Thursday, October 27, 2011

Into the Mystery

"Treetops", watercolor on paper, 2011

A dark and wet morning. I come down to light the fire well before dawn, watching 
as a misty November light slowly fills the forest. If I could fly up above the treetops 
I would see the image above. We are in the dark and dying time, the ancient crone 
looking straight at us, if we dare to meet her gaze. 

"Ridges #4", watercolor, 2011

Many thought-threads have been spinning in my consciousness, inspired by Terri's 
posts on creative burn-out over at The Drawing Board and the resulting conversation 
in the comment forum. Worth taking the time to read the posts and comments, and 
to visit A Mermaid in the Attic for a related post. 

As is often true for me, my process is mirrored by the natural world, or possibly
that by paying close attention to natural cycles, I entrain with it. Looking around
me now, I see the brilliance of summer's fire being released in the turning leaves, 
as if slowly bleeding out into the atmosphere.  

In the garden, the architecture of decay is just as inspiring to me as the surprise 
of spring flowers, revealing intricate forms and structures. 

I almost never paint images of bright sunny days, a sky without clouds and mists 
seems a less compelling story to tell. As people around me speak their dread of 
the coming cold and the growing dark, I sink into my roots, release summer's fire 
through my fingertips, and begin the composting of the year. Dreaming into the 
dark, I tap the ancient well of blood-wisdom. In the spring, dreams will rise up 
through my veins like the sweet sap of a sugar maple. 

Learning to dance with the dark is not for the faint of heart, nor is it something 
we can avoid. In a culture determined to find a cure for aging and death, its no 
wonder we judge pain, illness and our dark internal journeys as wrong. There is 
another way - to know everything as a teacher. It is the path of least resistance, 
though embracing it is to know we must sit with the discomfort for as long as it 
takes. Deep within the singing stones and flowing through our veins is an archive 
of all the tools we could ever need to navigate life, placed there by each and every 
one of our ancestors. I imagine countless life stories coursing through my veins, 
there for me if I sit still and listen. If I lose my way with listening, there is a folk 
story to show me the way - a myth embedded with animal allies, elder wisdom 
and every imaginable challenge. 

Driving home one day, I came across a turkey vulture eating roadkill. This great 
composter will soon head south to warmer climates where her task of eating 
death and disease will still be needed. Here, the freeze will keep us safe. Did 
you know that the stomach acid of a vulture is strong enough to digest anthrax? 

As she takes flight and disappears into the forest, I think of how little of her
story, or the importance of her daily meals to our health is known these days. 
How might we move through life differently if we learned to sit with our 
pain for as long as it takes? Might we find we can digest and transform it into 

I leave you with two films I made recently to finally share some of my music 
with you. I chose to upload "medium sized" movies as I wasn't sure how long 
the best quality ones would take. So I'm not sure how it will go. The first track is 
from my CD, Breath & Bone, the song is Into the Mystery. I used some of my 
spirals for imagery, because the song and the spirals tell the same story. On 
this track, I am playing with harmonic singing, only a little echo has been added 
to the voice. My friend and producer, David Chandler, plays synthesizer. This 
is an improvised piece which came out the way it is, not much was changed. 
I have no idea how this will be, my first time using iMovie. This song, with just 
voice and synthesizer is very different from what I thought I would be recording, 
but it is now one of my favorites. 

This second film has drawings and a recording from the Widow Jane Mine in 
Rosendale, NY. Just my voice and drum, the amazing acoustics of an enormous 
underground stone cavern, and dripping water. The track is called Rattling the Bones 
from the CD Songjourneys, by BoneSong. Sadly we are no longer together.
Happy Samhain.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Grounding of a Dream

Warmth and sunshine blessed these past days, drying leaves and plants and finally the mold and mildew of the watery August. All of a sudden it seems, leaves are turning 
and cool autumn nights whisper of the frozen days to come. Just at the moment of balanced light, I step onto the path that will lead to the grounding of my dream 
and the manifestation of a vision long held. First, before I tell you of this, there are 
gifts from the land to share, small jewels of shape and color and pattern.  

The teasel has grown two exquisite meandering spirals, 
she must have heard how much I love spirals - and teasel - 
her form alone is enough to captivate me for hours. 


At the edge of the road is a maple tree well-loved by red squirrels,
their small entrance hole is beautifully ringed in 
rusty hues.   

Turning around, I see another entrance on a tree that 
looks as though she might someday get up and walk away. 

The beautiful windflowers offered up their petals in pink piles 
on the ground revealing their radial, reaching form. 

Late color in the garden is so utterly surprising,
I sat with this coltsfoot for a long time learning 
about purples and greens and the river-like 
meanderings of bugs. 

Afternoon light in a canopy of autumn trees is spectacular. 

One small glowing oak leaf, low to the ground, 
rivals cathedral windows, I muse. I walk from one glittering 
light show to another, all only a foot or so from the ground, 
each worthy of a small gasp. 

A few late bloomers add a touch of magenta. 

Northern sea oats dance green-gold and salmon in the 
slanting afternoon rays. 

I wander to the newly cleared bit of forest, 
full of gratitude and a bit of disbelief that 
my dream for this place will soon be manifest. 

 So long have I waited to bring my work fully home: 
to earth and ground, to teasel spirals and raven calls, 
to owl feathers and the embrace of mosses and 
hemlocks and towering oaks. 

Two years of grant writing and paperwork, 
business plans and meetings, hirings and firings of contractors, 
phone calls and deadlines, holding tight to 
strong vision and deep dreaming -

RavenWood Forest
Studio of Mythic & Environmental Arts

Where I will teach many things, 
where dreams will be nurtured, 
and nature will inspire, 
seasonal turnings will be celebrated, 
and mostly, 
the question will not be how can we save the Earth, 

how can the Earth save us? 

 There is a blue sky behind the gray mists, 
and some nights I'm so excited I don't sleep, 
for soon, my dreaming will find roots in the Earth, 
and a small, beautifully built cottage will tuck into a clearing
 in the forest. 

Profound gratitude is a foundation like no other.  

"Blue Sky Behind Gray Mists", watercolor, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Whirling Water and Tinkling Drops

Its been weeks since Pasha and I have been for a wander in the forest, but today, 
in an afternoon break from relentless rains, we steal away amongst the sparkling 
mosses and dripping branches. We pass the garden, a flattened mass of tall flowers, 
duck under the sweep of hemlock boughs, and enter a glowing world of greens and browns. Pasha leads the way on the well-worn path, his excitement is apparent in 
the bouncing of his gait. I can feel the forest's ancient embrace wrap around me, a 
voice gently whispers that I've been missed. Off to the west, the river's gushing roar 
joins with trickles of the small streams, not a human-made sound can be heard. 

We pause at a small pool just as a gentle breeze shakes drops from 
the branches. Glass wind chime-tinkling sounds and 
  whirling patterns on the water's surface - gifts from 
the forest's unseen pattern-maker. 

I walk now, with an eye to spinning, whirling patterns.

Pasha springs upon the whispering stone, as is his way, 
pausing to scan for creatures. 

At my feet a mound of moss wears horns of white fungi. 
A different assortment of mushrooms has bloomed 
in the forest, I'm amazed by the variety. 

The patterner paints more magic on the surface of a swelling pond. 

Always, as we walk, we find each other's wildness. 

Back in the garden, 
a very wet morning glory gently folds in 
on its starry center. 

By tomorrow, the blue will shift to red 
and the delicate translucency will melt away.