Kundalini Splendor

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Friday, September 30, 2005

What I Saw 

I beheld my essence. What I saw

By Shah Nematollah Vali
(1330 - 1431)

English version by Peter Lamborn Wilson & Nasrollah Pourjavady

I beheld my essence. What I saw
Was like the very light of the eye itself:
How wonderful that a single Essence should
Refract itself like a light, a single source
Into a million essences and hues.
The being of the lover and Beloved
Are the same, for where is Love without
A lover and Beloved to be found?
Behold His Essence by His Light, that you
May be yourself the seer and the Seen.
I have wandered through the essences
And found that His Reality makes up
The essence of all beings. To ourselves
We manifest ourselves; were it not so
There could be no relationship between
The One and many. Now then, go beyond
Relation, go beyond the going-beyond
Till there remains no body, soul or being.
"All that is must perish save His face"
And in His Being ours is burned to ash.
At last I see that vision of Him requires
A subject and an object: I and He.
And yet the Essence is the same, sometimes
A wave upon the sea, sometimes the sea;
Sometimes the eye, sometimes the object of
The eye. Whoever sees this ocean knows
Our essence as we know it in ourself.
We are the waves and yet in essence we
Are not different from the sea: Reality
Is one but shows itself as two: subject
And object, two in manifestation
But not in Essence: only one Existence
Though countless its attributes. The mystery
Is still too deep for all to understand...

This profoundly philosophical poem by this ancient holy man offers us much to contemplate. For those who have undergone deep spiritual awakening, especially kundalini initiation, it will be especially meaningful The notion of beloved and lover as one, the concept of the one and the many, the end of the journey as annihilation into the beloved--these are familiar categories of the mystical experience. It is quite impressive to find these ideas expressed in a work composed many hundreds of years ago. The mystical experience remains the same, basically unchanged over time and space.

Once again, I copied this poem from Ivan Granger's wondrous site. Ivan offers us all an amazing gift, as he uncovers more and more of ancient wisdom expressed through sacred poetry. (see www.poetry-chaikhana.com where you can in fact sign up to receive a new poem each day.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Inviting Suggestions 

A friend is planning to begin a kundalini newsletter and also to set up a website offering basic kundalini support for interested readers. I will be assisting him with these projects. If you have suggestions as to what you would like to see included on these projects, please contact me at:


Also, he is seeking someone to help set up the website for a minimum fee (or perhaps as a contribution to the cause of kundalini awareness). Let me know if you have any thoughts on this as well.

Thanks to all.

By the way, I have the feeling that kundalini awakenings are increasing. Perhaps we are indeed developing the "morphogenetic field" which Rupert Sheldrake has posited, and will at some point reach critical mass, when universal transformation will occur. Anything seems possible in today's world, where the unexpected is the norm.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Patricia's Account of the March on Washington 

This is the second post on this blog today. After I read this stunning account of Saturday's March on Washington, I couldn't not put it up. (For new readers, Patricia Lay-Dorsey is my friend who set up this blog site for me--she is a dear sister, and an unfailing inspiration--in the spirit of "mystical activism" I am reprinting her entries from her journal, which appear regularly on her own site, www.windchimewalker.com. I recommend her website as well as her own blog to everyone. You can see more of her photos of this day by going to her Sept 24/DC antiwar demo photo/journal.


6 AM

Monday's journal entry gave voice to what I saw and heard on that historic day of protest in our nation's capitol. It was a good place to start. This morning I awake early with the need to recall how it felt to be among over 100,000--in my opinion, more like 500,000--women, children and men on those streets and patches of earth where so many millions have stood and marched in demonstrations for peace and justice since Washington, DC first became the geographical center of our federal government.

There is an energy deposited there that you feel through the soles of your feet, or, in my case and that of my wheeled sisters and brothers, through the wheels upon which you ride. It is an energy of persistence in the face of seemingly impossible odds, an energy that says your presence matters, that each individual has a unique and essential place in the whole. We were not a mass of humanity on those streets, on the Ellipse or on the Mall. No, we were a collection of individual drops of heart, head, body and spirit that together flowed into a river of resistance, a sea of responsible action, an ocean of intent. Separate drops of water take millennia to change the surface of a stone upon which they fall; rivers, seas and oceans transform seemingly solid realities in an instant.

September 24, 2005 was just such an instant.

It was the day our country manifested a new reality, the truth that the majority of people who live in this well-meaning but often unthinking nation do NOT go along with their president's war on Iraq. They do not believe his protestations that we must "stay the course." They say, "Get out now and bring our troops home where they belong!"

At least a half a million people said that with their presence in DC, and probably a million more said it with their presence at rallies and marches in cities and towns across our country. Not to mention our sisters and brothers in other countries.

To be in the presence of such determination, such extreme concern and deep-felt conviction was like getting a transfusion of hope. This is who we are, not the lemmings we'd feared were following their leader off a high cliff. Every one of the individuals who showed up in Washington, DC on Saturday paid for that experience with comfort, convenience, money, time and in many cases, the approval of their family and friends.

It wasn't just that we had travelled--many of us hundreds and even thousands of miles--to be there, it was that many of us had travelled uncounted miles of changed attitudes and deepened commitment to the principle that true democracy means our voices count, that we are the democracy in which we believe. There were more first-time protesters than at any previous national demonstration, perhaps in history, persons for whom it was not the norm to take to the streets, especially not the streets of their nation's capitol.

Think of it: hundreds of thousands of individual women and men who made the decision--for many an agonizing decision--that enough was enough! This president and his administration have taken a wrong turn and are leading our country on a path that leads to ruin. Each person marching beside the majestic houses of government on those historic streets, sitting and standing during the rally at the Ellipse, stopping to meditate on the true cost of war at the 1,910 crosses, Stars of David and crescent moons planted in the earth under the Washington Monument, dancing to the music of politically aware performers at the concert on the Mall...each of us carried the seed of change within our hearts and minds, each of us is an essential part of the transformation our world and planet needs to survive. As the song goes, "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

As the day wore on, as marchers who had been on the street for hours passed by 14th Street and New York Avenue, NW, where I stood as my friend Lisa waited in a l-o-n-g line for sandwiches for herself, Jessi and me, my sign drew hundreds of smiles, cheers and thumbs up. Earlier in the day it had drawn no response, but by 5 PM on Saturday, September 24, 2005 on the still-crowded streets of Washington, DC, people knew in their guts what my sign really meant. It said, "Look around you--See Our Power!"

And our power is what we need to recognize and use in order to take our country back from leaders whose inclinations and actions lead to death and destruction for all but their favored few. Stopping the war on Iraq is just the beginning. We need to keep Saturday's momentum going and growing with grassroots mobilization of concerned citizens and non-citizens alike. Each town and city must become a center of thought and action where people come together to reclaim their power locally and nationally. But it must go beyond that. We must coordinate our efforts so our true power is felt. The things that divide us must be put aside, at least for now. We must find and build on what unites us. Within that shared consciousness, we'll find that our differences will enhance not separate us; they are the building blocks that strengthen rather than the barriers that divide.

The internet is an effective tool to use in this country-wide mobilization, but there must be opportunties to come together regularly, face-to-face and voice-to-voice. We need to continue to take to the streets, but even more than that, we must sit in circles and discuss what we think and determine what actions we need to take. It seems to me we can use the model created by those for whom civil disobedience is a tool of change: local affinity groups and regional spokes councils. Each affinity group would meet regularly and then send a member or two to a regional spokes council where decisions would be made by consensus. And, in this case, each regional spokes council would choose members from its body to meet regularly in a national spokes council.

We cannot wait; time is of the essence. I see the groups and individuals who organized this September 24th national mobilization as the natural leaders of our movement. Cindy Sheehan and her co-workers from Camp Casey Crawford and the Bring The Troops Home Now! Tour, Medea Benjamin and her sister organizers of Code Pink, the folks at United For Peace & Justice, and A.N.S.W.E.R. are a just a few national leaders who come to mind.

Let us not stop now. Saturday's march and rally, Sunday's trainings and meetings, and Monday's civil disobedience and Congressional lobbying were just the start. Now is the time to work together to make the changes we know must be made. WE are the ones we've been waiting for!


September 24, 2005 in Washington, DC

There were signs that made you laugh (a man carrying a sign with a picture of a strawberry and the words "Just another Fruit For Peace") and some that made you cry (an African-American woman with her son, carrying a hand-lettered sign that read "No Iraqis left me on a roof to die"). There were more handmade signs than I've ever seen before.

There were more people per square inch than you can imagine. There was a mile-long march that took five hours for everyone to complete. There were chants, drums, trumpets, saxophones, whistles, flutes, tambourines, and spontaneous cheers that erupted every couple of blocks. There was more focus, passion and seriousness of purpose than I've seen at any of the 6-7 DC rallies/marches I've attended. At the same time there were more smiles and expressions of love than I've ever seen or experienced in such a large gathering of "strangers"...even on the Metro subway train where we were packed tight as sardines in a can.

Cindy Sheehan spoke, the Rev. Jesse Jackson preached, Joan Baez sang, Sweet Honey In the Rock performed, and lots of us late-night folks danced. There was a Code Pink pre-rally rally at 10:30 AM at the Freedom Plaza (14th & Pennsylvania), the MAMMOTH official rally at 11:30 AM at the Ellipse, a peace & justice festival with tents and booths under the Washington Monument from 10 AM-10 PM, a march route that took us by the White House for the first time in years, and an Operation Ceasefire concert on the Mall with the largest stage and speakers I've ever seen, including two mammoth screens so even us folks way at the back could see and hear the wonderful performances and speeches that ran from 5 PM-1 AM.

There was also row after row after row of white crosses, Stars of David and crescent moons planted in the ground beside Cindy Sheehan's "Bring Them Home Now! Tour" tent on the Mall. More than 1,900 young American men and women dead in Bush's war on Iraq, and that doesn't begin to mark the uncounted--over 100,000?--Iraqi women, children and men dead. And the numbers grow every day.

There were WW II, Vietnam and Iraqi veterans, Gold Star families who have lost loved ones fighting in Iraq, untold numbers of peace groups marching together, grey-haired Vietnam-era activists, young people with black bandanas covering their noses and mouths, families with small children, high school and university students, busloads of folks from Florida to Vermont and Virginia to Oregon, and individuals from every state in the nation and many other countries. There were Muslim women in scarves, a stiltwalker whom I've seen for years at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and an Ann Arbor woman in a wheelchair whose bare breasts were taped over in strategic places with blue duct tape that matched her outfit.

There was the man dressed in military fatigues, carrying a "Troops Out Now!" sign, who when I asked if he had fought in Iraq said, "No, but my two brothers are over there now. I'm here for them." There was the white-bearded man dressed in a suit and tie who sat in a wheelchair at the Constitution Avenue side of the Ellipse holding a sign that said, "WW 2 Vet For Peace." There was the man who walked by me on the march carrying a sign that said, "To our soldiers: Thank you for your blood, sweat, tears & service--but it is time to come home. We will work to bring you HOME!"

There were the mixed feelings of pride and shame I always get when I march by the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House where my father had an eighth floor corner office as Executive Secretary of the National Security Council during the Truman and Eisenhower presidencies...pride that I am now doing all I can to stop US imperialism and war-mongering, and shame that my idealistic, ambitious father didn't seem to recognize how he was adding to those disastrous American attitudes and actions.

Lisa, Jessi (from Lansing) and I (from Detroit) had a wonderful but long 11 and 1/2 hour journey to DC on Friday and again today (Sunday) with stops for food and such. We stayed in a pleasant, reasonably-priced Holiday Inn in Chevy Chase, MD just blocks from a Metro Station. We three got along great even though we didn't get enough sleep and had a VERY long, VERY active day on Saturday. Like so many others in DC on this grey, occasionally damp day, this was Lisa and Jessi's first-ever antiwar demonstration. We all agreed we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Who knows? Maybe we'll look back and say, "Remember September 24, 2005? That was the day the people rose up and STOPPED Bush's war on Iraq!" May it be so.


Lisa, Jessi and I will be on the road in Sojourner, my wheelchair-accessible minivan, on our way to DC by 9 AM tomorrow (Friday) morning. As you know if you're a regular reader, I'd already paid for a retreat this weekend with the environmental visionary, Joanna Macy, to be held here in the Detroit/Flint area. But, as the time grew closer, I couldn't NOT go to Washington, DC for this weekend's massive anti-war mobilization. Not in good conscience, anyway. So I was able to give my retreat reservation to a wonderful ecological woman warrior with whom I sing in the Gaia group, and happily found two women in my newly-formed writers' group who wanted to drive with me to DC, so it's all happening.

By the way, I've made three signs: 1) For the front of my scooter basket is a sign that says "ENOUGH ALREADY" in large black letters surrounded by smaller red letters spelling out "Iraq", New Orleans, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, U.S. Patriot Act, Kyoto"; 2) A larger two-sided sign on a pole that says on one side, "Camp Casey Detroit says Bring Them Home NOW!", and on the other is a drawing of two eyes looking out with the words, "Look Around You--See our Power".

Hope to see you there!


O God, Another Night is passing away,

By Rabia (Rabi'a Al-'Adawiyya)
(717 - 801)

English version by Charles Upton

O God, Another Night is passing away,
Another Day is rising --
Tell me that I have spent the Night well so I can be at peace,
Or that I have wasted it, so I can mourn for what is lost.
I swear that ever since the first day You brought me back to life,
The day You became my Friend,
I have not slept --
And even if You drive me from your door,
I swear again that we will never be separated.
Because You are alive in my heart.

-- from Women in Sufism: A Hidden Treasure - Writings and Stories of Mystics Poets, Scholars & Saints, Edited by Camille Adams Helminski

(reprinted from Ivan Granger's www.poetry-chaikhana.com Thanks, Ivan.)


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Note: I will be out of town for a few days. Blog will resume next week. Have a great week, all.

The following is from Ivan Granger's website, www.poetry-chaikhana.com (Thanks again, Ivan).

Mystic Chat

By Hakim Sanai
(1044? - 1150?)

English version by Peter Lamborn Wilson and Nasrollah Pourjavady

My dear!
You haven't the feet
for this path --
why struggle?
You've no idea where
the idol's to be found --
what's all this
mystic chat?
What can be done
with quarrelsome
fellow travelers,
If you were really a lover
you'd see that faith and infidelity
are one...
Oh, what's the use?
about such things
is a hobby for
numb brains.
You are pure spirit
but imagine yourself a corpse!
pure water which thinks
it's the pot!
Everything you want
must be searched for --
except the Friend.
If you don't find Him
you'll never
be able
to start
to even
you can be sure:
You are not Him --
you can remove yourself
from between
and Him --
in which case

-- from The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, Translated by Peter Lamborn Wilson / Translated by Nasrollah Pourjavady

Here,in this ancient poet's work, is a familiar theme: in order to find the "Friend" (the Divine Reality), one should give up vain struggle and searching, and simply "get out of the way." Too often, we stand in our own light and thus cannot see the very thing we are seeking.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Biology of Transcendence 

The other night, I attended a lecture by Joseph Chilton Pearce. His earlier books included "The Crack in the Cosmic Egg," "The Magical Child," and "The Magical Child Matures," as well as others. He is now about eighty, and he has news for us all.

Joseph Pearce has experienced unusual states of consciousness for many years. In this latest book, he describes an experience from his college days, when he went into a "timeless" state, and was able to hold lighted cigarettes against his body without harm. (This reminds me of the feats of the eastern yogis, some of whom can walk over nails, run spikes through their cheeks, and perform other "supernatural" feats. Caution: don't try these stunts at home. They can be quite damaging to those not in sufficiently heightened consciousness.) He also describes three "out of body" experiences in which he visited the woman he was in love with, and literally entered her body as she was writing him a letter of rejection. He was able to quote the letter word for word before it arrived. He repeated this feat two more times soon thereafter. (All of this material is from the book, not the lecture.)

But he wasn't there to teach us how to achieve such esoteric prowess. In his later years. he becaame a student of Siddha Yoga, and has apparently followed a profound spiritual path since. He comes across as a loving and authentic human being, eager to help his fellows achieve a better world for all.

But what he talked about to us was even more exciting than his earlier antics. He described some of the astonishing discoveries coming forth from the realm of frontier science. For each anecdote, he gave source and documentation, but I wasn't able to capture most of these. Among other impressive facts, he mentioned that a group called "HeartMath Institute" (look it up on Google) has found that the heart is not merely a pump serving a useful purpose for body and brain. The heart has intelligence, as important as or perhaps even more important than, the intelligence of the brain.

For example, in one experiment, the experimenters were trying to ascertain what effect negative vs. positive images might have on the brain and heart. Random images were flashed onto a screen, and readings were taken of the responses of each. Positive images elicited brain waves and heart rhythm in synch, negative the opposite. Oddly, the heart appeared to manifest chaotic response seconds before the negative image was flashed and registered on the brain. The experimenters were quite surprised--they were not even testing for such an effect. They ran the experiment over and over, many hundreds of times. The results were undeniable. The heart has foreknowledge of events that are about to happen as well as responses to those which have already occurred.

Pearce also pointed out that Darwin in "The Origin of the Species" tracked the evolution of the physical makeup of the human. But the frontal cortex, that which makes us human and gives us our distinction from the other species, appeared only some forty thousand years ago. Darwin himself, in "The Descent of Man (sic)", stated that this dramatic shift could have occurred only with the help of some external "moral" agent.

He showed us pictures of earth taken from outer space which showed in graphic detail how the magnetic field of earth is grossly distorted, a phenomenon which is now affecting every living thing on the planet.

Pearce feels that much of the aggressive and sometimes violent behaviors being displayed by some of our youth derive from the constant bombardment of all of us by the media, which transmits constant depictions of violence against others at every level. He showed images revealing that the brains of violent persons are themselves abnormal. In other words, violence may come from a biological condition, not merely a mental or emotional state.

The cure, for him, is the familiar one of love. Children desperately need to be held and stroked and loved as they develop. Babies flourish when they are cradled in the mother's arms, near the heart they kept close to in the womb . (He didn't explain why the father could not supply this same kind of loving physical contact.)

One last fact--a Harvard study tracked doctors from the time of their youth to several decades later. Those who reported happy childhoods had remarkably few debilitating diseases of age (diabetes, heart problems, and the like). Those who experienced unhappy childhoods had a distressing high rate of such problems.

Pearce told us that too many today have separated the brain from the heart. Indeed, one of the primal tribes of South America has come forth from isolation to tell us,
"The world's heart is dying."

This is but a fraction of the fascinating information Pearce gave us. He himself is a splendid example of a man fully connected to his heart, after so many decades of service in the field of consciousness studies. I have not yet read his new book, but plan to get a copy immediately, as well as another publication from the HeartMath Institute.

Both can be found on Amazon. The titles are "The Biology of Transcendence" (Joseph Chilton Pearce)

and "The HeartMath Solution: The Institute of HeartMath's Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart's Intelligence."

Friday, September 16, 2005



This is the final thing.
Power and faith, power and blood.

Linda Gregg

Power and blood,
distilled in faith.

All of us came
down here in desire,

The yielding nipple,
its fruity

The love spasm,
shuddering through
like a god or goddess

Light attending
as we gave and received,
received and gave,
until we were weary of things,
worn out with doing.

Endless waiting,
Stricken fumbling in the dark.

Sudden illumination igniting
all the tapers
of the soul.

A final darkness
before new light.

(copyright,Dorothy Walters
September 16, 2005)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Patricia's Account of Camp Casey Detroit 

This message came from my friend, Patricia Lay-Dorsey, who is the most committed peace advocate I know. She has participated in Camp Casey Detroit, a 24/7 peace encampment in the middle of downtown Detroit, for the past three weeks. Her account is extremely moving. Her other activities (of various kinds) are described on her journal at www.windchimewalker.com

(Note: although this is not a specifically political site, I think it is important for all of us to be "mystical activists," persons willing to be aware of what is happening at this critical time in human history, and to support, in whatever way we can, the merger of moral commitment and public action.)


"In all my years as a peace activist never before have I sobbed aloud at a rally. Tears in my eyes, yes. Maybe even tears rolling down my cheeks, but never uncontrollable sobs coming unbidden from my mouth.

I don't cry easily so when it happens it catches me by surprise. But what happened in the middle of Saturday's rally at Camp Casey Detroit honoring the folks on Cindy Sheehan's Bring Them Home Now! bus tour, hit so deep I didn't have a chance to protect myself. All I could do was react. And I wasn't the only one.

This rally had already been more emotional than most. We'd heard from Lila Lipscomb, the Mom from Flint, MI whom Michael Moore had featured in "Farenheidt 9-11." She'd brought up to the stage her dead son's little girl. That was a moment. And then Al Zappala, the only tour member representing Gold Star Families for Peace, told us about his 30 year-old son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, who'd been killed in Baghdad on April 26, 2004. That was another moment. But these moments were to be expected. We'd known ahead of time that we'd be hearing from folks who had lost loved ones in the fighting in Iraq. It was what happened next that pushed me, and many of us, over the edge.

After Al had finished speaking, the Rev. Ed Rowe, MC for the rally, asked if there were any other families of troops fighting in Iraq who would like to come forward. Two women walked up and stood directly under Ed at the elevated ledge of Hazen S. Pingree's statue which we were using as a stage; one was blond and the other had long dark hair and looked to be Latina. Cradled in her left arm was a framed color photograph of a smiling young man in military dress uniform. Three children, ages 6-11 or so, came up holding signs that said "Bring the Troops Home Now!", and stood beside her.

The blond woman told of her son who had fought in Iraq, and, thank God, had gotten out alive. Then the mic was handed to the woman carrying the photograph. As soon as she started talking, she dissolved into tears and kept saying, "My life is over. My son is dead." She was crying so hard it was difficult to understand her. I never did hear her name or her son's name, when he had been killed or where in Iraq it had happened. That didn't matter. All that mattered was that we were in the presence of such a raw grief that, no matter how committed to peace we'd been before, now we knew why. We were finally seeing and feeling the true cost of war. A mother's pain. Her grief. Her inconsolable loss.

As soon as Lila Lipscomb saw what was happening, she rushed forward to stand beside this woman, to put her arm around her, to be a presence of support, because Lila and her husband know more than anyone except Al Zappala, how it feels to lose your child to war. Ed Rowe stepped down off the stage, stood on the other side of this woman and said, "We need hugs here." Now that may sound too touchy-feely for some, but he was right. Hugs were all that could speak to such depths of pain. Words were useless.

For the next twenty minutes, person after person came forward to hold this sobbing woman, to let her know she was not alone. Tammara Rosenleaf from the bus tour, a woman whose husband is scheduled to be deployed to Iraq in November, held her sister for endless moments. Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, the next speaker, stood beside these hugging, sobbing women and said over and over, "No more business as usual! No more business as usual! No more business as usual!" She finished with the cry, "Wake up, America!"

As I write this I am weeping again. My God! When will we wake up? When will the American people say, "Enough already!" I hope it won't take hundreds and thousands more sobbing, grief-stricken mothers before we see what this war on Iraq is costing us. For it's not just OUR loved ones who are dying, it's untold thousands and thousands and thousands of our sisters and brothers in Iraq. Who is giving them wordless hugs of love and support? Who is acknowledging THEIR pain and grief? Who will stop this war and BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW!"

(Bless you, Patricia. Once again, I am honored to be your friend.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More Morning Poems 

(Note: From time to time, images will be added to these entries. These beautiful pictures are contributed by Patricia Lay Dorsey, and should be attributed to her, if they are reprinted. Thanks once again dear friend, for the beauty you share with all of us. I continue to value our friendship more than I can say.)

It is time
to read more Rumi.

Call him.
He will make love
to your ear.

How much nectar
can you drink
this morning?

How much lovemaking
can you bear?

Turn slowly now.

Even as this music
your ear.

Think of yourself
as a dervish,
white robe circling
like light
moving through

Soon you will die
once more.

Soon you will be
in a familiar way

as spirit,
as flesh,
as flesh
returning to spirit,
as spirit
clothing itself
as flesh yet again.

Do not fear
to call yourself
a lover of god.
She is always lurking nearby,

Let go
of all you think of
as who you are,
fling all your clothes
and treasures
over the cliff.

Naked is the only way.

copyright, Dorothy Walters

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mary Oliver's partner 

A few days ago, Molly Malone Cook, the long time partner of Mary Oliver, died. Here is the notice which appeared in the Provincetown paper.

Molly Malone Cook, 80
Photographer, literary agent, assistant to Norman Mailer

"Molly Malone Cook, 80, of Provincetown died at home on Aug. 26 following a lengthy illness. For more than 40 years, she shared her life with the poet Mary Oliver.

Her interests and her friends were many and throughout her life kept growing. She was born in California, and was a WW II U.S. Marine Corp veteran. In her early 20s, while traveling in Europe, she obtained a position with the U.S. government, working in the Palace of Justice in Heidelberg, Germany. It was there that her interest in photography began. When she returned to New York she became the second photographer for a young newspaper, The Village Voice. She first visited Provincetown in the late 1950s and there established the VII Photographers' Studio, the first photo gallery on the East Coast. Among the photographers she represented were W. Eugene Smith, Minor White, Harry Callahan, Edward Steichen, Berenice Abbott and Eugene Atget. When visiting Steichen to ask for his participation, years before the value of photographic work was widely recognized, he remarked, "Are you rich or crazy?" "I'm not rich." was her reply. Her gallery attracted many visitors, but few buyers, and she eventually combined the photographs with a bookstore, stocking the classics and other books she considered good literature. One publishers' saleswoman left the store befuddled by her refusal to carry that summer's sure seller, "The Valley of the Dolls." It was during this period that she hired a wild-appearing young man seeking a summer job; this began her long and rich relationship with the filmmaker John Waters.

During her time as a professional photographer, and later as well, she photographed many people of note, Eleanor Roosevelt, Walker Evans, Robert Motherwell and Adlai Stevenson among them. She maintained a close friendship with the playwright Lorraine Hansberry, before and during the writing of " Raisin in the Sun," until Ms. Hansberry's death in 1965.

When lung problems began to be apparent, Ms. Cook could no longer work in the atmosphere of the dark room to develop and print her own work.

Ms. Cook and Ms. Oliver met in 1958, at the home of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, in upper state New York, where they had come, separately, to visit the poet's sister, Norma Millay and her husband, the painter Charles Ellis. In 1964 they began their life together in Provincetown, living at first in a small boathouse on the property of a Portuguese family, the Seguras. With this family they maintained for years a cherished relationship.

Ms. Cook traveled frequently with Ms. Oliver to readings or longer sessions while the poet taught. In Virginia for several years, they searched through the old small towns and courthouses for records of the southern strain of Ms. Cook's ancestry, finding, delightfully, the line going back, slowly but directly, to Judith Jefferson, the president's aunt.

In the 1970s, for several years, Ms. Cook worked as assistant to Norman Mailer, attending to both personal and professional matters. Also in the '70s, Ms. Cook began the Molly Malone Cook Literary Agency, representing Ms. Oliver as well as other writers.

In 1986 they traveled together to New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan, fulfilling a U.S. Information Agency cultural tour.

The house they eventually chose to live in, where Ms. Oliver still lives, is small and as close to the harbor as a house can be, full of books and dogs, all sorts of works in progress and many friends.

In addition to her partner, Ms. Cook is survived by her brother, Fred M. Cook, her niece, Katherine Cook, both of Aptos, Calif.

The Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, will conduct a memorial service at a time and date to be announced. Memorial donations may be made to the VNA of Cape Cod, 434 Route 134, South Dennis, MA 02660, or the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 138 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02111, stipulating the gift for their current work in Africa."

Those of us who know and love the work of Mary Oliver were deeply moved by this announcement. Mary Oliver herself is a shining spirit. Her work has touched countless thousands of readers. She has affirmed always that humanity is essentially good, that we ourselves can connect with the deep underlying mysteries most often discovered in the world of nature. Beauty, love, honor, tenderness--all of these characterize her work. We have loved her because she has constantly reminded us of what it means to be truly human. And she does this with unfailing grace and eloquence in her skillful writings.

So our hearts go out to her. I confess I did not know who Molly Cook was until I read this account, but clearly she was herself a remarkable woman, and an essential presence in the life of this wondrous poet.

Some time ago, I wrote this poem about Mary Oliver and reprint it below:

The Able Poet
(for Mary Oliver)

She has won everything.
And why not.
She is skilled in her craft,
gifted like a blind
woodworker, who can polish and scale
her creations in the dark,
can tell by the feel of the surfaces
what is complete or needs
attending to.

Sometimes her expertise
takes our breath away,
the image so dazzling
we suck in an "Ah!"
and inwardly lament
oh why didn't I see this
before, necessary conjunction
of the unexpecteds, yet
so fitting, so exact.

We read on, held and unbelieving
at the marvel of the just right,
the rare attainment
of the totally apt
like a gem curved and perfectly shaped
glinting confidently
in the circling light
with no flaws,
none at all.

copyright, Dorothy Walters

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

About the Hurricane 

It is time to consider our thoughts about the hurricane. All of us were, I am sure, shaken and deeply heartbroken about what we witnessed and heard about this massive human tragedy. Part of it was a feelling of frustration that neither we nor anyone else could really seem to do anything about the incredible suffering which ensued. Part of it was astonishment that our government, which has made such an issue of domestic security, seemed almost totally unprepared to deal with this event, which had long been foreseen as a "bound to happen" catastrophe.

Lawrence Edwards, Ph. D. (Kalidas) seemed to sum it up quite well in a letter he sent to me recently:

"The hurricane disaster. . . has so many dimensions . . .the storm winds blew off the coverings from the shameful shadow side of this country's wealth and power. No plan for evacuating and taking care of the poor, the minorities, the sick, the newborns, the pregnant mothers, the incarcerated, the helpless pets - nothing, nothing, nothing. If you are below a certain level of wealth and power your life isn't worth the effort to save. People better look long and hard at that.

Our shallow politicians will fail to gather all the good that could come from truly dealing with what this storm exposed, including environmental mismanagement."

In another letter, he adds, " This is Kali's work, slaying the demons of ignorance that cause pain and suffering, slaying the demons of unconsciousness that have the President of the United States playing a ukulele at a party on Wednesday night while grandmothers, grandfathers, parents and children drown in the fetid flood waters of New Orleans. May Her grace set everyone free, free from suffering in all its forms."

We must all ask, what does it say about us that we set our priorities in such a skewed manner? What kind of country elects such ineffective leaders? Who would appoint a man to oversee rescue efforts whose primary qualification seems to be that he managed an Arabian Horse Society? Why would such key positions be awarded on the basis of political payoff?

Indeed, what will it take to wake this country up? We seem to be sleepwalking through history (ours) which is leading us closer and closer to irreparable disaster.

Where are the intelligent planners, those who can "connect the dots" and foresee that actions have consequences, and that all levels of society much be protected, not just the wealthy and affluent?

Who is willing to defy the developers who wreck the natural environmental protections (wetlands and barrier islands), and leave an entire region vulnerable to total disaster, all for the sake of the "bottom line"?

And when you are told the disaster is on its way, how can you leave when you don't have a car, don't have money for transportation, and have no place to go? How could we simply dump people in a scene from hell, and leave them there for days, unable to get help through?

Something is indeed wrong with this picture, which is of our own creation.

We must each look in our hearts and come to a more comprehensive understanding of these essential issues. And so must those chosen to lead us. The blinkers must come off, and soon.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Chris Griscom 

"Let the body speak and it will show you realms of pure ecstasy and
light and even thought, at its very source. The mind of the cell is
the passageway between matter and the unmanifest. It holds the
blueprint of your Soul's intention into form. Ask where you come from
and your body will spin you out into the cosmos and into your
absolute essence."

(Excerpt from Chris Griscom's book, "Soul Bodies")

Chris Griscom's amazing work and writings tie in very nicely with our recent discussions on light, connection, source, and essence. Once again, one sees convergence between ideas of the "New Science," Ancient Wisdom (the "Spanda Karikas," and current metaphysical/spiritual thought. They seem to say much the same thing, as if divine intention is putting out a single message on many levels, in various forms.

For more on Chris Griscom, see her website. I first read one of her books some ten or fifteen years ago, and was struck by the fact that she referred not only to ecstasy but also kundalini itself, an allusion rare in that time. (She is also the energy worker who helped Shirley McClain recover many past life memories. Shirley has received much bad press for her willingness to go public with her experience, but I happen to admire her for her courage and frankness, even in the face of criticism and ridicule. She is a true pioneer. Those who have gone through similar experiences realize that she knows whereof she speaks.)

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