Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hymn to Inanna by D'vorah

Inanna by John Singer Sargent 

She of all knowing, dark wisdom....She of the deep abyss, snake’s descent, owl’s knowing...woman of the dark, the light:  We praise you, we stand in awe marveling at the myriad surprises you hold in store for us.  Your power, your mystery.

Lilith-Ishtar-Shekhinah, we worship you, in all your aspects; we sing your name.

Walk with us as we yearn to understand you... Never let us forget your presence in, around and through us, as we seek to proclaim and praise you in every corner of the world, in your many guises, by every name.

Walk with us as we love you, when we are angered by you, when we fail to comprehend you and when we renew our resolve to serve...

Be patient with us as we must be with ourselves, and each other... holding your presence even when we doubt or despair. Let us continue to walk in this new millennium as healers, casting new roles for ourselves and others, weaving new threads of oneness and wonder Ishtar-Lilith-Shekhinah, keeper of the mystery:

Be with us through ecstasy and harmony through death and destruction

And You, Inanna, who were given the setting up of lamentations, the care of children, the rejoicing of the heart, the giving of judgments,  the stirring of sexuality, the making of decisions.

In the eye of this wisdom, rising forth from the power of your being, your foresight, your intent...how is it we ever got lost, taken over, subsumed?

How did we ever become convinced we were not worthy to serve you, that you were the god/not the goddess? How did you, or we, allow ourselves to be 

and burned?

As we build a new world, allow us always to remember our inner strengths, to come from a place of understanding and compassion.  Yet let us not be swayed from our goals, and never let our kindness become weakness.  Help us to remember the lessons of our strongest foremothers and so defend ourselves when necessary, without apology,

speak for what we believe in,
take unpopular action, 
take what is rightfully ours with or without “permission.”

Work with us, inspire us, protect us as we weave your work - our work.

Help us, sweet dark lady of the night, holy winged figure of the light—rageful, wise judge, warmest heart, soulful visionary... highest priestess of the Temples to whom every knee must bend and every tongue give homage.

It is your word we write now upon the doorpost of our house and upon our gates…
Your word, acts, images and thoughts we share, rage at, weep with and learn from.
For It is You who makes rise our greatest laughter and love, happiness and peace, passion, tenderness and compassion.

You who sees and gives us our greatest anger and storm, temper and venom, jealousy and vengefulness; You from whom and with whom we learn to combine these things in the best ways possible...  as we embody and become You, in Our divine selves.

Sweet, dark Goddess/es of the earth and sky, river and mountain, night and day, Heaven and  Hell.

We seek to embody your passion, your wisdom, your strength.

Be with us now.

D’vorah bat Rita  2008
           (Adapted from a liturgy written in 1999)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Secret Life of Things: Honoring the objects we live with

Long may you run
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
 Long may you run
.....Neil Young

A few years back I was going to sell my "$3,500.00 Home" ("Lucy" cost me that), a 1989 motorhome I lived in when I was in New Mexico.  I wanted to find someone who would appreciate her as I have, but I never did, so I ended up putting Lucy onto my property and she became my "guest house".  

There is a lot of talk about tiny houses, and I'm somewhat amazed at the prices being asked for them.......but before tiny houses, there were trailers and motorhomes.  At least when standing, Lucy cost me very little - no mortgage, no property taxes, and if I didn't like the neighborhood, I moved.  I realize motor home housing is not that good for people living in cold climates, but for people in the Southwest, and particularly seniors on a low budget, it's a real solution.  And since Lucy and I have had such a good relationship, our friendship continues.

Why should we not think of the objects that serve us, that make our lives easier, pleasurable, and beautiful.........as friends?  We are such a disposible society, hardly  anyone understands my thinking in this way.  And yet, "things" have a kind of life as well, and deserve honor for the service they've given.   Whether a house, or a car, a teapot or a beloved dress, things are infused with the energy of those who have owned and used them.  A fortunately enjoyed item can emanate peace, or comfort, or pleasure.........you want to touch it, sit in it, sleep in it, eat off of it, look at it.  It just feels good and you don't know why, and that "mana" one feels goes beyond design.

The disposibility of our culture has not only caused environmental destruction, but it's also caused us to lose this sensibility, a kind of "6th sense" that tuned us to the "secret life of things".

For example, people used to inherit collections of precious china, cups and saucers that were proudly brought out to serve tea to guests.  Those teacups (and I have a few of my own) are infused with the ancient aroma of ancestral tea leaves, and the hands and lips of people long gone.

 Yet a lineage remains in some way, something that enters into the almost forgotten ceremony of hospitable tea offering (which can include cakes as well).   Imagine people sitting to tea, eating their cakes and enjoying the lovely patterns of flowers on the cup in their hand, colors emerging from the amber liquid of the tea?  As a child I used to play with those fragile little cups and imagine their use and history.

Or how about my 75 year old sewing machine, which still works?  Think of the women who cherished this precious machine, kept it oiled and replaced the belts over the years, the changing fashions that were constructed for parties and work under that needle?

So, I write to honore my old mobile home, my friend.  Thank you for years of shelter and good dreams, for meals cooked and roads wandered.  Thank you to the many things  and machines and momentoes that have travelled in boxes or trucks or suitcases with me over the years.  

Long may you run.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oshun and Luisah Teish

I've been a fan of Luisah Teish, priestess, activisit,  and storyteller,  for many years, and remember hearing her telling numerous times of sacred stories from the Yoruba traditions of Western Africa.  Here she tells us a tale of Oshun, the Goddess of love, beauty, and sweet water, and why a world without Oshun would not be a world worth living in.  

She will also be featured in the upcoming film  "Changing of the Gods" coming late 2017.



Sunday, August 21, 2016

The End of Democracy and the TPP - GREAT Australian video!

I would call this a brilliant satire, if it wasn't so tragically true.  Like he says, we may not have much in the way of global democracy any more, and our tax dollars will soon be going a lot more into the pockets of corporations, and say goodbye to anything like environmental protection, anywhere.......but heck, at least we have ranch dressing.


Friday, August 19, 2016

La Mariposa

I've told this story before, but it seems like a good day to tell it again, because I made a new  mask for her.


Once upon a time, in a dusty village like any other village, a  village with  three good wells,  fields of blue and yellow corn,  a white church, and a cantina, there lived a woman who was neither young, nor old.  She was brown of skin, and eye, and her hair was as brown as the sandy earth, and her clothes were  brown and gray as well. She was neither beautiful nor ugly, neither tall nor small, and she walked with a long habit of  watching her feet.

One day, she saw a tree alight with migrating butterflies.   Their velvet wings fluttered in the wind of their grace, and one circled her, coming to rest upon her open hand.  She thought that her heart would break for the power of  its fragile beauty, and she held her breath for fear of frightening it.  La Mariposa  was as orange and brilliant as the setting sun falling between indigo  mountains, as iridescent, as black and violet as the most  fragrant midnight.  At last the butterfly lifted from her hand to rejoin its nomad tribe, and its wings seemed like a whisper,  "Come with us, come with us..."

The next morning they were gone.  She held her hand out to the empty tree, as if to wave farewell, and saw that where the butterfly had rested, there remained a dusting of color, yellow, like pollen, the kiss of a butterfly wing.  And she thought  something had changed.

She went to the well to draw water, and saw her face reflected there.  She was not the same -  there were now minute lines, hairline cracks, along the sides of her face, at the corners of her eyes.  Later, she noticed  little webs of  light beneath the sturdy brown skin of her hands,  barely visible except in the dim  twilight.

This was a frightening thing.  She drew her  skirts more closely around herself, pulled her scarf over her eyes.  But as time went on,  there was something that kept emerging, something that would not be denied.  She was peeling open.  At first, it simply itched, like a rash, like pulling nettles.  As  weeks went by,  what had been easily born, could be endured,  became painful,  became an agony.  Try as she might, as tightly as she wrapped herself in her cocoon of shawls and skin and silence,  the comforting  routines of her life,  colors emerged from her hands, spilt from her mouth, colors and tears, deep waters that seeped from within,  washing away the dust of her life.

Soon, sleep became impossible.  Standing by her window one day, shivering,  she shook  with fear.   "Please help me", she cried, "I'm not the same".  

Then she noticed a beam of sunlight that fell across the floor of her little room like honey.  Motes of dust gathered in the golden light, becoming  a flurry of butterflies dancing through an open window into a sky as blue and vast as forever.   

And La Mariposa  opened her arms, took the gift of wings, and rose.

When her neighbor came to walk with her that evening, she found only a dusty shawl and an old brown skirt upon the floor, the early stars glimmering through an unshuttered window.

Monday, August 15, 2016

"The Way of the Mask" - Workshops for 2016 and 2017

With a new studio on my property, I'm so happy to be able to offer more intensive workshops this winter and fall in beautiful Tucson (yes, we do have the best winters just about anywhere).  Depending on availability, participants can also stay here as well, affording workshop members  a chance to share meals and informal discussions as well as the class activities.  

 3 Day Mask Arts Intensive Workshop 
                        for women

November 11 - 13, 2016   and 
April  7 - 9,  2017  

Limited Housing**  is available  for $50.00 extra.  

Introduction and check in begins Friday evening,  and Workshop ends at Noon  with a potluck lunch on Sunday.  In this workshop we'll  draw on our mythic imaginations as we explore ways to invoke the Goddess within through the creation of durable theatrical masks. We will also discuss ways to use these  masks for storytelling, ritual, community performance and personal exploration.  You take home the means to continue the work, alone or with your community.  

 To learn more, please visit:  the Masks of the Goddess Project.

 Note: There is a $20 fee for supplies. Bring  a story about a Goddess archetype you wish to explore.   

 "The masks of the goddess workshop was a pivotal event in my life.....I have been feeling
 the Goddesses waking up ever since.  They  were there, definitely there."

Lorraine Hogan, Kripalu Participant 

To read more about making  masks:

**As available.


3 Day Mask Arts Intensive Workshop
for Men and Women

November 4 - 6, 2016  and
April 14 - 16, 2017

Limited  Housing**  is available  for $50.00 extra

Introduction and check in begins Friday evening,   and Workshop ends at Noon with a potluck lunch on Sunday.  Although masks can be experienced as art objects,  by their very nature they are active rather than passive.  They are  "vessels for our stories".   We'll draw on our “mythic imaginations” as we explore the creation  of  durable theatrical masks.  Is there a Persona  that awaits a face, a story, a voice?  Creating a mask is a way to open the conversation.   We'll learn:

·         To sculpt masks from our faces,  creating durable theatrical masks.
·         Explore personally significant stories of  mythic Archetypes.
·         Discuss approaches to working with masks  for  performance, community,  and   
           educational purposes.

Note: There is a $20 fee for supplies.   Bring  a story, and art materials that you might wish to include in a mask. 

 To read more about making masks:  http://laurenraine.blogspot.com/2011/04/working-with-masks.html

                    "Myth comes alive as it enters the cauldron of evolution,
  drawing energy  from the storytellers who shape it." 

Elizabeth Fuller,  The Independent Eye Theatre ​

**As available.​​

*A $100.00 deposit is required for workshops, which can be purchased via Visa, Mastercharge, Paypal, check or money order.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Reflections on the End of the World

Newsweek, 2014

Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.

- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

I've always had an  apocalypse problem.  

I  grew up with THE BOMB in the 50's, and I remember the mini bomb shelter my father built, with its barrels of water and shelves full of cans of beans and tuna  fish.  It seems so hopeful, naive, and sad in retrospect,  to think that such a stock would help a family survive a nuclear war.

But like all unimaginable horrors it was, ultimately..... unimaginable.  How can humans actually live with something like that?

Later I encountered literary and film variations on an atomic "End of the World".  Like the poignant  movie  "On the Beach" with Gregory Peck ("Waltzing Matilda" still evokes that heart-breaking image of lines of people waiting for  their euthenasia pills as a radioactive cloud slowly approaches the shores of Australia, the song playing in the background).  Or "Fail Safe", or Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles , which envisioned an inevitable  nuclear war that exterminated what Bradbury seemingly   considered a hopelessly violent and destructive  humanity.
Gregory Peck in The Martian Chronicles (1979)

Being a native Californian,   I also grew up with the San Andreas Fault hanging over  our free-wheeling, hedonistic culture  (actually under us) with an omnipresent End Times inevitability as well.  Fueled by Hollywood and various New Age prophets "The Big One" with its visions of L.A. skyscrapers collapsing and the San Francisco Bay splitting off as the Continental Plates shifted were always underfoot.  But considering the Fukushima disaster of Japan, which will continue to impact the people of Japan, and the entire Pacific ocean, for many, many  generations.........what happened there could very well happen in California.  

In fact, the high stakes End Times has informed me and my generation, provoking  post-apocalyptic artforms, utopian communes and survivalist camps, dark Gothic   philosophies and Ascendance cults, as well as massive denial.  For me it has always been a kind of mythic backdrop to a life lived, as well, among astounding wonders and miracles. 

What an era to be alive.  I also came of age in the optimistic, activist 60's, a child of the wealthiest, largest, best educated generation the world has ever seen.  A time of huge possibility and creativity. 

As a child I watched black and white tv (with tv dinners on tv trays) while I tried to understand images on the news about the  struggle to integrate the schools. I remember well the terrified faces of those black children........fifty years later I watched a black president dance with his beautiful black First Lady at the inaugeral ball.  I've seen  the re-birth of feminism, marched for women's rights, and joined the emergence of a spiritual paradigm devoted to the  Goddess.  I've seen the development of ecology.  And gay rights.  I've seen a man walk on the moon (on another black and white tv).  I've watched computers appear  into the common market,  and just when it became possible to actually own one of the amazing  things, I watched the Internet appear to  change the world and human culture with stunning rapidity. 
A movie poster displays industrial smoke stacks whose emissions form a hurricane eyewall
I don't know if the New Age we so fervently believed in in the 70's will include the arising of Atlantis  and a global Golden Age, but I do sometimes think we're beginning to get the  possibility for the language and technology for  it.    If we can survive our adolescence, if we can survive human greed.
Earth balance.jpgI remember in 1994, when we were attempting to form the Taliesin Community, leading discussions about Al Gore's EARTH IN THE BALANCE (and what a different America I believe it would have been if Gore had rightfully been President).  Later, when  a movie was made about Al Gore's work to wake up America to the ecological crisis, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH..........I thought, YES!  Now things will change, now the real priority will take precedence.  It's been ten years since then, and this is not what the presidential candidates are speaking about. This is not what people in Congress are speaking about.

But it is what scientists are speaking about.

 Here it is, accelarating  between the cracks of our so-busy lives.  Streaming away on Facebook between the cat videos and the latest warning of what not to eat because it will make you obese or give you cancer. Looming like a shadow over the kids sitting lost over their cellphones on the bus.   As I enjoy movies at the touch of a fingertip, or explore the greatest library the world has ever known, also, literally, at the touch of a fingertip.  As I plan a trip to the other side of the continent, a trip that will take me a day, and took my great grandmother a month.  Or go shopping for new shoes invariably made by exploited labor in China or Bangladesh.   

Or notice  a magazine, found ironically at the checkout counter (see above), next to the latest about Bruce Jenner's sex change or Brad and Angie's marriage problems.  "Places to see before they're gone".  Think about it.  At the checkout counter.

The end of the world.   

Not the end of Gaia, Her evolution and experiments, which for all our cleverness and all the gods we've invented and called upon......includes us.  But not the end of humanity either, although there will surely be a lot less humans on the planet in 100 years.  But surely the end of so much, so many other species, so many beautiful places, so many lives that will never fulfill their promise.  Our magnificent civilization,  our expanding, insatiable, unsustainable,  global civilization, in its infancy, really.    How do you, really, deal with that?  
It’s 3:23 in the morning and I’m awake… 
because my great great grand children
won’t let me sleep.
My great great grandchildren ask me in dreams
What did you do?
(Excerpts from Hieroglyphic Stairway,  by Drew Dellinger)

I used to feel self-rightous when I pulled out my shopping bag, or recycled my paper, I would sneer at people in SUV's, feeling "appropriate" in my little mini car.  But now.....I don't.  We're all in this together  and the world my grandson will inherit, and all of those yet to come............will have to know it so much more than I.  

How do we deal with this?  How do we live with this?  What do we do, in our small and daily lives?  Where is the wailing wall, the support groups, the encounter groups, the consciousness raising groups, the "sitting Shiva", the "climate change meditation rooms"......that might bring about dialogue, that could shake us out of our denial, our complacency?  And yet.........every day, in truth, there is a laundry list, there are the hopes and duties of living a life in the face of the storm clouds in the distance.   It is simply too vast and too terrible and too seemingly distant to encompass.

Many people vividly recall from childhood unexpected moments of perceiving the grand unity.  Some experience the grace of inter-being on extended trips into the deep silence of wilderness. Some know a version of it in the postorgasmic state.  Some have reported that such "altered" consciousness occurs suddenly in mundane circumstances.  It seems to persist even through our deeply ingrained habits of seeing only separateness and fragmentation.
Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace:  The Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age
I can cast no judgement on others, or myself, for needing to turn away from this, for needing to make my plans, plant my gardens.  This is not an essay in which I have answers, in which I can somehow conclude with a hopeful closure or self-help cliche.  Yes, we all should be getting solar panels, recycling our gray water, eliminating plastic waste, driving the smallest cars we can get.........but we are all still part of the problem. 

Perhaps the only place to begin, each day, is a spiritual place.   The point in the center of the mandala, remembering that we are each a part of the planet, and each other.  From that place.  Today, that is the only answer I have.




The Perfect Storm: Food, energy, water security and climate change: Sir John Beddington