Saturday, June 29, 2019

"The Scarlet Bird of Paradise"........a Syncronicity

I have turned my home and property into an AIRBNB, which has made it possible for me to keep my home and studio, and also provides me with many interesting encounters with people who are  travelling.  The past month I've enjoyed early  morning coffee and illuminating conversations in the garden with Barbara.  Barbara is a retired hospice nurse, and also a Buddhist.  She is a wise woman who has deep insight into many things, a long life's experience to draw from, and has worked for most of her career with those who are leaving this plane of life and moving into the other worlds.  I've learned a great deal from her in the  course of these morning  conversations about death, consciousness, and spirit.

With the closing of the Masks of the Goddess Project, and the advent of my 70th birthday, I've found I have many questions about what to do now, as an artist, a human being living in such a troubled time, and as I enter old age, the limitations of old age,  and my final years.  Many images come to me now of possible art pieces and art projects - I always say "thank you!" when the Muse offers them to me!.  Conversations with Barbara have often engaged these questions, and I have spoken of how I long to be of service in some way, perhaps to find outlets to teach, to find ways to help people access their inner selves through art and self-expression.  And I often spoke of my longing to devote my art to the Earth.

It was just such a discussion we were having about a week ago, and I believe I was talking about how grateful I feel for the privileged life I have led, and also how I wish I could share more with others about the transformative powers of art making, particularly what I have learned by working with masks.  My garden has several bird feeders not far from where we were sitting, and suddenly a red cardinal appeared!  To those living in points east and north, this may not seem unusual, but in southern Arizona, in the hottest month of June, it is astounding! Songbirds migrate here in the winter, but what on earth is a songbird, a red cardinal,  doing in my garden in June? I've seen sparrows, the desert dove, woodpeckers, and finches in the summer, but never a cardinal.  

The beautiful creature lingered for a while.  When I woke up from a nap later that day, I saw and heard him singing sweetly and very distinctly on top of a tree in the garden.  When he appeared the following morning Barbara said that he was a message for both of us.  We haven't seen him since, but in the course of contemplating this "visitation",  I remembered a poem I wrote a long time ago.  It was about .......... love, the experience of love, and also the gifts of experience and knowledge that come from a lifetime.  I called it "Bird of Paradise",  and one of the lines was:  

"A scarlet bird flashes among the trees.  Fly free,  Bird of Paradise, fly into the morning from the other side of forever."  
It seems to me that  synchronicities, visions, dreams and spirit contact are outside of time, time being a function of embodied existence.  That poem, and that Cardinal,  carried an answer.........

But it doesn't stop there!  I thought I would write about it in my Blog, and so I searched for a photograph on Google Images of a red Cardinal for a post.  Amazingly when I found a photo I wanted, as I was getting ready to download it, I noticed the website and words beside the image - it said:  "What It Means When You See a Red Cardinal" !  The website is something called Psychic 2 Tarot, a psychic site I was not familiar with.  But their article about what it might mean spiritually when a Cardinal appears was perfect, just perfect.  So I share the poem I wrote some 20 years ago, and also take the liberty of copying from that very synchronistic website.  And I apologize to the author, because I could not find his or her name when I searched the website.


I pause at the door, key in hand
Breathing in the last of you
Pleasure that pierces heart and reason:
All I can give
is to give it back.

Back to the World 
to the dreaming earth, the singing waters,
dancing flames, to the open sky.
To the Circle at the center of all things.

World, here is my heart's unspoken delight:
I offer it back to you, with gratitude.
To play among the leaves,
to light my dappled path.
I ask no more than this.

I open my hand
A scarlet bird
flashes among the trees.
Fly free, Bird of Paradise,
fly into the morning
from the other side of forever.


What It Means When You See a Red Cardinal

Psychic 2 Tarot (author unknown)

Signs and messages are all around us. Many of them come in forms that are subtle and are often difficult to spot or interpret, but receiving a visit from a red cardinal is almost always a noticeable event. With their soothing song and bright, vibrant red plumage, red cardinals are impossible to miss — and there may be a good reason for that indeed.  In fact, these beautiful songbirds may be delivering a very important message, one that’s just for you. If you want to learn more about the secrets behind what it means when you see a red cardinal, read on below. Prepare to have your mind blown.

The Messengers of the Spirit World

Cardinals have been considered messengers sent by the spirit world for quite literally thousands of years. This notion spreads across a number of different cultures — wherever these beautiful red songbirds are found, the legend arises. It’s therefore not too surprising to see the word “cardinal” used to signify an important or meaningful object or relationship. Whether it’s cardinal angels, cardinal directions, or cardinal colors, the use of the word denotes something big and noteworthy.  This makes it especially appropriate that the word itself contains the Latin root word cardo, which means either an axis or a hinge — a point which everything revolves around or holds all moving parts together. Cardinals are, resultantly, viewed as the revolving point between our world and the spirit world, acting as messengers between the two.

Old Traditions, Sacred Meanings

Many indigenous people have old and sacred traditions and meanings associated with the cardinal. In many Native American languages, cardinals are simply known as “red birds”, and there are a number of indigenous creation myths where they feature prominently. Cherokee myth says that the Sun gives birth to the first red bird, making the cardinal her daughter. Meanwhile, the Choctaw feel that cardinals are associated with relationships and are often associated with changing relationship status — and sometimes as a warning for rough times ahead.

Many indigenous traditions hold that cardinals are associated with other sorts of change, such as the weather. Others still feel that cardinals are guardians or sentinels, that their red coloration provides protection from illness and from harm, and that cardinals can point you in the right direction while traveling. Whatever the specific tradition is, it’s universal that red cardinals play an integral role in many Native American belief systems.  This extends to shamanic approaches as well. Indigenous shamans use tools that include the medicine wheel; this specific tool incorporates the four cardinal compass points and cardinal color choices. Red, the color of the cardinal, is associated with the East compass point, the beginning of spring, and birds like the cardinal that can take messages to and from the spirit world. Speak your message to the East, the legend goes, and cardinals will take flight to deliver your words.

The Western Traditions: Cardinal Angels

There are seven Archangels, four of which are known as the Cardinal Angels. These four are Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, and Michael, and they have dominion over much in the Western Abrahamic traditions. Whole nations and cultures often fall under the sway of these Cardinal Angels, who are thought to provide support in the form of divine inspiration and protection.  This thought, of course, echoes much of Native American shamanic thought, which uses Cardinal compass points and colors.

Visitations from the Spirit World

Many feel that cardinals represent visitors from the Spirit World, or at least messengers sent by those that have come before us. Particularly insistent cardinals that sing to you or even approach you are especially thought to be bringing personal messages to us, perhaps in response to a request for guidance or because you’re hunting for the answer to a particular question.  In such a situation, it’s important to stop and think about what you’ve been struggling with and what this visitation may be trying to tell you. A visit can show you that you are not alone and that you are receiving the spiritual support you feel you need so desperately at the moment, and this brings many people comfort. Feelings of gratitude for the visit, both from the cardinal and from whatever force sent them, are quite appropriate in such situations, as are feelings of peace and reassurance that you’re on the right track.

Those Brightly Colored Spirit Guides

In many cases, a visit from a cardinal can be the delivery of a message from our loved ones that have departed. Cardinals can be signs that the ones we miss are still here with us, watching over us and protecting us. Cardinals may not be the only messenger our loved ones send us, though — anything that can catch our eye is a common and welcome choice. This includes any small, rare, or colorful animal or insect.  Winged creatures are especially good at getting our attention and are quite special when they make themselves known to us. From butterflies to dragonflies to hummingbirds and, yes, especially cardinals, whenever we’re visited by one it can be an indication that our dearly departed family, friends, and ancestors are showing us they still love us and care for us. In your own time of need, when you’re searching your soul for answers, our loved ones can often send us a cardinal in an effort to help us make up our mind or find the right course of action going forward.

Paying Attention to the World Around Us, Both Seen and Unseen

Finally, cardinals are a reminder to pay attention to the world around us and all of its many forms. The gorgeous red plumage of a cardinal against the white snow of winter is a reminder that even in a season where all seems cold and dead there is still life and beauty. There are things to care about, value, and be in awe of at all times in life, things that are special. This includes the people in our lives right now and those that may no longer be with us.

It’s this capability that lets the cardinal bridge the gap between our world and the Spirit World, acting as the axis that turns the two. Messengers on crimson wings, the special missives cardinals bring to us from the beyond should never be ignored but always considered with great importance — and great joy. Whether it’s a message about the relationships we have with others outside our family, those we have within it, or those we have with our blessed ancestors, heed the call of the cardinal and you will receive the wisdom of the ages as a result.

This article also appears on Psychic 2 Tarot 


Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Solstice 2019

The Buddha’s Last Instruction

“Make of yourself a light,” 
said the Buddha,
before he died.

I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal – a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.

An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.

The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.

And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire –
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something 
 of inexplicable value.

Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

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

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Carolyn Myss and the Subject of Honor

"We seem to be having a crisis of honor............Lying and deceit dominate public politics and public life, business, academics, and even the arts.  As a result our children have virtually no valid role models on which to model their own sense of honor."

Carolyn Myss, Why People Don't Heal And How They Can (1997)

Medical intuitive Carolyn Myss is one of the new paradigm's most articulate healers.  She has commented in several of her books  that we are becoming a culture without honor, which she likens to lacking a spiritual "back bone".   Without a "back bone" to support us,   there is very little to keep us standing as a unified body.  Without a personal and social sense of honor, we are like people without a foundation, without the strength to be sustainable.  This applies to individuals, it applies to families, it applies to nations. 

Under Trump endless  lying, corruption, nepotism, blatant adulatory as well as reducing the humanity of women to "pussies", disregarding the urgent warnings of world scientists about climate change, disregarding the Constitution, removing any environmental protections, and last, caging and punishing the most vulnerable of people, refugees seeking asylum.............has become normalized.  I don't know how much farther the formerly united states of America can fall into DISHONOR.  Which is why, in my opinion, this country is not going to be able to continue as a nation much longer.  It no longer has the honor needed to sustain itself.

Remembering some of Carolyn Myss articles about the importance of a system of honor,  I'm taking the liberty of copying below from an article she wrote shortly after the deadly  Tsunami that struck Japan in March of 2011.  I think what she has to say is important. 

by Caroline Myss on Thursday, March 17, 2011

An inspirational story from Japan is being shared,  from a sister in Sendai:

"If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come fill up their jugs. I come back to my shack and I find food and water left in my entrance. There has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open. People say, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."

This small story is touching the hearts of thousands of people. Today on a conference call, someone read this story to an entire group of people, then added, "What an example of love and compassion."  She was mistaken. Such actions are not just motivated by love and compassion. The absence of looting is not the result of love and compassion. Nor is the choice to stand in line patiently, waiting your turn. This is the result of having a deeply rooted sense of honor. The choice to not steal from a person who has already lost nearly everything in a catastrophe comes from realizing that such an act is the ultimate dishonorable choice.  The Japanese come from a society rooted in a long running code of honor, of not losing face.  Nothing would be more dishonorable to a Japanese person than to steal from another person who has lost home, business, or family, much less much of the nation they share.
An honor code is power - period. And we are witnessing that power holding the social fabric of Japan together.

In schools in the United States, words such as "morality" and "ethics", much less "honor" are practically banned. Fundamentalists and other such lunatic extremists consider those subjects "religious".  The result of listening to what in fact are the politics of these people has been, ironically, morally devastating to the generations that have since followed the ruling that banned the use of these words or courses involving discussions of that subject matter. Who now can speak about the importance of refining a personal honor code or the importance of studying ethics or learning how to navigate one's way through a moral crisis?

The lack of instruction of such essential soul knowledge is now evident in that we rely upon law suits to fill in the absence of honor. We just assume the lack of honor in another person, considering it foolish to do business without a contract or a lawyer. Even if we know them, when it comes to business - well, you just can't be sure honor stretches into that area of a person's character. Right? I mean, come on. Why? Because the other person might just lack a sense of honor - you just can't be sure these days. Why take a chance?Never mind refining our personal sense of honor. We would rather have our sights locked onto to the other person's lack of honor and that's that.

 The truth is we have become an obsessively litigious society precisely because we are no longer an honorable one. Or, as Benjamin Franklin would say, we are people without virtue. Trusting another, doing business with a handshake, honoring one's word - why, that's just considered old world. Who keeps their word these days?

We don't respect this entire spiritual wisdom to either demand it be taught in our schools - and NOT as a religious topic but as a HUMAN ESSENTIAL - or to insure that such sacred knowledge is passed within the home.  The handing down of a personal honor code is not a weekend course. It is taught through the example of an elder, a parent. Children inherently look for that instruction. They have a yearning to be schooled in honor because it requires something of them. It demands that they rise up to a certain standard of self-respect and from this standard, self-esteem awakens.

As I write this, memories of the disaster of Hurricane Katrina are flowing through my mind. Vividly I recall that the National Guard was called out immediately due to looting while streets were still soaked with water.  Rescue teams poured into the sea of confusion (no pun intended) while the chaos grew exponentially by the hour. Unlike Japan, panic, anger, and outrage soon followed.  FEMA was more than disorganized and unprepared, as people were ushered into a stadium. But my purpose is not to recall those familiar details. Rather, details of how we responded under crisis versus how the Japanese are now responding strike me as worthy of note............The people of New Orleans were told that the levees would hold back the water. As a result the much needed funds to repair them were denied. Structural engineers warned authorities that the walls were in desperate need of repair. but politicians and authorities did nothing about it.

Consider:   would we consider our politicians honorable individuals? Is this an assumption that most Americans make about their "elected leaders"?  Do we really believe many of them are even capable of telling the truth?  We now assume we are lied to in this country far more than we assume we are spoken to with respect, which is to say, told the truth.  And that is worth truly thinking about.

 We are treated with dishonor and we accept it as normal. How incredible is that?  Is it any wonder then that the Earth is so dishonored or nature or that endless policy decisions are made that lack any sense of honor or evidence of human dignity?
Living an honorable life comes at a cost. You have to be willing to stand for something, for values that mean something to people other than yourself. Your values have to make a difference in the world. They have to count, especially in a crisis or when the outcome of your choices - your word - matters to the lives of others.

Dishonorable people could care less about whether safety standards are actually met in nuclear plants or coal mines or in air traffic control towers.  Their interest is the corporate bottom line - profits. Never mind if the "losses" are human beings.  But the power of honorable people committed to making a difference in the world actually have the power to make a difference.

Consider that one paragraph from the woman from Sendai, writing about how the people of Japan are sharing everything in this time of crisis. Her words are piercing the hearts of thousands because they are true. They make each of us want to share, to keep our doors open, to be gracious, generous - to be honorable down to our souls.  That's the power of one person. I look at the people of Japan with prayers in my heart and gratitude for the example of an extraordinary people who have entered into the beginning of their dark night. I know ours is coming. I pray we learn from their example.

Caroline Myss, 2011

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fire Art..............

Going through my old files, I seem to have done quite a few paintings over the years about............Fire!  These are all paintings I really have never shown, most them lost by now as well.  Most of them were done in the month I was at the Cummington Community, in western Massachusetts, for a month, my very first artist's colony residency.  That was 1989, and it was such a magical month, the images just poured out of me, each morning I woke up with another one of them.  I believe they were about..........transformation, transformation of consciousness, of communion, of form, the element of fire representing all of those things.   Some of them seem strange to me now, clumsey, some of them I still like.  I don't really know what to say about them now, except that I wanted to just share them, finally, after all these years.    

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Carlsbad Botanical Gardens.........

"Dragon Tree Deva" (2014)
The Botanical Garden at Carlsbad

Where I found, some 5 years ago, some  very sexy flowers, Agaves with Attitude, and quite a few exotic Devas of the Garden........... 

No matter how I wish, I find I just can't write lately.  No new revelations come, other than it is so very important to notice the Beauty.  With a capital "B".   So my  mind, keeps going backwards.  I visited the Botanical Garden with my friend Joanna Brouk, and made these photos for her.  Joanna and I went to Berkeley together, and she was a poet, a novelist, and best known as an early, and influencial, composer of synthesizer music. So much of her music came from the magical beings she sensed in nature, the Undines and the Dryads.   She died  suddenly in 2016, and I so often find myself missing her.  As I approach my 7th decade, so much memory, and a lot of loneliness and loss  too.  Here is for Joanna, once again.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Night Blooming Cereus and Other Miraculous Events

The world is
not with us enough
O taste and see

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being

hungry, and plucking
the fruit.

Denise Levertov

Here is one of the loveliest milagros  of the desert, the  Night Blooming Cereus (which you can get a picture of if you get up really early in the morning, before the flowers close as the heat of the day advances).  This cactus only blooms for one night, opening after the sun goes down.   It is pollinated by moths, another resident of the night world of the Sonoran Desert summer.

I seem to write about this every June that I find myself here, in Tucson, where I live.  Because the event never seems to become something one gets used to or takes for granted.

I like to think of this extravagant generosity on the part of the Cactus Deva as being made to be seen with "night vision", because truly, they are "flowers of the moon", belonging to a different and less visible world.   There are miracles going on in your own backyard, all the time, astonishing events of beauty, cooperation, generosity, procreation, and hope.  That's what gardens teach me...........