Thursday, February 28, 2013

Admiring: Midwife of Art, Ideas, and Healing

photograph by Carl van Vechten
April 12, 1934
via Yale Library

Mabel Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan was an influential salon hostess throughout her life, in Italy (where she hosted Gertrude Stein and Carl van Vechten, among others), then in New York (where she again hosted salons and also helped organize a post impressionist art exhibit). But she is perhaps is best known for hosting many great thinkers of her day at her home in Taos, New Mexico. Georgia O'Keefe, Carl Jung, Willa Cather, and D. H. Lawrence were among the visitors that Mabel invited to stay with her.

When her third husband moved to New Mexico, she soon followed, and when she arrived she was thoroughly moved by the landscape and the people who lived there. She saw the value in the pueblos' rituals and art, their connections to the earth and to each other. 

She was also interested in psychoanalysis and its ability to help people rediscover these connections, and she would invite guests that she believed could help her spread this "gospel" of reconnection to the rest of the world. Apparently her strong beliefs and goals also could make her manipulative and domineering. There are no perfect heros! But I admire her whole-hearted determination to bring healing to the world.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Philosophy of Sleep

from Caretakers of Wonder, by Cooper Edens
via phantasmaphile

Falling asleep at night can mean approaching the strangeness of pensée de la nuit, so says Hélène De Leersnyder. What a great opportunity each night to practice serenity, and accept our solitude with creativity and gentleness.

"If tomorrow morning the sky falls... have clouds for breakfast.
If night falls... use stars for streetlights.
If the moon gets stuck in a tree... cover the hole in the sky with a strawberry.
If you have butterflies in your stomach... ask them into your heart.
If your heart catches in your throat... ask a bird how she sings.
If the birds forget their songs... listen to a pebble instead.
If you lose a memory... embroider a new one to take its place.
If you lose the key... throw away the house.
If the clock stops... use your own hands to tell time.
If the light goes out... wear it around your neck and go dancing.
If the bus doesn't come... catch a fast cloud.
If it's the last dance... dance backwards.
If you find your socks don't match.... stand in a flowerbed.
If your shoes don't fit... give them to the fish in the pond.
If your horse needs shoes... let him use his wings.
If the sun never shines again... hold fireflies in your hands to keep warm.
If you're afraid of the dark... remember the night rainbow.
If there is no happy ending... make one out of cookie dough."
    —From If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow, by Cooper Edens

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Poem

Spring, by Shalisa Photography

A different kind of love poem, recycled from Ox Herding many months ago:

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills—
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.
  —Love, by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Robert Hass

I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with much love.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Practicing with Labyrinths

Labyrinth drawn on a church in Hesselager, Denmark
via Labrinthos

The beauty of labyrinths is that you can't get lost. As a spiritual practice, walking a labyrinth can help you develop security in following a path that you can't really understand.

Lately I've also been interested in the creative practice of drawing labyrinths (they're small enough you can "walk" with your finger). Did you know that the classical cross pattern (featured above) can be drawn by following a "seed" pattern? I wish I could go back to math class and learn more about labyrinth theory. I think there's something magical about arriving at a complex drawing from the beginning seeds of nodes and edges. It reverses the practice a little—you start with simplicity and arrive at a drawing you can't quite untangle without tracing the lines.

If you're interested in learning to draw labyrinths, check out Celestial Labyrinths, a website based on the book "Labyrinths and Their Secrets" (Labirinti i njihove tajne) by Adrian P. Kezele. I'm personally drawn to the Mercury and Venus labyrinths.


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