Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Moon: (de)Light In The Window

from the future book, "For The Love of A Woman"

Here is an excerpt from the essay.

The solstice is that night with the shortest day of whom the virgin and child by analogy render and re-story. And this means the full moon on the 31st will be filled with the gentler sun, the Mary, meek and mild who, transfigured, shines through the window of our times the first day of the New Year likened unto flowing light. This light is the Mary of the in-most life who brings once more to our lives the vision of the divinely human spiritualized mixture, our ‘giant’ being of inmost delight composed in two substances and one light

To read the full essay click here

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blue Christmas: The Red & Black of This Year’s Capitol Tree

I heard this year's Washington D.C. Capitol Tree is an 85 foot blue spruce from the White Mountains of Arizona. Decorations may very well be red on a green Christmas tree but this year's 'green' is blue. We'll have a blue Christmas when the national tree is lit on Thanksgiving Day.

It is the first black presidency. It is the first blue spruce to be gifted the nation from Arizona since 1964. And, the tree comes from the redlands of the White Mountains sacred to the Apache who preside over its cutting ceremony and who accompany it on its long journey to Washington. Something sacred has occurred. Read more

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Wood Spirit

There is an old Scandinavian belief that when Lucifer and his angels fell from Heaven, they landed in the woods and forests and were doomed to remain there forever as wood spirits and trolls. One may suppose the ‘forest-spirit’ idea does not ever die out, such things are older than even the most ancient memory. The name for this particular remembrance is Yggdrasil… once there was a strange tree which was the home of ancient gods and spirits, the mighty Yggdrasil. It's powerful magic held Heaven, Earth and the Underworld together.

At any one time you and I may always suppose we are under a confluence of imagery in pretending. How is one to do their best to respond to such things in this day and age?

Many now believe there is a poetic basis to mind and those who respond best do so by suspending belief, neither trying at first to name or discern, but …imagine! I could say imaginal movement is little, just a little movement between then and now, and here and there but not exactly here. (ever) That’s because I am only ever really pretending, no matter how ever so real it seems.

The archetypal and poetic pattern, Yggdrasil, shows the shape of the imaginal landscape we are in when we are into it, when we have suspended belief and go into it the way you do when you go into the movie theatre to watch Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings or Batman Returns or Terminator or anything else. Symmetry is the order of the day. This is called the mythological worldview. You are in it. It is not in you. And that invisible world is what the word ‘soul’ means. Soul is a third world, not given. The Latin phrase is ‘tertium non datur’. This invisible third you could say is an unmanifest, hidden world shining in the here and now. But, you can’t see it. And the task is to see it. The task is to make this inside, hidden, unmanifest world manifest in the here and now. The Greek word for making is poiein. The word, Heidegger says, means “to cause something to be brought forth.” Poiein is where the Greek word, poieses stems from which our word, ‘poetry’ comes.

Even though you will suspend belief to experience this poetic and mythological worldview you cannot really be caught by this consciously since this is the very worldview we now call a lie. We say it is a myth and we mean it is a lie. The world is not really orderly and three-tiered but erupts in chaos at every turn and this because spirit and nature are both dead matters these days. So you and I and everybody else experiences uncertainty all the way around when it comes to anything being a ‘truth’ anymore. The world itself seems more than ever gnarled and twisted like a Yggdrasil. What is it like, this likeness of the like Yggdrasil imitates in you?
For some the world is more ‘real’ like the movie Signs than like the worldview which inspires it! For some others it is like Terminator and for others it is like a Mysterious Case of Benjamin Buttons. These movies would each be inspirations grounded in the one source inspiring us all just now but the one source remember is really non datur. It will take some time to ‘make its self manifest’. But perhaps for this very reason you and I might retain a kind of sympathy in a third not given, a third lost—a fantasy world. And now, it seems, this we are to do.

As you are exploring this ‘making life’ try to hang onto the little picture of the mythological worldview. Symmetry is the order of the day. Too much fantasy in play is just as not good as too little. You’ve got to allow for a third not given. You’ve got to ‘feel for it’. The felt-sense isn’t a reference to emotions but to subtle, invisible essential ‘essences in motion’, e-motions. E-motions make metaphors of everything.

Now imagine, if you can, the enormous ash tree which overshadows the whole world that is Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil's leaves are the clouds, while its fruit and flowers are the stars. On the highest branch sits an eagle with a falcon perched on his head between his eyes. These birds are, respectively, the atmosphere and the universe beyond. Together they observe the state of the world and must report to the pantheon of gods who sit in judgement below. A silver-haired goat grazes at a nearby branch. The goat provides the mead which the gods drink. You've got to have that. It is the animal soul of the materializing imagination and it cannot be devalued here. Do not be unfriendly to life processes that are chewing and eating away at the tree that is your tree.

Yggdrasil has three thick roots which reach into the past, the present and the future. These are fed by three fountains, which serve Heaven, Earth and the Underworld. The fountain which serves Heaven is filled with holy water, and is guarded by three Fates. These strange creatures, who rule the past, the present and the future, decide the course of our lives. Two swans float in this heavenly fountain. One is the sun, and the other is the moon. The earthly fountain sends forth the waters of the world, gives birth to all living things, and is the source of all knowledge. It is inhabited by a giant whose extraordinary wisdom has come from drinking those waters. And the boiling, bottomless fountain at Yggdrasil's roots sustains the underworld, supporting a monstrous dragon and a host of swarming snakes who generate the Earth's internal fires.

Besides supporting the sun and the moon, Yggdrasil hosts four reindeer, who nibble on the upper branches, dropping dew from their antlers onto the earth. Then, scurrying between the eagle, the falcon and the dreadful dragon there is a squirrel, who is both the rain and the snow. The four winds frame this picture in the form of four rabbits flying among all of the branches. In a particular sense, Yggdrasil is the weather.

But beyond even this, Yggdrasil is indestructible life like the green shoot sprouting through snow in March. Like the spirit of nature returned to the soul of the world in a green man working silently and hidden within the very crux of life, Yggdrasil is.

So, too, you are.

So Be. Come no thing.

It is told that should the god's era ever end, then men and women who are chosen to repopulate the earth will emerge from the ever green, Yggdrasil. For this is the source of all life. Of course, I am only a poor poet. And, this… a story for the telling.

This essay first published to mythsinger June 20, 2009 essay copyrights: ©2009-2015 all rights reserved

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Cite For Sore Eyes

from For The Love of a Woman Essay Series

After a while, one starts thinking in that language, dreaming in that language, as well as speaking in that language, and the behavior becomes different. --J. J. Jameson

These essays around the full moon are inspired by a thought whose soul wonders what it is to reflect the mind of winter. Seeing the moon one gentle evening, this thinking began to imagine the moon had seen a good portion of the ghost world of what came and went many times over throughout countless eons long past. Thereupon perhaps something might remain in these ‘other world’ remains winter minds still and this might be of value and import to us now in our own life resolve. Whereupon our world, too, in the way it remains predisposed to reflect such mythic thoughts always and once more and imaginally so, we might then begin again to share the soul of this world with each other, being of the one dream and begun from within creative life’s image and likeness creatures of creation too. So this now is the imaginal route retraced that brings to me in contemplation likenesses for the ‘mind of winter’ and bears these through the first to this last of the winter-moon essays for this series.

A Sight For Sore Eyes (The Crust of the Matter)

March Moon is ‘crow’ and ‘crust’ and ‘sore’ and ‘sap’ and with the influx of Christianity into North America, Lenten, all of which I shall try in this essay to go on and re-imagine as a poetic nostra in belonging together.

In freezing and thawing the February snow lay round about no longer easily shoveled. A thin ice crust has reformed its surfaces, although with the same thrust in freezing and thawing a hidden sap has begun to run in trees. It is a welcome sight! While nowhere begun, the notion, ‘christic elixir’ is hiding and at work in an opus hard to attend regarding the March moon’s 'dew'. Nonetheless, this essay will try to tap the root formation in these oneiric image synonymies phantomalizing reveries mined for the promise in their soul-stuff.

A Site For Sore Eyes (Something To Crow About)

I had the pleasure and the privilege to be up in the canyon grand the last two days of February where I began thinking about the full moon of March. Lent had begun the day before and I spent that first day of Lent climbing and trekking, seeing and sniffing, loving and listening to the deep heart in the canyon lit in sunrise along canyon mesas. Sore piñon pines whose sap began oozing during the grand 60o days were seeping fluid down the sides of one of the pines where I paused to bow to the crow cawing in its branch the welcome song. “The site of you,” sang crow, “is a sight for sore eyes.” I couldn’t help think of the snow allergy some Native Americans suffer which causes their ancestors to dub the March full moon a moon when eyes are sore from brightness.

Just underneath the tree little watery streams were forming rivulets on the ground even further underneath snow piles silently shrinking. I found a penny just then. It disturbed the peace of the canyon in my head where crow became not quite cow but ‘cower’ and just a shade more underneath the bricoleur in a phantom teller’s model of the world.

Once there was a country mouse on friendly terms with a city mouse, the phantom began. But with this friendship an anxiety and with this anxiety a complexity formed into a point in departure.

It was like the dogs of the house in Aesop’s fable. Heidegger called the point in departure de riss or ‘rift’. The rift grew into a separation in a crust and the crust spoke how somewhere a space opened between too much and not enough in an opposite nature engineered.

I looked up just as a woman came by walking a little god in a cute doggie vest. Behind her the canyon glistened with luminous brilliance. The woman was about eye level to the oldest layer of rock called schist. That’s a kind of metamorphic rock derived from clays and muds which have passed through a series of different kinds of metamorphic processes. The most remarkable characteristic of schist rock is how easily it splits. Schist is easily fragmented into exceptionally thin surfaces. Imagine…rock! Stone! Thin!

The Vishnu Schist lies at the bottom of the inner canyon gorge and forms part of the base of its geologic column. Aptly, the word schist is derived from the Greek and means to split. The metaphoric schist I imagine is a crust eaten away in peace to grow wildly another more invisible rift or ‘split’. It rends the image apart conceptually in two kinds of thinking. Each is hanging as Heidegger thought, in its own darkness. I suppose conflating the little god with the big one brought out my Germanic and pagan side. Dare now I share it?

“Vat’s Vish nyou shits?” I thought.

Even now I cannot recall the breed of little dog it was. I only remember thinking of the liondog and wondering if ever there might be such a thing as a shih tzu vest. Turns out there is. Shih tzu’s brief history suggests Buddha rode a Shih Tzu Kou when he incarnated here. (He most definitely refused to wear the vest!)

Now the shell of a word forms behind my sequence of events regarding the given and geologic column of the Grand Canyon. The shell consists of deposition, where rock is added, and erosion, where rock already added is subtracted. This may be on account the anxiety I caught trickling in one kind of thinking in the way it was projecting on another. I also imagine in the freezing and thawing season a loosening or weakening of the connection once available dreamy metaphors in a distant past and that today's faith-based and scientistic kinds of thinking still attempt to lay hold but no longer quite grasp it experientially. THAT is bricoleur thinking shut out.

The term bricoleur was introduced by Lévi-Strauss (1962). It describes a type of thinking and symbolization that sits opposite "engineer". Whereas the engineer creates specialized tools for specialized tasks, the bricoleur is a "jack-of-all-trades" using but a few, non-specialized tools for a wide variety of purposes. There is only a loose connection between, on the one hand, the bricoleur and "primitive" societies, and, on the other, the engineer and modern societies.

Most of the anxiety projected onto the geo-logic of the canyon walls has to do with the latter thinking of the phantomizing yet modern engineer at work in evolutionism, although for Lévi-Strauss, the bricoleur and the engineer are the point of departure for a complex theoretical discussion called "the science of the concrete".

You cannot get more imaginally concrete than rock nor more rational in your thinking than science nor more fundamental in your faith-based point of view than evangelical religion and this essentialism insists the Vishnu Schist pass as one of the proves for both evolution on the one hand, and intelligent design on the other hand.

The summary of the depositional and erosional events at the Grand Canyon suggests the 1.7 million year old schist is the one proof both sides argue. On the one hand it supports the hypothesis of the theory of evolution. On the other the same phenomenon interprets the facts in biblical faith that the 6,ooo year old biblical flood of Noah stories what the phenomenal existence of the canyon confirms. One claims an old schist the other a much younger one; it is an argument between aging archons hounding like hell our collective societal heels. Under the one (p)roof growl the dogs of Aesop’s fable and I could only suppose in that moment maybe Aesop had it more deeply right than either science or religion. The crust once eaten in peace is better than the banquet partaken now in anxiety.

However, that doesn’t stop the arguing and I am resigned to sorting argument and reforming it. Both sides shut out the image of the water barrier that divides the realm of the bricoleur from the realm of the engineer in whose anxiety, projected onto canyon walls, calls, caws or cause me now to remember myths of other underworld journeys. I’d like to share something written by Radcliffe G Edmonds III in a book by the same title, “Myths of Underworld Journeys.” It has to do with water barriers in the underworld.

The choice of the nature of the water barrier seems to depend on the nature of the solution envisioned; for an obstacle that can only be overcome by monumental heroic effort, a huge expanse of water that requires great time and effort to cross is appropriate, whereas if the solution is simply a ritual like a burial or a deity’s aid, the body of water has a symbolic function and need not seem physically impassable. Edmonds is writing about “Aristophanes’ Frogs and a descent into the depths of comedy. (125)

But perhaps I ought retrace my own steps and be more explicit when it comes to my own water barrier. To fix the economy the mythicoreligious image of the water barrier presents us with the thought of a big expanse in the form of a big expense. It will require a lot of time and a great deal of fiscal restraint to be this fiscally passable. To resolve our story of origin the image of the water barrier presents us with a great divide that one ought consider better resolved in a ritual burial and in a symbolic manner rather than projected onto the Vishnu Schist of the Grand Canyon. Religion, after all, fills a deeply psychological yearning and suggests an alternative mystery solution.

But both science and religion cannot seem to hear the bricoleur in the canyon the way I did that day tracking the heartline along the edge of March where I found a penny. And so they do not always see the metaphor nor how to open it up mythically nor how let shine the inner light whose new ways might suddenly be-scene. Nor do they imagine they have found the token they are to bring Charon nor do they know how to (re)enact imaginally the mystery happening next. To science and a good deal of religious belief the science of the concrete often thinks a mythic image is good for something when it ought think it better applied in symbolic function to overcoming the great barrier in split thinking. Instead, both science and faith-based thinking do unclever things in stories designed to privilege a specific way in thinking over another. Such a way of thinking is seldom playful and misses the point of the song in Aristophane’s swan-frogs or the caw in Stephanie’s crow/cow.

Having said that, let me say that, like Aristophanes, I’ve been playing it both ways and discovering humor all sides. In the vast expanse and in the depth journey that day, the long way down a body of water is a little trickle hardly physically impassable at all. So where I find the penny and look up and hear the metonymic caw, just there and then I recognize an experiential trust and begin to understand how silence can have space and volume and take up the oneiric word enough to fill sonorous and phenomenal depths. It makes a shell of speech, a crust. It is crust enough. It poetizes everything even though the proof of it proves nothing. Even then, under the full March moon, schist happens.

this essay first published to

Work Cited

Radcliffe G Edmonds III. Myths of the Underworld Journey: Plato Aristophanes and the 'Orphic' Gold Tablets. New York: Cambridge, 2004.

Additional Links


Five Gyres
FareWell To Madness
The Snow Gran
Ad Mortuous



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Monday, January 19, 2009

Shadow: What Does It Know

The big story in the Washington Post online Friday September 8, 2006 reveals the decision by the Bush administration to move fourteen detainees from undisclosed locations around the globe to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Shackled, sedated and hooded, “their arrival marks the end of a five-year effort by the Bush administration to conceal as many as 100 al-Qaeda suspects from the world and to shield the agency's interrogation tactics and facilities from public scrutiny”, writes Washington Post staff writers Dafna Linzer and Glenn Kessler. A shadowy picture accompanies the text. This morning I can’t help thinking about shadows.

One of the more famous shadows of my childhood I inherit from my father. My father was a dramatic actor in his youth and trained in voice and broadcasting in college. He was the star in the senior play in high school and wanted to be a radio news announcer until the practical side of life took over and he, as a young father with a dynamically growing family, took a job with the U.S. government. This brings me to the early 1950’s and my childhood inheritance from my father’s side. Dad loved the old-time mystery radio shows of his own childhood lived in the days before television. The one famous line he would dramatize went, “Only the shadow knows!” The line I recall never really happened that way in the original radio program, Detective Story whose debut in radio ocurrs in August of 1930. The program’s actual opening line is “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” The line made the shadow character so popular the show eventually was renamed, “The Shadow.” The gifted nature of his shadowy ability allows “The Shadow” to overcome any of his enemies. I checked him out with Sure enough The Shadow…

"a figure never seen only heard, was an invincible crime fighter. Besides his tremendous strength, he could defy gravity, speak any language, unravel any code, and become invisible with his famous ability to “cloud men’s minds.”

If I keep in mind the idea of a radio show where we have to imagine the shadow image like the one I’ve provided this essay, I believe I can understand why The Shadow is never seen and only “heard.” But, this kind of shadow the image of this kind of shadowy nature of psyche revalues and reimagines today has a much harder time being heard in our present day. How aware of shadow are we?

Today we see the shadows of others without recognizing ourselves in them. We know with the known being kept under guard and unknown. Our shadows remain in shadow themselves. They are all one thin color. They can’t be ident
ified as me and you. The message is clear. The shadow must remain alien and apart. It must remain an enemy and foreign. We are not to see anything other than the existence of the shadow (and see it as other than and separate from ourselves in what we claim we are). The shadow is to have no voice and to deliver no message of its own. The image the shadow is now made to wear says not that it fights evil nor that it will help us fight evil, but that it is evil.

The Washington Post article refers to such facilities that maintain the apartness of the shadow as “black sites”; these sites, like the detainees, are kept from public scrutiny. They, too, remain invisible. It seems we are allowed to see the shadow but not what the shadow sees. Thusly, we come to know only of the shadow and not what the shadow knows. Part of the collective problem of the shadow dwells in our being swallowed by it. We are in it. How do we get out from within the shadow?

Like a sound bite, the shadow remains a shallow surface with ghastly consequences in allusion. Sequestered unheard, without rights of even closer scrutiny and critique, our empowered collective shadow has permission to abuse and the abuse may be held secret and in high places for a long, long time. Projected back onto surfaces, the evil the shadow knows is always “out there.” To this John Goldhammer remarks, “Yes!” For Goldhammer suggests we are seeing
the shadow of fudamentalism at work.

But, the shadow marks a kind of vacuous space. This may be what Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig (henceforth, AGC) tries to speak to when he writes,
The Emptied Soul and then goes on to talk about this emptiness. As AGC notes the companion traits of The Shadow, he attempts to separate and define our notions of the eros and the aggression as distinct from The Shadow itself. The Shadow consists of several different levels. It harbors elements we cannot identify with or that are repressed because of education, culture, or value system. It can be individual or collective. I’ve been thinking about the collective shadow this morning. This shadow is the one the entire culture represses. That’s why I have said our collective problem is that we are in it. We cannot see it because we are in it. How do we get out?

I like what AGC has to say about The Shadow. You’ve got to begin by knowing something about the existence of these black shadow sites imaginally. They are part of the experience of experiencing what is missing. What soul lacks soul? And when the shadow lacks its soul what is it that has been lost? The shadow, says AGC, is a complex matter. As a complex it has an archetypal core, one distinguishable from the instinct of self-assertion, what you and I think of as aggression, and the shadow element of psychic destructiveness. (Emptied,136)

And, there you have it, one man’s insight, but a pretty good one. The empty element in the shadow soul is an element of psychic destructiveness. It portends the absence of eros.

AGC notes that this absence of eros can appear in quite charming people. This means charm is as much a claim to the presence of such absence as to the presence of eros. We have reached a season of shadow. We are in it. That morning I began thinking of it as if it were like
the fall equinox
. This season of shadow is a season of spectacular change. Like the fall equinox we will have had to overcome ideas about being special and the center of what matters just to begin to get to know what we didn’t know about the season of shadows we are experiencing today. That was no small effort on our part then and it will take no small effort on are part today. To know what a shadow knows means we will have had to dare to think new thoughts like we once did autumnally...perhaps, about things only our shadows can share.

Essay first published by September 8, 2006 @ 10:07am