Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Transformative Vision of Tara

  Om Tare, Tu Tare,
  even in the darkest prisons,   you offer your hand:
  Your touch cools hatred and grief.
  From you, the demons of delusion fly
 Praise Tara, whose fingers adorn her heart
 Light radiates from a wheel in Your hand.

It is an irony that the most profound and meaningful things in my life I, by and large,  I cannot talk about.  I share  my visionary or intuitive experiences  hesitantly, if at all, because ours is not a culture that accepts visionary experiences as true or meaningful, let alone open for discussion and interpretation.   And yet, for me, and I believe many others, they are true touchstones as we navigate the passages ebbing and flowing throughout our lives.     

The other reason is because these experiences, which are so important to me in forming my worldview, belong to "the Mystery".  "Mystery" is derived from a Greek word that means "that which cannot be spoken", and probably relates to the ritual Mysteries of ancient Greece.  Participants were forbidden to speak of them, and to this day we do not know what actually occurred at the great, once in a lifetime Elusinian Mysteries although we do know they were about the triple Goddess Persephone/Demeter/Hecate.  And indeed, some experiences seem to be too profound to speak of.  Doing so diminishes them.  Perhaps the spaciousness of poetry is best, because the Poem has wide spaces for the imagination to roam.

I've been re-reading "Journey of Souls" and other books by Michael Newton Ph.D.  and others from his  Newton Institute recently.  Newton, and later his students, used hypnosis to bring thousands of people into altered states of consciousness, wherein they would consistently, even if they did not particularly "believe" in past lives, describe past life events and, more importantly as far as Newton's research was concerned, "between life experiences".  The work is fascinating to read about, and there is no doubt that Newton devoted his life to it, ever seeking to understand (sometimes in very dry, academic ways) what his patients and clients revealed.

Because of re-reading his books, I felt like sharing a very important vision  I had in 1997, a vision that helped me to begin a new life, to  release the past, and a vision that  became the inspiration for the many masks I made dedicated to the Goddess Tara. I also created a spoken word performance dedicated to Tara as well.   I've come to the conclusion that such visions, such experiences, are personal Blessings.  And they also are universal, and as such, I believe I  should share them.   It was a profound gift.

White Tara Performance, "Goddess Alive", 2002,
conceived and directed by Macha NightMare

In 1997 I was getting divorced, and all ties were severing between us.  The ending of the marriage,  did not bring out the best in me, and I felt a great deal of remorse, emotional confusion, and grief.  In my effort at healing and self-growth that summer, I went to a well known energy healer, a Shaman,  in Massachusetts,  Jewell.   After a brief relaxation exercise, she put me on her table, and I went immediately into a trance state.

I found myself standing before what looked like many television screens, and each one was playing what seemed like  "clips"  from  movies.  Each scene was rapidly replaced by another scene.  I still remember some of  those "clips" quite vividly:  a ceremonial room decorated with  orange marigolds;  an emaciated old black woman lying on a dirty bed;  a heavyset white man with glasses, bundled up in a kind of fur parka;  African drummers, drumming with passion around a fire, and more.  Gradually,  I felt myself "pulled back", so that I seemed to be watching these scenes from a greater distance, as if they formed a patch-work quilt of moving images.  I remember thinking how incredibly beautiful it all was from that perspective, like a great, colorful work of art.
White Tara at the Parliament of World Religions (2015)

Then I became aware of an immense energy - an enormously powerful being that radiated (there's no other way to describe it) tremendous compassion and love.   

She had no form, just intense white light.  The only thing that seemed identifiable was that I felt the Being was female.  And  she communicated something like "Don't take on so, Lauren - look at all of this.  You'll meet again.  You can move on now."  

I might add that she also radiated an equally huge sense of humor!  I felt  like a little child getting a loving pat on the head from a Goddess.   If that makes any sense........

Then I was infused again with compassion, and She left.

When I came to on Jewell's table, I described my experience to Jewell.  I learned that Jewell  began her sessions with a prayer from the 21 Praises to Tara, a  series of Tibetan prayers to the  21 Manifestations of the Goddess Tara.  To me, that visitation was White Tara, Goddess of Compassion, manifesting to help me move forward to a new stage of life. 

I've revered Her ever since, made a number of masks for Her.  And indeed, shortly after that Vision, the divorce came through.  I packed up my car, and moved to a new home, a new community, and a new life in California, even as my former husband found a new partner and a new life as well.  I believe this was done with Tara's Blessing.

 Mana Youngbear as "White Tara" (2004)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Storms and Memoir

                 All this petty worry
                while the great cloak of the sky
                grows dark and intense 
                round every living thing.

               What is precious inside us
               does not care to be known
               by the mind in ways 
               that diminish its presence.

               David Whyte 

In this strange time of isolation, as the silent storm of the Pandemic Covid19 fell  like a blanket over Tucson,   I was  determined to renew my writing, and work on this Blog as a true journal.  However, I find that I have writer's block! What to write about that is "personal"...........and do I dare to be "personal", or is "personal" really even relevant, as storms break over the global creations of humanity?  

Still, I find that the quietude of this isolation  has found me  collecting memories, excerpts that  arise as dog-earred touchstones, like shuffling through the random pages of a book, in this case,  the book of my life.  I by no means fail to understand the suffering of so many as the Covid19 pandemic continues.  I've been on  a healing journey since the beginning of the year, and although I am much better than I was now,  my energy is still very much compromised, forcing me to move slowly, do little.  Like the empty streets of Tucson, I am "paused".  

Someone once said I should write memoirs.........well, I suppose I'm of an age when people do that, although I am taken aback by the vanity of such an idea.   And yet........I have seen some beauty  in my time, and that collateral beauty keeps  coming back, like a fragrance or a flavor.  I suppose I've repeated myself a few times............if caught at it, please forgive me. 

I've been thinking of friends I've lost.   Among them Felicia, who I did a large painting of as the "High Priestess" in the Tarot  when we were young students at Berkeley.  I worked so hard on that painting.........and now, like all my early work, I have no idea what happened to it.  It has taken me so  many years to learn to value my work, my time, and in general myself...........I look back at all of that early work, most of which I threw away, with regret, because much of it was beautiful.  

Felicia and I lost touch when I moved away in 1976.  And then, amazingly, we made contact again in 2007, when I happened to publish some of the Poems Felicia had left me all those years ago on my website.   When Felicia and I re-connected she was living in Washington D.C., and she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Shortly  after that she went to Germany to undergo an experimental treatment that brought the cancer into remission, for a while. 

In 2008 I went to Puerto Rico, where Felicia was staying with a friend, for a short but very memorable visit  after she had completed her treatment.  I saw her for the last time in 2009 when I was Resident Artist at Wesley in Washington, D.C.

Above is a picture I took of Felicia taking a nap in my hotel room in Puerto Rico.   Felicia passed through  doors that I can't open more than ten years ago.  I miss her.  

Puerto Rico:  I remember the heavy, tropical  atmosphere, as I happened to be there in the season of storms.  Intensities……. that’s what the tropics are, life at its most vibrant, virulent, creative, predatory, colorful………it is impossible to be in the midst of that potency of life and not become intoxicated with it. Intoxicated or terrified, or both. 

I had a room with a balcony at the top of a three story  hotel called the Lazy Parrot, in Rincon. I’m sure it’s a hopping place in its season, with  two bars below and tiers of balconies looking out over the green hills that wind down to the ocean, famous  for surfing and snorkeling. However,   I  had arrived at hurricane  season, and found myself pretty much alone in the hotel.  I felt a bit like a character from Stephen King’s “The Shining”, with a whole hotel to myself at night, not even an attendant in sight, empty bars ringing with the ghosts of bands and booze and laughter and sex.  Below me an empty blue pool, palm fronds and  chairs tied to the wall, and the wet, heavy tropical air,  whispering over wicker tables. 

I do not think I shall ever forget standing on the balcony, the sounds of the frogs seeming very loud, hearing a woman call for her dog in Spanish “Limon, Limon!”, and watching the sudden illumination of lightning as it revealed an advancing mass of vast clouds, rolling in from the  ocean. I could not but be awed by the truth of that moment, our lives, our plans, our hopes  existing in the brief moments between  storms. 

As the storm progressed, the lights went out.  There were no candles, or any attendants to ask about candles.  So, I sat in the state of Storm, with nothing to do but witness.

Fortunately for me, the storm did not make landfall at the hotel,  I did not have to find a basement to hide in, or hear the sounds of crashing glass and trees, and the morning brought breaking dawn as the tropical storm veered off in a different direction.    But I'll never forget that night of vigil, and the Collateral Beauty. 

I know that sometimes
your body is hard like a stone
on a path that storms break over,
embedded deeply
into that something that you think is you,
and you will not move
while the voice all around
tears the air
and fills the sky with jagged light.

But sometimes unawares
those sounds seem to descend
as if kneeling down into you
and you listen strangely caught
as the terrible voice moving closer
and in the silence
now arriving

Get up, I depend
on you utterly.
Everything you need
you had
the moment before
you were born.

~ David Whyte ~

Where Many Rivers Meet

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Keeping Quiet

Silent streets, quietude, the Corona virus quarantine has fallen across Tucson like a blanket.  This beautiful poem by Pablo Neruda came to mind to me, today.

by Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

*  A personal note:  I found all these photos from a visit in 2012 of some of the places I loved, and lived by, in California.  For some reason,  I took photos of my shadow.  Sometimes it occurs to me that I am always waving  both Hello and Goodbye, to the beauty of World.  Or perhaps they are gestures of gratitude.............yes, I think that is what they were.  Sometimes it takes aloneness, and quietude, to allow your shadow to speak to the World for you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hopi Prayer For Peace

Rare Archival footage Of Hopi Elders

A rare opportunity to listen to some of the last traditional Hopi Elders. This archival footage was first released in 1987 with the intent to show it at the United Nations.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Conversations Our Feet Don't Hear

I talked about summer, and about time. 
The  pleasures of eating, the terrors of the night.  About this cup
we call a life.  About happiness.  And how good it feels, the
heat of the sun between the shoulder blades.

He looked neither up nor down 
which didn't necessarily mean he was either afraid or asleep.
I felt his energy, stored
under his tongue perhaps,
and behind his bulging eyes.

I talked about how the world seems to me, five feet tall, the
blue sky all around my head. 
I said, I wondered how it seemed
to him, down there, intimate with the dust.

He might have been Buddha - did not move, blink, or frown,
not a tear fell from those gold-rimmed eyes 
as the refined anguish of language
passed over him.

Mary Oliver (from "The Truro Bear")

Old pond,
frog jumps in -


We have been underground too long

we have done our work,
we are many and one,
we remember when we were human.

We have lived among roots and stones,
we have sung but no one has listened,
we come into the open air
at night only to love
which disgusts the soles of boots,
their leather strict religion.

We know what a boot looks like
when seen from underneath,
we know the philosophy of boots,
their metaphysic of kicks and ladders.
We are afraid of boots
but contemptuous of the foot that needs them.

Soon we will invade like weeds,
everywhere but slowly:

the captive plants will rebel
with us, fences will topple,
brick walls ripple and fall,
there will be no more boots.
Meanwhile we eat dirt
and sleep; we are waiting
under your feet.

When we say Attack
you will hear nothing
at first.

Margaret Atwood, from "You Are Happy"