Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Feast of Samhain

For obvious reasons, I won't be holding my  Feast of Samhain this year (see photos here of previous years Table and Altar).  But that didn't keep me from setting up the Altar to the  Beloved Dead and Ancestors, and of course, putting aside a bottle of wine and assorted treats for the day of Dia de los Muertos.........and leaving a place at the table for Spirit.   

To all who have participated in the Feast of Samhain with me for these years past, Samhain Blessings to all!  I hope that next year finds not only another Feast we can all join in together,  but a world with less chaos to hold it in.   And, of course............. I had to add  this wonderful rendition of "The Parting Glass" in this post. 

With much love and appreciation,


Orbs in my yard, 2012....................

Dia de Los Muertos Procession, Tucson, 2013

Monday, October 26, 2020

"Rooted" - Rainier Maria Rilke

If we surrendered
to Earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing-
each stone, blossom, child –
is held in place.

Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we must begin again
to learn from the things of World,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left.

This is what they teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

"How Surely Gravity's Law" by Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

Monday, October 19, 2020

"Childhoods End" - Chaos and Possibility

“Hope now lies in moving beyond our past in order to build together a sustainable future for all the interwoven and interdependent life on our planet, including the human element.  We will have to evolve now into a truly compassionate and tolerant world – because for the first time since the little tribes of humanity’s infancy, everyone’s well being is once again linked with cooperation for survival. 

Our circle will have to include the entire world


Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power 

I am a long time fan of science fiction (and fantasy), and whenever stressed prefer to retreat into other worlds, dimensions and planets.  2020 has  been a long, hard year for many, and I am no exception.  Covid19 pandemic and resulting fear, division and isolation, record heat in my desert home as a result of global warming, the depressing sight of seeing the American experiment in democracy in the  hands of a would be  dictator and a corrupt Republican oligarchy, and  add to this  a year of personal health problems (I recently had major surgery to fuse my spine, and am currently recuperating). 

 So much chaos, so much uncertainty, so much suffering in our world now.  And yet, perhaps, there are seeds of transformation on a very large scale within that chaos.  I hope so, I pray so.

I've been doing a lot of retreating these days into beloved  familiar worlds that feature unimaginable aliens, fey dimensions of ephemeral beauty,  and plenty of sword and sorcery!  I might add that I am not a reader who requires new material all the time................if I love a novel, I will visit it over and over, each time finding new landscapes  that help me to better understand and inhabit it.  I have never been one for whirlwind tours.

Two worlds I re-visited this summer were Childhood's End, (1953) a classic sci fi novel from the 50's  by Sir Arthur Clarke, the same author who wrote Sentinel, the story the famous film  2001 - A Space Odyssey was based on,  and a very much more recent one,  The One-Eyed Man  (2013) by  L.E. Modesitt Jr.   Lately I've found myself  thinking about both novels as rather prophetic metaphors for where we are as an evolving global humanity at the very threshold of our potential evolution from tribal, humancentric, and national identities to a new paradigm  within an inter-dependant global ecology.  

Arthur Clarke always wrote about sweeping  galactic civilizations  and mysterious forces that spanned eons, and his  1953  novel, Childhood's End  is no exception to his extraordinary imaginative powers, although aspects of the novel are dated.*  A 2015 SyFy miniseries (which I have not seen) was inspired by the novel as well.  The story concerns a chaotic, frightening  time in the near future in which something is happening on Earth - because, although it is not apparent, humanity is beginning  to evolve.  A strange race of aliens turns up as cosmic "midwives" to bring peace, prosperity, and ultimately to assist in the process of what will later be revealed as the end of humanity's childhood and it's next evolution as a transcendant collective mind.    

"The idea of a ‘living universe’ is not a new perspective. More than 2,000 years ago, Plato described the universe as a single living creature that encompasses all living creatures within it. In this view, we live within a living system of unfathomable intelligence, subtlety, power, and patience. In turn, we appear to be evolving expressions of that living universe, infused with a knowing capacity or consciousness and with an existence that is largely non-material in nature."

......... Duane Elgin

While I doubt that any benign space aliens are going to turn up to help us out in our time, now,  of collective adolescent crisis, reading this novel again after so many years seemed  never the less prophetic.    I think on the "New Age" movement of the 80's, my own firm  belief at that time in the "dawning of the Age of Aquarious",  and the interest so many had  in the Hopi Calendar and the Mayan Calendars that emphasized the end of the "4th Age" as we now enter into the beginning of the "5th Age".  This is, indeed, an extraordinary time to be alive.  

We have become a fledgling global civilization - how amazing, to think that I can instantaneously talk to someone in Africa just by pulling out a little hand held device in my purse!   That I could get on a plane, and in a day be in England - and equally, that now a virus originating in faraway  China within a year has become a global pandemic.  That we, a global humanity, and not volcanos or big meteors, are causing our planet's glaciers to melt.   Our "adolescent crisis" is causing  mass extinction,  and whole countries to become unsustainable of life within not millenia, but a few decades.  That I live in a country so obsessed with  patriarchal, tribal authoritarian  power that it invests nearly 60% of its tax base on the military instead of humane resources, and possesses weapons capable of destroying all life in one grand bid for "alpha male" status ........... is also not lost on me.  

As a collective humanity, we are indeed like children with a gun.  In all of our diversity, we face  an evolutionary crisis we MUST  evolve to deal with, and time is running out.  This on every level - from civilizations that prioritize sustainable ecological technology to re-visioning, or inventing, religious systems that are not based on ancient tribal war gods and renunciation of the Earth.   At its foundation must be an INTEGRAL, WHOLISTIC paradigm that recognizes and serves the inter-dependancy and common good of ........ well, all living beings.  Which, it seems, includes the entire Universe**.  I believe the children of the future will, as Clarke imagined,  will share a form of collective and non-local intelligence  necessary to human evolution, indeed, human survival.  Perhaps, the World Wide Web, for all of its problems and failings, is never the less the first demonstration of that. 

Childhood's End.

The second novel, much, much  more recent than Childhood's End (2013), was written by L.E. Modesitt Jr.  in response to an illustration (it is on the cover of the book).  He was asked to tell a story based on a painting by the wonderful visionary artist   John Jude Palencar  and what a story he spun!    The One-Eyed Man  is  about a planetary ecologist,  living in a future time when humanity has colonized planets throughout the galaxy, who decides to accept a job  on a distant planet called Stittara.  Stittara is a strange planet indeed, but it has  nevertheless been colonized by a population of human beings  with their very human conflicting ideologies,  and corporate entities preoccupied  with as much intrigue, secrecy, and power politics as anything we can see today.    
"Dr. Paulo Verano is a freelance ecology consultant who is just emerging from an unpleasant and financially disastrous divorce. When he is offered a consulting job on a faraway planet, he jumps at the chance to escape the ruins of his personal life, even though given the distance involved and the travel time dilation, it’ll be 150 years later if/when he returns home. The job itself is intriguing: Verano is tasked with studying the ecological impact of the human presence on Stittara, the faraway planet that also happens to be the main source for the anagathic drugs that have extended human life spans considerably.  

Once he arrives, he quickly becomes entangled in a complex net of political and corporate relationships. Stittara is a mysterious planet with many puzzling geological and ecological features, not to mention a colonization history dating back to well before humans first landed there. Mysterious creatures called “skytubes” that look like floating, translucent tentacles make their incomprehensible ways across the sky. Most of the official population lives in underground facilities to avoid the planet’s abnormally destructive storms.  In this very alien-seeming human environment, Verano must use all his personal and intellectual skills to try and uncover Stittara’s many secrets.  Verano is the titular one-eyed man, king in the land of those who are blind to the consequences of their actions."  

Tor Books

Ultimately, what our out-planet ecologist discovers about Stittara is something vast,  astonishing, and  terrifying - and it seems that no one,  except him, is able to see it.  "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King".  Because what he learns is that the entire planet  is not an isolated system of ecological niches, but it is alive, intelligent,  evolving - and self-protective.  Human beings, like other vanished  races before them, interfere with the well-being of Stittara at their own risk.  

May the near future of those who dwell on planet Earth listen well to the "one eyed men" (and women).

* No important female characters. and a dismissal of the Earth as holding anything other than human  life  (man-kind) as (man-kind) ultimately "rises up" into the transcendant beyond.  (indeed, it simply vanishes in the end having "served its purpose") This was very much the paradigm of the 50's, and I do not fault Clark for seeing the world with the limited eyes of his time.  Gaia Theory, even Environmentalism, came a decade or two later.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

A "Webbed Vision" - Toward a New World Story

                   A "Webbed Vision" - Toward a New World Story

By Lauren Raine MFA 


"What might we see, how might we act, if we saw with a webbed vision? 

The world seen through a web of relationships…as delicate

 as spider’s silk,   yet strong enough to hang a bridge on.” 


Catherine KellerFrom a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism, and Self  1


The quote above, from theologian Catherine Keller, has been deeply important to me.   I first read her book "From a Broken Web" in 2008, when I was pursuing my "Hands of the Spider Woman" Community Arts Projects.  The first project  was at the Midland Center for the Arts (with the Alden B. Dow Creativity Center) in Michigan, then at the Creative Spirit Center, also  in Midland (with Kathy Space),  and last when I was a Resident Artist at the Henry Luce Center for the Arts and Religion in Washington D.C. 


Perhaps because I live in the Southwest, the "legends of the Spider Woman" have always fascinated me as I encountered Her in Native American art.  Spider Woman is a ubiquitous Creatrix found throughout the Americas, with her earliest known origins among the Maya of South America.  Spider Woman manifests among the Navajo and the Pueblo Peoples of the Southwest as the "great Weaver".    Among the people of the Keresan Pueblo she is also called Tse Che Nako, the "Thought Woman" who weaves the worlds into being with the stories She tells.  Within this metaphor of the "great weaver", Spider Woman waits at the center of the Web of life, within which we are all connected, interwoven and co-creating.


Ts' its' tsi' nako, Thought-Woman, the Spider is sitting in her room

 thinking of a story now:   I'm telling you the story  She is thinking.


Keresan Pueblo Proverb from Carol Patterson-Rudolph 2 


My path on the trail of Spider Woman has been fraught with synchronicities, which I have come to think of as touchstones along the way.  Synchronicities, to me, are a mystical part of the overlay (and the foundational "under") of the metaphor Dr. Keller writes of.  As I write about   "A Webbed Vision", for example, I note that for the past weeks a spider has made its home on the ceiling directly above the keyboard where I write.  I have come to think of that spider as my muse - perhaps, fancifully, she is Spider Woman's envoy, weaving its patient web just above my head, reminding me each day of a vision I want to hold.

In her 1989 book Dr. Keller does not speak of the Native American Goddess Spider Woman, but she often references the Greek myth of "Penelope".  Penelope is a name with ancient origins that derive from an archaic Greek word meaning "with a web on her face".   It is likely that Penelope was originally a Fate or Oracular Goddess before she was later demoted in patriarchal Greek mythology to the faithful wife of Odysseus, weaving and un-weaving a shroud to avoid her suitors (it's always  interesting the way myths are transformed to suit the evolving mythos and power base of different cultures).   Yet within the earlier context of a more egalitarian society, "Penelope" would be one who could "see" and "weave" the beginnings and the ends of a life.  She might have been personified with a loom before her, or spinning a thread.  Taking the metaphor further, such a Goddess would "see" the inter-dependencies between all things, the Great Web spreading out across the landscapes of life.   



Pueblo mythology tells that when each of the previous worlds ended in catastrophe, it was Spider Woman who led the people through the sipapu, the kiva (or birth canal) into the next world.  As such Spider Woman is the divine midwife for the birth of each new age. According to Hopi cosmology, we have now entered the "Fifth World".  It is interesting that, in contemporary Neo-Pagan practices, there are 5 Elements that symbolize the "great Circle".   The Fifth Element is called "Center", and is represented with the color white, the union of all colors.  It is the last Element, and symbolizes the universal force or Aether that unites all the other Elements.  

I cannot resist imagining that the World Wide Web might just be is Spider Woman's latest appearance!   


"Spider Woman's Cross" motif in Navajo rug


“In Hopi cosmology Spider Woman was the first to weave. Her techniques and patterns have stood the test of time, or more properly, the test of timelessness.…..…..

Weaving is not an act in which one creates something oneself – 

it is an act in which one uncovers a pattern that was already there.”


John Loftin 3


As we confront the universal catastrophe of climate change, it seems to me that this is a significant and appropriate metaphor.  Indeed, a significant Prophecy:  for what we now confront concerns not just a tribe or nation, but all beings upon planet Earth.  We must evolve a new, global paradigm for this Fifth Age if we are to survive.   Spider Woman, bringing a vision of the Great Web of life, once again must be the midwife as She makes visible the connections, the strands of the Web,  whether we speak of  ecology,  economy, quantum physics, or integral psychology.   In our essence, as Jungian psychologist Ann Baring has said, "We are one".

Petroglyph,  Southern New Mexico


"The new myth manifests through the triple influence of quantum physics, depth psychology and the ecological movement suggests that we are participants in a great web of life, each one of us indissolubly connected with all others through that invisible field.  It is the most insidious of illusions to think that we can achieve a position of dominance in relation to nature, life or each other.   In our essence, we are one."


Anne BaringAwakening to the New Story   4


How indeed, as an evolving global society, would we think and act, if we saw, like Penelope (or Grandmother Spider Woman) "with a webbed vision"? Would we be able to change the catastrophic course of ecological destruction if we had such a theology based upon Relationship instead of Domination?  If our reasoning, and our way of seeing, was inclusive rather than dissectionist?  If instead of valuing competition and the "alpha" winner, we valued consensus? If instead of "fight and flight" in the face of danger, we instead pulled out the defense tactic found among female monkeys of "tend and befriend"?   If instead of renunciate, hierarchical religions that turn us away from nature and Earthly existence toward an abstract "heaven" or "nirvana", we saw ourselves as profoundly embedded in the sacred body and evolving soul of our living planet?


"The question is not so much "What do I learn from stories" as 

"What stories do I want to live?"


David R. Loy, "The World is Made of Stories" 5


 If each of us could, like Penelope, "see" ourselves holding a thread that originates with all of those who came before us - and touches all of those who will come after us - how indeed might we see, and act?


"The New Story coming into being is that the whole universe is a unified field. The world we experience is like a minute excitation on the surface of an infinite 

cosmic sea which sustains not only our world, but the entire Cosmos. 

We live within a cosmic web of life which underlies and connects all life forms in the universe and on our planet. Through a vast network of electro-magnetic fields We are connected to the earth,  the sun and the hundred billion galaxies.  

 So we are not separate from any aspect of planetary or cosmic life. "


Anne BaringAwakening to the New Story 6

As I watch the ongoing corporate greed that is eroding not only democracy, but the very life of our planet,  and the unreasoned ideology of capitalism (as opposed to local free enterprise) that makes it  possible for this new monarchy of the 1% to arise, I wonder sometimes if there is any hope for the future at all.  If I am not my brother's and sister's keeper, and they mine - who is?  Monsanto?  Walmart?  A civilization, indeed the raising of a single child, is a grand collaboration among many, and it might be said from that "webbed vision" of societies that the exploiters and warlords pounding their chests and sitting like dragons on their stolen gold....... are the parasites of a civilization, rather than any appropriate leaders.

We urgently need pragmatic ways to create and envision expanding community, which can be simplified to a fundamental sense of belonging.   Beyond that, we need an ethos and mythos that supports the fundamental, and foundational, understanding of inter-dependency.    If America was not a culture that idealizes "rugged individualism" where "good fences make good neighbors"  what other kinds of values might enhance the quality of life for us (and perhaps the very survival of our species) along with an extended community of many other species we share our world with?


"The Rugged Individualist" cheers when needy people are deprived of food, battered women are deprived of protection from brutal husbands, children are deprived of education, because this is "getting government off our backs.”

Philip Slater, the Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture 6


"Alpha male" individualism fails in every way to communicate that we live within a web of human and environmental inter-dependency, a web that is unimaginably vast and also very intimate. This is the "Webbed Vision" that sees and recognizes the links that must be restored.   A successful adult is so because of parents, siblings, friends, teachers, community resources, the backdrop of nature and environment, global society.........and distant ancestors that enabled him or her to be born.  Without a sense of belonging and contributing to that continuum as it reaches into both the past and into future generations, human beings end up feeling alienated, disposable, and without a sense of purpose.   Which is what an unsustainable, insatiable consumer system, as a placebo for the pain of spiritual and communal isolation, feeds on.


In tribal societies, survival depended on cooperation, as well as the collective ability to adapt continually to new environmental challenges, be it drought, invaders, or the exhaustion of resources.  The mythic foundation of any tribe (or civilization) is ultimately the template upon which they stand; a culture with a rigid mythos that cannot adapt and change is doomed to collapse.   Without a significant mythos of co-dependency in the face of global ecological crisis, the coming collapse of our civilization is apparent.  


"The culture that is holistic is holistic because its reasoning structure is holistic.  The problem we have with holism is that our reasoning is fragmentary, dissectionist, it removes us from relating things, it structures things in separate compartments in order to "have control"


 Rafael Montanez Ortiz 7


The Latin origin of the word "religion", religios, means to "link back".  To rejoin with the greater and divine whole in some way.  In my opinion, many of today's religions, at least in their institutionalized forms, fail in communicating  this ultimate "webbed vision" - in fact, as tribal social control mechanisms with millennia of often mutually contradictory doctrines behind them, they do exactly the opposite.  They separate, create discord and fear, and damn those who do not share their cultural or philosophical constructs.  Religions are essentially concretized mythologies - concretized communal stories.  


What stories are so many people and institutions telling about the world we live in, the 21st Century world of global civilization? How do these sacred stories - most of them with their origins in ancient tribal societies existing in a very different kind of world - serve, or fail, the world of today?

Returning to "religios", the "linking back" to what is sacred, patriarchal  Renunciate religions that teach us to renounce the world, the body, and the demands of relationships of every kind, either in service of some abstract "better place" (be it heaven, paradise, enlightenment or nirvana) or teachings that degrade earthly life as "impure" or "unreality"..............will not help us.  More importantly, they certainly will not help those who must come after us to live in a diminished world.   In the established and unquestioned   systems systems of patriarchal religions, divinity is placed "elsewhere", be it the literally conceived paradise that awaits the faithful, or a more elegant grand abstraction that teaches us "this is not real" but fails to describe what actually "is real".  This is a prime theme to be found in patriarchal religions, religions that have their origins in warrior ideology and warrior lifestyles.  It might be said, for an example, that the Old Testament God Yahweh, with all his punishments and rules, is a classic example of an authoritarian, warrior "sky god".  

And more subtly, the  New Age message that "this experience  is not real" which drives devotees to seek "the real world"  found in  some divine, other-worldly, perfected  abstraction once we are "purified" or "surrender" in order to have consciousness is raised sufficiently:  too often this "must happen"  through an authoritarian Guru or leader, with many of the attendant social abuses.  

To speak of "oneness",  to address creating a cohesive vision of holism that is appropriate to the world we live in today,  mythic systems that include  creative diversity within that "oneness" are needed.   Myths and symbols that can include many gods and goddesses, many voices and languages, and many ways to the truth instead of simply eliminating the competition.  Further, our world myth can no longer be simply a human world myth - it must include many evolutions, many other beings within the intimacy of ecosystems.  If we're to survive into sustainability.   

"We live in a world today in which the problems we face are all planetary" Philip Slater commented in his last book The Chrysalis Effect, “the polarization and chaos we see in the world are the effect of a global cultural metamorphosis".  Slater's view was ultimately hopeful - that we are witnessing the chaos of a new evolution.   That metamorphosis he spoke of, I personally believe, is based on the realization of inter-dependency with all life.  In his view, this is humanity's childhood's end.  We are called now to the world, each other, and the miracle of life, with a "Webbed Vision". 

As the New Year approaches, I personally would like to call on artists, writers, musicians, storytellers, and all other "cultural creatives" to help to make a new mythology for the global tribe.   The writer Ursula Leguin called them "realists of a larger reality".  Among the Navajo (Dine`) infant girls still have a bit of spider web rubbed into their hands so they will "become good weavers".   May we all now rub a bit of spider web into our hands for the work ahead of us ..........and, like Penelope, may we all now see "with a web on our faces".


“Hope now lies in moving beyond our past in order to build together a sustainable future for all the interwoven and interdependent life on our planet, including the human element.  We will have to evolve now into a truly compassionate and tolerant world – because for the first time since the little tribes of humanity’s infancy, everyone’s well being is once again linked with cooperation for survival.  Our circle will have to include the entire world


Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power 8


1)   Keller, Catherine, From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism, and Self,

       1988, Beacon Press

2)    Patterson-Rudolph, Carol, On the Trail of Spider Woman, 1997, Ancient City Press.

3)    Loftin, John D., Religion and Hopi Life, 2003, Indiana University \

        Press (first published January 1st 1988)

4)   Baring, Anne, "Awakening to the New Story", 2013, from her website:


5)   Loy, David R., The World is Made of Stories, 2010, Wisdom Publications

6)   Baring, Anne, "Awakening to the New Story", 2013, from her website:

7)   Slater, Phillip, The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture, 2008

       Sussex Academic Press

8)   Ortiz, Rafael Montanez Ph.D., interview with Lauren Raine, unpublished manuscript 


9)  Alstead, Diana and Kramer, Joel, The Guru Papers:  Masks of Authoritarian Power, 

       1993, Frog Books  

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

"Catriona MacGregor: The Wild Path" - Interview on The Mystical Underground

The Mystical Underground is a series of podcast interviews conducted by writers Rob and Trish MacGregor on their Synchronicity Blog........their Blog is always fascinating, and their interviews equally so.  I felt like sharing a recent interview here that touches deeply on Gaianism and communing with the living Earth.   Thanks again for your continuing inspiration, Trish and Rob!

Join Trish and Rob for a conversation with…

Catriona MacGregor has over thirty years experience in education and environmental leadership. She is a visionary bridge builder between nature and humankind – and an intuitive mystic.

Catriona oversaw one of the largest coastal sanctuaries in the United States stretching over 600 miles with wintering grounds & stop over sites for 98% of the long-distance migratory bird species in N. America.

Her conservation program led, in part, to the comeback of an endangered species for which she received a blue ribbon award from the Governor.

She has extensive experience in habitat management and species conservation and is leading a resilient forests initiative to apply innovative and bold solutions to forest & species management.

She’s an expert on environmental trends, she has advised scientists, government officials, non-governmental organization leaders, and the public on environmental topics.
Catriona was the Director of EarthScope’s Academy of Science and Communications for 15 years and she founded the International Bering Sea Forum, a public-private partnership and a diverse international coalition with representatives from 5 countries seeking protection of marine species and promoting the sustainable livelihood of coastal communities, indigenous communities.

After a mystical experience with a tree which brought her back to her ancestral Celtic roots, Catriona founded Nature Quest and has led Vision Quests and spiritual retreats for two decades.

She is the author of Partnering with Nature: The Wild Path to Reconnecting with the Earth, which won a gold medal from the Nautilus Book Awards, which recognizes world-changing books that promote positive social change. Previous winners include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, and the Tibetan author Thich Nhat Hanh.
Catriona has a Masters of Science in Resource Management & Administration and a Juris Doctorate. She was admitted to practice law in New York and Pennsylvania. She specialized in environmental law for seven years. Catriona wrote a Supreme Court brief on issues of environmental and constitutional law.

She also has a new book coming out called Secrets of a Celtic Mystic: Sacred Earth Prophecy.