Friday, June 23, 2017

The Alphabet vs the Goddess.........reflections.

“Older yet, and lovelier far, this Mystery………and I will not Forget.”
Robin Williamson

Travelling for 3 weeks, and now, on the Summer Solstice, landed at last at Brushwood in Chautauqua county N.Y., where I have spent many summers. 

A synchronistic encounter with a psychic reader, on the street in Boulder, Colorado, had me thinking as I drove the long hypnotic miles, about the significant advice he gave me.  “Ask and ye shall receive”……and my journey began with questions that slowly have found their answers on the road.  I've spent so much of my life in motion, and driving seems to be a moving meditation for me, the "in transit" state.  I don’t know how to explain that, except that “listening” in various ways is important as I travel, and being on the road is being in that “between” realm, freed from the habitual patterns of  life.

One of the things the psychic, sitting alone at a small table,  told me, with his water-clear pale blue eyes looking into mine, was that I should write.  That I should write about my life.  Write about my vain that seems to me, to produce "memoirs".  And yet, what other  frame of reference  can we have, if not our lives?  So here I am, someone who has not been able to write for over a year, someone who would much rather be out in the woods meditating on the extraordinary variety of greens to seen on moss, sitting under a lightning struck old growth maple tree I know pretty well,  sensing the Fey Folk and warding off the less ephemeral mosquitos………here I sit at the keyboard.  But the Tree and the Moss will have their day too.   And the language spoken in that wood calls me back and back, and is full of twigs and luna moth wings and the cry the phoebe bird makes and sienna shades of tree cambrium  whorls that tell the tale of a hundred seasons.........and rarely speaks the human tongue.  Too long apart from that conversation I become stupid, I forget my real place in  World.

It’s ironic that I should receive "instructions" from spirit to write, because my companion on this trip has been THE ALPHABET VERSUS THEGODDESS, a 1996 book by Leonard Shlain. * The author (who I met when I lived in the Bay Area and greatly admired)  was a man of many interests.  He was a neurosurgeon who wrote about art and culture, exploring the intersection between brain, consciousness, aesthetics and culture.   He eloquently proposes that the demise of the Goddess and the descent of women throughout the world  had much to do with the evolution of literacy, and the loss of visual language and oral transmission, recording how these phenomena coincide throughout his-story.
The demise of the Goddess represents the fracturing of the human spirit, literally divided against itself.  Dr. Shlain  explores his premise throughout the evolution of the monotheistic “literate” religions,  and their patriarchal origins, to explose a universally renunciate  mythos, appallingly violent and misogynist, that always follows the development of “literate religion”.   In other words, Schlain argues that the increasing left brain, “masculine” domination of society became concretized with the development of writing, along with the loss of right brain, visionary/intuitive “feminine”  modes of consciousness and accompanying values.   

Yes, I can write I reflect,  but I think in images.  When I have studied mediumship I experience  Spirit communicating through symbolic images...........and I have never met a medium, or an animal communicator, who hears long and authoritative sentances.  Spirit, and animals, seem to communicate largely with universal language of image, symbol, sometimes sound and smell as well.  So do dreams, in timeless, visionary  ways.  

The first thing a new human encounters are the mobile faces of her or his parents, the language of facial expressions.  Perhaps that is why I’ve always been so fascinated with masks, and why it is so important to help the  “art illiterate” to understand  that a painting, any  work of art, is really a conversation.  It invites reply, response, engagement.  

Leonard Slain's book is a provocative, important book.

*In this groundbreaking book, Leonard Shlain, author of the bestselling Art & Physics, proposes that the process of learning alphabetic literacy rewired the human brain, with profound consequences for culture. Making remarkable connections across a wide range of subjects including brain function, anthropology, history, and religion, Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain's linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one. This shift upset the balance between men and women initiating the disappearance of goddesses, the abhorrence of images, and, in literacy's early stages, the decline of women's political status. Patriarchy and misogyny followed.

Shlain contrasts the feminine right-brained oral teachings of Socrates, Buddha, and Jesus with the masculine creeds that evolved when their spoken words were committed to writing. The first book written in an alphabet was the Old Testament and its most important passage was the Ten Commandments. The first two reject of any goddess influence and ban any form of representative art.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Alice Walker on a Responsive World

I remembered this wonderful  story  from Alice Walker and take the liberty of excerpting it here,  as I cross this country (currently in New Mexico), continuing to wonder about  how we  "speak with the Earth ".   How humans once spoke to the Earth, how World was a Conversation, not a resource to be exploited, despised, ignored.  

The Universe Responds
by Alice Walker

A few years ago I wrote an essay called "Everything is a Human Being", which explores to some extent the Native American view that all of creation is of one substance and therefore deserving of the same respect. In it I described the death of a snake that I caused, and wrote of my remorse.

That summer "my " land in the country crawled with snakes. There was always the large resident snake, whom my mother named "Susie", crawling about in the area that marks the entrance to my studio. But there were also lots of others wherever we looked. A black-and-white king snake appeared underneath the shower stall in the garden. A striped red-and-black one, very pretty, appeared near the pond. It now revealed the little hole in the ground in which it lived by lying half in and half out of it as it basked in the sun. Garden snakes crawled up and down the roads and paths. One day leaving my house with a box of books in his arms, my companion literally tripped over one of these.

We spoke to all of these snakes in friendly voices. They went their way, we went ours. After about a two week bloom of snakes, we seemed to have our usual number: just Susie and a couple of her children.

A few years later, I wrote an essay about a horse called Blue. It was about how humans treat horses and other animals; how hard it is for us to see them as the suffering, fully conscious, enslaved beings they are. After reading this essay in public only once, this is what happened. A white horse came and settled herself on the land. (Her owner, a neighbor, soon came to move her.) The two horses on the ranch across the road began to run up to their fence whenever I passed, leaning over it and making what sounded like joyful noises. They had never done this before (I checked with the human beings I lived with to be sure of this), and after a few more times of greeting me as if I'd done something especially nice for them, they stopped. Now, when I pass they look at me with the same reserve they did before. But there is still a spark of recognition.

What to make of this? 

But what I'm also sharing with you is this thought: The Universe responds. What you ask of it, it gives.............I remember when I used to dismiss the bumper sticker "Pray for Peace". I realize now that I did not understand it, since I also did not understand prayer; which I know now to be the active affirmation in the physical world of our inseparableness from the divine; and everything, especially the physical world, is divine."**

** (From: "The Universe Responds: Or, How I learned We Can Have Peace on Earth", 
Living by the Word, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, N.Y., N.Y., 1988.)