Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Inanna Mask


INANNA:  The Great Goddess of Sumeria


I am the morning and evening star 
I go down into darkness and arise dancing
I mount the sky to my high throne
The starry heavens are the robe upon my shoulders

I am the loud-thundering storm
The rain upon the land,
The shimmering midday heat
The welcome floods that feed the thirsty land

At the end of day, all creatures lift their eyes to me,
Make love in my name. 
And when sweet sleep has ended
I fill the bedchamber with day.

Once,  I went below
To my sister, Ereshkigal
To the the Queen of Death.

She took my  lapis measuring rod
She took my life into herself
She hung me to rot upon the wall.

But Ereshkigal could not bear the pain of living.
She traded my corpse away
For the promise of healing.

But I arose reborn:

And I returned to the above world.
I took back my rod
And  my crown and my lapis sceptre.
Every year my lover  Dumuzi
Leaves me grieving
to return to the halls of my sister.
The land mourns for Dumuzi.
But he is too is reborn, 
the shepherd of the fields and the  soil
To plough his seed into the Queen of Earth and Sky.

I bring you many gifts:

I bring the arts  of allure and delight,
And flax and cream and barley for your table,
I give you paper and pen, the book, the art of speech.

Oh, my people!

Parade before me in your finest robes,
Sing to me with your drums,
Make offerings to me,
Of incense, sweet-smelling cedar,
Fine, fat sheep, long-haired sheep,
Butter, cheese, and dates.

Return with Me from your shadow lands.
Use my gifts with honor.

Enter My House,
Eat from my table,
Sleep in my bed.
Take unimagined pleasures.

By Mary Kay Landon



painting by John Singer Sargeant

Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Kali Mask


KALI

Once upon a time the world became populated by demons.
They filled the world with their copious greed,
and reproduced themselves endlessly. 

They consumed the light of day, they soiled the air

they ate the trees, they swallowed the waters
they devoured the lands 
with their insatiable greed

Eating, eating.  Fill me!  Fill me!


Until there were no more things of beauty made, 

or new dreams dreamed, 
or children born.

    The unborn ones called to me,

    The ones yet to come:

   The time had come
    to say Enough
    and No More

I am the Goddess of No More!


I, I am the one who devours

I, I  am the eater, fool.

I  am the shadow 

of all those who cannot remember
 how to say enough
and No More

Maybe I just feel like dancing.

Maybe I just feel like dancing......

I, I am the Mother

Of all those
who are yet to come

    Jai Ma

    Kali Ma  


 by Lauren Raine


 When the Hindu Gods could not defeat a plague of demons, they called at last upon Kali.

 Severed heads adorn Her necklace, Her skin is black as night, and Her tongue protrudes from Her black face with the bloodlust of battle, and the immense laughter of Kali, destroyer of illusion, who sees beyond all appearances. Kali's dance is the destruction that must occur for each new beginning. Kali's love is tough love; yet the dancing feet and the flaming sword of Kali are among the most powerful expressions of Divine Love.

I wanted to create a performance for Kali. As I drove to the event, I brought a costume, and snake with me, thinking the snake represented the serpentine energy of the kundalini. But I didn't know what to do.

I went on stage, and read a paper, I just let the mundane despair come out. "I can't stand it!" I said, and then I turned my back to the audience, just breathing, and whispered, "When I meditate, sometimes I become a Goddess......." Then I put on the mask. And a hot, hot energy seemed to rip through me. I turned around, and words fell out of my mouth.

As I picked up the snake, I remember saying, "This is the Kundalini, this is the serpent." I spoke about how we channel that enormous energy into sexuality, but we don't understand that it can rise further into our hearts, our vision centers, infusing our entire being. All of this was spontaneous! I genuinely can't say it was I, Drissana, who did it. When I went into the dressing room later, I was shaking. It was as if Kali had left, and I was just this small, exhausted person, who for a moment had been inhabited by that ferocious intelligence.

Kali is the surgeon. She cuts away what has to go. I ask for that quality when I have to cut something out of my life; an addiction, or a relationship that no longer is about growth. And I ask it be done precisely, this cutting away of dis-ease, malignancy, the aspects that no longer serve. Kali was the last resort savior. When the Gods couldn't kill the demonic forces that ravaged the Earth, they called on a woman's wrath.

We all have the ability to call the Goddesses into ourselves. I can do this in my dance, but in everyday life it's more difficult. That's why I thrive on performance, because I can freely let those forces work through me. What I forget is that we can call on them at other times. We've forgotten that the Goddess dwells within us, all the time, and not just when we wear a mask, or are in workshop, or a ritual. We are, in Tantric terms, extensions or emanations of the Gods and Goddesses - we are their material aspects. We're not bodies that are seeking the spirit, we're spirits that are seeking bodily experiences.

Remembering is a devotional practice. In the Hindu tradition, everyone has a deity they focus on as their personal deity. In the West, as we begin to reclaim the Goddess for spiritual practice, we each need to create a relationship with the Goddess form we have chosen, in order to manifest what we need for spiritual and emotional growth, to invoke the help we need. That practice is not just cerebral. We function out of our whole self, our bodies and spirits. The body-mind. That is where we re-member, we communicate with the Goddess within ourselves.

Women need to become angry. Now.   About the women of Afghanistan, the meaningless wars, the destruction of our environment. The demons of insatiable lust are devouring our planet. Those souls who await the future are being denied their birthright. 

Kali is the catalyst for saying "No more". She's the voice of women whose voices aren't being heard, women who need to open their mouths and speak for the first time. It's time to embrace the sword of Kali and start cutting away the delusions that are destroying our world. This is the ferocious mother who says "get away from my children, or I'll kill you." Mothers today aren't saying that. They're giving their children away. Giving them away to war, giving them away by allowing our environment to be depleted, giving permission to the powers that be to destroy their future. 

This time of change is the dance of Kali.

by Drissana Devananda (1999)

Friday, August 28, 2015

New White Buffalo Calf Woman Mask


WHITE BUFFALO CALF WOMAN

As a beautiful young maiden I appeared bearing a sacred pipe,
And inside the village’s big medicine tipi,
together we conducted ceremony.

I showed the people
How to lift the pipe up to the sky,
toward Grandfather,
And down to the earth,
toward Grandmother.
And to the four directions of the universe.

I told them the smoke rising from the bowl
Was the living breath
of the great Grandfather Mystery. 

“With this pipe,” I said,“Walk a living prayer.
With your feet resting upon the earth
And the pipestem reaching into the sky,
Your body forms a living bridge between
The Sacred Beneath and the Sacred Above.
Now we are one:

Earth, sky, man, woman,
And all living things.
We are all relations,
The pipe holds them all together.” 

Next I instructed
In the seven sacred ceremonies of the pipe: 

The first was the sweat lodge purification ceremony.
The next was for naming the children.
The third was for healing,
The fourth was  the adoption ceremony.
The fifth  the marriage ceremony.
The sixth was the vision quest.
And the seventh  was the sundance ceremony.

As I walked away, I became a Buffalo, and I rolled over four times:

First I turned into a black buffalo;
Second  into a brown buffalo;
The third into a red buffalo;
And the fourth time I became a white buffalo calf.

 As soon as I departed that day
Great buffalo herds appeared from beyond the horizon
And some of their number allowed themselves to be killed
So the people might live.

I have not forgotten you.
That white buffalo calf born not so long ago,
Is but one glimmer from the beyond
Of My imminent return.

To grant your people
who are My people
another bridge
To knit the world above
And the earth below
Together again.


by Mary Kay Landon



"White Buffalo Calf Woman and the Sacred Pipe" By Marcene Quenzer

Long, long ago two young men were part of a hunting encampment in the rolling hills of the great prairies. As they scanned the horizon, among the long, waving grasses, they saw in the distance a light approaching. As the light drew nearer, they it became the figure of a luminous woman, walking through the prairie grass with long, flowing hair, carrying a bundle on her back.



These men were of two very different natures. The first man who saw her approaching looked upon her only with lust. He saw that she was a beautiful woman, alone and undefended in the wilderness, and he went toward her with intent to take advantage of her. As he approached, the mysterious woman opened her arms and her cloak, and drew him to her. As the other young man watched, he saw a brilliant light surround them. And after a short while, the woman opened her arms. From her shawls fell the bones of his companion. They fell from her arms, and crumbled to dust, quickly scattered to the four directions by the prairie winds.

The second young man was what was called a True Warrior. His desire was only to serve the greater needs of All Our Relations, to align himself in his intentions with the sacred Hoop. He spoke to this radiant woman with awe, and begged her to come to his people, to teach them. "Yes", she said to this good man, "I will come if you will go before me and prepare a lodge."
A great lodge was made. When all were gathered, the woman walked into the village, entered the lodge, and opened her bundle, revealing a catlinite pipe with a long feathered wooden stem. And then she taught them the sacred pipe ceremony.

"The bowl of this pipe" she told them, "is of red stone, and it represents the Earth, our Mother and Grandmother. And carved into the bowl is a buffalo calf, who represents all the four-leggeds who live upon our Mother, and who sustain us. The stem of this pipe is wood, which represents all the growing beings upon the Earth. And the feathers which adorn the stem are the feathers of the great Eagle, and they represent the winged ones. All these peoples are united in the pipe ceremony. When you pray with this pipe, all send their prayers with you to Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit."

When she had given her teachings, the holy woman left the village, and walked out into the prairies alone. As they watched, in the far distance she stopped at a buffalo wallow. There, she rolled on the earth, and as the dust cleared, there stood a white buffalo calf, a white buffalo calf that disappeared as it ran into the distance. And the people named her "White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman".


 from  BUFFALO WOMAN COMES SINGING

by Brooke Medicine Eagle, 1991

Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Oshun Mask



OSHUN

 by Mary Kay Landon 


From the river Oshun deep in Nigeria
Whence came My name
I come to you today —
Clothed in burnished copper grace,
all done up with My cowrie shells and brass bracelets,
Sporting My fan, winking in My mirror.

You love Me, because you must —
Enraptured by My essence,
Snuggled in My tender-hearted embrace,
Permeated by My soft lust,
You can only want what I ask.

call on Me by name,
Oshun

Thoughts, Whispers, Words, Shouts
I hear, hold and answer to them all.

Oshun — Oshun — Oshun!

Call on Me by name
whenever women are  degraded,
whenever sweetness is despised
whenever kindness is shouted down,
whenever beauty lies broken.

Oshun — Oshun — Oshun!

Call on Me by name
when a child’s simple cry for a hair ribbon goes unanswered,
when a woman must give her body to sex without pleasure,
whenever the forces of greed once again
rape nature in the name of progress.

Oshun — Oshun — Oshun!

Call on Me by name
when the dry dust of habit and utility,
Threaten to blot out beauty and sensuality,
love and compassion, from the field of daily life.

Call on Me by name

And I will return
Sashaying in My orange skirts,
all done up with My cowrie shells and brass bracelets,
Sporting My fan, winking in My mirror.

To inspire and comfort you,
With My presence and touch —
Soft yes, but carrying a force
that can move mountains.

Ashay.  

Birth of Oshún by Karmella Haynes

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pele Mask

PELE


I am Pele Honua Mea
Ka wahine ‘ai honua,
the woman who devours the land.

Feel the heat where steam dances
above the earthcracks  at Wahine Kapu,
between the rope folds of pahoehoe lava.
See the play of sunlight
on My ebony skin
a shimmering rainbow of color.

I am She Who shapes the sacred land.

I erupted in the ocean long ago!
In ecstasy I spewed my lava into the sea
in clouds of red, and black and white
I built the islands called Hawaii.

Honor me and my sacred mountain, Kilauea!
Take not one small rock from my body!
Honor  me or feel my wrath!

E nihi ka hele, walk softly!

You call me capricious, violent.
But my fires are the deep fires of Creation
Shaping  new lands:
Deep in the sea
I stir the great waters
I stir the air

Rising from the core of the Earth -
I, Pele Honua Mea
stir the cauldron of life!

Use My energy in correct action
Use My passion for righteous change
begin again in new and fertile ground!

Ignite!  Be transformed
at this time of the great change!
Arise and dance with me!
                    .......Mary Kay Landon



Making masks for the Parliament of World Religions performance, here at last is Pele, the Great Goddess who is the Spirit of Kilauea, the volcano of Hawaii. 

Pele has many native stories, and many contemporary stories of Her peculiar, as well as fiery,  manifestations as well.......

My feeling in making this mask was that She is one of the great Elemental builders of the planet, those great intelligent forces that bring forth the molten source of new lands and new life from the heart of the Earth.

I look forward to seeing the mask performed!


Friday, August 21, 2015

American Nomads: In Praise of the Renaissance Faire Community




One more thing I found from my archives........

"I always felt like the show was a dirigible that somehow, when we opened, was up and God knows how the hell it got there.  Admit it, we all wish the village could somehow last forever.  When I leave the Bristol Renaissance Faire, I always remember a town full of people, and I'm glad that, even when it's buried beneath the snow, it exists, it will come back.  It's like Brigadoon.

It's all transitory really - it's only right now that we have anything, anything at all.  And that's what the Faires are.  They're a celebration that bubbles up literally out of the dust, sometimes in spite of the producers, the corporations, the personalities…….the magic is always there."

Bruce Bramson

I've been  in Renaissance Faires for 30 years.  I've stood in many a booth, eaten many a roasted turkey leg, danced beneath a full moon, shared gossip around campfires, and packed and unpacked many a camper.  I've been a mask maker, an amulet maker, a tarot reader, and a dancer, rolling across the country with winter always to my back.

I never meant to join the circus, so to speak. After graduate school I intended to become a professor of art.   But I guess, like most of us, I just fell in love with the Faire.  And, like all love affairs that begin with a lighthearted kiss, one never thinks, at the time, that the charm of this chance meeting might just change the course of your life.  That it might become a marriage, a career, a family, a way of life…...well, perhaps we are blessed that most of us lack the gift of prophecy.  Not that I have any regrets!  

The truth is, I write this as a love token, homage to a very special community.  And this year, 1999, is the first year in many I'll come off the road, to have what my friend Cora the Wheat Weaver calls an "out of bodice experience".  Peggy and others will manage the Rainwalker booths this year.  Well, I'll try, dear ones.  But I doubt this is my last Huzzah.

The festivals began in California in 1962, with the genius of Phyllis Patterson, a history teacher.  They began as a fund raiser for KPFK, public radio in Los Angeles, and offered participants an opportunity to join in the fun of reenactment.    Renaissance Festivals across the country are now a multi-million dollar businesses, a far cry from the counter-cultural encampments they once were.  And there are  three generations of "Rennies", many of whom have grown up on the road.  Some of us have noticed that we are growing old with the shows….strange in a world that, like the Fairy Isles, seems to be timeless.

My first encounter was in the early '70's, when I wandered into a circle of interesting people doing some interesting dancing at MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles, one sunny afternoon.  They invited me to step into the magic circle, and before I knew it, I was dancing with them at the northern California Renaissance Festival, my velvet gown swirling behind me as I bowed to my partner, to the beat of drum and dulcimer music.  I do not think I will ever forget, late one night, as the flaps to our troupe's admittedly noisy tent parted.  Within the aperture, framed by the yellow light of a lantern, coated, cloaked, and formidable, stood the Sheriff of Nottingham.  "Thou dost disturb the peace!" he said.  Busted!

Many "Rennies" are nomads, which is a phenomenon in itself worth writing about.  Why do people become nomads?  What draws them into a lifestyle of constant movement?  I'm curious.  I've been asking myself that question for a long time.  Perhaps it appeals to a certain kind of restless soul who thrives "enroute" without, at least on the surface, the physical and emotional commitments that being "landed" engenders.  Maybe it's more primal than that: the Renfair community is rather tribal, and there are not many opportunities left to live a tribal lifestyle these days.  Like all tribes, it has its touchstones, rites of passage, weddings, births, deaths, rules, and ethics.  It's simply always on the move, coalescing and dissolving with each show.

There's a familiar rhythm.  It begins with an excitement that mounts as the show goes up.  For a month or more before the show opens, energy builds as, literally, it comes to life.  Booths go up, new paint and banners appear, trailers and tents sprout like mushrooms.  People drift in - craftspeople setting up their workshops, trying to get stocked for the show, performers rehearsing, carpenters with stages to build and roofs to shingle, kids with beat up vans, piercing and dreadlocks, looking for jobs.  The on-site schoolhouse opens,  potlucks are organized, birthday cakes are baked, drum circles might happen.  And then all too soon there is the amazingly fast breakdown.  A stream of vans, buses and trucks hauling trailers flow out of the gate, for points west or east….perhaps you pass them on route 40, and honk, wave.  "See you in New York!  See you in Maryland!"

It never fails to strike me that this is, well, Zen.  There is a living metaphor here, as I watch each show melt like a snowflake.  Here is a lifestyle that will not let me forget the fragile transience of our lives….we're all nomads, really.  We come together for a while, we make a family, a village, we dance together, we celebrate, we fight sometimes, we create, and then we pack up and we're gone, all in different directions, until next year, next cycle, next lifetime.

Until we meet again.  Same place, same season perhaps.  In the summer when bagpipes call from across the green or in the fall when the trees are crisp and brilliant, and multi-colored banners are flying from some fanciful turret.  

To all  who have celebrated with me for so many years, friends, colleagues and customers, I offer my deepest gratitude and praise.

Lauren Raine
(Berkeley, 1999)

"And we'll all go together,  to pull wild mountain thyme,
All among the purple heather, will ye go, laddie, go?"

With thanks to so many bodiced ladies, and the men in tights who wore them so very well:

Dellie Dorfman, Berkanna, Vicki, Taylor Marie, Barbara and Rick, Michael Stewart, Chris the dressmaker, Heidi the wanderer, Laurette, Pam DeLuna, Madame Ovary, Ceil, Peggy, Cora, Rosanna, Tracy the mask maker, Judy, Sandy and John Lockwood, Kathy and Thor, Judith, Mari, Jayvanti, the Mud Men, Robb Fletcher, Duncan Eagleson, Pat Murphy, Kerry McNeil, Dan, Jeff , Mitch, Cliff the Greenman, Bob, Seamus, Bruce Bramson, Kip, Michael Valentine, Herb and Rita, Bob Lepre, and so many more.




May we remain evergreen.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Old Poems.........



Reading old poetry, like old love letters, seems to me to be a form of time travel.......I think it is good to remember those passing Magnitudes............

 MAGNITUDES

Does everyone,
at least once, feel magnitudes
while stopped at a red light?

Even you, Joe, with your
extinguished cigar
beneath the seat of your bus.

What possibility
did you see in the shape of your hand,
the space between thumb and index finger
extending into spaciousness
this pulse
rolling down 47th Street

from a wave
that just broke
on the shoreline of Cape Cod
and now ripples off to Africa.

At such moments,
I want to tell someone
that if I lift this foot
a spiral galaxy
will spill like cream
across the fine pavement of eternity. 







GOD AS ART CRITIC

This life,
call it mine tentatively,
at its end will be
my dubious masterpiece
on display in some dusty, star-strewn  gallery.

Maybe one in a series.  I'll call them
"Studies in Blue and Red"
blue for capillaries and the sky
too vast to know:
red for the tangible heart.

I leave it to the Critic
to analyze technique,
style, and historical relevance.

If I don't receive a glowing review,
I pray, at least,
they will find my work original.



 



ELF

Your mark glowed on your forehead
a signature left by some unknown god.

You were one of the half-born
suspended along some unseen line,
stretched taut -
you shone with the pale light
of another landscape,
a castaway forever leaving home.

There were times
I wanted to seize you.
To hold you tight, keep you here.

Instead, I gave you
my tokens and amulets
the stories I wrote you into
and watched them quietly dissolve
in whatever stream
bore you off

    your small boat
    sailing into the brave distance
    yellow sails
    spread glad and wide
    on the horizon.