Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Songs of Ancient Midwives and other Arisings

This piece is brand new (as of Christmas Eve, 2013).  I don't yet know what to title it:  "Our Lady of _____________?"  I think I'm going to contact a few friends and request a title, and see if  Her archetypal name is floating around out there somewhere.

But there is a surprising sense of Arising in these Icons that  I've felt compelled to finish  these past few weeks.  The Arising of the life-giving, creation-giving Goddess, arising from the past, arising from the mythic body of the Earth, arising from the shadows in this time of need.  And now that I think about it, this day is about the birth of the new Sun God, the Christ Child..............

So why, when I searched the internet, was it so hard to find any poems about Birth, let alone Midwives?  Believe me, there are plenty of poems about Battle and the glories, or not so glorious, realities of War.  I think this is another indicator of our world's  patriarchal priorities (death is way more important, and interesting, than the bringing forth of lifeAnd even that becomes trivialized or co-opted.

Anyway, these works surfaced from the depths of my own creativity, and some dreaming part of me, some collective part of me, had to bring them forth...............

 "Sings with the Voices of Ancient Midwives the Songs They Once Sang, Singing the New Life Into The World.........."

"Shrine for the Ancient Midwives"

"Bloom Where You Are Icon"

"Reliquary for the Flight of a Phoenix"

Monday, September 23, 2013


I consider myself an inter-disciplinary artist, because I'm always exploring new ways to express - with visual arts, ritual, choreography, masks, performance and a number of writing projects. My MFA is from the University of Arizona (1987) and BFA from the University of California at Berkeley (1973).  Perhaps my greatest love is community and co-creative art forms. 

In the 90’s I was fortunate to study “Temple Mask” traditions in Bali, and produced a series of collaborative masks with Balinese mask artists (including Ida Bagus Anom) which were exhibited and performed at Buka Creati Gallery in Ubud, Bali.

In 1999, inspired by world-wide traditions of Sacred Masks,  I made 25 multi-cultural masks for the Invocation of the Goddess at the 20th Annual  Spiral Dance at Ft. Mason Center in San Francisco. The MASKS OF THE GODDESS COLLECTION travelled throughout the U.S. for almost 10 years, used by myself and numerous other producers, ritualists, and choreographers. I was privileged to direct several community productions of my own ("Restoring the Balance" 2004, Tucson, Arizona and "1000 Faces of the Divine" 2002, in Oakland, California). I continue to offer workshops that explore archetypal masks and personal mythology, and currently am working on a new collection of masks I call NUMINA - MASKS FOR THE ELEMENTAL POWERS.

I enjoy assisting women to explore universal and personal mythology through the art of the mask, and have taught workshops  the Kripalu Institute, the University of Syracuse, Southern Arizona Friends of Jung, Brushwood  Folklore Center and many others. Other performances and workshops include: "Goddess"by Serene Zloof at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, New York, N.Y. (2004), "A Rainbow" (by Macha Nightmare) at the New College of California (2000, 2001), "The Divine Feminine", (Evelie Posche) at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland (2001), "Masks of Transformation" Conference, University of Southern Illinois (2005), and the "Matrilineage Symposium", Syracuse University, 2000.
In 2007 I received a fellowship from the Alden Dow Creativity Center at Northwood University and a Puffin Grant to explore the Native American mythology of the “Spider Woman” as a Community Arts Project at the Midland Arts Center. The project was continued in 2008 at the Creative Spirit Center, also in Michigan. In 2009 I was a resident artist at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., where I continued to explore the theme, as a community effort, of a "Webbed Vision".  In 2010 I was resident artist at Gallery 408 in Carrizozo, N.M., where I taught a class on creating personal Icons.
Recent exhibitions include "Our Lady of Perpetual Exhaustion" at the Henry Luce Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C. (2013) ,  "Earth Shrines" at Parisi Gallery in T or C, New Mexico, "Weavers" at Wesley (2009), "Spider Woman's Hands" at the Midland Center for the Arts (2007), a 2-person show of paintings at Turn of the Century Gallery in Berkeley, California (2005), "Sacred Icons" at the Artisans Center of Virginia (2005), "Sacred Space/Sacred Mask" (with Catherine Nash, 2004) at The Muse Community Arts Center in Tucson.
In 2008 I self published 4 limited edition books which may be viewed at www.yellowleafpress.blogspot.com . They include “The Masks of the Goddess – Sacred Masks and Sacred Dance which is a document of the 8 year Project. These books may also be viewed through the online publisher www.blurb.com.

“Lauren is sublimely articulate about her inspiration, her study, and her realization. In her conversation, passion, and artistic creation, she evinces a mastery of the Spider Woman teachings which has uniquely prepared her to express a new articulation of the sacred teaching of wholeness. Like the ‘Spider Woman’ herself, Lauren has become one with the work of her hands. It is unusual to find a talented artist who is also sublimely articulate about her inspiration, her study, and her realization."

Sarah Gorman, Director, THE CREATIVE SPIRIT CENTER, Midland, Michigan
"Lauren probes the limits of whatever medium she addresses. The questions her art raises are deeply significant questions."

Monday, April 15, 2013

"The Awakening" - Numina Masks for the Elemental Powers

Ann Waters as "Dawn of the New Aeon"
"Dawn of New Aeon - She arises! Mother awaken to us! We see her on the horizon, rising with the sun…New Aeon - take hold!"
I've received photos from The Awakening - Our Changing Earth the  performance created and produced by Ann Waters, in Collaboration with Mana Youngbear, the Muse in Willits, and her Community of performers and writers - wonderful!  There are so many beautiful photos, and excerpts from the script I'd like to share.  

My deepest gratitude to Annie, Mana, and all of the wonderful people in the Cast - for creating hope, beauty, bringing the masks to life, and giving voice to the Numina.  May this important story continue to unfold.

Mana Youngbear as "The Medicine Basket"

"You’ve gathered through the springtime, the summer and the fall.
Your offerings are yours alone, and precious to us all.
 Now rest and build your strength up. Cycle with the moon.
Offer your song of life
 A very sacred tune.
Dream of where you’re going
 Dream of where you’ve been
 Dreams  make the Gathering.
 Beginnings never end."

"Rainbow Star Goddess"
"I bear a message of hope.   You are the Rainbow Bridge prophesized so long ago."

All photographs are copyright Jerri Jo Idarius, and used with her permission.

Corizone Elliott as "The Pythoness - Oracle"


Pilgrim and Kings, alike, answers sought, spoke of their hopes and dreams,
 journeyed to holy Delphi,  a crevice, deep in the earth,
 journeyed to the Oracle, the Sibyl, the Pythoness
 In trance, she spoke offered visions, offered hope: 
Behold I draw a spiral for You - 

Step In I implore You

You are vessels of  
Finely Woven well pitched baskets
Ancient Urns, Carved boxes
and Medicine Bundles
Fashioned From Your Perfect Heart
They are Still Safe Inside HER Holy Womb

Ancient Prayers Stir the Air,
Stirring Breath and Bone 
Inspiration, Invocation, 
Your hope is yours alone.
To touch what was a memory brings no fruit, 
Your silent longing is the proof

As the Years move to months, 
Months move to days
Numina witness you this Night,
Numina witness you this Night,

Floating plastic, Trash, decay, 
Fill our planet and oceans today
Young and Old cry out to be free,
Grieving  loss from each killing spree
Earth Mother Gaia raped 
of soil and honor brings famine
Extinction threatens sockeye salmon
Elders sit alone in Hunger waiting; 

Chorus:  Man’s compassion dissipating.

Time to listen, Take note, Stand strong
Mark My Words - It won’t be long
When no water will be safe to drink, 
And Men will lose their right to think
Because their judgment is impaired 
with residue of regret and mind despaired.
Desolation’s Darkened Dance
Stomps out the last of free will’s chance
False pride clothed in glamour’s fashion -
a deceptive weaving of wasteful action

Chorus:  Grinding you down ...Back Down to dust.

A woman weeps - A baby cries, a seed refuses to grow
Where now there is open sea there once was gentle snow.
Fruitless trees that do not bear, drought pursues you everywhere.

But Listen within - Your Soul Still Knows.
Ageless Grace resounds around.

Chorus : A Prophecy is about to unfold

Thallia Bird as "The Weaver"


Listen. Things are unraveling.   
Let me tell you about the fabric of your life. 
Your soul is the tightened yarn of the weft; your spirit is the weave. 
Your spirit is woven into the mat on which you kneel, 
into the cloak that wraps around the shoulders of your everyday lives.
Allow the distressed threads of your life to unravel. 
I have an old yarn. I have a new yarn.

Chorus: Take this yarn from me.

Form a weft that makes you strong
Take this yarn from me
Weave the threads so life goes on
 Take this yarn from me.
Stories are woven into the land. Stories wrap themselves
around old bones and compost, vine and curl and leaf in the night,
stories written in the rocks about Deer and Raven,
sung by a Tree Nesting Warbler, stories found
in the cold hearts of sleeping mountains.

Walk out into the orchard. Sit beneath a fruiting tree. 
Notice the shapes of things. The shape of the sky,
the shapes of the shadows, the shape of your own shadow.

There are cracks in the land like a spider web,
full of light, full of fire. Once,
you could see the Web as plain as day. 
Song lines, leylines, threads, the pattern. 
Each shining, woven thread.

It’ s time to weave a new story now.
See yourself as Spiderwoman, 
sitting in the center of your   web.

All of its snaking rivers and twining roots are inside of you! 
All those threads come right out of your hands and out of your hearts
All those threads just go on forever


Into the Earth, and into each other: 
into all your stories, into everyone you'll ever know,   
Into all those who came before you, 
and all those who will come after you.

Script excerpts by Ann Waters, Mana Youngbear, Ilana Stein, Lauren Raine
My gratitude to the fabulous performers of Willits who danced the masks to life!

Thank you once again for bringing these masks to life, for truly making them "Masks for the Elemental Powers"!

"Storm" by Diane Smalley.

"Desert Spring (Our Lady of the Arroyo)"


"Ice (Glacier"


"Butterfly (Imaginal)" by Diane Smalley.
"The Lady of Avalon (Sacred Spring)"

Medicine Basket

The Black Madonna

All photographs are copyright Jerri Jo Idarius, and used with her permission.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"The Awakening" - Numina Masks in California

I  feel so honored that ritualist, community organizer, and choreographer  Ann Waters, along with her collaborator Mana Youngbear, creator of  The Muse In Willits, and the wonderful dancers of the community of Willits, California, will be performing "The Awakening".  They will give voice to Our Changing Earth with a mythic journey all can participate in. 

"The Awakening" is a dance theater event in our newly revived Little Lake Grange Hall. We will experience the story of our times and our changing Earth using the 'Masks of the Numina', dance, poetry and music.

Do you think our current cultural direction needs revision? Are you concerned about the extreme weather we have experienced in the last decade - Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Tsunamis, drought in the Midwest, GMO Labeling, Species Extinction, Plastic in the Oceans?
Would you like to go beyond your fears and find a place of peace and simple connectivity to nature? 
Join us. 

Local playwright Annie Waters has written this timely script with flowing renditions of poetry by Mana Youngbear, Lauren Raine, Marilyn Motherbear, Ilana Stein, the Grange Founders, and others. 

Many local dancers and speakers will bring their talents to the stage for this contemporary drama. The early Romans believed nature was inhabited and maintained by elemental forces they called the Numina. The mysterious forests, the generous orchards, the fields of grain, the healing springs each had an intelligent spirit, a Numen. Every Roman farm had a shrine dedicated to the spirit of place that lived there. Being in good relationship with the Numina, receiving their blessings and their wisdom was necessary for the health, prosperity, and spiritual well being of all who lived on the land.

As Rome grew storytellers began to give the Numina names, and the weavers of myth gave them faces, and temples were built for them. But their ancient origins were never forgotten, their primal grace always sought. Indeed - the “Spirit of Place” calls to us today. We experience it in our wisdom and concerns over the salmon, health of the ocean, hurricanes, summer heat and wild fires being experienced each year.  This unusual performance of Mask Art, Poetry and Dance presents the dilemma of our time in Classical Greco-Roman theater style. We will enjoy the enigmatic Masks of Ancient Numina (Spirit of Place) created by master mask artist Lauren Raine - as we face our fears, and find a key to re-visioning our collective future.

Newly installed theatrical lighting for the main stage at the Grange is being used for the very first time; we thank all of those who contributed to this great revival of our completely renovated Community Grange Hall.

Please join us for an evening of deepening and artistic vision.

Playing one weekend only- March 15 and 16th, 7pm

Little Lake Grange - 291 School St - Willits, CA 95490
Tickets $10 - available at Good's Stamp Shop
 and Grange Grains (Farmers Market)
General Seating. Call the Muse (707)  354-2475  for more information 


Radio Talk Show 3/11, and Interview of 5/11

Ocean Mask (2013)
 Mask of Chaos and Order (2012)
I feel very honored  that I'll be interviewed by Janie Rezner for her "Women's Voices" radio program on Monday, March 11 at 7 pm Pacific Time (8:00 my time).  I'll be talking about masks, the new Numina collection, and the evolution of Ann Waters and Mana Youngbear's community performance "The Awakening". 

You can listen in at  90.7 Philo, 91.5 Willits and Ukiah, and 88.1 Fort Bragg.    The interview can also be   heard live at www.kzyx.org  7 pm Pacific Time.  As with all of Janie's programs, the show will also be archived at www.radio4all.net under  Janie  Rezner, MA  Programmer KZYX.

I find that I am often reticent to "promote" myself, so I often don't announce things I'm doing on behalf of my work, such as interviews, articles published, etc.  I'm very proud of these masks, and absolutely delighted that they are being animated and filled with story by these talented and dedicated people.  So in thinking about this upcoming interview,  I looked up another interview I did a few years back with Joel Le Blanc from New Zealand, Editor of  Wildberries Journal .  Reading the interview again, I felt like sharing here (I've edited it a bit for brevity).

Now to not be too nervous on Monday!

The Medicine Basket Mask

Interview May 3, 2011, with Joel Le Blanc, WILD BERRIES JOURNAL OF MYTHIC ARTS: 

Joel:    How has your art evolved over the span of your career? 

You know, I don't know how to answer that. Our art is about our lives, and if we're fortunate enough to do great art, then we've touched something universal, and our art is also, somehow, about many lives as well. Art process is the residue of life, its record, exploration, archives, memory, and sometimes, its future memory as well. So, looking at my work, I see two things:   I see something that has always been there, something intrinsic to who I am., and 2., I see my maturation as a human being, the art reflecting that growth.

How has mythology and folklore influenced my art? At this point, it seems to be pretty much everything! Whether working with masks for individual customers, or pursuing "The Masks of the Goddess" project, or my current interest in the native American mythology of the Spider Woman, mythic mind seems to be my chief source of inspiration. Mythology, and the archetypes that undermine and "over-view" any given culture, are deep, rich, and alive, once one allows oneself to 'activate" them within your imagination. When you align yourself with myth, you align yourself with the mythic continuum, or "symbolic history", of the culture you live in.  Since we are now becoming a world culture, this continuum has expanded to include all of human culture.

Joel:  Do you feel mythology and folklore is still relevant to people living in today's modern society?

The great mythologist, Joseph Campbell, has been my personal muse and mentor. I met the artist Alex Grey ("The Sacred Mirrors") in NYC years ago. We were talking about the series of talks Campbell did with Bill Moyers (The Power of Myth) in the '80's, and Alex commented that Campbell was the "Avatar of artists". Myth and art are intimately connected.  I feel that myth is more important to todays evolving world than it has ever been. Mythology is one of the ways that human beings organize information - it is intrinsic to consciousness, and to how human beings have transmitted information from generation to generation. We think and comprehend and communicate through story.

The poet, Muriel Rukeyser, famously wrote that “the world is made of stories, not atoms”. Stories are at the center of our human nature, and our creative intelligence evolved from the tribal stories we told in our attempt to understand the mystery of the world. Story, myth, is our essence. Religions are also based on mythology, and for those who study the evolution of mythology, one begins to see the evolution of culture within the religious myths. They are threads that make the weave, and weave into present time from very ancient roots.
"Scapegoat Mask" for TRAGOS by Antero Alli

So the question we have to ask is "how are the old myths serving us?" Are they still useful, or not? And if not, what kinds of new mythologies do we need? That's where artists come in.   I think, for example, of the recent film "Avatar" by James Cameron........ how gorgeous a work of art and myth making, and how entirely appropriate for our time.

Joel:  You often refer to the "Spider Woman" of North American mythology, and you have even titled one of your blogs after her. Who exactly is the Spider Woman and how has she influenced your work?

The Spider Woman creatrix myth is ubiquitous throughout the Americas, and remains a profound metaphor to re-discover for our time. Grandmother Spider Woman is revered by the Navajo, for example, as a great teacher, and to this day midwives rub a bit of spider web into the palms of infant girls, so they will "become good weavers." Pueblo peoples called Spider Woman “Thought Woman” (Tse Che Nako), the goddess who spun the world into being with what she imagined. I find the Spider Woman myth, or archetype, utterly relevant to contemporary ecology, human community, and contemporary science, including quantum physics, which now suggests that we live in a “thought universe” wherein all things are interconnected, entangled, and responsive.

Tse Che Nako Weaving the World into Being

To the Hopi, as well as the Navajo, weaving is a spiritual practice, an act that uncovers a pattern already there. A good weaver aligns herself with Spider Woman, and seeks to work with the deep patterns. I suppose it would be hard, at this point, to say how Spider Woman has influenced my work.........my 2007 community project, "Spider Woman's Hands" sought to imply that our own hands are also the hands of Spider Woman, weaving the world into being together with the "stories we tell and dream".

 Joel:  As a multi-media artist, do you have a current favorite form of artistic expression?

 No, not really...........I think we find different ways of expression for the same idea. Because I've trained as a visual artist, that is what I'm most comfortable with, how I think, in images.

Joel:  What place does blogging and the world wide web have in your career and art? 

Well, the Pueblo people of the Southwest believed that it was Spider Woman who led the people, at the disastrous flood that signalled the end of the 3rd World, up into the new world (the 4th age). It is now, according to the Hopi (and Mayan) calendars, the end of the 4th World. There are a few prophecies that, as in the past, Spider Woman will return, perhaps, to lead us once again into a new world and a new age. I kind of like to think of the the Internet as Her latest appearance.

Joel:  What are some of your upcoming and future projects?

 My question now is: "How do we speak with the Earth?". I hope my journey (to Glastonbury)  reveals some answers.

Joel:   Now for an obvious question: do you have any advice to offer for budding artists and writers out there? 

Nothing "practical" in a world that values money to the loss of soul. Art making, in whatever form, can be viewed as a spiritual practice that can reveal you to yourself, and can be a form of prayer or invocation. And artists are the myth makers and transmitters of cultural story......a very important task! I think it's important that artists, young or old, value the significance, personally and collectively, of our amazing worldwide artistic legacy, and the evolution and contribution each artist makes to that "Grand Conversation".