Thursday, March 28, 2019

More New Masks for my Upcoming Show


I've been busy indeed getting ready for my show in May, including finally finishing a new version of  my Book about the Masks of the Goddess Project.  

It is fun to have a chance to practice my mastery of my art.........I have not made many masks in the past few years, mostly because since I stopped doing the shows and "being out there" there have been few requests for masks.  But this is what I am good at, and it has been a great privilege for me to make these Goddess masks for others to use.  

I remember when I first started learning about the "Temple Mask" traditions of Bali, and started working with Ida Bagus Anom in Mas, which is near Ubud.  I was so inspired with the idea of sacred masks, masks that were used to "in-voke" the Gods, masks that were the "special masks" that were kept in the Temples, anointed and cleansed with holy water by the Balians, and maintained and created by a class of mask seemed so familiar to me, that concept.  Perhaps I once lived in a culture like Bali where masks were sacred, in some other lifetime............

 So when I returned to the U.S., the idea of making a collection of "Temple Masks" devoted to the Divine Feminine made sense to me.  And then my opportunity came along with an invitation to create masks for the Invocation of the Goddess at the 20th Annual Spiral Dance in San Francisco.  It seems fitting indeed that the Project should end in San Francisco as well, 20 years later.  And I am ....... happy to realize that the masks did fulfill that dream, and I have this chance to close with honor for the many people I've been privileged to share them with.







Monday, March 25, 2019

New Documentary about Ursula Leguin.....and more.......

"Earthsea" Map of the Legendary Land by Ursula Le Guin

  "To light a candle is to cast a shadow."

Ursula K. Leguin
One of my sheroes is Ursula Leguin, one of the worlds great Spider Women. Like Tse Che Nako of the Pueblo peoples, the worlds she has spun for all of us will always live in my heart, and her wisdom always comes home. I reflect that I have spent quite a few days in her worlds, on the boat Lookfar with Ged, among Those Who Walk Away From Omelas because paradise will never, ever  be enough, watching the passing of May's Lion and remembering a time when such things were many worlds she has taken me to. I feel quite bereft that she is not in this world with us any longer.

A recent documentary about her life is just released:

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin Official Trailer from Arwen Curry on Vimeo.

Ursula LeGuin Quotations:
• We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.
• There are no right answers to wrong questions.
• It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.
• The greatest religious problem today is how to be both a mystic and a militant; in other words how to combine the search for an expansion of inner awareness with effective social action, and how to feel one's true identity in both.
• The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerant uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.
• I certainly wasn't happy. Happiness has to do with reason, and only reason earns it. What I was given was the thing you can't earn, and can't keep, and often don't even recognize at the time; I mean joy.
• Reason is a faculty far larger than mere objective force. When either the political or the scientific discourse announces itself as the voice of reason, it is playing God, and should be spanked and stood in the corner.
• If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives.... But close up a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.
• What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?

And here is a video by an artist who also, like me, has visited the world of the Kesh, and knows what it is like, I think,  to be Always Coming Home.

Kesh from Vanessa Renwick on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

White Tara Sound Poem

At the Equinox.......

The Big Thaw

starts with a trickle

water running through silence
as innocuous as breath

a slight relaxation
at the corners of the mouth.

Just when winter
has become a habit.
An old coat the sun peels off 
with just  a touch,

your foot
leaves a signature
in new mud
shiny as  new skin
or fresh, primed canvas

You notice a blade of grass
green, defiantly green.

you take your coat off

a crocus opens
in the blue iris
of some one's glance.

Lauren Raine
Vermont, 1982

Friday, March 8, 2019

Bast, Cat Goddess of Egypt

Another new mask, this one dedicated to one of my favorite Goddesses, Lady Bast.  I have enjoyed the friendship of quite a few of her loyal subjects, and they are, indeed, a noble and wise following.

Her paws whisper on temple floors
Her eyes luminous as the moon
Her ears pricked, alert to danger
Her whiskers sense currents from the unseen world.

Guardian of cats and women and children
Possessor of the uchat, the all-seeing eye
Bast wards against dangers in the spirit world -
Evil beings, enchantments, nameless things
Visible only to cats.

Daughter of Ra, the sun
Lady of the East, the Moon
Her eyes hold light in darkness 


Ra the mighty sun 
appears at dawn as a baby
At sunset he is dying, and when he dies
Darkness falls.

But Bast prowls the Nile, 
gazes into the setting sun
Holds his fire in her eyes
Shining in the dark, 
until Ra is born again.

Bast is Mistress of the science of relaxation.
Bast luxuriates in her sensuality and agility.
She plays  with her children:
But leaps ferociously to their defense.

She is The One Who Tears, Little Lion -
Her sharp claws are the vengeance of Ra. 

Those who love Bast honor every cat.

Speak to them with respect
Lay gifts at their paws.
They call to her:

“Mau Bast! Mau Bast!”

Here is her blessing
Her secret wisdom is yours to know:

Sunny spots are best for dreaming.
Never waste a moonlit night,
and accept reality with supreme indifference
to the opinions of mere mortals.

by Mary Kay Landon

Sunday, March 3, 2019

New Mask: Saraswati

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.

When I was in Ubud quite a few years ago to study Balinese mask traditions, , every morning and at twilight I beheld the stately procession of 5 white geese making their way up the busy street I lived on, and then in the evening, heading back to whatever rice paddy they called home. Although people on motor scooters often went around them if they could, I was amazed at the utterly un-Western patience with which Balinese motorists followed behind the geese; they did not honk at them (although the geese certainly honked their own mysterious way up the street), nor did the Balinese try to shoo them out of the way.

"Sacred to Saraswati", explained my friend Nyoman.

Saraswati is the Hindu Goddess of the arts, of beauty, of beautiful language, and of  truth, all of which are related. From Her transcendant river flows  inspiration, nourishment for body and soul. She is often shown accompanied by a white swan.  As the embodiment of speech, Saraswati is present wherever speech exists.   And so it is that She is pre-eminently associated with the best in human culture: poetry, literature, sacred rituals, and rational communication between individuals. Even today, when a new baby arrives, grandmothers make a five pointed star - called "Saraswati-sign" - on the newborn's tongue with honey. The tongue, the organ of speech, is thus "hitched to Saraswati's star" early.


"Saraswati is the Goddess of learning, art, knowledge, and wisdom. The Sanskrit word sara means "essence" and swa means "self." Thus Saraswati means "the essence of the self." Saraswati is represented in Hindu mythology as the divine consort of Lord Brahma, the Creator of the universe. Since knowledge is necessary for creation, Saraswati symbolizes the creative power of Brahma. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped by all persons interested in knowledge, especially students, teachers, scholars, and scientists.

In Her popular images and pictures, Saraswati is depicted with four arms (some pictures may show only two arms), wearing a white sari and seated on a white lotus. She holds a book and a rosary in Her rear two hands, while the front two hands are engaged in the playing of a lute (veena). Her right leg is shown slightly pushing against Her left leg. She uses a swan as Her vehicle. There is a peacock by Her side gazing at Her. This symbolism illustrates the following spiritual ideas:

The white sari that the Goddess is wearing denotes that She is the embodiment of pure knowledge. The four amms denote Her omnipresence and omnipotence. The two front amms indicate Her activity in the physical world and the two back arms signify Her presence in the spiritual world. The four hands represent the four elements of the inner personality. The mind (manas) is represented by the front right hand, the intellect (buddhi) by the front left hand, the conditioned consciousness (chitta) by the rear left hand, and the ego (ahankara) by the rear right hand. A book in the rear left hand signifies that knowledge acquired must be used with love and kindness to promote prosperity of mankind.

Two swans are depicted on the left side of the Goddess. A swan is said to have a sensitive beak that enables it to distinguish pure milk from a mixture of milk and water. A swan symbolizes the power of discrimination. Saraswati uses the swan as Her carrier. This indicates that one must acquire and apply knowledge with discrimination for the good of mankind. Knowledge that is dominated by ego can destroy the world."

- Bansi Pandit The Goddess Saraswati

Friday, March 1, 2019

New Mask: Persephone

Persephone  is truly the Goddess of the Equinoxes, because She is both symbol  of spring and life's renewal when she returns to her mother Demeter at the turning of the seasonal Wheel, and she is also Goddess of death, wife of Hades, and Queen of the Underworld in the ending and dormant times as the Wheel turns.  

Having said this,  I allow myself here to move out of the great universal language of archetype, and will get a bit personal.  The truth of life in nature is that everything is changing, everything dies to become something else, or at least, make way for something else.  As beings embedded in nature, this is true of us as well, whether we like it or not.  The summer ends, and as we feast on the delightful fruits and breads of the harvest, we barely notice, indeed, we find ingenious ways to deny, the slow creep of winter.  And yet that beautiful, or horrific, or both, Leveler is already advancing over the horizon, implacable and indifferent.   Both Demeter and Hades have jobs to do.  

This is true of nature, this is true of biological life, and  it's true of our psyches as well.  When Persephone calls, I listen to what She has to say, whether it occurs in the flowering fields, or is a painful cry echoing from caverns deep in the Underworld.  And that is the point at which Hecate may appear with her torch (but that is another story).  

We all love the Song of Persephone in the spring, the song that tells us "this is the time to BE", to feel the honey sun on your shoulders, to love, to move away from the lonely tunnels of the mind and into the great Conversation of the fields, of the planet.

When Persephone calls from the caverns, not so easy.  Recently I had a meltdown from out of seemingly "know where".  All of a sudden, I couldn't sleep, found my face full of tears that would not emerge from my eyes, was angry, very angry, and having just completed a massive project  wanted nothing more than to jump into my car and just keep going, free.  I didn't, but I really, really wanted to.    You try to discover the language and content of that dark song too, what you need to know to become more fully human, what the soul is trying to tell you.  You don't "transcend" the nighttime  voice of Persephone, you listen and change,  you ultimately mature, you keep on moving.

We are approaching (again) the Vernal Equinox.  This is the liminal Goddess  Persephone's  time, the poised moment of Balance.  Which moving away from psychological jargon simply means realizing that we must, somehow, say "yes" to all of it, and keep moving, keep dancing the light and shadow dance.  Persephone will dance with us, will educate, if one can  accept this Moving Point of Balance.   

We are all, in the final analysis, Wanderers.

"Pesephone II" 2016
Persephone the Wanderer
by Louise Glück,

In the first version, Persephone
is taken from her mother
and the goddess of the earth
punishes the earth—this is
consistent with what we know of human behavior,

that human beings take profound satisfaction
in doing harm, particularly
unconscious harm:

we may call this
negative creation.

I am not certain I will
keep this word: is earth
“home” to Persephone? Is she at home, conceivably,
in the bed of the god? Is she
at home nowhere? Is she
a born wanderer, in other words
an existential
replica of her own mother, less
hamstrung by ideas of causality?

You are allowed to like
no one, you know. The characters
are not people.
They are aspects of a dilemma or conflict.

Three parts: just as the soul is divided,
ego, superego, id. Likewise

the three levels of the known world,
a kind of diagram that separates
heaven from earth from hell.

You must ask yourself:
where is it snowing?

White of forgetfulness,
of desecration—

It is snowing on earth; the cold wind says

Persephone is having sex in hell.
Unlike the rest of us, she doesn’t know
what winter is, only that
she is what causes it.

She is lying in the bed of Hades.
What is in her mind?
Is she afraid? Has something
blotted out the idea
of mind?

She does know the earth
is run by mothers, this much
is certain. She also knows
she is not what is called
a girl any longer. Regarding
incarceration, she believes

she has been a prisoner since she has been a daughter.

The terrible reunions in store for her
will take up the rest of her life.
When the passion for expiation
is chronic, fierce, you do not choose
the way you live. You do not live;
you are not allowed to die.

You drift between earth and death
which seem, finally,
strangely alike. Scholars tell us

that there is no point in knowing what you want
when the forces contending over you
could kill you.

White of forgetfulness,
white of safety—

They say
there is a rift in the human soul
which was not constructed to belong
entirely to life. Earth

asks us to deny this rift, a threat
disguised as suggestion—
as we have seen
in the tale of Persephone
which should be read

as an argument between the mother and the lover—
the daughter is just meat.

When death confronts her, she has never seen
the meadow without the daisies.
Suddenly she is no longer
singing her maidenly songs
about her mother’s
beauty and fecundity. Where
the rift is, the break is.

Song of the earth,
song of the mythic vision of eternal life—

My soul
shattered with the strain
of trying to belong to earth—

What will you do,
when it is your turn in the field with the god?

“Persephone the Wanderer” from Averno by Louise Glück.
Copyright © 2006 by Louise Glück.