Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sacred Places and "Talking with the Gods"


"Australian dream time seems strange to us because we distinguish stories from places.  For the aborigines places are stories:  song-lines.  To "settle" a wild place means to create not only houses and farms, but also the stories that make them a home.  For native Australians, their deserts are home because they are verdant with stories."

David Loy, The World is Made of Stories

I have acquired a rare video called GEOSOPHY - An Overview of Earth Mysteries, produced and directed by Vakasha Brenman (Mystic Fire Video) in 1988  which features interviews with John Steele and Paul Devereux, authors of EARTHMIND and co-creators of the Dragon Project, a decade long investigation into the phenomena associated with Neolithic sacred sites in Great Britain.  Earth Mysteries has always been my passion, and the sense of Gaia, the living Earth, always speaking to us beneath our feet and in our cells..........is the fundamental truth I am always seeking to speak of in my art.  Gaia.  Mother Earth.  So very much we have lost and forgotten.  I feel the work of these people is very important, and should not be lost.  So I intend to put excerpts from this documentary on this Blog (and hope I don't get in trouble for it), and to pursue the subject of "Talking with the Earth" in future posts.  In this time of political and ecological despair, this matters to me.  This is worth sharing!   


There are so many stories I could tell as I look back on how this subject informed my art, worldview, spirituality, and sense of purpose.   I often credit a  synchronistic encounter  with geomancer and spiritual dowser  Sig Lonegren, in 1982, that planted the seed of a whole new way of seeing life for me, as well as teaching me to dowse.  I had a studio in Putney, Vermont in 1982, and it was my habit to meander down to the Putney Inn for coffee on a Saturday morning.  But that particular morning in June there were people everywhere - tables with brochures set up, discussions going on, buses and vans out front.  Coffee in hand, I saw an interesting group of people sitting on the grass in a circle in front of the building, and for some reason I sat down and joined them.  Sig, who was leading this group to one of Putney's mysterious stone chambers on Putney mountain, ushered us all into a van, and invited me to come along as well.  So that's how I found myself before a stone cairn in the woods, roofed with a massive stone, and with an entrance that faced perfectly the rising of the sun on the Summer Solstice.  Sig put a pair of divining rods in my hands, and I was  amazed to learn, with the others, that two "leys", each about 6 feet wide, ran through and crossed at this chamber.  When I held one of the rods at the center of the "roof" it "helicoptered"......turned rapidly as if it was a windmill for earth energies! 


It was many years later that I had the privilege of visiting  Sig and his wife Karen at their home in Glastonbury, England.  Sig was one of the trustees of the Chalice Well, and had spent many years exploring the sacred sites of the British Isles. I celebrated Lammas with them at the Chalice Well, an event I shall always treasure.   Sig is  currently on the faculty of the Fellowship of the Spirit near Lilydale, N.Y., he has a fascinating website:  http://www.geomancy.org/       and now lives with his wife in the Netherlands.   One of Sig's books, Spiritual Dowsing, goes into the phenomena of dowsing for Earth energies. 


As a dowser myself, I've experienced shifts in energy - which means also shifts in  consciousness and perception -many times when visiting areas that are geomantically potent, be it the henge of Avebury,  or the labyrinth at Unity Church in Tucson. Sites are able to change consciousness (raise energy) because they are intrinsically geomantically potent, and  they also become potent because of human interaction with the innate intelligence of place, what the Greeks called "genus loci".  John Steele coined the term "Geomantic reciprocity" - as human beings bring intentionality, reverence and focus to a particular place, building sacred architecture, or engaging in ritual.  The conversation becomes more active as place accrues myth and story in the memory of the people, and the memory of the land.   Sacred places have both an innate and a developed capacity to transform consciousness.  And the power of myth is important if we wish to engage the numinous presence, to  "talk to the Goddess and petition the Gods".
"To the native Irish, the literal representation of the country was less important than its poetic dimension.  In traditional bardic culture, the terrain was studied, discussed, and referenced:  every place had its legend and its own identity....what endured was the mythic landscape."

R.F. Foster

Why would the ancient people who built Stonehenge spend generations hauling monstrous (and apparently specific) stones hundreds of miles to pose them in  circles, laid  in various alignments with the skies, seasons, and land?   


According to Sig, who references psychologistcontroversial book from the 80's  The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, possibly because, as human culture and language became increasingly complex,  we began to lose mediumistic consciousness,  a daily, conversational Gnosis with "Spirit".  We became more individuated.  With the gradual ascendancy of left-brained reasoning he suggests the ancients developed a concern with how to continue contact with the gods, the ancestors, the numina of the land.  Stonehenge was a temple on a sacred landscape - according to Sig, it may also represent a "last ditch effort" to keep in touch with the spirit world, to enhance communal experience.   As the rift between personal gnosis and spiritual contact deepened, and especially with the later development of patriarchal institutions, gradually the tribal and individual Gnosis was replaced by complex religious institutions that removed individuals from the earlier tribal mind, and rendered spiritual authority to priests who were often viewed as  the sole representatives of  the  Gods or God.


Perhaps this capacity is returning to us, a new evolutionary balance. As crisis engulfs us, we need, once again, to re-member how to  "speak to the Earth". 


"I have been arguing for decades that these (sacred) spaces were special places that enhance the possibility of connection to the other side - to the One.  Please judge what follows in that context. You may well find that it challenges some of your paradigms you hold about the past.  It combines two separate lines of investigation that support the perception that these spaces really “did what’s on the box.”  The gods came to earth.  And us humans in great numbers communicated directly with them.  (I end with a counter argument just to keep things in balance.

Since the mid-seventies when I began work on my Masters’ degree on Sacred Space, one of the major themes I have chewed on has been the shift from the dominance of that more intuitive right brain in prehistory to the analytical left brain brought to us by (IMHO) the increase of influence of the Patriarchy.  The book that really turned me on initially was The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes, first published in 1976 (see "Works Cited" at the bottom for all book references).  

 I must say that this has been one of the most stimulating and thought-provoking books I've ever read, and is a must in the development of consciousness studies.  I don’t agree with some of what he has to say, for example, his choice of a particular word to describe how our prehistoric ancestors received their right brain information - "hallucinations."  I don't think that's what they were, and later on, I'll go in to why I think so.  But on the whole, I found his thesis most useful in forming my perception of this shift in consciousness.

It began with the Neolithic Revolution - the increasing use of agriculture rather than hunter gathering.  It facilitated a shift in consciousness.  My understanding was that the driving factor in the construction of purpose-built sacred spaces in prehistoric times was the loss of the ability of more and more of humanity to connect on a conscious level with the world of spirit.  I felt, and still do, that the archaeoastronomy, sacred geometry and Earth Energies all enhanced the ability of this connection as we became more and more left-brain/rational.  I wrote about this at great length in my first book, Spiritual Dowsing, initially published in 1986."

Sig Lonegren
www.geomancy.org
www.sunnybankglastonbury.co.uk


--------------------------------------------------

Jaynes, Julian. 1976. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Lonegren, Sig. 2007. Spiritual Dowsing. Glastonbury, England: Gothic Image. History of the earth energies, healing and other uses of dowsing today. A book for the spiritual pilgrim. Initially published 1986. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Remembering......."The World is Always Talking to us"

 
"I let my life be guided by a strange language that I call “signs”. I know that the world is talking to me, I need to listen to it, and if I do so I shall always be guided towards what is most intense, passionate and beautiful. Of course, it is not always easy.  If you trust life, life will trust you."
        Paolo Coelho


My life these days is so preoccupied with mundane matters that my visioning self cries to be heard and known again.  I find it difficult to write as well, so I look back in the midst of the rediculous multi-tracking laundry list that my life currently seems to be.  Yes, I need to change this, no argument.  Not so easy to do sometimes.......

One thing I so often find my heart moving back to are the summers I spent at Brushwood and at Lilydale  in western New York state, the summers spent living in the woods at that campground, in a little trailer, nights illuminated mostly by campfires, oil lamps, and the sounds of drums.  I always was renewed in a deep way there, and the prospect of not being able to go this summer........ah,  I wish I could.  It will be a summer of Tucson's heat, monsoons, and time to create some art, but my heart has always remained in the East.  Always.

So, although the frenetic pace of my committments right now make my day very flat and "tone deaf", never the less I do not forget that World is always speaking to us, if we can but listen.  Soon, soon, let the Conversation be renewed.

Sometimes the best, most profound  things can't be told, hence the origins of the word "mystery", which is from the Greek, a word identified with the Eleusinian Mysteries  meaning "that which cannot be spoken".  But this is a journal, so I'll try.....perhaps that inability to express what I experience as a "mythic"  universe has to do with the coming together at times of so many different dimensions, multiple levels of synchronicity, metaphor, and perception.   See?  How do you talk about it  except through poetry, art, or metaphor?  Here is journal entry from one of those Summers, I felt like sharing it again.

"There's a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in." ~~~ Leonard Cohen


Journal Entry  July 17, 2013 

Once I got on the road synchronicities and insights  have flooded into my daily life - that's what happens when you enter "liminal zones", those places, times, and activities that are transitional, that put us into the creative space of becoming.  Travel can do that, art process and meditation can do it, and critical times in our lives can do it as well.  My wise friend Wendy talks about the "shamanic initiation", those events in our lives that "crack" us open, times that challenge our beliefs and assumptions.  Painful as those times are, they are also times when door open into new vistas of perception and possibility.
In Chautauqua county, my other life floods in, along with the rain and humidity I've missed in the desert.   Lilydale's and Brushwood's  energy is high, and there is  also such joyful elemental energy there, which you feel as soon as you arrive.  Joining a circle at Lilydale, I found my old sensitivity still present, if rusty, and was able to take several "messages"  as well as receiving significant information for myself from the facilitating medium, Stephanie.  She commented accurately on my bad ankle, saying that it was to make me "slow down"......and at a Sunday service, another medium singled me out (even though I was hiding in the back row) and told me I needed to "slow down" again. Hmm.......I need to think about that.

Stopped for several days to visit Wendy, a friend I met in 2003.  Wendy is a true Medium - her sensitivity began  at 4  when she suffered kidney failure and almost died.  She was also struck by lightning as a child.  She believes these two events brought about her sensitivity.  It  took her many years, and a painful childhood, to come to grips with those gifts.  Wendy amazes me, as she lives simultaneously in two or more worlds, all day long, every day - and it's difficult for people who aren't mediums themselves, or well educated in metaphysics and the "paranormal" to understand her.  She's a successful career woman, living in a town and profession where her gifts are completely unknown to her colleagues, and she's also a medium who sometimes chooses to do readings, helps with hauntings, is an artist, and for fun, goes ghost hunting with colleagues. 

I feel Wendy has helped me to understand my own perceptions  a great deal in the course of our conversations.  To work "inter-dimensionally", as mediums do, one must learn to think in,  as Wendy puts it, "Dream Time" terms, which includes thinking symbolically and without the construct of sequential time as we understand it "in the flesh".  For her, spirits are all around, familiar spirits come to help her or just to visit, people in need of help, people who want to contact someone (usually associated with someone close to her).  Sometimes she sages the room because she has energies she doesn't want there, or just doesn't have the time.

She has a "ghost hunter" machine, a little machine that makes white noise.  I sat for half an hour with her while she asked questions, and hear the machine produce scratchy, sometimes lucid, responses, from what sounded like different voices trying to talk through a very bad phone connection.  I clearly heard "hello", "Wendy", and other short phrases.  I also smelled pipe smoke, and Wendy's face lit up.  "That's my Dad" she said.

This past Solstice there was a tragedy at Brushwood - a young woman had heart failure and died suddenly.  I remember seeing this young woman several times before the event, and being unable to stop looking at her for two reasons - she looked  very much like a very young version of my own daughter, very vulnerable, and she also "glowed" - there was a luminosity about her and I couldn't stop staring at her.  When I told Wendy about this sad event, she said that people who are dying always have a "glow" to them.  She said when she sees that in people, she knows they are getting ready to leave, because time, in the spirit world, does not have the same meaning it does here.  When I went to the area she died in, I did prayers to the Mother for her - and was surprised in my meditation there to clearly see the image of a tall woman taking the hand of a young person, and a sense of peace.  What I take from this, having talked with Wendy, is that I also saw this young woman as looking like my daughter because, perhaps, that energy of Mother, her own and the divine Mother, was what was needed to help her spirit.  I am no expert on this highly subjective experience.........

Spending time with Wendy can be intense!  I hope someday, perhaps when she retires, she'll become interested in perhaps living and working at Lilydale, because she's a powerful healer on a multitude of levels, a true shaman.   She gave me a great gift, which it's going to take me time to unfold, although my friend said that in the spirit world, it's "already done", because all time is happening at once.

We had been talking about the very convincing  documentary on Animal Planet about mermaids washing up with whales after the navy's horrific sonar testing.  It's a hoax, of course, although tragically the death of so many whales is not.  We were sitting at the table drinking coffee and Wendy's eyes misted.  She said "Excuse me, but someone is here, and I think it's important".  She said that a very tall, thin, very black man in a flat, disc like mask that was black with a white band across the eye holes and a red spot on the "forehead" was standing right behind me.  He put his hands on my shoulders (as a blessing?).  He told her he was something like "samarai" but it was a difficult accent for her to understand, and that he wanted me to help in some way.  He said that I would help to "revive Yemeja". 

Then Wendy said she perceived a large number of people, his tribe.  They were showing her images of the ocean, and offerings to the ocean, fruit, baskets, fish, and small white shells.  Tears were running down her face (Wendy says that when the energy is very intense this happens) and she said that he was thanking me.  Then they were gone.  Wendy said this was "high voltage", and for a while she continued to have tears in her eyes.  For myself, not perceiving this, I said that I was grateful, I thanked him and them, and said that I would do what I could to the best of my abilities.


I think this will unfold in the future, its meanings.  But I reflect that Yemaja, Mother Ocean, is an Orisha* originating in West Africa among the Yoruba people and perhaps others, is often shown as a black mermaid.  The destruction of intelligent life in the ocean, the whales, the dolphins, by navy sonar testing, is very real.  We are, indeed, killing Yemeja as well as the whales.   I am among many artists, mythologists, and activists who are trying to change consciousness about our living earth, to revive the sanctity that our ancestors once had.  Before it's too late.



I looked on Google for flat disc masks such as a tribal shaman might wear, and found that there are indeed many such in Africa, although I have not found one such as Wendy described.  However, I did discover that there is an extensive group of people with a long cultural history called the "Songhai", which sounds quite similar to "Samarai", and some of their domain touched the western ocean on Africa's shores.



*Orisha are Spirits  of nature and are responsible for the rules which govern nature.  Orisha are anthropomorphized with human characteristics for the purpose of understanding their essence and being able to extrapolate psychological constructs.Orisha Worship came to the Americas with the African slave trade over a period of 400 years.   In addition the slaves blended their African practice with the Catholic religion to hide their overt practices from Europeans.  In this manner, the traditions of Lukumi and Santeria were born.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Stones that Remain..........

Photo by Martin Grey
                    Avebury
Sometimes language bears in its fossil rock
things once commonly known, now information
available to us only as tourists
as here poke through the earth
through the welter of houses from the last thousand years
through country roads, prim churches, blowzy pubs,
through male and female stones, the huge breast
called Silbury Hill, vast and cumbersome
works of a people whose will slumbers
in the stone circles, rows, wordless
as the thoughts of the sheep that graze.


Yet that will is potent, not with the dumb ferocity
and shapeliness of mountains, not with the bodily
eloquence of frightened or curious sheep.
Here are erected runes of language partly designed
to be read by clouds or goddesses, left for us
too carefully wrought to be ignored.
Sometimes with my hands on the warm/cold stone
I almost think I hear it in my bones.


Marge Piercy



I share with poet Marge Piercy a deep wonderment at the presence of the Stones, set so laboriously and intentionally by such distant ancestors, to mark circles, leys, energy ebbs and flows and currents, Solstices and Equinoxes, moon crossings, and other, more mysterious means and ways that are remembered now only by the stones themselves, and the language of the land.  Yet when I walked among those stones, at Avebury or elsewhere,  I always felt the whispering of the "songs that remain". 

"Where Time began and will Begin",  Scottish Bard Robin Williamson once said as he began his telling of an ancient story from the Mabinogian,  "I make reverence to the Ancestors and the Spirits of those yet unborn".  Perhaps the Beloved Silence I remember him speaking of is that  Silence that contains the language of stones......and holds the songs of the  Bards as well, the "songs that remain when we are gone" . 



https://youtu.be/n63UbX5kzAc

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Gaian Reflections approaching the Vernal Equinox

Apple trees in Avalon (the Chalice Well garden) 2011

I am a lover of the steady Earth 
and of Her waters

She says:


"Let the light be brilliant 
for those who will cherish color";
what if there be no heaven?
She says:
"Touch my breasts
the fields are golden"


Her songs are all of love
life long
every blue yonder
Her grass harp rings

unlettered 
in Her rivers our cherished sins
our musts drift voiceless
in Her clouds

She will rust us with blossom
She will forgive us
She will seal us with her seed



From "Verses at Powis" by Robin Williamson

The Vernal Equinox  is the stillpoint when the time of light and the time of dark are in balance, when the day and night are equal.  After the Equinox the days lengthen as Summer comes.   In this time of chaos and fear, may this day of Balance remind us to  invoke the principle of Balance within the small circles of  our lives, knowing that as we do so, we invoke this virtue in the  greater life of  Gaia, the living Goddess of which we are a part.   I've often quoted the song above, because it so often sounds in my memory and heart,  a touchstone gifted to me and so many  others by the Bard.  When I feel overwhelmed or despairing,  those touchstones are important to return to, they can illuminate the path once again.  They belong to the  "Re-Membering".  She will seal us with Her Seed.  

Blessed Equinox!  



Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Association for Women and Mythology Conference 2018


The 2018 Conference for the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology will be held March 16th through March 18 in Las Vegas and I'm honored to be presenting a paper on Spider Woman: A Creatrix Myth for Our Time.



The speakers will be extraordinary!
Animal, Earth, Person, Story
At this year's conference we will explore earth and animal mysteries in myth and ritual, along with research into new partnerships of humans with animal and plant worlds to ensure the welfare of planetary systems. We have many wonderful presenters joining our program for this conference, including Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Kathy Jones, Sherri Mitchell and Gala Agrent. We are very happy to be able to include as our special guests a number of Native American and Indigenous scholars and artists. Others you will see include: Max Dashu, Vicki Noble, Annie Finch, Mara Keller, Starr Goode, Cristina Biaggi, Lucia Birnbaum, Malgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Miriam Robbins Dexter, Genevieve Vaughan, Heide Goettner-Abendroth, Frances Bernstein, Nancy Vedder-Shults. And many more! We will also feature films like "The Breast Archive" and "Under the Husk," including discussions with the filmmakers. Plan to come early to join us for an optional tour to the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet. And stay for a day of Modern Matriarchal Studies on Sunday.

Here's the powerpoint slide show for my presentation:

https://www.slideshare.net/laurenraine/spider-womans-hands-a-native-american-myth-for-our-time

My websites: www.laurenraine.com
and www.masksofthegoddess.com



Learn more and register for the Conference: https://womenandmyth.org To see the Schedule: https://womenandmyth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SCHEDULE-MARCH-7.pdf/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SCHEDULE-MARCH-7.pdf

Sunday, March 4, 2018

"Some Day" - wonderful "flash mob" in Israel

So inspiring, so good to hear these  voices singing together for the Human Family!  Thanks as ever for my friends the MacGregors at their Blog Synchro Secrects  (http://blog.synchrosecrets.com/)

https://youtu.be/XqvKDCP5-xE




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dead Languages

 

A poem from the collection "Late in the Day" (2014), reflections from the long study 
of language by a master writer.

Dreadful, this death, dragging
So many lives and lively minds along
After it into unmeaning. 
Endless, imbecile silence.

The more ways there are to say Mother
The wiser the world is.
Never are there enough
Words for Well done!  Or Welcome!

A line of verse revives lost Aprils.
In the name for Home lie whole nations.
The unused word may be the useful one.

Old nouns are in no hurry.
Old verbs are very patient.
The water of life is learning.

May elders ever tell the mythic origins
In the almost lost old language
To children cheated of knowledge
Of their own holy inheritance.

May myopic scholars scowl
Forever at fragments of inscription
So that the young may yawn
Log over grim grammars, learning

To speak the tongues unspoken
And hear a human music otherwise unheard.


Ursula Leguin


https://soundcloud.com/92y/urs