Molto Mantra Per Favore

I remember sitting with my beloved psychotherapist, guide, and mother mentor and exclaiming:  I forgot!

In context, let’s just say, that I had forgotten something quite essential to my own being and nature.  And in the process of Her presence, I remembered.

After my exclamation and reflexive self criticism on forgetting, She, with great love, reassured me that this is the human condition.

And, pointed out all are subject to the phenomenon of forgetting and remembering in developing consciousness.

Martha Graham  Photo by Imogen Cunningham
Martha Graham
Photo by Imogen Cunningham

If memory serves, this was over a decade ago.

MarthaGraham“If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory.  There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences.  The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out. ”  Jane Austen,  Mansfield Park

In recalling the birth of this website, again, over a decade ago, I want to revive the mantra that guided me at the time–a kind of love letter to the Soul:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into Martha Graham 40, 1931_jpgaction; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  If you block it, it will never exist in any other medium and it will be lost.  The world will not have it.  You must keep that channel open.  It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable.  Nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is for you to keep it yours, clearly, and directly.”  Martha Graham

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Vox Anima, SDM

Martha Graham

Photo Credits:  Tumblr

About Face I

John William Waterhouse
John William Waterhouse

In a prior post, I promised to return to the subject of aging and vanity.

Fasten your seat belt–here we go!

Mark Shaw Vanity Fair
Mark Shaw
Vanity Fair

 

Mark Shaw Vanity Fair
Mark Shaw
Vanity Fair

 

For about 10 days, or so, I have been under the weather, with a ROTTEN cold.

Bored, I read everything in sight, including  “Empty Mansions:  The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”.  Won’t spoil it for you, but talk about the Introvert’s Introvert!

Huguette Clark
Huguette Clark

I started Hillary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”  but found the bloody 1500’s a little too much for my state of being.  Ever notice how when you are sick, things (even benign) take on a malevolent tinge?

Boredom led to the Online News.

“50 and Fabulous!” the headline crowed.  Over 999 sources and articles were listed.  Oh my.  My little shadow sister, whom I will name Envy, had a field day.

Exhausted, and mildly ashamed, I turned to lighter reading.  Real Simple’s January edition on THE BALANCED LIFE.

Immediately, that little monkey, Envy, found an article on SOLVE YOUR SKIN PROBLEMS.  

  Q:  Acne and wrinkles at the same time? A:  Try a Retinoid. Daily.

Now wait, We thought:  Isn’t there some Retinol in the medicine cabinet from our beloved’s brush with skin cancer? Hmmmm.  Isn’t that the same stuff in these fancy shmancy potions?  Hmmmmmm…

Vanity

After 10 days of never ending mucous, hacking, and dehydration and the lovely wardrobe to bring comfort (old stained thermals in the shade of tootsie roll brown), it seemed like a good idea!  Why not multi-task?  If Flotus can be 50 and fab, open to Botox and Refreshers, We can at least be “60 and Scintillating!”

I began the Retinol.

Day 1.  Ok!  A little dryness, tightness.  Isn’t that what it is supposed to do?

Day 2.  Hm.  Ok…

Day 3.   The Sahara Desert appeared to be on my face and in the mirror.

Alarmed,  I thought:  “It’s that wicked cold!  Has me so dehydrated!!”.

But wait,  I had plenty of water, tea, made 4 different kinds of soup (from scratch).

Day 4.  Did I get overexposed to the Sun in the dead of winter? Nope. CR@P.

All is Vanity

Dammit Envy! Dammit Vanity!

Every day since has been a vain attempt at reviving my poor face.

You know that old cliche about being comfortable in your own skin?

I’ll add that to my Bamboo List (see Going Bamboo).

Vox Anima, SDM

elizabethmacdonald blogspot
elizabethmacdonald
blogspot

 

 

 

Going Bamboo

Patrick Flynn
Patrick Flynn

 Bamboo carries symbolic weight at the new year.

Sky Blue
Sky Blue

After living on the Big Island of Hawaii, I learned about Chinese and Japanese traditions that became part of the pidgin mix plate experience that is life in the 50th state.

Ways of celebrating the new year that resonated (and still do) with me are:

~Clean house (pretty much)

~Pay off debts (working on it)

~Honor family & ancestors (in my heart)

~Ritual foods (Hawaiian style Kalua Pig)

~Fireworks to frighten away evil spirits (can’t get them legally)

~Bamboo and Pine for Good Luck (I can do that)

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The deeper symbolism of bamboo involves characteristics of

strength, flexibility, adaptability, durability, and persistence (ask any gardener).

My New Year’s intention is to go bamboo!

A. Feinberg
A. Feinberg

 

Hau’ole Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year)!

Vox Anima, SDM

Dim Sun

“No Winter lasts forever, no Spring skips its return.”  ~ Hal Borland 

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Wishing you a season of beauty…230015_4930626386326_1990538270_n_1_250x250

Vox Anima, SDM

All Art Credit goes to Catherine Hyde
 
Music Credit:  Lisa Gerrard 
The Valley of the Moon
from The Silver Tree

Such Stuff That Dreams Are Made On

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Reaching the threshold of seven decades is daunting.

I had imagined this post to be full of self deprecating humor about crumbling teeth,

sinus pain, and VANITY ~~ there’s still time for that.

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Caught in Goya’s Saturn grip, a dismembering is taking place.

A breaking down has to occur.

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The alchemy of returning to my own prima materia–

the raw stuff of which I am made.

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These are natural laws we are all subject to, and aging is one of them.

Beyond cliches about wisdom and other self soothing aphorisms, is the truth of mortality.

And the paradox of death and rebirth.

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From this suspended place in time, I find myself viewing my fellow travelers and humanity from a soft lens.

How precious and vulnerable we are!

odilon_redon_004“Our revels now are ended.

These our actors, as I foretold you were all thin spirits, and are melted into air, thin air:

And like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud capp’d towr’s , the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temple, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which inherit, shall dissolve,

And like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind.

We are such stuff that dreams are made on;

And our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

Prospero, The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Act IV, Scene 1

cropped-odilon-redon-xx-adam-and-eve-xx-villa-floraAll art credit goes to Odilon Redon.

Lydia, Oh Lydia!

“The Paradox of life and death

 returns in a new form at each new spiral of growth.

If we accept this,

we are not torn apart by the opposites.” ~ Marion Woodman


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Lydia came to us with her name.

She was on her way to becoming a junk yard dog, when we learned about her.

Her retriever buoyancy and passion for children was too much for the first family.

Lydia joined ours, and became the youngest sib to two other dogs.

She brought a balance to the ruff and tuff one, and a job for the eldest, which needed a maternal herding outlet.  A fine little trio.  And, a LOT of energy.

Her diagnosis of untreatable cancer came suddenly this week.

I recalled Marion Woodman’s (MW) story about her own dogs, as soul animals.

And Neil Russack’s book on Animal Guides, where he writes about the capacity for deep healing intimacy between humans and animals:

“…so my own little dog kept me linked to life when my vitality was fading.  When I took him with me into the country, we would take a long walk during the day, then spend the evening by the fire.  Sometimes, we walked at dead of night in the dark woods, and the white tip of his tail would lead me home in the starlight.  He was the one who, by helping me find my way, showed me who I was.”

Both Woodman and Russack remark on the timing, the co~incidence of the dog’s death, as a punctuation in their own individuation journeys.

Perhaps, as I just crossed the threshold of 60 years, Lydia has been with me for the empty nest Demeter depression, and the entrance of The Crone?

Animal behavior experts warn against anthropomorphizing, or projecting human sentiments and characteristics onto our animals.

Fine then.  Projection removed.

Farewell

But I say, what about Soul?

“Soul hears with eternal ears,

sees with eternal eyes,

smells with eternal nose.”  ~MW

And I would add,  Soul’s Body wags with eternal tail.

Vox Anima, SDM

 

Til We Have Faces

Ambivalence.  Reticence. Acquiescence.

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All these ess~ences of the creative process.

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Mysterious, vulnerable, and wholly unseen, like the faces here.

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“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words.  I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer.  Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean?  How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

~ C. S. Lewis

I take Lewis to mean it is only through time, maturation, and a deep exploration in the aquifers of the soul that babbling becomes bubbling.  Bubbling up from the Source.

The ideas and images in Vox Anima have babbled and bubbled for years.

It may have been that my face has not been fully formed, enough, til now?

To speak with the gods, so to speak?

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Like the Dreamer and the Dream-Maker… perhaps, it begs the question:

Who has been painting me?

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Vox Anima, SDM

All Art credit goes to Jeremy Lipking

Mirror Mirror

 

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”

 “Not you dear.  Not anymore.”

Blue Queen www.maskwoman.com
Blue Queen
http://www.maskwoman.com

We, and I mean the Royal “We” celebrated our birthday recently.

(More about that later.)

It is estimated that over 40 million baby boomers are over the age of 50; 51% female.

That statistic comes from MetLife, alas, as the http://www.census.gov is shut down.

Simple math tells us, dear readers that are at least 20 million women

on their way to being Crones!

Lord have mercy.

Some time ago, I developed a workshop series titled “The Witch and the Queen”

(based on the witchy work of Kate Amatruda & Lauren Cunningham).

In these workshops, we pondered the idea

that we channel, so to speak,

the archetypes of Witch & Queen on our way to the Crone.

Rather than limiting ourselves to the notion to the 3 stages of woman,

could it be there is more to it?

I think so.

Our recent birthday celebration had us re-visiting the fairy tale of Snow White.

In the story, Snow White naively becomes victim to the envious Evil Queen.

The Queen in disguise, offers our heroine the apple which puts her into a deep sleep…

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The Maid, is no more, or so it seems.

We all know the rest of the story.

But, it is important to recognize it is the encounter with the Witch Queen, that transforms dear Snow White into the mature adult woman she was meant to be.

I think we can draw from this as we Crone–

which is now a Verb in my vocabulary.

I aspire most days to The Queen, and in particular,

The Virgin Queen, who is “one unto herself”.

White Queen www.maskwoman.com
White Queen
http://www.maskwoman.com

And then, horror of horrors, there are the other days…

(You know who) Ian Beck
Read me a Fairy Tale:  Snow White
Illustration by Ian Beck

Vox Anima,  SDM

 

Post Partum

Postpartum Pamela Parsons
Postpartum
Pamela Parsons

Birthing a blog is like birthing a baby.

While they are two vastly different things, there are similarities.

I will spare you graphic comparisons.

Yet, the creative process is the same.

After launching the blog last week, I found myself saying out loud:  “This feels like postpartum…”

Drained, distracted, pleased, and wobbly.

Like a little colt, after birth, I have found my legs now–slowly.

I’ll be taking my B Complex vitamins.

Maybe I’ll take the Guiness cure like they do in Britain during postpartum confinement.

No sooner had the first post been published, dreams brought in what I used to call The Committee.

Now, I have lovingly reframed this august body as The Faculty Senate.

Maccari Cicero
Maccari Cicero

In the dream, this academic committee was meeting to discuss my qualifications for the job.

As Jung said, one need look no further than the facts of the dream.

Sigh.

And, in the dream, I stood up to those assembled, and gave them my understanding of my capacity.

This is clear evidence of the phenomenological world of the Psyche.

And the tru-ism that as one proceeds on the path, so to speak, one will surely encounter inner adversity as something new wishes to be created.

I guess the good news, is, The Faculty Senate meets only a few times a year.

Vox Anima, SDM

Gypsy Madonna Titian
Gypsy Madonna
Titian

Priming the Pump

 

Priming the pump is generally defined as:

a government action taken to stimulate an economy during a recessionary period.

I borrow the metaphor for the creative process, to get the juices flowing, as it were, after a lengthy period of —

Stagnation?  Stagflation?  Incubation?

At any rate, some sort of,  “-tion”.

Another way to look at the metaphor is the hand water pump.

As a child, my first experience of the water pump  was on the deck of the family cabin in Wilsonia, CA.

Jana Botkiin  The Cabins of Wilsonia
Jana Botkiin
The Cabins of Wilsonia

Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains at 6,617 elevation, our cabin was a refuge from Fresno’s blistering summer heat.

Built by my Maternal Grandfather’s family, the cabin served as my wild sanctuary.

I remember photos of these men in model T Fords crawling up those hillsides, like bugs, loaded with building materials!

The cabin was bare bones primitive.

A common room, with stone fireplace and built in dining table and benches (which held storage of games, cards, and books about mythology) was the heart of the place.

My favorite piece of furniture was the the suede fringe chair by the big console radio.  The mammoth photo of a snarling mountain lion hung over the couch nearby.  I preferred my distance from the cat.

Jana Botkin The Cabins of Wilsonia
Jana Botkin
The Cabins of Wilsonia

A tiny kitchen, the size of a small closet, was the place for meal preparation and clean up.

3 Bedrooms, with strange wall art that the family had accumulated in the Southwest–very Georgia O’Keefe.  Patchwork quilts made up the old brass beds.  Each room had a chamber pot, in the event one did not wish to make the long trip  outside and down the steep stairs to the outhouse.

The only running water to be found was out of that miraculous marvelous hand pump on the deck.

After minutes of pump priming, freshets of icy pure mountain water would emerge, never failing to delight me.

When the plumbing upgrade happened, bringing a shower and running water inside, I was deflated.  Perhaps, the reconfiguration away from the source was drying to my little soul?

…C.G. Jung utilized the image of the riverbed as a way to describe archetypes.

 The riverbed may dry up at times, but the water surely finds its way back to the grooves laid down over eons.

Perhaps, the beginning of this blog is like that initial trickle of water from the aquifers of the Soul.

I invite and welcome your comments as we prime the pump together.

Vox Anima, SDM

Aquifer Melody Johnson
Aquifer
Melody Johnson