Showing posts with label farming soul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label farming soul. Show all posts

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Motherline Muse

Motherline stories evoke a worldview in which all beings and times are interconnected…They are as common as the repetitive loops made in weaving, crocheting and knitting. They are as powerful as touching a grandmother’s face in childhood, or seeing a daughter suckle her newborn child.
Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, The Motherline p, 23

I’ve been reading Patricia Damery’s novel “Snakes” whose narrator is the breast–feeding mother of a plump baby girl. My body remembers the suck of my own babies’ mouths, the sweet breast feeding reverie, the intoxicating smells of baby skin and my own milk. I remember the pleasure and I remember the overwhelm.

The muse would come to me in those days—baby at my breast, on my hip, in the stroller. She’d say: “Why aren’t you writing about this? A mother’s experience is the foundation of everyone’s life? It’s so powerful. Where are the poems, the novels, the essays about this demanding, amazing and transformative experience?”

“When do I have time to write?” I’d lament. I knew the muse was on to something. I felt deprived by the lack of literature about this most profound human experience. This made me edgy and defensive. “The baby is hungry. The baby needs changing. There’s dishes to do, and laundry. There’s dinner to cook. My body belongs to the baby. So does my head. How could I even focus?”

All that has changed in my lifetime, I’m delighted to say. Many women, myself included, have written about the mysteries, joys and sorrows of mothering. I wrote a poem recently, about my problem.

Your Problem

In a peanut butter and jelly haze
in play dough and lego worlds
amidst unmade beds and Mrs. Dalloway
lost in a pile of laundry, all the edges

of your days unraveling, between baby cries
and dinner, between the earth spirit
who has opened you up, and the call
of that angel before you fall…

If there are rainbows
you don’t see them. If songs are singing
they don’t sing to you. If poems are forming
deep in the dangerous woods, you can’t hear them—

Poems are wild things, they’ll eat you up
just like the wolf, your grandmother has warned you—
but somewhere in a grotto, the witch
who has known you all your life, is busy
fermenting her brew…
(first published in Ibbetson Street)

If I could give my confused and disoriented younger self, just one book to read, it would be “Snakes.” Why “Snakes?” Because it would give her courage and hope. She would understand that her way of being and seeing has value and beauty.

Angela, the first person narrator and central character in “Snakes” does not suffer from the problem of my younger self. She is both mother and artist— a weaver. Weaving is her medium and her way of perceiving. Her voice weaves a rich tapestry of many threads: the bodily sensations of her milk letting down when her baby cries, the healthy smell of breastfed baby shit, the emotional trials of parenting two prepubescent boys, her ambivalent feelings toward her visiting, recently widowed mother, her spirited conversations with her dead father, her marital issues and lusty love for her husband, her memories of the small family farm she grew up on and her grief about the loss of that way of life, her meditations on her ancestors, her fear of snakes, her fascination with snakes and the myth she tells her sons about a shape-shifting serpent and his human bride.

“You mean you don’t have to write paragraphs that focus on one thing at a time?” my younger self marvels, remembering red marks all over her creative attempts in college. “You mean you can write about a woman’s gaze, her bodily response to a man’s nakedness? Listen to this:

“Let’s swim,” Jake said, pulling off his clothes. I stood spellbound. His body was lean and forbidden, yet I looked at every muscle, the tautness of his belly, the bulging of his thighs…I watched the curve of his buttocks as he hung midair and then ever so slowly, slipped into deep waters.
p. 85

“You mean you can leap from memory to myth to talking with a ghost to funny family conversations in which big brother calls baby sister “the Leech” to philosophizing about the loneliness and grief of ancestral farmers in the Midwest while writing in plain speech that is accessible and poetic?” My younger self is amazed. “You can loop back and forth in the generations, remembering yourself as a child as you deal with your children and your mother’s response to your mothering? You can weave a Zuni myth about a beautiful maiden who marries the sea serpent Kolowissi into a dialogue with an eleven year old boy?”

“Lived with a snake” Trent used to say. “She married a snake?”
“Kolowissi is a god” I’d explain. “He can take any form. But his favorite is that of a serpent.”
p. 33

“Just like that she weaves the ordinary and the marvelous into one fabric.” My younger self is impressed. She has suffered under the fallacy of categories. I wish she could have known what Angela knows: that all the realms are interwoven. That is how her mind worked. Still does. But back then she thought there was something wrong with her mind, that modalities were supposed to stay in their separate categories like university departments, or milk and meat, according to Jewish Kosher law. This muzzled her, hobbled her, kept her in a mental strait jacket, denied the flow of her thoughts. I wish she could have known what Angela knows—that magic is always present, as surprising and as ordinary as a snake slipping through yellow grasses on a California hillside.

Monday, March 15, 2010

“The Muse is both the anima and the Self.”

Patricia Damery, a writer and a member of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, reviewed The Sister From Below in the Winter 2010 issue of Jung Journal (Patricia Damery’s articles on shamanism and alchemy and her poetry have appeared in professional journals.)

“…The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way, maps a creative person’s developing relationship to the psyche through active imagination and dialogue with inner figures and ghosts. Marbled with details of what is also a remarkable life, Naomi’s story leads us through a series of conversations with muses, beginning with Our Lady of Florence….The muse is both the anima and the Self—at once, psychopomp and feminine core of the psyche.

Damery points out that the cover painting (Phases of the Moon, by Bianca Daalder-van Iersel) is an image that also carries the theme of the book. “In Florence at certain times of the day, the Ponte Vecchio is two bridges: the bridge itself and the one reflected in the water.” She quotes from The Sister from Below,

There is the flesh and blood bridge, full of tourists, which you’ve just walked over, looking at rubies and pearls. There is the other, deeper bridge, insubstantial, with its reflected arches and yellow painted shops in the dark waters of the river. They touch each other, these two bridges, reflect on each other, can’t be without each other, and yet are inhabitants, like you and I, of different realms. Your lost Lydia is like the bridge, dreaming of itself in green waters. It is because of her, that every time you come to Florence, poetry flows. For it is not just the Lady herself, but the longing for the lady, out of which poetry is made. (38–39)

“Experienced at once, these two bridges form a mandala. To know wholeness we must access with both realities, often through suffering.”

Damery continues, “The book is also smart, steeped in mythology, literature, and history. The Shoah, in which most of Naomi’s extended family perished, is ever present. There are the other muses too: Sappho and her erotic poetry; Helena, the Root Vegetable, first met in a dream; ancient Naomi of the Book of Ruth and of Canaan, where the goddess was still worshipped; and last but not least, a male muse, John, a poet Naomi loved in her youth.”

“Through Naomi’s sensitivity…we learn how one woman has lived and created in the watery realms of synchronicity and of dreams. It is memoir of her soul. It also reflects the transformative power of the creative process that can heal not only the wounds of personal self, but also, through the honoring of mystery, that which ‘appears to us when we close our eyes and look into our own darkness—the place where gods and humans meet’, those of a culture that has become overly rational and linear.”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Earth Day Conference with Naomi Lowinsky

FIsher King Press authors Naomi Ruth Lowinsky and Patricia Damery will be presenting at the following conference:

Listening to Earth / Listening to Psyche:
Old and New Pathways to Healing Our Relationship to the Earth

Saturday April 17, 2010 9:30 am - 5 pm
Cost: $125
CE Credit: $15 CE Hours: 6
Approved for MD, PhD, MFT, LCSW, RN
Location: Unitarian Church 1187 Franklin St SF 94109
Reserve for this event with the San Francisco C.G. Jung Institute.

Because the Mountain is My Companion: 
Poetry of the Natural World
Presented by: Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

Poetry's roots are shamanic. There are poets of the natural world who return us to a realm in which earth, stone, tree are alive, luminous with divinity, a realm in which animals are our companions, our gods, our teachers. So are mountains.

There are poems which can alter our consciousness—opening our senses to the experience of the sacred, and to the wildness within us.

Dr. Lowinsky will read some poems that evoke these deep, essential experiences of the "unus mundus"—feeling part of everything that is—some of her own and some by poets she loves: Wendell Berry, Patiann Rogers and Gary Snyder.

Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, PhD, is an analyst member of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. She is the recent recipient of the Obama Millennium Poetry Prize, awarded for "Madelyn Dunham, Passing On." Her most recent publication, The Sister From Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way has recently been published by Fisher King Press. She has had poetry published in many literary magazines and anthologies in addition to her two poetry collections, red clay is talking and crimes of the dreamer.

Invoking the Divine in Psyche and Matter: 
Analytical Psychology and Biodynamic Agriculture
Presented by: Patricia Damery

"We are not lacking in the dynamic forces needed to create the future," Thomas Berry asserted. "We live immersed in a sea of energy beyond all comprehension. But this energy, in an ultimate sense, is ours not by domination but by invocation."

Carl Jung approached the human psyche through invocation and active imagination, an approach similar to that of Rudolf Steiner's to the earth through Biodynamic agriculture. Both men were deeply influenced by the scientific work and poetry of Wolfgang von Goethe. In this talk some of Goethe's basic principles necessary for the kind of consciousness which apprehends these "dynamic forces needed to create the future," will be presented, a consciousness that is at the heart of participatory science, and an experience of transcendence. Examples from analytical practice and farming will be cited and the biodynamic ritual of "stirring" described, which is at once a "setting of intention" and a prayer. Through this consciousness we are distinct and we are at one with creation, an individuating experience.

Growing up in small Midwestern farming community, presenter Patricia Damery witnessed the demise of the family farm through the aggressive forces of agribusiness, and, like most of her generation, left. Coming full circle, she returned to the land and farming when she married her husband Donald and joined him on his ranch. Her work with the psyche and the earth emphasizes feminine-based practice.

Patricia Damery, MA, is an analyst member of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and practices in Napa. With her husband Donald, she has also farmed biodynamically for ten years. Her forthcoming book Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation is to be published by Fisher King Press in the spring 2010. Her articles and poetry have appeared in the San Francisco Library Journal; Jung Journal; Psychological Perspectives, and Biodynamics: Working for Social Change Through Agriculture.
Also presenting at this event will be:

Jerome Bernstein on: Explorations of Borderland Consciousness

Johnson Dennison on: Balancing Navajo (Diné) Ceremonies with Western Medicine: Introducing Nature and the Spirit of the Holy People

Maria Ellen Chiaia on: Gaia Speaks and the Gods Enter