Thursday, April 11, 2024

After the Eclipse, the Blue Stars

 


Eclipse, slow, breathless, silent 

even the sparrows  are silent, the cat

pauses, round eyed like a statue of Bast, 

listening,  The Sun

the Sun is disappearing: 

the Great Dragon, or warring Gods 

are eating the Sun.  Shades of distant 

Ancestors watch in terror among their offerings,

their chanted prayers.  But we just stop, 

pause to watch with awe, and unspoken, primal fear 

a great celestial event.  

And then slowly 

shadows of crescent suns appear on the pavement, 

flickering like silver coins  

announcing the return 

of the  generous, triumphant Sun. 

 

At night, quiet still remains, the Stars appear,

singing their songs of magnitude, of suns 

birthing and dying on the black canvas of time,

On the ground, crescent shadows seem to  linger.


April 8, 2024





Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Spirits of Place: Renewing the Conversation

 

 "I experienced contact with something or someone sentient and much greater than my individual self. I had experienced contact, even momentary communion, with the "essence" of what could be called a transpersonal presence. Afterwards I was told by the local shaman or caretaker that I had met with the guardian spirit of the place.....Pilgrim Martin Gray described a (similar) unification experience he had while attending a Shinto religious festival."

Debra D. Carroll "From Huacas to Mesas"
DIALOGUES WITH THE LIVING EARTH, James and Roberta Swan (1989)

Having seen recently a film recently about the mysterious elemental beings of Japanese folklore I found myself remembering my own fascination with the "Numina", the presence of place I have often felt in special places.  Or even in not so special places as well.  

In light of climate change, and the loss of species happening every day,  I personally think that developing "mythic mind" and opening a "conversation with place" is important.   ................and thinking about the numinous, intelligent, living  sense of "presence" I have experienced so many times in nature, and in particular in power places.  

I have a book (which I greatly value and have on display) by  Martin Gray, who spent some twenty years of his life visiting sacred places around the world as an international  pilgrim. ( I take the liberty of sharing below an article from his amazing book, SACRED EARTH.**)

I myself have experienced things "paranormal" at places of power, inexplicable experiences that include heightened energy, dowsing rods that go crazy or "helicopter", orbs, strange photographs, dreams, visions, and other phenomena.  Some of those places, if I pause to consider, influenced me to make changes in my life that were  significant. 

"The Lady of Avalon" (artist unknown)

 
the Tor 

When I climbed the Tor in Glastonbury,  I remember that  all my photos were oddly infused with violet light.....which is the color   associated with the Lady of Avalon, the "Numina" or Genus Loci of Glastonbury. My camera hasn't taken "purple photos" before or since. 

I remember when I was living with with my former husband in upstate New York in the 90's. Where we lived was a rural area rapidly being built up with industry. One of the mysterious places in the area, to me at least, was a field I used to visit. To get to that field, which bordered our property, one had to go through a kind of obstacle course - you crossed an old stone wall, immediately ran into a rusted barbed wire fence, and then tramped through a barrier of poison ivy, grape vines and small trees.

Braving all of this, a beautiful field appeared.  Bordered on all sides by trees, you could stand there in the tall grass, or the snow, and see nothing of the warehouses or homes nearby. It felt, oddly, as if it was somehow protected, as if you entered a special, quiet, mysterious place. The land had obviously once been worked, but it had been left fallow for many years, and in the center  of the field, if you looked, was a  "fairy circle". Small trees, bushes, even tall grasses formed a surprisingly visible circle. With my divining rods, I found there was a ley crossing in that exact spot - the rod "helicoptered" and whirled.

We  were actively involved in Earth based spiritual practices, and my ex  facilitated an enthusiastic  men's group. One night when the moon was full the group, energized by drumming, decided to visit the field. There was snow on the ground, and as the young men strode to the stone wall, something pushed two of them into the snow! Being young, they got up and chose to go forward again - and something  pushed both of them backwards once more! They fell on their behinds in the snow! This was apparently enough moonlit strangeness for everyone, and the group  turned around and went home. 

The next day, we took offerings to the edge of the field. I remember placing crystals and flowers on a stone, and as I did, I felt such an overwhelming sense of sorrow that tears ran down my face. I believe I was feeling the sorrow of the guardian spirit of that place.  It was a very intense feeling, and sadly, a  year later there was an oil spill in a nearby truck depot, and the wetlands that bordered "the Field" suffered tremendous ecological damage, and a big tree we associated with our "Green Man" died.

I don't know what the "meaning" of this experience was, except that I and my former husband experienced communion with an intelligence of nature that belonged to that special place.  Perhaps it was the "Guardian" of that place?  The Numina that cared for it, the spirit that sensed the advance of industry that would destroy the beauty and ecological balance that was there?  I can't know, I only remember what I recount in this story.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Non-corporeal Beings: 
The mysterious influences of spirits, devas and angelic beings associated with sacred sites


Sages and seers from antiquity have repeatedly remarked that the dimension we see with our physical eyes is not the only dimension of existence. Many other realms exist and within them a variety of beings, spirits, energies and entities. Traditional peoples the world over have spoken of the existence of these presences, calling them such names as elves, gnomes, leprechauns, devas, fairies, genies and ghosts.

Since time immemorial humans have sought contact with these unseen forces. Shamanic practitioners communicate with the spirits of animals, ancestors and the plant world. Psychics, clairvoyants and mediums conduct séances to speak with entities from nonvisible realms. Religious mystics affirm the presence of angels, deities and other heavenly beings. Whatever we choose to call these entities, and however we attempt to explain them, it is certain that something mysterious is happening in dimensions other than those perceptible by our normal senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell.

These mysterious presences seem to be especially concentrated at the power places and sacred sites. In some holy places, particularly those of remote forest and desert tribes, these unseen presences are the sole focus of ritual activities. No Christian church or Buddhist temple will be found there, only a small shrine indicating the abode of some nature spirit. In the world's more celebrated pilgrimage shrines, these presences receive less acknowledgment than the primary religious deities. While the presence of the unseen forces usually long precedes the arrival of the historical religion that now maintains the pilgrimage shrine, those forces are frequently denied, dismissed, demonized or given only marginal importance. In the temples of Burma where we find great monuments to the Buddhist faith surrounded by small shrines dedicated to a host of pre-Buddhist spirits called Nats. In the Christian churches of Europe, Britain and Ireland flow springs long ago dedicated to pagan earth goddesses. And in the courtyards of enormous south Indian temples stand numerous small shrines housing various spirits called yakshas, nagas and asuras.

These unseen forces may affect pilgrims without their having any knowledge of the forces, or they may purposely be summoned to appear by the performance of ritual actions and invocations. Traditional rituals practiced at many shrines are potent, time-honored methods for invoking various spirit forces. Such methods are not the only way to summon the mysterious powers. Focused mental intention is an effective method of invocation, and prayer and meditation are the tools of spirit communication.

It is beneficial to first learn something about the nature or character of the spirit entities that inhabit a sacred site. Reading guidebooks concerning the mythology and archaeology of the site or questioning shrine administrators and priests are good approaches. The unseen forces will be described in terms such as spirits, devas or angels. These terms are simply metaphors for the actual character or personality of the forces. These terms also serve as metaphorical representations indicating how the forces will psychologically and physiologically affect human beings. Next, carefully consider the character of the unseen forces dwelling at a sacred site - this important point should not be lightly dismissed. Those forces may have either beneficial or disturbing effects on different people. Invocation of unseen forces at sacred sites is a powerful practice. It is important to exercise caution lest unwanted forces be admitted into an individual's personal energy field.


Martin Gray

The Chalice Well,  Glastonbury

"There is an earth-based energy available to human beings, concentrated at specific places all across the planet, which catalyzes and increases this eco-spiritual consciousness. These specific places are the sacred sites discussed and illustrated on this web site. Before their prehistoric human use, before their usurpation by different religions, these sites were simply places of power. They continue to radiate their powers, which anyone may access by visiting the sacred sites. No rituals are necessary, no practice of a particular religion, no belief in a certain philosophy; all that is needed is for an individual human to visit a power site and simply be present. As the flavor of herbal tea will steep into warm water, so also will the essence of these power places enter into one’s heart and mind and soul. As each of us awakens to a fuller knowing of the universality of life, we in turn further empower the global field of eco-spiritual consciousness. That is the deeper meaning and purpose of these magical holy places: they are source points of the power of spiritual illumination."

Martin Gray

 Sacred Earth

** Sacred Earth is written and photographed by Martin Gray and is the culmination of twenty-five years of travel to hundreds of sacred sites in more than one hundred countries.  Gray’s stunning photographs and fascinating text provide unique insight into why these powerful holy places are the most venerated and visited sites on the entire planet. Maps adapted from the National Geographic Society show the locations of all the sites presented, and a thorough appendix includes a comprehensive list of over 500 of the world’s sacred sites.  The book can be purchased from the author on his website:  www.sacredsites.com

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Praises for the World: Jennifer Berezon and Drew Dellinger

 


my religion is rain
my religion is stone
my religion reveals itself to me
in
 sweaty epiphanies

every leaf, every river,
every animal,
your body

(drew dellinger)

I first heard this poem spoken on  Jennifer Berezon's  2005 DVD PRAISES F"OR THE WORLD which I bought after seeing her perform it in 2008 at the Kripalu Institute in Massachusetts, where I was privileged to teach a workshop.  Dellinger read as part of an amazing  ritual performance in Oakland, California that featured  Jennifer Berezon, Drew Delinger, Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Joanna Macy, and many others, all within the container of Jennifer's exquisite  devotional song.  At the end, all voices rose to join her in its praise.    

Mr. Dellinger's poem, recited at the performance,  has haunted me ever since, especially after I wore the DVD out by playing it, and Ms. Berezon's music,  over and over again. So here is a link to a UTube video in which he recites it live, and I invite anyone reading this to as well to the music of Jennifer Berezon as well. For my own pleasure, I copy the poem below, and I also have copied the only video I could find on UTube of that extraordinary gathering in Oakland.

hymn to the sacred body of the universe

Drew Dellinger

let’s meet
at the confluence
where you flow into me
and one breath
swirls between our lungs

let’s meet
at the confluence
where you flow into me
and one breath
swirls between our lungs

for one instant
to dwell in the presence of the galaxies
for one instant
to live in the truth of the heart
the poet says this entire traveling cosmos is
“the secret One slowly growing a body”

two eagles are mating—
clasping each other’s claws
and turning cartwheels in the sky
grasses are blooming
grandfathers dying
consciousness blinking on and off
all of this is happening at once
all of this, vibrating into existence
out of nothingness

every particle
foaming into existence
transcribing the ineffable

arising and passing away
arising and passing away
23 trillion times per second—
when Buddha saw that,
he smiled

16 million tons of rain are falling every second
on the planet
an ocean
perpetually falling
and every drop
is your body
every motion, every feather, every thought
is your body
time
is your body,
and the infinite
curled inside like
invisible rainbows folded into light

every word of every tongue is love
telling a story to her own ears

let our lives be incense
burning
like a hymn to the sacred
body of the universe
my religion is rain
my religion is stone
my religion reveals itself to me in
sweaty epiphanies

every leaf, every river,
every animal,
your body
every creature trapped in the gears
of corporate nightmares
every species made extinct
was once
your body

10 million people are dreaming
that they’re flying
junipers and violets are blossoming
stars exploding and being born
god
is having
déjà vu
I am one
elaborate
crush
we cry petals
as the void
is singing

you are the dark
that holds the stars
in intimate
distance

that spun the whirling,
whirling,
world
into existence

let’s meet
at the confluence
where you flow into me
and one breath
swirls between our lungs








 

All artwork and text unless otherwise specified is COPYRIGHT Lauren Raine 2024


Thursday, March 28, 2024

A Dog in Dürer’s Etching

 A Dog in Dürer’s Etching
“The Knight, Death and the Devil”


by Marco Denevi (1966), translated by Alberto Manguel

A brilliant, haunting response to the famous etching by Albrecht Durer.  I first heard it read back in 1988, and was pleased to remember it, and to actually find at least one reading on UTube. 

What is so extraordinary about this short story is that it is composed as one long sentence, that runs, like the stream of the writer's mind, as if he himself was riding along in the  procession of the knight and his horse.  And a dog.  As if the thoughts of the observing writer clip clop along, imagining and intersecting with the thoughts of the knight himself, who is  returning weary and changed to what was once his home, his youth, and his dreams from many years of war.  

 "THE KNIGHT (AS WE all know) is back from the war, the  Seven Years’ War, the Thirty Years’ War, the War of the Roses, the War of the Three Henrys, a dynastic or religious war, or a gallant war, in the Palatinate, in the Netherlands, in Bohemia, no matter where, no matter when, all wars are fragments of a single war, all wars make up the nameless war, simply the war, the War, so that although the knight returns from travelling through a fragment of the war, it is as if he had journeyed through all wars and all the war, because all wars, even if they seem different when seen from close to, seen from a distance 

only repeat ....."

 https://youtu.be/RlxcS4G0-W4?si=zoMPGGf4rSnjnOvA

 

To read:  https://www.101bananas.com/library2/dogdurer.html

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The Tucson Sculpture Festival March 16 and 17, 2024

 


I will be there!  This year in addition to clay sculpture I decided to bring some masks which also can be presented as sculptures in their own rights.......... Masks are also wearable, and thus endlessly open for collaboration and story!  

                                              

                                                A Mask for the Shattering of Old Paradigms

Green Man

 
Butterfly Woman

 
Monarch


Persephone



                           All artwork and text unless otherwise specified is COPYRIGHT Lauren Raine 2024

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Persephone - A New Bas Relief

 


Persephone is so much about the Turning of the Year, the Goddess of Equinoxes, the Balance point at which the regeneration of spring begins, and the diminishment and going in to the Dark of winter begins as well.  I think that's where this sculpture arose from, feeling the incipient life beneath the Earth, the stirring of spring.


                           All artwork and text unless otherwise specified is COPYRIGHT Lauren Raine 2024


Thursday, February 1, 2024

Life Between Life: the Work of Michael Newton

 

Recently I've been re-reading  "Journey of Souls"  by Michael Newton Ph.D.  The book has been around since the 90's, and there are several other books Dr. Newton wrote about his many years of research as well.  Dr. Newton began as a hypnotherapist, and as he recounts, stumbled on a patient who "re-membered", from a transpersonal state, being in the spirit realm, between lives on earth.  

He, and his colleagues  worked with hundreds of people to explore the subject of life between life and to help people understand the "soul purposes" of incarnation.  Although Dr. Newton  passed away in 2016,  his work is carried on by the Michael Newton Institute, which trains practitioners in between life therapy.

I have found his books enormously comforting as well as fascinating.  Over and over his subjects recount leaving their bodies at death to return "home" to their Soul Groups - groups of souls that chose the lives they will incarnate in,   together,  over and over.  It is as if a "soul group" is a kind of collective Soul, encompassing the individualities of its members,  and ever growing and learning together.  For those who are afraid of death, or are suffering the loss of a loved one, I urge you to read this book.  I also offer two interviews with Michael Newton that I found on UTube.   







                           All artwork and text unless otherwise specified is COPYRIGHT Lauren Raine 2024

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Memoirs 2: Lithographs and Other from the 80's

"Gaia" (1985)


I wanted to finish sharing these "forgotten" Lithogrgaphs from the 80's.  This was the height of New Age.  Extraordinary people like Carolyn Myss Energy Healing, Gloria Orenstein with Ecofeminism, Psychologists such as Stephen Levine and Jack Kornfield bringing Vipassana meditation and Theravada Buddhism into contemporary psychology, Starhawk, M. Macha Nightmare, and their colleagues creating the Pagan religious path for Goddess spirituality and a return to Nature,  Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman bringing Shamanism into the modern world,  Joseph Campbell inspiring everyone with the Power of Myth, Shirley Maclain and Crystals................ so much, such a glorious international opening of spiritual re-discovery and re-invention.  Yes there were excesses, as always will happen, but I am always annoyed at the mindless censorship and cynicism with which people now scoff at "New Age", not realizing how many important ideas practices and institutions arose from the era of openness and re-discovery 

"Day of Radience" (1985)

I love this piece, which spontaneously gave a photo in my studio of the artist Catherine Nash a "halo".  She is a powerful artist whose work is highly spiritual:  I was not surprised then, nor am I now.

"A House of Doors" (1987)

"A House of Doors IV" (1988)

"The Daemon Lover" (1987)


A HOUSE OF DOORS  was the theme for my MFA show in 1987, and I produced a number of paintings and also a Spoken Word poem (in collaboration with Catherine Nash)  inspired by the amazing works of Laurie Anderson.  I am thinking I will make the next post about that particular show.  

"Skin Shedder" (1986)

By 1985 I had discovered the evolving Pagan community and ritual practice,  and also began to learn about the Goddess.  I was inspired reading Starhawk and The Spiral Dance deeply.  When I began to learn about the many, many manifestations of the Divine Feminine throughout the world, it felt like a vast sustenance and truth was entering me, to fill up the emptiness I had often felt in my lack of religion.  Here was, as Gloria Orenstein , one of the founders of EcoFeminism, wrote in her book THE REFLOWERING OF THE GODDESS the return  of the Great Mother to a world desperately in need of Her.  Here was the need for a new Iconography that I, as an artist, could entirely respond to and devote myself to. 

"The Summer Solstice" (1987_

"The Winter Solstice" (1987)

"Herne" 1988)

 

"Skin Shedder Mandala" (1987)

                           All artwork and text unless otherwise specified is COPYRIGHT Lauren Raine 2024

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Woman at the Roots


First came this strange painting, which I finished just before the New Year.  For years now I've been making sculptures that are "rooted", now I attempt to paint them, not so easy for me.  I think this calm face among the rooted earth is winter born, dormant and waiting.  Waiting for what?  That will be revealed in time, for now, resting, dreaming, sustaining.  
But the Painting desired a poem, and I found the poem I needed  (below) by Sharon Blackie, author of one of my favorite books, IF WOMEN ROSE ROOTED. It's perfect for the advent of a New Year, my own, and as a collective Blessing as well. I excerpt from her poem Peregrina:

Only lend me a loom and I will
take up the threads of this unravelled life.
I will weave a braid from three strands of seaweed
I will wind it three times around my finger
I will dig my salt-encrusted hands into the soil
and wed myself to the thirsty
brown roots of a new beginning. 


                            All artwork and text unless otherwise specified is COPYRIGHT Lauren Raine 2024

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Memoirs 1: Lithographs from 1985

For my Father, and Time (1985)

 "Who has twisted us around like this, so that no matter what we do, we are in the posture of someone going away? Just as, upon the farthest hill, which shows him his whole valley one last time, he turns, stops, lingers--, so we live here, forever taking leave."

Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Eighth Elegy", Duino Elegies (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

I have been thinking lately that this Blog is beginning to form itself into a kind of "scrapbook of memoir". Sometimes I have thought that I've basically said everything I have to say, and now it's more about looking back, as well as finding ways to say it again.  In our world that relentlessly seeks "the new" I give up, I stop along the road, take a drink of water, and look back more and more these days.

 Perhaps because I have had a few encounters with mortality this year, including open heart surgery in July and now preparing for removal of a tumor (which I am assured is not life threatening).......perhaps because of that I look back on the road and notice old beauties.  So, having stated that, I think this new year will see this Blog often becoming Memoir.  And I give myself permission to repeat myself!

Songs the Rain Sings (1985)

I was looking through a "lost" collection of lithographs I worked on in graduate school in the 80's.  They were all made the hard way on  litho stones (and it's mindboggling to think that that is how newspapers once were produced).  I used old photographs mostly.  The photographs were from a box of family photos I inherited, or sometimes old photos from "the Warehouse" artist studios where I lived in  Berkeley in the 70's.  Some of those old photos became magical windows for me, icons that  "time travelled" into fantastical worlds.  Like, for example, the small lithograph above, which is from a 1920 snapshot of my mother. 

I often used images of my mother as a child at the beach.  I didn't know it at the time, but I think they revealed the mystery of  time for me.  The recuring child that my mother was is ever the Observer. And of course, there was The Beach............Perhaps that child-and-mother represented to me that part of ourselves that lives and sees outside of time, outside of the dramas of our lives, outside of the polarties - the creative, innocent Soul before the great oceanic Oneness we came from, and eventually return to.

Not all the photos I played with were old family photos:  among my finds were  photos of friends posing as models (at that time people always it seemed had to be painted in the nude).  I think of that time and place, a young artist in Berkeley in the early 70's,  as the "Halcyon Years".  

"All Aboard!" (1985)


"Sybils" is a strange image.  One of the definitions of "Sibyll" is:  "a woman in ancient times who speaks  the oracles and prophecies of a god."  Thus,  Sibyll would live, at least in part, outside of time, hence the bones. And yet the pregnant Sibyll...........perhaps I was thinking of life ever renewing itself, the circle.  And of course, there is my mother, on the Beach, observing.

"Sybils" (1985)

A photo I found of my grandmother Helen, who died before I was born. I don't think she had a happy life, being buffeted by a controlling and even cruel mother, and an unhappy marriage.  Although my grandfather was a well meaning man, he was domineering and no doubt emotionally explosive.  My mother married the same kind of man. 

Here I envisioned this unknown grandmother, who I only knew from old photos,  as an observer,  watching me across the generations as I rest with my cat,  Pumpkin, somehow aware of her presence.  

"Ancestral Visitations" 


Here is the Observer again, and this time she ventures into the world of myth and archetype, a place I love to go.  We all know the sad fate of Icarus, who flew with his wax wings too close to the sun, causing them to melt and he fell to his death.  But what if he had a sister, a sister who did not make his mistake, and flew joyfully wherever she wanted to go, escaping gleefully her captors?  Like most of the accomplishments of women throughout his-story, she has been erased.  But here I, and the Observer, bear witness to her exhuberance as she flies far and wide.  Perhaps she went to Crete, or even Egypt, where she finally landed, had a lovely nap and lunch, made some friends, got a job, met a guy she married,  and lived to a ripe old age.  Why not?

"Icarus Had a Sister" (1985)

Here below is one of my favorites from the series, Leda and the Swan.  I guess this is about as close to erotic art as I ever got.  Yes, Leda was seduced by a God.  But she also brought to that encounter her passion to fly, and thus loved this numinous, winged creature, flying with him for those few hours.  I am sure, in their pleasure, he took her to some beautiful visionary heights.

"Leda and the Swan" (1985)

I think I'll stop here, and bring the other Lithos into another post.  I am glad to share them here, they have been chirping for exposure in my closet for many years, some of my "lost children".  I still love them.

 All artwork and text unless otherwise specified is COPYRIGHT Lauren Raine 2024

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

"Crossing Over"


I found this short video excerpt (below)  from the 2 season television show DEAD LIKE ME (which I found wonderfully clever, funny, and often poignantly true) while searching for the music of Metisse.  I had, just the day before, been discussing mediumship, some of my conversations with mediums at Lily Dale that I met, and the paranormal experiences I and others have had.  Some of the mediums I have met say that there are  spirits that are "earth bound", and don't or can't "cross over".  My friend, who is a highly intuitive counselor, asked "how do mediums help people to cross over?"  A question I also wonder about.

Then synchronistically this excerpt turned up in my search. "Daisy", in the film, is a "Grim Reaper", one whose job it is to help recently dead souls accept their death, and cross over.  Reapers, however, cannot cross over.  In the story Stan, who was gay, has just died and wants to go to a Church, which Daisy agrees to take him to.  He has a lifetime of hurt and anger at God for being different.  And he receives an answer that shatters the windows of his spirit, freeing him.   It rings true for me somehow, and I don't mean that in any religious context.   The music, words, and acting, are a kind of "sacred poem" to me.  Beautiful.............

https://youtu.be/E0NjcpfzAUY?si=DibwVnUKN2uC19kT