation of the parables of Jeshua,  to the "divine seed - in other words, the creative code", implying a fundamental creative source and/or creative destiny at the root of all spiritual growth.

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you."
We are all creative, in fact, the need to create may be our most profound human drive, right up there with sex and reproduction (which, if you think about it, is all about creation as well).  We come into the world with this energy, this drive, some even say we each come into the world with a creative destiny, a "soul purpose".  We are channels and depositories of creative energy, and through expression of creative energy we are affirmed, healed, we learn, we connect with the world and each other, and we're inspired.  It's the life force.  An individual's unique integrity, personal truth, is also deeply connected to the creative force.

"If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

Creative energy denied becomes toxic, stagnant, destructive. I believe Jesus was truly revolutionary in this profound statement. To live without responding to one's authentic creative impulse and innermost truth is to live with despair that can become carcinogenic, a breeding ground of physical,emotional and psychic disease and destructive social harm. When we deny our authentic expression, when we lie, we do a great disservice to ourselves.
"Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of Heaven."
This also is a revolutionary statement for the time Jesus lived in, and a revolutionary statement for our time. To "do what you hate" is to live a hateful life, without personal integrity.
"For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered." 
Here the Gospel of the Twin is saying that we live in a Quantum universe.Nothing is really hidden. What is denied (or unconscious) will still manifest, what is seemingly hidden from ourselves or others is nevertheless perceived on unconscious levels.  We're all connected, integral, telepathic.   All things manifest through the creative potential we possess  - we are all creative and collectively co-creative.  But those forces are neutral - they can manifest as positive or negative, consciously or unconsciously.   We need to take responsibility for the font of creative force that each of us is.


*** Leloup, Jean-Yves, THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS:  The Gnostic Wisdom of Jesus, 1986, Inner Traditions Publishing

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Monsanto Protection Act: Stop Corporatocracy

Tell President Obama to veto the Monsanto Protection Act! 

Last week Congress succeeded in passing Section 735, aka the Monsanto Protection Act, in the Continuing Resolution spending bill - HR 933. Once again, Monsanto and the biotech industry have used their lobbying power to undermine your basic rights.
The consequences of this for the future of our food and planet are profound, and what is equally disturbing is the fact this this bill gives further truth to the fact that we are no longer a government "by the people".  We are, as the important film ETHOS demonstrated recently, a CORPORATOCRACY.  Shall we allow Monsanto to so blatently demonstrate that we no longer have any control over our food, or our government?  Shall we so passively render over the hope of democracy, as well as protection, not for the profits of Monsanto, but for future generations?

We need you to sign a petition to President Obama and tell him to veto HR 933 and the Monsanto Protection Act. With the Senate passage of the Monsanto Protection Act, biotech lobbyists are one step closer to making sure that their new GMO crops can evade any serious scientific or regulatory review.  This dangerous provision, the Monsanto Protection Act, strips judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer and farmer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, citizens and the environment.  

We are asking that you sign the petition here and then call President Obama and demand that he veto HR 933. Join us in putting a stop to the Monsanto Protection Act!

"Corporations are artificial might say they are monsters trying to devour as much profit as possible at anyone's expense." 

 Howard Zinn

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Crack in the Earth on Navajo Lands


I can't help but think of Pueblo stories that the new world is born from's an interesting phenomenon happening in Northern Arizona on Navajo lands my friend Fahrusha passed on to me.  Doing what little further research I could, I learned that the crack has been forming slowly, and people living nearby have been aware of it for many years.  

March 19, LUEPP, Ariz. – A crack in the earth has been forming on Navajo lands, and no one seems to know why.  Just east of  Flagstaff on Luepp Rd and about one mile west of the  Leupp gas station.  (Photo and article courtesy The Navajo Post )

I can not imagine what is (slowly) emerging from this mysterious crack in the earth, perhaps a new age, perhaps a new Grand Canyon, perhaps the birth of new Mountain Gods,  but thinking of  Navajo lands, I remembered their beautiful "Blessing Way", and found the lovely video below to share.
"In the house made of dawn
in the house made of evening twilight,
in beauty may I walk,
with beauty above me, I walk
with beauty all around me, I walk
with beauty it is finished."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Matthew Fox on Art........

Fabric arts Holy Book, Bath Cathedral, Bath, England (artist unknown)

"Art is the only language we have for awe....what artists are here to do is teach us to behold being, to go into grief, and show us the intrinsic power of creativity.  Art is not for art's sake, it's for creativity's sake, which is for evolution's sake."

 Matthew Fox,

Thinking about painting, I found myself bringing some of my favorite quotes into the  studio.  Friends along the way..........
"The Spiritual Energy System" by Alex Grey

"If you reach down far enough, we're all made up of the same archetypes.  If you go deep enough into yourself, you find yourself in a noisy place with a lot of other people. And if you draw symbols from there, you plug into a collective form of consciousness."

~Alex Grey, 
"The Sacred Mirrors"

“I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.

The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” 

~Robert Henri

"Buttermere Lake" by William Turner
 “The truest art I would strive for in any work would be to give the page the same qualities as earth: weather would land on it harshly; light would elucidate the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding. Finally, the lessons of impermanence taught me this: loss constitutes an odd kind of fullness; despair empties out into an unquenchable appetite for life............Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are."

 Gretel Erlich, 
Frieda Kahlo, "Sun and Life"

“O tell us, Poet, what you do?

 I praise. 

 But the dark, the deadly, the desperate ways, how do you endure them- how bear them? 

 I praise."

Padraic Colum
A Barbed Heart Finds Refuge Among the Palos Verdes ( found 2008)
"Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.” 

~Neil Gaiman

Solstice Celebration, Willits (2012)

“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.” 

~Albert Einstein

Self Portrait with Green Heart (2009)

   “A piece of art is never a finished work. It   
     answers a question which has been      
     asked,  and asks a new question.”

     ~Robert Engman



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Spring Equinox!


The Big Thaw
starts with a trickle
water running through silence
as innocous as breath
a slight relaxation
at the corners of your mouth.

Just when winter has become
habit, an old coat
with a touch
the sun peels back
the emerging mud
shiny as new skin
or primed canvas.

On which your foot leaves a signature.
You notice
a blade of grass
defiantly green.

Inhale, you take your coat off
a crocus opens
in the blue iris
of someone's glance.
 Vermont, 1982
 Snow Flowers Crocus Purple Flowers

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Black Swan Feeds Fishy Friends.........

Black Swan Feeds His Fish Friends Daily

I loved this..........a black swan feeds its fish friends every day to the amazement of passers by. He picks up the feed & takes it to the mouths of the waiting fish, proving that friendship is not only something unique to humans, but can cross species as well!

"They became close friends after 3 years of playing together," say staff at Safari Park. "Every time I come to feed the swan, all the fish follow him to the bank, with mouths open & he takes the food & puts some into each of the hungry mouths .When everyone has eaten enough, the swan goes back in the water & plays with his fish friends again."(


Friday, March 15, 2013

It's different being a kid............

My friend Charlie is a substitute teacher, and I guess it gets to him sometimes.......he sent me these cartoons, which I couldn't resist posting. Anybody think there's some truth here?

 I confess, I do wonder.  At a recent show, the 10 year old daughter of my neighbor sat, hypnotized, with a little box in her hands for the entire duration of the day........about 7 hours.  She didn't speak, interact with anyone, or walk about.  They say that TV has been the babysitter of children for the past 40 years or so............but now, with video games, the "TV" is portable and available 24/7. I worry about the introversion into cyberspace/video space, and the lack of interaction with the "real world" ("Nature deprivation disorder"?)

And then there is this actual school answering machine message from  Maroochydore state high school in Queensland, Australia .............

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"The Awakening" in Willits this Week!

Photos by JJ Idarius

  With "The Awakening" being performed in Willits this week, I'm very sorry that I won't be there to see it in person, but very sure it will be spectacular!  Thank you to Ann Waters, Mana Youngbear, Janie Rezner, Ileya Stewart, and the Cast! Thinking about sacred masks and theatre, I felt like excerpting an article I wrote about the subject back in 2000.  Circle round!


"The primary function of the mask is to unite the indwelling wearer (and the observer) with a mythic being, or as Jung would say, 'an archetypal power'.  The mask, as we have found in our own work, becomes a transformer of energy, a medium of exchange between ego and archetype.  Thus in traditional societies one finds the taboos surrounding the mask, its recognition as a power object."

Stephen Larsen, The Mythic Imagination

In the 80’s when I was in graduate school I joined a group of women artists.   Although I was a visual artist, I wanted my work to be a shared art form, participatory as our group was when we meditated, shared our work, and made moon rituals.  I sought ways to share the process beyond having an “audience”, and in the process of my own process, I began to seek transpersonal experience. 

I believe all arts have sacred roots. "Everything was once made for the greater meaning and use of the tribe" Sarah Mertz, an artist I interviewed said to me.  "A spoon was more than a spoon, and a sacred pot was also used to store grain in - because they understood there had to be a weaving between the material world and the other worlds in order to live right and well.  An artist was one of those who did the weaving.  Except they didn't think of themselves as artists in the way that we do."

Prehistoric petroglyphs, within this understanding, were touchstones, sympathetic magic for the hunt, for fertility, for healing, a way to contact the Earth Mother. Traditional cultures today continue this magical practice in their arts.  Tibetan sand paintings, like the sand paintings by Navajo medicine people, are prayers, offerings released to do their work in the spirit realm and then ritually destroyed.  When I studied mask arts in Bali, I found the Balinese had no understanding of our western discourse on the "meaning" of art....the use of temple masks, to them, was a way to refresh their contact with the deities of their Hindu religion.  Certainly the origins of Greek theatre are rooted in ritual as well.

 "Within these traditional participatory traditions" performance artist Rafael Montanez Ortiz has commented, "there was no passive audience.  That’s a recent idea.  Ancient art process was a transformative process.  It wasn’t a show, it wasn’t entertainment."  Ritual enactment, with masks and dance, was one of the primal ways people petitioned the gods, enacted rites of passage, and achieved heightened states of consciousness since time immemorial.  Although historians may view tribal masks as "art objects", their original use was as "power objects", vessels for the in-vokation ("joining with)  of the spirits.    They were meant to be threshold tools that literally "brought the gods to earth" in order to bless and instruct the tribe.  As such, sacred masks were never made lightly - there were important procedures to be followed, including choosing the right materials from the right place at the right time, asking ancestral spirits what kind of mask they required for specific ceremonies, and consecrating the finished work.  A great deal of psychic preparation was necessary, and masks were activated and de-activated with great respect.  

An artist I know once told me of an African mask at the Museum of Art in Milwaukee that, legend had it, sweated.  She said she went to view it over a number of days, and sure enough, there it was, if carefully observed, sweating away.  How is it possible something like that can occur in a glass case before hundreds of people unnoticed?  Magic is literally on display! 

Among native peoples of central Mexico, masks used for corn and rain dances were destroyed after a number of years, because they believed that they accrued too much power over time, and could become dangerous as the spirit of the deity increasingly inhabited the mask.  This same sensibility is found in Noh Theatre.  Noh masks are created according to traditions that go back many generations, and represent stories that have firmly become animated by the mask.  Actors will often sit for days with a mask, creating fusion with the character.  And in Bali, they are kept in the Temple, where they are purified before and after performances. 

I have sometimes felt, when working with masks, I joined a mysterious network of invisible collaborators. Synchronicities, it seems to me, are part of that  grand mythic conversation.  The mask I made for Kali is such a story. 

Approaching 50 I needed to release old, self-destructive ways of being in order to gain a more mature empowerment.  My mask for Kali symbolized my desire for change. I wanted to create a dance for the new mask, and I vividly imagined a dancer twirling with fire at her very fingertips.  But I had no idea of how this could be actually accomplished.  So my vision of a fire dancer remained in my sketchbook.

A year later, I moved to California and opened a gallery.  I hung the mask for Kali in the opening show, and in the course of the evening I noticed a young woman standing rapt before it.  As we talked, I learned she was a professional dancer. “Would I be interested in doing something with her?” she asked.  She showed me a tattoo of Kali on her midriff, and told me specialized in fire dancing!  
And so, a month later, my friend Serene Zloof danced the mask of Kali at our next opening, flames bursting from all her fingers.

Drissana Devananda also danced the mask of Kali in two events.  Drissana has been a life long practitioner of Hindu Tantric dance and philosophy. "When we create rituals," she said, "we're really praying.  It's a way to remember. We're physical emanations of the Goddesses, extensions of them. Not bodies seeking the spirit, but spirits seeking bodily experiences. Sacred dance is about re-membering that we function from our whole bodies, the "body mind".

A sacred theatre, in this understanding, like the cycles of nature and the serpentine symbolism always associated with the ancient goddesses,  is about participating within an aesthetic of "circulation".   Because “circularity" is the very essence of the Great Mother.  The wheel of the year and the moon's passages take place within the great seasonal circle of nature, water and wind move across the landscape like a sinuous snake, life spirals out and then in again in an ever expanding spiral.   All things circle. (copyright Lauren Raine MFA 2000)