Wednesday, September 28, 2022

"A Shrine for the Lost": The Sixth Extinction


In 2000, for a Samhain Ritual, I participated in a "Litany for the Lost".  5 people, standing in a circle, recited names of extinct and vanishing Species; the names of our fellow Beings on this inter-dependent, inter-woven planet.  I have thought about that for years, and just received a grant from the Puffin Foundation this past month, for which I am very grateful,  to create a "Shrine for the Lost".  We are not the only life forms striving to evolve on our beautiful Planet Earth, and as species are lost, the Balance of ecosystems breaks down.  
The loss of Species ultimately greatly endangers humans as well.

My Dia de los Muertos "Shrine for the Lost":  the Sixth Extinction   will consist of 4 panels, each panel 16inches by 72 inches (6 feet), hung on the wall.  Each panel will have 7 pages like the one above, with Lists of the Lost, and interspersed visuals.  The pages will run together vertically, kind of like the sample to the right, only the panel will be 6 feet long.  I want people to grasp the magnitude of the loss with these long lists.

In addition, the Shrine will have an Audio Component, a recording of a "Litany for the Lost":  5 voices calling the Names of Extinct or Vanishing Species (probably with some kind of musical backdrop as well).  My colleague Kathy Keller will collaborate on this with me.
And the Shrine will include my new book A Shrine for the Lost:  The Sixth Extinction.  


I cannot share here images of the finished Shrine, because it will not be installed until November 1st for the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos).   But I am pleased to share a bit of the Work in Progress, and as soon as the Shrine can be made active, I will be sure to share that as well.  

I have made application to create the Shrine at the 2023 Parliament of World Religions as well...........here's hoping.








And the List continues................
 

  

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

John Barleycorn and Mabon

 

It's that time again,  the Autumnal Equinox.  "Equinox" means "equal night", and it is indeed both a very, very ancient Pagan Holy Day,  and an auspicious celestial event!  On this day of Balance, I am wishing as always that humanity come into a realization of the importance of being in Balance with our planet.  

And I wish joy, apples, bread, and of course, beer, to all on this, the Second Harvest Celebration.   I felt like sharing, speaking of beer, something about the mythology of John Barleycorn,  "Little Sir John",  and the cutting of the sheaves.  Once upon a time, the world was much, much more alive and animated and mythologized than it is today, in our mechanical, soul less society.  Corn Dollies were made, the land was thanked, and of course, John Barleycorn's sacrifice was honored.  

John Barleycorn Must Die is a traditional English song - records of its origins go back as far as the 1300s, and it is probably much older than that.    Over time, many variations have arisen, and the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote his own famous version of the story of John Barleycorn. In the 70's, John Renbourne, Traffic, and Steel Eye Span popularized the song, along with many other  folk artists of the time.  John Barleycorn is a very ancient, prime myth indeed  - the Great King who is sacrificed, dies and is reborn in the spring as the wheel of the year's agricultural cycle turns. In many pre-Christian cultures, this motif is found as the Sumarian God Dumuzi, the Shepherd husband of the Goddess Inanna who goes into the underworld for part of the year, and returns to her in the Spring.  The same idea of the  dying and reborn King is found with the Egyptian Osiris, who is reborn in his son,  the Sun God Horus.

John Barleycorn is the personification of the grain, and the life of the grain from planting to harvest, transformation into beer, and then sowing.  After Barleycorn’s first death he is buried, and laid within the ground.  In midsummer he grows a “long golden beard” and “becomes a man”.  The songs of John Barleycorn go on on to describe threshing and harvesting. Barleycorn is bailed and taken to the barn. And then the grain is parceled out. Some is taken to the miller to make flour for bread. And some is saved and brewed in a vat to make ale. And some is planted, so that the whole cycle can begin again.   It is likely that versions of John Barleycorn songs go back to pre-Christian times, the accompaniment of  harvest rituals at Lughnasash, in August, or Mabon, the Autumnal Equinox

Some of these rituals survive to this day in modified form, most famously the sacrifice of the wicker man. These rituals tell the story of the death and eventual  rebirth of the god of the grain."*

  Photo with thanks to  Avalon Revisited

It might be noted that John Barleycorn is, in particular, also a God of Ecstasy - because he provides celebration and ecstasy as the barley becomes the source of beer and the beloved malt whiskey of the Highlands. He shared a style not  unlike the more Mediteranean temperment of Bacchus,  the  Roman God of wine.   The malting and fermentation  of the grains that form his body is also a part of his "life cycle" and divinity. Perhaps one of the most famous "ecstatic"  manifestations of the Wicker Man, his rituals of sacrifice, rebirth, and  celebration is Burning Man, the "harvest" festival that happens in Nevada every fall


It's interesting that in Robert Burn's poem, there are "three kings", similar to the kings from the east in the Nativity story.  Early Christians who came to the British Isles (and elsewhere) often absorbed native pagan mythologies and traditional rituals into Christian theology, and the evolution of the Story of Christ is full of such imagery in order to help the natives accept Christianity. Certainly John Barleycorn shares with the Christ Story the ancient theme of the death and rebirth of the sacrificed agricultural King. 

I am a great admirer of the wisdom traditions of Gnostic and esoteric Christianity, but I also believe it is necessary to separate the spiritual teachings of Christianity from  the mingling (and  literalization) of earlier  mythologies  in the development of the Church. 

For example, I believe the metaphor used to describe Jesus as the "Lamb of God" directly relates to Biblical (and Roman) practices prevalent in his lifetime  of sacrifice of lambs and goats to Yahwah (or, for Romans, their pantheon).  The later development of  the doctrine that Christ   "died for our sins",   may have some of its origins in the important, and quite ancient,  Semitic Scapegoat Rituals.  But observing recently a Catholic "Communion" ritual ("This is my Body, This is my Blood") I was impressed by the many layers of mythologies and archaic cultures inherent in that ceremony, still important to so many people today.  And one of those threads may very well originate in the prime agricultural myth of  the dying and reborn God, a long tradition from which John Barleycorn is yet another God who dies now at Harvest, and arises re-born  every spring.


John Barleycorn
by Robert Burns

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show'rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris'd them all.
The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong,
His head weel arm'd wi' pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.
The sober Autumn enter'd mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.
His coulour sicken'd more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They've taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then ty'd him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn'd him o'er and o'er.
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim,
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appear'd,
They toss'd him to and fro.
They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a Miller us'd him worst of all,
For he crush'd him between two stones.
And they hae taen his very heart's blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise,
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.
'Twill make a man forget his woe;
'Twill heighten all his joy:
'Twill make the widow's heart to sing,
Tho' the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!

And last, and so appropriate for the Harvest Time of Mabon, Steve Winwood of Traffic's version of John Barleycorn Must Die.   I love to hear this ancient song sung thus, it brings back to me something I don't see in contemporary music much any more, which is the use of music to tell stories, and through poetry, to continue the teachings of myth, which was traditionally the role of the Bard.    https://youtu.be/t8878chOvfI

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Verity" - Roman Goddess of Truth

 

I've felt compelled to make this mask (it's also a sculpture in progress).  I hope in time someone will come who wishes to use it, and create a story for it.  It seems to me that we live in a time of such disregard for Truth, for Verity, that it is very hard to move forward, to approach the real collective problems we face as a Global society, which are truly urgent and present.  And it is also hard to be a competent, functioning adult, I do believe, without access to as much as is possible, and a dedicated personal commitment to, the Truth. 

I think of what Jesus said in the New Testament of the Christian Bible: 

                                         "The Truth shall set you free"

That is so right, spiritually and functionally.  Seeking personal truth is a profound, and unending, endeavor, but the rewards of living without delusion, self-deception, false belief systems, and unaccountability are important to moving forward in our evolution.  

In Roman mythology, Verity (Veritus) is the Goddess of truth.  Veritas is also the name given to the Roman virtue of truthfulness, which was considered one of the main virtues any good Roman should possess.  She was the mother of Virtus, from which the word "virtue" comes.  Part of Her myth was that Verity  was elusive, because She  hid in the bottom of a holy well.  That, it seems to me, is a perfect metaphor for the sacred quest for Truth.  Often Truth must be sought in the depths, in dark waters of the self.  And yet, like the waters of a Holy (Wholly) Well (as in Wellness and Welling forth from the depths) that quest is transformative and life sustaining.

Truth (Victoria Memorial)”
 by Sir Thomas Brock
Verity was often shown as a young virgin dressed in white. Veritas was also  depicted nude, representing the "naked truth".  She is shown holding a mirror helping those who seek Her to "Know Thyself" The Goddess holds the mirror before Her,  confronting others with the irrefutable truth of their reflection. Sometimes she is also  shown with scales as well with a sword to cut away lies and deception.  Sometimes she is shown blindfolded. 

In this well known sculpture by Sir Thomas Brock, I find it also fascinating that the Goddess, in a Victorian era sculpture yet,  is shown offering both a mirror and a snake.  As the snake is a very ancient symbol representing the forces of nature, the cycles of life/death/rebirth, and the regenerative power of the Earth Mother,  I can't help but wonder if the sculptor knew this, or at least intuited it when he added his snake.  The story of Verity's roots are ancient indeed, as are pilgrimages to sacred wells, which are places of healing and vision.  

Another, much more recent and contemporary sculpture named Verity is the monumental 2012 stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst.

The 66.4 foot tall sculpture stands on the pier at the entrance to the harbour in Ilfracombe, Devon, in the U.K., looking out over the Bristol Channel towards South Wales.   It has been loaned to the town for 20 years. The name of the piece refers to "truth" and Hirst describes his work as a "modern allegory of truth and justice".[1]

 (from Wikipedia)


The statue depicts a pregnant woman holding aloft a sword while carrying the scales of justice and standing on a pile of law books.  The other side of the monumental stature  shows the "skin" peeled away from the figure to reveal the unborn child within.

For me, here again is a truly perfect metaphor for Truth:  because the Truth carries within the birth of a new life, a new evolution, a precious Child to protect and nurture.  





Sunday, September 4, 2022

"The Goddess of the Turning" and Reflections

 

I made this mask for Nanette,  Director and creatrix of Zuzi's Dance Theatre in Tucson, Arizona.  I've worked with her and her collaborators before and it's a pleasure to create a mask for her.  This mask is for her annual Winter Solstice event, and she requested an image that symbolizes the turning of the year,  Light into Dark,  Dark into Light.  So this mask became "The Goddess of the Turning", or "The Goddess of the Turning Year" to be more precise.

Masks keep turning up in my imagination!  Just when I thought I was done with all that,  the Goddess keeps nudging me with visions of masks and those unknown ones who might dance in them, who might tell their stories.  But I have no such community at present, so all I can do is make the masks.  In some other posts I'll show some of the new ones, including "Verity", which I'm quite proud of.

Artists never retire, although sometimes we get retired whether we like it or not!  But lately I have been ........... reclaiming a few things from the Saga of my life.  One is that a long time ago I went to Bali, and learned about their Temple Mask traditions.  It inspired me and gave me a whole new way to look at mask making (I had a lively business at that time as a mask artist for Renaissance Faires).  When I returned to the U.S. I was invited to make masks for Reclaiming's  20th Annual Spiral Dance at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco as the Invocation of the Goddess.  

And later it occurred to me that I had been given an opportunity thus to create Temple Masks within the American world I lived in.  To create sacred  Temple Masks dedicated to the Divine Feminine, to the Goddess with  all of Her many faces and names.  As the Balinese say, masks are "vessels for the gods".   How blessed I was when I saw the first ritual performance of my first collection of Masks of the Goddess at the Spiral Dance in the form of a Procession of costumed and masked women,  embodying Goddesses from 30 different cultures and times.  And that became a journey of some 20 years, a journey that, it seems, isn't entirely over yet.  

We will see as the Wheel of the Year Turns, and the Lady of the Turning presides overall.





Sunday, August 28, 2022

Further Thoughts on Temporal Density & the Loopy People Club


"There's a Crack in everything:
  that's how the light gets in."

Leonard Cohen

My previous Post has had me thinking, again, of an annoying disillusionment I sometimes feel with the New World  that the Internet has brought.   From this Saturnine point of view, I find myself taking a rather dark look sometimes at the Information Highway.  Are we always better off, now that we can "connect" so quickly? Or has all that access, paradoxically, resulted, sometimes, in isolation?

(as I write, a tiny spider drops onto my laptop. There She is, reminding me that it's all very relative. And my mentor Spider Woman points out thus that there are bridges over every abyss.)

Well, of course. The internet is the greatest library ever made.  It's changed culture so fast we have hardly had a chance to catch our collective breath.   Yet how has it also re-invented communication? Are we so over stimulated, so "busy", that we can no longer tell the difference between real intimacy, conversation, communion - and superficial or just  imagined "connections" with others? What about dis-information?

When I put up my first website 25 years ago I had a guest book, and even made a few friends that way.  Then the guestbook began filling up with spam. Emails between friends became group emails, things for me to "circulate".  I share less and less, and increasingly feel an unarticulated loss.  A loss because I realize that people receive hundreds of emails  daily, or information that is literally streaming by them at 70 miles an hour on Facebook or Instagram.   What I feel is diminished. How can I make myself smaller, faster, more flamboyant, so someone notices me?  There is so MUCH.  Everyone is so BUSY.  

Temporal Density.   And I seem to be falling through the crevices of modernity.



 Could it be possible there are other people like me, fraying, unraveling, beginning to say strange things to electronic answering machine menus that get longer and longer and more labyrinthine........lingering for meaningful conversations at checkout counters........mumbling Rilke or Lessing while ordering coffee at Starbucks drive thru......are they quietly wondering if they really are becoming invisible, and they do these things just to test the waters? 

Not drop-outs so much as drop-thrus.  Dwellers in the crevices.

If that's so, maybe we can find each other, start a secret society.  We'll become people who have fallen outside of the loop. Loopy people.   

Who knows, maybe it smells kind of like the ocean there.  Salty.  Maybe there are old wooden tables to sit at,  where you can watch the moon rise.  We'll have a drink and some of those long, long soul satisfying conversations that went out with the '90's and the invention of laptops and cellphones.   Conversations with pauses, hand gestures, that go nowhere and everywhere.

Our membership will include people who were geeks or misfits, but they reinvented ourselves to become something else, and are now regressing back to our earlier geek template because we're in various stages of aging, breakdown, confusion, exhaustion, overweight, or just waiting for rebirth while still inhabiting a body - all ages, sexes, races and economic backgrounds welcome. 

We can have comfortable campouts (in places like the Berkshires in July, when there are fireflies, and with hot showers and barbeques).......or go to Sumatra economy class and stay in a home stay for $3.50 a night, and drink rice wine and bat at mosquitoes and talk about art, or crumbling temples, or Hindu mythology, or lost loves, or spiritual ecology, or petroglyphs, and live in ways that are frugal. 

We will talk at length.  Leisurely, encircled conversations that wind and spiral around themselves, with memories that are really stories with no beginning, and no particular end, and all the lovelier for a little embellishment.

 We might burn little oil lamps to read cheap paperback books by and fall asleep without clocks or cell phones or bras. We would allow each other our delights, and our melancholies.  Exaltations and Maudlins are welcome as well.

 I won't apologize for "creating my own reality" in ways that leave me sad or discouraged sometimes. If any other aging geek in the bunch has a rough time of it, I won't promise I can make things better, or even that I'll always be able to listen. But I won't expect them to apologize either.  I won't send them any emojis, "likes", or photo-shopped memes either, as substitutes for human empathy.  And we'll never, ever talk about "money" or our various bodily complaints, unless it's absolutely necessary. 

We might, however, remember people we've loved, loved in all of its forms and fashions, agape, eros, hot or cool, and how privileged we were to have loved them, more so, if they loved us back in some way, for whatever moment or place or time. We might contemplate the real value of things, sweet things, hard things, natural things, vivid things, sad things, but all valuable things because they opened our hearts, and made us not only feel alive, but be alive.  We might talk about loss too, and death,  and grief, and learning eventually to live with loss, and to deepen from the hard gift of grief.  Yes, that too.

The threads in the tapestry that you notice, that stand out in the warp.

We might write poems.  Poems that come up in the middle of the night and insist on being scribbled onto a napkin.  Poems that no one else will ever hear, and it doesn't matter.  If we're feeling risqué, we might talk about Dionysus and the mysterious Eros of nature.  We might remember more personal examples worth sharing.  We might talk about books. We might talk about Georgia O'Keefe and Stieglitz and that woman who wrote The Solace of Open Spaces. We might talk about jazz; we might listen to jazz.

We might ask what god a Balinese Gamelan is speaking about, or is it a river, or is the god or the river, or both, speaking through the musicians?

We might come up with reasons why Beethoven wrote the "Ode to Joy", even when he was a joyless and bitter old man.  We might toast to Beethoven for what he gave the world, and then toast to every beach and river and forest we had the privilege and pleasure of walking in and talking to.

We might.  There would be time.



Thursday, August 25, 2022

Silence and Oasis: Reflections on the Need for Both

 `

 All those years
forgetting
how everything
has its own voice
to make itself heard.

All those years
forgetting
how easily
you can belong
to everything simply by listening.


David Whyte
From “The House of Belonging”

 

The photo above, of Lake Tamarisk at sunset, is on my desktop on my computer.  Just past my birthday,  I resolved to make this year about returning to Flow.  About getting off the  treadmill of temporal density, hitting the floor running when you wake up, life-as-laundry-list, over-committed,  multi-tasking,  goal oriented and goal setting, ...........etc. and etc. and etc.......... that somehow becomes the American Way of Life.  No time for reflection.  No time for Flow.  No time for Being.  No time.  No time. No time.

To that end,  I posted this photo of Lake Tamarisk at sunset on my desktop.  And bit by bit I have been de-committing, divesting, and fulfilling the committments on my "laundry list".  I am glad to say the list is already much smaller.  My goal is to get to where there is nothing on the list, and the Day is mine.   Mine to "spend", like someone with a hundred dollar bill in my purse, as I will.  No goals.  No objectives.  No responsibilities.  Just me, watching the sun go down in the middle of no-where (or no-when),  observing birds, water, air, letting it all speak to me.  Being able to listen.  Being able to be. 

Today is, as they say, the first day of my life.  Oh, and here's an article I wrote a while back, as a "back story" for that photo above.  Still like it a lot, and felt like sharing it again.  Reading it again.  As I linger over each lovely drop of my coffee.  Flow.

LAKE   TAMARISK

On my way to and from  Los Angeles, in the very middle of the California desert between Blythe and Indio,  is a mostly abandoned town called Desert Center. A sad circle of dead palm trees on the side of the highway attest to better days.   Desert Center once hosted General Patton's army training corps during World War II.  

I'm old enough to remember when the old diner was still in operation, if very dilapidated.  I used to like to stop for some not very good soup so I could sit at the counter and imagine the  soldiers  sitting there on stools at the counter  in prosperous times, maybe big band music playing on a radio while cooks fried eggs and potatoes.  But now it's just boarded up, and has been for a decade, and dust blows through the remains of every structure there, except, surprisingly, the post office - which suggests the presence of life and commerce somewhere, hidden away in the seemingly barren  recesses of Desert Center,  California.


However, the ghostly town of Desert Center is not what I write about............actually, as I sit here in a coffee shop in Los Angeles, having traversed the desert, enduring now  the ubiquitous sound of pounding rock and roll in the background (why is silence  seemingly so terrifying to people now,  even at 6:30 in the morning?  Why does it seem that  people no longer seem  able to eat, drink, shop, walk, or even  talk with each other without a  pulsing backdrop of  guitars and drums or screaming singers proclaiming their lust?).........ah.

The vast cacophony of the 21st Century, in which Silence is frightening.  

Yes.  What I  reflect on is actually a strange oasis some 15 miles from Desert Center's ruins called Lake Tamarisk. 

I first discovered it when I noticed, driving on the interstate at night, a circle of lights past Desert Center.  On a whim,  I decided to investigate.  What on earth is that, I wondered, in the middle of no where?  What I found was a lake reflecting the moon,  lawns with the tinkle of sprinklers, a wading white crane, and Silence surrounded by the dark mystery of the desert.  

So ever since I've stopped for an hour or two at Lake Tamarisk  as I've made that long trek to L.A.   Like the movie Pleasantville, it seems to me sometimes  that Lake Tamarisk is a kind of mirage, suspended in time.  That someday I'll look for it and it will have simply disappeared without a trace.

It seems to me as well that it's always about 1970 there, or maybe 1960,   when the little town was  built to house the Kaiser mine workers and their families.     I don't know if it has always been surrounded with lawns for golfing, but its little man-made lake reflects the colors of the desert, and birds float on its placid surface, and it derives its name from that.  

There is no store, no gas station, no restaurant there, and for such amenities  one must go some 50 miles.  But  there is a fire department and a community center and a little library.  They are always closed when I get there, the deck chairs stacked, the barbecues padlocked.  

I'm always there in late  spring or summer, when the winter people have left, and Silence is  what greets me in the empty parking lot beside the always closed community center.  Along with the occasional call of la Paloma, the desert  dove,  wind in palm trees, distant sprinklers and perhaps  a duck on the lake.  In all my rituals of visiting Lake Tamarisk,  I've never heard the sound of  a human voice, although clearly there are people who live there all year.  I've  walked around the lake,  never meeting a soul, and walking to the  edge of the grass or the paved walkway I  marvel at the way everything simply ENDS.  Take a step further, and you are in the vastness of empty desert.

There is a  swimming pool  that looks exactly like every swimming pool I remember from my Southern California childhood, complete with round metal tables and a  snack bar with rusty signs proclaiming Coca Cola! .........but it's usually empty, the gate locked.  I  have only seen it filled once, but no one was there..........still, it is not just a mirage, if it is sometimes full of water. 

I always find myself standing at the gate to the pool, and I can almost hear the faint sounds of  people drinking cokes and eating hot dogs.  Men in swimming trunks, women with one piece bathing suits, kids splashing and  bouncing on inflated inner tubes.  Girls in polka dot bathing caps with hula hoops.   I always feel a bit sad at such moments, as if they will all appear after I leave, when the sun goes down maybe. 

And I'm not invited any more, because somehow, I grew up.......

But what I do breath in, en route and returning, is the Silence I find at that strange little Oasis.  An Oasis, for me, not just in space, here in the desert, but in Time as well.   A place of Silence.    Silence to hear the sounds of the desert, the wind, the here and now of nature.  Silence to relax into, silence with room for gratitude, silence enough  to hear the sounds of sweet memory and the bittersweet voices of ghosts as well.  

Silence out of time.  





"Poets live with silence: 
the silence before the poem; 
the silence whence the poem comes; 
the silence in between the words,
as you drink the words, 
watch them glide through your mind, 
feel them slide down your throat
towards your heart 

the silence which you share with the poet
when the poem ends, sitting side by side"

.....Michael Shepard

Thursday, August 4, 2022

On Grace and Gratitude



I wanted to share  a wonderful reflection on gratitude by film maker Louie Schwartzberg.  He is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose career spans more than three decades.  I found the imagery here inspiring.....it's good to remember, every single day, what a gift the day is. 

 https://youtu.be/gXDMoiEkyuQ

Monday, August 1, 2022

Lammas Blessings to All!

from the Rainbow Bridge Oracle

Celebrating the FIRST HARVEST,  the BREAKING OF THE LOAVES,  contests of strength (such as log rolling, back in the day),  Country Faires,  and the Blessings of the Sun.  

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Kali


" Kali is the catalyst for saying "No more". She's the voice of women whose voices aren't being heard, women who need to open their mouths and speak for the first time. It's time to embrace the sword of Kali and start cutting away the delusions that are destroying our world. This is the ferocious mother who says "get away from my children, or I'll kill you." Mothers today aren't saying that. They're giving their children away. Giving them away to war, giving them away by allowing our environment to be depleted, giving permission to the powers that be to destroy their future.  This time of change is the dance of Kali."

KALI

 

Once upon a time,

The world became populated by demons: 

They filled the world with their insatiable greed

and reproduced themselves endlessly

 

They ate the light of day,

They soiled the air

They consumed the trees,

They swallowed the waters

They devoured the lands

 

Eating, eating eating!  Fill me!  Fill me! 

Until there were no more things of beauty made

or new dreams dreamed

or children born. 

 

The Gods  called to Me,

The unborn ones called to Me.

The time had come

to say Enough.

And.....NO MORE!

 I, I am the Goddess of No More! 

I, I am the one who devours

I, I am the shadow, the flame, the dancing feet

 I....I am the Mother

of all those who are yet to come.

 

Jai Ma, Kali Ma!


(1999)  



INTERVIEW WITH A SACRED DANCER:  Drissana Devananda

When the Hindu Gods could not defeat a plague of demons, they called at last upon Kali.

 Severed heads adorn Her necklace, Her skin is black as night, and Her tongue protrudes from Her black face with the bloodlust of battle, and the immense laughter of Kali, destroyer of illusion, who sees beyond all appearances. Kali's dance is the destruction that must occur for each new beginning. Kali's love is tough love; yet the dancing feet and the flaming sword of Kali are among the most powerful expressions of Divine Love.

I wanted to create a performance for Kali. As I drove to the event, I brought a costume, and snake with me, thinking the snake represented the serpentine energy of the kundalini. But I didn't know what to do.

I went on stage, and read a paper, I just let the mundane despair come out. "I can't stand it!" I said, and then I turned my back to the audience, just breathing, and whispered, "When I meditate, sometimes I become a Goddess......." Then I put on the mask. And a hot, hot energy seemed to rip through me. I turned around, and words fell out of my mouth.

As I picked up the snake, I remember saying, "This is the Kundalini, this is the serpent." I spoke about how we channel that enormous energy into sexuality, but we don't understand that it can rise further into our hearts, our vision centers, infusing our entire being. All of this was spontaneous! I genuinely can't say it was I, Drissana, who did it. When I went into the dressing room later, I was shaking. It was as if Kali had left, and I was just this small, exhausted person, who for a moment had been inhabited by that ferocious intelligence.

Kali is the surgeon. She cuts away what has to go. I ask for that quality when I have to cut something out of my life; an addiction, or a relationship that no longer is about growth. And I ask it be done precisely, this cutting away of dis-ease, malignancy, the aspects that no longer serve. Kali was the last resort savior. When the Gods couldn't kill the demonic forces that ravaged the Earth, they called on a woman's wrath.

We all have the ability to call the Goddesses into ourselves. I can do this in my dance, but in everyday life it's more difficult. That's why I thrive on performance, because I can freely let those forces work through me. What I forget is that we can call on them at other times. We've forgotten that the Goddess dwells within us, all the time, and not just when we wear a mask, or are in workshop, or a ritual. We are, in Tantric terms, extensions or emanations of the Gods and Goddesses - we are their material aspects. We're not bodies that are seeking the spirit, we're spirits that are seeking bodily experiences.

Remembering is a devotional practice. In the Hindu tradition, everyone has a deity they focus on as their personal deity. In the West, as we begin to reclaim the Goddess for spiritual practice, we each need to create a relationship with the Goddess form we have chosen, in order to manifest what we need for spiritual and emotional growth, to invoke the help we need. That practice is not just cerebral. We function out of our whole self, our bodies and spirits. The body-mind. That is where we re-member, we communicate with the Goddess within ourselves.

Women need to become angry. Now.   About the women of Afghanistan, the meaningless wars, the destruction of our environment. The demons of insatiable lust are devouring our planet. Those souls who await the future are being denied their birthright. 

Kali is the catalyst for saying "No more". She's the voice of women whose voices aren't being heard, women who need to open their mouths and speak for the first time. It's time to embrace the sword of Kali and start cutting away the delusions that are destroying our world. This is the ferocious mother who says "get away from my children, or I'll kill you." Mothers today aren't saying that. They're giving their children away. Giving them away to war, giving them away by allowing our environment to be depleted, giving permission to the powers that be to destroy their future. 

This time of change is the dance of Kali.

by Drissana Devananda (1999)