Category Archives: Writings

Prayer to Brighid

Goddess of the Flame“Goddes of the Flame,” digital collage by Angela Raincatcher, 2007.

O holy Brighid of the Eternal Flame
You who inspire the hearts and minds of the poets, warriors, and healers,
You of the flaming hair and starry cloak,
We honor you and give you thanks.

You breathe the words that evoke beauty, honorable deeds, and commitment.

Your spirit incites us to do great things beyond what we think we are capable of.

You lay your hands upon us and heal our hearts, bodies, minds, and spirits.

O holy Brighid of the Burning Forge,
Temper us in the heat and pressure of life,
That we may be strong and steady.

O holy Brighid of the Sacred Well,
Quench the thirst of our bodies and souls,
That we may be compassionate and true.

O holy Brighid, today we call to you
Inspire us.
Temper us.
Strengthen us.
Heal us.
Work through our hands and speak through our mouths,
That we may make this world a better place,
That we may live in freedom and fullness.

Blessed be.

What is magic?

What is magic?
The young child asks.

Imagine,
if you will,
a scintillating light
wandering through all time and space,
linking my heart
to you heart,
to the heart of our cat,
to the heart of the pine tree,
to the heart of a virus,
to the heart of the homeless man
across the street,
to the heart of the earth,
to the heart of the sun,
to the heart of the universe,
connecting all of us into a great family
with no beginning and no end.

Do you see it?

The child scans the park
with eyes gone wild.
Yes!

That, my friend, is magic.

Things I Hate

Stephen Harrod Buhner, in Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life, says “Everything you hate is everything you stand against. It is everything that you oppose, that you write to change, that you want to be a part of changing, that you must participate in changing in order to respect yourself. . . . Your rage against these things is what will make it possible to face the blank page, day after day after day.”

THINGS I HATE

  • how I can’t seem to focus on one task for long enough to get it done
  • that at 40 I still feel like an inexperience child
  • that I lost my belief in the magic of the world a long time ago (One of the things I love about myself is that I still strive to get it back.)
  • that I cannot bring myself to answer questions that I know but do not like the answers to
  • being late
  • making a wrong turn based on faulty perceptions
  • seeing the goal and having no idea how to get there
  • driving in circles without a map
  • [something that I cannot share right now]
  • being so concerned about losing others that I sometime lose myself
  • that I am slowly losing my eyesight
  • people who don’t care
  • rich people who fault poor people for their condition without any idea what it is actually like
  • poor people who fall for it
  • rude drivers
  • Fred Phelps and his crew
  • that I can’t eat all the cheese I want without gaining weight
  • that I just don’t quite know how to easily be myself around friends
  • feeling insecure
  • being indecisive
  • being interrupted
  • people who try to prove they know everything
  • the smell of old urine
  • feeling out of control
  • corn nuts
  • okra
  • not being listened to/being dismissed
  • not listening to or trusting myself
  • that I have to think about the food I eat so as not to regain all the weight I’ve lost
  • cleaning the house
  • sweating
  • people who are proud of their ignorance and intolerance
  • tiny yappy dogs
  • the fear I have of hidden animals with teeth

Breaking the Bonds

As part of the 2011 Brigid Poetry Festival, I am posting a poem I wrote a couple of years ago as my grandmother was dying.

Geburah: Breaking the Bonds

A growing tumor in her brain
breaks down the walls
between life and death
between form and force
between here and gone
As she falls down the well
into the unknown

Sentences stumbled over
and left unfinished
leaving her without speech
leaving her without context
leaving her without a name
As she walks through the gates
into the unknown

Her body must be broken
before she can leave us behind
to rip our clothes in grief
to scream in rage and terror
to hold each other in love
As she climbs the tree
into the unknown

…into the arms of her lost beloved

Invocation to Kali

Kali is destroying old boundaries

Invocation to Kali

Penetrate me, Kali
Move through my every pore
Consume me in thy fire
Until I am no more.

Melt down my skins of iron
That shield me from my wounds
Break my bones of falsehoods
That would support me to my ruin.

Break my chains of reason
That tie me to my pain
Kick out the excuses from under me
That I lean on for a cane.

Leave me empty, Kali
A vessel to be filled
Leave me broken and battered
A body to be healed

Then come again, Kali
Move through my every pore
Mold me in thy likeness
Fuse strength into my core

Teach me ways of healing
My people’s broken souls
Teach me ways of freedom
Courage to walk through man’s hot coals.

Destroying for creating
Transforming old to new
Kali Ma, Dark Mother
I live my life for you.

Written July 1989, when I was 18. What was I thinking?

Deeper at Artomatic: Tammy Vitale

Tammy installing her wall at Artomatic

Tammy Vitale’s inspiration comes from many places — her own restlessness and boredom, the nature of the materials at hand and a drive to learn how to work with them, her dreams, and other artists’ work.  After I saw her work at last year’s Artomatic, I’ve been wanting to connect with her. Being an introvert, I have followed her blog and emailed her once or twice, but not actually met her face-to-face. When looking at her work, I get a sense of a “wild woman” or at least, one who has left behind the shackles of propriety for the freedom of wind swept plains.  I admit that is my own romantic vision when faced with her sculpture.

What is the relationship between your artwork and your spirituality?
My work, and my spirituality, such as it is, reflect each other and inform each other.  I am a Feminist…and of the age to remember what it was like before we took much for granted.  I remember divorcing my non-working husband in the mid-70s only to have him take all the credit with him as I was “just a wife.”  A long search through religions ended with arrival at the philosophy of the Tao de Ching and a blending of ideas to come up with what makes sense to me based in my own experiences.  In the 90s the book Women Who Run With Wolves sent me on an adventure to discover how story informs individuals, communities, states and nations and running all through that the aspects of the feminine divine, both manifested in the Goddess in all her aspects and in a study of the ADrawDownTheMoonnima.  My art is always and firstly a reclaiming of myself and an understanding that everything is connected, that the actions I take have consequences for me as well as for others, and that by changing myself I change the world.

How do you translate your spiritual experience to your creativity?
I believe that the work is called by someone somewhere looking for that particular piece.  My job is to provide a conduit for the energy and then set out to find the person who called it in the first place.  The person recognizes the energy of the piece, buys it and takes it to its true home, and for as long as needed remains in dialogue with it as they live with it.  That’s my hope and belief.

In your artist statement, you talk about the artist as conduit for (divine) energy seeking to become concrete. What is that process like for you?
Take medium in hand and then get out the way (remove the intellect, go with the energy/feeling).  It can get stressful when something wants to be born and I can’t clear away psychic or temporal space for it to happen.  Or when I need to create and nothing comes through.  I’ve learned to live with it.

WaterElement

Maybe this is one of the reasons that

Tammy’s work speaks to me. We both see our work as already belonging to someone.  There is a dynamic energetic pull between the person the artwork is for and the work itself, and the artist is the conduit for manifesting that vision, that object into this world. Not for themselves, but for the one who belongs to the work.

What do you learn from making art?
Because glass and clay have similar propensity for doing things right and having things turn out wrong, or doing things wrong and having things turn out spectacularly (is that a word?), I learn regularly that this is life.  I don’t deserve the beauty or the failure, they just come…and they just go.  I learn to let go and trust the process and the path.  Most days I’m very grateful for this.  Some days not so much, but I get over it (eventually.  Sometimes I have to pout for a day or year or so).

You can see Tammy at Artomatic on the 2nd floor, Section 2.
Her blog is Women, Art, Life: Weaving It All Together, and her website is Sacred by Tammy Vitale.

Deeper at Artomatic: Alyson M. Olander

Artomatic opens tomorrow and I’m imagining a series of post about artists whose work is informed and inspired by their spiritual journeys and interactions with the sacred all around them. Artists who dive deep into their souls and bring up images and visions to share of their journey. Artists who intentionally bring a spiritual dimension to their work.

My good friend Alyson M. Olander, the Hasty Quilter, is showing two series that focus on the patterns and cycles found in nature, and has agreed to be my guinea pig on this experience.

Alyson in front of her wall at Artomatic 2009

What inspires you to create?
Just about everything provides me with the inspiration to create. Whether I actually do it is another question. I am most inspired by patterns, repeating lines, concentric circles, angles and corners. It is amazing to me that spirals are naturally occurring phenomena. Color gradients tickle my fancy. Close-up or macro photos jump out at me. I like to imagine the air floating around us as quilting lines.

In her Full Moon series, Alyson researches the cultural associations with each lunation cycle, meditates on how the ancient meanings of those moons fit into her life, and finally translates the images and symbols she see in the meditation into a compelling quilt. In Wind Moon (right), thread and beads recall the strong spring breezes of March and the havoc they create on the impermanent, delicate cherry blossoms.

Wind Moon by Alyson Olander

What is the relationship of your artwork to your spirituality?
Each piece is a meditation; a journey; a lesson. My spiritual nature is based around learning and changing and accepting. When I need to learn something internal, or I need to get something out, the best way for me to do it is creatively. Some lessons are easier to learn, some paths are harder to follow. This is a metaphor for my art. Some days it works, other days it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, maybe it’s because I’m not ready for that lesson. Then I put it away for another time. I can always tell when I try to force the lesson, to me the quilt is never the best it could have been. Translating my spiritual experiences into my creativity is a new concept for me. Although my art has been spiritual since I discovered my artistic voice, I don’t think I ever really put two and two together until recently. My full moon series is an attempt to understand how spirituality and creativity correlate.

In her larger Water and Stones, concentric circles ripple outward from each stone and overlap each other creating intricate patterns and multiple focal points — really, I just love looking at these pieces and getting lost in them.

 

 

To my eye, your pieces tend more to the abstract, to the underlying patterns found in nature. Are you always looking at the world around you in this way?
I enjoy a good landscape as much as the next person and regularly photograph them, with the intention of translating them to fabric. But when I get right down to it, I’d rather concentrate on the blade of grass. I’m attracted to texture, and texture is hard to express when the mountain is miles away. I like to think that if you “zoomed out” of one of my abstract quilts you would discover that it was actually the scale of a fish or the petal of a flower, like one of those games where you only get part of the picture and you have to figure out what it is. If nothing else, the larger, literal view inspires me to look closer & find the abstract.
 

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You can find Alyson’s work on the 4th floor at Artomatic through July 5. You can also find her at http://www.hastyquilter.net/ and her Etsy shop http://wonderlandquilts.etsy.com/.

Ambivalence of Lammas

For many people, Lammas is a time of celebration of the first harvests. For me, this time of year is a struggle, especially with the blast furnace heat and/or oppressive humidity of the last three places I’ve lived (Oklahoma, Houston, and DC). In August, I feel like someone forgot to close Balor’s evil eye after Lugh killed him. I’ve also just read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, which could also account for my ambivalence toward the season.

Orange 10 of Swords Lugh dies
and the sun strikes
with rays of heat
that oppress in revenge,
with spears of light
that burn our eyes and skin.

First fruits
Red blood

August comes
and the earth gasps
in the death throes of summer,
a fever pitched battle
against the coming dark.

Barlycorn
Eat and run.

Written in August 2006

Signs from the Gods

An email I received from this blog has sparked my thinking. A young person asks about the significance of signs found in the natural world.

I was looking out from a bedroom window and saw some ravens. For some reason, I counted them, and there were nine. Again for some reason, I felt that this was
significant. I have just googled nine Ravens and found myself here. Is it
significant?

From my perspective, the significance of anything in our lives lies in what it inspires or motivates us to do, be, or think. If seeing nine ravens inspired someone to google and that person found inspiration in reading my web site, then it was significant for that person in that moment, and sparked me to think about this topic more and now write about it. So, now it has some impact on my life as well.

Many of us are constantly asking for a “sign.” How many times have I stood at the metaphysical crossroads and begged for a sign from the gods! Just give me a sign that which way to go. Give me a sign that the world is a beautiful and good place. Give me a sign that there is hope in the darkness.

These signs or messages are all around us, if you are in the right frame of mind and spirit, if we are open, if we really need a sign. Synchronicities do happen. For example, lately orange cats have been on my mind, or I should say I’ve been obsessed with them. The other night I was driving down a dark road and thought that I should turn my high beams on. Seconds later, an orange cat streaked across the road. I was able to see it in time to brake and avoid hitting it because I had my high beam lights on. Does this mean anything beyond I was able to save a kitty’s life? I don’t know, but I do know that I would have felt devastated to hit an orange kitty (or for that matter, any cat).

As the saying goes, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But at other times, it can be a symbol for a penis, a token of respect, an offering to the orishas, a reminder of some long forgotten experience, or all of the above. Paying attention to the world around us allows messages from the Deeper Self (the divine part of our self) and Younger Self (the unconscious) to get through to our Talking Self (our conscious, waking self). Deeper self and Younger self take advantage of the synchronicities in the world around us and the mental and emotional connections that we already have built up to make themselves heard by Talking Self. A chance encounter with a stranger. Seeing different books about the same topic repeatedly in very different contexts. Noticing something odd in nature and googling it because it piqued your interest.

Sounds like a sign to me. But I have no idea what it means…