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  7 pm Pacific Time.  As with all of Janie's programs, the show will also be archived at 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 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".