Thursday, December 29, 2016

Beannacht ("Blessing") for the New Year

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the Earth be yours,

May the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

~ John O'Donohue ~

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Greenpeace holds a historic performance

with pianist Ludovico Einaudi on the Arctic Ocean (English)

What will draw world leaders’ attention to the dire effects of climate change? If not the plight of the polar bear, perhaps a beautiful, mournful piano composition played on a floating platform off the coast of Norway? This video showing Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi playing his “Elegy for the Arctic” has been making the rounds, with thousands like actor and environmentalist Adrian Grenier sharing it on on Twitter to say, “Let's change the world, starting at the top.”
The video was shot in collaboration with Greenpeace, who shipped the piano up to the Arctic from Germany. They’re currently running a campaign to get government officials to create the first Marine Protected Area to safeguard 10 percent of the Arctic Ocean at this week's OSPAR (Oslo-Paris) commission in Tenerife, Spain. When ice is falling off a glacier in the background as Einaudi plays, one sees how this performance could inspire action. And if not among leaders themselves, it’s extremely affecting for their constituents, bringing them to a place they don’t often see but whose wildlife and climate play an important role in global ecology.
As Tech Insider notes, climate scientists often point to the melting ice of the Arctic as an important warning sign for the rest of the planet. Polar regions across the north of the planet have been melting, and a viral video featuring a gorgeous composition is an excellent way to move people. “I'm crying, the most touching piano performance I've ever seen so far. Yes, please save the earth. Save us,” says Twitter user Elma Alfiah.
Einaudi himself is 60 and was born in Turin, Italy; he’s historically been open to inspiration and collaboration, releasing an album in 2001 inspired by traveling to Africa and working with a German electronic group in 2009. That openness of creative spirit is evident in this composition. “I’ve been about to see the purity and fragileness of this area with my own eyes and perform a song that I composed on the best stage in the world,” he said in a statement before the performance.  Whether OSPAR is listening remains to be seen.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Reflections on Patriarchal Mind, Despair and Hope

Yes, I know it is Christmas, but I celebrated the Solstice a few days ago in grand style, and today, I made the mistake of going to Facebook and reading some of the news feeds.  Frankly, ever since the election and the scary people rapidly being put into power to determine the fate of America and the environment......I've felt shell shot.  I don't know how to get my hope back,  I feel the tides rushing very fast now.  With every chest thumping, fist pounding gesture, and every impulsive, bullying tweet the new president makes, I am reminded of the famous words of Louis IIIIX, just before the French Revolution:  "Apres moi, la deluge."  

With the power to incite devastating war, with the urgency of environmental destruction  ignored and denied, with every indication of repression, bigotry, and misogyny arising even before Trump takes office..........what hope is there?  Is this something that will bring forth reaction and ultimate change?  Or does it mean the real irretrievable splintering of this country?   What do people like me do now, besides trying to be as  kind, and generous as possible?

Trump and his cronies are already talking about "increasing our nuclear armaments" and enhancing the military.  The Military in the U.S. already receives some 60% of the tax dollar.  And this country has an arsenal of nuclear arms that could easily destroy every single living thing on the planet some 50 times over. This is the farthest imaginable extreme of the patriarchal mind.

I've marched against Vietnam, and against the invasion of Iraq, each time seeing the streets of San Francisco swollen with 300,000 people. Yet the wars went on.   Why do we still have no control over the militarism of our country?  Why is the new administration pulling out the phallic spectres of bombs so gleefully?  Why does no one seem to notice the elephant in the room?

When I was in Bali I used to go to the Temple of Hanuman to feed the grey monkeys that lived in the forest there.  It was a common sight to see the little females struggling to forage with an infant on their breasts, and an older child hanging on for dear life to their backs.  One day I turned up with a bunch of bananas, and a very big alpha male monkey sauntered over, walking very much as a human bully would, bared his considerable teeth at me, and grabbed the whole bunch out of my hands.  I wasn't going to argue.  He sauntered away, sat down with the entire bunch, and all the rest of the monkeys gathered around, hoping he might drop something. 

I remember thinking, damn, I sure hope, as a very large tribe of naked monkeys, we can evolve beyond this.  

Hollywood churns out distopian movies now that are all about a ruined world, with roaming bands of warriors fighting for alpha male status - endless mythos of a "hero" fighting it out, and ending up, like that grey monkey, for a while, with all the bananas and the best females.  Until, of course, the next alpha male turns up with bigger firepower.  This is the adolescent male fantasy that absorbs virtually all "action" films, and tragically, all it can imagine for the future is endless war and competition, although, if we're lucky, there is a certain pause in the action when the hero finally gets the girl. 

But this is the  foundational mythos that millions of boys (and girls) now addictively act out with video games, video games that will prepare them someday to push buttons that launch drone bombs to far away places, never seeing in their minds or hearts the face of the children, women, old people upon whom they will fall.  They don't see the ruined faces of the children of Aleppo, a tragedy unfolding even as I write, they don't remember for one moment the faces of the dead of Kosovo, and bodies piled high in Vietnam, or in the pits of German concentration camps or the killing fields of Cambodia.    None of this has been hidden, it's all been documented in living color for the past 50 years.  And yet nothing changes.   

This is the imbalance in the human psyche taking its continual toll.  Has it always been like this?  No.  Marija Gimbutas and others have demonstrated that past cultures have existed for long periods of time, their economies and values, reflected in their art and their buriel remains, not based upon conquest and war.  The his-story of humanity is not all the domain of the violent  patriarchal war gods.    This is what happens when the Goddess is removed from the sacred vocabulary.

Pray indeed for our country now,  if the alpha male chest thumping of Trump has any substance to it.  Pray for the ravaged earth our descendants must live on.  And for the millions of innocents who will experience our bombs along with the violent tyranny of their own tyrants.  And the thousands of  youth who will not become doctors, or parents, or artists, or gardeners, or environmental activists, but who will die as soldiers. 

When I feel stressed, thanks to Netflix, I now escape into Star Trek.  Yes, there's a lot of fighting there, but there is also, especially in the earlier versions, a lot of hope that I no longer see in our media. I was fortunate, I see now, to live in such a hopeful time.  Inherent in Star trek was the firm concept of a noble crew and captain, and a society that sought to explore "where no one has gone before" with the Prime Directive, leaving behind a home world without poverty or injustice. The recent "Star Trek" movies, featuring new actors portraying younger versions of Kirk and Spock, feature brilliant special effects - but nowhere is there the effort to teach some kind of morality, ethics, or human relational  interest that was a concern in Gene Roddenberry's earlier series. It's like a video game - endless bang bang and blow 'em up.  I imagine most young people find the "moralizing" of old Star Trek shows boring indeed.  But if stories can't help us to learn how to be human beings, what does?  

We all know now we're not going to the stars.  2001 has come and gone, and unlike the vision Kubrick had, we didn't go to the moon in that year.  Instead we went to war, again, and then again.  And we have learned very little about how to live together on, and preserve, our beloved Mother Earth.  Mostly I cry for the loss of so much that is beautiful, and I cry for the future, for our children and their children, who are not going to the stars or the moon, but rather will struggle to survive in the debris of our  civilization, a civilization with so many wonders, so much possibility.  Here's another  email I recently received, from a woman named Ariadne:
"I'm not hopeful about the future. It's clear that this civilization will not survive the effects of climate change and the many other consequences of our pollution, overpopulation, greed and lack of empathy. Nor should patriarchal civilization survive, but it's unlikely to die without a catastrophic collapse. The survivors will be trying to scratch out an existence in a biologically depauperate world.  To me, Goddess is Nature -- the Universe and the Earth. She does not need us; we need Her. But I think the evolutionary experiment on Earth of combining large brains with testosterone has been a fairly quick flop -- managing to exist for only a quarter million years before evolving to extinction.  It's a big universe, and no doubt there are other experiments in "intelligence" under way elsewhere. Life will go on here on Earth for hundreds of millions of years after we are gone."
"GAIA" (1986)

Should I mince my words, for fear of offending, not share the anger and despair of people like Ariadne?  I already have friends who are telling me to "chill", to calm down and stop being upset and political, who are talking about some variation or other of "everything happens for a reason."  I think the people of Aleppo, or the people suffering in Mongolia right now as the permafrost melts and they can't farm anymore........would find no comfort in such mysticism.  Yes, it is important to not lose one's center.  But I do not think I will calm down.  

I pray for real guidance, in spite of it all.  We all know what good and beauty  human beings are capable of - we celebrate Martin Luthor King for what he accomplished, and Susan B. Anthony, and FDR, and so many others  who helped to make a  better and more just America, the America that was capable of inspiring the world.  People who represented that evolution beyond patriarchy, an evolution toward cooperation.   No matter what, we must hold on to these principles, these possibilities.  I do not believe in mindless "positivity".  But  I do believe in finding ways to go forward with love,  with compassion, and with generosity -  if not always hope.
"Dove of Sophia" by Hrana Janto.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Winter Solstice

Serpent Mound illuminated through the efforts of the Friends of Serpent Mound

This has been a strange year, a year in which chaos and shadow and tragedy has been rising, as well as extraordinary bravery and new clarity.  A year of tremendous contrasts, and I think many of us are frightened now, and unsure of what to do.  Lately I have been feeling the need to make circles, to bring forth the "light" wherever it can be found, including inside me, that is inclusive, that reminds me of how sacred the world is, and how we, as human beings among so many incredible beings on our Mother Earth are all a part of each other.  And the Solstice is a Circle as well.

When language was young, when even the gods and goddesses had not yet entirely taken human form but still ran with the deer in the forest, or flew with the wings of crows, or were glimpsed the depths of a numinous pool, when World was still a conversation, and poems were spoken by both bards and by trees,  and our unimaginable ancestors danced and kept watch  through the long, cold, dark night....... even then, long before the writing of words, but perhaps not before the telling of tales,  this was a (w)holy day. 

The Sun was returning to the dark and sleeping world, bringing life-giving light and warmth.

Before ever there were Christmas lights, or candles, or even torches burning olive oil, fires were lit to welcome the Shining One returning from the depths of the underworld.  Stones aligned with the  Sun's journey made a pathway, and food and drink and gifts were given to the young god, just born,  to give him  strength for the new year and his long bright journey across the skylands. 

Perhaps  they  danced through the long cold night, and when they lit bonfires, they did so reverently and with love, knowing that they were  helping him on his way, keeping vigil for him.  Before ever he was called the Christ, or Osiris, or Lugh, he had other names, names lost to history that still whisper and sound sometimes sing again among the stones and circles of another time.   

 Planet Earth turns her face toward the glory of her star again,  She circles round, just as we do,  and we turn with her, every  creature held  within her fragile, azure skin.   May the Light bless you, and Shine in your life.

Winter Solstice, Willits Community (2012) Photo courtesy JJ Idarius & Ann Waters
  Happy Solstice!

I pledge allegiance
to the soil of Turtle Island,
and to the beings
who thereon dwell
one ecosystem in diversity
under the sun
With joyful
interpenetration for all.

Gary Snyder

Winter Solstice, Willits Community (2012) Photo courtesy JJ Idarius & Ann Waters

"To go in the dark with a light
is to know the light. 
To know the dark, go dark.
 Go without sight, and find
 that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
 and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings."

Wendell Berry

The sun shines along the passage floor into the inner chamber at Newgrange during the  Winter Solstice today. The passage tomb in Co. Meath was built over 5,000 years ago. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.
Winter Solstice inside Newgrange

When your eyes are tired
the world is  tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes to recognize its own.

There you can be sure you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb tonight.
The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness
and the sweet confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

David Whyte

Photo by NASA

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wassailing Celebrations

I wrote about a synchronicity involving bees recently, and it brought back that notion of living in a  “conversant” world.  Instead of seeing "nature" as "other", or a "resource", we could see ourselves, as earlier cultures did, as having a mythic, even friendly and reciprocal, relationship with the extended community of life we inhabit.  When we talk to the trees, the  animals, even stones………..we might just might begin to notice that we get a response sometimes!  

For example, there is the old English custom  of “telling the bees” when someone has died in a farm family, and documented cases of a swarm of bees turning up at the funeral.  Or “wassailing”, singing to trees in celebration of Christmas.  Who is  to say that the apple trees don’t enjoy being part of the festiivities? How would our world be a different place if we saw apple trees as being our generous friends, or inviting bees to the funeral of those they have lived among?  

Although Wassail is popularly a spiced cider drink, often with brandy added and served hot, originally it included the  Yuletide custom of  singing to the trees, in particular, the orchards  of apple trees from which the celebratory drink came.  The spiced cider was offered in honor to the trees,  and around the time of the Solstice, wassailers would prepare  traditional wassail – soaking pieces of bread, cake or toast in it – and travel from apple orchard to apple orchard singing and offering to the trees, in order to ensure a good harvest for the coming year.  Wassail-soaked pieces of bread or toast were then left at the trees’ roots or hung in the trees’ branches to appease the tree spirits and feed them well until the next harvest.

Like the Romans'  offerings and small farm shrines dedicated  to the "Numina", the spirits of place that assisted them with their crops and orchards (the indigenous Roman Goddess Pomona, whose name meant "apple",  originated as a Numen of the orchards), this custom, which is still practiced with a lot of good cheer  in some rural areas of  England, reflects that ancient pagan sense of "reciprocity" with an intelligent, spiritually  inhabited natural world.

Here's what goes on in Whimple, England to this very day:  (
 Our ritual follows the traditional well-tried and tested ceremony of our predecessors with the Mayor in his robes of office and the Princess carrying lightly toasted bread in her delicately trimmed flasket, whilst the Queen, wearing her crown of Ivy, Lichen and Mistletoe, recites the traditional verse. The original Whimple Incantation has been retained:
Here's to thee, old apple tree,That blooms well, bears well.Hats full,caps full,Three bushel bags full,An' all under one tree.Hurrah! Hurrah!
Her Majesty is then gently but manfully assisted up the treein order to place the cyder-soaked toast in the branches whilst the assembled throng, accompanied by a group of talented musicians, sing the Wassail Song and dance around the tree. The Mulled Cider or 'Wassail Cup' is produced and everyone takes a sample with their 'Clayen Cup'.

I read recently  that our habit of "toasting" may go back to Wassail revelries.  "Waes hael"  revelers would say,  from the Old English term  meaning "be well".  Eventually  "wassail" referred less to the greeting and more to the drink.  The contents of the Wassail bowl varied, but a popular one was known as 'lambs wool'. It consisted of hot ale, roasted crab apples, sugar, spices, eggs, and cream served with little pieces of toast. It was the toast floating on the top that made it look like lamb's wool.  The toast that was traditionally floated atop the wassail eventually became our "toast" -  when you hold up your glass and announce, “Let’s have a toast,”  or  ”I’ll toast to that,” you’re remembering this very old ritual of floating a bit of toast in spiced ale or mulled wine or wassail in celebration.

Wassailing – visiting neighbors (and much appreciated, friendly trees), singing carols  and sharing warmed drink – is a tradition related to the Winter Solstice with ancient roots indeed.  

 I found a good Wassail recipe, which I've taken the liberty of sharing at the end of this post.  I don't know if I'll be going out to sing to the Saguaros  this Solstice, but who knows what I might end up doing if I drink enough Wassail with brandy.   I'm sure the Saguaros wouldn't mind the attention.

Happy Wassailing!

Photo by Martin Beebee
 Apple Tree Wassailing Chants and Rhymes

Compiled in The Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton

From the South Hams of Devon, recorded 1871: 

Here's to thee, old apple tree,
Whence thou mayst bud
And whence thou mayst blow!
And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
Hats full! Caps full!
Bushel--bushel--sacks full,
And my pockets full too! Huzza!

From Cornworthy, Devon, recorded 1805:

Huzza, Huzza, in our good town
The bread shall be white, and the liquor be brown
So here my old fellow I drink to thee
And the very health of each other tree.
Well may ye blow, well may ye bear
Blossom and fruit both apple and pear.
So that every bough and every twig
May bend with a burden both fair and big
May ye bear us and yield us fruit such a stores
That the bags and chambers and house run o'er.

Yield: 10-12 servings,  Prep Time: 5 minutes, Cook Time: 4 hours

Wassail Recipe

  • 1 gallon Apple Cider
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 4 hibiscus tea bags
  • 10 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 Tb. juniper berries
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into slices
  • 1 apple, sliced into rounds
  • 1 orange, sliced into rounds


  1. Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker and cover.
  2. Turn the slow cooker on high heat and cook for 3-4 hours, until the color has darkened and the fruit is soft. Remove the tea bags and serve hot.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Class with the Lilith Institute

Lilith is so important for our time, because she represents the wounded and disenfranchised feminine, and the de-sacralization of sexuality.  She is the archetypal Dark Goddess.   I'm pleased to share here a forthcoming class with my friend D'vorah Grenn.

"Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions" - Dag Hammarskjold

This has been one of the guiding principles of The Lilith Institute since its founding twenty years ago. My commitment to working with women to give full expression to our voices is stronger than ever, so it seems the perfect time to offer "Meeting Lilith, the Original Nasty Woman” as my first class of 2017.


As we begin to heal the rifts and uncertainties left by the election, this class offers the opportunity to come together to learn about the complex figure of Lilith, the first woman, and how she traversed the wilderness, the unknown. Join us to start the New Year off on a positive note as we reflect on both her story and ours. We will discuss ways of getting in touch with our internal nasty woman, claiming her courage and full voice as we reconnect with our own unique characteristics. In so doing, we will ground ourselves to move forward with greater power and strength through our own moments of anger, fear, loss and overwhelm.


Four Sundays, January 8 - 2910 AM - 11 AM PST in our virtual classroom on Classes to be recorded, in case you can't join us in "real time".
EARLY BIRD price: $99 until December 28; after that $109 (December 29-January 7).

Payable via PayPal to or by check made out to D'vorah Grenn and mailed to:

The Lilith Institute
P.O. Box 6004
Napa, CA  94581

Registration will be confirmed and additional course details sent upon receipt of payment.

Please share this course with anyone you think may be interested — and stay tuned for news of our other upcoming classes on Ancestor Reverence, Altar Building as Transformative Spiritual Practice, Jewish Magic & Superstition, Creating Feminist Midrashim as Liberatory and more!

Warm regards,

D’vorah J. Grenn, Ph.D., Kohenet
Founder, The Lilith Institute

Thursday, December 8, 2016

SPIDER WOMAN’S HANDS: A Metaphor for Our Time

I've been feeling unable to "center" ever since the election, confronting the division and hostility that seems to be overtaking our country so quickly.  I guess the image of "a webbed vision" seemed important, along with circles...............

Spider Woman's Hands

“What might we see, how might we act, if we saw with a webbed vision?  The world seen through a web of relationships…as delicate as spider’s silk,
yet strong enough to hang a bridge on.”

Catherine Keller, Theologian, From a Broken Web (1989)

Years ago I climbed the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, just outside of Phoenix, where I used to live.   It was a long and hot climb, and I was exhausted when at last I sat beneath a mesquite tree to enjoy a panoramic view of the Sonoran desert below.   The silence was broken only by the sound of wind whistling through the needles of the great saguaro cactus, and an occasional cry of a red tailed hawk circling overhead.  

I happened to be sitting before a spider web, stretched between two dry branches.  By shifting my point of view  I could view the entire landscape through the web’s intricate, transparent pattern…..a  landscape  seen through the ineffable strands of an almost, but not quite,  invisible web that shimmered with the currents of the air. 

I think I’ve been seeking “a webbed vision” ever since, trying to reclaim that overlay and underlay of an invisible, yet tangible inclusiveness - to see the links, instead of the breaks and tears, beneath everything.  I’ve been on the trail of Spider Woman. 

Spider Woman is ubiquitous through the Americas.  Pueblo mythology tells that when each of the previous worlds ended, it was Spider Woman who led the new people through the sipapu, the kiva (or birth canal) into the next world, after a great catastrophe destroyed the previous era.   According to the Hopi Calendar, as well as that of the ancient Maya of Mexico, the Fourth Age has ended, and we have entered the Fifth Age.  Spider Woman, revealing the ultimate interdependency of all beings, is once again the Midwife to a sustainable paradigm.   

The Pueblo people, from northern New Mexico to the mesas of Arizona, still inhabit their ancestral lands.  They are descendants of the ancient Anasazi peoples, who built cliff dwellings and ceremonial centers throughout the area over millennia, including the famous Chaco Canyon.  Spider was the first weaver, bringing order and form, balance and symmetry to the primal, formless chaos.   Spider Woman is also called Tse Che Nako, Thought Woman, the “one who creates the world with the stories she tells”The world shaping power of story is also a gift she gives to her relations - an eternally generative thread.

Stories don't end after we close the book, or turn off the electronic box. When we talk about “spinning a tale“ we’re participating in something that has to potential to keep evolving, generation into generation, from the waking world to the dreamtime, back into the past, and forward into the stories of those who are yet to come.  So what kind of stories are we telling about being in the world, about being a part of the world?

The Navajo (who call themselves the Dinah) revere Spider Woman (Na'ashje'ii sdfzq'q) for teaching them how to weave, which may be seen as a spiritual practice more than simply a craft.  Wool rugs often have “Spiderwoman's Cross” woven into the pattern, representing the union of the four directions.  Some Navajo weavers, it's said, still leave a flaw in the work - because the only perfect web is that of Grandmother Spider Woman, the first weaver.  To the Navajo,
Spider Woman is a wise guide but one must be prepared to listen.2 Spider Woman is a bridge that allows a certain kind of knowledge to be transmitted from the sacred dimension to the mundane among those who have been initiated and can thus be receptive to her teachings.  To immature eyes she will appear only as an insignificant insect, a web invisible, unseen and unheard.

Weaving and spinning, the creation of baskets and rugs from cotton (and later wool) was important throughout native America, just as it has been in other parts of the world. It was both a practical and a holy activity, and is usually associated with women.  Among the Maya,   Ix Chel was an important earth goddess, matron of childbirth and weaving. She was reincarnated as the Aztec Goddess Tlazolteotl, “the great weaver”, illustrated in Aztec art holding spindles and with strands of cotton fibers in her earrings.

In shell ornaments belonging to the Mound Builders, the prehistoric Mississippian people, a ubiquitous spider with a cross within a circle on its back symbol occurs.   And among the Osage, until little more than a generation ago, important women had spiders tattooed on the backs of their hands.

  Spider Woman has a way of getting around.   Some say that the World Wide Web is her latest appearance.  Although she can be found in the canyons and deserts of the Americas, her archetype is found in many other places and times.   In the Odyssey there is the faithful wife Penelope who wove and unwove a shroud each night as she waited for Odysseus.  Yet the name Penelope probably derives from a much earlier oracular or fate goddess, because it means "with a web on her face".  Another way of translating the origins of this name might be expressed as one who “sees with a webbed vision

Spider Woman wove the world with the stories she told, and she reveals the timeless web of interdependency that unites all beings.   Even today, among some Navajo when a  girl is born a spider web is rubbed into her hands so she will become a good weaver. 

May we all be good weavers, rubbing a bit of spider web into our palms.


Loftin, John D., Religion and Hopi Life, Second Edition, Indiana University Press, 1988

Keller, Catherine, From a Broken Web , Thames & Hudson, 1989

Patterson-Rudolph, Carol, On the Trail of Spiderwoman, Ancient City Press, 1997

Franke, Judith   A., The Gift of Spider Woman,  Dickson Mounds Museum, “The Living Museum”, volume 61, No. 2, 1999

Isaac Asimov.........


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Old Paintings, Dreams and Musings

It's 4:00 in the morning, which is always a spare, silent, beautiful and lonely hour to find oneself.  A dream woke me up.*   Long experience has taught me that trying to go back to sleep at such an hour is futile and frustrating, better to pad around the house, let the mind discover what it will.  4:00 is a potent hour.  One of the things I rambled into was the memory garden of  forgotten paintings.

The painting above I did as part of a series that just burned out of me one magical summer while I was at the (now extinct) Cummington Community in western Massachusetts.   I was reading "Shaman:  The Journey of the Wounded Healer" by Joan Halifax.  I never showed them.  They represented transformation of consciousness, with fire being the medium or symbol of transformation.   In some, the figure confronts the flame with terror, the burning away of the old self, in others there is the infant representing rebirth, new birth.  The "Fire Dancer" I love still, ecstasy, learning to dance with the fire, to "be" the fire.

And the one above, I think I called it "the Sacred Marriage" or "Anima and Animus" (but I don't actually remember what I called it) - there the woman is offered the creative fire by the man.   I don't know why I dream of weddings, or remember this painting, but both are about "joining with" and being "ignited by" something, a good sign.  Who, or what, am I about to "marry"?  

 *Strange dream.  I dreamed I was planning a second wedding to my ex-husband, Duncan.  The dream was full of the details and running around I remember from when we actually did get married in 1993, a full-blown Pagan wedding on our land in upstate New York.  Such a wonderful community of people, a beautiful gathering.   I remember also  that I was so stressed with organizing and controlling everything for the wedding that I had very  little ability to actually enjoy the wedding itself.  I was up late into that night cleaning up, and preparing a ritual for the Solstice the following morning.  I went to bed alone worrying about all that needed to be done, while Duncan hung out enjoying the company of his friends.  In retrospect, so many of the things I've done I've not been able to just enjoy, be present for, appreciate.   Duncan and I were divorced in 1997, and I haven't seen him since then.  I suppose I've always wished we could have resolved into friends, but that did not happen.

So in this dream of  a second wedding I said "This time we'll do it your way", which it seemed was a kind of apology, a recognition of having learned something in the years since.  I don't know what this dream means, except that preparing for a wedding, and giving up "the way I did things before" is a good sign.  I need to see what this dream reveals. 

I remember that I had a hard time letting go of the marriage, letting go of the dreams I had,  and the community we actually created together.  We were a good creative team in many ways.  When I left New York I went through a period of grieving, which was what I needed in order to release and to grow internally in order to go forward and create a new life.  That grieving was a kind of emptying out, and I understand the significance of allowing the grieving process.  But I remember a dream I had at that time - I was in a kind of empty apartment in some Eastern city, perhaps New York.  Just a few chairs, and a window with a night time view of the city.  Duncan turned up, and we had a warm, friendly talk in which he told me that he was with someone else now.  And after that, it was much easier to just move on.