Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"A House of Doors"

An onion, that's it.  All those layers

just when you think you can name yourself,
you discover new layers,
you’re forming a new skin,
a new ring.

But there's a core.
And where does that core start?

My MFA show in 1987 was called "A House of Doors", and I made, with the collaboration and generosity of artist and fellow graduate student Catherine Nash MFA,  a spoken word/electronic music  "sound track" to go with the paintings and lithographs that comprised the show. Catherine is an extraordinary artist whose work has always opened doors into other realms.  And  1987 was an exciting time to be alive, an optimistic time  when all kinds of inquiries into spirituality and consciousness were developing in the New Age era.  Catherine and I belonged to a group interested in exploring altered states of consciousness and other spiritual explorations, and from that group also came a show about art and spirituality.  We discussed people like Wassily Kandinsky and his book "Concerning the Spiritual in Art".  We meditated together, and did numerous sessions with Bob Monroe's Past Life Regression tapes - those shared visions were very significant for me, and became the inspiration for my show and performance piece  "A House of Doors" below:

Sometimes, you open a door, 
any door 

and you have to walk outside
into something tender,
like a touch on a winter night
into a quiet yard

because of a voice that you hear 
or a bell
or a train
pulling away

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Michael - a Synchronicity

The painting above is an unfinished painting that has been dominating my studio for some 2 years now. *** For some reason I just can't finish it, but I do love it.  It is dedicated to Archangel Michael.  The painting is life size, and although I can't seem to resolve it all, I love the face, and sometimes, I swear, I really do feel Michael is looking at me.  I wanted to paint Michael not as some great Renaissance era archetype with huge  wings and a flaming sword, but as He might manifest as a human, perhaps as a beautiful young man with intense eyes,  sitting at a table drinking coffee......and at the same time as He abides in unimaginable grandeur between the stars themselves.  I hope He's pleased with my humble efforts to honor him.    Sometimes the expression seems like a smile, warm and amused.  Other times, it seems the face of  an implacable warrior.  For me it changes, and I confess, I often find myself talking to Michael.  The painting gives me a focus.  

I don't know what Archangels are, and I'm not Christian.  But for many years I have invoked, and requested the help,  of Michael, for protection, for healing for those beset by negative energies and entities, to send the earthbound souls  to the light,  to cleanse my home, to strengthen me and all those who are beset, or  seek to resist,  evil in whatever form it occurs.  Many times  have requested help from Michael to help a certain  family member beset by addiction, as well as to protect me from his emotional and psychic violence.  And I have seen this person change, miraculously.  So here is an "everyday miracle", a synchronicity I feel enchanted and blessed by.  

I found myself depressed the other morning, overwhelmed once again by the ugliness and corruption of what is going on in this country now.  The usual negation settled over me like a cloud, it often goes like this  "why make art when there is such horror and suffering in the world?  What hope is there for anything now, old woman, who is going to care whether you make ceramic Goddesses or not?"  Yes, we all have those defeating, malevolent voices in our heads.

Feeling sorry for myself, I noticed, exactly placed in front of the door, a perfect feather.  It was maybe 7:00 in the a.m., and I had to laugh........because I often find mysterious feathers in strange places, and I have come to feel that they are a sign, an "angelic" sign.  Encouragement.  Later in the day, I saw that someone had called me at 7:30 in the morning, which was unusual.  It was my old friend Michael S., from California. 

Michael calls me about once every 5 years or so!  We talk on the rare occasions I visit him in California, and exchange a rare email now and then.  Recently, I posted some photos of a new series of ceramic mosaic sculptures I'm undertaking, with a bit of trepidation because they are ambitious.  Michael, who in many ways I always felt lived up to his name, had called to tell me that he had an image about my efforts, that he saw me doing a big mosaic sculpture on a wall!  Always practical, he added that I probably could make some money doing that.

I definately feel encouraged, and I'll take this as not only the encouragement of a friend, but a Celestial Encouragement as well!

*** Two years later (4/15/2020) I can say now that I did finish the painting (it's above), framed it, and put it in my living room with a spot light.  Sometimes I swear the expression on Michael's face seems to change............

The Michael Invocation
by  Ama Nazra 

Archangel Michael,
Remove all attachments from me,
All negative energy forms,
All negative thought forms,
All heavy energy forms.
All intruders and mischief makers,
All astral forces and dominants,
All small demons and large demons,
including succubus and incubus.
All living humans who try to steal my energy,
Or do me any other harm,
Find all humans in Spirit who are Lost around me,
and take them Home.
Remove all threads and bindings
All cords and ties
All chains and devices of any kind
All curses and hexes on any level
And all karmic patterns which are 'self'-defeating
And karmic links that are no longer needed
Return me to my perfect energy now please

I ask this in the name of the Divine,
Thank you.

Where it came from ...

I've been using and adapting the Michael Invocation for the past fifteen years as a means of clearing people's energy, and the energy of their homes and other buildings. The Invocation has changed over time, as the situations people have found themselves in have become more difficult to manage, or more complicated to understand. It has never failed to provide relief on many levels - though the relief will only continue if a person chooses not to repeat the old patterns of behaviour that first got them haunted.

The above is by  Ama Nazra  from the website Sacred Gates/Victorian Paranormal Connection.  Please visit the link below to read more:

Friday, June 22, 2018

Saraswati, Mangoes, and a Butterfly

                               Mango Season 

Struggling with unexpected fate
my tropical imagination
carries me still,
among volcanic archipelagos,
remembers the Island of the Gods
in mango season.

Here, heat rises
from waterless pavements.
I walk to the "Memory Care" unit
the long beige hallway, too familiar now.
Bewildered eyes regard me from wheelchairs.
The old man says, 
"Take me home. I don't belong here".
If I could,
if I only could,
I would take us all home.
Instead, I bring fruit
to share
imagining for them
mango season
in all its splendor.


Lately I've been looking back at old poems, old performance, archiving and re-discovering them as not only souvenirs of my past, but bits of myself that have become lost and need to be re-glued into the scrape book (or epic) of my life.  To be honest, I am also sometimes so overwhelmed by the ugliness of what is happening in this country that I go back to find strength in Beauty.  Careless I used to be, taking so much for granted.........but now I find my memories a treasure, and I praise the Beauties  I've been privileged to see, taste, hear.  

 I was a caretaker for my mother and my brother for years, and became familiar with nursing homes, watching strong people diminish as their souls gradually withdrew from this plane of being......and I had many days spent running urban errands, my vista a hot parking lot or a Fry's pharmacy.  Into the picture window of my mind at such times would often come the strangest and most vivid landscapes:  Bali and the great black volcano Kintamani  I once stood before,  or the sweet, sensual shapes of ripe mangoes, their great generosity and abundance always offered.  These poems come from that time. 

Love is Saraswati's river
flowing through our lands.
She will feed the rice fields,
She will accept our woven offerings.

She will bear our ashes
and the fires of Kintamani
to the sea.

Formless, she neither takes nor gives;
we impose these significances
upon the flowers we cast in her. 

From birth to death,
Saraswati's river sustains us to the sea.

a butterfly
hovers before me
in a parking lot 
no less a messenger of hope, 
vanishing at last
into some blue distance:
whole, winged,
always going home


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summer Solstice Blessings to All!

by Denise Levertov

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension—though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it “Nature”; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be “Nature” too.

Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal—then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.

No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
—but we have changed, a little.

Denise Levertov

I woke early, on this longest day:
the light rose among
 the green conversation 
of  trees, a fading star, exultant starlings,
  two grey squirrels 
performing their morning ritual
greeting the only God 
they know, 

the Sun

Lauren Raine

Friday, June 15, 2018

"When the Word for World Was Mother"....... a re-discovered Performance from 1986

"Once upon a time the Word for World was Mother"

In 1986 I labored on a series of paintings, and an accompanying  electronic audio piece based upon re-mything the Biblical "Adam and Eve" story.  The performance was in collaboration with the wonderful Tucson artist Catherine Nash MFA.

 The painting, which was shown only once for that show, was big - 9 feet by 5 feet, and did not long survive being dragged around the country.  I still love it, and since I've been trying to archive my work these days, I confess that I still am sad that my "Gaia" painting had such a short existence.  I wanted to speak about the Tree of Life and our Mother Earth as being untended, degraded, forgotten.  The three figures represented the three aspects of the Goddess, and I wanted also to talk about how they were rising again in the world, confronting us all with the damage to our planet, our Mother Earth, and to the human spirit.

Only recently have I fully realized that these themes have never left me, occur over and over in, well, just about everything I do, one way or another.  I also recently realized that in pre-Biblical times, and also in early Judaism, the great Mother Goddess Asherah 2 was symbolized by a tree, and her devotees carried what was called an "Asherah pole", a piece of wood, to symbolize Her.  I think I have been a devotee of Asherah for a very long time, and perhaps this painting was my own attempt to speak for Her.

Much of my work then was inspired by Starhawk's Spiral Dance  and Charlene Spretnak's 

The Politics of Women's Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement.  1  Years later it was my privilege to work with Starhawk and the Reclaiming Collective, and I made the "Masks of the Goddess" Collection for the 20th Annual Spiral Dance in 1999.  And I was also privileged to meet Charlene Spretnak in the 90's. 

The Performance piece that accompanied this show, and others,   I also lost in the course of the years,  until just recently I found some old cassette tapes.  I had them turned into CD's, and then my friend Kathy Keller re-mastered them a bit for me.  And now I have them back!  So I'm delighted to share and archive "When the Word for World was Mother" on my Blog!  



It is typical of establishment thinking to call, as Wikipedia does, an Asherah pole a "cult object" and Asherah a "fertility Goddess", even though this deity was regarded as a great deal more.   With an established patriarchal biblical backdrop,  it would not occur to the powers that be to call the biblical God "a tribal war god", or  the "Fall from the Garden of Eden" cult myth.  Paradigms are viewed through the language.   The  Wikipedia authors discussing Asherah  also mention (right away I might add)  that she is the "consort" of  a male god, establishing, mythologically speaking, her subordination.  When one considers that western religion has evolved to include a monotheistic male god who creates completely alone with no wife, has no mother, nor a daughter.........well, no surprise there.  The Mother archetype  is long gone in western theology.   What artists, scholars, spiritual leaders, archaeologists and mythologists were doing in 1982 to return the Divine Mother to the world............is more important than ever.   

Friday, June 8, 2018

Chubasco! Monsoon! Waiting for the Rains...........

"Our Lady of the Desert Spring", performance from "The Awakening",
 a Play directed and produced by Annie Waters in Willits, Californis (2013)

In Southern Arizona, June is like January in, say, Minnesota - we just try to endure and survive it.  It's mind boggling hot in June, and dry, the month when fires start, when plants and people wilt, when kids fry eggs on the pavement a few times before becoming bored with it all.  Shimmering heat waves seem to rise from the asphalt pavement of parking lots, and people hurry from one air conditioned space to the next.  

We, and the parched and thirsty land, await Monsoon Season.  Chubasco, the great magnificent storms that, if all is well, begin in mid July and last sometimes into September.   The storms that seem to roll in the afternoons, announcing themselves with thunder and lightening, the delightfully scary and loud darkening of the sky, and then Boom!  A blessed wall of water descends (if the Thunder Gods are so inclined). 

Suddenly the streets fill with water, a river runs down Broadway, cars stop, and a few of us just stand in the rain getting drenched by the blessing of it all.  And then, just as quickly as they rolled in, the Katchinas, Chubasco, the Numina of the waters.........blow away, off to some other part of the desert.  Then you stand amazed at the river your street has become, the sound of emergency vehicles and car horns are heard (because there are always fools who try to drive in the midst of the downpour), magnificent rainbows are seen over Tucson, the pungent scent of chapparell is ubiquitous, and all are refreshed.  

Within two hours, the streets are dry, and seemingly overnight, the desert has greened and flowered.   Most of our water for the coming year comes from the Monsoons - if these patterns of rain should change, life here would cease.  Water is life.   Yes, we love our Monsoons!  

Sunday, June 3, 2018

"The Human Heart"........a poem by Campbell McGrath

"The Heart Sutra" (2009)


We construct it from tin and ambergris and clay,
ochre, graph paper,
a funnel of ghosts, whirlpool
in a downspout full of midsummer rain.

It is, for all its freedom and obstinacy,
an artifact of human agency
in its maverick intricacy,
its chaos reflected 
in earthly circumstance.

Its appetites mirrored by a hungry world
like the lights of the casino
in the coyote's eye. Old
as the odor of almonds in the hills around Solano,

filigreed and chancelled with flavor of blood oranges,
fashioned from moonlight,
yarn, nacre, cordite,
shaped and assembled valve by valve, flange by flange,

and finished with the carnal fire of interstellar dust.
We build the human heart
and lock it in its chest

and hope that what we have made can save us.

Campbell McGrath