Sunday, April 30, 2023



From the Edinburgh Beltane Festival

Happy May Day to all!

(Some great photos from the Edinburgh Beltaine Festival!

 Some good words about this sacred day from Celestial Elf Blog:

The Beltane Festival

Beltane or Beltane is the Gaelic name for the festival that begins on April the 30th or Beltane's eve and continues on 1st May and is a celebration of purification and fertility. The name originates from the Celtic god, Bel - the 'bright one', and the Gaelic word 'teine' meaning fire, giving the name 'bealttainn', meaning 'bright fire'. Marking the beginning of the Summer season with the lighting of two great bon-fires on Beltane's eve signifies a time of purification and transition, these fires may be made of the nine sacred woods, Alder, Ash, Birch, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Oak, Rowan and Willow.

Heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, Beltane festivals were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits.

Significantly, as the Goddess (Brigid) moves through her various phases, Beltane sees the womanly aspect of the Summer Goddess banish the Old Crone aspect of the Winter Goddess in readiness for the maternal time and the fruits of nature to follow.

As this is one of the magic turning points of the Sacred Seasons, the veil between worlds is thought to be especially thin, and as a result many of the Fairy Host, the Sidhe and the Tuatha De Danann may be seen crossing between the worlds.  Particularly, the Faery Queen is thought to travel about on this night and if you gaze too long on her enchanted beauty she may whisk you away to live in her Other realms outside of time for an eternity.  The Faery Queen also represents the May Queen, although in practice the honor is usually carried out by young women who are soon to be married.


Greenman mask from Starwood Festival, Brushwood Folklore Center (1997) 

For the May Day is the great day, 

Sung along the old straight track. 

And those who ancient lines did ley 

Will heed this song that calls them back.

........Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

 The May Queen at Beltane

Along with her May King, mythically a Jack in The Green, the Green Man or Horned God, is to take part in the Great Rite and so Open the way for the Summer. This is the Sacred Marriage of the God and Goddess, often reenacted by a symbolic union during which the Athame (magical knife symbolizing male energy) is placed by the King of May into the Chalice (Sacred Cup symbolizing female energy) held by the Queen of the May.  For a more detailed account of how this ritual was enacted in earlier time, I refer the reader to Marrion Zimmer Bradley's moving account in her fiction The Mists of Avalon.

Following this union which serves to Open the way to the Summer Lands, festivities ensue, particularly that of dancing around the May Pole. The May Pole itself is a symbol of the union of the God and the Goddess, as the red ribbons represent the fertility of the Goddess, the white represent the fertility of the God. Men begin the weaving by dancing under the upheld ribbon of the first women facing them, accompanied by music, drums beating or chanting. The dancers move forward, stepping alternately over and under each person who’s dancing toward them. The dance continues until the Maypole is completely wrapped, then the ribbons are tied off and the wreath from the top is tossed to the earth to bring its gathered power into the ground.

Whilst such public festivals are not as widespread as they once were, famously at Padstow in Cornwall there still is held an annual 'Obby-Oss' day, which is believed to be one of the oldest surviving fertility rites in the United Kingdom.   St. Ives and Penzance in Cornwall are now also seeing a revival of similar public festivities.

Beltane Lore

During Medieval times, a man might also propose marriage by leaving a hawthorn branch at the door of his beloved on the first day of May. If the branch was allowed to remain at her door, it was a signal that the proposal was accepted. 

If it was replaced with a cauliflower, the proposal was turned down.

The Celtic Moon month of Hawthorn is the time for lovers to attend to matters of the heart, as the Celtic fire festival of Beltane heralds the start of summer.  Crosses of birch and rowan twigs were hung over doors on the May morning as a blessing and protection, and left until next May day.

The dew on the May day morning is believed to have a magical potency - wash your face and body in it and you will remain fair all year.

Going 'A-Maying' meant staying out all night to gather flowering hawthorn, watching the sunrise and making love in the woods, also known as a 'greenwood marriage'

                               "Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,

Or he would call it a sin;  

But we have been out in the woods all night, 

A-conjuring Summer in!"

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Green Man

Photo I found of a sculpture from 1992.  It's the time of the GREEN MAN!  Here's a poem I wrote around the same time, felt like sharing again.   And here is a LINK TO VIDEOS ABOUT REAL GREEN MEN, renewing forests and landscapes in our world:

The Green Man


I walked among the trees

I wore the mask of the deer 

remember me, try to remember

I am that laughing man

with eyes like dappled leaves.


When you think that winter will never end

I will come. 


You will feel my breath, warm at your neck.

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

I am the blue eye of a crocus


opening in the snow

 a trickle of water, a calling bird,

 a shaft of light among the trees.


You will hear me singing

among the green groves of memory,

the shining leaves of tomorrow.


I'll come with daisies in my hands,

we'll dance among the sycamores

once more


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

"If Women Rose Rooted": for EARTH DAY


"This is the core of our task:  to remake the world in the image of those ancient   stories.  To respect and revere ourselves, and so bring about a world in which women are respected and revered, recognized once again as holding the life-giving power of the Earth itself.  We can reclaim that image in each of us:  the creative, ecstatic, powerful feminine that each of us embodies in her own unique way.  Lacking it, it is no wonder that we are grieving, alienated, imbalanced - that we cannot find a way to belong to a world that teaches us to cover up not just our bodies but our feelings, our dreams, our intuition.  There comes a point in each of our lives when we face a choice.  Will we stay as we are, embracing the pale shadow of womanhood permitted us by the patriarchy?  Or will we sink deep into the heart of the boglands, and find in the depths what it is to reclaim our creative power as women? 

As always, the stories show us the way.  The old stories, the ones which tell us that women are the land, the Body of the Earth Mother.  The old stories, the ones in which the Earth is sacred, and so women are sacred too:  the force of creation, the givers of life.  The stories in which women are the bearers of the Grail, the keepers of the cauldron of inspiration and rebirth. "

Sharon Blackie, IF WOMEN ROSE ROOTED (2016)

In 2018 I went to the Gatekeeper's Conference in Pewsey, in the U.K.  It was also my delight to visit a number of prehistoric sacred sites, including Avebury, Silbury, the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, the  great (fallen) Stones and Henge of Arbor Lowe in Derbyshire, the Nine Maidens, also in Derbyshire,  and others.  Truly, as I sit here in my urban home, I reflect that it has often seemed,  among these ancient Mysteries, that I feel most at home.  

I was also introduced to Sharon Blackie's book  IF WOMEN ROSE ROOTED   which I enthusiastically read throughout my visit, feeling that it resonated greatly with me.  The author lives in rural Ireland, close to the   beloved land she writes about, and speaks with passion,  and the bitter/sweet  story-teller lilt of an Irish Bard, about an instinctual need women women have to return to mythic (and actual) roots in the land. 

In some ways she reminds me of  Clarissa Pinkola Estes, as she urges women to regain, and celebrate the creative power of the life-giving  Divine Feminine in mythology. and speaks of  an essence deeply rooted in nature because we ARE nature. 

 She  returns again and again to the need to be ROOTED in the Earth as well as a mythic and conversant landscape that is also woman affirming;  the Heroine's journey, she writes, is not the same as the classical  Hero's journey proposed by Joseph Campbell -  because it is a journey of interconnection, relationships, co-creative and co-experienced cycles, and finally, the journey of belonging to the Great Mother, the great "conversation" of the planet.  The Heroine's journey, in a new and yet ancient sense, is perhaps now  the journey of the Eco-heroine.

Ms. Blackie speaks with passion because she believes it is urgent for all to "rise rooted",  as the death dealing forces of  patriarchy and sociopathic,  unlimited capitalism  are  quite literally destroying the future for not only humans, but all children of Mother Earth.

The title is a poem in itself, and as an artist who compulsively for decades has been putting roots on  faces and  hands and  bodies........well, it jumped off the shelf at me!  Yes, all my work has been "rooted" for a long time, even if I haven't always consciously been so............ but like many Americans with a life of bewildering change and movement, I have always  wanted to be rooted, attuned to the essence of place, without always  knowing how or why.  I look at 45 years of art, and always the Tree is there.  The Tree that is Asherah, the Tree of Life, the union of Above and Below.  For me, intuitively a quest to find identity within the those  vital roots, found in the  living, composting dirt, and  among the twining vines, flying webbed among the branches with the sparrows.  
Silbury Hill, Avebury, Wiltshire, UK - believed to 
represent the pregnant belly of the Great Mother

When did we lose our roots?  When did the separation between nature and human happen?  When did the Great Earth Mother, eternally birthing and growing and dying and returning again...........when did She disappear under the weight of myth and patriarchal cultures?  When did the processes of nature and the cycles of nature cease to be sacred and became profane?  A question I many have sought to answer as we move fully now into ecological crisis. 

The Nine Maidens,  Derbyshire (Henge and Processional in background)
"For it was no peasant, but calm and cunning wizards, ruling and pegging out in granite  the windings of the dragon track  that writhes unseen in  marsh and moss and meadowland,  that twines in stellar gravity among the eaves of the cubic sky.   So they, upon the veins of Anu,  print a spell of glory in our blinks of lives.   Rightness of the world Self seen:  the green, the garden.  
Older yet and wiser far, and I will not forget."
.....Robin Williamson, "Five Denials on Merlin's Grave"

Speaking With the Land

In so many  rural areas of the UK  the 21st Century seems like it is just another layer atop a continually emergent pentimento, the patterns of  a much older landscape.   Of course this is true everywhere, but it is so much in daily evidence in the UK and Europe.

That "pentimento" is like an ancient tattoo - circular, serpentine, full of  standing  stones, henges, magic wells, pregnant "harvest hills",  and geomantic ley lines.   For me,  when I was able to walk and explore this overlay my vision expanded  to a  broader vista, a panorama that  opened in my mind  as  I imagined the world of those who walked there so long ago.  And that very faint yet vibrant Pentimento gave me a vision as well of what,  as myth makers and "geologians" for the future, we might re-invent from the dreaming Earth. 

As far as these energized, ley crossed sites go, what poet and Bard Robin Williamson called the "veins of Anu and the windings of the Serpent Track",  I agree with those scholars who believe that once upon a time the  very lands the people walked on, the land they grew their food and marked the Solstices and Equinoxes and the movements of the moon and the stars  upon, was  the "temple"  itself,  The Deity was beneath their feet, and all around them. 

As   Marija Gimbutas, and later Michael Dames, have argued, these sites mark a sacred landscape that was once viewed  literally as  the Body of the the  Great Mother from which the blessings of abundance came, and ultimately to which, in the great cycles of the year , all return.    Here, and in ubiquitous similar sites in Southern and Central England, Ireland, Scotland, the Orkney Islands, the Hebrides, the Isle of Man, Brittany..........perhaps as well in the mysterious realms of the great Temples of Malta,  or the barely excavated, and truly ancient circles of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey as well, we see the remnants of a worship of the Earth as Great Mother that lasted for a very, very long time.    

According to  Michael Dames in his book the Silbury Treasure, Silbury,  which I visited in 2018 along with other similar "harvest hills" (there is one along the Processional to Arbor Lowe as well)  literally represented the pregnant belly of the Great Mother, and were associated with certain times of the agricultural cycles.  In the Neolithic and early Iron Age he makes a significant argument that there was a universal religion which regarded the LAND ITSELF AS THE DEITY.    Situated just south of Avebury, Silbury Hill in Wiltshire is Europe's tallest prehistoric structure.  When his  book was first published in 1976,  archaeological investigations sponsored by the BBC  had demonstrated that the hill was not, as had previously been believed, a burial mound, nor did it have any buriel remains connected with its antiquity. Dames surveys the history of earlier digs at the hill, then uses comparative archaeological evidence, astronomy, ethnography, folklore, mythology, mathematics and place-name research to argue that the shape of the site is designed to represent the pregnant Belly of the Goddess.  

As with the ditch/henges that surround stone circles, Silbury would have been at certain times of the year surrounded by a human made body of water, which Dames believed not only was fundamental to the "temples" that these ceremonial sites represented, but in the case of Silbury, actually formed the shape of a squatting (birthing) woman.  He believes that Silbury was a sacred mound that was part of the Avebury ceremonial landscape.  He likens the "Goddess form" of the henge surrounding Silbury to similar pregnant Goddess sculptures and icons found throughout Europe during the Neolithic.  

As a child, I had great conversations with flowers and squirrels.  And, of course, my cats. Even earthworms were not immune to my words of concern for them.  Much later, I read avidly of the Findhorn Community, or Perelandra, or the Sirious Community,  the conversations members of these communities had  between the Devas of the plant kingdoms and those who came to learn and grow amazing vegetables, healing herbs, and magical gardens in conscious collaboration with them.  

 We need to learn to "speak with the Earth" again.   This impresses itself on me again, and again.  Not in some removed, abstract, distant way, but intimately, beneath our rooted feet, in our creative hands rooted in a great collaboration with the planet that stands aside, protects,  and at best shepards  the land.  That releases for good the outmoded concept of "domination" of nature.  Humanity must become friends again with the family of planetary life, the "Covenantof the Garden.  I believe that our next  evolution as a planetary humanity is not out in space, but right here, on the Earth.   There will be many new innovations, but there will also be many, many re-discoveries of what was once known and understood.  This is indisputable  in the face of climate change,  and a technology that is advancing much more rapidly than we are evolving as a global humanity  to meet it. 

So where does religion come into this?  To be honest, I am not a religious person, although I have an abiding interest in  and experience of spirituality.  But I am a mythologist, and religions are founded upon myths, upon world and creation stories, which are ever revised and co-opted throughout history within  different cultures, sometimes to serve specific purposes.  

The change that must occur within western religious systems is that we cannot continue with a  patriarchal, tribal  alpha male centered mythos.     Nor  can we continue to worship deities that are founded upon ancient warrior sky gods -  wifeless, daughterless, motherless, preoccupied with with dominance,  however they are packaged.  We can't continue with religions that are "Renunciate" either, not if we wish to make our way back to a "conversation" with the land that sustains us.  Dissociative religions that teach that divinity and sanctity lie somewhere other than here,  whether that be conceived of as Heaven, Paradise,  some elusive "Enlightenment" or Nirvana,  or, as various New Age groups teach, that life is "not real", and hence we must reject its "unreality". ..... will not serve our children, or all the many other forms of consciousness that are co-evolving on planet Earth with us.  The paradigm is changing and the Goddess is rising - why?  Because She must.   

This is what is meant by the Return of the Goddess.  For  Restoring the Balance in the divided human psyche.  We cannot understand Her perhaps as  neolithic peoples understood Her, but we must facilitate Her rising as people of the 21st Century urgently need to understand Her.     Not as some hierarchical deity that replaces a tyrannical, misogynist  sky god with an equally "dominating" and merciless  matriarch -  but as, scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis demonstrated in their Gaia Theory,  the Body of the Earth itself, which we are living IN.  Not ON, but IN. 

And what we do to Her, we are doing to ourselves.  

 I respond deeply to Sharon Blackie's call to women to  "rise rooted" .  For those of us who have been rooting about in the shards and buried roots of prehistory and mythology........while we cannot really know what the ancients did or believed, we can sense it with our feet, divining rods,  instincts and imaginations, and (gnow)  that it is something that points toward a different way of being.  One we can invent, re-invent, and re-member ourselves into.


Blackie, Sharon,  If Women Rose Rooted:  The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging  2016, September Publishing 

The Gatekeepers Annual Conference, “Dreaming the Land” November 2018, Pewsey, Wiltshire, UK..

3 Estes, Clarissa Pinkola,  Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype November 27th 1996  Ballantine Books

4 Williamson, Robin, “Five Denials on Merlin’s  Grave” from A Glint At The Kindling & Selected Writings 1980-83 (to hear the performance)  (lyrics)

 Gimbutas, Marija,  The Language of the Goddess,  (1989)  (and other writings), see also Old Europe Excavations and Kurgan Theory,

6 Dames, Michael,  The Silbury Treasure: The Great Goddess Rediscovered November 20th 1978 by Thames & Hudson

7 Findhorn Community of Scotland:

8 Sirius Community of Massachusetts: 

9 Perelandra Center & Michaela Wright: 

10 Lovelock, James and Margulis, Lynn ,   The Gaia Hypothesis AKA  Gaia Theory, Earth Sciences, first published 1972

Friday, April 7, 2023

Found Art, Rilke, Atwood, and Evanescent Time

Found in my files, probably from 1986. 
 The photos are of my mother.  The words in the sky say:
"Wait for me,  Wait for me"

"Who has turned us around like this, so that whatever we do

we find ourselves in the attitude of someone going away?

Just as that person on the last hill, 

which shows him 

his whole valley 

one last time,

turns, stops, lingers - so we live,

forever taking our leave."

Rainier Maria Rilke,  Duino Elegies

When I was in Graduate School in the mid 80's, I was absorbed in three things - New Age spiritual explorations, the poetry of Rainier Maria Rilke, and time, as so incomprehensively and evocatively was demonstrated by a box of old photos (from the 20's and 30's) that I had inherited from my mother.

Somehow, in retrospect, those three themes are not unrelated.  Rilke's poetry, for me, is always achingly full of an ungraspable, but longed for, "other realm" that, somehow, exists within the here and now.  That's the best I can do to explain the poignancy I so often found in both his poems (particularly from the Duino Elegies) and those photographs of a child, or a young woman, who was then in her 80's.  The stories behind those old black and white photos seemed so much more mysterious than the brief bits she had ever revealed to me about her life.  Now approaching my own mid 70's, my mother gone, most of my family gone, so many journeys made, treasured in my memory box, and never to be returned to now.......... yes, I find myself wondering how I also 

"turn, stop, linger - so we live,
forever taking our leave."

Here is another  photo, and poem, that fascinated me, a photo of my mother at the age of 9, riding a pony, in Griffith Park.  Mysterious, that photo, that "stamp on a postcard to Forever".  And here is the poem I found by Margaret Atwood, who also, at sometime, perhaps had the same encounter with Evanescent Time.