Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

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Learning, Earning, and Giving Back

May 31, 2008

Soon I will be fifty and I have been pondering why that marker seems more significant to the culture and to many people around me than other birthdays that felt much more meaningful to me.

Thirty was an incredible year for me – I completed my masters degree, returned to the valley of the Shenandoah, signed a contract to build a house, and got married!

Forty-four was an important year for me. I quit my job – with nothing to leap towards – and committed to becoming a full time Domestic Goddess. Hestia was calling me and even though I had never even heard of her – she had been keeping her watchful eye on me – sensing that I was ready and then creating the conditions that helped me make my Leap of Faith.

Forty four was also significant because I moved east at twenty-two and somehow always thought I would return to the west at forty four. There was symmetry that seemed significant that I couldn’t see when I was in the midst of it.

By far forty eight was the most transformative year of my life! I am still integrating all the unleashed potentials from that year. In some ways, I imagine that it will take the rest of my life to bring forth all that was revealed in that time between 44 and 48. I have written about this before – my relationship with four – and perhaps that is why fifty doesn’t seem to be a marker year for me.

This morning as I made my rounds around blogland, I dropped in to see Lauren. She is the amazing and gifted and generous and wise and kind and oh-so-much-more! goddess who taught me the art of leather mask making – and she taught me so much more. It isn’t easy being chosen as the one to see. It isn’t easy being the one who must take what is sensed and make it visible for the world. And Lauren embodies those tasks.

Reminds me of the line from David Whyte – 

To be human
is to become visible
while carrying
what is hidden
as a gift to others.

Lauren is an enormous gift in my life… not only because of the the gift she gives others, but in her ability to see and call forth my hidden gifts. She saw me in a way that others often miss. She helped teach me how to make that part of me visible. If you ever have a chance to study with her at Kripalu – seize the moment!

And that brings me full circle to the title of this post: Learning, Earning, and Giving Back and the work of Dana Dakin. Never doubt the amazing hidden gifts that we each carry.

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Recurring imagery

September 17, 2007

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Sometimes I get fascinated with the wordpress blogstats feature and get curious about people who are finding me through tag surfing or google or other search engines. What are they looking for? Did they find it?

Today, I was looking at a post I wrote several months ago because someone else was looking at it and darned if I didn’t see the image above hidden in a drawing I did months ago. How cool is that? AND I wouldn’t have made the connection without someone else making a connection to me.

An artist I met online tells me:

it reminded me of a vagina. I hope that doesn’t offend you. I mean like an Earth vagina, or a Goddess vagina. But I often see sex in art, so don’t mind me. :)

Before my solo time of emptiness and receiving, I never did ART, since then it comes and goes and I am sure that if I made space for it, it would expand and colonize large parts of my life. I wonder sometimes if it is fear that keeps me from doing this everyday? Or if I am just too darned busy with my other responsibilties.

I like the idea of doing a series of this image, whether they are rivers that flow through the desert or vaginas, there is something about the movement and flow that is recurring when I begin to create on paper.

I am no Georgia O’Keefe, but I used to dream of living someplace like Ghost Ranch and wandering the desert canyons. This was the area that I needed to return to when I was mourning the death of my father and became an important source of comfort for me. I no longer awaken from my dreams with sand between my toes, but for a long time, this imagery was a necessary part of my mending. The world needs art. I need art. What art are you creating today?

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The Independent Eye

September 14, 2007

In March, I had the good fortune to travel to Kripalu to meet and create with Lauren Raine at her Masks of the Goddess intensive. I discovered Lauren through a lucky succession of internet explorations of goddess imagery when I was creating my first Goddess Council based on the book Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen.

Lauren’s masks stirred a deep, inner knowing that was already speaking to me through night dreams, art, and poetry. The work we did together with the spirit of the masks cracked me wide open in a different way than other expressive activities.

At our last gathering, we shared our masks and performed impromptu sacred theatre. I looked around at these women in awe – each of us personifying our inner divinity and risking the expression of long buried yearnings. Our voices were heard that late winter morning and continue to reverberate.

A happy synchronicity for me is that at the time, I was reading Inanna, queen of heaven and earth : her stories and hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer. Lauren brought an incredible audio CD of a performance of Inanna by Elizabeth Fuller and Conrad Bishop. I had no idea who they were, but I fell under a

deep enchantment after hearing fragments of the CD as we worked the leather and watched our masks emerging from under our hands. Their interpretation stayed in my head and a few days ago, I contacted Lauren to find our how to get a copy of the CD.

Elizabeth Fuller and Conrad Bishop

She sent me to The Independent Eye where I eagerly listened to a streaming version

of the production. As I listened, I wished that I could have been able to see the performance live – but alas this was done years ago. Then – OH MY GODDESS! – Lauren alerted

me that they have a new adventure – The Mythic Kitchen – and they are going to produce a DVD version of Inanna. Yes! Yes! Yes!

Here is a small update and excerpt from this amazing partnership and perhaps it will inspire you to support this endeavor.

After 38 years of doing this, we know how to make a dollar dance, roll over, rant and guffaw. So your help, at whatever level, can make it happen. For any gift of $30 or more, we offer you either two passes to the show in Sonoma County (May 2008) or a full-length DVD of INANNA when it’s produced. (Both gifts for a contribution of $60 or more.)


Of course more is welcome.

Can you help? If so, send a tax-deductible check to The Independent Eye, 502 Pleasant Hill Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472. Or contribute online thru PayPal at http://www.independenteye.org/contributing.html. We’ll be back in touch with gifts, news, and our deepest gratitude.


I described to a friend that we were moving toward a more “visionary” theatre, something with a core vision of a future we’d genuinely like to be part of. And yet, I said, if we start to wax ecstatically mythopoetic, it has to be while washing dishes or chopping onions – the “mythic kitchen.” A journey toward hope is truly believable only if it’s as gritty & grounded as the carrots in our garden, under constant threat from the gophers but drinking the sunlight.

Peace & joy-

Conrad Bishop (& Elizabeth Fuller)
The Independent Eye, Ltd.

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Full moon emergence

August 31, 2007

I missed the lunar eclipse – I was offline and didn’t even know it was coming – but I was able to bask in the full light of our dear mother moon and share with her my struggles and triumphs. For those of you who supported me as I struggled this summer in my adjustments to THE INSTITUTION I am back – but fall is a different time than summer. It seems my summer session may have been a bit of an anomaly – goddess be praised.

I was picky and choosy about the work I selected for this fall. I contacted the guides who had offerings and made my choices based on their openness to me and my path. One response was lukewarm – cordial – but limp – I didn’t pursue it. One response was – yes I remember you and I look forward to having you in my class. Another response was “Indeed we have many of the same interests and of course you may sit in on the first class and see what you think.” Because of issues of confidentiality and privacy – I will call him Bodhisattva and I will call her Two Moons.

Bodhisattva’s work for us began with the dreaded introductions – say something interesting about yourself as we go around the circle – but of course what made it whimsical and fascinating was his reflections back to us. He mirrored us in ways that captured his first impressions and our essence. I LOVE when someone truly gets me on the first try! I took the same risks I took in the other class, and they were met with warmth, humor, joy, and curiosity. The interactions left me feeling optimistic and not the least regretful of being vulnerable. He then proceeded to spin a tale for us. I went straight back to fifth grade where our teacher used to read to us after lunch and recess and we could draw or listen or put our heads on our desks and just let the words wash over us. I can tell already this is going to tons of work – the kind of work I am passionately interested in doing. This time though, I have a trail guide and traveling companion.

Two Moons is a gentle woman who speaks so softly we had to sit on the edge of our chairs to hear her. Normally women with very soft voices annoy me – I want to shout SPEAK UP – use your voice – but there is something about her softness, sensitivity, gentleness that made me want to sit very still and listen carefully. I thought about calling her Kwan Yin here – and it would certainly fit – but after some contemplation – I think she will be Two Moons.

Our first assignment is “out of the book” and of course I asked if I could bring in my own work and weave it into the theories in the book. She smiled and said of course – I would love to hear more about that. In that moment she won me over! But it gets even better. During the course of our discussions – we were able to talk about pivotal moments in our lives – and as I warmed up – I began to share from my tradition. The sense of deep listening, mirroring, and resonance with my sharing made me feel like I am in the right place.

Of course it is the “right place” just for a time because I am an interloper – I am not formally admitted into the program. There is a definite divide between us and them – us who are shopping or wanting to belong and them who are already through the first gate and inside the fence. It reminds me a lot of the artificial divide that my former employer created between “wage employees” – those of us who chose to forgo benefits in exchange for working less than 40 hours a week and “classified employees” who often saw themselves as superior because they were “real” employees. This is a dynamic that I notice in my interactions. For others, they don’t notice, or notice – but it means nothing to them.

One of the lasting gifts of my vision fast is that we all sat in the same councils – day after day – yet because of our deep inner work – we each paid attention to and remembered what had heart and meaning for us. I knew I had filters that colored my experiences – but it wasn’t until that experience – and the enormous pain of being unmothered and unprotected – that I began to become aware of the effect of filtering. After the class this summer, I sat with a woman who experienced many of the same reactions I did. We shared our pain at being thought of as “old” and not useful – at being marginalized in some ways – and of the biased preference for perky youthful sexual  spandex bodies. My sorrow was over expectations that were not met – I wanted the guide to “get me” and he didn’t. I confounded and challenged him (another pattern of mine :). What was wonderful about processing this with another emerging crone was that she told me “I know you are disappointed and didn’t get what you needed, but I got what I needed.” In that reflection back to me – I felt heard – I felt my crone friend “got me” accurately and she didn’t minimize my pain – but she could also tell me that given the exact same experience, her filters selected different events and that gave her different conclusions. Another gift – one that was not possible for us before we had this shared experience. So for all the trauma and disappointment of that class – we both came out with a little bit more of our fur rubbed off and quite a bit more real.

Baby Jedrek is through round two of chemo and doing exceptionally well! He is growing and developing and as the tumor shrinks he has less pain and is able to do all the normal baby things – like rolling over.  We also welcomed baby Naomi into the world – she showed up a bit early, but her parents are ecstatic to see her and report that she is adapting well to being “out here” with us!

As Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us – it is a life-death-life cycle. If you have never heard her speak or are hungry to see her – here is a wonderful video about the work Woman.Life.Song – a commissioned work with Jessye Norman featuring the creative juiciness of Dr. Estes, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison. Enjoy!

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Transformational Art

June 18, 2007

One of the marvels of blogging is the people you meet. I am always heartened when I find people who are living, loving, and creating and know that they are doing these things in their communities just as I am doing the same in my community. As most of you know by now – I am dramatically limiting my time on the computer during the short nights of summer – but through her comment, I found this website of her art and it certainly is worth a visit!

Transformational Art of Judy Shintani.

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Strawberries are in season – yay!

May 29, 2007

Last Tuesday I bought four pints of organic strawberries at the Farmer’s Market. I find it a challenge to know when to buy local, pesticide sprayed produce and when to buy distant organic produce. I refuse to buy raspberries from Chile! How can we spend money on jet fuel to fly raspberries from the other side of the globe in the off season? So I am always happy when my own garden begins to yield vegetable delights and the local Farmer’s Market begins to gear up.

With those four pints we had strawberries and cream for breakfast a few days. I made a huge strawberry pie with a real butter and flour baked pie crust and whipped cream and we snacked on the left overs.

Today – feeling ambitious and a bit greedy – dreaming of winter, long cold nights with a fire in the fireplace – I bought TEN pints of strawberries to make organic jam. I made half-pints of freezer jam that isn’t cooked so the strawberries are ultra fresh. I used liquid pectin and tons of sugar to get it to jell. Then I made a batch with the low-methoxyl citrus pectin. My favorite brand is Pomona’s. What is so great about this pectin is that you can use no sugar, or you can use honey, or you can use sugar. It jells no matter how incompetent the cook! Fool proof!

Lifting those ruby jars out of the boiling water bath make me feel like a wealthy queen! Who needs jewels when the pantry has home made jam?

I learned about this low sugar method from my ancient Rodale’s  book on preserving just about anything. After my son was born I canned everything from the garden – and also filled a 13 cubic foot freezer – and also dehydrated tomatos, onions, and peppers. I doubt it saved us any money – but it sure made being a full time mom a lot of fun. Work took a lot of the joy out of canning. When I worked – I used to can tomatoes on labor day. It was a running joke that on labor day – I labored over a hot stove.

The woman who really inspired me to make preserves is Anna Thomas – the Vegetarian Epicure. Her description of jars of bottled summer on her shelves made winter so much more friendly. She taught me to make Indian (from India) food. I learned of delicate tea sandwiches. She was so alive and real as I read through her recipes. The vegetarian epicure book two  is one of my most cherished and well used cook books on my shelf. I have her newer books – but I just adore this version from 1978.

So if strawberries are in season where you live – why not preserve a bit of late spring and make some jam? In January you will be glad you did!

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Following our bliss – Sue Monk Kidd

April 15, 2007

When I read the Dance of the Dissident Daughter, I had no idea how powerfully it would affect me. I longed to embark on a journey to Self. Little did I realize that I was already on that journey when I read the book. The book was just one of many trail guides to soul that supported me on this quest.

Hear Sue Monk Kidd lecture on the Black Madonna at the Washington National Cathedral. Don’t you just know the angels were hovering in the audience this day?

Coming from a Christian background with deep social and personal ties to her church, Sue Monk Kidd worried about the repercussions of publishing this deeply personal story about the dissident daughter who danced. Her bread and butter writing was for Christian publications and her fans were Christian women. I find her success inspiring and encouraging. How cool that her early essays are now gathered together in a book volume!

When Joseph Campbell told us to follow our Bliss – he didn’t mean to seek an ego-centric, self-indulgent happiness – it was in the context of “paying attention to what has heart and meaning.” If we fully embrace the things in our life that bring us wholly alive, then invisible doors open and invisible hands reach out to support us on our journeys.

When I decided to prepare for a Vision Quest this time last year – it was as if I entered into a protective circle at that moment. Magical things happened to me. Connections were made, things got done, tragedies were averted, and I felt a great sense of certainty and faith in the unknown of my unfolding.

Women like Sue Monk Kidd remind of what good things happen to us when we follow our Bliss!

Goddess Bless her! and Goddess Bless you!