Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The U.S. Department of Peace

Have we ever had a  "Department of Peace"?   I was kind of amazed to learn the history of people and times who have, in fact, tried to create just that.  It was first proposed in 1793, along with the founding of the Constitution..............It looks to me like this is an idea whose time has come - and gone - and come - and gone - and come.....and idea whose time has come very much today, if there is to be any hope.***


 From Wikipedia:

The history of legislation to create a Department of Peace

The peace movement in the United States has a proposed legislative history that dates to the first years of the republic:

1793: Dr. Benjamin Rush, Founding Father (signer of the Declaration of Independence), wrote an essay titled "A plan of a Peace-Office for the United States". Dr. Rush called for equal footing with the Department of War and pointed out the effect of doing so for the welfare of the United States in promoting and preserving perpetual peace in our country. First published in a 1793 almanac that Benjamin Banneker authored, the plan stated (among other proposals):
--Let a Secretary of Peace be appointed to preside in this office; . . . let him be a genuine republican and a sincere Christian. . . .Let the youth of our country be instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and in the doctrines of a religion of some kind; the Christian religion should be preferred to all others; for it belongs to this religion exclusively to teach us not only to cultivate peace with all men, but to forgive—nay more, to love our very enemies.
--To subdue that passion for war . . . militia laws should everywhere be repealed, and military dresses and military titles should be laid aside. . . .
1925: Carrie Chapman Catt, founder of the League of Women Voters, at the Cause and Cure for War Conference, publicly suggested a cabinet-level Department of Peace and secretary of peace be established.

1926/1927: Kirby Page, author of A National Peace Department, wrote, published and distributed the first proposal for a cabinet-levelDepartment of Peace and secretary of peace.

1935: Senator Matthew M. Neely (D-West Virginia) wrote and introduced the first bill calling for the creation of a United States Department of Peace. Reintroduced in 1937 and 1939.

1943: Senator Alexander Wiley (R-Wisconsin) spoke on the Senate floor calling for the United States of America to become the first government in the world to have a Secretary of Peace.

1945: Representative Louis Ludlow (D-Indiana) re-introduced a bill to create a United States Department of Peace.

1946: Senator Jennings Randolph (D-West Virginia) re-introduced a bill to create a United States Department of Peace.

1947: Representative Everett Dirksen (R-Illinois) introduced a bill for “A Peace Division in the State Department”.

1955 to 1968Eighty-five Senate and House of Representative bills were introduced calling for a United States Department of Peace.

1969: Senator Vance Hartke (D-Indiana) and Representative Seymour Halpern (R-New York) re-introduced bills to create a U.S. Department of Peace in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The 14 Senate cosponsors of S. 953, "The Peace Act", included Birch Bayh (D-IN), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Alan Cranston (D-CA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Edmund Muskie (D-ME). The 67 House cosponsors included Ed Koch of New York, Donald Fraser of Minnesota, and Abner Mikva of Illinois, as well as Republican Pete McCloskey of California.

1979: Senator Spark Matsunaga (D-Hawaii) re-introduced a bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace.

2001: Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) re-introduced a bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace. This bill has since been introduced in each session of Congress from 2001 to 2009. It was re-introduced as H.R. 808 on February 3, 2009 and is currently supported by 72 cosponsors. In July 2008, the first Republican cosponsor, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) signed on.

2005: Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota) introduced legislation in the Senate to create a cabinet-level department of peace a week after Dennis Kucinich introduced a similar bill in the House.

And we still don't have a Department of Peace. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Asherah: "If Women Rose Rooted"

"Gaia Shrine" (2003)

"Asharah" (2015)
“It’s no accident that the systematic suppression of the feminine has been accompanied down the centuries not only by the devaluation of all that is wild and instinctual in our own natures, but by the purposeful destruction of natural ecosystems. We long ago turned our backs on the planet which gives us life.” 
― Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted

I seem to be obsessed these days with ASHARAH, the ancient  "Tree of Life" motif.  Everything I've been doing for years seems to be "rooted" anyway, as I review work that goes back 10,20, even 40 years.  It is kind of amazing, look back at your journal, or in my case, my body of artwork, and you see that there is a "life theme" that has followed and defined you.  Where did it come from?  I don't actually know.  My drawings and paintings and sculptures (and yes, even my poetry) is always ENTWINED, ROOTED, WEBBED, LEAFED, BRANCHED.  Roots entangled among bodies, hands that sprout forests, trees with eyes that peep between leaves, going back to drawings I did when I was 18 or 19.  

"Kathy" (1974)

I want to explore this "discovery of myself".  Because now that I've concluded my 20 year "Masks of the Goddess Project", I am seeking a new direction, and what I am finding my dreams full of is actually a very old direction.  Source. Archetype. Hope. Entwined.

 So forgive me if I get a bit personal here................

"Gaia" (1986)

Above is the most ambitious painting I ever did, and I might add, I put the most passion into it.  It was an oil painting nine feet by 5 feet.  I only showed it once.  It was finally destroyed, as big paintings end up usually end up  being, because they get stored and carted around, unless you happen to be one of the few artists who is either famous, or independantly wealthy, which I am not.  I still love represented the Great Mother and the Great Tree, both angry, wounded, made barren by patriarchy and contemporary industrial civilization.  It almost got included in a book called "The Once and Future Goddess" by Elinor Gadon, almost except the author had gone to the publisher before she saw my painting.  

"Past Desire, Hope or Faith, I Rest in You, a Dream" (1993)

"Earth Hands" (2003)
Above is a painting I did in 1993, during the going-into-the-dark time of the Fall, when I was living in upstate New York.  So many images  with roots and branches entangled, entwined, sometimes with hands, sometimes with EYES.  At the top of this Post  is a new variation on the "Asherah" Tree Mother sculptures I've done in the past 10 years.  Below is the first clay sculpture I did in 2007 when I had a Fellowship at the Alden B. Dow Creativity Center to explore my "Spider Woman's Hands" Community Arts Project.  

Over and over and over this them of being rooted, connected, part of nature, the Tree.  So I think that is what my work now will be devoted to.  To all that is rooted, woven, to Gaia, to Asharah, to what we urgently need to reclaim and remember. 


"A man lies spread eagled on the cliff between sky and sea and land,  sand sunk, leaf-molten, blackberry crowned:  Toes, fingers, flesh reaching into the green redeeming Earth.  He is rooting himself.  He is taking himself back.  I lie down in grateful imitation, sharing this rite of re-membering."

........"On the Beach" (2001) Lauren Raine

 A garden thrives through a network of inter-dependant relationships.  Trees communicate  with each other through a vast underground weaving of roots and fungi.  The bees and other pollinators bring new life; the worms, microorganisms and  and other insects  assist in the decay process.  And the birds  assist in distributing seed as well.  We are no less part of that great Weaving.

The Black Madonna (2003)
Asharah  is a very ancient Goddess from the Middle East, with origins that are found in  Canaanite religions, certainly among the Semite tribes in the early days of the Old Testament before the imposition of a male monotheistic god (Yaweh).  It was written that in the Ark of the Covenant, among other items, was found Aaron’s  "rod that blooms".....which I suggest was originally an "Asherah Pole".  Asharah was often  represented as a tree or a rod/pole.  The  practice of carrying "Asherah poles" was apparently fairly common, until the later Patriarchs  eliminated this custom, along with the Hebrew Goddesses, as the deity became exclusively male and Goddess forms became "the great abomination".  

I take the liberty of copying a comprehensive article about Asherah by Susan Ackerman.

"Gaia Shield" (1995)


by Susan Ackerman

Asherah was one of the three great goddesses of the Canaanite pantheon. In Canaanite religion her primary role was that of mother goddess. In mythological texts from the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550–1200 b.c.e.) city-state of Ugarit, she is called “the creatress of the gods”; her consort at Ugarit, the god El, is called “creator.” El is also referred to as father and patriarch at Ugarit, as Asherah, likewise, is called mother. Their children form the pantheon of the gods, who are said to number seventy; a Hittite myth similarly mentions the seventy-seven and eighty-eight children of Asherah. On occasion in Ugaritic myth, Asherah performs the maternal role of wet nurse. Ugaritic and other Canaanite materials further associate Asherah with lions (indicating power), serpents (representing immortality or healing), and sacred trees (signifying fertility). Thus Asherah’s children at Ugarit can be called her “pride of lions”; the goddess is called “lady of the serpent” in second-millennium b.c.e. inscriptions from the Sinai; the late-thirteenth-century b.c.e. Lachish ewer dedicated to Asherah is decorated with images of sacred trees.

The Canaanite association of Asherah with sacred trees is also found in Israelite tradition. For example, one of the Canaanite epithets of Asherah, elat, “goddess,” is etymologically identical to the Hebrew word for the terebinth tree (ela)Another word for “terebinth” (alla) and two words for “oak” (elon and allon) are also closely related. Gen 2:4b–3:24 may further suggest the association of Asherah with sacred trees, since the way that Eve, “the mother of all living” (3:20), is described in the Eden story mimics in certain respects the role of the Canaanite mother goddess Asherah. If a correspondence holds, then the trees of life and of knowledge in the Eden narrative may also reflect Asherah imagery.

Most significant, though, in demonstrating Israel’s association of Asherah with sacred trees are biblical materials that describe the asherah (singular) or asherim (plural), the cult object(s) that are associated with the goddess Asherah more than thirty times in the Hebrew Bible. These cult objects are generally described as being in the shape of a pole or stylized tree. Like a pole or tree, they can be said to be planted, stood up, or erected. Conversely, when destroyed, these cult symbols can be described as being cut down, hewn down, or uprooted; they can also be said to be burned, overturned, or broken. Both the Greek and Latin translations of the Bible, moreover, render the words asherah and asherim as “grove” or “wood.”

According to the biblical record, these sacred poles or stylized trees associated with Asherah were erected by the Israelites throughout most of their history, especially during the premonarchic (tribal) period (Judg 6:25–26, 28, 30)) and during the period of the divided monarchy, both in the northern kingdom of Israel (1Kgs 14:15; 16:33; 2 Kgs 13:6; 17:10, 16; 23:15; and parallel references in 2 Chronicles) and in Judah, in the south (1 Kgs 14:23, 15:13; 2 Kgs 18:4; 21:3, 7; 23:6, 14; and parallel references in 2 Chronicles). These sacred poles were situated in various locations. In Judges 6, a sacred pole of Asherah is said to have stood beside the altar of the Canaanite storm god, Baal. The Bible also connects sacred poles with the “high places” (open-air cult sites?) and frequently mentions that they stood “on every high hill and under every green tree” (1 Kgs 14:23; 2 Kgs 17:10; 18:4; 21:3; 23:13–14; 2 Chr 14:3; 17:6; 31:1; 33:3, 19; 34:3; Jer 17:2). Both of these phrases are stereotypically used by the biblical writers to describe sites of idolatrous worship, implying, as does Judges 6, that the worship of Asherah was an apostate behavior in Israel and improper for followers of YHWH.

Yet despite these and other references associating Asherah with apostasy and despite the fact that the Israelites are explicitly forbidden to erect one of Asherah’s sacred poles beside an altar of YHWH, there are multiple indications in biblical tradition that many in ancient Israel did regard Asherah’s icon as an appropriate sacred symbol within the religion of YHWH. For example, one of Asherah’s sacred poles stood in the northern kingdom's capital city of  Samaria. The sacred pole of Samaria, moreover, which was erected during the reign of King Ahab (reigned 873–852 b.c.e.) was allowed to remain standing by the reformer King Jehu in later days even though he was at pains to remove all non-Yahwistic  imagery from the land otherwise.

Archaeological discoveries from the late 1970s and early 1980s have further indicated that, at least in the opinion of some ancient Israelites, YHWH and Asherah were appropriately worshipped as a pair. From the site of Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, in the eastern Sinai, come three ninth- or eighth-century b.c.e. inscriptions that mention YHWH and “his Asherah” (meaning YHWH’s companion [consort?], the goddess Asherah) or “his asherah” (meaning YHWH’s sacred pole that represents the goddess Asherah and that sits in his temple or beside his altar). An eighth-century b.c.e. inscription from Khirbet el-Qom, about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem, contains similar language in 1 Kgs 15:13 and 2 Kgs 18:4, 21:7, and 23:6 (with parallels in 2 Chronicles) indicate that at least during certain points in the ninth, eighth, and seventh centuries b.c.e., Asherah’s sacred pole was perceived as an appropriate icon to erect in Jerusalem, even in YHWH’s temple. 

Whether women, more generally, were more likely to be devotees of Asherah’s cult is unknown. There is some biblical evidence that does see women as particularly attracted to goddess cults (for example, women’s role in the cult of the queen of heaven, according to Jer 7:18 and 44:17–19, 25), and the various female figurines found in domestic contexts at multiple Israelite sites might also suggest this, assuming, as many scholars do, that women played an especially important role in family-centered religious activities. Nevertheless, the presence of Asherah’s cult in the Jerusalem temple and in the cult city of Bethel indicates that worship of the goddess was also appealing to men, given that it was an all-male clergy that officiated at these (and at every) Israelite religious site.

The presence of Asherah’s cult in Israel also raises questions about the nature of the monotheistic confession that is often assumed to be a core principle in Israelite faith. Generally speaking, biblical scholars assume that full-blown, radical, or philosophical monotheism came to Israel fairly late in its history, during the time of the exile in the sixth century b.c.e. Prior to this, we have abundant evidence that other gods and goddesses were worshipped in Israel in addition to (or sometimes instead of) YHWH. Yet even in these earlier materials, we sometimes see evidence of a phenomenon that comes to dominate in the exilic period: the impulse to assimilate the attributes of the many gods and goddesses of older polytheistic systems to the one god, YHWH. Language that speaks of God as mother, for example (as in Deut 32:18; Num 11:12–13; Isa 45:9–10, 49:15; 66:13), probably represents the assimilation of Asherah’s maternal characteristics to YHWH.

Ackerman, Susan. “The Queen Mother and the Cult in Ancient Israel.” 
Journal of Biblical Literature 112 (1993): 385–401.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Living With the Apocalypse (I.)

Newsweek, 2014

Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.

- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

I bought the above Newsweek special while waiting in line at a checkout counter in a grocery store in 2014.  I still can't quite fathom what it means to be in a world where people graze a magazine while buying beer and cookies about groovy  "places to visit before they disappear" due to global warming.  Are there "soon to be extinct" bus tours?  Cruise ships that will take you on a champagne cruise to islands that are sinking beneath the ocean and/or plastic waste?

                         "The World will end not with a bang, but with a whimper."
                                           ......T.S. Elliot, "The Hollow Men"
I've always had an  apocalypse problem.  I  grew up with THE BOMB in the 50's, and remember the mini bomb shelter my father built, with its barrels of water and shelves full of cans of beans and tuna  fish.  It seems so hopeful, naive, and sad in retrospect,  to think that such a stock would help a family survive a nuclear war.  But like all unimaginable horrors it was, ultimately..... unimaginable
Later I encountered literary and film variations on an atomic "End of the World".  Like the poignant  movie  "On the Beach" with Gregory Peck ("Waltzing Matilda" still evokes that heart-breaking image of lines of people waiting for  their euthenasia pills as a radioactive cloud slowly approaches the shores of Australia, the song playing in the background).  Or "Fail Safe", or Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles , which envisioned an inevitable  nuclear war that exterminated what Bradbury seemingly   considered a hopelessly violent and destructive  humanity.

Rock Hudson in The Martian Chronicles (1979)

Being a native Californian,   I also grew up with the San Andreas Fault hanging over  our free-wheeling, hedonistic culture  (actually under us) with an omnipresent End Times inevitability as well.  Fueled by Hollywood and various New Age prophets "The Big One" with its visions of L.A. skyscrapers collapsing and the San Francisco Bay splitting off as the Continental Plates shifted were always underfoot.    
In fact, the high stakes End Times has informed me and my generation, provoking  post-apocalyptic artforms, utopian communes and survivalist camps, dark Gothic  philosophies and Ascendance cults, as well as the truly  mind boggling denial that infects America, especially  now with Trump and regime.  For me The Apocalypse has always been a kind of backdrop to a life lived, as well, among astounding wonders and miracles of social change and new technology. 

I also came of age in the optimistic, activist 60's, a child of the wealthiest, largest, best educated generation the world has ever seen.  A time of huge possibility and creativity.   As a child I watched black and white tv (with tv dinners on tv trays) while I tried to understand images on the news about the  struggle to integrate the schools. I remember well the terrified faces of  those brave black children........fifty years later I watched a black president dance with his beautiful black First Lady at the inaugeral ball.

I've seen  the Second Wave of feminism, marched for women's rights, and later joined the emergence of a spiritual paradigm devoted to the  Goddess and Eco-feminism.  I've seen the development of ecology.  And gay rights.  On another black and white TV I've seen a man walk on the moon.  I've watched computers appear  in offices, and then  into the common market,  and just when it became possible to actually own one of the amazing  things, I watched the Internet appear to  change the world and human culture with stunning rapidity. Now people walk around with them in their pockets, and think nothing of calling someone instantaneusly on the other side of the world.
A movie poster displays industrial smoke stacks whose emissions form a hurricane eyewall
I don't know if the New Age we so fervently believed in in the 70's will include the arising of Atlantis  and a global Golden Age,  but I do sometimes think we might have the beginning of a technology for  it, if humanity can survive its self-destructive adolescence.   If we can survive human greed and violence, if we can find a "Webbed Vision".

Earth balance.jpgI remember reading in 1994 Al Gore's EARTH IN THE BALANCE (and what a different America I believe it would have been if Gore had rightfully been President. ). 

Later, when  a movie was made about Al Gore's work to wake up America to climate crisis,  AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH..........I thought, YES!  Now things will change, now the real priority will take precedence.   It's been over  ten years since AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, and in 2017 Gore released AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL as followup.   It did not do well in the movie theatres, being, no doubt, not very "entertaining".   In particular, AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL documented what an extraordinary international  achievement it was to create the Paris Accord on Climate Change. 

Now, thanks to Trump and our supposed elected Congress,  the U.S.A. was withdrawn from the Paris Accord, and  is the only country in the world that is not a member of the Paris Accord.  Is this really what the American people want?  To destroy the future to give short term profit to a few corporate entities?  But this is not what the presidential candidates are speaking about even now as another election looms for next year. This is not what our "elected representatives" in Congress are speaking about either.  And our "president" likes to joke about how funny global warming is (along with making jokes about handicapped people and assaulting women's genitals.)  Ha ha.  There goes the population of Zimbabwe to drought!  There goes Puerto Rico to hurricanes!  There goes Florida to the rising ocean!  Ha ha ha!

But Climate Change  is what scientists are speaking about.

As I write there is a record heatwave killing thousands in India, and in June it was 115 in Paris.  As I write there is no water in the capital city of Zimbabwe for some two million people.   
Here it is, accelarating  between the cracks of our so-busy lives. Streaming away on Facebook between the cat videos and the latest warning of what not to eat because it will make you obese or give you cancer. Looming like a shadow over the kids sitting lost over their cellphones on the bus.   As I enjoy movies at the touch of a fingertip, or explore the greatest library the world has ever known, which is literally at the touch of a fingertip.  As I plan a trip to the other side of the continent, a trip that will take me a day, and took my great grandmother a month and my great-great-great-great  Grandfather 6 months, and at the risk of his life. 

Or as I buy  a magazine, found ironically at the checkout counter (see above), next to the latest about Bruce Jenner's sex change or Brad and Angie's marriage problems.  "Places to see before they're gone".    At the checkout pun intended.

The end of the world.   Right there at the Check Out Counter.

Not the end of Gaia, Her evolution and experiments, which for all our cleverness and all the gods we've invented and called upon......includes us.  Probably not the end of humanity either, although there will surely be a lot less humans on the planet in 100 years.  But surely the end of so much, so many other species, so many beautiful places, so many lives that will never fulfill their promise.  Our magnificent civilization,  our expanding, insatiable, unsustainable,  global civilization, in its infancy, really.   

Today, as on other days, I ask myself how do you deal with that?  Maybe tomorrow I'll have an answer for myself, but today, I don't know.  
It’s 3:23 in the morning and I’m awake… 
because my great great grand children won’t let me sleep.
My great great grandchildren ask me in dreams:  What did you do?
(Excerpts from Hieroglyphic Stairway,  by Drew Dellinger)

I used to feel self-rightous when I pulled out my shopping bag, or recycled my paper, I would sneer at people in SUV's, feeling "appropriate" in my little mini car.  But now.....I don't.  We're all in this together  and the world my grandson will inherit, and all of those yet to come............will have to know it so much more than I.  

How do we live with this?  What do we do, in our small and daily lives?  Where is the wailing wall, the support groups, the encounter groups, the consciousness raising groups, the "sitting Shiva", the "climate change meditation rooms"......that might bring about dialogue, that could shake us out of our denial, our complacency?  If two movies by a former Vice President of the United States, and 98% of the worlds scientists, won't do it.........what? 

"A Webbed Vision" (2007)

Many people vividly recall from childhood unexpected moments of perceiving the grand unity.  Some experience the grace of inter-being on extended trips into the deep silence of wilderness. Some know a version of it in the post orgasmic state.  Some have reported that such "altered" consciousness occurs suddenly in mundane circumstances.  It seems to persist even through our deeply ingrained habits of seeing only separateness and fragmentation.
Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace:  The Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age
I can cast no judgement on others, or myself, for needing to turn away,  for needing to make my plans, plant my gardens.  I do believe, as Charlene Spretnak comments above, a "Webbed Vision" of interdependancy is the paradigm that just might save us all.  But this is not an essay in which I can somehow conclude with any hopeful closure or self-help cliche.  Yes, we all should be getting solar panels, recycling our gray water, eliminating plastic waste, driving the smallest cars we can get.........but we are all still part of the problem.   Perhaps the only place to begin, each day, is a spiritual place.   The point in the center of the mandala, remembering that we are each a part of the Living Earth  and each other.  From that place proceed with the day...............

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A River Runs Through Us

"Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. "

Norman MacLean, "A River Runs Through It"
These years I support myself with a successful AIRBNB/B and B.  I am now busy in ways I never imagined I would be.   "Home" used to be a van with a travelling cat, and in the complexity of my life now there isn't so much time to "call for vision" as I once had...........and when they do come, it too often seems  I have to put them at the bottom of the laundry list. 

I may have finally reached an age where I don't  inquire any longer about "the purpose of my life".  I reflect that if I have a "purpose"  at all, it is the sometimes  gathering and transmission of vision, the effort to communicate it.  I do feel that this is the sacred job of artists, although many would argue against that rather mystical idea.   We are all many layered, the world speaks to us in a multitude of ways,  and our depths run dark  and invisible most of the time.  And  a "river runs through us".  

I have a good friend who recently left me  a long message on my answering machine.  Almost 65, she wondered if we came into the world with a destiny, and if so, she is going through that threshold where she wonders if she might have "missed"  hers, not done whatever it was she was supposed to do, leaving behind her a wake of dissatisfaction.  To me she is an extraordinary, beautiful, accomplished woman who has led an adventurous and creative life.    How can I respond?  Why does it seem we no longer live in a world where such a profound conversation can be had over a cafe table, and a bottle of wine, deep into the night, instead of squeezed into 2 minute answering machines as we each rush, rush, rush through our ever complicated and busy lives?  I think I finally understand the Chinese curse:  "May you live in interesting times."    Sometimes I think distraction and busyness is the curse of  "today's world" and I determine to change that as I now fully push the  borders of old age.  

"Dreams.  They are never where you expect them to be."  
                                                                                                              ........From "Shirley Valentine" (1989)

Thinking about that conversation, I wanted to say that I no longer believe in "destiny".  We Americans are so materialistic, and grandiose, that the idea has come to mean some "great thing" -  so  if you aren't having a retrospective at the Met, or running an orphanage in Uganda, or in the Fortune 500, or married to a movie star, people somehow feel they've "failed", discounting all the glorious, beautiful, soul deepening experiences they've had. 

Perhaps a real soul  "Destiny" was to learn to love someone very  hard to love, a difficult child perhaps, or to learn to have patience with yourself.  Perhaps you met your Soul Mate, and your destiny was not to be together, but to experience the gift of loss.  Perhaps suffering was even one's destiny, so that empathy and compassion for others was deepened, the template of a healer.   Perhaps "destiny" is to do something difficult, and fail, never knowing how many lives you touched and enriched in the process, and not knowing until much later how you were  evolved by it.  Perhaps it's to connect with others through the mesh and warp and woof of synchronicity, never knowing consciously what gifts you've given each other, what waves and ripples of creative force you've sent out into the world.  We're dreamers and dreamt, and ultimately "a river runs through us", unfathomable, ineffable, splendid.

The quote at the top of the post  has always been so beautiful to me that I wanted to meditate on it for a moment, take a look into the depths of these waters.  It is from the novel that became also a movie, "A River Runs Through It", and the quote occurs in the end of the movie, as the lead character, now an old man, is fly fishing alone in a beloved river.  Perhaps Norman Maclean is speaking about what  storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes * called "Rio Abajo Rio, the river beneath the river of the world". 

Perhaps "El Rio" is also what Jung called the Collective Unconscious, I don't know. But Estes' speaks of the great River of Story, the universal waters flowing beneath the surfaces of all things, an image that moves me to imagine the deep underground rivers of the planet, and of our lives.

In her book Women Who Run With the Wolves *** she writes,
"Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayer making, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts. And even with these well-crafted practices, much of what occurs in this ineffable world remains forever mysterious to us, for it breaks physical laws and rational laws as we know them."*
"Endarkenment", Lauren Raine, 2009

 Why must we evaluate the value of our lives, our "destinies",  in such material terms of "accomplishment" and "achievement"?  I have tortured myself mightily with those magic words, rushing, rushing, rushing to do the "great thing", and meanwhile, missing so many tender and miraculous moments.  What a tyranny! 

Even in terms of  "enlightenment",:  as if there is some ultimate and permanent state of spiritual "light" and  "accomplishment" we are supposed to reach.  And if we don't, we are failures?   Why not think also of what has been our deepening   "endarkenment", the field of creative unknowing we have drawn our lives from?  Whether tapping, if only briefly, the wellsprings of El Rio in grief, creativity, meditation, or through the sudden psychic upwelling that can happen when the so-called ego cracks and splinters, it is always a blessing when the waters are revealed, for they remind us of the greater life. 

In her book Meditation Secrets for Women, Camille Maurine writes,  
  “The realm of the soul is not light and airy, but more like mud: messy, wet, and fertile. Soul processes go on down there with the moss and worms, down there with the decaying leaves, down there where death turns into life. Deepening into soul requires the courage to go underground, to stretch our roots into the dark, to writhe and curl and meander through rick, moist soil. In this darkness we find wisdom, not through the glaring beam of will, but by following a wild, blind yet unfailing instinct that senses the essence in things, that finds nourishment to suck back into growth.” (p. 211)

If the river of story has a voice, it's a voice that contains all voices, human and planetary, and the song it sings may be Om, may be "Nameste", I am Thou.  What we ultimately bring to that song cannot be measured or valued in any terms we might try to wrap words around, try to put into some kind of list, some kind of materialistic order, heirarchy, or, heavens forbid, monetary  value.  If there is anything such as a "destiny", it might be found,  as Estes (who is a Jungian psychologist) believed,  within our instinctual participation in the Great Web of being, and in so doing, the ways in which each of us can open a channel,  a well spring, for others.
"...[W]hat Jung called 'the moral obligation' to live out and to express what one has learned in the descent or ascent to the wild Self. This moral obligation he speaks of means to live what we perceive, be it found in the psychic Elysian fields, the isles of the dead, the bone deserts of the psyche, the face of the mountain, the rock of the sea, the lush underworld - anyplace where La Que Sabe breathes upon us, changing us. Our work is to show we have been breathed upon - to show it, give it out, sing it out, to live out in the topside world what we have received through our sudden knowings, from body, from dreams and journeys of all sorts."
Perhaps the individuality of each one of us, our uniqueness, is a gift we can only experience in the embodied here and now, a great adventure that occurs like a bubble on the surface of the River, shimmering in the sun, then merged again with source,  the  River beneath the River of the World.
 "The deep parts of my life pour onward, as if the river shores were  opening out.
   It seems as if things are more like me now,  that I can see farther into paintings.
   I feel closer to what language can't reach.
             Rainier Maria Rilke

Untitled, Lauren Raine, 1972

* (p.30, below)
** (p.96, below)

*** Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, Hardcover, 560 pages, Random House Publishing Group, 1992

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Roswell UFO Conference 2019

Stanton Friedman ((July 29, 1934 – May 13, 2019) gave up his prestigious  job as a nuclear physicist to become a full-time ufologist  (Photo: Rex Features)
I have always found New Mexico a strange place , full of artists, mystics, and dreamers.  Odd towns that seem to have fallen off the edge of the world, vast unpopulated  and awe inspiring distances, old bones, bright colors, and endless mystery.  Although not the most scenic place in the "land of enchantment", Roswell fits nicely into that description.  I like Roswell, not only for the UFO Conference I've attended a number of years, but also for its quirky character, and of course, the Roswell Artist Residency and its beautiful museum of contemporary painting.  

In 2010 I was staying in Carrizozo, a town that is, like many N.M. towns, half-way to becoming a ghost town, but with a small enclave of artists and available studios.  I never thought much about UFO's.  I guess I thought it was some kind of legend,  like Bigfoot or Atlantis.   But while in 'Zozo I met a number of locals who had stories to tell about what their fathers, or aunts, "had seen".  Then, around the 4th of July, I drove into Roswell, some 75 miles away across a spectacular mountain road, to buy art supplies.  I landed right in the middle of the annual UFO Festival (it is quite a circus, and that year included a "Miss UFO Roswell" contest).  And the annual Conference was going on at the Roswell UFO Museum downtown.  Two days later I emerged with a very different worldview, which is enlarged and clarified every time I attends the Conference.  

Famous "weather balloon" photo
I greatly admire the dedication of those I've seen here, perhaps the most prominent being  Stanton Friedman * who died this year, and there were a number of memorials dedicated to him.  Panel and discussions included long-time  investigators Don Schmitt, Frank Kimbler, Kathleen Marden, Donald Burleson, Thomas Carey, Paul Davids, and Kevin Randle.   I particularly enjoyed this time hearing the "old timers" speak, because it gave me perspective on the tremendous amount of interviews, field trips, discoveries and many misleads and dead ends that they encountered in pursuing the Roswell Incident and government cover-up for all those years.  They  have been coming back and investigating at their own expense for 20, 30, even 40 years, doggedly dedicated to finding the truth, and the story they have to collectively tell is important.  

 For any who don't know the story, not too far from where the first atomic bomb was exploded lies the little ranching town of Corona, somewhat north of Carrizozo.  In the mid and later 40's, the New Mexico desert, with the development of atomic warfare in Los Alamos, was a  "hot bed" (no pun intended) of  military testing.  The first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945 in the Trinity test in New Mexico; Robert Oppenheimer remarked that it brought to life a quote from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."*  In the 40's, the most important and powerful military testing in the U.S. was going on in New Mexico.  It is not impossible to imagine that not only the Germans and later the Russians were interested in what was going on there.  

In early July in 1947 a ranch foreman named Bill Brazel working  at an isolated sheep ranch  near the small town of Corona, some 75 miles north of Roswell,  found a field of debris on his land where a UFO had crashed.   Debris included pieces of metal with strange inscriptions, and an aluminum like material that could be crumpled up, but when placed on a table, unfolded itself and became perfectly flat.  

He contacted local police, who contacted the military in Roswell, the nearest large town, and also where there is an army presence.  Within a day, a large military operation converged on the site, and artifacts, including a presumed crashed vehicle, were taken to a hanger in Roswell, and shortly after that transported to several other possible sites under the greatest secrecy.  It is also believed that among the "artifacts" were several alien bodies.  One of the reasons this has been included in what we know of the Roswell Incident is that an undertaker in Roswell, as well as several other witnesses,  were apparently employed to presumably assist with preserving and transporting the bodies, and there are other reports from people (who are now, because this happened more than 70 years ago deceased) that say they saw  bodies as well as debris.  

The story was quickly covered up, with a story about it being a "weather balloon", and witnesses went silent, presumably because they or their families  were threatened with repercussions if they spoke out.  The trials that investigators like Stan Friedman and Don Schmitt have followed are convoluted and complex, and it's best to read some of their books or  watch their discussions or interviews to get an idea of the scope of the cover-up - I cannot do it justice here in this Blog.  But as Don Schmitt said at the panel this time, he kept coming back because "It's just about the most important story of the millenium - it has an alien vehicle, alien bodies, and a massive cover-up by the government.  It won't let us go."  I've listened to them for a number of years now, and I believe what they say.

I remember when I was in  Carrizozo I met an artist who had a small shop there who told me that her father was a janitor on the military base hanger in Roswell.  She said that he told her he saw "little people" in storage there, and he told her to never tell anyone else.  Did he make it up to impress his young daughter? Did she make it up to impress me?  That's my own small encounter with this mystery.  

A  speculation that interested me as well was that the UFO's were affected by electro-magnetic phenomena, and early July in New Mexico  is famous for the violent electrical storms they call the "monsoon season".  One thing is clear, and that is that the military in 1947 covered the crash up exhaustively, from informing the public that the problem was a downed "weather balloon", to threatening locals and their families who had any information or first-hand contact with the event.  Where are the bodies and/or artifacts now? When is disclosure going to happen?  No one knows, and this is a subject of debate among the dedicated men and women  who have been coming to Roswell for so many years. 

One of the presentations I found interesting in previous years was by Robert Salas  who co-authored a book, Faded Giant, about a UFO incident that he personally witnessed when he was a missile combat crew member monitoring the missile silo in Malmstrom AFB, Montana, in 1967. This was the height of the Cold War, and he recounts that he witnessed a number of UFO's apparently investigating the missile site.  During that sighting  all 10 of the missile systems went down, and inexplicably remained down until the siting was over!  I was impressed with Mr. Salas' humility as he told his story, and his belief that the UFO's were sending a message to us about the danger and futility of atomic warfare. 

The earliest known case of Alien Abuction was that of  Betty and Barney Hill in 1961, and since then many such stories have surfaced (and some inventive hysteria as well).  I was impressed with Yvonne R. Smith D.HT., a professional hypnotherapist who has been working with repressed memories of UFO abductees for many years.  She has released a new and updated edition of her book  Chosen:  From the Alien Hybrid Program to the Fate of the Planet  which is very disturbing and fascinating.    After thousands of hours of regressions she founded CERO - Close Encounters Resource Organization as a national organization to help people suffering from the trauma of abduction.  During her presentations she presents recordings of some of her  subjects while under hypnosis.  Apparently abductees can often  trace their experiences to early childhood (which might explain the presence of tracking devices found in a number of subjects), and abduction continues into adulthood.  Among some of her case studies are two double abductions, which she shares in her book.  Although most of the abductees are traumatized by their experiences, some apparently are not.   Here's a comment from her book by a woman who was abducted, and remembers having extensive "conversations" with the beings that abducted her:

"The point is that these creatures feel we take too cavalier an attitude toward the only environment in which we can truly be comfortable on a very deep level.  They see us doing something that they witnessed their own species doing long ago on whichever system they came from, something that grew imperceptibly,l incrementally, until it reached a threshold and then produced complete and quantitative change to conditions on which they could not continue.  

The reason they care is because they are also living in our environment, and they are barely hanging on.  I get the feeling they can't endure  our sunshine, our gravity, our geomagnetic fields, our high-octane emotions for long.  They've managed some kind of half-existence here.  Whatever we're doing that will have systemic, global impacts on us and economies on which we depend will make their tenuous existence even less tenable. 

I get the feeling  they are trying to manipulate our genetic material to create bodies fully adapted to our planet but which can also house their own kind of consciousness.  They are trying to create a body into which both species can incarnate and express their own styles of consciousness.  They're having a helluva time of it, though, above and beyond the technical difficulties of micro manipulating the extraordinarily complex DNA of Earth creatures.  Even as our bodies are not adapted to life on other worlds or permanent residence in spacecraft, their consciousness is not adapted to life in our stormy bodies and brains.  And, if we're moving as fast as they fear to altering irrevocably the conditions of life on Earth (theirs and ours) they may not have much time left to create a life form adapted to this world, a world which may ironically change out of their design parameters."

I suggest anyone interested in the subject read her most recent book, which can be ordered on Amazon.

 Last, I was disappointed that  Freddy Silva  was not there this year to speak about crop circles, as well as  sacred landscapes.  While it is now known that most the crop circles that appear are human made, there have been many that are absolutely inexplicable, and Silva has a great deal to share about this communion and phenomenon.  

After the Conference, to "cool down", I made my way to the hot springs at Truth or Consequences, N.M., which seems a fitting name and place to digest all of this!

Below, a recent (2017) movie about UFO's that is fascinating.  

UNACKNOWLEDGED:  An Expose of the World's Greatest Secred (Trailer)

Steven Greer presents new, top-secret evidence supporting Extraterrestrial contact including witness testimony, classified documents, and UFO footage while also exploring the consequences of ruthlessly enforcing such secrecy (2017).  Included in the documentary is commentary by, among others, Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the Moon.  Edgar Mitchell was a United States Navy officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, and NASA astronaut. As the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 14, he spent nine hours working on the lunar surface in the Fra Mauro Highlands region of the Moon. He was also the founder of the Institute of  Noetic Science and a well known UFOlogist and researcher of the paranormal.

Nuclear Physicist-Lecturer Stanton T. Friedman  was employed for 14 years as a nuclear physicist by such companies as GE,GM, Westinghouse, TRW Systems, Aerojet General Nucleonics and McDonnell-Douglas.  He became interested in UFOs in 1958, and since 1967 lectured about them at more than 600 colleges and 100 professional groups in 50 U.S. states, 9 Canadian provinces and 16 other countries in addition to various nuclear consulting efforts. He  published more than 90 UFO papers and has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs including on Larry King in 2007 and many documentaries. He is the original civilian investigator of the Roswell Incident and co-authored Crash at Corona: The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident” 

TOP SECRET/MAJIC his controversial book about the Majestic 12 group, established in 1947 to deal with alien technology, was published in 1996 and went through 6 printings. He is co-author with Kathleen Marden (Betty Hill’s Niece) of a book in 2007: “Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience”. His book “Science Was Wrong” with Kathleen Marden was published in June 2010. He has provided written testimony to Congressional Hearings, appeared twice at the UN, and been a pioneer in many aspects of ufology including Roswell, Majestic 12, The Betty Hill-Marjorie Fish star map work, analysis of the Delphos, Kansas, physical trace case, crashed saucers, flying saucer technology, and he has spoken at more MUFON Symposia than anyone else. He will be profoundly missed.