Monday, November 20, 2017
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Thursday, November 16, 2017
This is the time of year I go through the tedious process of applying for things, which I try not to be disappointed by when the rejections roll in. I figure it's kind of like "artist Bingo".......sometimes you win. And I've "won" a few times in the past, and been fortunate to have some great residencies and even a few awards and fellowships. So this was an application to make an artist's book in the spring at the Women's Studio Center in New York. Usually I tear my hair out when I make these applications, but this was fun!
A book would consist of no more than 20 pages all silk screened and hand bound, so the pages would really be part of a "bound theme show" in a way. I returned to my many years of devotion to the Legend of the Spider Woman in coming up with these prototypes for pages. With so much competition, I seriously doubt I'll be considered, but, the ideas were fun to make and who knows, maybe they could become a book anyway. I shall never tire of images that speak to me of the meaning of "A Webbed Vision".
All images are copyright Lauren Raine MFA (2017)
Monday, November 13, 2017
"Older Yet, and Lovelier Far, this Mystery. And I will not forget."
Robin Williamson, "Five Denials on Merlin's Grave"
Looking back through my files, I discovered that THE SONG OF MEDUSA, a short novel I wrote in collaboration with the artist and writer Duncan Eagleson, who I was privileged to know back in 1993, had disappeared, even though I completed it and had it self-published in 2000. It wasn't on my computer, it wasn't on my website, I couldn't even find a copy of the book in my bookshelf. Then I realized it was to be found here, on this Blog. I decided to archive it on my website, and in the process had a lot of fun making illustrations for it, and doing a bit of editing.
It needs a lot more work, true, and it seems sometimes preachy or naive......but reading the manuscript after all these years was good for me. To be honest, this story, although I understand the sources of its inspiration, remains a bit of a mystery to me. I've never had the desire to write a novel before or since. This character seemed to have a life of her own, a story that insisted upon being written down. For example, I had no idea that the Oracle of Delphi breathed fumes from underground caves in order to reach an altered state of consciousness when this story flowed onto the page for me. Maybe writers experience that all the time, the sense of being a bit of a "channel" for a persona that wants to be heard....but it was a fascinating experience for me.
"I, the Song, I Walk Here"
Reading brought back what I believe in still, the impulse from which this story arose. And it was inspired, obviously, by the work of archeologist Marija Gimbutas and Riane Eisler, a long fascination with mythology, and my own experiences in dowsing and visioning. EARTHMIND, the "Song of Gaia". So here's the story resurrected. Mr. Eagleson graciously and elegantly contributed to its telling, and I feel it shouldn't just disappear. Thank you, Duncan.
I doubt anyone reading this is going to take the time to read the whole story, so I copy below
an excerpt .......I especially like the "Afterward", because it brings back memories of when I lived in Vermont, the very real magic I always sensed in the land there, and some of the people I knew there and then. An a dream some of us had of a possible future where the Earth was sacred, alive, a Song we could learn to harmonize with. That's still a hope worth finding stories for.
September 21, 2037
As the trail winding up Spirit Mountain grew steeper, Susan was a little out of breath. She could see the granite shelf summit ahead, the quartz and granite bones of this place common to this part of New England. Great rounded boulders loomed on either side of her, painted whimsically with colorful abstractions of lichen and moss.
Susan remembered when she lived in Colorado, the rock climbing she did when she was younger, and was amused at herself; the mountains of southern New Hampshire were among the oldest ranges in the U.S., great-grandmother mountains rounded and soft, folded and smoothed by a long, long life. These were not the Rockies, and she knew she was out of shape.
It was late September, a brilliant fall blessed by the right amount of rain and sun. The sugar maples were almost psychedelic in their glory of reds, yellows and oranges. The sun was bright, tender and poignant with a frailty felt only during Indian Summer; the last and perhaps sweetest days of summer. Such days were the grand finale to that great burst of fertile creation that began in the Spring. To her, it seemed as if all the land, and all the devas of the plant kingdom, were giving their final concert, their master chorale for the season. Soon the first frost would come, and Susan would walk with her morning coffee into a garden fallen overnight, a precious world melting away like a dream, ready to sleep beneath the immanent blanket of snow.
Below her came a long procession of people, making their way up the trail between rock outcroppings. Some carried baskets of food, homemade bread, and torches, candles; all carried flashlights and blankets. Just behind her came Martin, lugging the ceramic dombek drum they had purchased on their trip to Morocco. After him came his little tribe of drummers. They met without fail every Thursday night in their living room. “You are amazing“, she thought, a momentary flash of sweet, familiar lust surging through her as she watched his long , denim clad legs stride up the mountain. The cup of those brown legs around her hips....she inwardly smiled. Another good sign, that after all these years, and on this day especially, she could feel that so strongly.
It was the evening of the Fall Equinox, a very special Fall Equinox, because it was also to be a full moon. She felt the pulse of the land beneath her feet, heat, a coursing of energies she envisioned as a beating heart, humming through her and around her. The drummers would sing that heartbeat into their circle after the sun went down; she knew they were already attuning themselves to it even as they walked. Susan took a deep breath, and let sensation come into her. Her body vibrated, she knew she was moving into an increasingly ecstatic state of heightened perception. She folded her hands before her chest Indian style, and greeted the presence she felt here. And Spirit Mountain greeted her. She took her shoes off.
“Breathe, just breathe”. With each inhale, Susan let the sense of Gaia come into her. She never knew what else to call it; “earth energies”, “Creator”, “Source”; to her it was Gaia, and she visualized roots that grew from her feet, roots that went down deep into the Earth, connecting her with the web of all life. It wasn’t even that abstract; that was simply what it felt like. As if she became bigger.
Her breathing became rhythmic, releasing the small concerns of her personal life, the tensions and conflicts of the day, breathing in that light, that pulse that rose effortlessly through her now bare feet, an erotic heat in her vagina and womb, up her spine, into her heart. “Hello, hello” she said out loud. “Here we are.” In answer, currents flowed up her legs, into her hands. Susan paused, close to the summit, and leaned against a huge granite boulder, slightly dizzy.....“not so fast, I have to open gradually to this ...” Closing her eyes for a moment, she felt Martin’s hand on her back. He was feeling it as well. She almost heard his “Are you all right?”, but he hadn’t spoken. Speech was becoming difficult for him.
The warmth of his hand on her back and his strong male presence steadied her. A little further up the trailhead was an arbor woven of branches and grapevines. Tanya and James stood on either side of it, silently ready with the sage smudge sticks they used as each person entered the place where the ceremony would be held. A raucous crow flew suddenly across the path, to land in a nearby tree. It squawked at them as if to say “well, hurry up!” and flew off.
Martin broke his trance to laugh; they had, as far as he was concerned, been welcomed.
The top of Spirit Mountain was flat granite shelf. It was a splendid view; to the east the spire of an old church rose from an ocean of trees, and the Connecticut River was visible, winding like a snake through the landscape. Before her, ten boulders formed an imperfect circle. Perhaps they had once been more regular, but erosion or earthquake had, over time, worked them out of alignment. At the circle’s center stood a huge boulder, shot with veins of quartz; crystalline intrusions flashed here and there on it’s surface as it reflected the setting sun. Susan wondered, as always, how the long ago people who once came here had managed to move rocks weighing several tons into these placements.
The ancient people who made this stone circle millennia ago were a mystery. There was evidence that Phoenician or Celtic colonists had once settled along the Connecticut river, fishing, sailing, and marking places that were sacred to them with standing stones and cairns very similar to prehistoric sites in Ireland and Europe. Perhaps this was Tiranog, the “blessed land to the West” of ancient Irish legend. The controversy surrounding these structures and “calendar sites” had never been settled. The vanished people who so laboriously moved enormous and carefully selected stones to mark this place could just as easily have been native Americans long lost to history. It really didn’t matter to Susan.
What all of these mysterious places, including Spirit mountain, did share in common was geomantic intensity. They were places of power, ley crossings. A divining rod held over the quartz boulder at this circle’s center frenetically turned like the blades of a helicopter. To a geologist, they were places of geomagnetic force. But it took no theory or scientific knowledge to experience the presence of this place. At last, just like the ancients who once came here, people were beginning to realize that these were places of communion. One did not build condos on them.
In the deepening twilight, people passed through the woven entranceway, seating themselves around the circle. Some brought blankets to wrap themselves in, and some of the older folks had folding chairs. Beneath the white quartz stone were offerings of food, wine and written prayers to the ancestors of this place, as well as a basket of seed as offerings to the animals and nature spirits who lived here. And quite a few small personal shrines had been set up in an inner circle. Susan saw her friend Margo’s little Goddess statue resting on a red silk cloth. Nearby was a brass statue of the Buddha, a photo of the late Dalai Lama placed at his feet. From a crevice in the stone hung a laughing leather Greenman mask . Candles in colored votive holders flickered like a shimmering rainbow around the base of the stone.
Four drummers sat at each of the four directions, already synchronized into a deep heartbeat rhythm. They were in trance, attuned to each other and the qualities of the element each drummer was inviting to be present, air, fire, water and earth. Their rhythms flowed into the azure twilight as Martin sat down to join them, his dumbek between his knees. Susan walked around the circle, bowed to the center, and then picked up a pack of matches on the ground to light citronella torches mounted around the periphery.
At last she sank down to join the chanting, to enter into deep receptivity. She saw that she was a little nervous, and tried to shake it out of her body for a minute. She was one of the focalizers tonight, and although she had served in that way before, she never knew exactly what she would do until the moment arose. Years as a public speaker and environmental activist still made it difficult for her to completely relax into a wholly intuitive way of working within a group, trusting that indescribable merging that always happened. She took another deep breath and visualized her roots going down into the earth. It didn’t matter, she remembered. “It doesn’t matter in the least whether I’m nervous or not. It’s not about me, and it never is.”
She could see it now, if she unfocussed her eyes; a glow that seemed to come from the granite floor she sat cross-legged on, a pulse that attuned her to the drums, light that seemed to pour from cracks in the ancient boulders. Her unease was gone, unimportant.
Tonight they would offer thanks for the food grown and harvested throughout the summer; not just for them, but for all those who eat. They would chant and pray and dance their gratitude for being fed by the Earth and all the beings upon Her, and, in a ritual of reciprocity, they would offer their prayers, music, gratitude and love back, sending it down into the Earth to sustain and nurture the One who sustained and nurtured them. Susan was one of the women tonight who would become a kind of filament for the energies held by the ritual. In the course of the ceremony, she would open herself to communion with the spirit of place, with Gaia in all of Her manifestations; and what visions she received she would share with the group.
Sometimes what came to her was empathic, a feeling of sadness or disharmony that needed to be witnessed by the group, or simply a tremendous love that radiated between all present, renewing them. Sometimes she received images that were far from grandiose and very specific - once she saw a piece of baked liver on a plate before one of the women present. It seemed that she was both pregnant and anemic.
Later in the evening there would be feasting, baskets of pumpkin bread, cheese, and fruit brought out, and bottles of wine and honey mead opened. The drummers would continue to drum until the sun rose, letting rhythms flow through them in constantly changing waves, moving beyond exhaustion into ecstasy. Several couples would also spend the night on the mountain; Susan could see three tents discreetly set up at the far periphery of the circle. These were mated pairs who wanted to conceive, and had chosen this auspicious place and time, the energies evoked by this gathering, to invite a child to join them. It was doubtful, Susan thought, that anyone who stayed the night would sleep.
Before closing her eyes to chant, Susan looked around the circle. It was a big gathering; it looked like nearly half the population of Putney had come, although she was sure other circles and gatherings were going on in different places. South of her, at the Temanos center, her friend Jewell would be facilitating a gathering. She visualized Jewell’s strong, lined face, her famous rattle in her hand, and a momentary flash of love, support flooded her; she knew Jewell was aware her, and very busy.
“Gaia. Gaia, thank you. I am here.”
Lauren Raine, Duncan Eagleson 1993
Monday, November 6, 2017
FOLLOW YOUR BLISS
The divine manifestation is ubiquitous,Only our eyes are not open to it.Awe is what moves us forward.Live from your own center.The divine lives within you.The separateness apparent in the world is secondary.Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen,but experienced, unity and identity in us all.Today the planet is the only proper “in group.”Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.We cannot cure the world of sorrows,but we can choose to live in joy.You must return with the bliss and integrate it.The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.The world is a match for us.We are a match for the world.The spirit is the bouquet of nature. . . .Sanctify the place you are in.Follow your bliss. . . .~ Joseph Campbell
|"The Sacred Mirrors" (http://www.sacredmirrors.org)|
I have not been able to write, or even make art lately, a block I hope will pass. So I look back, look back, look back, and that is appropriate for this time of year, the time of Samhain. This post is from exactly 6 years ago, what I was thinking about then.
I lost my two oldest friends in the past 5 years,the poet Felicia Miller and the composer and writer Joanna Brouk. I know that I am not immortal as well, and think often, "what can I leave behind?" Well, there is a body of work, lots and lots of art and writing! Who knows what will happen to all that, since I have neither descendants to preserve it, nor patrons to eagerly collect the "works of Lauren Raine"! Still, I love my work and am glad of the creative life I've been privileged to live. And if there is a "message" I could convey, it is that of the Goddess and viewing the world through a different paradigm, and also, the grace and help and magic that continually surrounds us, the "web of being". I so often find I write about that, wanting to re-affirm for myself and for others "what I saw" at the margins.
|"Spiral" by Catherine Nash|
If there is any point to sharing this journal, it may well be my effort to affirm this perception, express my clumsy gratitude. Life really is far more magical than we can imagine, and we're usually too busy to notice.
|"First Chakra" by Beth Ames Swartz|
"Life is what happens when you're making
other plans."......... John Lennon
In 1987, I graduated from the University of Arizona, feeling very unsure of what it might mean to be an artist. I found many aspects of the art world cynical and devoid of depth or relevance. I remember conversations Catherine Nash and other fellow students had about New Age spirituality, my fascination with tribal arts, pouring over Kandinsky's "Concerning the Spiritual in Art", or Jose Arguelles "The Transformative Vision", my utter delight at seeing Alex Grey's "The Sacred Mirrors" in Art Week for the first time. These were sources that truly moved me.
"You develop your skills and technical expertise, and then trust the process. You learn all you can learn, and then go into the studio and forget everything. There is an emptying out, being willing to confront not knowing. We really do not have a language in this culture for these kinds of experiences."So I boldly, if naively, announced that I would go on a Vision Quest to write a book based on interviews with transformative, spiritual artists, since such people were generally ignored or pooh-poohed by the contemporary art world. I made a book outline and proposal, interviewed my friends, and then made a list of some of the artists I wished I could interview, among them Alex Grey, Ingo Swann, and others. I had one small problem: I was a virtual unknown in the arts world. How could I get anyone to take me seriously enough to let me interview them?
Synchronicities are like touchstones, you follow one and it leads to another. Around this time I had a memorable dream - I was in construction gear with a hard hat on, and I was working on a big steel bridge. Next to me was a black man in similar gear, and after a while he put down his tools, and said to me "we're just going to have to go to the authorities for help." The "authorities"? But amazingly, a few days later I received a little booklet in the mail, which I have no memory of ordering, from, I believe, Lucis Publishing. It was an Alice Bailey pamphlet titled "Building and Bridging: The New Group of World Servers". Bridges, I thought, there it is again.
The following week, I was invited to a party, where I met an artist named Beth Ames Swartz, whose installation "A Moving Point of Balance" was soon to be on view at the University Art Museum. I didn't really know anything about her, but at the party I shyly introduced myself, and rather audaciously told her I was writing a book about spiritual artists, and could I interview her.
Beth not only agreed, but told me she was one of the founders of the Transformative Art Movement, was organizing a conference, and would I like to have her list of contacts! "I'm into bridge art" she told me. That evening, when I looked through the papers she had given me, I found myself with a list that included a number of the artists I had been thinking of, including Alex Grey and the great performance artist Rachel Rosenthal. Now I had a personal introduction from Beth!
So I booked a crafts booth at a Renaissance Faire near New York City to pay my way, and off I went, on a journey that took me to NYC, and later Los Angeles, San Francisco, and points in between. So many surprising things happened! I got my interview with artist Rafael Ortiz about his Physio-Psycho-Alchemy, for example, not because I sought him out, but because a co-worker at the Renaissance Faire mentioned that she knew him, and he was organizing some kind of conference about spiritual art at Rutgers. Which is also how I became involved in Rafael's Art and the Invisible Reality Symposium, where I met many other artists pursuing spiritual expression. And the Quest continued.
Just recently it was my pleasure to see that interview with Rafael published, at last, in the Coreopsis Journal of Ritual Theatre. Circles and spirals..............
I tried for a quite a while to get my book published, but was never successful. To be honest, I think it was my own fault this was so - I had an underlying lack of confidence in myself that, in retrospect, undermined me every time. I have seen this as a problem throughout my career, and it is a pleasure to be of an age and time of life now where, well, it's not relevant any more. I don't care anymore about competition or ambition, I care only about the unfolding that m art offers me as I live this life."The problem is we’re so skimpy and stingy, so timid about asking. The Universe is willing to give; its there for the asking. When I work, I feel that ‘seamlessness” every much, because half of the time I don’t know where the ideas actually come from. They come in all kinds of forms. An idea can be formed in a sound, or in a very articulate kind of language….but it’s all part of the same thing. This comprehension of holism is very important at this point in time. I think it is also very important to the planet for us to be able to think in those terms"...........Rachel Rosenthal
Perhaps someday I'll go back to the Art and Spirituality project, with new perspective and much greater confidence. I think such voices as Beth Ames Swartz, Rafael Ortiz, and many others (and me too!) are needed now.