Please help our friend Star, who was run down by the white supremacist at the rally on August 12 in Charlottesville. She had to receive emergency surgery on both legs, and also sustained multiple spinal injuries.
Right now, Star is in intensive care but she is stable and expected to walk again and make a full recovery. However, she needs SIGNIFICANT financial support in order to regain a normal life after this horrific incident.
During her recovery, she won’t be able to do her normal job working with children due to the rods and pins in her leg. Besides medical expenses, Star will need money to help make rent. She doesn’t have a car and needs funds for transportation along with daily needs like food.
The next few months will be critical for Star’s health as she heals and undergoes physical and occupational therapy. Any level of support is welcome. All funds will go directly into Star’s bank account.
‘Arrival’ – Denis Villenueve
“Myth has something very direct to say. Many of the stories we need now arrived perfectly on time about 5,000 years ago. Old mythologies contain not only stories about our place on the Earth, but have the Earth speaking through them, what the Islamic scholar Henry Corbin termed the mundus imaginalis – where the human imagination is open to what David Abram describes as the more-than-human world. So with myth, you are working not just with imagination but with the imaginal, what many aboriginal cultures would call the Dreamtime. In other words, as we turn ideas around in our head, we’re not just thinking but we are getting thought.”
Colleen Wallace Nungari
“It’s very hard to talk about the imaginal in conventional language. The most fitting language to address it is poetry or imagery or mythology. If the language is too psychological it reduces the mystery. It makes the mysteries containable and safe.”
‘Paterson’ – Jim Jarmusch
“Myth is a robust and ancient way of addressing a multiplicity of consciousnesses that abide in and around the Earth. What is so powerful about an uncolonised imagination, a mythic intelligence, is that it connotes but does not denote. It doesn’t tell you what it is. Its images have a radiance that reveal different things to whoever is beholding them.”
“The days of conventional hero myths are not serving us. What is being called for now culturally is a word you find often in Ancient Greece: metis. Metis is a kind of divine cunning in service to wisdom.”
“We can’t be naïve in times like this, because we are in the presence of underworld forces that will do one of two things: they will either educate us, or annihilate us. And in fairy tales whenever the movement is down – and the movement culturally is down right now – you have to get underworld smart, have underworld intelligence, underworld metis. I have a strong feeling that a lot of what wants to emerge through many ancient stories is a kind of wily, tough, ingenious and romantic force that needs to come forward at this point in time.”
S u s a n S e d d o n B o u l e t
“…in Corbin’s expression of this ancient Sufi philosophy, the material world which we take as real is in fact totally enveloped by a spiritual reality which influences (or perhaps even determines) it.
The reality of the mundus imaginalis communicates itself to human beings through images, so that the act of imagining then becomes an act of connection to it. But we’re not just talking about any old imaginings; as Corbin said:
We must be careful not to confuse it with the imagination identified by so-called modern man with “fantasy”, and which, according to him, is nothing but an outpour of “imaginings”.”
“This is an important point: Corbin differentiated between the simple everyday acts of daydreaming and fantasising (which are what we often mean when we speak about ‘imagining’) and the reality of this world of archetypes and visions. To stress this point again: the forms and figures which occupy the mundus imaginalis have a real – and the key point here is that ‘reality’ is not just restricted to the material – presence. The mundus imaginalis is the place from where all spiritual and transcendent experience derives. It is the source of synchronicities, ‘psychic’ experiences and creative insights. This world penetrates into our dreams and other visionary experiences, including the places we visit during deep meditation or imaginal journeying.”
“An awareness of the Otherworld, then, in our own native traditions (which are so potent, and yet so often neglected in favour of cosmologies from other parts of the planet) is an awareness of the power of the Earth itself. The Otherworld isn’t just a pretty place in a fairy tale: it is the source of life and inspiration. The powerful Otherworldly woman in the oldest of our stories isn’t a mere fairy mistress, or a pretty muse in a poet’s dream: she is the moral and spiritual authority of the earth, the anima mundi personified. The Otherworld is more than just a myth; the mundus imaginalis is real. As Corbin’s work suggests: the material world which we take as real is in fact totally enveloped by a spiritual reality which influences (or perhaps even determines) it.
We ignore it at our peril.”
‘Moonlight’ – Barry Jenkins
“If you look at the last five hundred years in the West, you see the steady growth of a mindset that denies the validity, even the existence, of anything that exceeds the grasp of human cognition. As a result, our environments, physical and psychic, have become increasingly human, increasingly artificial. There is a pseudo-gnostic vein in modern thinking that seeks to place humanity at the centre of the universe. This is why I believe that the recognition of radical mystery as an intrinsic quality of the real is both the most important move we could make and the most repugnant to the existing power structure. Art confronts us with a more expansive view of reality in which humans are peripheral and mystery is inescapable. This is pretty obvious when you consider a weird fiction writer like Lovecraft, but I think it’s also true for Van Gogh, Shakespeare, or Emily Dickinson.”
Vincent Van Gogh
“Artifice denotes the use of aesthetics to manipulate the emotions in a predetermined manner. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce calls it “improper art” and defines it as art that presents its content in such a way as to induce a state of attraction or repulsion. There are therefore two kinds of artifice. Examples of the first kind include porn videos, advertisements and generic pop songs. All of these are, at bottom, pornographic. The second kind includes traditional propaganda films and shock art, but also any work specifically designed to push a political or social message: slick PSAs, moral fables and concept art that does nothing but voice an artist’s opinion.”
“What Joyce calls “proper art,” on the other hand, uses the aesthetic to reveal things in their original, preconceptual “suchness.” That is, it doesn’t reduce its content to some instrumental end. In doing this, artists end up producing symbols, beacons that point to those vast regions of reality which psychoanalysts call the unconscious. In other words, art doesn’t belong to the conscious world. It belongs on the same plane as dreams, visions and synchronicity. By its nature it calls us out of the trance states that artifice instills.”
‘Knight of Cups’ – Terrence Malick
Martin Shaw –
“I notice that several times a day I go into what you could call a mild trance state. I’m not talking about ouija boards here! I’m just talking about falling under the influence of advertising, or various politically engineered neuroses that might be floating around. But I recognise I have come into a kind of enchantment. And the way I recognise it is that I feel less than grounded. I feel I’m not in the realm of imagination, I’m in the realm of fantasy. So the imaginal is not present; the Earth as a lived, breathing, thinking being is not present. What’s happening is I’m simply fretting – to use my mother’s language – I’m spinning my wheels. And so actually I think stories have a capacity to wake us up.
We are living in a time when we need symbolic intelligence, not just sign language. We are being fed signs, and signs that frighten us, and then paralyse us, and then colonise us. And imagination, through myth, wants to give you symbols to raise you up.”
‘They Live’ – John Carpenter
J.F. Martel –
“Art is in itself a form of resistance to the commodification of consciousness. Every bit of time and energy spent creating or experiencing works of art escapes the grasp of those forces that would reduce us all to a quantity or algorithm.”
‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ – Nicolas Roeg
“In a sense, asking what art should do to improve society is like asking what the heart should do to improve the health of the body. The heart can only do one thing: beat. It’s up to the body to live in such a way as to allow it to keep beating. Similarly, the only thing art can do is reveal the non-human forces that shape the world. It oxygenates society by infusing it with a more expansive reality than its preconceptions, opinions or beliefs allow for. Art is the heartbeat of a civilization. For that reason, it’s not up to artists to produce works that will change the world. It’s up to the world to organize itself in such a way that artists are able to make the art they’re called to make. While this doesn’t absolve artists of their civil responsibilities as members of society, it does mean that when they practice their art, they ought to have the freedom to be guided by powers that exceed our understanding. True works of art are powerful symbolic constructs, genuine oracles that can give society access to what’s going on below the threshold of collective consciousness. But they won’t do that if artists feel a need to impose a moral or message on the material. For the magic to happen, vision must lead the way.”
‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ – Jim Jarmusch
Links to works quoted:
The Mythos We Live By: Uncolonising Our Imagination. An interview with storyteller and mythologist Martin Shaw by Dark Mountain editor, Charlotte Du Cann.
The psychology of mythology: or, why the Otherworld is just as real as this one. Dr Sharon Blackie: writer, psychologist, mythologist from her blog – The Art of Enchantment.
Reclaiming Art: An Interview with J.F. Martel The author in an interview with Jeremy D Johnson for Reality Sandwich.
Please read Tanja Stark’s fascinating research into David Bowie’s emergence as a Jungian visionary artist.
“Jungian concepts are so inextricably woven throughout Bowie’s multi-decadal tableau of creativity that in Bowie’s synthesis of mythopoeic themes of the Unconscious with the zeitgeist of pop culture, together with his palpable struggle for meaning, catharsis and knowledge, Bowie has become a poignant contemporary representation of Jung’s ‘visionary artist’, potentially illuminating his deep resonance in popular cultural consciousness.”
César Maxit created this powerful poster of Ingrid Carillo, who is holding a picture of her disappeared relative Alma Argentina at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia. The poster is based on a photograph by Linda Panetta. Ingrid is the daughter of Adriana Bartow-Portillo who is a life-long advocate for human rights and a survivor of the war in Guatemala.
After Guatemalan security forces killed one of her brothers and disappeared six members of her family, among them her father, her 10 and 9 year old daughters, and her 18-month old sister, Adriana and her two surviving daughters fled their native country and arrived in the US in 1985.
(Photo by Gordon Walek)
She has since worked hard to educate the US public about the human rights situation in her country, and the impact of political trauma and torture on the individual, community, and society in general. She has also worked hard to raise awareness of and educate about disappearances and the plight of their surviving relatives. She is the founder of the Guatemala-based Where Are The Children?, a non-profit organization working to find out the whereabouts of the thousands of children who disappeared during the war in Guatemala.
The SOA is a military training school for Latin American security personnel. Its graduates are continually implicated in human rights violations against civilian populations across Latin America. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution.
The SOA was founded in 1946, and since its opening, has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers and police in courses ranging from commando tactics to military intelligence, psychological operations and counter-insurgency warfare.
In December 2000 Congress authorized the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC to replace the SOA. The renaming of the school was widely viewed as an attempt to diffuse public criticism and to disassociate the school from its reputation. The underlying purpose of the school remains the same: to control the economic and political systems of Latin America by training and influencing Latin American militaries.
J.F Martel describes in his book Reclaiming Art the experience some may have had in the presence of a created work, be it a piece of music, a film, dance, theater, a painting, a moment in a novel, a poem…
The experience is one where the work actually captures you where the emotional reaction is such that you believe that the world you thought you knew is somehow different now, now that you have crossed paths with this creation. That this work is actually having a conversation with you or perhaps speaking to you, acutely and individually just you. As if it were alive, as if it had meaning that only you could decipher.
Martel suggests that this experience is not necessarily caused by the intention of the creator or performer but that it is something that is breaking through, something that has a living presence. Now he describes this in conjunction with great works of art – he uses a friend’s encounter with a painting by Van Gogh as one example. I’ve had something strange and powerful happen with one of my paintings, the one featured above. In no way do I think it falls into the category of ‘great’ or even very good. I cannot look at it without critically going over everything I think is wrong with it.
Yet a couple of years ago it was in a show at the studio where I take classes regularly. I invited some new friends to attend the opening. After one couple had arrived and had meandered around looking at different paintings I discovered to my amazement that one of them had been so overcome with emotion after standing arrested in front of this piece that tears were flowing down his face. He tried to express what was happening inside to cause such a reaction but could not adequately explain only to say that it felt like the woman in this painting had pierced his heart. As he described it, for him this was a life changing experience. I was incredibly humbled that anyone could feel this from looking at one of my paintings. Later I stood in front of it hoping to get a taste of what he had experienced…Of course nothing happened. It had no effect on me whatsoever. But I looked at it as a gift and a mystery of what could happen from something that I was a part of in creating. To this day I still don’t understand what happened that evening but I accept it as something I was privileged to witness. I’m thankful for that.
There is an old phrase that goes, ‘something that takes on a life of its own.’
As Martel says in his book describing the process, “It is more than a creation: it is a creature.”
Sharon Blackie’s descent into the underworld.
She writes, “A key part of any ‘Journey’, whether it be the Hero’s Journey or the Heroine’s Journey or any other Journey you’d like to invoke, is the passage to the Underworld. The power of the transforming dark; the cauldron; the cocoon. Call it what you will; I encountered it in all its real and tangible force in the rather intimidating Oweynagat, referred to in an old religious text as ‘the hell-mouth of Ireland’.”
Read these words from another poet Alejandro Jodorowsky – with regards to the ‘poetical act’!
“I was trying not to prepare anything.
I didn’t want to prepare what I was going to say to you.
Why? Because I am searching for my inner truth, I want to know what will I say.
In two more days I will be 86 years old… it’s a lot.
Why, at 86 years of age, am I fighting to make a picture? Why?
Nothing is that important for me.
Is it so important for a person who can die one day to the other, to make a picture? Because when you are 86 years old, every morning you awake and you say “I am still alive.”
You are happy to be alive but you are maybe at the end of something.
Why make a picture? What is a picture?
Some pictures are only fun and show. It’s necessary, because in the world we are all nervous about everything that’s happening, no?
They even say we are destroying the planet. So we need to go, to see a picture, to forget ourselves.
Perhaps this is necessary, but for me a picture is not that.
For me a picture is for remembering your self, not for forgetting yourself.
But what does it mean to remember your self? What can we remember?
For me, movies are really an art.
And what is art? It is the search for your inner beauty.
That is art.
I don’t want to make a picture in order to make money.
But if money comes, I open the pocket in order to make more pictures.
But that’s not the finality. It’s not the finality to being admired by others. It’s not the finality to lie and invent things you’ve never lived.
In order to say something you need to know the thing you’re speaking of.
It needs to be an experience, what you show on the screen.
What will I show in this picture?
What are human beings, art, museums and movie theatres showing to us?
Are we those anti-heroes?
Those people who have no dignity? We are slaves? We are liars? Thieves? What are we now?
I don’t want to show that kind of person.
I don’t know how to make pictures of everyone fighting one another, to have money, to steal money
I don’t want to speak about “love” either; about this “love” that isn’t real, that’s a fairytale. Love is something great, incredible, “sublime”… I don’t know how you say “sublime” in English…
The most beautiful thing.
Marpa was a saint in Tibet and he said “Life, everything, is an illusion.”
One day his son died, his young son died and he was crying and crying and crying
and the disciples asked Marpa “Why are you crying? Your son is an illusion.”
“Yes, my son is an illusion. But he is the most beautiful illusion.”
Movies are an illusion but need to be the most beautiful illusion.
I know what it’s like to scream because one of your sons died.
It’s terrible. It’s terrible
And in that moment you ask yourself, “Why am I doing art, movies? Why?!”
and then you say
I am making movies and art in order to heal my soul.
I need to open! Open! open! myself, in order to find myself.
To remember what the human being is. The beautifulness of the human being.
The beautifulness of you. I need to show how beautiful the human being is. Now.
In Chile, in the forties, I was 24 years old… it was a fantastic moment.
The war was all over the planet, and in Chile : no war.
Because we are far and separate of the world: no television, mountains, ocean, peace!
It was so peaceful.
It was beautiful.
And then a miracle happened: Poetry came to the country.
Great poets started to write marvelous, marvelous poems; two of them have the Nobel Prize,
Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral – our father and our mother.
And then, everything was poetry.
We were living our adolescence in this situation: poetry everywhere.
And we started to search for the “poetical act.”
For how it was to live with beautifulness.
How it was to live in the mind: free! In heart : in union with world. In the sex: in full creativity.”
A deeply felt response to the ongoing crisis we face as a planet, at once personal as well as with insight into the challenges ahead for us all. To quote Kenn regarding hospice, “It speaks the language of kindness, mercy and compassion to a world glaringly bereft of all three. It generously applies a healing balm to the wounds inflicted by injustice, cruelty and war. In no way is this “giving up.” On the contrary, it is a resounding battle cry against the death machine of industrial civilization.”
When I started working with the terminally ill over 20 years ago I had not made the connection between the hospice approach to individual human suffering at the end of life and that of our embattled and dying ecosystem. I first encountered the idea of viewing the earth, and all who inhabit it, on hospice when I began reading the work of Guy Mcpherson, professor emeritus of natural resources and the environment at the University of Arizona, and the writings of author Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. I now see the same patterns of misery, denial, angst, terror, empathy, alienation and actualization that define our own personal response to grief mirrored in our collective condition as a species. And I have come to believe that this model is the best response to the catastrophe of climate change, mass species extinction and the self-destructive nature of industrial civilization.
View original post 787 more words
If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do?
Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.
Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?
On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.
If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10th
Everyone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown
Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!
this is the key phrase for me in Margaret’s post – “Because we live in a world dominated by extroverts, we often feel guilty for not fitting in, for not behaving in the ways others expect us to. Think of the lone salmon fighting its way upstream. This is how it often feels for the introvert, striving to find his/her way back to the Source, fighting against the expectations of the collective. But the salmon can only do what is in its nature (see blog on Life of Pi), as can the introvert. The salmon might disappoint the schools of herring that want him to join the fun of swimming and dancing together, but there is no point in the salmon feeling guilty. In fact, guilt can ravage the soul of the introvert, tearing the flesh off his back. As long as your actions are not damaging someone else, you must do what you need to do without guilt and without shame, and honour the calling that carries you forward towards your true home.”
Notice I didn’t say the “successful” introvert. Self-help books abound on how to be successful: The 10 Habits of a Successful Leader, Seven Ways to be an Effective Leader, The 8 Habits of the Self-Made Rich, How to be a Success and Achieve Abundance: 8 Steps to Achieve Your Goals, etc. Frankly,these titles just make me feel tired. It recently occurred to me that all of these type of self-help books are geared towards extroverts and achieving success in the outer world. What about introverts? For most of us, just having and retaining an okay presence in that world takes up a great deal of our resources. So this blog is for the introverts.
The outer world that dominates western civilization is very yang or masculine in its orientation. We live in a culture that values power, control, domination over the other, war, one-upmanship, aggression, competition, status, speed, technology and…
View original post 1,611 more words
I had never heard of Adam Purple and his garden. What a great story posted by Sebastain K!
(read more about it at the Youtube link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VfBvdzgQxY)
Dahr Jamail writes in his article, ‘On Staying Sane in a Suicidal Culture’ of meeting Joanna Macy – Buddhist scholar, Eco-Philosopher and activist. Over tea she opened a door that began a process that allowed him to express the emotions he was carrying from his work as a journalist covering the Iraq war. He later attended a workshop led my Macy during which she said,
“The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world.”
He then related,
“For me, the price of admission into that present was allowing my heart to break. But then I saw how despair transforms, in the face of overwhelming social and ecological crises, into clarity of vision, then into constructive, collaborative action.”
Jamail’s article explores Joanna Macy’s ‘The Work that Reconnects’ and how her project allows one to see the world with clear eyes, walking the middle path between destruction and rebirth.
“Never before in history has humankind found itself amidst such a convergence of crises: runaway ACD [anthropogenic climate disruption], the global economy in chronic crisis, deepening militarism and surveillance, and a growing lack of food and water as the global population continues to explode.
While a great percentage of the population remains unaware that upward of 200 species are being made extinct each day, even greater numbers of people are ignorant to the very real possibility that humans may well be included in that number some day, whether it be from global thermonuclear war or runaway ACD.
Hence, Macy believes nothing short of a radical shift in consciousness is mandatory.
“What I’m witnessing is that this uncertainty is a great liberating gift to the psyche and the spirit,” she said. “It’s walking the razor’s edge of the sacred moment where you don’t know, you can’t count on, and comfort yourself with any sure hope. All you can know is your allegiance to life and your intention to serve it in this moment that we are given. In that sense, this radical uncertainty liberates your creativity and courage.”
Read Dahr Jamail’s article here.
(From the publisher)
“Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the most important thinkers of our time. Educated as a scientist, she is an author, journalist, activist, and advocate for social justice. In LIVING WITH A WILD GOD, she recounts her quest-beginning in childhood-to find “the Truth” about the universe and everything else: What’s really going on? Why are we here? In middle age, she rediscovered the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence, which records an event so strange, so cataclysmic, that she had never, in all the intervening years, written or spoken about it to anyone. It was the kind of event that people call a “mystical experience”-and, to a steadfast atheist and rationalist, nothing less than shattering.”
The following is an excerpt from her interview with Terry Gross on the radio show, Fresh Air –
EHRENREICH: I got on a very poorly planned skiing trip with my little brother, who was 13, and a high school friend, and for some reason spent the night in the car in Lone Pine, California, a very little town at that time, and I got up that morning, went out of the car, the others were asleep, and started wandering around the streets of Lone Pine, and something happened.
It was – the only words I can put to it after all these years are that the world flamed into life. Everything was alive. It was like there was a feeling of an encounter with something living, not something God-like, not something loving, not something benevolent, but something beyond any of those kinds of categories, beyond any human categories.
And this lasted – I don’t know how many minutes this lasted in its full intensity. We went on from Lone Pine – for inexplicable to me reasons we went into Death Valley and spent the afternoon wandering around in Death Valley, which was on the way to L.A. And the experience continued there in the desert, though not quite as intensely.
GROSS: Let me read something else that you write about in your book. You write that if you had described it, what would you have said, that I had been savaged by a flock of invisible angels, lifted up in a glorious flutter of iridescent feathers, then mauled, emptied of all intent and purpose and pretty much left for dead. I mean it sounds, you know, both beautiful and violent, like you were mauled. That’s a very physical word to use.
EHRENREICH: Uh-huh. You know, if you read accounts of other people’s mystical experiences, and I only did that in the last couple – decade or so, both religious people and nonbelievers, I find that that sense of a violent encounter is also there. Among one of the most religious would be St. Teresa of Avila, and she certainly describes a loving God, whom she very much adores. She was of course writing for her – the Inquisitors.
But she also describes it as a violent kind of encounter, and what she sometimes felt like, that she had been just ground down to her bones by what happened. Or to take a more secular example, Philip K. Dick, the science fiction writer, the American science fiction writer, had a mystical experience that he wrote quite a bit about, and he said it was less like feeling enlightened by the Buddha or something than it was a little bit like being mugged.
…In the months that followed that experience in Lone Pine, I went back and forth. I had seen something, I had seen something amazing, it was an encounter, to finally deciding, no, this was a psychiatric episode. I’m a rational person. I have no rational way, other rational way of explaining this. It has to do with some kind of biochemical imbalances, some kind of messed up neuronal circuitry, and I decided that that’s how I was going to leave it.
I was never going to tell anybody about this because I didn’t want to, didn’t know how to, and on top of that I was just going to go on with my life and try to forget about it. So that was my solution for many years.
GROSS: When was the last time you had an experience like the ones you described that you could interpret as mystical or as a symptom of a psychiatric disorder or somewhere between the two?
EHRENREICH: Well, I no longer interpret them as symptoms of a psychiatric disorder. That’s what happened as I evolved from a, say, from my late teens into my 60s, is turning this over and over in my head, learning a whole lot of other things – for example, about the many, many people who have had what look like very similar experiences.
I decided I’m going to go with being sane, that I encountered something. It’s something that a lot of people encounter, all sorts of people. And I want to understand better what that is, what happens to us when we have these experiences and what, if anything, we are running into.
GROSS: What are some of your theories?
EHRENREICH: Well, I give speculations at the end of the book. You know, it helped that in the intervening years here I spent a great deal of time learning about religion and learning, for example, about the varieties of religion that preceded, and many survived, well into the age of monotheism.
And, you know, there’s almost no creature that hasn’t been a deity for some sort of people somewhere on Earth at some time: animals, animals/human figures – these deities generally are not good. That idea of a good deity tends to go with monotheism, or at least Zoroastrianism.
So there was apparently a lot of experiencing the world as alive in a way that we do not see it now. If you think of animism, it’s called a religion, I think that’s actually an odd name for it, but it’s considered the most, quote, primitive religion. But what it is is people seeing the world as a living presence, every part of it, and that rings true with my experience.
“In this universe, we process time, linearly. Forward. But outside of our space-time, from what would be a fourth-dimensional perspective, time wouldn’t exist. And from that vantage, could we attain it? We’d see, our space-time would look flattened. Like a single sculpture with matter in a superposition of every place it ever occupied. Our sentience just cycling through our lives like carts on a track. See, everything outside our dimension, that’s eternity. Eternity looking down at us. Now, to us, it’s a sphere. But to them, its a circle….” – Rustin Cohle in True Detective
“From the dusty mesa, her looming shadow grows
Hidden in the branches of the poison creosote.
She twines her spines up slowly towards the boiling sun,
And when I touched her skin, my fingers ran with blood.
In the hushing dusk, under a swollen silver moon,
I came walking with the wind to watch the cactus bloom.
A strange hunger haunted me; the looming shadows danced.
I fell down to the thorny brush and felt a trembling hand.
When the last light warms the rocks and the rattlesnakes unfold,
Mountain cats will come to drag away your bones.
And rise with me forever across the silent sand,
And the stars will be your eyes and the wind will be my hands.”
‘Far from any Road’ – The Handsome Family
David Lang’s ‘I Lie’ opens the Italian film, ‘The Great Beauty’ setting the stage for a series of contrasts between the sacred and the profane, the sublime and shallow, past and present, nostalgia and regret, youth and old age, yes and life and death – ultimately asking what is the great beauty of our lives. How do we distract ourselves from it and recoil from the fear of loss and hide behind the masks of cleverness and routine?
The music in this film is haunting and beautiful and I began to search out the pieces that so were so integrated in the story as to become part of the main character’s interior state of longing, even if he was not yet fully conscious of the decisions he was destined to make before the film ended.
In looking for this opening piece of music, I also discovered this other work of David Lang’s which was not in the film but is for me just as moving, resonating back to the themes of ‘The Great Beauty’. In ‘death speaks’ Lang explores our relationship with death, how it awaits us all. It is a subject that many of us shy away from, do not want to think about. Yet we are always one breath away from it. It is the thing our culture flees from, wants to hide from view and tries to cover up by emphasizing a perversion of youthfulness. We are a culture of immature adolescents in adult bodies. There are developmental stages many of us have yet to grow into and the embrace of death is the one doorway we must pass through eventually. Here is ‘you will return’ the first song in his 6 song cycle.
(you will return – from death speaks)
Below, Lang discusses how he came to create ‘deaths speaks’ and his collaboration with contemporary classical and rock musicians to complete this work.
(From his program notes for ‘death speaks‘)
“death speaks was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Stanford Lively Arts, specifically to go on a program with the little match girl passion. The opportunity came without many other parameters, so there were a lot of questions I had to answer. Would the new piece be for an existing ensemble or some group I would assemble for these performances only? Would it relate to little match girl, musically or emotionally, or would it start from its own place?”
“Something that has always interested me about the little match girl story is that the place where we are left emotionally at the end is so far away from where the match girl is. We are all weeping at the end and yet she is happily transfigured, in the welcoming arms of her grandmother in heaven. The original story switches starkly back and forth at the end, between her state and ours, perhaps in order to show us just how far away from redemption we are; it is [Hans Christian] Andersen’s way of making us feel left behind.”
“This reminded me of certain other stark comparisons between the living and the dead. I remembered the structure of Schubert’s beautiful song “Death and the Maiden” in which the text is divided in half; the first half of the song is in the voice of the young girl, begging Death to pass her by, and the second half of the song is Death’s calming answer. This seemed to be the same division as in the Andersen story — the fear of the living opposed against the restfulness of death.”
“What makes the Schubert interesting is that Death is personified. It isn’t a state of being or a place or a metaphor, but a person, a character in a drama who can tell us in our own language what to expect in the World to Come. Schubert has a lot of songs with texts like these — I wondered if I assembled all of the instances of Death speaking directly to us then maybe a fuller portrait of his character might emerge. Most of these texts are melodramatic, hyper-romantic and over-emotional; one of the knocks on Schubert is that he often saved his best music for the worst poetry. Nevertheless, I felt that taking these overwrought comments by Death at face value just might lead me someplace worth going.”
(Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder)
“I went alphabetically in the German through every single Schubert song text (thank you, internet!) and compiled every instance of when the dead send a message to the living. Some of these are obvious and some are more speculative — Death is a named character in “Der Erlkönig,” the brook at the end of Die Schöne Müllerin speaks in Death’s name when it talks the miller into killing himself, the hurdy gurdy player at the end of Winterreise has long been interpreted as a stand-in for Death. All told, I have used excerpts from 32 songs, translating them very roughly and trimming them, in the same way that I adjusted the Bach texts in the little match girl passion.”
(Die Erlkoenig by Carl Gottlieb Peschel)
“Art songs have been moving out of classical music in the last many years — indie rock seems to be the place where Schubert’s sensibilities now lie, a better match for direct storytelling and intimate emotionality.”
“I started thinking that many of the most interesting musicians in that scene made the same journey themselves, beginning as classical musicians and drifting over to indie rock when they bumped up against the limits of where classical music was most comfortable. What would it be like to put together an ensemble of successful indie composer-performers and invite them back into classical music, the world from which they sprang?”
(Shara Worden – Still from pain changes)
“I asked rock musicians Bryce Dessner, Owen Pallett, and Shara Worden to join me, and we added Nico Muhly, who, although not someone who left classical music, is certainly known and welcome in many musical environments. All of these musicians are composers who can write all the music they need themselves, so it is a tremendous honor for me to ask them to spend some of their musicality on my music.”
You can listen to the entire work below. Lang comments on the last track
“My piece depart is also a meditation on death. A group of doctors in a French hospital felt frustrated that they could do so little to comfort the relatives of the departed. They imagined it might help if the bereaved could see their loved ones one last time, in a calm and peaceful setting. With the help of the Fondation de France they commissioned Italian artist Ettore Spalletti to create a morgue, and they commissioned musical scores from the composer Scanner and from me. What I think is most noble about this project is not that the space or the music can really make the pain any easier to bear, but that the doctors felt morally compelled to try everything in their powers to ease the suffering around them. It’s a beautiful idea.”
THE WELL OF GRIEF
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning downward through the black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink
the secret water, cold and clear
nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.
– David Whyte
Watch this then listen to this conversation.
Darkening of the Light Book Trailer with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee http://youtu.be/Zomjgch7nZU
Recently, Werner Brandt from the Work that Reconnects sat down with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a Sufi Mystic, to discuss humankind’s spiritual responsibility at this time of planetary transition.
To heal the split between spirit and matter, Llewellyn says, we are to witness what is happening, feel our grief (because it is an aspect of love), turn toward Earth’s regenerative power, and honor our bond with what is sacred through small caring action.
Click here and scroll down the page to the 46 minute interview. You will find nourishment.
(photo credit – unknown)
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides…
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it…
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields…
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.
As an urban farming pioneer in Atlanta Georgia, one of Rashid Nouri‘s core beliefs is that if you have healthy soil filled with healthy compost, it will follow that you will have healthy plants without the need for artificial fertililzers and pesticides. Bill Plotkin’s book Wild Mind – A Field Guide to the Human Psyche, takes a similar approach. One of his core messages is that ‘the key to healing and growing whole is not to be found in suppressing symptoms but in cultivating wholeness.’ – the same analogy applies, a healthy psyche leads to a healthy life. But it is not just our own individual lives that are at stake here. As Carolyn Baker says in her review of his book,
“Throughout his work Plotkin incessantly juxtaposes ego-psychology and eco-psychology, insisting that the principal task before humanity is to move from a psychology that hermetically seals itself off from the ecosystems and the sacred in order to advance the ego’s agenda, into a psychology that recognizes the deeper Self within and around us. Without intimate and undomesticated connection with mountains, rivers, forests, animals, oceans, insects, and rocks, we cannot become whole beings who also become larger than their historical personal wounding.”
This has begun a life-long (however long that is) project and I have started the process, beginning to explore some of the exercises and disciplines Plotkin suggests in his book, beginning by looking North. It has already become a marvelous resource, and an emerging revelation. I can’t recommend it highly enough. From the website –
“Our human psyches possess astonishing resources that wait within us, but we might not even know they exist until we discover how to access them and cultivate their powers, their untapped potentials and depths. Wild Mind identifies these resources — which Bill Plotkin calls the four facets of the Self, or the four dimensions of our innate human wholeness — and also the four sets of fragmented or wounded subpersonalities that form during childhood. Rather than proposing ways to eliminate our subpersonalities (which is not possible) or to beat them into submission, Plotkin describes how to cultivate the four facets of the Self and discover the gifts of our subpersonalities. The key to reclaiming our original wholeness is not merely to suppress psychological symptoms, recover from addictions and trauma, or manage stress but rather to fully embody our multifaceted wild minds, commit ourselves to the largest, soul infused story we’re capable of living, and serve the greater Earth community.”
The Winter Solstice may be a solitary event
Roamer of the Subterranean Forest
or a gathering to tell new tales
‘The Telling’ from Feb 2013
May the coming light bring you comfort and courage
(As for me, tonight I’ll be standing near the edge of the trees)
I thought this was a practical way to help become centered, no matter what your meditation practice is, when storms are passing through.
When I woke up this morning, I found my that my breath “anchor” came to mind within just a minute or two, with no conscious impulse to do so. This progress feels like a carryover of last night’s sitting meditation, right before I went to bed, which itself, seemed to be quite a lot of right effort, because my monkey mind was jumping around to all the activities, thoughts, and feelings of my very busy day.
If one were to judge a meditation sitting — something, by the way, fraught with pitfalls and places to get hung up on — I might have thought I hadn’t accomplished much last night. But over the years I have learned not to judge a sitting by some “goal” or by comparison to some previous sitting, especially one where I seemed to effortlessly move to deeper states of concentration, presence, and insight…
View original post 1,197 more words
“To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.”
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee writes in ‘The Darkening of the Light’
“We are a part of the Earth and it is through her great generosity that we are nurtured and nourished, eating her food, drinking her waters, clothed in her fabric. Even as we deplete her, she continues to give and give. Her generosity is a lesson for us all. Each morning on my walk I pass a gnarled old apple tree. I watch her boughs become heavy with fruit, slowly reddening as late summer turns to fall. I marvel at how she gives with such abundance without wanting anything in return. Now, in this “season of giving,” if we can remember the constant stream of gifts we receive from her, and be appreciative in our hearts.
As I get older I feel the Earth’s endless generosity more and more, as if I treasure each season in the year and its different offerings, its changing fruits. I know more clearly how I would not be here without this giving. At the same time my heart hurts for the Earth, grieves at the way our culture treats her wonder and gifts, her magic and sacred meaning. And the question arises from my depths, in a culture of seeming abundance how have we lost so much? And for how much longer can we continue this destruction, this desecration?
So during this natural season of darkening my heart responds to an unnatural darkening. My attention turns towards a sacred world we seem to have forgotten. In this silent witnessing it sometimes feels as if the Earth itself were calling through me, imploring me to see, to remember, to feel.”
‘I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.’ *
We are living through an extraordinary moment in history. We are witnessing and participating in what some are calling the Anthropocene era, where humanity’s existence has created changes that will impact the environment of the planet for thousands if not millions of years. Roy Scranton explores what this may look like,
“Within 100 years — within three to five generations — we will face average temperatures 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today, rising seas at least three to 10 feet higher, and worldwide shifts in crop belts, growing seasons and population centers. Within a thousand years, unless we stop emitting greenhouse gases wholesale right now, humans will be living in a climate the Earth hasn’t seen since the Pliocene, three million years ago, when oceans were 75 feet higher than they are today. We face the imminent collapse of the agricultural, shipping and energy networks upon which the global economy depends, a large-scale die-off in the biosphere that’s already well on its way, and our own possible extinction. If homo sapiens (or some genetically modified variant) survives the next millenniums, it will be survival in a world unrecognizably different from the one we have inhabited.”
‘I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.’*
As we approach the winter solstice, a traditional time to go within, a chance to embrace the darkening season, to reflect on the end of a year, the end of things, death as part of the natural cycle, and light a candle to await and hope for the coming light of a new dawn, a new season, a new life, a new year – what can we do to embrace the darkness of a winter solstice for our civilization and for the world ? Scranton continues,
“In the epoch of the Anthropocene, the question of individual mortality — “What does my life mean in the face of death?” — is universalized and framed in scales that boggle the imagination. What does human existence mean against 100,000 years of climate change? What does one life mean in the face of species death or the collapse of global civilization? How do we make meaningful choices in the shadow of our inevitable end?
These questions have no logical or empirical answers. They are philosophical problems par excellence. Many thinkers, including Cicero, Montaigne, Karl Jaspers, and The Stone’s own Simon Critchley, have argued that studying philosophy is learning how to die. If that’s true, then we have entered humanity’s most philosophical age — for this is precisely the problem of the Anthropocene. The rub is that now we have to learn how to die not as individuals, but as a civilization.”
‘I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.’*
Carolyn Baker, who has been exploring what it means to face the end of an era, the collapse of everything familiar, and discovering the resources to deepen the experience of life as we navigate through dark times tells this story of being invited to participate in a solstice ritual with the Hopi,
“Many winters ago I was among several dozen Hopi-and non-Hopi individuals who sat in the dim light of a kiva on a frigid ceremonial night. The kachina dancers, always the ultimate teachers of the tribe, burst into the underground kiva chamber with the fury of the wind that howled above the ground. Shouting, drumming, and blasting their observers with a potentially terrifying cacophony, they began singing about the darkness as a necessary disciplinarian for the community. Certainly, I did not understand Hopi, but these words were later explained to me by crusty elders whose chiseled faces bore witness to their presence in more of these rituals than they could even count and to the darkness and light through which they had walked across many ceremonial calendar years. One of the intentions of shocking the community with intimidating kachina fury was and is to remind the people of their mortality and the reality that the profane perspective (that is to say in Anglo, psychological terminology, the human ego) will only harm the community and lead to individuals forgetting who they really are. As in virtually all indigenous ceremony, the sacred is central—the core of the community and of each individual.”
‘All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.’*
So what does this mean, to embrace not only our own death, knowing that one day this life, this body, this experience, this sense of being ourselves, our identity, that is so easy to take for granted, will no longer be ‘here’?
And what does it mean to embrace the death of a civilization we are embedded in, to witness the destruction and collapse of natural and unnatural systems that can no longer support and nurture life as we know it for us and for future generations? There are those who have given this a lot of thought and they would propose that each of us individually are not stuck in hopelessness – that there is still a sense of agency we can each embody. What responsibility do we have for ourselves and for each other? Joanna Macy says the world looks bleak, so what? The world looks bleak. There is still work to do. That work will look different for each of us.
We are living in a dark time. One could suggest that we are experiencing the winter solstice of our world. Carolyn Baker offers one suggestion on how to act, suggesting perhaps the generosity of the Earth that Vaughan-Lee alludes to, reminding us, as the kachina do in the Hopi ceremony, who we really are. Perhaps singing through the uncomfortable darkness with dark wings and dark feet of our own to those who cannot see…
“Live as if every act, every task performed in daily life, every kindness expressed to another being and to oneself might be the last. This is one way I stay connected with the light in dark times. Walking in reverence, living contemplatively with gratitude, generosity, compassion, and an open heart that is willing to be broken over and over again. I do not always live the way I want to live. It’s a practice, and practice never makes perfect. Practice only makes practice, and if I think it’s perfect, I’m not practicing. Nevertheless, I’d rather stumble in the dark, finding an occasional candle to light the way than become blinded by excessive light. And so in this time of unprecedented darkness, find the light whenever possible, but most importantly, be the light for someone else who may not be as familiar with the darkness as you are. That may be why you came here.”
‘My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.’*
* ( Thich Nhat Hanh’s version of The Buddha’s Five Remembrances )