Monday, April 30, 2012

Discovering Sorcery and Black Magic in New Mexico

Figurehead at Gallina Canyon Ranch*
Michael Taussig, anthropology professor at Columbia University, writes about how he discovered through his work with Shamans using the powerful hallucinogen, yagé,  a crack in our everyday world leading to another dimension, a realm he calls “the space of death.” ⁠1
Indigenous Spirit standing guard outside a gallery in downtown Santa Fe*
“It helped me make sense of my yagé experience, blending personal worlds with a large historical view of the European conquest of the New World bringing into juxtaposition the spirit underworlds of Africa, Spain, and the Indians, with each group attributing power to the spirits of the Other, very much including the magic and sorcery entailed therein….”
Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno, Unknown Artist*
Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, NM
“For me the space of death was a space of transgression, more like a time out of time in which anything could happen and catch you by surprise. As I figure it, this space of death allows for unworldly visitations and interior journeys, as by shamans with their hallucinogens, but it also occurs when terror strikes or the world falls apart, as with disease and tragedy and everyday states of emergency" like today's 24/7 news cycles of death, destruction, war, and global warming with human extinction predicted to be right around the corner.
Nyandak, Tibetan artist, untitled oil & acrylic on canvas*
Mirador Gallery, Santa Fe
“Then, no shaman is necessary. The space is charged, “shamanic,” one might say, all on its own. The deadest, which means the most alive, layers of this space of death are not innocent death but deaths due to what could be called the Conquest, the Ongoing Conquest, ongoing to the present day with the dislocation of indigenous people worldwide" as rich nations and corporations buy up all the natural resources and rich farmlands at the expense of a sense of place and living sustainably within the rhythms of nature.
"The Last Supper" Jonathan Warm Day, Taos*
Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, NM
Taussig says the Conquest has stalled; the end game has come: we are now suffering through “the last writhing of the Great Experiment” called capitalism.  And out of the ashes of old, out of this space of death, new mythic forces are arising.⁠2

* Above photos taken by J. Stimmell during April 2012 trip to New Mexicao
1 Taussig, Michael (2011-10-20). I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own. University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.
Jung also talks about this crack in reality that happens only in extraordinary circumstancese , capable of causing a sudden paradigm shift to wholeness:  "Only something overwhelming, no matter what form of expression it uses, can challenge the whole of man and force him to react as a whole. " 
2 I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own (Kindle Locations 1409-1425).

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Birds Have Vanished

Gallina Canyon Ranch near Agiquiu.         J. Stimmell: 4/22/12
The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

* poem by Li Po 701-762

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The spiral represents the never-ending cycles of growth, change and eternal life

 Petroglyphs found in a remote canyon near Abiquiu, NM.   Jean Stimmell 4/21/12
My last blog entry about White Buffalo raises a good question: how can Her return to earth be interpreted by two apparently opposite scenarios: ushering in ‘a new age or ushering in ‘the end of the world? 

How can rebirth and apocalypse be viewed as one and the same?

The answer lies in how Native Americans, at least in the west, view life as a spiral.  “The Spiral is known as an ancient symbol of evolution. One of the oldest symbols of human spirituality in existence, the spiral has been found carved into cave dwellings, rocks and tombs all over the world. It is said to symbolize the evolution of the universe, the never-ending cycles of growth, change and eternal life as well as the cycles of the seasons.”

The spiral petroglyphs that I photographed in a remote canyon on a private ranch near Abiquiu, NM were carved over 1000 years ago by the Anasazi, a Navajo word for ‘the ancient ones.”  The Anasazi were a highly evolved, prehistoric Indian civilization, ancestors of all the modern Pueblo peoples.
 Petroglyph found in a remote canyon near Abiquiu, NM.   Jean Stimmell 4/21/12
It has been said by some that the Anaszsi Indians saw a clockwise Spiral as the “correct or good path”, while the counter clockwise was seen as the “wrong or bad path”. But I think their beliefs were more nuanced than that. The clockwise spiral, it is true, is associated with power, independence water and life in ascendancy, while counter clockwise represented life descending, returning and homecoming.

But neither direction can be interpreted as negative or bad. 
Instead, “The spiral seems to tell a story about the labyrinthine journey of life and death and speaks of the possibility of rebirth. Each loop of the spiral progresses us to a higher level, yet always returns us to the same place. It demonstrates life renewal by returning to the source.”⁠1
In other words, to the Anasazi, even death brings new life.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Awaiting the dustbowl?

A sunflower sprout, two days old, stretches toward the light
with her shell still attached – hanging on for dear life

We planted the garden two weeks ago when the temperature was 80.
Since then, of course, the weather has terribly regressed.
No rain and relentless wind desiccate the garden soil:
I worry about forest fires and the next dust bowl.

Today is yet another raw day, cold as a bastard.
None of our seeds have spouted –
unless those tiny green dots
 are really baby lettuces.

Inside the plott hound sleeps by the fire
while the sunflower seeds
spout by the big window,
luxuriating in the warmth,
thinking they are in Eden.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Stairway to Heaven

Portsmouth, NH 4/6/12  J. Stimmell

Stairway to Heaven

Tractor trailers
floating free
above the earth,
tornado propelled
across Dallas skies.

Fishing trawlers
floating abandoned
from Japan’s Tsunami:
Sunk off Alaska
by the Coast Guard.

Rising tides sinking cities
and island archipelagos,
while drought descends
upon the farm.

Who will save us?

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation Reality Show

HUNGER GAMES: photo taken at OWS event, NYC 12/17/11 by J. Stimmell
A version of the essay that follows was published in the Concord Monitor 4/6/12

I just saw The Hunger Games, the film version of Suzanne Collins' bestseller about a survival-of-the-fittest reality show that sends all its teen contestants home, save the victor, in body bags. 

Hopefully, Republican House Speaker Bill O’Brien and his sidekick, Majority Leader D. J. Bettencourt, are already too busy dismantling N.H. to have time to see this movie. Because if they did, they might discover that making our state into a real, survival-of-the-fittest reality series could be the crowning achievement of their radical agenda.

Our state motto provides the perfect title for our first in the nation, survival-of-the-fittest reality show: what could be more perfect than “Live Free or Die.” Best yet, since NH is always desperately searching for new ways to raise revenue – as long as it is not fair and equitable, or worse yet, taxing the rich – these real life reality shows could be broadcast live for big bucks.  Fox TV would pay a premium for first-rate, purulent shows like this. 

Rush Limbaugh, as usual, is way ahead of the pack: he has already talked about how only woman who seek wanton sex need birth control pills and, if the public must pay for these pills, than the public should get something back in return – like watching these woman having sex. Endless episodes could be done on this subject alone. It would be a big money winner and must-see for many males.

I can already hear Speaker O’Brian’s response to the nattering objections of prudish goody-goodys: “Porn in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

Another episode could deal with abortion. If we were to adopt the law already proposed in Virginia requiring women who want an abortion to first submit to a trans-vaginal digital ultrasound, we could televise the procedure live. And use the money raised, of course, to devise even more ingenious ways to prevent woman from controlling their own bodies.

And what about the sick and disabled? As it is now, NH has slipped to about last in providing services and support for the disabled. Under the present system, without a broad-based tax, we just don’t have the money to adequately help every disabled child and adult in need.  

A better way might be to ration care based on survival of the fittest. Under this plan, Special Olympics would take on a whole new meaning. The disabled would compete on the playing field against those with similar impairments, and those that won would get premium, gold-plated services.   The rest, not so much. That’s the way our free market system is supposed to work, isn’t it? 

It’s like the 1% of us who are economic winners with our income skyrocketing each year against the 99% of the rest of us who have been stuck in a trough for the last 20 years. But don’t even think about raising taxes on the rich!

They are so many better ways of raising revenue.

For instance, how about bringing back capital punishment and making it a public event? That would be the ultimate reality show and, at the same time, a killer moneymaker:  we could not only charge the public to attend but make it a pay-for-TV event. While we are at it, why restrict the fun to just capital crimes? Perhaps any felon would do.

And, when you think about it, death by hanging is so boring. Why not pit two death row inmates against each other – no holds barred like the gladiators of old – in a fight to the death.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a coliseum but we do have the Verizon Arena.

At the end of the show, one felon would be dead, no longer a cost to the tax payer, while the other would be pardoned by the governor to a standing ovation before moving on– most likely in the sick society we find ourselves in – to a bright future as either a celebrity or a politician.
XXX (652 words)