Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Summer Solstice


 Brushwood, Solstice 2008

The Summer Day

 Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver. 

Friday, June 16, 2023

"THE DREAM BECOMES THE WORK " An Interview with Lorraine Capparell


It was my privilege, in the late 1980's, to share conversations about art, spirituality, and cultural transformation with some extraordinary artists in pursuit of a book I came to call SEEING IN A SACRED MANNER:  Conversations with Transformative Artists  (1.)
The book was meant to document the work of contemporary artists whose visionary work was influenced by their unique spiritual  insights and experiences.  Travelling across the country not long after graduate school, I met artists who defined their work as spiritual practice in New York City, in Arkansas, in California, and elsewhere.   Among them were  contemporary artists  Rafael Ortiz, Rachel Rosenthal, Alex and Allison Grey, Kathleen Holder, Beth Ames Swartz, and others.   Although I was not successful in finding a publisher for SEEING IN A SACRED MANNER as a book and ultimately moved on to other endeavors,  I did publish some of these interviews  so graciously granted me by these artists, in a number of art journals.

More than 30 years later, as artists continue to seek encouragement for the deeper matrices that drive them to create and seek purpose in their work, I believe these conversations about art and spirituality are more relevant than ever.   I take the opportunity in this paper to share the wisdom of these voices again.    Most  of them I have digitized and they can be viewed at:  http://www.laurenraine.com/articles.html
Below is the interview I was fortunate to have with the  vibrant visionary artist Lorraine Capparell at her home in California so long ago.  It was a pleasure I  remember well.   She is as creative as ever, and although this interview is not about her current work, please visit her website to learn more about Lorraine's work:    http://www.skymuseum.com/

Lauren Raine
June, 2023
1.  http://www.laurenraine.com/seeing-in-a-sacred-manner.html
2.  http://www.laurenraine.com/articles.html


When I met Lorraine Capparell for our interview,  it was at her home in Palo Alto, California, where she had developed a following as a sculptor, photographer, painter and free-lance graphic designer.  Originally from the East Coast, she studied art at Cornell University, and later at San Francisco State University.   At the time of our Interview, her solo exhibitions included "Hands", her extraordinary sculpture that was first shown at the San Jose Museum of Art in 1982, and "Hand Signals", a show of watercolors at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York in 1988.  Additionally, her work was published and written about in a number of contemporary publications, including the WomanSpirit Sourcebook, and Dreams are Wiser Than Men, edited by Richard Russo (North Atlantic Books, 1987). (3.)

Capparell practices Buddhist Vipassana meditation, and has twice travelled to South East Asia and Sri Lanka to study Buddhist and Hindu art and culture.  Vipassana is a meditative technique that teaches close attention to the breath to develop a profound internal stillness, the "spaciousness" below the chattering, reasoning mind, from which genuine creativity and receptivity may arise.  In a statement to her work, Capparell commented that  "Form is Emptiness; Emptiness is Form" .

This  quality of attention informs her art process as well as her life.  Remembering and recording dreams is an important daily activity as well, one that  provides her with a resource from which she draws inspiration, as well as solutions to creative problems encountered along the way.  Her dreams introduce her to imagery that is archetypal as well as intimately personal, and her dreams reveal their meanings as she actualizes them in her art.  Such was true of her amazing sculpture "Hands", which she saw fully realized within a dream two years before she completed. 

Interview with Lorraine Capparell
December 11, 1988
LR:      You said that you often receive ideas for your art through dreams?

LC:      It frees me to pursue the work.  I began using my dreams because of a "judge" I had inside, always questioning "what is this you're making, why are you making it, is it good enough?"  All of that stressful inner dialogue.   If I get a powerful image from a dream, and make a sculpture of it, it's not a problem.  It is valid to me, because it already existed in some way within the dimension of dreams.

Sometimes I see them as finished pieces.  I saw "Hands" in a dream - I saw it vividly as a photograph in a book!  I dreamed that my father gave me an art history book:  I leafed through it and saw the piece.  "Hands" was written on the page, and it also said, curiously, that it was made by an artist other than myself.

LR:  You saw what later became your Sculpture "Hands" in a book within your dream?

LC:  Yes.  That's why it's been such a joy to see the piece published, the most recent publication being in the Woman Spirit Sourcebook.  I saw it in the dream as a picture in a book, went through the process of making it, and now at last see it published in an actual book!

LR" Do you think dreams can be prophetic?

LC:  Yes, if you put the energy into manifesting them, if you make the dream a reality not only in the world, but in your consciousness.  What's a dream?  It's all intricately intertwined.  We first have to think of something in order to create it on the physical plane.  If you have a dream, your subconscious or super conscious is planting something in your mind, which you can then manifest.

Sometimes, when I'm working, before I go to sleep I'll suggest to myself that I would like to dream a creative solution to a problem.  For example, I was trying to figure out how to glaze "Hands".  So I asked my dreams to show me the ways.  In fact, I finally stopped working on the piece because of a dream.  Each torso is separate, and was glazed individually in an electric kiln.  I airbrushed and fired each torso about six times, and was planning to do a last bit of firing the next day.  That night I dreamt one of the torsos blew up!  I was so upset by this dream that I decided it was over, I wouldn't glaze any further.

LR:  The dream not only inspired the work, but also told you when to stop?

LC:  Yes.  I saw it shattering in the dream, which was  actually  a real possibility.  I had fired the torsos so many times, and they are large irregular shapes.  But you can be at the end of a long process and not know when to stop.  The dream told me it was time to stop.

LR:  In "Hands" each figure has three faces.  Did you relate that to the three aspects of the Goddess (Mother, Maiden and Crone), or Trinities such as Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu?

LC:  No, not really.  I had heard of the three faces of Eve, and the myth of Janus.  That was about it.  Of course, in the process of working, I learned a lot more.

LR:  Yet "Hands", along with the sculptural installation you created which you titled "The Three Ages of Women",   are very closely related to the symbols associated with the Goddess.  It's interesting that you saw the image in your dream in a "history book".  The re-emergence and re-discovery of the Goddess in the Women's Spirituality movement, along with the work of Marija Gimbutas (4) is also about the surfacing of "buried history".  You also mentioned that you saw the sculpture rising out of the Earth?

LC:      I dreamt the entire image just once.  What I saw in the book was a photograph of the piece.  But n dreams you can look, it's a photograph, and you look again, and it comes alive.  So I also saw it emerging wet, as if it came from within the Earth.

LR:  When did you have this dream?

LC:  In 1980.   It was my first major sculpture.  I worked on "Hands" for two years.  I haven't sold it, because I feel it needs a special environment.  It could be a fountain - I've thought of plumbing it so that water will come out horizontally, at the waist level of the figures, flowing over the platform.  I would like to make it active, make it wet.

Each time I've exhibited it I've also created a ritual for it, or one was created by others.  When I showed it in 1982 at the San Jose Museum of Art I asked two dancers to design something for it.  I also asked the women who posed for "Hands" to do a ritual, and we choreographed a simple circular ritual, our hands pushing and joining to music.  I have a videotape of that.

LR:  The hands in the sculpture, in gesture and placement, resemble flames.  Did you realize that?

LC:  Yes.  I found out that that position, the gesture of pushing forward, is equated in Tai Chi with the hexagram for fire.  So I learned the gesture related to fire, and I glazed it as fire.  The open hand is also a gesture of Buddha.  "Hands" also has to do with the possibility of enlightenment, because it rises from the Earth, from the dark, moving through the flame of the senses, the flame of physical life, of passion and transformation.

LR:  And the gesture itself - are the women pushing out?

LC:  Pushing forward.  Pushing out, to me, is about exclusion.  Pushing forward is dynamic growth.  In Tai Chi you push and then bring back.

LR:  How did your sculptural group "The Three Ages of Women" come about?

LC:  It began as a possible commission for a woman who had a home in Big Sur, with a beautiful Pacific view.  She wanted a column to hold up the branch of a tree.  I began designing columns based on Greek columns.  From my reading about Ionic columns I learned there were certain shapes that were considered masculine and certain shapes that were feminine, and I created a number of designs based on the classic feminine styles.
I made studies, and sent them to Big Sur.  She eventually decided she didn't want to continue with the project, but by that time I was so turned on by the idea I kept going anyway.  I chose three different shapes that I particularly liked, and made 26" models of them.

I later met a woman who is interested in the Goddess, and she arranged for us to install some sculpture in the yard of a woman who is a psychologist.  She  was planning a weekend retreat for women, and she wanted to exhibit sculpture as a part of it.  When I showed her pictures of my columns, she said "Those are the three ages of women, didn't you know that?"  I said "No, tell me about it!" That was how I learned about the Maiden, the Matron, and the Crone.  That sort of thing seems to happen a lot.  I'll work on an image, especially if it comes from a dream, and later find out is connected to something.

LR:  You often access your art form your dreams, but your art also allows you to access meaning and symbolism - while you didn't dream the columns, it wasn't until later you learned what they represented.

LC:  Right.

LR:  Why do you call the Circle of five figures in the installation the "Temple of the Crones"?

LC: Actually, it's a Temple to the wisdom of old age.  The gate is formed by the Maiden and the Matron columns, each standing opposite the other.  You progress through the stages of Maiden and Matron in order to enter the Circle of Crones.

When I showed it, I asked Chloe Scott, a dancer in her 60's, if she would choreograph something for the "Three Ages of Women".  She has a troupe of women dancers called Dymaxion, who have been working together for years.   Her performance began with the Maidens running into the space, very sprightly.  The more sedate Matrons then entered, rounded up the Maidens, and brought them back.  Then Chloe entered alone, in order to dance the Crone's Dance - it was slow and stately.  Finally she led the group into the Temple, and they performed a ritual of hands crossing, based on my sculpture "Hands".

You see, as I worked on the piece I realized we are lacking in reverence for elders, particularly for elder women.  We don't honor the Crone, the "Saga".  I made five Crones in a circle, representing five wise old women.  The circle represents the wisdom of old age, and in particular, the wisdom of mature womanhood.

LR:   Do you keep a record of your dreams as a resource?

LC:   I keep a dream journal.  I have volumes of dreams from over the years!  Periodically I'll go through them.  I'm currently working on a series of ceramic figures; gold leafed, enclosed or framed in boxes.  I ran across the image of a torso in a box in one of my dream journals, and I began to work on the idea, and did two or three of them.

About that time I was rejected from an art gallery.  They rejected a piece called "Dream Shower" and "Hands" because of nudity.  So I began using classical paintings as a basis for the figures I put in the boxes.  I used Titian,  Raphael's "Three Graces", Ingre…..I made sculptures from the paintings because I wanted to validate my use of the body.  I was reacting to being rejected!  Hey look, nudity occurs in the classics!

I showed them to a friend, who said "Oh, those are Hindu temple pieces!  Don't you see that?"  Well, no, I didn't.  Sometimes I feel I'm blindly manifesting these things, and have no idea of where they come from or what they are.  I just like them.  So now I think of them as "Temple pieces", and I want to display them in that context.  I'm to show them in February, 1989, in conjunction with the Women's Caucus for the Arts.  I want to place them at different levels, all these niches, to suggest an altar.

My friend Rhodessa Jones is an actress.  One of her characters she calls "Lily Overstreet".  She and I planned to do collaboration - I would create a room or sculpture, and she would do a performance.  She wanted a table to put things on, so I decided to make the table actually her - her figure is the base of the table.  The "Lily Table".  The set will also include a giant bed shaped like a hand, which also might represent the "Hand of the Mother".
I seem to pursue the hand image again and again and again.  In the last year I've done a series of watercolors I call "Hand Signals".  They are different hand gestures; some are mudras, like the mudras for wakefulness and fearlessness. 

LR:   You mentioned that you make yourself do at least one painting each day?

LC:  It's a good way to access your unconscious, to get ideas.  Some days I don't know what to do for my daily painting - so I'll paint my dreams, or mandalas, whatever comes to mind, because there is a void to fill.  "Hand Signals" came from my daily painting practice.  I ran out of ideas, and felt like tracing my hand, but it seemed too plebian.  I finally gave in, and that led me to the idea of gesture as a window to a scene.    This became a series.  I would never have hit on those ideas otherwise.  I did about 70 paintings, and now have a show of them.

LR:  What kind of intention do you think you have in your work?

LC:  The first time I displayed "Hands" I received a letter from a docent, who said that she loved going to the room it was in, just to sit during her lunch hour.  I couldn't have asked for more!  I would like the work to evoke serenity, contemplation about your place in life.
In the 70's I remember talking with a  friend, a discussion about  what art meant to us.  I decided I wanted my art to be essentially religious, which then provoked an argument, because that word is so loaded.  "Religious"  meant dogma of some kind - but at that point in my development I didn't know any other word to use.

Now I can say that I want my art to convey something that is archetypal, something that transcends everyday life.  I would like to point to the unity  we all belong to, and perhaps thus provoke others to work on their awareness of that as well.

Although, in truth, it doesn't ever start out that way.   With an intention or a purpose.   If I have an original idea I just let it grow in myself and in the art process.  I don't have an goal.   I didn't begin with a specific idea when I made the columns for the "Three Ages of Women" or the framed figures I'm working on now.

LR:  And yet you did make what became a Temple, and altarpieces for contemplation.  What is a sacred space or a religious object - or for that matter, what is a myth, a ritual?  Aren't they really objects or spaces or stories or images to……………..

LC:  Trigger something!  You can't call it religion - what it's about is working on your awareness.  As an artist, I work on something I may not be clear about, I just work on it, and in the process go through every imaginable state of liking and hating and doubting and desiring, but there is a bonus.  My artwork allows me to learn along the way.  I learn by trying to make these pieces real, trying to make them tangible and physical.  I haven't always understood them, but along the way I learn their meanings.

LR:  Sometimes the inspiration precedes the comprehension?

LC:  They unfold.   In other words, don't stop!  There is an opportunity to learn more, always.  Any time you work, you're actually working on yourself as well.


3.  https://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Are-Wiser-Than-Men/dp/0938190946
"Edited by Richard A. Russo, this anthology of essays, poems, and short stories recounts dreams, analyzes dreams, and celebrates dreams. Dreams, like human experience, have intrinsic value apart from any interpretation we make of them. Instead of asking what dreams can do for us, ask how we may honor the dream."

4.  https://www.belili.org/marija/aboutmarija.html
"Agricultural people's beliefs concerning sterility and fertility, the fragility of life and the constant threat of destruction, and the periodic need to renew the generative processes of nature are among the most enduring. They live on in the present... The Goddess-centered religion existed for a very long time... leaving an indelible imprint on the Western psyche." -- Marija Gimbutas

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

New "Icons"

"Butterfly Woman"



Saturday, June 3, 2023



"As a Jungian analyst and a historian, I would like to offer an archetypal overview of why the current crisis may have come into being; showing when, where and how the masculine and feminine archetypes – reflected in the image of a God or Goddess – became separated, and why this separation has had such a deep impact on Western civilization. I am not speaking only of the pandemic but the far greater challenge of climate change."

                     Anne Baring from A Crucial Time of Choice

I take the liberty of posting this important article by psychologist and mythologist Anne Baring Ph.D because it so eloquently and succinctly describes how Western culture evolved patriarchy, how we forgot that God was ever also a woman, and why patriarchy's values must end and the Goddess must return to the world, if we, and our fellow Beings on this beautiful planet, are going to continue.  

A personal note:  I keep intending to make this Blog more "autobiographical".  But each time I sit down to write, I am struck with the increasing tempo of the great world crisis, and I remember the voices of such great thinkers, philosophers, herstorians, theologians, and activists as Dr. Baring;  and suddenly, my story just merges in my mind with the greater collective story.  


                ERASURE OF THE FEMININE 

                                            Ann Baring

Owing to the research that I and others have conducted over the last 40 years, we now know that in the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras, the principal deity worshiped was the Great Mother. In this forgotten cosmology, there was no Creator beyond creation. Creation emerged from the womb of the Great Mother. All species, including our own, were her children. Everything on Earth and in the Cosmos was connected through relationship with her. 

Then, around 1,500 BC, there was a change so great that its repercussions are keenly felt in all aspects of Western civilization. This change was the replacement of the Great Mother by the Great Father. As the monotheistic Father, God brought creation into being as something separate and distant from Himself, so nature became split off from spirit and was no longer sacred. Simultaneously, the rise of powerful city states in the Middle East led to the creation of a succession of vast empires, territorial conquest, and war. 

Although the architectural, artistic, and literary creations of these empires were extensive, the suffering created by them was also widespread. Millions of young men lost their lives to war and died in atrocious pain. Millions of women and children were killed, raped, or sold into slavery. Deep traumas were created in the collective psyche of humanity that are unhealed to this day. During millennia of war, we forgot about nature and our relationship with her. Gradually, we developed the idea that we were above nature, entitled to control and dominate her for the benefit of our species alone. 

Another event contributed to the loss of the sacredness of nature—a forgotten event that also had a devastating effect on women and the planet.[1] 

The Jewish people once worshiped both a Goddess and a God—a Queen and a King of Heaven—who together created the world. But in 621 BC, under a king called Josiah, a powerful group of priests called Deuteronomists took control of the First Temple in Jerusalem. They removed every trace of the Goddess Asherah, the Queen of Heaven, who was worshiped as the Holy Spirit[2] and Divine Wisdom, and also as the Tree of Life—a Tree that connected the invisible and visible worlds, and whose fruit was the gift of immortality. The shamanic rituals of the High Priest which had honoured and communed with the Queen of Heaven were replaced by new rituals based on obedience to Yahweh’s Law.[3] 

But the Deuteronomists didn’t stop there. They also created the Myth of the Fall with its punishing God and its grim message of guilt, sin, suffering, and the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.[4] They demoted the Goddess—whose title was Mother of All Living—into the human figure of Eve. They blamed Eve for the sin of disobedience that brought about the Fall and for bringing sin, suffering, and death into the world. Henceforth, all women would be contaminated by Eve’s sin and would have to be under men’s control lest they create further disasters. From it there developed the idea that the whole human race was tainted by original sin, punished for a primordial act of disobedience. The created world was no longer a manifestation of the Tree of Life but was viewed as contaminated by the Fall, no longer sacred. Woman’s long oppression, even persecution, stems directly from this myth. Her voice was silenced for millennia. 

Yahweh was left as the sole transcendent Creator God; The Divine Feminine aspect of God was deleted from the image of deity. The only place where the concept of the sacred marriage survived was in the mystical Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, known as the Voice of the Dove.[5] The Divine Feminine was not only banished from Judaism, but also from Christianity which took its image of God from Judaism. Islam also had a sole male creator god. The end-result of this new polarizing cosmology was that life on earth was split off from the divine world; nature was split off from spirit. Men came to be identified with spirit and women with nature. Body was split off from mind and mind from soul. Sexuality was sinful. Woman’s only role was to obey and serve man and carry his seed. All this was a complete reversal of the earlier cosmology focused on the Great Mother. 

There is one further factor that needs to be included in this story: the deliberate decision by the Roman Church to wipe out all trace of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene. Think what it would have meant for the development of Western civilization if the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene had been celebrated by the Church founded in his name. Had their marriage been recognized and Jesus not turned into the celibate Son of God, Christianity would have had a totally different history without a celibate male priesthood and without the terrifying persecution of women in the witch trials that scarred Europe for five centuries. We might have been spared the disastrous association of sexuality with sin and the misogyny and mistrust of women that affects our culture to this day. 

Because of this history, we have been on the wrong path for more than two thousand years, out of alignment with the Earth and the Cosmos. It has led us to this time of crisis and of awakening, and to the need for a new, yet very old story that tells us we are the life and breath of the Divine in human form and that all life is infused with Divinity.[6] 

Materialist or reductionist science is built on the flawed foundation bequeathed to it by patriarchal religion and has dispensed with both God and the soul. It tells us that the universe is without life, purpose, or meaning. When the physical brain dies, that is the end of us. The highest authority is the rational mind. We are separate from the world around us. The master story is technological progress and unlimited growth. 

I think this explains why, in a worldwide culture influenced by the secular philosophy of science, we have come to believe that it doesn’t matter what we do to matter—that nature and matter are not sacred, that we are not part of that sacredness. This is why there is no foundation for morality in our relationship with the Earth. What we think we need, we take. 

                                                       from "The Red Book"

Jung could see the dangers of this materialist philosophy and commented: 

"As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos, because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional “unconscious identity” with natural phenomena… No voices now speak to man from stones, plants, and animals, nor does he speak to them believing they can hear. His contact with nature has gone.[7]" 

Once, long ago, the world was experienced as alive with spirit. Nature was part of a sacred cosmic whole. In spite of horrendous persecution, Indigenous peoples of the world have kept alive this awareness of the sacredness of nature and the idea of our kinship with all creation. 

The new story emerging in quantum physics tells us that the universe is a unified field. Our lives are part of a cosmic web of life which connects all life forms in the universe and on our planet. Every atom of life interacts with every other atom, no matter how distant. A new vision is struggling to be born—a vision of our relationship with an intelligent, living, and interconnected universe. 

We are called to a profound process of transformation that is manifesting as a new planetary consciousness: a consciousness which recognizes that we are part of a Sacred Web of Life. We need a science and a technology that does not seek to dominate nature but works with nature, humbly respecting its harmonious order. We need women who truly embody the Feminine to guide us,[8] working with enlightened men, to restore the values and the practices that can transform our relationship with the planet into one of love and care. 

This pandemic carries an urgent message for us to wake up to the small window of opportunity we have to change course before it’s too late. This means change in every sphere of life: change in the very concept of what it means to be human and living on this extraordinary planet—change above all, in our relationship with the Divine Feminine. We tread a path which is on the knife-edge between the conscious integration of a new vision on the one hand, and the virtual extinction of our species on the other. Which path will we choose? 

This essay is derived from a talk given for Humanity Rising, August 11, 2020


[1] See Betty Kovacs, Merchants of Light (Claremont: The Kamlak Center, 2019) 

[2] This loss of the Holy Spirit was repeated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE when the Hebrew feminine noun for the Holy Spirit—ruach—was translated first into the Greek word pneuma which is genderless, and then into the Latin spiritus sanctus which is masculine. The Christian Trinity was rendered entirely masculine and the former feminine gender of the Holy Spirit was permanently lost to Christianity. 

[3] The books of the Old Testament Scholar, Margaret Barker, give the facts of this story in detail. 

[4] Genesis 2 & 3 

[5] See Anne Baring, The Dream of the Cosmos, rev. ed. (UK: Archive Publishing, 2020), chapter 3. 

[6] See my talks on Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Christianity  

[7] Carl G. Jung, Man and His Symbols (New York: Random House, 1986), p. 95 

[8] By this, I mean women who are not taken over by the will to power. 


Anne Baring b. 1931. MA Oxon. PhD in Wisdom Studies, Ubiquity University 2018. Jungian Analyst, author and co-author of 7 books including, with Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image; with Andrew Harvey, The Mystic Vision and The Divine Feminine; with Dr. Scilla Elworthy, Soul Power: an Agenda for a Conscious Humanity. Her most recent book, The Dream of the Cosmos: A Quest for the Soul (2013, updated and reprinted 2020), was awarded the Scientific and Medical Network Book Prize for 2013. The ground of all her work is a deep interest in the spiritual, mythological, shamanic, and artistic traditions of different cultures. Her website is devoted to the affirmation of a new vision of reality and the issues facing us at this crucial time of choice. www.annebaring.com