Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reliquary for a Lost Forest

"Reliquary for a Lost Forest" (2016)

I seem to be making Reliquaries, containers for Artifacts that emanate and remember what is sacred.  Traditionally, in the Church, these contained the bones of saints - this practise of creating vessels for some part of the body of a saint is found among the Buddhists as well.  The idea is that these bones still are imbued with the power and holiness of those they once belonged to.

My bones seem to be the Bones of the Earth, the places that need to be cherished and remembered........and grieved at their loss as well.   So many of them keep arising from the "speaking clay".

"Rain Shrine" (2014)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Listening to the Clay.........

I noted earlier that I was "inviting flow", and behold, the floodgates have opened!  I joined my friend Maxine's Tucson Clay Co-op, and in the intense heat of June here, I get up at 4:30 in the morning and am in the clay studio, gloriously alone, by 5:00.  The hours pass, and the joy is of course the way the clay tells me what to do - it's always intuitive, and ideas flow in like the monsoon floods.  Who would think that I'd enjoy the hot, hot summer so much!

No pictures yet of new work, all of which is in various stages of glazing and bisquing, but I'm working on several Quan Yin mosaics, and two Green Men, one for the Clay Coop.  Having a lot of fun with my box of antique Afghani fabric presses, like the one here.  Before fabric came in from more industrialized Russia and Pakistan, they hand printed their fabric with beautiful hand carved wood fabric presses, which imprint beautifully on clay as well.  There is something so wonderful about being able to carry on the artistry of these unknown carvers, here and how.  The one on the right is my favorite (I used some low fire glazes to achieve the color)....the "raining Zinnia", although to me it looks also like a Chakra, or some manifestation of the Divine imbuing the blessings of rain.

The blessings of rain are not taken lightly here in the desert!

Maybe I love the image so much also because, many years ago when I was getting divorced and preparing to leave my home in the East Coast, and I was very unsure of what to do with my life or even where to go,  I had a dream in which an eagle flew me west, over the great landscapes, and I was dropping Zinnia seeds as we flew.  I've often thought of that dream since........we drop our seeds, the seeds of the flowering of our creativity and our lives, and never know where they will take root.  So let them be seeds of the Beauty Way.

I continue making my various shrines, like the "Shrine for the Ancient Midwives" (2014).........but I seem to be making containers, Reliquaries.  A reliquary was a Container for some kind of sacred artifact, usually, in the middle ages, the bones of a saint.  But I find I am interested in making Reliquaries for the Bones of the Earth and the Past,  a Reliquary for a Lost Forest, a Reliquary for the Flight of a Phoenix, a Reliquary for the Essence of Avalon............

It's so great to have the channels of my creativity open again....................

When Mud Woman Begins

by  Nora Naranjo-Morse


down my arm 
through this clay 
forming into 
spirit shapes

of men
and children 

I have seen 
somewhere before.

surging upward 
as I mix 
                                                        this mud 
                                                        like my mother
                                                        as her mother did 
                                                        with small brown feet.

                                                        Folding into this earth
                                                        a decision of 
                                                        joyful play, 
                                                        transcending expectations 
                                                       of fear
                                                       or perfection.

                                                      Creating spirits
                                                      calling invitations 
                                                      of celebration. 

                                                      What occurs 
                                                       in completed form, 
                                                       bright and bold, 
                                                       is motion 
                                                      from our mother's skin.

                                                      I smile  momentarily satisfied 
                                                      with my play. 
                                                      generated from star colors 
                                                      far from home, 

                                                     through my feet 
                                                     blessing my hands 

                                                     and opening my heart.

                                    From Mud Woman, Poems from the Clay
                                    University of Arizona Press 

                                    © 1992 Nora Naranjo-Morse

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Art and Myth Making

 "Myth is a living force, like the telluric powers that stream through the Earth.  It is this mythic vision, looking for the ‘long story,’ the timeless tale, that helps us approach the deep mysteries because it insists that  these are  the stories we really live by, rather than the one we like to think we are living.  And moreover,"mythic vision" helps us  decide if our myths are working for or against us. ’' .........Phil Cousineau

Sometimes it occurs to me that I speak a language not many people speak, a language I think was  once spoken more widely in my circle, my world, and now I hear so rarely.  And like any traveller in a foreign land, there is such a delight when one meets a fellow country person who speaks your language, your mother tongue.  Because one has become accustomed to not speaking, to being silent, to nodding politely, knowing that the words forming in your mouth cannot emerge.  

The language of art, not always of course, but often, is like the mother tongue of those who explore the language of dreams, is mythic, multi-layered, inter-dimensional, and, as Phil Cousineau comments in the brief essay I take the liberty of copying below, a language that "resembles the god Proteus in the Odyssey, a shape-shifting creature who knows the secret that the lost Greek sailors long to hear—the way home.  But they must learn how to get a grip on him, if only for one slippery moment, so he might surrender his hidden wisdom."

Artists of all kinds, in my humble opinion, are floundering around for identity in a world that stupidly, blindly, dangerously defines value and success according to the $ in front of it.  Artists are spoken of as "emerging", kind of like a stock portfolio, and artists are often called "artist entrepreneurs" (which is not to say that some entrepreneurial skills aren't helpful).  But they  do not realize or value the deeper function, which is that  they are translators, the ones who can venture into that liminal realm and return to tell the tale of what was seen to the benefit of the tribe.  They might find themselves empowered if they allow themselves to view their work as a kind of sacred task, myth makers of their time.     Then they can see that they have their creative, intuitive hands in the ever evolving loom of Spider Woman, weaving and unravelling brightly colored threads, finding ways to communicate the story even as the story continually reveals itself to them, and through them, to others.  

 On Myth and Mythmaking

 excerpt from book by  Phil Cousineau

 Once and Future Myths: The Power of Ancient Stories in Our Lives (2001)

I was raised on the knee of Homer, which is an Old World way to describe growing up on stories as old as stone and timeless as dreams.  So I see myth everywhere, probably because I am looking for what my American Indian friends call “the long story,” the timeless aspect of everything I encounter.  I know the usual places to look for it, such as in the splendor of classic literature or the wisdom stories of primal people.  

I want to explore the aspect of myth that most fascinates me: its ‘once and future’ nature.  Myths are stories that evoke the eternal because they explore the timeless concerns of human beings—birth, death, time, good and evil, creativity and destruction.  Myth resembles the god Proteus in the Odyssey, a shape-shifting creature who knows the secret that the lost Greek sailors long to hear—the way home.  But they must learn how to get a grip on him, if only for one slippery moment, so he might surrender his hidden wisdom.

This is what I call ‘mythic vision.’  The colorful and soulful images that pervade myth allow us to step back from our experience so that we might look closer at our personal situations and see if we can catch a glimpse of the bigger picture, the human condition. 

 But this takes practice, much like a poet or a painter must commit to a life of deep attention and even reverence for the multitude of meaning around us.  An artist friend of mine calls this ‘pulling the moment,’ a way of looking deeper into experiences that inspire him.  In the writing classes I teach, I refer to this mystery as the difference between the ‘overstory,’ which is the visible plot, and the ‘understory,’ which is the invisible movement of the soul of the main characters.   In this sense myth is a living force, like the telluric powers that stream through the Earth.  It is this mythic vision, looking for the ‘long story,’ the timeless tale, that helps us approach the deep mysteries because it insists that  there are  the stories we really live by, rather than the one we like to think we are living, and moreover, ("mythic vision" helps us)  decide if our myths are working for or against us. 

If we don’t become aware of both our personal myths and the cultural myths that act upon us like gravitational forces, we risk being wholly overpowered and controlled by them.  As the maverick philosopher Sam Keen has written in Your Mythic Journey,We need to reinvent them from time to time. . . .  The stories we tell of ourselves determine who we become, who we are, what we believe.’'

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In Gratitude for the Summer Solstice

 Brushwood, Solstice 2008

The Summer Day

 Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Copyright @ 1990 by Mary Oliver
First published in House of Light, Beacon Press. Reprinted in The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays, Beacon Press.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Shooting in Orlando, Remembering Gabrielle Giffords

Everyone knows now about the horrific tragedy that happened at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida a day ago.  50 people lost their lives to a hatefilled, mentally ill man with a weapon of mass destruction - guns that can be bought in gun shops like buying peanuts, guns that were designed for soldiers on the battlefield.  I cannot express the sadness I feel, once again, to hear of the loss of so many lives, I cannot speak, except to send my prayers into the ether for their loved ones, the hundreds of people who are suffering now.

 I remember when Obama made his extraordinary speech here in Tucson, to a capacity crowd of a thousand in 2011, after Gabrielle Giffords was shot, and so many died, including a little girl just nine  years ago.

But nothing changed, and we continue to be held hostage by gun lobbies and the underlying machismo and violence of American culture.   And it is always a young man – the elephant in the room that no one ever talks about.

Below are photos from the Vigil outside of Gabrielle Giffords office in 2011 - I was there.  Can there be peace?  Or do we just wait for the next tragedy?  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vigil Photos for Gabrielle and for Peace

Peace over the state flag.

I was very struck by the many messages people left  about Peace.  Not just a blessing and prayer for Gabrielle and for the the others, but for our nation and our world.  I truly felt that.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Spirit Communication - Article by Trish and Robb MacGregor

My friends Trish and Robb MacGregor recently posted an article in their Blog about synchronicity and spirit communication.  The MacGregors are  professional writers and researchers of synchronicity and the paranormal, as well as being well known fiction writers.  I've been following their wonderful Blog for years, and it never ceases to fascinate and inform me.

I've been interested in Spiritualism and synchronicity myself for many years, as I guess this Blog demonstrates. I have come to feel that we are blessed with guidance often, and often in the form of synchronicities.  Last summer, for example, I took a trip to deal with the loss of my brother and mother.  It was my intention to have a reading at Lilydale, the Spiritualist center in western New York I have so often visited in the past.

En route, on a whim, I decided to  visit  Camp Chesterfield, an old Spiritualist community near Mound State Park I had heard of.  I finally found it, and the energy of the land was breathtaking...but I had turned up at sunset, and I realized I would have to get a hotel if I wanted to check out the historical Camp the following day.  Just as I was driving out a group of people walking on the grounds invited me to join them......so I parked the car and did.  It turned out one of the mediums, Normandi Ellis, was finishing her book on deadline, and was desperate to acquire illustrations that had to go to the publisher ASAP.  I had the computer program and photoshop skills to do that for her, and so, I had a place to stay and introduction to the Camp, and she got her images in on time.  While there I was given a reading - and one of the first things the medium said, knowing nothing about me at all, was that "Florence and Glenn say hello"!  The healing and comfort I sought was given before I reached New York.

 One I've probably shared too many times concerns a poetic synchronicity that occurred  a decade ago while driving across the country, and stopping to visit my grandmother's grave en route in a little town called Dewit, Nebraska.  I called it "Angels in Nebraska", and it was a magical event that I like to believe was a communication from my beloved grandmother. The MacGregors feel that many synchronistic events represent a form of symbolic spirit communication.  Mediums and Spiritualists often say the same.  

I'm pleased Trish and Robb gave me permission to share the article below.

Synchro Secrets Blog  
by Trish and Robb MacGregor

June 7, 2016

Every day, spirits communicate with ordinary people, usually the loved ones they left behind but also with strangers. They do this by using anything they can to seize our attention – sounds and scents, objects, places, patterns, dreams and visions, signs and symbols, animals, clusters of numbers, names, birth dates. You don’t have to be a medium to converse with them. You don’t need a medium to interpret what they say. You can avail yourself of this secret language with simple, effective methods.
The language of the dead is synchronicity and it’s accessible to anyone. You might be thinking of your deceased father, wishing he were still alive, and suddenly catch the scent of pipe tobacco wafting through your room. Your dad used to smoke a pipe. There is no cause and effect between your thought and the aroma of tobacco. However, you’re awarethat the coincidence is meaningful. This synchronicity, conveyed through a scent, not only seizes your attention, but provides comfort and reassurance that your father’s spirit is alive and well in the afterlife and may be reaching out to you.
Suppose that while you’re thinking of your deceased mother, you request that she communicate with you? Perhaps you even speak to her out loud. You might be leaving for work and set the intention that the next thing you hear will be your mother communicating with you in some way. When you’re in the car, you turn on the radio and the first song you hear is about a mother reaching out to a lost daughter. Goose bumps erupt on your arms. You’re struck by the sheer odds that out of all the songs that exist, that one plays in the immediate aftermath of your request.
One evening before a meditation class, Trish asked her parents to communicate with her. She set an intention. And she summoned strong desire for this to occur. Midway through the meditation class, she opened her eyes and saw her parents in a corner of the room. They were laughing, vibrant, younger, and were directing a group of people into a theater. When they realized that she saw them, they faded away.
Time and again we have found that synchronicity is the vital component. But to fully engage with our deceased loved ones, we can become active participants by using any number of effective methods: awareness and recognition, intention, summoning through desire, requesting, and incubation. In the ancient practice of dream incubation, we “plant a seed” in the mind in order for a specific dream topic to occur. Incubation is often used for guidance in solving a problem.
When Rob’s mother recently developed dementia and could no longer live alone, he and his sister searched for facilities that could accommodate her. They narrowed their choices to two places. Both had pros and cons. He incubated a dream in which he asked for guidance from his deceased father. In the dream, his father handed him two checks for small amounts of money. Rob’s interpretation of the dream was that they should choose the less expensive facility, so that’s what they did. His mother toured the facility, moved in today – April 27 – and loves it.
We can also incubate an inner climate, a receptivity and openness, that is conducive to spirit communication. In the course of a year, Mike Perry of the UK lost his mother, daughter, and closest friend of thirty years. One day while walking through town, he thought of his friend and asked for a sign that he was doing okay. Suddenly, a white feather landed at his feet, was whipped up in a breeze, then settled at his feet again. Stunned, he picked up the feather and knew his friend had just communicated with him. Whenever Mike needs reassurance about a deceased loved one, he requests a sign and invariably finds a white feather.
Objects that spirits use to communicate seem to be whatever is most convenient and immediate. They range from white feathers to books, straight pins to coins, appliances, photographs, numbers, even cakes! We’ve written a number of posts about these various aspects of spirit communication.
Recently, I was texting my sister about some old family photos I had run across and suddenly, a pair of hummingbirds landed on the bush outside my office window. We rarely see hummingbirds here and I felt strongly that the birds were messengers from my parents dropping in to say hello.
It seems these kinds of experiences are proliferating now, perhaps because Rob and I are working on a new book, Secrets of Spirit Communication: A Guide to the Language of the Dead. This evening as I was writing this post, I took a break and clicked over to Whitley Strieber’s site. And what do I find? A new and moving journal entry from him entitled Building a Bridge Between Worlds. It’s about the communication he and others have had with his wife, Anne, since she passed on last summer.
Okay, I thought. A synchro. Then I realized I hadn’t dropped in on Mike Perry’s blog today and clicked over to his site. His  post is entitled Life After Death and has two intriguing stories about spirit communication. The second synchro in just a matter of minutes. I’m expecting a third to that it’s officially, at least in my mind, a cluster. I’m interpreting these as confirmations that we’re on the right track with this new book.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Inviting Flow, and Temporal Density.............

Finally I'm alone.  I spend my winters and spring now running a "ladies boarding house".  My duties range from being a cleaning lady to a guide of souls, with the major emphasis on being a cleaning lady.  Perhaps in the future my art intensives, whereby people come to 5 day workshops and stay here in the process will provide a living..........but for now, I'm just glad to have a livelihood.

So now I confront a  Tucson summer, which is a little like confronting the strenuous and internalizing life of a Minnesota winter.  The heat, like the extreme cold, flattens everything.  Yesterday it was a mild 105 degrees, and it will not vary much until the Monsoons come in late July.  It is not without its beauties, but it is strange to not be travelling, to have this self-chosen solitude.  But I need this time of reflection, and I am devoting it to seeing what is inside me artistically. 

One of the advantages of being in my mid 60's is that I just don't give a damn any more about so much that tormented and constructed me before.  The joy of "deconstruction"!  I'm completely allergic to the art world, which never made much sense to me anyway. Do I care what people think of my work?  No,  but I do hope it can "emanate" something, even if its on an unconscious or  aesthetic level, emanate something that has its source in the divine thread that began it.   

As I write, I remember a woman I met once who created banners that hung in churches.  She lived at Findhorn, and the dyes for her banners were derived from flowers and herbs there, what she called "colors and gifts from the Devas".  As the banners faded,   she felt they were emanating a kind of spiritual fragrance, a healing power.  I like that.

I'm inviting Flow.  Like many, I find my mind so distracted and fragmented by the demands and  habits of "too much" that it is hard to contact the pregnant, dark, Silence from which the voice of the Divine speaks, from which our inner life is endlessly being sourced.  It always comes back to Gaia.   Religion, philosophy, all of it seems to be less important to me these days, my gratitude and appreciation for the privilege of living on Gaia, being a part of Gaia, is meaning enough.   Let my work in whatever form praise the Earth, from which all our stories arise, and to which they return. 

And if I am not walking in the cool beloved  woods of the dappled North Country this  Solstice, well, let me celebrate the strange beauty of the desert I am living in, those creatures of the fierce sun at its Zenith and the blessings of the cool nights.  

I found myself thinking of John Steele, as I try to clear the debris away from my creativity. Looking back, I see how many, many times I have been blessed by meeting people who set me on my path, who gave me touchstones to illuminate the way, and too often, I didn't even notice at the time.  

I met John Steele in 1989, at the Symposium on Art and the Invisible Reality at Rutgers University, sponsored by Dr. Rafael Montanez Ortiz.  I wish there was another such conference!  I presented a performance piece called "When the Word for World Was Mother", and not too long after John kindly sent me his amazing book Earthmind: Communicating with the Living World of Gaia, in collaboration with  Paul Devereux and David Kubrin.  An important book, to me, an important book, period.  

John J. Steele is an aromatic consultant, archaeologist, author and visionary.  His work, whether with aromas or philosophy, engages questions about the nature of memory, time, consciousness and being. He has worked with Terence McKenna and Paul Devereux (The Dragon Project).   Steele  explores Vedic culture, Kali Yuga,  geomancy and what he calls "geomantic amnesia", geobiology, time out of balance, shamanism, the effects of geological formations on human consciousness, cross state retention, and the importance of sacred sites and spaces. EARTHMIND explores ways of interfacing with the earth for planetary healing. And Planetary Healing is also our healing.

 In a (now unavailable)  collection of audio seminars, John Steele gave us an overview of how geomantic traditions worldwide, from the Aborigines of Australia to the Stones of Salisbury  have influenced human awareness, psychology and ways of life. He explains how sacred geometry can grant us access to "Present Time", the great and infinite place where silent knowledge flows into our consciousness unrestricted by the objects that surround us, and in many ways, "own us".
"The memorial capacity is the key to the strength of a computer, and our computers are valued by their increasing capacity to store memory.  There is an emphasis upon the acquisition of memory that can be stuffed into a computer..........What happens after a while is that the system becomes constipated by too much hoarding of memory.  This hoarding of memory (in human terms)  sets up a kind of psychological density, and as the system becomes clogged it becomes brittle.  That is to say it cannot react quickly to crisis situations because it is overloaded with information."

"The density of objects in the environment creates a corresponding density of memory necessary to record objects, and this density of memory creates temporial density.  Temporal density is a function of memorial density and memorial density is a function of object density.  You will notice that those cultures that have the fewest objects live in the dream time.  You look at the Australian aborigines with their minimal object array and you see that they live in a completely different time frame. The Bushmen the same.  As temporal density occurs it sets up this extended unconscious array of time - time is generated."

A while back I wrote an  article about Geomancer Sig Lonegren  (who also profoundly, and with utter serendipity, set me on my path many years ago) in which he commented that he believed the great Megalithic structure of Stonehenge was a "last attempt" to retain right brain, or "dreamtime" consciousness as human culture, with the continuing advent of language,  began to change during the Neolithic.  In a sense, he was perhaps  saying that the capacity for  greater contact with "the collective mind of Gaia" was gradually being lost.  Perhaps it is now time to regain that mediumistic capacity in a new way.  

I feel John Steele, and his colleagues, and Sig Lonegren............hold the key to something so important in understanding our place on the planet, and an ancient and arising paradigm that is essential.   I'm saddened that they are so little known.

And for myself, confronting the internal life of a long desert summer........May I open a Flow this summer as I create new Earth Shrines, new and yet repeated, endlessly repeated like a chant.......homage to our Mother Earth.  

"We live in the time of Kali Yuga.  Kali is the Goddess of the dissolution of time and structures.  She clears the way for those impediments of evolution that have arisen.  The Tibetan translation for "Kali Yuga" means literally the  "dregs of time", the bottom of the barrel of time.  Time has acquired such "temporal density" that it can actually be felt in the body.  And the definition of "Temporal Density" is that we have too many units of events in each day to fully or effectively assimilate them.........Another aspect of Kali Yuga   which is related to temporal density is that there is seasonal disequilibrium.  The climate and the seasons go out of whack."

John Steele


‘Earthmind: Communicating with the living world of Gaia’ by Paul Devereux with John Steele and David Kubrin 

 "The authors make much of the effect on mind of the electromagnetic properties of the Earth and its rocks. They believe that communication with the Earthmind or anima mundi can best be achieved at sacred sites, facilitated by the crystal structures within the dolmens there. However, the authors believe there are hopeful signs of a revival of belief in paganism and in Earth’s spirituality, which would contribute to lessening our desecration of our planetary home. The key to such a consciousness revolution rests, in the opinion of the authors, with acceptance of the existence of a universal field of consciousness and our spiritual integration with it – what Peter Russell (The Awakening Earth)" described as the Gaiafield and which Devereux calls Earthmind.

for a great review:   http://greenspirit.org.uk/bookreviews/2013/05/earthmind-communicating-with-the-living-world-of-gaia-by-paul-devereux-with-john-steele-and-david-kubrin/