Sunday, May 22, 2022

La Mariposa


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..........

by Lauren Raine (1998)

Once upon a time, in a dusty village like any other village, a village with three good wells, fields of blue and yellow corn, a white church, and a cantina, there lived a woman who was neither young, nor old. She was brown of skin, and eye, and her hair was as brown as the sandy earth, and her clothes were brown and gray as well.
She was neither beautiful nor ugly, neither tall nor small, and she walked with a long habit of watching her feet. 

One day, she saw a tree alight with migrating butterflies. Their velvet wings fluttered in the wind of their grace, and one circled her, coming to rest upon her open hand. She thought that her heart would break for the power of its fragile beauty, and she held her breath for fear of frightening it.  La Mariposa was as orange and brilliant as the setting sun falling between indigo mountains, as iridescent, as black and violet as the most fragrant midnight. 

 At last the butterfly lifted from her hand to rejoin its nomad tribe, and its wings seemed like a whisper that called to her: "Come with us, come with us..."

The next morning they were gone. She held her hand out to the empty tree, as if to wave farewell, and saw that where the butterfly had rested, there remained a dusting of color, yellow, like pollen, the kiss of a butterfly wing. And she thought something had changed. 

She went to the well to draw water, and saw her face reflected there. She was not the same - there were now minute lines, hairline cracks, along the sides of her face, at the corners of her eyes. Later, she noticed little webs of light beneath the sturdy brown skin of her hands, barely visible except in the dim twilight. This was a frightening thing. She drew her skirts more closely around herself, pulled her scarf over her eyes. But as time went on, there was something that kept emerging, something that would not be denied. She was peeling open. 

At first, it simply itched, like a rash, like pulling nettles.  But as weeks went by, what had been easily born, what could be endured, became painful, became an agony. Try as she might, as tightly as she wrapped herself in her cocoon of shawls and skin and silence, as tightly as she wrapped herself within the comforting routines of her life, still, colors emerged from her hands. Colors spilt from her mouth. Colors and tears, deep waters that seeped from within, washing away the dust of her life. 

Soon, sleep became impossible. Standing by her window one day, shivering, she shook with fear. "Please help me", she cried, "I'm not the same". 

Then she noticed a beam of sunlight that fell across the floor of her little room like honey. Motes of dust gathered in the golden light, becoming a flurry of butterflies. Butterflies, dancing through an open window, a window opening into a sky as blue and as vast as forever. 

And La Mariposa opened her arms, took the gift of wings, and rose. 

When her neighbor came to walk with her that evening, she found only a dusty shawl and an old brown skirt upon the floor, the early stars glimmering through an unshuttered window.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

"The Four Guardians - Shields"

Inspired by Native American "Shields of Power",  I made these 4 leather sculptures to symbolize and invoke the  Guardians of the Directions:  North, South, East and West,  and the elemental Powers related to each Direction:  Earth, Air, Fire, Water.  I am not sure why I felt the need to make these leather sculptures, but I see now that, with so much loss due to ecological destruction, and climate change, these Powers need to be called upon to Protect the Mother, to Protect the great Hoop of life.    May they live inside of each of us.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Jennifer Berezon and Goddess Spirit Rising Conference 2013

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

To Stars

Photo by Mark Andrew Thomas


"Who wants to understand the poem must go to the Land of Poetry"

...... Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

To Stars

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,

gracious descent:

luminous Orion,

and faithful Sirius, the dog star.

Antares, the scorpion's tail,

the Pleiades,

dancing in Indra's shining jewel net.

And the Big Dipper



offering forever

Lauren Raine (2003)

Sunday, May 8, 2022

For Mother's Day: a Poem by Margaret Atwood


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.

You wave

then turn and ride out of sight

through the vanished orchard,

still smiling

as though you did not notice)



Margaret Atwood


(photo is of my mother,  Florence Greene,  in 1927, at Griffiths Park in Los Angeles, Calif.)

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Synchronicity from 2011: "Feed and Plant and an Angel"


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 thinking a lot about how Synchronicity/Guidance Non-Local and Non-Temporal inspiration might work,  which of course greater minds than mine have puzzled over and come to various elegant conclusions!  I guess what ultimately arises, for me, is the image of the "Medicine Basket",  the woven  Container of one's life,  light and dark strands, making a pattern and a vessel.  A vessel full of mystery.  

I find I look back a great deal these days, and have decided that is ok, that is appropriate, that is about both Grief and Gratitude.   I don't need to be "innovative" and "new".   My time of being "innovative" and "new" and "emerging" is probably over.   I need to learn to be wise, and to pay attention.  

So here is a post from almost exactly 11 years ago,  and I can't believe I forgot all about this synchronicity and brief but magical encounter.  I never forgot that illuminated morning conversation with a man whose name I never learned, or if I did, it's not remembered now.  I do know that in the several years afterwards when I did the show I looked for him, but never found him again, and learned that he was a well known storyteller, and that he had died in 2012.  But he remains in my heart, a passing Angel who left me a gift of Grace.

"Feed and Plant"
April 20, 2011

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.