Monday, October 17, 2016

Hecate (Revisited)

"In us is also a dark angel (Hekate was also called angelos), a consciousness (she was also called phosphoros) that shines in the dark and witnesses such events because it is already aware of them a priori.........Part of us is not dragged down but always lives there, as Hekate is partly an underworld Goddess."
The Dream and the Underworld James Hillman

It's that time of year again, that LIMINAL TIME  when the world prepares to go into the darkness of winter, the last Harvest Festival is almost here.  Hecate's Time, and I felt like it was appropriate to pull out this previous post about that Great Goddess of the Underworld. Because even under the veneer of the commercial Halloween frenzy going on, as the Veils thin, there she is still.......standing at the Crossroads of Time, illuminating the darkness  with Her two Torches.  

I have  made a number of paintings throughout my life that portrayed myself as Hecate (strangely, now that I reallly am a "crone" I haven't had that impulse).  It wasn't until later that I began to realize, as Hillman above comments, that I was invoking and calling forth this quality within myself by so doing, asking for the inner guidance I needed as I moved through a divorce, through menopause, and later being a caretaker for members of my family as their lives ended.  

Hecate is the Underworld  aspect of the Triple Goddess  Persephone/Demeter/Hecate.  This archetype of the "power of three", the sacred Triad, is very ancient indeed, with roots that go back and back and back into prehistory.   The Triad represents the eternal cycle of nature, the Earth  which from the most ancient of human beings seem to have universally revered  as  "Mother Earth".  Early peoples observed that the Earth, like women, gave birth, nurtured, and finally "took back" life into some mysterious underground realm (Womb/Tomb)  to return again in the springtime.  

The earliest known  paintings were of animals, and  the earliest known paintings of human beings (not animals)  are of  vulva symbols.  These female symbols  occur in cave paintings - the one on the right is over 30,000 years old, one of the oldest paintings in the cave.  The bull was painted over it at a later time.   It might be said that very ancient people understood the vulva as the  crucible of entry into this world, and to honor the Earth Mother in caves, along with the animals the early people hunted and revered, was to enter the womb of the Great Mother, and thus prepare and  pray for a good rebirth.  

"Mandorla of the Spinning Goddess"
 by Judith Anderson**

"Hecate's Wheel" 
Associated with Hecate is a peculiar icon called "Hecate's Wheel",  which shows three loops suggesting a labyrinth  turning around a wheel, symbolizing an  eternally transformative movement.   The Wheel of the Triad moves through conception and birth, sexuality and motherhood, and finally death, the return to the Underworld, incubation and return.   The Three Goddesses are really One Goddess, each a manifestation in a different phase.  So significant was the Trinity  to the development of Western mythos  that some scholars say it was co-opted by later Patriarchal cultures, which replaced the ancient  Mother Goddess  with a male Creator, as in Hinduism's  Brahma/ Vishnu/Shiva (Creator - Sustainer - Destroyer), or as in the Trinity of Christianity, the  Father/Son/Holy Ghost

Hecate, from "I Am The Goddess, ALL are The Goddess", facilitated by Lena Grace, (2012)

Hecate  lives at the crossroads between conscious and unconscious, dream and waking, life and death.  She stands at the apex of the  liminal zones.  It was  Hecate who   heard the cries of the naive maiden Kore as she was carried by Hades into the underworld, and it was Hecate who bore a torch for Kore as she evolved into the mature Persephone, Queen of the dead and also Queen of life's rebirth. 

Hecate is the guide of souls through deep, unfathomable places of the psyche. When the time is ripe, Hecate stands quietly at the threshold with her two torches, unseen until She hears the soul-cry of those who ask Her to light the way.   

I copy below a short interview I did with Damira Norris, in 2002 a woman who performed Hecate in a 2001 performance produced by Diane Darling.  I found Damira's reflections on working with Hecate through the passage of menopause very moving.    I reflect, re-reading some of the ancient lore of the Triple Goddess, how far contemporary theologies have removed us from reverence for the Earth and all of  Her cycles, and especially, the renewal and mystery that comes from the darkness.    Which is now a  very critical concern.  

by Damira Norris

Hecate was my guide as I traveled through the tunnel of menopause, my appointed time to do my "shadow work". At menopause I entered a profound depression. I was forced to plunge into recesses of my life history I hadn't begun to negotiate. What I felt, in essence, was deep emotional shame. All of my internalized stories of being a victim arose for examination. And I was also forced to examine the side that is a tyrant, that always insists on having it's own immature way.

I remember lighting a candle each day to symbolize my daily commitment to my journey through the despair I felt. I carried that candle with me, and when I felt lost, I relit it. That's Hecate to me. She will not help you to avoid a thing, but She will bear a light for you on the path, the path to mature empowerment. "It's time", She says, "to know the inside of yourself, to know all that is there". I believe that at certain passages in our lives, our souls cry "I want to get rid of this, I want to move on". And it's not easy.

"Go down into it" my counselor would tell me, "bring it up and let's look at it". That's Hecate country. I remember a visualization I did while in therapy. She had me look behind a curtain, and what I saw was an emaciated, unloved creature. I was given the opportunity to "meet" a part of myself that symbolized the inner voice that daily recited a litany that went something like this: "I can't do this right, I can't do that".......I had to meet this sad, frightened creature and open my heart to her. Now, I recognize that persona when I'm driven by unconscious fear. I can determine to bring her into the whole circle of who I am.
We see Hecate as scary. But that comes from a culture that denies aging, the so-called shadow side of life. 

We are preoccupied with youthfulness, which translates as a childish self-absorption that insists "I will do what I want to do, when I want to do it".....regardless of the consequences to ourselves, our communities, to our world. Shadow work is about soul retrieval. I had to become a mature, empowered woman at menopause, and so, whether I understood it or not, I had begun to bring home parts of myself that were lost. Unexamined childhood wounds, so many "underworld" storylines. That meant going inside to meet the ugly, the uncomfortable. Hecate was the force guiding me through the hard times. When I performed Hecate, I was doing it to thank Her.

The Dark Goddess is about learning genuine compassion, full circle compassion. It's so much easier now for me to recognize what is going on with others, because I can see into the once opaque depths of myself. We speak of women who've gone through menopause as being "more in their power". This is because the other side of disintegration is the retrieval of enormous reservoirs of energy. We're asked to clean out the book of our lives, so we can become guides for those who will follow us. To become our Hecate selves."

"Hecate" (1997)
I also take the liberty of copying a wonderfully insightful and well researched  article by  Danielle Nickel - for further insight, visit her site   ( .

Hekate:  Moving Through Darkness
by Danielle Nickel

Hekate is primarily a goddess of the Underworld, holding dominion over death and rebirth. This is meant both in the literal sense and in the metaphorical as well. For life is filled with many deaths and rebirths aside from that of the flesh. Because of this the Dark of the Moon especially is her time of the month, since it is a time of endings and beginnings, when what was is no more, and what will be has yet to become.

Hekate guards the limenoskopos (the doorstep), for she is a goddess of liminality and transition. Of being on and crossing boundaries. This includes not only the boundary between life and death, but any boundaries, such as those between nature and civilization, waking and sleep, sanity and madness, the conscious and the subconscious minds. Indeed, any transition can be said to be her domain. As such she is also goddess of the crossroads, where the paths of one's life fork and a person must choose which future to embark upon. In ancient times these were believed to be special places where the veil between the worlds was thin and spirits gathered.

Hekate is also the goddess of psychological transformation. Her Underworld is the dark recesses of the human subconscious as well at that of the Cosmos. Many have accused her of sending demons to haunt the thoughts of individuals. What they fail to understand is that the demons are not hers, but their own. By the light of her twin torches Hekate only reveals what is already there. These are things which the person needs to see in order to heal and renew. However, if they are not prepared for the experience of confronting their Shadow then it can truly feel like they are being tormented. Hekate is not motivated by cruelty, nor is she seeking to harm. But her love can be tough love. She will prompt a person to face the things that they must, whether they like it or not..........Hekate goes with them. While she may not be the deity many people would like, she is the one whom they need. Because of this I believe that she comes to those who require her, whether or not they were looking for her.

"Dream Weaver" (2009)                               
In modern Neo-Pagan practice Hekate is typically identified as an aspect of the Crone, and as such is most often portrayed as an old woman. This is in contrast to ancient vase murals which depict her as being an adult woman in her prime. As with many things about this goddess, this is a perception that has changed over time. However, the Crone aspect of the modern Triple Goddess is not truly defined by her age, but rather by the powers her age represents (that of wisdom, magical potency, annihilation, and the transformative journey through the Underworld), and those indeed fall under Hekate's domain. So while perhaps not historically accurate, this is not a demotion or devaluing of her, but rather the way in which modern Neo-Paganism fits her into its philosophy (this difficulty with integrating her into their cosmology is something that we will see Neo-Pagans share with the Ancient Greeks as well).

Hekate is more often than not portrayed as carrying two torches and is known as "The Torch-Bearer". She carries these because of her role as a guide through the transition of the Underworld. One torch shows a person where it is they currently stand, the other where they might go. In this manner she reveals the mysteries of transformation to those who enter her realm of darkness.

.......Hekate is also associated with a curious wheel shaped design, known as Hekate's Wheel, or the "Strophalos of Hekate". It is a circle which encloses a serpentine maze with three main flanges, that in turn are situated around a central, fiery spiral. The symbolism refers to the serpent's power of rebirth, to the labyrinth of knowledge through which Hekate could lead humankind, and to the flame of life itself: "The life-producing bosom of Hekate, that Living Flame which clothes itself in Matter to manifest Existence" (according to Isaac Preston Cory's 1836 translation of the Chaldean Oracles). The three main arms of the maze correspond with her being a triple goddess, as well as goddess of the three ways, and that she has dominion over the earth, sea, and sky.

A Goddess of Crossroads and Transitions 

As earlier stated, Hekate is a guide for people who are in transition. While she is most famous in her role as a psychopomp, guiding the spirits of the dead in their journey through the Underworld, she also aids those who cross boundaries or otherwise travel from one condition to another, particularly when that crossing involves danger.........For more than anything else she is a deity of liminality.

She is a goddess of the crossroads for this reason. In the ancient world a crossroad was a point where three roads met to form a "Y"-shaped intersection. It was believed to be a place where spirits gathered, including those of the Underworld and those of Fate. It is also a metaphor for the divergence of possibilities in an individual's future. Their life will bring them to the crossroad along one of the roads, and they will be met with a branching, where they must choose one path or the other to continue onward. As goddess of transitions, Hekate rules this place where the roads separate and differing futures are possible.

However, it is important to remember that Hekate is a guide. She points out where a person is currently heading and where else they might go if they change their path instead. She does not choose a person's fate herself. That is always left to the person to decide. She is a torch-bearer because of this illumination she sheds upon one's life. That is also one reason she is a lunar-deity, for while a torch brings light to the darkness of night, so too does the moon on the grandest possible scale. This reflects both her link to the night-realms and to her role as an illuminator of ways..

Hekate is often portrayed as  three torch-bearing female figures standing in a circle looking outward, with their backs joined so that they are in fact one being. This exhibits her dominion over the triple-crossroads and her ability to see in all directions simultaneously. The road a person had come from, and the directions they might take in the future. These hektarion (or hekataion) were placed at crossroads. Their earliest forms consisted of a pole upon which three masks were hung, with one facing each road. In more recent times these became statuary, sometimes of three figures standing with their backs to a central pillar, other times a similar portrayal without the column in the center.

The Romans knew Hekate as Triva, which means "where the three roads meet".

Hekate Triformis - The Triple Goddess

Hekate is a triple-goddess, serving as the Crone aspect in more than one triumvirate of deities. Perhaps most commonly we see her partnered with Kore-Persephone and Demeter. Where Kore takes the role of the Maiden (indeed, the word kore means "maiden" in Ancient Greek), Demeter the Mother, and Hekate the Crone. This triumvirate plays a central role in the myth of Kore's descent into the Underworld and her re-emergence as Persephone.
This myth appears to have been the basis for the Eleusinian Mysteries, in which initiates relived the experience of Kore and like her returned forever changed, reborn with a new understanding of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

 In the earliest tales, Kore willingly descends into the Underworld, while in the later and more well-known versions she is kidnapped by Hades. The latter being indicative of the rising patriarchy of Ancient Greece. In either version, her mother Demeter - who is the goddess of agriculture -  withholds her blessings from the Earth and causes the first winter to come about. It is Hekate who spies Kore within the Underworld and guides her back to the surface to be reunited with her mother. She emerges not as the maiden Kore, but as Persephone, a powerful woman in her own right, and with her comes the warmth and promise of spring. Persephone however, has become inextricably tied to the Underworld and returns there for four months every year, one for each pomegranate seed she ate while there. Her leaving is accompanied by the onset of winter, and while she holds her court in the Underworld she is joined by Hekate. In this myth we not only see a metaphor for rebirth, but also of coming of age and into one's own power and place in the world.

The Invincible Queen Of The Dead

While Hekate is a versatile deity, she is best known as a goddess of death and the Underworld. However, it is important to remember that her Underworld is not the place of terrible suffering popularized by patriarchal Greece and later Christianity.*** Rather it was a place of divine transformation, like the cocoon where the caterpillar becomes the butterfly. This was the primordial Underworld, the place from which all life ultimately derives. Death and Birth stand back to back in the great spiral of existence, while Hekate and her Underworld lie between the two.

Our ancient ancestors saw that many things sprang from the earth, not just plants, but animals such as snakes, bears, rodents, and others as well. Even the sun and moon appeared to rise from the earth and later sink back down within it every day and night. To their eyes, it seemed that something magical was taking place in the darkness below the ground. This idea was further reinforced when they learned that plant life originates from seeds buried within the earth. They saw that if a person kept a seed in - for example - their pocket, it would never grow into a plant. It had to be buried in the soil. Our ancestors reasoned that something magical must take place down there. Some transformation hidden away from the eyes of people and the rays of the sun.

This was their Underworld. A place of renewal and rebirth where buried seeds sprouted into life. Because they saw the generative power of the Underworld, they buried their dead deep within the earth so that they too could transform into new life, just as a seed does into a plant. Being thorough people, they also dyed the bodies with red henna to symbolize menstrual blood (and in some cases did use menstrual blood), in order to capitalize upon the regenerative power believed to exist in that as well. 

This is why how so many Pagan deities such as Kali, Hekate, Freja, et al. are associated with both death and life. Our ancestors saw that death and birth were interconnected, standing back to back in an ever-turning spiral. In this manner Hekate is both child-nurse of all life as well as harbinger of death, and thusly it was to her that the ancients prayed to ensure both long life and eventual rebirth. Interestingly enough it is also in this manner that Hekate might be considered the goddess of compost. For it is the decomposition of plant and animals that insures the fertility of the earth, which in turn ensures the creation and nurturing of new life.

These views of the Underworld would change as religion became politicized, a tool for power. The Underworld became a place of terror in order to frighten people into obedience. So too were its denizens altered in public perception to become the monsters such a place needs to be populated with. This is one of the dynamics by which Hekate was increasingly negatively portrayed............

Keeper of the Unconscious

As Goddess of the Underworld, Hekate is not only the guide to the spirits of the dead, but also the keeper of each individual's own personal Underworld, the benighted territory of their unconscious mind. She lives within each of our inner worlds, and is there to guide us as we transition from inner to outer realms of consciousness. When accepted, her blessings enrich our lives with vision, healing, inspiration, and magic. She brings light to the darkness and empowers us with creativity, confidence, and strength. However, when we deny her it manifests in our Shadow-Self. She holds the key to both the treasures and terrors of the unconscious mind.......

Hekate is the light that reveals the Shadow, like the light of the moon at midnight. Her goal is not to destroy, but rather to illuminate. However, it is no accident that we have buried these things so deeply within our psyches. We are often not ready to face them when revealed. In such cases it may indeed appear that Hekate is bringing demons to terrorize us. We must remember that the demons are ours and reclaim them as our own. For with that revelation we also take back our power over them. That is the only way in which the Shadow can be truly defeated. By accepting it as our own. Learning that is the key which turns the lock of the person's emotional healing and rebirth. Hekate is there as a guide to help us, her twin torches shining our way through the darkened recesses of our unconscious.........

.............We must come to understand that Hekate and the darkness she exemplifys are not terrible, but rather natural forces within us and the world around us which are necessary components in the process of healing and regeneration. We must trust to her as our guide and give ourselves over to our journey through the Underworld, rather than resist the sacrifices we must make in order to grow. For one can only heal by moving through darkness. This requires courage and insight on our parts, but thankfully she is there to show us where to find both these qualities within ourselves as well.

**Judith Anderson has passed away, and her powerful work is not well known.  She was an extraordinary artist whose prints emerged from the depths of the sacred Earth and the realms of the Soul.  For an excellent article about Judith Anderson:

***This is true as well of the Nordic Goddess Hella (also part of a triad), Underworld Goddess whose name became the source of the Christian "Hell".

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Rainbow Bridge Oracle

I was thinking of my Oracle Deck, the Rainbow Bridge, this morning.  I've largely neglected it, and I can't say it's been a "best seller" (I think I've sold 10 decks)...............but it still means a great deal to me, and I spent many years working on it.  Just felt like sharing a few of the Cards here today.

 "What might we see, how might we act,  if  we  saw with a webbed vision? The world seen through a web of relationships….”

Catherine Keller

A weaver  takes threads of many colors and skillfully weaves them together into a beautiful  tapestry.  We talk about "spinning a tale", meaning a storyteller takes "threads" of different characters and weaves them together into a good story with many inter-woven events. 

The name "Penelope" originally meant "with a web on her face", a term that was probably a title for an oracle, or perhaps a Goddess of Fate. But "webbed vision" can also have a contemporary meaning as  a way of seeing the world with a unitive eye, all people connected and in relationship to each other.  That kind of vision enables you to be a "good weaver" in your community, family, and life.  You are a person who helps others to "connect the dots" -  a true instinctual networker. 

Reversed:  You  may be having a hard time seeing the connections between people and/or events in your life, partly because you feel so disconnected  and isolated from others.  Get back "on line" with your life, and reach out to re-connect with whatever it takes.


"Remember that not getting what you want
is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."

The Dalai Lama

"Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it" is an old folk saying that has much truth to it.   We have all dreamed of having great wealth, or being with the best looking boy in school, or any number of  wishes.  And sometimes we do get what we think we want, but in one of the great ironies of life, our happiness can soon turn to misery and disappointment.  Sometimes getting what we think we want can be the worst thing that can happen to us, because what we want is concentrated on desires that are  immature, addictive, vindictive, greedy, or even unconsciously self-destructive. 

 The "Law of Attraction" demonstrates that we attract that which we focus upon,  and consciously (or unconsciously) what we  concentrate upon can manifest.  Loving and generous wishes attract loving and generous results. Negativity and pessimism just manifests more negativity and pessimism, creating a self-fulfilling cycle.  Bearing all of this in mind, now is an excellent time to begin to manifest!

Reversed:  You're not able to manifest what you want because of either a lack of belief in yourself, or you are too negative in your worldview. 

"Speak to the earth, and it will teach you".......Job 12:8

 EARTHMIND  is included in this deck because today both science and spirituality have converged in our understanding that all life on planet Earth is  interdependent, a vast network of ecologies.  In 1979  James Lovelock, with Lynn Margulis, developed the Gaia Hypothesis, demonstrating that the Earth is one living,  self-regulating organism.  They named their theory after the primal Mother Goddess of Greek mythology, Gaia.

How would we live  if we truly experienced  Gaia as mother, friend,  as self?  We are the Earth, and it's important that we live and act sustainably, and with reverence,   for the benefit of  all beings of the Earth.  Future generations depend on us.  Thank you for your caring, and your efforts.

Reversed:  Without caring, effort, and work for a sustainable future,  the outcome is reversed for everyone.  We're all together on this one.


 In this immeasurable darkness,
 be the power that rounds your senses 
 in their magic ring,
 the sense of their mysterious encounter

 Rainier Maria Rilke

Among the Lakota, long preparations were made for the Vision Quest.  Those who sought  initiation fasted, prayed, and prepared themselves  to  "call for vision".  They then went to a special place in the wilderness.  When a young man returned with  a vision it was shared with the tribe,  and sometimes examined to see if it had prophetic or ceremonial significance for not only the individual, but for the entire tribe.

This is a tool we have largely lost.   True visionary experience is "soul language"; like dreams and synchronistic experiences, a vision has multiple layers of meaning, and transcends  time as we understand it.   Visions, like dreams, communicate universal and personal truths, and whether unintended or intentionally induced in some way, can  catalyze a spiritual path or a life's work.  You are encouraged to "call for vision" in your own way. Do it in a sacred manner, and share and discuss your vision with others of like mind.

Reversed:  Visions can be profoundly significant.......but sometimes there is also a fine line between spiritual revelation and highly subjective schizophrenia.  Practice discernment.

 The Card Deck may be ordered from: 

To purchase the accompanying book visit:  

All artwork is copyright Lauren Raine MFA (2012)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Summer October


I best love 
my lost and wildish girl heart
reborn surprised
among the blonde grasses of August

running for no reason
among the dusty gaity of daisies,
bending knee, foot, flower
for the sun,
for the sun

just this day, to put aside
subtle things

of age, duty and reason.

Just this day, dear friends,
dance with me
on the generous Earth.

Let this be all that matters
this endless blue exhaultation
of  summer skies

and praise,
praise the day,
the colors and taste of it

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Paul Stamets and the Speaking Earth

More about how everything is alive and speaking to this man's work!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Secret Life of Plants - Derrick Jensen, Cleve Backster and Deep Ecology

"Gaia" (2005)

“Even mainstream scientists are stumbling all over this bio-commu­nication phenomenon. It seems impossible, given the sophistication of modern instrumentation, for us to keep missing this fundamental attunement of living things. Only for so long are we going to be able to pretend it’s the result of ‘loose wires.’ We cannot forever deny that which is so clearly there.”

It was my pleasure to encounter the work of deep ecologist and activist for the Earth Derrick Jensen recently, whose passionate and "nothing held back" books should be required reading for anyone who hopes to live into the future of our world, particularly anyone who has invested the future with the children they love.  But sadly, very few people even know what Gaia Theory is, or the name of Derrick Jensen or James Lovelock. In the current presidential election one of the candidates, Donald Trump, "doesn't believe in global warming".  And the environment has not entered into the debates.

Yet I believe the truths Jensen, and Lovelock,  speak of may very well be the most important truths of our time.   Derrick Jensen kindly gave me permission to quote from him, and so I share here an excerpt from his site, from his most recent book.  I was so struck by this interview with Cleve Backster, who showed that plants, even micro-organisms, are sentient and responsive to the thoughts and intentions of life around them,  The interview below demonstrates what scientists like James Lovelock, and his biologist collaborator Lynn Margulis spoke of  in their Gaia Hypothesis - that the Earth is a living being, and all aspects of life on Earth are interdependent, self-regulating, and evolving.  Which includes us.  As Backster comments, “The implications of all this … are staggering."

What also excited me about  Mr. Jensen's excerpt was the way it revealed the mythic strands of Spider Woman, shimmering like the almost transparent, and yet infinitely strong, strands of the Great Web...........all life connected, interdependent, responsive, reciprocal..............part of the "Great Conversation".

Excerpt from :  "The Myth of Human Supremacy"

by  Derrick Jensen 

Almost 20 years ago I interviewed Cleve Backster about plant intelli­gence. No, he wasn’t a botanist. He was one of the world’s experts on the use of polygraphs, or lie detectors. I know that sounds like an odd con­nection, but listen to his story, and the connection will become clear. Just after World War II he was a CIA interrogation specialist, and founded The Agency’s polygraph school. In 1960 he left the CIA and formed the Backster School of Lie Detection, to instruct police officers. This school is the longest running polygraph school in existence.

Backster could name the moment the focus of his life changed for­ever, from lie detection to plant intelligence: early in the morning on February 2, 1966, at 13 minutes, 55 seconds of chart time for a polygraph he was administering. He had threatened the subject’s well-being in hopes of triggering a response. The subject had responded electrochemically to this threat. The subject was a plant.  Here’s his story:

“I wasn’t particularly into plants, but there was a going-out-of-business sale at a florist on the ground floor of the building, and the secretary bought a couple of plants for the office: a rubber plant, and this dracaena cane. I had done a saturation watering — putting them under the faucet until water ran out the bottom of the pots — and was curious to see how long it would take the moisture to get to the top. I was especially interested in the dracaena, because the water had to climb a long trunk, and then to the end of long leaves. I thought if I put the galvanic-skin-response detector of the polygraph at the end of a leaf, a drop in resistance would be recorded on the paper as the moisture arrived between the electrodes. … I noticed something on the chart resembling a human response on a polygraph: not at all what I would have expected from water entering a leaf. Lie detectors work on the principle that when people perceive a threat to their well-being, they physiologically respond in predictable ways. If you were conducting a polygraph as part of a murder investigation, you might ask a suspect, ‘Was it you who fired the shot fatal to so and so? If the true answer were yes, the suspect will fear getting caught lying, and electrodes on his or her skin will pick up the physiological response to that fear. So I began to think of ways to threaten the well-being of the plant. First I tried dipping a neighboring leaf in a cup of warm coffee. The plant, if anything, showed what I now recognize as boredom — the line on the chart just kept trending downward.

“Then at 13 minutes, 55 seconds chart time, the imagery entered my mind of burning the leaf. I didn’t verbalize; I didn’t touch the plant; I didn’t touch the equipment. Yet the plant went wild. The pen jumped right off the top of the chart. The only new thing the plant could have reacted to was the mental image.

“I went into the next office to get matches from my secretary’s desk, and lighting one, made a few feeble passes at a neighboring leaf. I real­ized, though, that I was already seeing such an extreme reaction that any increase wouldn’t be noticeable. So I tried a different approach: I removed the threat by returning the matches to the secretary’s desk. The plant calmed right back down.

“Immediately I understood something important was going on. I could think of no conventional scientific explanation. There was no one else in the lab suite, and I wasn’t doing anything that might have provided a mechanistic trigger. From that split second my consciousness hasn’t been the same. My whole life has been devoted to looking into this.”

He called what the plant was doing “primary perception.” He found that not only plants were capable of this: “I’ve been amazed at the percep­tion capability right down to the bacterial level"........“Interestingly enough, bacteria appear to have a defense mechanism such that extreme danger causes them to go into a state similar to shock. In effect, they pass out. Many plants do this as well. If you hassle them enough they flatline. The bacteria apparently did this, because as soon as they hit the cat’s digestive system, the signal went out. There was a flatline from then on.”

Cleve continued, “I was on an airplane once, and had with me a little battery-powered galvanic response meter. Just as the attendants started serving lunch, I pulled out the meter and said to the guy next to me, ‘You want to see something interesting?’ I put a piece of lettuce between the electrodes, and when people started to eat their salads we got some reac­tivity, which stopped as the leaves went into shock. ‘Wait until they pick up the trays,’ I said, ‘and see what happens.’ When attendants removed our meals, the lettuce got back its reactivity. I had the aisle seat, and I can still remember him strapped in next to the window, no way to escape this mad scientist attaching an electronic gadget to lettuce leaves.

“The point is that the lettuce was going into a protective state so it wouldn’t suffer. When the danger left, the reactivity came back. This ceasing of electrical energy at the cellular level ties in, I believe, to the state of shock that people, too, enter in extreme trauma.  Plants, bacteria, lettuce leaves … Eggs. I had a Doberman Pinscher back in New York whom I used to feed an egg a day. One day I had a plant hooked up to a large gal­vanic response meter, and as I cracked the egg, the meter went crazy. That started hundreds of hours of monitoring eggs. Fertilized or unfertilized, it doesn’t matter; it’s still a living cell, and plants perceive when that con­tinuity is broken. Eggs, too, have the same defense mechanism. If you threaten them, their tracing goes flat. If you wait about twenty minutes, they come back."

“I met a dental researcher who had perfected a method of gath­ering white cells from (people's)  mouths. This was politically feasible, easy to do, and required no medical supervision. I started doing split-screen videotaping of experiments, with the chart readout superimposed at the bottom of the screen showing the donors activities. We took  white cell samples, then sent the people home to watch a preselected television program likely to elicit an emotional response — for example, showing a veteran of Pearl Harbor a documentary on Japanese air attacks. We found that cells outside the body still react to the emotions you feel, even though you may be miles away.  The greatest distance we’ve tested has been about three hundred miles. Astronaut Brian O’Leary, who wrote Exploring Inner and Outer Space, left his white cells here in San Diego, then flew home to Phoenix. On the way, he kept track of events that aggravated him, carefully logging the time of each. The correlation remained, even over that distance.”

“The implications of all this …”He interrupted, laughing. He said, “Yes, are staggering. I have file drawers full of high quality anecdotal data showing time and again how bacteria, plants, and so on are all fantastically in tune with each other. And human cells, too, have this primary perception capability, but somehow its gotten lost at the conscious level.”

“How has the scientific community received your work?”

“With the exception of scientists at the margins, like Rupert Shel­drake, it was met first with derision, then hostility, and mostly now with silence. At first they called primary perception ‘the Backster Effect,’ per­haps hoping they could trivialize the observations by naming them after this wild man who claimed to see things missed by mainstream science. The name stuck, but because primary perception can’t be readily dis­missed, it is no longer a term of contempt.

“What’s the primary criticism by mainstream scientists?”

“The big problem — and this is a problem as far as conscious­ness research in general is concerned — is repeatability. The events I’ve observed have all been spontaneous. They have to be. If you plan them out in advance, you’ve already changed them. It all boils down to this: repeatability and spontaneity do not go together, and as long as mem­bers of the scientific community overemphasize repeatability in scientific methodology, they’re not going to get very far in consciousness research.

“Not only is spontaneity important, but so is intent. You can’t pretend. If you say you are going to burn a plant, but don’t mean it, nothing will happen. I hear constantly from people in different parts of the country, wanting to know how to cause plant reactions. I tell them, ‘Don’t do anything special. Go about your work; keep notes so later you can tell what you were doing at specific times, and then compare them to your chart recording. But don’t plan anything, or the experiment won’t work.’ People who do this often get equivalent responses to mine, and often win first prize in science fairs. But when they get to Biology 101, they’re told that what they have experienced is not important.

“There have been a few attempts by scientists to replicate my exper­iments … but these have all been methodologically inadequate. … It is so very easy to fail. … And let’s be honest: some of the scientists were relieved when they failed, because success would have gone against the body of scientific knowledge.”

I said, “For scientists to give up predictability means they have to give up control, which means they have to give up Western culture, which means it’s not going to happen until civilization collapses under the weight of its own ecological excesses.”

I asked if there were alternative explanations for the polygraph read­ings. I’d read that one person suggested his machine must have had a loose wire.

He responded, “In 31 years of research I’ve found all my loose wires. No, I can’t see any mechanistic solution. Some parapsychologists believe I’ve mastered the art of psychokinesis — that I move the pen with my mind — which would be a pretty good trick itself. But they overlook the fact that I’ve automated and randomized many of the experiments to where I’m not even aware of what’s going on until later, when I study the resulting charts and videotapes. The conventional explanations have worn pretty thin. One such explanation, proposed in Harper’s, was static electricity: if you scuffle across the room and touch the plant, you get a response. But of course I seldom touch the plant during periods of obser­vation, and in any case the response would be totally different.”
“So, what is the signal picked up by the plant?

“I don’t know. I don’t believe the signal, whatever it is, dissipates over distance, which is what we’d get if we were dealing with electromagnetic phenomenon. I used to hook up a plant, then take a walk with a random­ized timer in my pocket. When the timer went off, I’d return home. The plant always responded the moment I turned around, no matter the dis­tance. And the signal from Phoenix was just as strong as if Brian O’Leary were in the next room. Also, we’ve attempted to screen the signal using lead-lined containers, and other materials, but we can’t screen it out. This makes me think the signal doesn’t actually go from here to there, but instead manifests itself in different places. All this, of course, lands us firmly in the territory of the metaphysical, the spiritual.”
I said, “Primary perception suggests a radical redefinition of con­sciousness.”

“You mean it would do away with the notion of consciousness as some­thing on which humans have a monopoly?” He hesitated a moment, then continued, “Western science exaggerates the role of the brain in con­sciousness. Whole books have been written on the consciousness of the atom. Consciousness might exist on an entirely different level.”

I asked whether he had worked with materials that would normally be considered inanimate.

“I’ve shredded some things and suspended them in agar. I get electric signals, but not necessarily relating to anything going on in the environ­ment. It’s too crude an electroding pattern for me to decipher. But I do suspect that consciousness goes much, much further. In 1987 I partic­ipated in a University of Missouri program that included a talk by Dr. Sidney Fox, then connected with the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Evolution at the University of Miami. Fox had recorded electric signals from protein-like material that showed properties strikingly similar to those of living cells. The simplicity of the material he used and the self organizing capability it displayed suggest to me that bio-communication was present at the earliest states in the evolution of life on this planet. Of course the Gaia hypothesis — the idea that the earth is a great big working organism, with a lot of corrections built in — fits in nicely with this. I don’t think it would be a stretch to take the hypothesis further and pre­sume that the planet itself is intelligent.”

I asked how his work has been received in other parts of the world.

“The Russians and other eastern Europeans have always been very interested. And whenever I encounter Indian scientists — Buddhist or Hindu — and we talk about what I do, instead of giving me a bunch of grief they say, ‘What took you so long?’ My work dovetails very well with many of the concepts embraced by Hinduism and Buddhism.”

“What is taking us so long?”

“The fear is that, if what I am observing is accurate, many of the theo­ries on which we’ve built our lives need complete reworking. I’ve known biologists to say, ‘If Backster is right, we’re in trouble.’ It takes a certain kind of character and personality to even attempt such a questioning of fundamental assumptions. The Western scientific community, and actu­ally all of us, are in a difficult spot, because in order to maintain our cur­rent mode of being, we must ignore a tremendous amount of informa­tion. And more information is being gathered all the time. For instance, have you heard of Rupert Sheldrake’s work with dogs? He puts a time-re­cording camera on both the dog at home and the human companion at work. He has discovered that even if people come home from work at a different time each day, at the moment the person leaves work, the dog at home heads for the door.

“Even mainstream scientists are stumbling all over this bio-commu­nication phenomenon. It seems impossible, given the sophistication of modern instrumentation, for us to keep missing this fundamental attunement of living things. Only for so long are we going to be able to pretend it’s the result of ‘loose wires.’ We cannot forever deny that which is so clearly there.”\

Excerpt first published at Utne Reader
copyright Derrick Jensen

Monday, October 3, 2016

Circle Studio...........Opens its Doors!

Finally  finished my long (and expensive) project this summer.  A space on my property (in central Tucson) where I can teach small (up to 7) classes and workshops, where others can also offer small classes or workshops (including writers retreats).  A space for small weekend exhibits, and not just my own work.  A space for retreat groups to use, and I can offer then housing for their retreats at my rooms and casita.  A space to fill with creative energy.

I, and many artists, can no longer afford to rent storefronts and warehouses to have have the innovative galleries and arts districts I remember from other times - in other cities where I lived, among them New York and the Bay Area, and even in Tucson.  Tucson's art district is mighty  slim compared to what it once was, even though the population has doubled in the years since I first came here - all thanks to gentrification and real estate speculation.  There are a lot more restaurants and wine bars, a whole lot less galleries, althernative bookstores, etc.    So, a number of us have decided to just "get off the grid", and turn our homes, gardens, back yards, etc. into spaces to share our work.  A friend of mine, for example, who is a playright has turned her carport into a sometimes theatre, and "The Carport Theatre" stages productions about 3 times a year. 

Yesterday friends came by and we had a bit of a "Consecration" party for the space, so it can begin to manifest creativity, conversation, abundance, and friendship, and the grace of the Goddess, Creator, and Spirit.  A place where it can.........Circulate.  Circle Studio!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Bill Murrey's Wisdom

"The only way we'll ever know
  what it's like to be you 
  is if you work your best at being you
  as often as you can, 
  and keep reminding yourself:

  That's where home is." 

  Bill Murrey