Here is a story I wrote a long time ago, at a time of great change. I was in one of those liminal zones that can be so very transformative - I was living in a little trailer in the deserted grounds of the Arizona Renaissance Faire, months before it would open. Just me, winter in the Sonoran Desert, and my cat. I had left my life in the East Coast, and had no idea, yet, where I would go next. It had not revealed itself, the "direction of the road", and I was not ready to know yet anyway. What I found that winter was the solitude and quietude I needed to open to a new life, and to bless and release the old one. This little story came from that time..........
Sunday, May 22, 2022
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Thursday, May 12, 2022
I was there...............wonderful Conference. This montage shows some of the participants, Lydia Ruhle's wonderful Banners, Kathy Jones who spoke about Mother World, and of course Jennifer Berezon's Praises for the World. Beautiful.
Monday, May 9, 2022
"Who wants to understand the poem must go to the Land of Poetry"
...... Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
With age, I've learned to watch my feet.
I've become cautious of falls,
the honest frailty of bones
and equally fragile, the choices
found at every crossroad.
Time makes us bend.
We learn the habit
of looking down.
I was blessedly no where
just some where between
between "here" and "there"
a truck stop off I-40
falling off the edge of the world
into a nameless desert town,
into a sweet black halcyon midnight.
After a summer rain
wet, shining asphalt
the smell of diesel, and chaparral
(below me, some where between
my feet and eternity) reflected,
you made your puddled,
and faithful Sirius, the dog star.
Antares, the scorpion's tail,
dancing in Indra's shining jewel net.
And the Big Dipper
Lauren Raine (2003)
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Girl and Horse 1928
You are younger than I am, you are
someone I never knew, you stand
under a tree, your face half-shadowed,
holding the horse by its bridle
Why do you smile? Can't you
see the apple blossoms falling around
you, snow, sun, snow, listen, the tree
dries and is being burnt, the wind
is bending, your body, your face
ripples like the water where did you go
But no, you stand there exactly
the same, you can't hear me forty
years ago, you were caught by light
and fixed in that secret
place where we live, where we believe
nothing can change, grow older.
(On the other side of the picture,
the instant is over, the shadow
of the tree has moved.
then turn and ride out of sight
through the vanished orchard,
as though you did not notice)
(photo is of my mother, Florence Greene, in 1927, at Griffiths Park in Los Angeles, Calif.)
Monday, May 2, 2022
Sparrows and juncos, all hungry
they too are planters of trees, spreading seeds
of favorites among fences. On the earth
closed to us as a book we cannot
yet read, the seeds, the bulbs, the eggs
of the fervid green year await release
Over them on February's cold table I spread
a feast. Wings rustle like summer leaves.
Marge Piercy, "Available Light"
I've been having tantrums lately, about feeling isolated and alienated and unsure of where to go or what to do. I share these feelings, with an increased intensity and frequency, with many others these days. The river is running very fast now. The river is running like a torrent now.
I also tend to feel that tantrums, as long as they don't hurt anyone or become collectively a war or a riot.............can be very useful. Children have tantrums; eventually they exhaust themselves, and sometimes the tantrum's end is about learning new boundaries and maturity. Tantrums for grownups can also not only vent, but reveal. We spend so much time in our heads, in the "should be, used to be, would be, could be" realm of experience, which seems real at the time but usually isn't even mildly useful to the what is...... and meanwhile, as a wise angel who briefly turned up recently to set me straight said - "There's the NOW, patiently watching, saying 'well, are you done yet?"
Change is the only certainty. The NOW is.
So I had something happen magically, that was profound for me. Sometimes when these things happen, it's easy to say to yourself, "well, that's silly", but as that Angel ("Angelos", from the Greek, originally meant "messenger") reminded me, "you listen, so you noticed."
I was facing a three day weekend at the Renfair in Los Angeles, selling my masks alone now, and early in the morning went to my car to open the door and hit the freeway, costume and lunch in hand. Tucked into the handle of the door was a piece of dirty white paper. When I pulled it out, I saw that it was folded into one of those paper airplanes that children make. And when I unfolded it, I saw that it had two words, block printed in pencil in a childish hand, one on each side of the paper. On one side it said "FEED", on the other "PLANT".
"Wow, that's really strange" I thought, and tossed it aside. Why would some kid put it there? And on I went to the Faire.
As I was setting up in the blissful quiet before the stampede of merrymakers, a participant, dressed in a nobleman's costume, with a great burgundy hat against and a white head of hair, came by and we had one of those brief conversations that can seem divinely channelled. He affirmed the value of my work, and the continuity we participate in as creators, whether we remember that or not. All the people who interact with my masks, all the people who now make masks and wear them. I needed to hear that. And he also reminded me of the inevitability of change, the suffering that comes from not accepting the "what is" of the moment. Tantrums we can have, or very real grief - but we still have to get up, open up, learn, grow, and deal.
I have a wrapped quartz crystal - on the first day I gave an extra mask to a man who didn't have much money and wanted one for his partner. He came back later and presented me with the crystal, which he had mined himself in Arkansas. What a splendid gift! My angelic friend (I don't know his name) immediately noticed my crystal, and said it was to help me. So the conversation led into the morning's synchronicity, my little "paper airplane". I think, had I not encountered this person, I would have completely forgotten about it.
He commented that it was "Written in the hand of a child learning his or her letters, in pencil. Basic. Not like the abstractions we "adults" make. Like the work of real farmers is basic, the ground that supports us. Without their labor, without the alchemy and generosity of the land and the farmers, none of this" (he made an expansive gesture indicating the vast urban complex called Los Angeles we were standing more or less in the center of) "none of this would exist. The farmers and land sustain it all. All the "higher" sophistication of our civilization falls apart when the land fails to care for us, and the true farmers, not those chemical factories, but true farmers..........aren't understood."
I might add that I thought it was Earth Day, and I'd somehow forgotten. I was wrong, but I think that gives further weight to his observation. "Feed and Plant is a profound message for all of us. Especially now." And then we shook hands, wished each other a great day, and parted ways. My energy had completely changed, and I stood there with my mouth open.
"FEED" and "PLANT". All of my alienation, loneliness, lack of purpose, all those grand complexities...... if Angels deliver the occasional message in the form of grubby paper planes, and then send an occasional human representative just to make sure attention is paid - well. that's otherwise called Grace. I may not be a farmer, but we can all be farmers, literally by planting and growing even if it's a window box, getting our hands in the Earth, connecting with the alchemy and gift of the Earth. As a universal message, it should be Earth Day everyday.
We all can, and do, "plant". As an artist, I can plant beauty, inspiration, I can encourage others to do the same. I can recognize the "trees" I'm planting, and have planted, in my life. Feed yourself and others with what sustains and nourishes. Plant seeds that will feed the future, plant seeds that will grow into trees. It doesn't need to be complicated at all. Even sparrows do it.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
- PRAYER OF SAINT FRANCIS
- Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
"St. Francis lived his life with joy and appreciation for all things created. I had an artistic vision of St. Francis surrounded by the animals and birds of the Sonoran desert here in the Southwest. I wanted to show the calm and peace the animals might feel while in the presence of Francis. The beautiful Sabino Canyon and the blue Arizona sky are the background of my mosaic, and I made the tiles so they would have the texture of rock and vegetation.I painted the tiles with images of my birds and my lizard “Marco” using my photographs. They are frequent visitors to my garden. My inspiration for the Bobcats and the Coyote were from amazing wildlife photos by Sam Angevine, www.samangevine.com. He has allowed me to use his images for my models. The roadrunners in the foreground, “Bella” and “Edward”, are feathered friends of artist Geri Niedermiller,http://gekkosworkshop.5thelement.com .Ginny Moss Rothwell www.mossrothwellfineart.com
Monday, April 25, 2022
I loved the photography I saw recently of Surmis tribes of Eastern Ethiopia. They paint their faces, indeed, their entire bodies (they also practice scarification) and create elaborate headpieces as well, usually from foliage or flowers. Ethiopia actually has many different tribes and ethnic groups, which share a certain amount of cultural exchange, but also have very different languages, customs, and religious traditions. The Surmis have been affected in the past century by evangelical Christianity, although they retain some of their earlier spiritual and folk traditions.
I wanted to make this mask, inspired by their beautiful faces and head dressing, as a Surmis (or Suris) Spring Fertility Goddess. But alas, I was not able to find any such Goddess recorded in what little information is available online about their traditional religion. All I could find is that they do have some practices of certain women (shamans? Clan leaders?) becoming "possessed" by spirits (Ancestral spirits? Elementals spirits?) in order to be Oracles.
So I decided to call this mask "The Spring Surmis Oracle". I have no other name I can come up with for it. For more information about the Surmis or Suris people: https://www.atlasofhumanity.com/suri
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Monday, April 18, 2022
Here's a post I found from 2016, which I had completely forgotten about, but which reminded me again of the "threads" that wind through our lives, the warp and weft that weave life themes together without being hindered by time. Perhaps, in exploring myths as a visual vocabulary, it is about contacting the intelligences of the "archetypes", which indeed do transcend personal history. I can't explain or justify that comment, but there it is.
"Art as Oracular Process" (2016)
This started out as a journal, but somehow it's become quite political, and I feel at least today like pulling it back to it's original introspective intent.
Here's a very old drawing I found, which of course I completely forgot about. I did it when I was just 20 years old. It's not particularly good, but from the perspective of 45 years later, it reads to me like a prophetic page in the book of my life, and the reason I'm sharing this little story is not so much about the content of my personal story, but the way it illustrates the seamlessness and timelessness that we can touch when we are in creative (and mythic) mind space, which is also where the "oracular" can perhaps manifest.
There are themes that run like threads through the personal saga......
I didn't know much when I was 20 years old but I loved to draw. I had not yet encountered feminism, let alone eco-feminism, Goddess spirituality, patriarchy, the Chalice and the Blade, Lilith, etc. In fact, most of that was still underground everywhere, and yet to evolve into the public eye. Those forces were fermenting.
I had encountered the story of St. George and the Dragon, which is what this drawing was supposed to be about.
At the time I was living with my first boyfriend, and the face of George is clearly him! I still remember his angry, bullying face. He used to hit and humiliate me, and after I left him I began the psychological quest to selfhood that most women have to make when leaving such a relationship..........back then the path to understanding and empowerment was not so clear, certainly not so articulated, nor was it so available. I am fortunate that I lived in Northern California, where the second wave of feminism was making its mark, and "consciousness raising groups" were becoming available, along with the early women's shelters.
The face of "St. George" was, although I had no such language for it, the face of male domination, which was personally playing out at the time in my own life and indoctrination.
But looking at this strange drawing, what was the "Dragon" all about? It's curious to me, that drawing. What a sad face that dragon has, not really fierce at all! And it rises from depths in the earth. Behind George is a barren kind of landscape, but behind the dragon, rising from the dark as the dragon seems to rise from the below, are all kinds of foliage, plants, flowers, the abundance and vitality of nature.
It was years later that I learned about the symbolism of earlier Goddess cultures, the importance of the snake/dragon as a universal symbol of the Goddess - Earth Mother, the Shakti, the Kundalini force, and the moving forces of nature. I think of the weaving dragons or snakes represented extensively both in Celtic art and in Chinese art. Perhaps the "slaying of the dragon", like "St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland" was an intuiting of the loss of an earlier pagan reverence for the earth and the divine feminine.
This intuition was, I see, very appropriate for the world as it is now, a world striving to deal with climate crisis, and a religious mythos that has erased the Divine Feminine.
And who is the falling winged woman who seems to be part of the dragon? I think she was supposed to be the "maiden" being rescued by "St. George", at least in my conscious mind which was not much versed in mythology. But a strange maiden she is indeed! Snakes seem to encircle her as well as her merging with the dragon.........and she does not seem at all happy about St. George turning up. In fact, she looks quite tragically sad.
|Demeter, shown with wheat, fruits, and snakes.|
From my perspective now, I would say that what we have here is no "maiden" in need of rescuing, rather, she is really Lilith, the Goddess banished, along with the Earth Dragon or snake in the Tree of Life (Lilith is often represented as a snake in the Garden of Eden) by the self-righteous sword of good old St. George the patriarchal warrior.
|Nu Wa, primal Chinese Earth Mother/Goddess of nature, shown as half woman and half snake. |
Often she is shown entwined with her husband, who is also represented as half man, half snake.
I don't know if we can all say that we have (or haven't) "found our life work". I don't know that I believe in "destiny" which seems awfully egotistic if not downright arrogant as ideas go. I believe we can have a number of "life works", among them things we have to learn to do our soul making, and these might just as aptly be called "life themes". But looking back at touchstones in my own life, I see that the Goddess has always been with me. If I contributed to anything significant in my life, it was my participation in the great wave of women (and men) who have sought to bring about the Return of the Goddess, with all that means, from women's rights to uncovering the deeply buried past and understanding the lost and buried mythos and overlay hidden underneath the veneer of patriarchal religion culture.
Now that I think about it, the Great Snake wove it's way into my imagination in ways that I did not know many years later as well, in my 40's. Inspired by Riane Eisler's Chalice and the Blade, I wrote, with my ex-husband, a story that evolved into a little novel called "The Song of Medusa" (I have posted the entire novel on my website, and it can be read for free).
PREFACEAnd perhaps a treestanding in the forestfills its leaveswith the breathof the Worldand we listenand we are not alone.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
"I was a hidden treasure and desired to be known:therefore I created the creation in order to be known."-- Rumi
I have a new laptop computer, which I love! It's so fast, compared to the former model, although I retired that little computer with gratitude for years of service. I have named my new computer "Penelope". Penelope, the "wife of Odysseus" who sat weaving and unweaving a shroud until he should return, derives her mythic name from most ancient origins, origins that preceed even the ancient Greek stories of the Odyssey. The name is a name of Weaving and Weaver and Woven.....it means "with a Web on Her face". Probably this ancient name was originally given to a Goddess of the Fates, weaving and unweaving the lives of men and women. It also may have been an honorific name for a Priestess/Oracle, one who in her prophesies "Saw with a Web on her face".
It is easy to see the diminishment and co-option of the powers of the Goddess, and hence women, in the fate of poor Penelope, no longer weaving the lives of men, but simply waiting for her husband to return and save her from a bunch of predatory men! One of my favorite contemporary renderings of the story of Penelope is, of course, from Margaret Atwood, the PENELOPIAD * . As the wry and often tongue in cheek Penelope says, "Now that all the others have run out of air, it's my turn to do a little story-making."
To return to internet savvy computers named in honor of Penelope, I thus like to think that some of the spirit of the Oracle, the winding and visionary Pythoness, can come through this particular "Web" that, daily, my own face is emersed in.
After all, the "Web" may be the most important living Metaphor for our time. The truth of our inter-dependancy and inter-connection with all of life is not only a metaphysical discussion, but, through Physics and Astronomy, Ecology and Earth Science, Consciousness studies and the evolving Global Culture and our Climate Crisis which we share with all life......we are all One. All one in the Web of life. I personally believe the next human evolution is to fully grasp that and create a culture that embodies that truth. Can we do it? I don't know.
"I believe that all coincidences are messages from the unmanifest – they are like angels without wings, so to speak, sudden interruptions of life by a deeper level"...... Deepak Chopra
Recently I was interviewed by a woman who is creating a documentary about Synchronicity, something I've written about a great deal in the Blog over the years. One thing I noted in remembering my own synchronicities was that many of them occured while I was travelling, or in situations or environments that took me out of the familiar containers of my life. The "In-between", liminal Interstices of life seem to be where there are breakthroughs into, what I like to think of, as the Great Web. Synchronicities are among those breakthroughs, breakthroughs that can be necessary for growth or evolution.
"There are references in the Kabala to what is called "breaking the shell". The mind set of "what you believe" is the shell, and (sometimes it's necessary) to break the shell. You have to fall apart sometimes to be put back together; because that's the only way you can be reconstructed. You cannot veneer these teachings on top of who you think or imagine who you are. "
"Syncronicities provide a bridge between inner and outer worlds, between our private thoughts and external, objective realities. Within a synchronicity, patterns of external events mirror an inner experience. To distinguish synchronicities from mere chance occurrences Carl Jung stressed that they must always involve "meaningful coincidence" that lie beyond any explanation involving causal links and connections. In this way syncronicities reveal to us an underlying world of patterns, forms and connections that transcend any division between the mental and the material.".......David Peat
How are we linked, really? What threads are we throwing out and finding resonance with, at any given moment? What "threads of the Great Weaver" within those moments of the Interstices, become visible?
***"Synchronicities are those mysterious and inexplicable coincidences that occasionally erupt into a life. At times we may feel that those around us are confined to a narrow world of logic and physical law, a world that admits no hint of mystery. This can give rise to a feeling of isolation within an indifferent universe and an increasing complex society whose members are reduced to ciphers. Synchronicities, by contrast, offer a doorway into a very different world. A world that also has resonances with the deep insights that have been revealed by the new sciences.True synchronicities are more than mere chance occurrences. They are characterized by a sense of meaning and numiniousness. They provide a bridge between inner and outer worlds, between our private thoughts and external, objective realities. Within a synchronicity, patterns of external events mirror an inner experience; likewise dreams and fantasies may seem to flood over into the external world. To distinguish synchronicities from mere chance occurrences Carl Jung stressed that they must always involve "meaningful coincidence" that lie beyond any explanation involving causal links and connections. In this way reveal to us an underlying world of patterns, forms and connections that transcend any division between the mental and the material.Synchronicities also act as markers of time, moments of transformation within a life that occur in chairos, when “the time is right”. Thus, while causality ties us to our past, synchronicity can link us to our future. They can also act as significant encounters when a door is opened through which we can pass. One notable encounter took place between the psychologist Carl Jung and the physicist Wolfgang Pauli. This meeting of people from two very different worlds led to Pauli’s series of dreams which caused him to explore the relationship between psyche and matter and believe that the time was at hand for the "resurrection of spirit” within the world of matter.David Peat
** David Jeffers, Interview with Lauren Raine, 2001
* THE PENELOPAID by Margaret Atwood, 198 pagesPublished October 5th 2005 by Canongate U.S.
The Penelopaid has also been produced as a wonderful Play: https://youtu.be/X9Q2m_CZ5nc