Sunday, May 27, 2018

Barbara Gregson's Book on Community Theatre Arts

Theater Artists Play is a new book by my friend and colleague Barbara Gregson, and for all those interested in Masks, Performance arts, Mime, Storytelling, and perhaps most importantly, creating meaningful and beautiful theatre with all kinds of people and all kinds of communities - this is a book well worth owning.   Barbara has worked with many communities to create theatre, including schools, senior centers, prisons, handicapped - you name it - in the course of her 40 year career.  She has more knowledge and energy about how to help people "tell their stories" than anyone I've met.  Bravo Barbara, for publishing this seminal book!

Theater Artists Play    is  available on Amazon and also from her Website.  If you order from her directly she will send it back signed.  Gregson Theater brings mime, acting, masks, performance/mask making, set design, playwriting and other theater arts training to individuals and organizations of all types from schools to prisons and nursing homes. 

Theater Artists Play is an inspirational guide to creating  your own theater work. The book is for all would-be, used-to-be and wanna-be actors, mimes, storytellers, dancers, musicians, writers, and those who want to heal and tell our stories through the magic of theatre arts.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Poems of Love and Parting

I started writing this post on  May Day, Beltane, and here it is some 20 days later.   Spring is in full bloom,  the Maypole has been danced, birds are courting in my garden, my bee hive looks like it has produced a new Queen and is getting ready to swarm (I will keep a good distance for a while!), and Persephone is back from the underworld, pollinating everything she touches. The subject I wanted to think about was Love.

Recently I had my cards read by a reader I know from the Faires.  Right on top of the spread was The Lovers.  Which bothers me, because romantic  partnership, all that,  is something I kind of (gratefully) put away, forgot about, and moved on from years ago.  It has become an abstraction.   Thank the Goddess, I'm a happy cat lady these days and my romantic adventures and sorrows seem  over.  She said that I would meet a companion, which seems improbable, but life is full of surprises.

But "Love"........I found myself thinking about love again (the Greeks had some 8 different words for different forms of love). I found in my files many love poems I wrote over the years for men that I loved,  and I realized that I never shared a single one of them with any of the people I wrote them for.  It's too late now, but I can share them here.  Some of them  bring back the memories they wrap,  like a fragrance carried on the wind.   Reading these poems I am graced to realize a profound truth about love:  it is always a blessing, no matter how painful the partings were.

 The first poem, At Beltane,  I wrote after realizing that someone I felt passionate love for  would never  return my affections.   What do you do with love that you realize will not go forward into some future relationship? Make a Benediction, for the gift that it is and was.  In retrospect, I  wish I had given him the poem......

Yellow Sails I wrote when I was about 21.  I don't remember the name of the person I wrote it for any longer, age really does take the names out of things.....but memory is more than names.  We may lose the names  within the stories, but not the heart of them.  This was a boy/man as young as me, and he committed suicide.

In Praise of Waters I wrote after I was divorced, in the dismal wake of that experience so many others have also shared.  One of the  most painful, and yet transformative moments of a divorce  of any kind is the remembering of, not the other's wrong doing, but your own piece of the failure of love, and hopefully the opening of the heart and spiritual growth that brings.  Again, what do you do with that?  You let pain as well as joy in  until your heart breaks  where it must and should, and overflows with the Waters of the World that truly  heal and  mature us.

"The Rune of Ending"  I was trying to make some kind of blessing for myself and my  ex-husband on the occasion of our severing and divorce.  Not long after I left my home on the East Coast and literally rode off, with my cat, into the sunset to make a new life for myself in California.  A canyon that opened between us indeed, a canyon many have had to turn and walk away from, with painful regret, remorse, and finally with gratitude, to move forward into the future.  We have not been in contact in many years, but I do know that indeed he met another woman, and they are still together, and I believe they are well suited for each other.  And I am glad for them.

"I Stood Poised"........I don't know how to explain that poem, the last "love poem" I ever wrote.  The story is complex, but it began with a very strange experience.  I attended a talk, and walked into a room with some 30 people sitting in a circle.  In the back a man sat with a woman partner.  From the instant I saw him, there was no one else in the room - I had an enormous sense of deja vue, like I had been looking for him for a very long time.  Ironically, once the program started, it turned out he was the presenter.  We worked together for a while,  and although he never acknowledged  me other than as a professional,  I believe  there was a relationship between us that spanned lifetimes.  I think what I experienced as  "love" for him was a recognition of other realms of experience, realms that inexplicably opened sometimes for me in his presence, along with many synchronicities.  I cannot explain it here, and ultimately, I had to let all my questions go, and disconnect from the attempt to "understand".  It was a "Mystery" for me, and had something to with what people call Karma and fate.  

The last poem, "The Green Man", is about spring, the great Eros of nature within the Great Round of the year.  That Round includes human beings, as much as we seem to be bent on denying our place in the cycles of nature.  All hearts are renewed with the coming of the Green Man, the  Pagan  catalyst of new life.  He is always there, calling among the trees. 

At Beltane

Set me free now.........
You walked among my dreams, and
I will bless you as I go.

I pause at the door, key in hand
breathing in the last of you.
Pleasure that pierces heart and reason:
there are no words to frame this.

All I can give
is to give it back 

Back to World.
To the dreaming earth
the singing waters,
dancing flames,
to the open sky.

To the Circle at the center of all things.
World, here is my heart's unspoken delight:

I offer it back to you, 
to play among the leaves,
to light  my dappled path.
I open my hand
a scarlet bird 
flashes among the trees.

Fly free,
Bird of Paradise
fly into the morning
from the other side of forever.


Yellow Sails   

Your fey mark 
glows on your forehead
a brand, a signature.

I have covered you 
with my tokens, with kisses I
embedded in you like tattoos, 
each one says

"remember me, remember me"

although I know you won't.
They will dissolve more quickly than memory
in whatever stream
bears you off.

I loved you from the shore, 
never really touching you
still, I regret nothing.

You were that which is worthy,
the pale light of another landscape
a castaway.

I will remember you
as you are now:
a boat, sailing into some brave distance
your yellow sails spread
glad and bright
on the horizon.


In Praise of Waters

How are we turned,
again and again,
to find ourselves 
moving into the shadow land
where our best and finest intentions
drift out of true, and into the truly opposite?

     love becomes hate
     hope turns into despair
     inspiration hardens into dogma.

we must find our faces again
in dark waters.

Revealed among fallen leaves
our reflected sins
our cherished scars,
the dappled shapes of light and dark
that surface toward a whole.

There is something that wants us to open

that pours from the crevices
where we have broken

     Something that laughs 
     like a river in the morning.


The Rune of Ending

What can be said now

when all words are spent
when the final word has been spoken?
We go now to our separate houses
relieved, at least.  A course has been named.

     Our lives are severed, our story is told.

We will each surely tell that  story, 

and strive and laugh
and talk late into the night,
and kiss lips salty with tears and with love

     but not with each other.

Here the tearing  ends,

here ends remorse and reprisal
here end dreams and plans.

We will not travel to Scotland, 

to walk among ancient monoliths 
in the white mists of our imaginations.
We will not walk again on a warm beach in Mexico,
toasting each other with margaritas.

That was once, it has to be enough.

I will not call you mine, 
you will not call me yours, 
and our cat is now your cat, 
our teapot is now my teapot.
I touch a potted plant, 
remembering its place
on our breakfast table.

     We divide the spoils,

      humane, courteous, fair

A canyon has opened between us.

we are each old enough
to know its name 
to view its depths without passion.
There is no bridge to cross this time.

I must now forgive myself, and you.
Cast my stone into this abyss
and bless the woman
who has not yet come
to stand by your side
and wave with grace 
from across this canyon's lip

     then turn

     and walk my own path.


I Stood Poised Upon the Edge of Town
and Heard the Blue Stars Singing

Weary ideas rise and fall
into blessed exhaustion 
at last I touch that essence, 
that blood-red honey wine,
this strange distillation.

I entered a lucid dream, 
I found a lucid life.

Through my open window,
I see a black, far horizon
and I hear the blue stars singing 

memories of memories:
I wish I could tell you
what I have seen
in the homelands. 

Perhaps, in that country,
we are of each other at last
You take my hand, we walk together
in that green and splendid meadow.

I offer you a glass,
you raise your cup to mine.
Lips touch
a butterfly rises between us,
flies into the morning
from the other side 
of forever.

Through an open window,
I hear the stars singing.......
But I write this in a small, dark room 
here, and now,
wishing I could be young again,
wishing I could feel
something other than foolish.

I will always remember you
always between
regret and joy
hello and goodbye
delight and sorrow
truth and lies

that bright 
endarkened landscape

I saw you in.


The Green Man

I walked among the trees
I wore the mask of the deer.
Remember me,
try to remember.

     I am that laughing man 

     with eyes like leaves.

When you think that winter will never end
I will come.  You will feel my breath, 
warm at your neck.
I will rise in the grass,
a vine caressing your foot.

I am the blue eye of a crocus
opening in the snow.
I  am a trickle of water, a calling bird,
a shaft of light among the trees.

You will hear me singing
among the green groves of memory,
the shining leaves of tomorrow. 

      I'll come with daisies in my hands,

      we'll dance among the sycamores
      once more.

**My thanks again to Robin Williamson, the Bard indeed, for a few images
     I will never forget, including "eyes like leaves" and "songs of love and  
     parting".  The blood of the Green Man runs true in him. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Vibrant Voices: Women, Myth, and the Arts

I'm very pleased to be included in a new publication by ASWM (I just attended their Conference in Las Vegas in March).   For all those interested in Women's Spirituality, Goddess studies, Women and Mythology, and the work of Marija Gimbutas and her Colleagues, this books will be greatly appreciated and insightful! 
We are proud to announce the publication of Volume 2 of our ASWM Proceedings. This beautiful full-color volume highlights the work of 33 artists, scholars, and poets.  Vibrant Voices:  Women, Myth, and the Arts. Carol Christ, author of Goddess and God in the World and A Serpentine Path," calls it: “A stunning testimony to the importance of the path-breaking, boundary-crossing work of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology.” And Miranda Shaw, author of Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism and Buddhist Goddesses of India, says “Vibrant Voices is an essential guide and touchstone for all future work on women and mythology.”

To celebrate, Vibrant Voices and Myths: Shattered and Restored are both 20% off until May 30th! Follow the links and use promo code ASWM at checkout, or give the folks at Goddess Ink a call and they can take the order over the phone! 505-225-2142.

Save the Date!

"Women Rising! New Visions for a Post-Patriarchal World" Women's Spirituality Conference, October 12-14, 2018. Sponsored by the Women's Spirituality Conference of California Institute for Integral Studies.

Our thanks to all of you who attended our 2018 Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Conference. Your scholarship, enthusiasm, and support for one another created a welcoming community for all. We will be back in 2020. 

Your ASWM Board of Directors 
Copyright © 2018 Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Association for the Study of Women and Mythology
P.O. Box 150018
Van Brunt Station
BrooklynNew York 11215

Monday, May 14, 2018

GEOSOPHY: An Overview of Earth Mysteries (1988) Part 2 and Continued

"Speak to the Earth, and it shall teach you"    .....Job 12:8

"Like all holy wells, Chalice Well is a feminine place, a place of receptivity to the Earth's spirit.  Here at Chalice Well you can strongly feel the feminine Mother force of the Earth." ....John Michell
Landscape Geomancy, which we are considering in this particular presentation, has to do with placing your structures,  your temples,  homes,  seats of government and healing centers on places on the surface of the earth where what the Chinese called Chi or or vital energy is up welling from the Earth through Geo-magnetic factors such as  water factors.  Animals recognize these places, they will sleep on them or give birth on them.  Ancient people built their sacred structures, like Stonehenge or Avebury, on these sites so as to enhance or amplify whatever rituals, healing concerns, or astronomical measurements were being made there.  Geomany is a way of reading the Earth's body language.  What is Gaia doing at this place?  Is this an energy sink, or an energy source?" .......John Steele

Part 2 and continued (I was not able to upload one of 4 parts of this film, my apologies. I will keep trying.) From GEOSOPHY - An Overview of Earth Mysteries, a 1988 Documentary by Vakasha Brenman. This hard to find video features Paul Devereux, John Steele, Martin Brennan, John Mitchell, Harry Oldfield, and other important researchers of Earth Mysteries and present day Geomancy. "This video takes us to ancient sites around Britain to explore sacred geometry. "Geosophy" literally means "Earth Wisdom" - derived from the name Gaia, Goddess of the Earth, and Sophia, the Greek word for wisdom."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

GEOSOPHY: An Overview of Earth Mysteries (1988) Part 1.


"The Dragon Project was named after the symbol of the energy of the Dragon in traditional cultures like China or Wales.  The Dragon was always symbolic of the energy of the Earth, always symbolic of veins of "Chi" or vital life force which ran through the Earth and composed the underlying nature of a sacred landscape.  In China they actually called them "Dragon currents" or "Dragon lines".  (In the 70's) A bunch of us got together - scientists, chemists, physicists, psychologists, archaeologists, instrument makers, and people involved in ley hunting divining.  Ley hunting is based on the concept of Ley Lines, the straight alignment that you can draw between ancient (sacred or energized)  sites.  These are  dead straight alignments that you can accurately plot and see on a detailed survey map."
........John Steele

"Speak to the Earth, and it shall teach you"    .....Job 12:8

 A quote from the Bible tells us to speak to the Earth - but how do we do that?  How in the age of computers and industrialism, the age of global climate change and global we reclaim this "conversation" our ancestors had?

  the first post of the video from 1987 GEOSOPHY:  AN OVERVIEW OF EARTH MYSTERIES.    It's a rare documentary that I was only able to locate in VHS, with some of the premier researchers of Earth Mysteries and Geomancy speaking about their discoveries and research, including magnetic fields associated with sacred places, animal and plant phenomena, and most fascinating to me, the way Sacred Places affect consciousness.  I feel this is so very important, this research,  investigation, and reclaiming of what has been mostly lost to contemporary human society.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Reflections on an Oasis, and Silence........


On my way to and from  Los Angeles where I do a festival, in the very middle of the California desert between Blythe and Indio,  is a mostly abandoned town called Desert Center. A sad circle of dead palm trees on the side of the highway attest to better days.   Desert Center once hosted General Patton's army training corps during World War II.  

I'm old enough to remember when the old diner was still in operation, if very dilapidated.  I used to like to stop for some not very good soup so I could sit at the counter and imagine the  soldiers  sitting there in prosperous times, maybe big band music playing on a radio while cooks fried eggs and potatoes.  But now it's just boarded up, and has been for a decade, and dust blows through the remains of every structure there, except, surprisingly, the post office - which suggests the presence of life and commerce somewhere, hidden away in the seemingly barren  recesses of Desert Center,  California.

However, the ghostly town of Desert Center is not what I write about............actually, sitting in a coffee shop in Los Angeles near where I'm working the Faire,  with the ubiquitious sound of pounding rock and roll in the background (why is the concept of silence at 6:30 in the morning so terrifying to Americans?  Why are people no longer apparently able to , eat, drink, shop, walk, or talk with each other without a  pulsing backdrop of  guitars and drums or screaming singers proclaiming their lust?).........ah.  The vast cacophony of the 21st Century, in which Silence is rarely tolerated.

Yes.  Sitting here over coffee, what I  reflect on is actually a strange oasis some 15 miles from Desert Center's ruins called Lake Tamarisk. 

I first discovered it when I noticed, driving on the interstate at night, a circle of lights past Desert Center.  On a whim,  I decided to investigate.  What on earth is that, I wondered, in the middle of no where?  What I found was a lake reflecting the moon,  lawns with the tinkle of sprinklers, a wading white crane, and Silence.

So ever since I've stopped for an hour or two at Lake Tamarisk  as I've made that long trek to L.A.   Like the movie Pleasantville, it seems to me sometimes  that Lake Tamarisk is a kind of mirage, suspended in time.  That someday I'll look for it and it will have simply disappeared without a trace.

It seems to me that it's always about 1970 there, or maybe 1960,   when the little town was  built to house the Kaiser mine workers and their families.     I don't know if it has always been surrounded with lawns for golfing, but its little man-made lake reflects the colors of the desert, and birds float on its placid surface, and it derives its name from that.  There is no store, no gas station, no restaurant there, and for such amenities  one must go some 50 miles.  But  there is a fire department and a community center and a little library.  They are always closed when I get there, the deck chairs stacked, the barbecues padlocked.  

I'm always there in late  spring or summer, when the winter people have left, and  silence is  what greets me in the empty parking lot beside the always closed community center.  Along with the occasional call of la Paloma, the desert  dove,  wind in palm trees, distant sprinklers and perhaps  a duck on the lake.  In all my rituals of visiting Lake Tamarisk,  I've never heard the sound of  a human voice, although clearly there are people who live there all year.  I've  walked around the lake,  never meeting a soul, and walking to the  edge of the grass or the paved walkway I  marvel at the way everything simply ENDS.  Take a step further, and you are in the vastness of empty desert.

There is a swimming pool  that looks exactly like every swimming pool I remember from my California and Arizona childhood, complete with round metal tables and a snack bar.........but it's always empty and deserted, the gate locked.  I  wonder if it ever is filled.  It must be sometimes.  I always find myself standing at the gate to the pool, and I can almost hear the faint sounds of  people drinking cokes and eating hot dogs.  Men in swimming trunks, women with one piece bathing suits, kids splashing and  bouncing on inflated inner tubes.  Girls in polka dot bathing caps and hula hoops.   I always feel a bit sad at such moments, as if they will all appear after I leave, when the sun goes down maybe.    And I'm not invited any more.......

But what I do breath in, en route and returning, is the Silence I find at that strange little Oasis.   Silence to hear the sounds of the desert, the wind, the here and now of nature.  Silence to relax into, silence with room for gratitude, silence enough  to hear the sounds of sweet memory and the bittersweet voices of ghosts as well.  Silence out of time.  

"Poets live with silence: 
the silence before the poem; 
the silence whence the poem comes; 
the silence in between the words,
as you drink the words, 
watch them glide through your mind, 
feel them slide down your throat
towards your heart 

the silence which you share with the poet
when the poem ends, sitting side by side"

.....Michael Shepard