Friday, October 30, 2015

2 Poems for the Season

         Last Days

by Mary Oliver

Things are  changing; 
things are starting to    

     spin, snap, fly off into     
     the blue sleeve of the long  

    Oh and ooh
    come whistling
    outof the perished mouth 
    of the grass, as things

turn soft, boil back  
into substance and hue.

 As everything,   
   forgetting its own enchantment,

    I too love oblivion why not 
    it is full    
      of second chances. 

hiss the bright curls of the leaves. 
 booms the muscle
of the wind.

      A Blessing
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites us to new frontiers
To break the dead shell of yesterdays
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
 John O'Donohue

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Everyday Poetry

The Barbed Heart
Takes Refuge

Found in a hidden Grove of Palos Verdes Trees

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Paintings......

Everyday Goddesses:  Green Heart (2015)

Ursula Leguin as Spider Woman Weaving the Worlds Into Being

Sunday, October 25, 2015



Where do the dead go?
The dead that are not corpses, cosmetically renewed
and boxed, their faces familiar and serene.
Or brought to an essence, pale ashes
in elegant cannisters. 
I ask for the other dead,
those ghosts that wander unshriven among our sleep,
haunting the borderlands of our lives.
The dead dreams,
The failed loves.
The quests, undertaken with full courage
and paid for in blood
that never found a dragon, a Grail, a noble ordeal
and the Hero's sacred journey home.
Instead, the wrong fork was somehow taken, or the road
wandered aimlessly, finally narrowing to a tangled gully
and the Hero was lost, in the gray and prosaic rain,
hungry, weary, to finally stop somewhere, anywhere
glad of bread, a fire, a little companionship.
Where is their graveyard?
Were they mourned?
Did we hold a wake,
bear flowers, eulogize their bright efforts
their brave hopes
and commemorate their loss with honor?
A poem?
An imperishable stone to mark their passing?
Did we give them back to the Earth
to nourish saplings yet to flower,
the unborn ones?
Or were they left to wander
in some unseen Bardo, unreleased, ungrieved.
Did we turn our backs on them unknowing,
their voices calling, whispering impotently
behind us
shadowing our steps?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Disease of Busy

"Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… ” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?
.......Omid Safi
I subscribe to a wonderful series of articles and interviews, ONBEING.ORG.  Recently I read a great article by Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic studies at Duke University, that struck a deep chord.  Judging from the hundreds of responses he got to his article, I am not alone.  I take the liberty of sharing his  article below.

I have been feeling for a long time that I need to increasingly "go dark", simplify, drop out.  I need the being here now that allows us to send down our dark taproots into the rich soil of a more contemplative life.  The "river beneath the river of the world."  One cannot get there if life is a long laundry list, if life is moving so fast that those sustaining "conversations" are reduced to Tweets.

I seem to have coffee shop Satoris.  Or used to.  As I sit here, coming up for air in the ocean of laptops surrounding me, I remember a conversation I had with an old man at Cafe Trieste.  I was much younger then, and I think I was trying to impress him.  I remember telling him about how I wanted to travel here, travel there, how all my friends were flying around the world.........and he broke my monologue with a strange comment.  He said "It's a form of greed".  I've often thought about that, with a twinge. I didn't understand him at the time,   Greed is not just an accumulation of things, it is also an excessive accumulation of stimulation and desire, and it keeps us dancing frenetically in the red shoes.  While so many beautiful and tender moments are not recognized.

It seems to me that what must be engaged in our human evolution, if there is to be any further human evolution,  is not only to deeply converse with each other,  but the Conversation now needs to include the whole world as well, the great ecology of life we participate in, the roots.  And the essence of Conversation is I have to ask myself, how can I, or anyone else, possibly Listen to much of anything if we are so busy, busy, busy...............

I think sometimes (as well as the author)  of a kind of  communion with my fellow humans  I crave, a communion and genuine connection that seems ever elusive in today's world.  As much as I appreciate the technology that allows me to write this on a Blog, there are so many times I also come away from the "magic box" feeling dry, brittle.  

As I sit at a table in a coffee shop, surrounded by walls of impregnable laptops, each fellow coffee drinker immersed in Cyberspace, I admit I feel like someone in a strange new world I don't really understand.  Sometimes.  I remember wistfully the days of sitting in coffee houses in Berkeley, long before personal computers.........I remember sitting there with the steam of the espresso machines rising, a book on the table maybe for camouflage, and looking around to see if there was a conversation to be had among the many conversations going on at circular marble tables around me.  How different this scene seems to me, looking back over those years.  Well, I have complained enough.  Time to see if I can change things.

 The Disease of Being Busy


 I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.” Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.” The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed. And it’s not just adults.

When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right. After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early. How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we over schedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us? What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be? Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy? This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and well being. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.
Since the 1950s, we have had so many new technological innovations that we thought (or were promised) would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet, we have no more “free” or leisurely time today than we did decades ago.

For some of us, the “privileged” ones, the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time.  Smart phones and laptops mean that there is no division between the office and home. When the kids are in bed, we are back online.

One of my own daily struggles is the avalanche of email. I often refer to it as my jihad against email. I am constantly buried under hundreds and hundreds of emails, and I have absolutely no idea how to make it stop. I’ve tried different techniques: only responding in the evenings, not responding over weekends, asking people to schedule more face-to-face time. They keep on coming, in volumes that are unfathomable: personal emails, business emails, hybrid emails. And people expect a response — right now. I, too, it turns out… am so busy.

The reality looks very different for others. For many, working two jobs in low-paying sectors is the only way to keep the family afloat. Twenty percent of our children are living in poverty, and too many of our parents are working minimum wage jobs just to put a roof over their head and something resembling food on the table. We are so busy.

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal?  What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.  Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.  We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote:  “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I am always a prisoner of hope, but I wonder if we are willing to have the structural conversation necessary about how to do that, how to live like that. Somehow we need a different model of organizing our lives, our societies, our families, our communities.

I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human. I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.

How is the state of your heart today?  Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

OMID SAFI  is a columnist for On Being.Org .    He is Director of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam, and the current Chair for Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

She Blesses Us

“Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.”
― Mary Oliver
 In 2011 I was at the White Spring in Glastonbury, where I had a profound experience of the Spirit of Place, the Numina of that ancient and sacred spring and place of Pilgrimage.  I took these forbidden  photographs of the beautiful shrine that was there, the painting that so perfectly captured the sacred essence of generosity that was there, offering, always offering.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” 

― Mary Oliver

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Black Butterflies.....Frank Polite

to stagger ashore,
free, cured of use;
simply to be, itself,
a green bottle:

a message delivered,
a sailor, like me

I don't know why this post from 2009 gets so many hits, but it does.......for some reason, lots of people seem to google "Black Butterflies".  So i felt like re-posting it.  And I still wish Frank was around to tell us more about the Black Butterflies.


Frank Polite 1936-2005

Today I looked up a poem by Frank Polite that I've been hauling around in my box of literary treasures for some 30 years. I met Frank at the Cafe Med in Berkeley back in 1975, and he gave me the poem in person, signed even. I've hauled out his little book, "Luna Pier" many times since......."Lantern", "The Last House on Luna Pier" are old friends, travelling companions he introduced me to that day. So I was sad to learn that he died in 2005, and I never knew.  What I remember, is vividly seeing his face over a cappuchino, while on the interstate from Michigan to Toledo in 2007. I saw the turnout for Luna Pier, mythical in my mind and heart now for decades, a misty place of silent blue herons, the wounded presence of Lake Goddess Erie. Did I turn off? No.......I knew that the Luna Pier Frank seeded my imagination with was something I would never want to change.

Frank's writings have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, Poetry, The Nation, Yankee, Exquisite Corpse, The North American Review and Denver Quarterly. He lived in Ohio, and for more information or to purchase some of his books, visit: FALLEN CITY WRITERS.


The black butterflies of night
Clipped for sleep to nightshade and widow grief,
Or in shaking luminous flight
On paired and silver wings, are rare,
And rarely seen by human sight.

Yet, they are there, surfacing
Out of range of neons and streetlights,
Preferring underleaf
And the dark offshores of air
To man and moth-maddening glare of things.
Tonight, As crisis after crisis
Cracks our skies like lightning,
I think of death,
Of different ways of dying,
And of Egypt and the myth
That once held black butterflies
Sacred to Isis.

They lived forever in flight
In her private groves, compelled like
Flickering minutes
Never to touch leaf nor stone,
Never to rest, except upon her nakedness
When she turned to love.
And here is death to be envied;
To be crushed to a personal breast
Between goddess
And whatever bird, beast, lover
Fell to her lips.
We are something else. . .

Myth and love will miss us
When the night is suddenly turned on,
Turned blank white,
And the black butterflies
Appear against that vellum sky
As far, flitting, burnt-out stars.


Do not rush to be disappointed with yourself.
Rather, make a world drag you to it
behind 24 mules of irrefutable proof, & you
still digging in your heels all the way
before you say, "I'm disappointed with myself."


Trust only inauspicious beginnings,
the modest seed. What comes
dancing toward you tossing flowers,
soon perishes.


It is the weed of life
that grips the garden to your need,
that roots you deep into its soil
which is immortal.


A sea change leans against the pier
in tumult. I know why I'm here.
Cold streams, contending with the warm
grip the rocks as never before
in my life, and hurl up salt at my door.
What drifts in now is mine, cut loose,
thrown overboard, or drowned:
a wooden spar, a beached bone, a yard
of torn sail like an indecipherable
parchment. Even a shoe drifts in, kicked
around out there God knows how long.

I listen now. I witness. I do not
touch or twist at the integrity of each
survival. It is enough to have arrived
at all, embodying sea changes;
to stagger ashore, free, cured of use;

simply to be, itself, a green bottle,
a message delivered,
a sailor, like me.


Next year I'm forty years old.
I don't know what hump I'm over.
To have made it this far, what
does that mean? Where am I?

Where have I been? Like you,
I've been places, New York, Asia,
Great fields uncut by wire
or river, mountains leaping up.

And O yes, oceans. I felt my way
deeply into each, into the mind
shafts permitted me, into
a flower (perfect on mescaline,

I laughed and wept for hours)
into the tenderness of people...
I've loved, worshipped stones,
written poems to moon and stars,

and depending on the deep and dark
of my downheartedness, I lit
a flame in my forehead like a toad,
imagining myself, at various

times, Lord of Earth, Light in
the forest, even...God.
Down the road with my lantern, I
lifted up the broken, the poor,

the ignorant, the hopeless, only
to come down to this: to be all of
them myself, at once. So what's
it all about? I don't ask anymore:

I am one with the insect and cloud.
I beg my life to lay me down at last
gently if possible, or fast, the way
a horse, plunging into darkness

kicks a stone out of its path.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Goddesses Alive Ritual at Parliament of World Religions - Article by Heather Greene

Heather Greene —  September 27, 2015

In 1999, artist Lauren Raine was commissioned to create 30 leather masks that each reflected the spirit of a different Goddess from around the world. Earlier that same year, she had a dream during which she saw “a long line of Goddesses in all colors, in beautiful costumes.” Then, as if by magic, Raine was presented with a commission to create the series of masks to be used in Reclaiming’s 20th anniversary Spiral Dance in San Francisco.
On her newly updated blog, Raine wrote, “Masks in traditional societies are viewed as liminal tools, as vessels for the sacred powers. With a mask it is believed the Gods and Goddesses can visit, tell their stories, give their blessings, heal or even give prophecy.”
Although the commission was the beginning of her “Masks of the Goddess” project, Raine’s interest in mask making began years before. She said, “My first Goddess mask was Kali … It was a time in my life when there was just so much I had to get rid of, so much maturation I needed to do, so many old patterns and ways of being I needed to get beyond in order to evolve. In retrospect, I think I made the mask of Kali as my own kind of invocation, my call for help from the One who helps us to slay the demons of the mind, to cut away that which has to go.”

When Reclaiming commissioned the masks, Raine welcomed the challenge, saying “I wanted to create them as contemporary temple masks to be used to invoke and re-claim the feminine faces of God.” In the end, the 1999 Spiral Dance used 20 of Raine’s masks for a 3 minute long Goddess invocation.
One of the mask wearers and supporters of the mask project was Aline O’Brien, more commonly known as M. Macha Nightmare. During the Spiral Dance, she wore the Morrigan mask. In 2007 blog post, O’Brien, remembered, “[This was] the baddest-ass Morrígan you ever hope to encounter. Even my friend Urania who helped me put it on was afraid once it was in place … I reddened my palms and displayed them as the Washer at the Ford in the processions.”
After the Reclaiming event was over, O’Brien felt disappointed with the presentation. Although she was personally “inspired by the masks,” she felt that they were underused and “not appreciated.”
With that in mind, O’Brien set out the design her own theatrical ritual that would emphasize Raine’s art, focus on the masks and embody the spirit of the various Goddesses. With the help of Mary Kay Landon, she wrote a script and an innovative ritual structure that focused solely on the Goddesses and the masks.
Then, in February 2000 at PantheaCon, O’Brien had the first opportunity to present her mask ritual, which she named Goddesses Alive! She found volunteers to assist with the both the staging and the various aspects of the performance, which included song, music, readings and dance. The brochure read:
Goddesses Alive! A processional and experiential ritual of masked, embodied goddesses to bring a re-awareness of the Goddess into current Pagan practices. We encounter the goddess embodied by 13 priestesses wearing stunning leather goddess masks created by Lauren Raine
O’Brien told The Wild Hunt that she chose 13 masks for the project, specifically those that would be the most recognizable to her audience. These included Artemis, Hecate, Bridget, Isis, Spiderwoman, Guadalupe, White Tara, Amateratsu, Inanna, Oshun, Sedna, Pele and Kali. Despite the limited budget and time, the ritual was a success.

Later that year, Goddesses Alive! was staged for a second time. With support from the New College of California and the Lilith Institute, O’Brien produced the ritual in a dance studio the following December. Once again, she had no budget but the performance was a success. Live music and a chorus of 5 people accompanied the words and movements of the Goddessess. It was attended by around 100 people. Looking back, O’Brien said, “I loved it.”
Despite the success of both performances, O’Brien had no idea if she would ever have the opportunity, time, energy or money to ever do the project again. The Goddesses Alive! script was filed away. The experience was left only to memory with no photos or video recordings ever taken.
Although Raine was not actively involved in either of the Goddesses Alive! performances, she said, “[O’Brien] activated the masks. She created a beautiful, and effective, sacred container for a community to use the masks, and ritual theatre, allowing each participant to evolve them in her or his own way. I think she would be happy to know that her vision has kept going.”
After O’Brien’s rituals in 2000, the masks were used again many times over in other theatrical performances throughout the U.S. Raine even expanded her collection, including elemental masks and other Goddesses. On her blog, she wrote, “I’ve been privileged to share my work with dancers, ritualists, playwrights, storytellers, priestesses, activists, and students bringing the Goddesses into the world in many ways. No artist could ask for more.” Raine created a compilation video of some of that theatrical work:
In addition to using the masks in performance, Raine also began selling them as art pieces. When thinking back on all the many masks created over the past 17 years, Raine said, “The affinity with certain masks changes as I change, but … my favorite masks concern Grandmother Spider Woman, my guide. She always seems to be in the background, the hand at the heart of the great Web.”
Over that same period of time, O’Brien never forgot her own dream of re-staging her very uniqueGoddesses Alive! ritual. Then, in 2014 when the Parliament for the World Religions sent out a call for presentations, Raine and O’Brien both had the same idea: let’s bring back Goddesses Alive! And, to their delight, the presentation was accepted. O’Brien said, “I was blown away.” She never really thought that she’d get a chance to do it all again.
With experience both as a ritualist and as a interfaith representative, O’Brien had the know-how and skill to adapt her otherwise Pagan-focused script for a broader audience. When asked about the adaptation, she admitted that “not much really had changed.” The biggest difference is the actual room size. The original ritual was designed for an inclusive theater-in-the round with only 100 audience members. The new script allows for the same set up but within a large ballroom and for an audience of over 300.
In addition, O’Brien selected new Goddesses based on mask availability and also to better reflect global diversity. She chose the following 13 masks: Hecate, Sedna, Brigit, Isis, Guadalupe, White Tara, Amateratsu Omikami, Inanna, Oshun, Kali, Pele, Pachamama and White Buffalo Calf Woman.
As Raine went to work on prepping the performance masks and, in some cases, creating new ones, O’Brien dusted off the old script and began recruiting performers and a tech crew. By summer 2015, she had her team and planning began. Jeffrey Albaugh signed on as the stage manager. When asked about the upcoming performance he said:
It is difficult and to serve as stage manager for an event like this, where all the performers are coming from so far away, and with no time for rehearsal. It puts an onus on me to make sure the production goes off without a hitch, and is as close as possible to Macha’s vision. However, with this kind of production, focused on movement, sound, voice and using Lauren’s brilliant masks, I think there is a high possibility of real magic occurring during the performance. The numinous will hopefully break through.
As Albaugh notes, the performers and crew herald from all over the world and from many different backgrounds. Cherry Hill Seminary Director Holli Emore will be wearing the Isis mask. She said, “The rich pageantry of Goddesses Alive! is sure to stir people on a level far deeper than cerebral, the emotional place where we become imprinted with life-giving ideas. I feel that years from now we will all look back on this performance as a piece of our collective Pagan history and I’m very proud that I will have a small part in that.”
Emore will be joined by Anna Korn, Jo Carson, Rowan Liles, Áine Anderson, Mana Youngbear, Faelind, Wendy Griffin, Diana Kampert, Maggie Beaumont, Eileen Dev Macholl, Jerrie Hildebrand and myself, Heather Greene.
Rev. HPs. Gypsy Ravish volunteered to be one of the singers. She said, “I am honored to add my voice to this divine Sisterhood.” Other musical performers and script readers include Vivianne Crowley, Celia Farran, Lauren Raine, Rowan Fairgrove, Gypsy Ravish, Robin Miller, Jenn Vallely, Ruth Barrett and Aline O’Brien.
Led by Albaugh, the crew is equally diverse, with everyone coming together to make this single event happen. Mary Kay Landon, who helped O’Brien revise the script, said

 “Working on this production–and watching it evolve over the years–has given me a unique opportunity to research goddesses from across the world and, as I did so, to enter into relationship with them as we, together, created their evocations. What a privilege!”

When asked what Goddesses Alive! will offer a global religious audience, O’Brien said that she believes Pagans have “a deep appreciation of the art and design of ritual” and that is “one thing that Pagans bring to the interfaith table.” She explained that we have a “freedom of design” that is often lacking in other religious traditions. “We bring a freshness … and willingness to change.” And she hopes that this ritual performance will bring about an appreciation for that creativity and flexibility.
Goddessess Alive! was designed to be participatory ritual theater. The music, the singing, the readings and the Goddesses will move from behind the audience and through the audience. This technique serves to surrounded viewers in the full theatrical experience, and O’Brien hopes it helps to “open their minds to perceiving the divine” in new ways and to respecting “non-traditional, non-Abrahamic religious traditions.”
For Pagans that attend and others who are more familiar with a similar ritual performance, O’Brien hopes the experience will “demonstrate that the we have something to offer [the interfaith community] that maybe was unexpected.”
Ultimately, O’Brien would like Goddesses Alive! to be “consciousness raiser” for all who attend – Pagans and non-Pagans alike, and that everyone “leaves the room with a sense of community.”
The Goddesses Alive! ritual performance, which is being dedicated to the memory of Sparky T. Rabbit and Deborah Ann Light, will be held at the Parliament of the World Religions Sunday, Oct. 18 at 1:45 p.m. in Salt Lake City. Currently, the production team is still looking for volunteers to film and photograph the event.
Heather Greene
Heather is a freelance writer and journalist, living in the Deep South. She has worked with Lady Liberty League and has formerly served as Public Information Officer for Dogwood Local Council and Covenant of the Goddess. Heather's work has been published in Circle Magazine and elsewhere. She has a masters degree in Film Theory, Criticism and History with a background in the performing and visual arts.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The touch of winter

This morning I felt the first faint taste of winter's advent, the going into the dark time, achingly bitter sweet.  I found myself flooded as well with a bone deep feeling of loneliness.  The ghosts of the lost and the past clustered thickly around me at that moment, and I didn't know who I was.  It's not good to live too long among ghosts, they are not meant to linger, but sometimes you must give them your ear.  And the Dark must be welcomed like sleep, or dreams, or the imaginal cells of a coocoon.  

The dark can  return us to forever, to that sometimes terrifying  formlessness, but it brings gifts from the depths.  Like Hecate, offering just a little lantern to light the way.   That little flame can bring  healing and wisdom, even as it breaks your heart. 

 "There's a crack in everything" said Leonard Cohen.  "That's how the light gets in."

I've always loved the poem below, I read it often.  A poem or work of art is something that stays with me, it's a touchstone to come back to.  It speaks to me always, and takes me back to frail moments when I listened, really listened in the depths of a silence only, perhaps, found in a snowbound night, or, as where I live, in the deep desert.  

                             All those years
                            forgetting  how easily 
                            you can belong to everything
                            simply by listening.

I think it speaks to me so much because we live in a world with so little "listening".  So much noise, constant input, computers, cell phones demanding our frayed and unravelled  attention and it increases every year,the distraction, the stress, the noise.  The endless pressure to connect, produce, promote, promote, promote.    It is hard to be alone, really alone with yourself, to have your attention fully absorbed in listening.   

                           All those years
                           listening to those
                           who had nothing to say.

I've been having a kind of meltdown lately.......maybe it's the moon, maybe it's a kind of PTSD, but I find myself crying, anger rises like a volcano, and the emotional roots go down into the dark, bringing up grief, and sometimes great insight.   I have felt quite possessed by violent emotions I thought I had "mastered".  Hah.   The emotional body has its own kind of intelligence, our souls do not always want what our minds think we need,  and sometimes you really do need to fall apart, erupt, lose your mind, it happens, it insists,  it has roots in the dark that go back and back and back to touch your history, and sometimes, to flow from an underground river, what Clarissa Pinkola Estes called "the River beneath the River of the World."    

                           what disturbs
                            and then nourishes
                            has everything we need.

Sometimes a good depression can slow us down and show us something we need to know about the life we live. Is it the life your soul wants to lead?   Sometimes great anger and anxiety can show us what we need to know about about ourselves.   Sometimes tears are overdue, need to be grieved,  and can help us to let go.  Sometimes all of the above can explode, and it's time to change.  All of this opens the heart, and that is where soul intelligence lives, where the whole of us moving through time can be felt, known.

                          What we hate in ourselves
                           is what we cannot know
                           in ourselves 

Every one talks about "healing", as if you could somehow pull out emotional pain like a bad tooth  in a convenient encapsulated  way and it would be gone.  But I've found that many things never "heal", so much as we learn to deepen from them, we know them and can even listen to those  painful psychic states with humility.  They are teachers.  They tell us when to stop, to listen, to hear the voices so difficult, or so vast, all the disenfranchised and unloved people accumulated within us...........they ask us to love ourselves better, in the end.  And thus, others.

                       And the slow difficulty
                        of remembering how everything
                        is born from an opposite
                        and miraculous otherness.

I have found in working with groups, and myself,  that if you raise energy, you raise energy......and that means that both the "light" and the "dark" are raised, the integral polarities.  We live in a culture that values only Appollonian logic, the  "light", and dismisses the "dark", the unconcious, the intuitive, the unseen.  It is "scary", bad.   But if you raise energy invariably the shadow aspects of participants will come up for review and healing and karmic shift, along with the high energies, the "enlightenment".   This is true of those times when we are triggered in some way as well.   "Enlightenment" must also bring "endarkenment".  

When I lived in Bali, I was struck by the way the sacred clothes were all checkerboards, black and white, black and white.  The curbs of Ubud were painted like a checker board - black and white, yin and yang, Sekala and Niscala, the seen and the unseen, always being brought into balance.  

                          What is precious inside us 
                           does not care
                           to be known by the mind
                           in ways that diminish its presence.

The winter of Listening

No one but me by the fire,
my hands burning red in the palms while
the night wind carries everything away outside.

All this petty worry while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark and intense
round every living thing.

What is precious 
inside us does not
care to be known by the mind
in ways that diminish its presence.

What we strive for in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel we desire,
what disturbs and then nourishes
has everything we need.

What we hate in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves
but what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

Even with the summer
so far off I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.

All those years
listening to those
who had nothing to say.

All those years forgetting
how everything
has its own voice
to make itself heard.

All those years forgetting
how easily you can belong
to everything simply by listening.

And the slow difficulty
of remembering how everything
is born from an opposite
and miraculous otherness.

Silence and winter
has led me to that otherness. 
So let this winter of listening
be enough for the new life
I must call my own.

'House of Belonging'

by David Whyte

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Balance (from the Rainbow Bridge Oracle)

For some reason, probably because of the recent Equinox, this painting of mine from the RAINBOW BRIDGE ORACLE  came to mind, so I decided to just post it here.  Balance in every way is so important.........

In the traditional Tarot, this card was called Temperance.  The androgynous angel of Balance holds two cups, dark and light, pouring water into each, representing the energy of a continual harmonious exchange of opposites.  The "rainbow bridge" issues from this exchange, which is the practice of creating Balance.   In addition to the meaning of temperance or moderation, this card can be interpreted as symbolizing the blending  of opposites.

The rainbow is the visible spectrum of the  whole of white light.  The rainbow may also represent  the "rainbow bridge of the chakras", which in Hindu philosophy represent the different energy and perceptive systems of the human subtle body.  Balancing the Chakras is  to balance the energy system, thus maintaining spiritual and physical health.  If you've chosen this card,  continue to develop this virtue and insight in your life.  Reversed:  You are out of balance, and must seek ways now to bring about harmony, be it physically, psychologically, or even socially.