Hail a New Creation

Imbolc                                                                         Valentine Moon

My life flows on in endless song;
above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.      “How can I keep from singing?”  Robert Lowry

When I opened this page, Robert Lowry’s hymn came to the surface. I could sing this verse with no pauses for personal editing. The rest of them? Not so much. But, no matter. This one has a powerful, here and now message and it came to me from my unconscious.

third phaseThe woes of the body, our lamentations here on Shadow Mountain, are of the tactile world, the one bound up in life and death; but, they are not of the soul, the spirit, the ohr, the imago dei. No. In my soul (a word I’ve come to use more freely of late, meaning that part of me that bows to the god in you, namaste.) I can hear the sweet, though often very far-off hymn. It hails a new creation coming into existence even now, one shaped by the lamentations, but not determined by them.

That new creation is a new sort of intimacy for Kate and me, one forged not in the upbeat, I did it, achievements of the family and career second phase, but in the existential reality of the third phase. In the third phase the body begins to let go of life, gradually, a bit here, a bit there. At the same time the fruits of a lifetime of meditation, awareness, thought, friendship ripens. The soul begins to unfold, ready.

Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, said that September 29th, the Saint’s Day of the Archangel Michael, is the springtime of the soul. (odd coincidence. Kate’s bleed was on September 28th) What I’ve always liked about this idea is that it marks soul growth as occurring best in the fallow time. The fallow time, especially after Samain, Summer’s End, on October 31st, is that point when the growing season ends. An analogy to the third phase seems apt to me. The fallow time is a time for going within, going deep, finding nourishment in the eternal parts of ourselves, our soul.

That is what is happening for us. Our souls are flowering in the decay of the body. That flowering of the soul (I see a lotus.) is the new creation, perhaps not as far off as it seems.

Blessed be.

 

So Beautiful

Winter                                                                             Waxing Moon

Our snowpack. Needed for the trees and our well

Our snowpack beside the front door. Needed for the trees and our well

Another 6 or 8 inches of snow yesterday. Snowiest January since 1993. The northern half and eastern quadrant of Colorado watersheds have above average snowpack. Critically, the Colorado Headwaters area is at 116%. The south western quadrant of the state though is below average in two spots, including the Durango area where the big fires burned last summer.

So beautiful. The lodgepoles carry snowy covers on their branches. The deer, rabbits, fox that come through our yard leave their tracks.The rising sun colors the snow on Black Mountain, right now a light flush pink. Bright blue sky behind the mountain.

Not so good for those of us animals who need carapaces and wheels. This is the google traffic map from yesterday. Rush hour. Add in altitude and you get a real mess. This is when commuting to Denver from Conifer separates the brave from the foolish.

 

metro roads 1 28

Kate’s initiated a get-out of the house plan. She said last week that she felt isolated and alone, so we’re going to go somewhere each day. Yesterday we went to the post office. Today, the King Sooper Starbucks for Kate while I pick up some groceries. Tomorrow? Who knows?

creation of the waters

creation of the waters

Last week I painted the creation of the universe, the shattering of the ohr. Followed it with the creation of the waters. Next up: land. I tried to show an island in my first attempt. Not so good. I like the first two, I’m starting over today on land. I’m going to get somehow to Eden and humans and that tree. Will take awhile. Hard to say in the abstract paint language I’m using. But, that’s part of the fun.

Astrological learning has been on hold. Painting, exercise, and Kate have gotten my focus along with CBE. Gonna get back to it, though. Probably a reading with Elisa’s astrologer, John, to kick off the next phase of my learning.

Just entered the Chicken soup cookoff at CBE. Gonna get some practice today, picking up soup supplies during the grocery shopping at King Sooper. Taking some to a friend, leaving some behind for Kate and me. Kate loves my chicken soup. My heirloom recipe came off the Golden Plump packages when I bought chickens in Minnesota. Here, I do it from memory.

Lunar

Winter                                                                    Waxing Moon

20190122_072158More snow on the way. Not too much.

When I left the house for the loft this morning, I looked to the southern sky. Two bright points about 10 degrees above Eduardo and Holly’s place. Venus and Jupiter. Had I been a little earlier and the sky still dark, I could have seen Scorpio there, too. The waxing moon is in the western sky, high over our lodgepoles. This is a waning Waxing Moon in its gibbous phase. Bright.

Full Tu BiShvat Moon, 2019

Full Tu BiShvat Moon, 2019

Last night. Tu BiShvat. Judaism is on a lunar calendar and Rosh Chodesh, head of the month, is a minor holiday observed each month the day after the new moon. Tu BiShvat is the 15th of the month, Shvat. The 15th of the month on a lunar calendar is always a full moon. This year, year 5779 in the Jewish reckoning, it fell on  on the Gregorian January 20th. We celebrated on Wednesday because that’s our religious school evening.

Farmers in early Israel had to bring first-fruits offerings to the temple each year. In the case of trees the law required a farmer to wait until a tree produced in its fourth year of life. Tu BiShvat was the day chosen as the birthday of trees for calculating a tree’s age and hence its eligibility for a first fruits offering. Thus, Tu BiShvat has become known as the birthday of trees, or, the New Year of the trees in the same sense that your birthday could be considered your personal New Year’s day.

Kate and Jackie

Kate and Jackie

Kate and I saw her g.i. doc, Dr. Rhee. He was happy for her. In the last 7 days she’s seen Dr. Gidday, our internist, Rhee, and had a post-op visit to the interventional radiologist. Each one emphasized, in different ways, the recency of the procedure and its success, cautioning that time would be required to realize its full benefits. Not an easy message to hear when a confounding problem has been solved but other issues remain. Like needing to gain weight and increase stamina. Kate’s body went through a slow decline in both; it will probably require some time to reverse it. Maybe months?

I’m going to see that she gets the foods she wants, that sound good. First, we have to eliminate her food aversion. Getting what she desires should help with that. Again, some time will be necessary.

Sandy, our house cleaner, came yesterday. In the process she left a couple of bags of trash in a spot convenient for the dogs. When I got home last night from CBE, paper towels, plastic bags, old ramen containers were spread out over the sewing room. I cleaned it up this morning.

The snow has started. Looking like it might over perform again. Hope so. The day after their birthday the lodgepoles and the aspens need the water.

I see Christmas

Winter                                                                        Waxing Moon

20190122_0721198-10 inches of new, fluffy snow Monday night and yesterday. Looking out our bedroom window at night I see Christmas. Flocked trees. The full moon shining on fresh powder. A significant chill in the air. 7 degrees.

With SeoAh and Murdoch gone I’m back to cooking, cleaning. Spaghetti with meatballs on Monday, cod last night. Hmmm. Out of practice. Need to find my groove again. I will.

The house has lost some positive young energy with still mostly puppy Murdoch back in Georgia. Also with SeoAh. Her bright smile and upbeat nature was therapeutic. She came three times in this last year. After Kate’s shoulder surgery. After the long hospitalization. And, most recently on Christmas eve. Teaching us about family. Korean cooking, too. Gonna make my first solo visit to H-Mart this week. Tomorrow.

jigsaw puzzle

Sic Transit Mundi

Ordered three jigsaw puzzles: the Sistine Chapel ceiling (5,000 pieces), a world map (4,000 pieces), and a send-up of Italian painting, Sic Transit Mundi, (3,000 pieces). We need some alternative things to do. Kate doesn’t feel up to sewing, but doing jigsaw puzzles? Yeah. I’ve not done them much. In fact I can’t recall the last time I put a puzzle together. Looking forward to these.

Visit today to Dr. Rhee, the g.i. doc who finally diagnosed Kate’s cramping and nausea. We’re taking him kimchi from H-Mart, selected by SeoAh. The diagnosis was a major victory and he deserves our thanks.

Later in the day religious school at CBE. Today we celebrate Tu BiShvat, the birthday of the trees. Rabbi Jamie returns from his shabbaton, sabbatical, to lead a Tu BiShvat seder. This involves food from trees: nuts, fruits. Seder means order so the Passover seder is the order of service for Passover. Same with the Tu BiShvat seder.*

 

Tu B'Shevat Seder*”Tu B’Shvat is the New Year for the Trees. As in all other points in the Jewish calendar, Tu B’Shvat offers a unique opportunity for insight into living and personal growth. Throughout the centuries, Kabbalists have used the tree as a metaphor to understand God’s relationship to the spiritual and physical worlds. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, in his 18th century classic The Way of God, teaches that the higher spiritual realms are roots that ultimately manifest their influence through branches and leaves in the lower realms.

In the 16th century, the Kabbalists of Tzfat compiled a Tu B’Shvat seder, somewhat similar to the seder for Passover. It involves enjoying the fruits of the tree, particularly those native to the Land of Israel, and discusses philosophical and Kabbalistic concepts associated with the day. Among other things, the seder is a great way to appreciate the bounty that we so often take for granted, and to develop a good and generous eye for the world around us.”  aish.com

shhh

Winter                                                                   Waxing Moon

20190120_104200Shhh. Don’t tell anybody or you might jinx it, but I think Kate’s starting to gain weight. She’s at 84, past the 82 pound barrier that seemed so intractable. yay. shhh.

SeoAh and Murdoch are on their way today. Back to the warmer climes of Peach and Pecan country. Gonna miss her though she needs to get back and we need to settle in again to our own rhythms. SeoAh loves pho so I took her to the pho place near Evergreen’s King Sooper yesterday. A going away present. We had a long talk about her life in Seoul. She sold clothing and cosmetics door-to-door for a good while. What a tough way to make a living.

In that conversation she made an interesting point about American culture, one that wouldn’t have occurred to me. In Korea women expect each other to dress well, to the point of putting on make-up even when going to the store for groceries. And, they’re unforgiving of those who don’t. “Most Asian women are like this,” she said. “But, I love American culture.” We don’t have the same blanket expectation for women. (not saying it doesn’t exist here, but it’s not everywhere.) That makes a big difference to SeoAh.

20190101_103345Went out to DIA late last night and picked up SeoAh’s husband. Got back here about 11:00 pm, well past my sell by date in terms of sleep. The dogs didn’t get fed until 7:30 am. Gabe’s here, too. Jon brought him up last night. Jon and Ruth will go skiing today at A-Basin, then pick Gabe up on their way home. It’s been a very family oriented Christmas and New Years and January. Friends, too.

We’re expecting snow again tomorrow evening. Hopefully the pace will pick up.

Got some gold leaf yesterday for a painting I’m working on portraying the ohr penetrating the ein sof. Considering a series on Genesis with this being the first of them.

 

 

 

Seeking the myth beyond reason

Winter                                                                             Waxing Moon

ta phrom

ta phrom

A year theme. I mentioned buddy Paul Strickland’s choice: Bumping into Wonder. A few resolute type sentences* laid out some trails I want to follow in the new year, trails I’m already on, none of them new.

If there’s a thread underlying them, I don’t see it. There is, however, a potential theme occasioned by my reading of Cosmos and Psyche. In it Richard Tarnas taught me that skepticism is a tool, not a lifestyle. He chooses to deploy this insight as he begins an apology for astrology. I’ve followed him down that rabbit hole, ending up in a Wonderland that has Chesire cats, Tweedledees and Tweedeldums, Red Queens, and a few rascally rabbits.

enchanted aliceWhat I’m seeking in Wonderland is a synthesis Tarnas contends is necessary for us now, a different sort of Great Work than Thomas Berry’s, yet related to it, I think. Berry, if you recall, said that the Great Work of our time is the creation of a sustainable human presence on earth. Not goin’ so well. Tarnas wants to take the ancient, ensouled universe that prevailed until the Enlightenment, mash it into the disenchanted universe occasioned by rationalism and the hegemony of science, and come up with a Hegelian synthesis that can move us out of the stuck place created by their tension.

Ensouled and disenchanted, the sequel. Living into the next. Curing metaphysical skepticism. Myth and reason, together at last. Seeking a new enchantment. (note: not a re-enchantment since that implies a return to the old ensouled universe.) This is hard. These two worldviews are so far apart it’s difficult to see the path forward, past them.

Not there. Hmm. Mining for ohr. That’s not bad. Ohr = the primordial light of creation now inhabiting every thing in the universe, fractionated, but wanting to be whole. Dreaming a new world. Also not bad. Seeking a new ancientrail. Well, these are a start.

Unergründlich (The Unfathomable), 1874.

Unergründlich (The Unfathomable), 1874.

Seeking a myth beyond reason. I like that. Might be it.

*Eat no processed meats. Write new novel. (primal ensouled universe/enlightenment disenchanted universe. Next?) Keep painting, learning more techniques. Back to 3 days resistance, 3 days cardio. Learn how to read birth charts. Become a better teacher. Cook Korean and salt/fat/heat/acid. Continue kabbalah and mussar. Hike.

The Sacred Marriage

Winter                                                                            Stent Moon

ohrOn the drive over to Tony’s Market to pick up Christmas dinner I got to thinking about ohr, the shards of divine light kabbalists believe actually make up the known universe. When I bow to the divine light in you and you bow to the divine light in me, we say that makes sense in that framework. So there can be the ohr, the light of the divine blasted apart at the moment of creation; but, I thought, there’s also the more immediate light, that of the sun.

It’s correct in every important way to say our life spark comes from and looks back to the sun. Photosynthesis creates the food we eat, whether at its primary source in plants or in a secondary source like meat. So the divine light could also be solar, the power of the fusion engine that is our star.

More and more I see the divine sun in sacred marriage with the holy goddess, mother earth. It is through the constant and intimate play between these two that all life emerges. In this sense then the celebration of the incarnation observed tomorrow can be seen as a holiday created to honor us as children of the sun and the earth. Of course, not just us, but all of the animate creations here.

We differ from the rest of the animate world, as far we know, primarily in our capacity to know our creators, the creature knowing the creator, or, said another way, the creators looking on themselves through their creation.

sacredIt is this dance, the days of the dancing star, that we are thrown into this world to execute. Sure, you could take this and conclude a scientistic flat-earth humanism, minus the divinity, but it seems to me you end up in the same place with a reductionistic refusal to see the simcha, the joy, of life as part of, not separate from. It is the bondedness we have with our star and our planet which is divinity, we are part of a dialectic between power and fertile elements, a fruit, in fact, of its creative tension.

Sure, you could also take this perspective and place a whole pantheon in and around it. Aurora. Shiva. Mithras. Yahweh. Even baby Jesus. But I believe it is this pair, this vital union of star and planet that both makes us and teaches us about our sacred relationship to the whole universe through the example of their intimacy. I see no need to add more deities though I don’t think it hurts. Not exactly. As long as we keep our hearts on the source, we can names its elements as we wish. That creative and destructive nature both sun and earth have. Sure, Shiva. The still point, the apparent stability of the earth below, the mountain above, the ocean spread out. Vishnu. The sun appearing as the earth turns on its axis. Aurora. The dangerous interplay among humans and among humans and the rest of the creation. Yahweh. Your presence as a manifestation of this sacred marriage? Jesus.

I come back now to the Great Wheel, that cyclical turning of mother earth around her sol, how it reflects our lives as they grow and change. It is the great scripture in which we can read of our gods, know their moods, and how we can celebrate their deep meaning in our lives. Blessed be.

A Profound Week

Samain                                                                     Thanksgiving Moon

Bit of winter. 9 degrees here on Shadow Mountain this morning. No snow and little snow for us in the forecast. Though. Across the divide they’re getting good snow. Our snowpack is 119% of normal and way ahead of last year. Important data for so many people.

Friday and Saturday were more or less rest days. The week through Thursday night found me pretty damned tired. Worth it though. Gabe threw himself in my arms after his concert. Ruth leaned in for a hug as I left Swigert headed for home. Jon seems to have gained some important insight about himself and the reality of his situation. Kate learned the cause of her months long struggle with nausea and abdominal pain, weight loss. Enough for one week. Thanksgiving moon, indeed.

20181123_154009I’ve not been idle. Using some small, 5×7, canvases I’ve begun to use oil paints. My first effort is here. Doesn’t pop like I hoped it would. I have three more of these small canvases painted with an undercoat. One yellow, one sap green, and one violet. Trying color field painting. Mark Rothko is my favorite abstract painter, so I thought I’d see what I could make using him as my inspiration.

This is venturing into really unknown territory since I know little about oil paints, about oil paint brushes, how to make colors do what I want, canvas. Since I began messing around with sumi-e a while back, I’ve found myself wanting to extend myself, get way outside my comfort zone. A key motivation for me in all this is regaining some tactile work, hand work. When I was a gardener, a bee keeper, a domestic lumber jack, I got lots of opportunity to use my hands, to interact with the physical world. Since moving to the mountains, not so much after the fire mitigation work.

20181202_070637After 12 years as a guide and docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, art became an integral part of my life; yet, I’ve struggled to keep art in my life since moving to Colorado. The museums here are not compelling and driving down the hill takes time. Reading about art, looking at it online or in books has not given me the satisfaction I’ve searched for. Painting myself, which necessitates a look into art materials, theory, and careful looking at artists whose work I’d like to use as inspiration, may. I’m not there yet, but I’m having a hell of a lot of fun.

In addition to trying color field painting, I’m going to use the sumi-e ink and brushes to create bespoke Hebrew letters, astrology glyphs, and alchemical symbols. My work in the second kabbalah class, on the mystery and magic of Hebrew, prompted this. I found working with the symbols and letters directly gave me a way into understanding them. I’m also going to create mandalas.

I’ve also continued my reading about astrology. I continue to vacillate between the long time skeptic and the interested novice. Some of the writing is childish, even moronic. That puts me off. Then, though, there’s Tarnas and the Inner Sky by Steven Forrest. Archetypes, too, by Jung and Hillman. A new book on Jung and Astrology. Still trying to figure out my birth chart, how to read it, understand it. Lots to investigate here.

In spite of the various outside turbulence, or, perhaps because of it, these new areas of learning have helped keep me sane, eager. I’ll be at them for a while yet.

 

Jewish Identity

Samain                                                                     Thanksgiving Moon

Friend Bill Schmidt sent me this link.  Jewish Identity in America: Assembly Required.

He asked if Adam Platt’s thoughts rang true in CBE.

Here’s my response:

high holy daysInteresting. First, on Dec. 6th I will join all teachers in the religious school, board members, and staff for an emergency response training evening. Stimulated, as you might expect, by Pittsburgh, but always an active consideration.
Second, I read a number of the Jewish responses to the Pittsburgh shooting. All said some version of what Adam Platt emphasizes: believing or not, culturally Jewish or not, anti-Semitism binds us together.
Packing Thanksgiving Boxes at Jeffco Action Center, 2017

Packing Thanksgiving Boxes at Jeffco Action Center, 2017

Only 30% or so of Jews in American attend synagogues. That number grows on the High Holidays, like what we used to call the Christmas and Easter alumni. Most of the Jews that I know, including members of CBE are either outright atheists or find the metaphysical part antique, unnecessary.

Like Adam Platt though, most of the CBE folk place a high value on Jewish civilization, on folkways, on the irl lessons that can be learned from Torah, kabbalah, mussar, Talmud, following birth, marriage, coming of age, and death rituals. I fit in with this thinking even though I’m a good bit to the side of the culture, not to mention the metaphysics.
The Judaism I experience at CBE focuses on what it means to be a better human being. That includes being playful, thoughtful, and, above all, being willing to bear the burden of the other.

What’s My Sign?

Samain                                                                         Thanksgiving Moon

At Bean Fosters Coffee House off Golden Ridge Road I wandered into a new phase of thought. Suitable for birthdays and holiday giving in Korea a red envelope contained money to pay my astrologer. Elisa sat in the back at a large table for four, today’s ubiquitous laptop in front of her; my natal chart, a copy of the one I already have, with handwritten notes on it beside her.

(all astrological symbols used are the work of Lucis)

astrology neptuneastrology Square

astology moonastology mercuryretrograde, 9th House.

 

These symbols (glyphs) were on the upper left in Elisa’s hand. She had run the current position of the planets, stars and moon and overlaid that information with my natal chart. In my still very limited understanding the first three mean that Neptune squares (is at a right angle with) the moon. The second symbol, Mercury, appears to be going backwards in relationship to the earth (retrograde) for the next three weeks and it is moving from my 9th house into my 8th.

kabbalah magicLike the study of kabbalah with Rabbi Jamie it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the new information since astrology and kabbalah are centuries, millennia old. Both have multiple competing schools and a good deal of learning necessary to fairly evaluate them. That is, they both require a certain suspension of disbelief in order to get traction. Kabbalah has enriched my understanding of Judaism in many ways, none more important than its insistence that all the Torah is metaphor, but it took me a good ways in to the study to learn this. By undermining a literal interpretation of the Torah, kabbalah gave me a way to appreciate and use the biblical material without having to contort my own thinking. In my world that reopened those old stories that we know so well, made them available for my own growth.

I suspect astrology contains the same sort of insights. I’m so new at it that I can’t say for sure, but I think the equivalent insight (to the one above about the Torah) is about archetypes. Astrology, as Elisa said, is a “gateway.” It can open the mind and heart to the interaction of archetypes on our lives. This close connection between Jungian (and Platonic) thought synchs up with so much of my personal history. Years of analysis with Jungian analyst John Desteian. Studying with aspiring analysts. The Ira Progoff Intensive Journal retreats. Degrees in philosophy, anthropology and theology. The whole reimagining faith project. Even fiction writing and this blog.

crane2To give you a taste of the possibilities here are a few lines from an analysis of mercury retrograding into my 9th house: “Re-examine what you believe as Mercury backs up into the 9th house. Your beliefs create what you experience. It’s time to consider the future. What you do now effects the outcome. What’s your overall philosophy of life? Are your really living it?…During this transit you may be called upon to re-assess what the truth really means.”

I’m going to go back into Jungian thought, too. Focused for the moment on archetypes. Astrology, as Tarnas sees it, opens a window, a gateway (as Elisa said), into the movement of archetypal energies through our lives. It is not predictive; it is illuminating. As Neptune squares the moon, for example, it is a difficult time for certainty, for confidence, for contentment. Knowing that this is part of the archetypal ocean in which I’m swimming helps me not overreact, make rash or impulsive decisions. At least I think that’s what it means. More to come.