Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Why I Named My Computer Penelope


"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. " 
...........David Jeffers**

Physicist F. David Peat suggested in his book SYNCRONICITY - The Bridge Between Mind and Matter *** that syncronicities are breakthroughs that hint of the deeper, integral nature of reality.  

Carl Jung believed that Synchronicities were always meaningful to those who experienced them.  

"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 pages
Published October 5th 2005 by Canongate U.S. 
The Penelopaid has also been produced as a wonderful Play:  https://youtu.be/X9Q2m_CZ5nc


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

A Mask for LADA, Ukrainian/Slavic Goddess of Spring

Slavic mythologies, religions, and folklore are very rich, dense, and have ancient roots.  The Goddess is everywhere in the folk arts, an ubiquitous pentimento underlying and winking through the ornamentation of the later Christian Church.  I made this mask, patterned after the astonishingly beautiful flowered head crowns  Ukrainian women make especially for the Rites of Spring and the Harvest time.  I chose the name LADA  for the Ukrainian Goddess mask I made, although there are  many Goddess names that might apply.  But Lada is very much associated with spring.  Here is some information about Her:  https://www.thoughtco.com/lada-slavik-goddess-4776503#

As you can read from the medievil priestly commentary below, Lada, like all manifestations of the Divine Feminine outside of the compliant, virginal Mary, was roundly hated by the good fathers and their  Father God, who had no mother, wife or daughter, and did not soil Himself with the lowly worldly concerns of Eve.  What a religion, to make the beauty of the world and nature "evil".   But just like Spring,  Lada of many names keeps coming back, bringing a trail of flowers and love and rebirth with her, the Lady who turns the world green.    https://www.thoughtco.com/lada-slavik-goddess-4776503#

"One should pay attention to those who say ungodly things today in dances or elsewhere in performances, consider unclean things in their hearts, shout out and mention the names of idols, and consider whether conversion to God the Father is possible. Certainly not. For it is forbidden to hear freely these holidays, which unfortunately celebrate according to what was left of the rites of the accursed pagans of our ancestors, unless for punishment, as once the shout of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah rose. For at this festival indecent exposure and other abominations, which the Apostle says should not even be named because of God the Father. However, due to the fact that preachers have arrived, such things now cease. There is no other name under heaven in which we can be saved. For a man is not saved in the name of Lado, Jassa!QuiaNyia, but in the name of Jesus Christ .

— Lucas of Wielki KoźminGniezno Sermons, around 1405-1412

Such a joyless "salvation" for all of eternity......is not, I believe, something I would want!  No dancing, no lovemaking in the spring, no Celebrations!  Nor do I believe it was ever anything intended by the gentle prophet Jesus of Nazareth.

I pray that  Her essence bring some kind of peace, bring an end to the terrible war that has fallen upon the people of the Ukraine, as yet another tyrant, another monster of destruction, brings war and death even as the world tries to be renewed in the spring.  I am speechless with sorrow that such destruction goes on.  When I see images in the media of the refugees, carrying their children, their dogs and cats and a few possessions as they flee their home, I am unable not to cry for them.And I feel, truly, that patriarchy, the fragmented soul of humanity that has created such hatred of women and life and the Earth, reflected in the its dead eyed warlords.........is a fundamental cause for so much of the suffering in the world.  

May the Goddess continue to rise in this time of ultimate need.  
May She Restore the Balance.**

---https://www.fastcompany.com/90724577/how-to-help-the-people-of-ukraine-7-things-you-can-do-right-now.,   A link to resources to contribute to  in helping the people of Ukraine.  

---If you have any friends in Eastern Europe, France, or the UK  I am passing on a link to this fb group - refugees trying to find accommodation.  Just thought I would pass this link along in case it touches someone out there who can help......... https://www.facebook.com/groups/699929631375624/

** Just this morning I read the following article by Carla Stang,  on FB, posted by Priestess Jackqueline Weller, that fits so perfectly into the theme of this post that I take the liberty of copying it here.  I will do it better justice in the future by making it a post in itself.   

As an anthropologist I take a long long view of this war and what I see is something stunning. This conflict is an echo of a thing terrible and crucial that occurred in exactly this place in ancient times, and which has been reverberating ever since. It’s little known that 7000 years ago western Ukraine was the cradle of Europe’s first civilisation, and in three waves it was invaded by people of the steppes of Russia and southeast Ukraine. The subjugation of this civilisation and the destruction of their peaceful, egalitarian way of life set the course for Western culture as we know it, that is to say, the culture of the West that we inherited is a culture of marauders.
It is no surprise then that we are outraged to our bones. We are witnessing the playing out of a primordial nightmare, the seed of the blasted tree that would grow into a history of misogyny, war and the horrors of colonialism. Which means what is being fought for is nothing less than the redemption of European culture, an ancient European culture which cherished the earth, children, women along with men, art and peace, a culture which was not only vanquished but purposely hidden and forgotten, which still grows its tendrils through present day Ukraine. In a sense what is being fought for is what the West once was, what barely survived of it and what could be once more.
Let us first remember.
Before the ziggurats and pyramids there existed from 5500 – 2750 BC the megasite cities of the Cucuteni-Trypillia or the Tripolye or Trypilsti people, with a population that at its height exceeded one million, in an area that extended through Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. The largest of these settlements was in Ukraine near Kyiv and reached the size of medieval London.
Why is this not widely known? Why do the textbooks and Google say that the first complex civilisation was in Mesopotamia? First because the initial archaeological finds in 1885 occurred after those of the civilisations of Sumer and Ancient Egypt. Then because the research which the Soviets funded at first was then silenced by them because the finds did not fit with their ideology, research was stopped, archaeologists were convicted of being spies and many fled to other countries.
In the last few decades since communist rule, there has been a tide of scholarship and interest. What has been found continues to be astonishing and confounding. These huge settlements do not fit with theories about the Neolithic and about urbanisation. The sprawling settlements incorporated the rural into the urban, rather than being one or the other. And the intricate and sophisticated way they did this defies long held ideas of Europe as having nothing but a smattering of small, warring tribes.
“Under the earth were strewn thousands and thousands of images of woman” - Vikentiy Khvoika
Large well-made temples and houses, 90 foot quarries, trade routes, supply chains, inventories. Agriculturalists, potters, blacksmiths, gold and coppersmiths and weavers. The largest burial of worked gold ever found anywhere. And everywhere images of throned women, and images of men with exquisite expression, carvings of stone so beautifully made one can see the tenderness of the hands that hold the baby. Every object used in every aspect of life is lovingly ornamented. Earthenware, ceramics, pottery, tools, vessels, dishes, pottery moulds, internal walls of houses painted in varying earth-colours, white, red, ochre and black, and sometimes carved with incisions or encrusted with symbols of nature sun, moon, stars, rain, snakes, birds, bulls, trees, branches, seeds, flowers, water and with magical symbols circle, teeth, rhombus, crosses, endless meanders, snake-pattern.
I could go on and on about this culture where nature entwined and pulsed through every aspect human life. But for brevity’s sake let us continue and add that this was a culture which depicted councils as concentric circles of throned women. And rituals of initiation, fertility and farming by women and men who venerated before all others the goddess in forms of crone, lover, mother and young maiden, bird and serpent but also the animal-masked god-man, ecstatic dancer, the one-eyed ancient one and the divine child. No images of war. There were no slaves. And the priestess and priest who wore the gold at public events went home to an ordinary house.
From around 3000 BC in successive waves down came the Proto-Indo-Europeans, riders on horseback. And conquest included the things we have learned to be familiar with, murder, rape, deliberate obliteration of local culture. In this way the semi-nomadic pastoralists of the steppes, carrying with them their sky gods and patrilineal and patriarchal social systems, destroyed the great Neolithic civilizations of the 4-5th millennia. I wonder at how many cultures the survivors seeded elsewhere (I know of a few), in how many of us ancestral memories stir, and how far these survivors were flung.
But archaeologists agree too that the land of the Trypiltsi has been tilled without cease since these ancient times, and just as under this earth the lives of the Trypiltsi were preserved, so were they in the people of Ukraine, the celebration of singing children and men, of nature and powerful women, flower on clothing and stove, the meandering line of water on the wall, beliefs and attitudes that just would not die.
May the people of the Mistresses of Water wash the Maruauders away, and may the West find the spiralling way back to the dream before the nightmare, of the beauty of what it might have become and could become again.
Artwork by Vsevolod Ivanov

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Tucson Sculpture Festival! March 19 and 20


I'm pleased to be able to participate again in the upcoming TUCSON SCULPTURE FESTIVAL!  If you're in the area,  hope to see you there.

Lauren   www.laurenraine.com



Saturday, March 5, 2022

Poetry: Once more, Frank Polite


to stagger ashore,
free, cured of use;

simply to be, itself, a green bottle,
a message delivered,
a sailor, like me

Beloved Poems are, to me, like precious gems I keep in my memory box.  Sometimes I bring them out at need, to wear for a while, sometimes they are more like butterflies, mysterious creatures that seem to flitter across my inner landscape, messengers from the  Other Lands, asking me to remember, taste, touch............... For some reason, the words of  Frank Polite , words that  I've been hauling around in my box of literary treasures for some 40 years, did that today.  

I met him at the Cafe Med in Berkeley back in 1975.  Funny how something that happened so long ago can be so vivid.  I can almost taste the coffee, hear the espresso machine, the drone of voices at scattered tables, Frank looking up at me as I sat down at a communal table, a stranger with cup in hand. Our aquaintance was just that day, a conversation about poetry and art with a mild flirtation thrown in.  When Frank left he  gave me a book of poems, "Letters of Transit".   He never could have known that that little book was a friend, the poems travelling companions over the years, among my own restless "letters of transit".  Maybe he did, as we all seem to know things without knowing them.  I suspect he would have a good laugh about that one.

"The Last House On Luna Pier" was one of those jewels in the box, or perhaps I should better say "suitcase", as my own life has had much transit.   13 years later in 1989 I was an artist with my first residency at the Cummington Community, a wonderful artist colony no longer in existence.  I saw that Frank had been there, and wondered if he had perhaps eve worked on his poems in the room I was in.  All I knew of him was that he had moved to Toledo, and much later, I learned that he passed away in 2005.  I never got the chance to thank him for what he gave me...........

In 2009 I was crossing the country again, and on the interstate from Michigan to Toledo, I saw the turnout for Luna Pier, made wholly mythical in my mind and heart for decades by Frank's poem "The Last House on Luna Pier".  I never even knew it really existed,  a misty window of silent blue herons, the brooding presence of Frank's "Lake Goddess Erie", the liminal moment a poem arises from.  

Did I turn off? No.......I knew that the Luna Pier Frank seeded my imagination with was something I would never want to change.

Frank's writings have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, Poetry, The Nation, Yankee, Exquisite Corpse, The North American Review and Denver Quarterly.   His Collection Letters of Transit can be found on Amazon.   Thank you Frank.



Do not rush to be disappointed with yourself.
Rather, make a world drag you to it
behind 24 mules of irrefutable proof, and you
still digging in your heels all the way
before you say, "I'm disappointed with myself."


Trust only inauspicious beginnings,
the modest seed. What comes
dancing toward you tossing flowers,
soon perishes.


It is the weed of life
that grips the garden to your need,
that roots you deep into its soil
which is immortal.

Photograph by Brian Comeau

A sea change leans against the pier
in tumult. I know why I'm here.
Cold streams, contending with the warm
grip the rocks as never before
in my life, and hurl up salt at my door.
What drifts in now is mine, cut loose,
thrown overboard, or drowned:
a wooden spar, a beached bone, a yard
of torn sail like an indecipherable
parchment. Even a shoe drifts in, kicked
around out there God knows how long.

I listen now. I witness. I do not
touch or twist at the integrity of each
survival. It is enough to have arrived
at all, embodying sea changes;
to stagger ashore, free, cured of use;

simply to be, itself, a green bottle,
a message delivered,
a sailor, like me.

I promise a poem to a blue heron.

Every morning, for a week or so, it stood
in the marsh grasses outside  my window,
perfectly still,
one leg poised in the air
as if it were about to kneel, or dip
its quill into a blue pool,  or disappear.

I never saw it move.

And when I turned elsewhere, to poems,
or coffee, or pacing the room,
the heron would be gone.

That last morning...
solitude of the blue heron.
Black branches of trees,
a light snow falling
through eaves of Heaven.


Next year I'm forty years old.
I don't know what hump I'm over.
To have made it this far, what
does that mean? Where am I?

Where have I been? Like you,
I've been places, New York, Asia,
Great fields uncut by wire
or river, mountains leaping up.

And O yes, oceans. I felt my way
deeply into each, into the mind
shafts permitted me, into
a flower (perfect on mescaline,

I laughed and wept for hours)
into the tenderness of people...
I've loved, worshipped stones,
written poems to moon and stars,

and depending on the deep and dark
of my downheartedness, I lit
a flame in my forehead like a toad,
imagining myself, at various

times, Lord of Earth, Light in
the forest, even...God.
Down the road with my lantern, I
lifted up the broken, the poor,

the ignorant, the hopeless, only
to come down to this: to be all of
them myself, at once. So what's
it all about? I don't ask anymore:

I am one with the insect and cloud.
I beg my life to lay me down at last
gently if possible, or fast, the way
a horse, plunging into darkness

kicks a stone out of its path. 


The black butterflies of night
Clipped for sleep to nightshade and widow grief,
Or in shaking luminous flight
On paired and silver wings, are rare,
And rarely seen by human sight.

Yet, they are there, surfacing
Out of range of neons and streetlights,
Preferring underleaf
And the dark offshores of air
To man and moth-maddening glare of things.
Tonight, As crisis after crisis
Cracks our skies like lightning,
I think of death,
Of different ways of dying,
And of Egypt and the myth
That once held black butterflies
Sacred to Isis.

They lived forever in flight
In her private groves, compelled like
Flickering minutes
Never to touch leaf nor stone,
Never to rest, except upon her nakedness
When she turned to love.
And here is death to be envied;
To be crushed to a personal breast
Between goddess
And whatever bird, beast, lover
Fell to her lips.
We are something else. . .

Myth and love will miss us
When the night is suddenly turned on,
Turned blank white,

And the black butterflies
Appear against that vellum sky
As far, flitting, burnt-out stars.


My face inside
my cupped hands
my fingertips 
at my hairline
like soft pods
tapping the earth.
What is alive
at such times?
The night, the

silence of thought
wrapped in itself.
My skull is
a shell tuned
to emptiness, like
Love itself
before desire
created all things.