Thursday, March 25, 2010

Liminal Living- Borderlanders

In my search for an explaination to unusual phenomena such as the premonitions I have before some natural disasters, I read a lot of material. Below is a quote from a fascinating book by a Jungian analyst who spent many years among the Navajo, just listening. Living in the Borderland, by Jerome S. Bernstein.

"Borderland people personally experience, and must live out, the split from nature on which the western ego, as we know it has been built. They feel (not feel about) the extinction of species; they feel (not feel about) the plight of animals that are no longer permitted to live by their own instincts, and which survive only in domesticated states to be used as pets or food. Such people are highly intuitive. Many, if not most, are psychic to some degree, whether they know it or not. They are deeply feeling, sometimes to such a degree that they find themselves in profound feeling states that seem irrational to them. Virtually all of them are highly sensitive on a bodily level. They experience the rape of the land in their bodies, they psychically , and sometimes physically, gasp at the poisoning of the atmosphere. Often they suffer from "environmental illness". This psychic identity with the animate and inanimate objects of nature is a phenomenon that anthropologist Lucien Levy-Bruhl (Levy-Bruhl, 1966) recognized among native cultures, and which he called participation mystique. It is a psychic identification from which , up until recently, westerners have been totally alienated." -Jerome S.Berstein Living in the Borderland (page 9)

Reindeer Goddess, Axis Mundi & Axis Shifts

This image is of a Scythian reindeer pole, representing the Goddess as Earth's Axis and the World Tree. It is part of the archeological finds in the Pazyryk Valley of Ukok Plateau in the Altai Mountains of Southwestern Siberia, Russia. The finds were dated 6th-3rd century BCE. The mummies at this site were c tattooed with images of reindeer. Click here to visit the site this image came from.

On the night before the tragic Sumatra Quake in December 2004, I had a wild dream encounter:

I am facing a goddess. She is half human , half reindeer. She is a mixture of skin, fur and hair. She has enormous antlers. She is very powerful. She is flinging my body around, like a lasso, holding it by the hair. My body's orbit stays the same, until she shifts it slightly, subtly. Then my body's orbit changes. I just know somehow, that she is Reindeer Woman.

When I got up that morning I saw what had happen during the night. Sumatra had an unprecedented quake, with ensuing destructive tsunamis.

Earlier in the week, My husband and I were out running errands. Suddenly , my left ear had a long, sustained ringing and I had simultaneous visions of destruction and flooding. I knew many would die. This was one of my first encounters with this type of visionary experience. I was disoriented and my husband had to hold me up until it was over. I told him what I was witnessing. I felt horrified. I knew it would happen in 3 days time, but not where it would happen.

Then came the above dream. I had no idea who Reindeer Woman was. I did correlate my body in the dream with the Earth. I mention in my profile that I have a complex of autoimmune diseases. I had, long ago, come to a conclusion: the illness of my body is somehow directly linked to humanity's damage of our environment and that my condition was a mirror of a larger issue regarding the whole planet. Consequently, in the above mentioned dream, my body was the Earth. But who was this powerful goddess?

Many days after the horrific event in Sumatra, scientists announced that the earth's axis had shifted.This quake was the 2nd strongest ever recorded and the Earth continued to oscillate for four months after the initial event. When reading about the Sumatra quake causing a shift of the Earth's axis, I realized that Reindeer Woman was somehow link the axis. I did some library and internet research, but found nothing regarding a reindeer goddess and the axis of the earth. At the time, the only material I could find on reindeer goddesses was Linda Schierse Leonard's book Creations Heartbeat: Following the Reindeer Spirit. Leonard feels the reindeer is an excellent motif representing the re-emergence of the Goddess.

On February 24th, 2010 my husband and I were in a thrift store. There was a rather dog-eared, hard covered novel on a shelf. I noticed there was a sketch of a rock with a pictograph of an antlered woman on the cover.(I can't remember the title!) I handed the book to Larry and said; "The last time I saw reindeer woman, the Earth's axis shifted." He knew that I was talking about the Sumatra quake. He asked me if I wanted the book. I said no.... I didn't feel very well and the store was very busy. I needed to leave. I didn't dream about "Reindeer Woman" that night, but I did have a difficult experience the following night, as described here.

On February 25th, Chile had an 8.8 earthquake off the coast of the Maule Region, with tsunami warnings issued for the Pacific Rim. On March 1st, scientists declared that the quake caused another axis shift. My heart sank when I realized the significance of coming across the image of the reindeer woman yet again. Now, I was determined to find the connection between this image, and the Earth's axis.

I discovered the research of art historian Esther Jacobson. In her book The Deer-Goddess of Ancient Siberia: A Study in the Ecology of Belief, she documents the transformation of the image of the pre-shamanic, neolithic reindeer goddess as Axis Mundi (world tree), through time and history. The qualities Jacobson linked the reindeer goddess to Included: (Jacobson/1997)
* deer mother as tree of life
* source and end of each clan's lineage
* beginnings endings regeneration
* her sacred places include heavenly bodies,rivers, mountains ((Jacobson/1997)

According to the Global Action Network, reindeer were domesticated as early as 7000 years ago, before the horse was domesticated. The reindeer is the only species where the antlers are larger on the female and she is the leader of the pack, making this image of the Great Mother Goddess par excellence.

Her image has been traced repeatedly on stones, in caves and among standing stones. Originally she was portrayed as the axis of the Earth, with her tradition being rooted in an ancient identification with cosmogenesis. Her images were dynamic, in motion, half human into reindeer with the antlers morphing into birds & griffins reaching toward the sky. She was often portrayed with a mirror, representing the concepts that Earth is a mirror of the Heavenly, and the afterlife a mirror of earthly life (in reverse). Her morphing form with antler branches represent the whole Tree of Life. She has been found tattooed on the mummies of the Pazyryk Valley.

Jacobson's work also shows where the tension between the sexes began, in the Iron age. This is shown through the progression of the images of the deer-goddess on rocks and in caves. As time went on, the reindeer goddess image degenerated into a cult object. Then she was replaced by male shamans, who wore her skin. Drums made from her skin replaced the rhythm of the riding of the reindeer. She went from Lady Owner of the Universe to a guide between the living and the dead.

I also found remnants of the reindeer goddess in the history of the Bo and Bon traditions, the shamanic roots of Tibetan Buddhism. In this tradition the pole star was called the deer star, long before it was connected to the image of the bear.(Ermacov/ 2008). We see this reflected in the goddess Artemis whose name comes from an Indo-European word for bear, yet she is pictured with a deer and a lion.

Reindeer Goddess is so ancient that she has very few written names. Herodotus writes that the primary deity among the Scythians was the deer-goddess Tabiti. Among the Evenki people of today she is called Bugady Enntyn and her title is "Lady Owner of the Universe." There are traces of the deer-goddess in the Scottish Highlands in the ancient tradition of the Calleach, wise-woman.

How does a modern person come to be connected with ancient primal deities? Why did a neolithic Reindeer Goddess show up in my dreamscape? More specifically, why did she assert herself into my consciousness twice, before an axis shift? Jungians, pagans, Sufis, Kabbalists all believe in the "return of the the goddess". It seems to me, she never left. I am going to make a more conscious effort to connect with Her.

UPDATE: 11/17/2010 Please read my latest blog post: Following Reindeer Woman: Pazyryk Preistess & Deer Artifacts

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ryan Bingham in El Cajon, CA

The above photo is a copy of the photo Ryan Bingham signed for us last night. I don't know who took the photo. It was given to us will we we standing there.

Last night, my husband I went over to our local Borders, which is just down the hill from our home. We watched Ryan Bingham perform a 4 song set, including the the song "The Weary Kind". Ryan and co-writer T-Bone Burnett received an Oscar for this song this past Sunday. It was sung by Oscar winning actor Jeff Bridges in the movie Crazy Heart.

This event was not widely advertised. I did receive an e-mail notice last week from
Lost Highway Records, before Ryan won the Oscar. Borders did not advertise the event, and this particular Borders has never held an event. A local radio station, KPRI, sponsored the event, though I didn't hear any promotion for it on the air.

For Larry & I it was unusual: to walk into our regular haunt and have something amazing happen. There were only about 60 people there, so the atmosphere was intimate. Ryan is a very heartful singer, and an amazing guitar player. His lyrics have depth, delivered with a gritty voice full of longing. (He used be a bull rider!) Afterward, he talked with everyone- one at time. He was extremely humble and gracious. He put his arm around me and a press photographer took our photo. I wish I had a copy!!!

I highly recommend Ryan's CD's... music homegrown here in America: Mescalito (2007) and Roadhouse Son (2009).
Visit His website here.

I hope all Ryan's dreams come true for him.