Showing posts with label faust. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faust. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Muse of Remedios Varo

On the cover of my about to be published book, The Faust Woman Poems, a woman is feeding stardust to the moon. She sits in a sort of gazebo, suspended in dark moody skies. She operates an old–fashioned food mill—I remember it from my mother’s kitchen. Only her machine has a chimney that seems to draw down the stars. She grinds them up to make baby food, which she feeds to the moon in its cage with a long handled spoon. Where are we?

We’re in the imaginal world of Remedios Varo, a surrealist painter of the mid 20th century. We’re also in the poet’s study—I live in that world—feeding the moon—though my moon—I’m happy to say— is not in a cage. Perhaps that’s because I am a member of a generation that experienced the rebirth of the deep feminine, just a few years after Varo’s untimely death in 1963. That rebirth is the subject of the poems in this collection for which Varo is an inspiration and a muse.

Look at her painting, titled “Reborn.” A naked woman breaks through a wall. The moon breaks through the ceiling and is reflected in a bowl. Twigs and branches push through cracks, windows, the ceiling. The human made world is red as blood, vibrant as passion. The woman’s eyes are full of uncanny light. That’s one of the ways Faust Woman looks in my imagination.

Remedios Varo was born in Spain in 1908. She married the Surrealist poet Benjamin Peret. The couple went to Paris in the late 30s and was active in Surrealist circles. Peret was a left-wing activist and she a Loyalist so they were not safe in Franco’s Spain. They emigrated to Mexico. She was never to return to her homeland. But Mexico was magical for her art. Look at her “Unexpected Journeys” which is the cover art for a book about her work. 

My own family was forced to make an unexpected journey too, out of Hitlerian Europe to America. I identify with Varo’s story. In Mexico she befriended another fabulous Surrealist painter, British born Leonara Carrington.

The two women studied mysticism, Kabbalah and Alchemy. They were interested in psychoanalysis and told each other their dreams. My kind of friends. Here is Varo’s painting of a woman leaving her analysts’ office.

The woman is holding a ghost like a dead rat, her headdress is wild with what’s been released in her soul, her shawl covers her mouth for she’s been telling secrets, another pair of eyes are draped at her heart for she’s been seen and reflected; above her the sky is wild and moody. I know that feeling; I know her world well. My poems explore the weird and the uncanny, the mystical and the taboo. I too have an intimate connection with the moon. I want to thank the spirit of Remedios Varo and her estate for the privilege of using her image on the cover of The Faust Woman Poems. And I want to dedicate the following moon stuck poem from that collection to Varo, my sister in the imaginal realm.

Witch’s Sabbath

Long ago when night was your familiar
you knew the moon and the moon knew you
I mean carnally
Those stories about sex with the devil are about this

You knew the moon and the moon knew you
Joy from the sky made a music in your body
Those stories about sex with the devil are about this
moon penetration     stars awakening

Joy from the sky made a music in your body
Lion arose     horse flew
moon penetration     stars awakening
Something from forever loved you for a night

Lion rising    horse flying
Roots of the tree reach up into the sky
Something from forever loves you for a night
and the moon sings

Roots of the tree reach up into the sky
Branches touch down into earth
the moon sings
Naked you are     and flying

Branches touch down into earth
I mean carnally
Naked you are     and flying
rooted in the night     your familiar


I’ll be one of a group of local poets reading for National Poetry Week at the Montclair branch of the Oakland Public Library on April 16th at 6:00 pm. If you’re in the neighborhood, please come. I’ll be reading from The Faust Woman Poems.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Publication of The Faust Woman Poems

The Sister from Below is delighted to announce
the publication of

The Faust Woman Poems 
by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

The Faust Woman Poems, in good Jungian form, began with a dream.

I am a woman from another time and place, dressed in long skirts, a mauve shawl—a baby on my hip. I am me and not me—larger and older than my one small life. I arrive at the door of the Church at Chimayo—an old and magical church in New Mexico. A priest greets me and hands me an intricate brooch of Mary, carved in amethyst. He pins it at my throat.

Suddenly there is a violent transformation. I am not who I was, but it is unclear who I have become. A voice from the altar calls out “Faust Woman!”

Faust Woman? What was that supposed to mean? I had spend years reading, writing about and teaching Goethe’s Faust and its importance for Jungian psychology and our times. But why should Faust be a woman? And why should I— a Jew—be given the image of Mary to wear at my throat?

“Aha!” a voice inside me said: “you participated fully in that wild ride in the ‘60s and ‘70s—when you and your sisters liberated yourselves. And Mary is an ancient goddess who was stripped of her powers. Remember Jung’s excitement when the Assumption of Mary became dogma in the Catholic Church in the 1950s? He saw this as the return of the feminine to western consciousness.”

Well, that was all very interesting. But the interpretation by my inner voice was not sufficient. The dream kept tugging at me, wanting something else from me.

I wrote to my dear friend Alicia in Venezuela. She often can see what I can’t. “Oh” she wrote, “it’s simple. The brooch is at your throat chakra. You need to write about being a Faust Woman.” And so I did. Here is the poem that came to describe the dream:

The Dream

You arrive at the church in long skirts
mauve shawl the baby
on your hip

Light from the eyes
on the altar
touches your throat

Maria carved in amethyst
sing to us
sing to the wooden Santos

We have come to be
healed Reveal to us
your next incarnation
Look at you
in your red power suit
your pointed shoes
amulets tucked
between your breasts 
Changed woman
what have you done
with the baby? 
What will you do
with hot blood
hard currency
the smell
of new cars?
A voice from the altar calls you
Faust Woman

Thursday, January 31, 2013

What Became of Our Fierce Flowering?

The Faust Woman Poems
by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

Available April 10, 2013 - Advance Orders Welcomed!

What became of our fierce flowering?

In the 1960s and '70s the long forgotten and forbidden Great Goddess roused herself from millennia of slumber and took possession of young women’s imaginations. That cast out She offered a Faustian bargain—She would rip you out of your narrow domesticated self image, thrust you into the wilds of sex, power and creativity, initiate you into the mysteries of Earth and Starry Heaven, but you would owe Her your soul. A generation of women followed Her. Some knew her as Feminism, some knew her as the Deep Feminine, many as both.

The Faust Woman Poems trace one woman’s Faustian adventures through that time. Most of a lifetime later the Great Goddess returns to the poet.  As oceans rise and species die She demands Her due.

About the Author:
Naomi Ruth Lowinsky lives at the confluence of the River Psyche and the Deep River of poetry. The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way tells stories of her pushy muse. She is the co-editor, with Patricia Damery, of the new collection Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way. In addition to the Faust Woman Poems, Naomi is also the author of three books of poetry, including the recently published Adagio & Lamentation. Her poetry has been widely published and she is the winner of the Obama Millennium Award. She is a member of the San Francisco Institute and has for years led a writing circle there, called Deep River.

Product Details
Paperback: 90 pages
Publisher: il piccolo editions; 1st edition (April 10, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1926715971

Cover image Papilla Estelar is a painting by Remedios Varo, used with permission from the Varo Estate, © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid. 
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles.