Monday, March 29, 2021

"The Forest Man" - Real Green Men for the 21st Century

"The Green Man" from 1997 Rites of Spring ritual 

The Green Man is an almost universal archetype of the renewal of life in the spring, and it is, of course, beloved by contemporary neo-Pagans as well, symbolizing manhood as re-newer and re-generator instead of as "warrior", which so often becomes authoritarian  destroyer in a patriarchal, dominator, "alpha male"  based culture (and this includes "dominating" nature, instead of working with nature).  

The Green Man, by whatever name, is so very important for our time, and in considering this, I went looking for "living Green Men".  And boy (excuse the pun) did I find them!  What I learned gave me extraordinary hope, and a vision of the power of the Green Man (and Green Women as well) to bring rebirth to the land and  to the future, if we, as a global humanity,  can only listen to what these contemporary Green Men have dedicated their lives to.

Below is a wonderful documentary that I ran across almost by accident, about a man in India who single handedly, and with extraordinary dedication, planted a thriving forest, beginning his work in 1979.  His story began my search for other "Forest Men".   To watch and listen is to be not only inspired, but to feel hope.  Because I believe that this is what the future civilization will have to look like, these technologies of love, sustainability, Earth based science and spirituality, along with new and old ways for human beings to cooperate and get along with each other.  I believe, instead of vast space stations and digital robots and endless wars, the future will have to look more like a forest, or a garden, if there is to be a future civilization at all.  

And the message Jadav Payeng (and the others I have, through the grace of UTube, been able to share here) carries is that renewal can happen when humans become stewards of the land, and let Nature do what nature does, assisting in simple ways, like planting trees, or allowing environmental diversity to be protected enough to return. These regenerated forests and deserts truly offer us hope.

I am reminded of a book by Alan Weisman called THE WORLD WITHOUT US, in which the author researched areas around the world that had become abandoned or off limits to people, like the neutral or demilitarized zone between North and South Korea - and the extraordinary renewal that took place in such environments. There was also a 2008 television documentary called "Life After People" that explored the same theme.

Since, as I mentioned in the previous post, I can't think of what to say of late, I will let these people speak on this Blog instead. They are true Green Men.

Jadav Payeng, Majuli Island, India

Hugh Wilson, Hinewai Nature Reserve, New Zealand

David Bamberger, Selah Preserve, Texas

David Milarch, Redwood Forests of California and Oregon

John D. Liu*,  Re-greening the desert

(for a documentary by John D. Liu, see also


 And, of course, Tucson's own 
Brad Lancaster:  Water Harvesting in Arizona

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Old Dog Still Knaws at the Art World

Only a half bottle of Pino Grigio could make me come up with a title like that, but so I did as I am trying to kick start myself into writing something new.  Because lately I've been feeling like I have nothing else to say, I just keep going around in circles with the same themes, twitching them here and there, adding to, "maturing" them perhaps.  And I'm not just talking about masks or painting.  I reflect that  most of us incarnating on this planet  are not master multi-tasker souls (science seems to be indicating that always "multi tasking" isn't so effective anyway)...... I believe we are beings who have certain themes that inform our lives and for better or worse, we keep developing those themes throughout.  

I love the face of the painting above  because of the rather honest way I painted my own face, with an expression of  irony, touched with melancholy,  rather than serene sanctity, which is something alas I rarely achieve.  That expression no longer exists in the painting, as I felt obliged to sanitize it (it is, after all, dedicated to Gaia) by making the face less harsh and more serene and  divine in expression. 

Ok, also more boring, to tell you the truth, and I suspect that had I left it alone Gaia would not have minded. I know that the Great Mother  is full of contradictions and irony, love and conflict,  dark and light, as She has pursued Her vast planetary experiment  which includes us, Her most troublesome children (well, judging from their sudden demise, I suspect she didn't like the dinosaurs all that much either.  I occasionally feel we are headed in the same direction.)   She would not be offended by my  human contradictions and ambiguities.  I think.  I hope.

"The Green Man" (2021)
Lately I've been trying to learn how to paint again, and it's like "painting 101", I don't feel sure at all about the process, but that's  exciting too. It's a privilege when one has moments of "beginner's mind".   One of my roadblocks is that I sometimes find that I'm still, after all these years, carrying around the "art world", heaven's help me.   I don't need to impress them (whoever "they" are) or myself, I just  need to mentally shut up and enter the magic of  "Flow" and just make stuff.  Which is where it all began when I was discovering crayons on the sidewalk in front of my house at 7 (there was a certain shade of turquoise blue that to this day I remember with abject delight.)   

I waste  precious creative energy  because sometimes the  Fine Arts Realm  seems to be frowning over my shoulder,  critiquing me as I go.    I find myself tormenting myself with voices of "art world  failure syndrome"  -  that I have failed to become a really good artist, that I have failed to make really meaningful "statements",  that my work is too pretty, or spiritual, or not "relevant",  that I should, should, should......... damn.   I wonder how many others have such  familiar demons troubling their sleep?  
 Why do I continue to torture myself by reading Art in America, etc., feeling left out of those august ranks?  Why not just cancel the subscription and end the pain?  
Why not instead just re-read Tom Wolfe's  The Painted Word and feel smug and self-satisfied that I am not "conceptual" or even "virtual" (there was no such thing as "virtual"  when he wrote the book anyway)? 

I am not even sure I understand the language  any more......artist's statements are becoming very esoteric.  How is the below for mind bending?  Here is the Abstract  from a treatise on contemporary painting that came my way.  I have not read the article, being unable to fathom the introduction itself.  

"The artistic notion of the 'death' of painting needs little introduction. It has shaped the course of twentieth century art, and affected the lives and practices of millions of artists in fundamental ways, but the model of the human mind upon which it implicitly rests is no longer considered to have useful relevance in the twenty-first century. Cognitive science and evolutionary psychology have concluded that the mind is not a blank slate but content-rich at birth, and as such humans bear an array of innate expectations of reality and non-reality, many of which apply as much to the artform of painting as they do other cultural behaviours and expressions such as religion or music. This eclectic and creative thesis takes in a diverse series of case studies tracing the prehistory of painting in light of these cognitive propensities, from the beginnings of human culture in Southern Africa to abstract designs and hand-prints in the Palaeolithic caves, from Bushman rock art depicting swift-people to the reported experiences of painters living today, to uncover a perennial and foundational function for painting which cannot die: the ubiquitous sensation of an 'otherworld' beyond the surface of the canvas or rock face. This simultaneously new and ancestral approach to painting demands a rehabilitation of the medium as both a humanising self-expression and as beyond-the-self exploration in a modern art context increasingly estranged from the wider world. Painting as 'Liminal Contact' seeks to abandon artistic ideologies and limiting art theories of what is possible in favour of a direct image-based communion with human nature. "

What?   I didn't even know that painting was dead.  Yet this author does seem to offer hope, suggesting that painting as "liminal contact" can be a "direct image-based communion with human nature".  I will endeavor to read on.  

Although I am not sure I really want to have "communion with human nature".  I think I would prefer some communion with animals, or plants, or, sometimes, just about anything that gets me free of the chaos of human nature.  But I will endeavor to read on.
Recently I saw a notice for submissions to a Women's Show.   On the application it said:  "Open to all CIS women, Transwomen, female identified, and Non-Binary".  Whew.  Pretty much includes any one who has  felt "womanly" at any time, including those who wish to opt out of the whole thing by being non-binary  (womxn is the new word, so as to not be exclusionary).   "Woman (Womxn)"   has ceased to be biology and has become a mutable identity choice. 

What is going to happen to Judy Chicago's Dinner Party or Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues now? (Are all those vaginal images now politically incorrect or exclusionary?  Or will they just be archived as curious remnants of another time?)  And I have indeed become a dinosaur wandering about in a brave new  incomprehensible  art world. 

So what is left to me?  Freedom.  To just keep creating.  And if that  Great Monolith  of the Art World still tsk's at my ineptitude within my mind, I will politely ask it to leave and bother someone younger and more urban.    I am determined to  locate again that child with the luscious blue crayon.  I would like to make the work often a devotional activity.  And above all to, as the Navajo say, to try to  "Walk in Beauty".  That is what I would like to affirm now.   

That, and, the great lesson of Impermanence.

"Form Is Empty, Empty Is Form" (2008)

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Green Man


My continuing efforts to keep learning about painting has produced a Greenman for the Equinox!  I'm pleased with this little painting, which I did on a discarded cabinet door.   And......... Wishing a Blessed Equinox and Return of Spring to all!

The Green Man


I walked among the trees

I wore the mask of the deer 

remember me, try to remember

I am that laughing man

with eyes like dappled leaves. 

When you think that winter 

will never end

I will come.  


You will feel my breath, warm at your neck.

I will rise in the grass, a vine caressing your foot.

I am the blue eye of a crocus opening in the snow

  a trickle of water, a calling bird,

  a shaft of light among the trees.


You will hear me singing

among the green groves of memory,

the shining leaves of tomorrow.


I'll come with daisies in my hands,

we'll dance among the sycamores

once more

Lauren Raine  (1997)



Friday, March 12, 2021

The Hand and the Eye


"Hand and Eye" by Tylor Gore

A friend asked about the motif of the "hand and eye" Icon, so I pulled up this article from 2009, when I was obsessed with the theme and possible meaning of the "eye in the hand".  It had a way of occuring in my artwork, even as I was casting many hands for my Community Arts Project at Wesley Theological Seminary called "Weavers".   To me the Eye represents the "Eye of the divine",  seeing with a expanded, spiritual view as we touch the world with our hands, and as we create within the world with our hands.  It is divine touch, divine love, divine action.


I've been fascinated for years with the hand and eye motif. A few years ago,  while visiting a healer who does massage and energy work, I saw that she had an ancient native American artifact. It was of thick shell, about 3"x 2", stained, carved into the shape of a hand, incised to show the fingers and joints, and with an eye and pupil in the center of the palm. A hole was drilled in the top of this medallion or amulet, presumably so it could be worn with a cord. 

Design engraved on Spiro shell; Hamilton, The Spiro Mound, Courtesy: Michael Fuller, Professor of Anthropology, St. Louis  College (

It seemed to emanate a kind of "clarifying" energy, and being curved, fit into the palm of my hand. I don't have a photo of that  amulet, but the shell gorget to the right  is similar. The "Hand and Eye" motif, like the Spider with Cross, and the Cross and Circle motif (the 4 Directions unified?)  are found throughout prehistoric sites of the Mississippian peoples of the great river valleys, from Ohio to Alabama. These people have also been called the Mound Builders, leaving behind mounds and burial chambers.

 In 2007 I visited Wickliffe Mounds in Kentucky, an unplanned visit (I went to Kentucky to visit nearby Paducah's artist colony and the Mound site was on the way) that afforded me quite a few synchronicities, as I had just been working on my "Spider Woman's Hands" Project! 

And in 2015 I visited Mound State Park in Indiana, which was clearly built over a highly energized site, and, like stone circles in the UK, marked a ceremonial center of some kind. It is within 5 miles of Camp Chesterfield Spiritualist Community, which also afforded me many surprising experiences, and also, residents believe, has a Mound on the land. 

And then there is the awesome "Serpent Mound" in Ohio has also been built by  these ancient peoples.

For those unfamiliar with Serpent Mound, atop a plateau overlooking Brush Creek Valley, Serpent Mound is the largest landscape effigy in the United States. Nearly a quarter of a mile long, it apparently represents an uncoiling serpent; its "head" also represents an egg in the mouth of the serpent. It has been variously dated from about 1,400 years ago  or older. It's also geomantically interesting that this ceremonial mound was built on the site of an ancient meteorite strike. Some scholars also believe it aligns with the summer solstices, and also, coincidentally, with the constellation "Draco", suggesting it was designed when the star draconis alpha was the pole star. Serpent Mound is certainly one of America's greatest archaeological mysteries.  For a fascinating perspective on the spiritual and ritual uses of Serpent Mound, in particular upon the gestation cycles of women by independent artist and scholar Constance Tippett, visit her website The Moon at Serpent Mound ( artifact I held, a carved shell talismen of a Hand and Eye is probably 500 years of age, or older. Why did they wear it, why did they engrave it ?

What did this iconic image mean to these prehistoric people, who were the ancestors of the Cherokee and others? I am familiar with the "Hamsa", also called the "Hand of Fatima", a symbol used to ward off evil ( worn as an amulet, or over doors) in the Middle East, both by Muslim and Jewish peoples. This token is ubiquitous through the Arabic world.

"Seeing in the Dark" (2009)

But I wonder why this Native American Icon is meaningful to me, so that I continually incorporate it into my own artwork?  Perhaps it represents conscious mind in the works of our hands, in what we manifest. Beyond that, the Presence of God/dess, of the divine, the "one within the many", moving through the manifest creative and healing works of our hands, of our lives. An amulet not to avert evil, but to call forth divine vision  and creativity as we touch and shape our worlds? Does that make sense?

Here's an amazing "Hands with Eyes" mask made by artist Dan Lyke, which I found on the fabulous web page "Hand and Eye" created by T.P. Kunesh, whose fascinating (and wry) website shows him to be a philosopher and visionary worth knowing. My great thanks to Mr. Kunesh for the images and commentary he provided me with.

"Hands Mask" by Dan Lyke at Burning Man (2000)

White Tara, Goddess of Compassion, is also shown with the "Hand and Eye" motif - the Eye representing yet another means by which the great Bodhissatva manifests to help those who are suffering.

Here is some further information  I have taken from the writings of  Jungian psychologist Frank Adair, MD, and also from that of  Joseph Campbell.  Dr. Adair comments about this symbol:

"(The) inner Self has been likened to God or to "God within us". It has been called the light of nature that creates our dreams. Whatever "it" is called will involve some degree of projection limiting meaning. Somehow, the eye as symbol captures the pivotal point between the opposites, between the conscious and unconscious - where "the land meets the sea." The hand adds richness to the symbol. Hands can build the bridge between our inner world and the external world...The hands are the mediators between spirit and matterbetween an inner image and an actual creation. By handling, the existing energies become visible."

Large ceremonial centers of the cultures collectively called the "Mound Builders" or the "Mississippian" cultures were found in Moundville, Alabama, Etowah in Georgia, Spiro in Oklahoma and Cahokia in Illinois, and elsewhere.  It is suggested that the advent of Europeans coming to the so called  New World (the old world to the nations already here) had much to do with the demise of these cultures through disease and conquest.  The  mounds are the greatest sources of the artifacts of these peoples.  The eye, usually a simple oval containing a small circular pupil, may have represented  the hand and eye of Creator. The famous disc below has a hand pointing upward, and appears to be both sides of the hand (perhaps suggesting non-duality?) There are two knotted rattlesnakes surrounding the hand. Being knotted, they could further suggest the forces symbolized by the snakes (the snake power contained, controlled, or organized by the hand? Earth Energies, symbolized so often by snakes or dragons in early European cultures?  The protective power of the rattlesnake itself as it surrounds the sacred Hand?).

In ancient Europe and the Middle East  "snake" was  ubiquatous in its association with the Goddess, hence, the moving, serpentine, cyclical powers of the Earth/Earth Mother. While we cannot know what "snake" meant to these people, and the meanings of the iconic hand is only suggested by archaeologists, I think it can be said with some certainty that it did represent shamanistic power and/or deity. As Dr. Adair points out in his article, the motif of the "eye in the palm" is found in paintings of the compassionate Bodhisattva White Tara of Tibet, "She who hears the cries of the world". He further points out that none other than the great mythologist Joseph Campbell  has mused and written  possible meanings of this particular Native American stone disc:

"Interpreted in Oriental terms, its central sign would be said to represent the "fear banishing gesture" of a Bodhisattva hand showing on its palm the compassionate Eye of Mercy, pierced by the sight of the sorrows of this world. The framing pair of rattlesnakes, like those of the Aztec Calendar Stone, would then symbolize the maya power binding us to this vortex of rebirths, and the opposed knots would stand for the two doors, east and west, of the ascent and descent, appearances and disappearances, of all things in the endless round. Furthermore, the fact that the eye is at the center of the composition would suggest, according to this reading, that compassion is the ultimate sustaining and moving power of the universe, transcending and overcoming its pain. And finally, the fact that the hand is represented as though viewed simultaneously from back and front would say that this Bodhisattva power unites opposites.
Our picture depicts the dual aspects of psychic life which have been projected, since ancient times, as metaphysical realms. On the one hand, there is ordered consciousness symbolized by the regular appearance of the sun's "blazing eye;" on the other hand, there is the unconscious, a chaotic region of animal instincts, symbolized as "serpentine monsters" capable indeed of wrapping themselves around the ego and dragging it into its depths. Yet the American Indian projection preserves the fact that the unconscious is full of novelty and is a creative reality which can be harmonized with the structures of conscious living. That has been achieved aesthetically in our artifact.
The image of a "hand" at the center reminds us that this beautiful piece was made by human hands and hints at the requirement of human effort if we are ever to unite the opposites within ourselves. Should what we say here be more than intuition, should it also be rooted in the facts of the psyche and in the requirement to withdraw projections, then sensation has also been served. Serving opposite functions and honoring the larger duality of the conscious and unconscious psyche is, then, the modest modern equivalent of the prayers, offerings, and correct ethical behavior of the Mound Builders. (1)"


Adair, Frank MD

Campbell, J. (1990). The Mythic Image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 

Fuller, Michael Ph.d.:  Photos of artifacts from Spiro Mound courtesy Dr. Michael Fuller, Dept. of Anthropology, St. Louis Community College,(

Fundaburk, E.L. & Foreman, M.D. (1985). Sun Circles and Human Hands: The Southeastern Indians. Art and Industry. Fairhope, AL: American Bicentennial Museum. 

Gore, Tyler,   artist: 

Kunesh, T.P. The Eye in the Hand, 

Tippett, Constance  (

Walthall, J. (1994). Moundville: An introduction to the archaeology of a Mississippian chiefdom. Tuscaloosa, AL: Alabama Museum of Natural History. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

"Imagine a Woman" - for International Women's Day

Poem by Patricia Lynn Reilly

“I have learned to trust myself and so have the women with whom I sit in circle. We no longer choose to expend our precious life energy scrutinizing every facet of our beings to figure out what is wrong with us. Instead, we celebrate ourselves as gifted and powerful children of life.”

― Patricia Lynn Reilly, Be Full Of Yourself: The Journey From Self Criticism To Self Celebration

“Instead of ascending to enlightened states of being that involve the denial of the self, we have discovered that ours is a journey of descent: we look deep within to reclaim forgotten aspects of ourselves.  In our descent, many of us rediscover “Sophia,” which is the Greek word for wisdom. She is a feminine aspect of the divine found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Her presence in the male pantheon of gods has been obscured, but not completely eradicated. In the Gnostic writings, considered heretical by the “orthodox” church, Sophia was present at creation and escorted Adam and Eve toward self-awareness.

Women are reclaiming Sophia as a representation of their own inner wisdom. No longer is “god's will” imposed from outside of their lives—wisdom unfolds from within them and is in sync with their own natural gifts and capacities. No longer available to turn their lives and wills over to gods, gurus, and experts, they’re refusing to surrender except to Wisdom's urgings. No longer abdicating responsibility for their lives, they are employing their own willfulness in harmony with Wisdom's ways.”

― Patricia Lynn Reilly, A Deeper Wisdom: The 12 Steps from a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, March 4, 2021

A Synchronicity.............


Back in the summer of 2000 I had moved to Tucson from California, mostly to be of assistance to my mother and brother,  and also a great deal because, like many others, I could not afford to continue to live in the Bay Area.   I rented an apartment and settled back in to living in Arizona, not without some ambiguity, as I had loved living in the exciting environment of Berkeley.

Some mail continued to arrive for previous tenants, and one day a card arrived for "Angel M Grace".  I was struck by the idea of having a "credit card" for "Angel M Grace" and thought of it as good luck - I put it in my wallet, and I've carried the thing around now for 20 some years!  

Yesterday I was cleaning my wallet out looking for something and I pulled out my "Angel Card".  I had never actually read the line that says "Must Activate by 09/08/00."  Then I remembered that exactly 20 years after that "activation date" was when I had my spine operation - September 8th, 2020.   

In July, 2020 I got shingles, and in the course of dealing with this seemingly painful but not catastrophic problem, the doctor had me get an MRI.   A few days after that I found myself with an emergency appointment with a neurosurgeon!  It seemed that I had some dangerous spurs on my neck/spine that could lead to paralysis if not corrected!  They wanted to operate as soon as possible, and I now am recovered, and have a bunch of metal pins in my spine.  

I guess that card got activated!