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Showing posts from 2009

Why I Love This Stuff

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Next to my bathtub I have three reading choices. A long outdated (Madonna and A-Rod) People magazine, a more recent issue of Yoga Journal, and The Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery by Lyndy Abraham. This third thing is the one I reach for. It's not a New Age thing at all. It's this woman's Doctoral Thesis at Cambridge University and to write she she ventured into the depths of the Vatican's secret libraries and cruised the coffers of ancient memory to dredge of these defitintions of things I never used to think about. Things like: alembic/limbeck, the red dragon, albification. I read this book with remarkable pleasure. For me, it's like reading the poems of Shakespeare. . . only maybe even better. I feel this is my own private world, a book few others venture to pay nearly $40.00 for on Amazon (used: $29.45). It's a language I share with these ancient minds. . . women and men who influenced great poets and composers. . . Goethe. . . Rilke. . . Jung. . . they

Why the Red Book is Red

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In Alchemy, there are many symbolic systems. Often, a practitioner would create his or her own system. These would possess a variety of properties. The symbols are polyvalent, an understood and accepted fact, so that once a practioner "knew" the basic structure of the alchemical process one could read another's work (often rendered in artwork) without being confounded. It was also understood that the process is reiterative and in constant flow (why detachment is necessary--one is never "finished") so a reader or viewer would not expect the writer or artist to deliver the information in a sequential manner. A third property of the systems involves concealment. While the information begged to be shared, it could only be shared in a way that would reveal its content only to one's peers. These were not breadcrumb trails for strangers but rather records maintained for safe-keeping. One writer described the alchemical knowledge as "a secret set afloat

Alchemy and Narcissism and The Red Book

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This book is different from Jung's other books. He writes that this is the book that started the whole Jung thing. Everything he wrote after The Red Book was an echo of the Red Book, of the experience he has within these pages. This is not a book about mystical experience. This book is his mystical experience. In it he uses the writing and art as transformative tools in moving across the gap in the mind between conscious and unconscious aspects of the self. The writings and mandalas guide him, show him what he needs to see, believe, think and surrender to. This is art without vanity. It's his journey into his soul. After The Red Book, Jung strove to make sense of what had happened within him. I think it's funny how we so easily take our sanity for granted, meaning, more often than not, we just assume we're perfect and don't need to do any more "work." People don't attempt to understand what's going on, or what has happened within us. Recent

The Red Book

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Last week I went into Malaprops with my daughter. We had some time to browse prior to a reading I was doing at Posana. I bought some Moleskins for a workshop group for the following day, some pens. I bought my daughter a pair of journals, one for her and one for a friend. I was paying for it all when I saw it. The Red Book. The secret book by Carl Gustav Jung, sealed away in a chilly Swiss bank for a century and now sitting before in all its red immense glory, beckoning to me. Not saying "buy me, buy me, buy me" (though I knew I would) but rather "open me, open me, open me." Let me tell you a thing about me and books. When I took a group of my boy students (as their teacher at a boys' boarding school) to go see the Dead Sea Scrolls in Charlotte five years ago, by the time I exited the exhibit, they'd all found new girlfriends and had bought them sodas. I had spent that long looking--no: gazing--into the strange cases built to house them, complete with

Giving The Soul Tree to Leonard Cohen

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Well, last night Leonard Cohen played in Asheville. I drove into town a few hours before the concert, approached the front desk at the Haywood Park Hotel and said, "I have a present for Leonard Cohen" and the concierge saw my book and said she'd have it taken to his room. I sat down on the comfy sofa and wrote in it: from one Canadian poet to another. . . thank you for your song. . . with love, Laura Hope-Gill. Then I handed it to the woman and presumably someone took it to Mr. Cohen. How do I describe this? Leonard Cohen has been such a profound influence on me. His poetry, along with Galway Kinnell's, has shown me how poetry can move the mind through darkness, lighting it as it goes. Yes, it's a wonderful gift for poets to be able to describe what is and even what is inside what is. Then there are these poets who go even beyond the what is and still find something there. Cohen and Kinnell are among the living who do this, and The Soul Tree is rooted in this ki

The Soul Tree

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Coming out in August from Grateful Steps Publishing in Asheville, NC. View pages at www.thehealingseed.com/the-soul-tree . Ordering info at www.gratefulsteps.com.

A Small Anatomy of Change

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Have you ever noticed how during times of great change, a swell of energy comes into our lives? Much of the energy appears to work "against" the change but the effort it takes to overcome the negations that work to push us through into the next part of our lives. This past week I have worked harder than I've ever worked. Several deadlines for writing pieces for various publications--one local, one statewide, one regional (still ramping up to the national I guess)--struck at once. To meet them, I had to write hard-well-fast. It's my daughter's last week of school so there's been "splash day" and today's Kindergarten awards day. The Wednesday Night Odyssey class took me to a deep level of teaching and planning, and of course the fair at the mall opened. All of this in addition to my job for which I marketed five books all week, rather successfully. All of this the week after I rent an office and step into the community of healers. In a turn-of

A Room of Her Own

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Virginia Woolf says in her famous essay that in order to be a writer, a woman needs 500 pounds a year (cash) and a room of her own. For the low-low price of just under 500 dollars a month, I got a room of my own today. Aside from my house, in which I share several rooms of my own with my daughter, I now have this. It is a small room. It is part of the Women's Wellness and Education Center. It is immense to me because it represents my movement, as poet, into several new realms. The first of these is my own "private practice" as writing teacher, editor and creativity coach. I have been moving toward this through a series of fits and starts--and peculiarly strong signals from the universe--that it's time. But the other realm is that of medicine. Women's Wellness and Education Center is a women-run holistic care center for women who are pregnant, women who want to be pregnant and women who have little interest in pregnancy but love a great massage and yoga or pilat

Asheville WordFest April 30-May 3

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I think the really important thing to convey about Wordfest is that it is product of many years of Asheville poets' legacy-building. From the early nineties until now, there's been a strong poetry community. (I see it as a healing of what happened to poor Thomas Wolfe whose words won him exile from his city.) James Nave, Glenis Redmond, Bob Falls, Allan Wolf, Keith Flynn and more recently Graham Hackett, Sebastian Matthews, Jeff Davis, and many more too many list, have stoked the fires for a free poetry festival for this town. Back in the early 90's there was a poetry event every weekend evening, in some crazy location, ranging from the Green Door to the Diana Wortham, which back then, like the Green Door, allowed local performers to use the mainstage (!) for a mere 20% of the door. The town came out for these events. Wordfest was dreamed up at a table at Malaprops, where I think all of us have read at one time or another. James Nave, Jeff Davis, Glenis Redmond and I sat

The English Major and the Apocalypse

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In Chicago a couple of weeks ago, I attended a talk by Art Spiegelman, the author/artist of the groundbreaking (oh, I'm so tired of that word but Spiegelman deserves it) MAUS. His talk was in the Roosevelt Theater of Roosevelt College, just off Michigan Ave. I sat in a private box, not because I am special or had paid any extra. Just no one else was sitting there. And from there in my little velvet cave I heard something stunning. Spiegelman was just getting warmed up for his presentation on the logic of the cartoon when he said, "I just attended my grand-daughter's graduation from Yale. She got her degree in English. I'm so glad she got a degree in something useful, not something useless like Finance." I've been reading the posts on dabagirls.com, the blog for young women who have been cashing in on Wall St. dating practices such as being given a Saks credit card by an FBF (financial guy boyfriend--the "g" is silent, they explain in the glossary)

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The Secret of Poetry

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Click to Play Join poet Laura Hope-Gill as she explores the relevance of Eastern and Western alchemy to poetry.

The Secret of Poetry

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Click to Play Join poet Laura Hope-Gill as she explores the relevance of Eastern and Western alchemy to poetry.

Revelations

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The Poet's Alchemy

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Beyond Yin and Yang

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The Language of Change

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From Mind Into Spirit

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God Chemistry

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The Two Worlds

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The Secret of Poetry

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The Alchemical Process

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The Quiet Mind

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The Healing Seed

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Sitting with the Negative

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Click to Play Join poet Laura Hope-Gill ( www.thehealingseed.com ) on her exploration of poetry, sacred texts, life and alchemy.

Zoe the Dog

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On Tuesday morning at 7:15, just a little bit before my daughter's school bus comes to pick her up, Zoe and I said good-bye to each other, ending our 13 year partnership in this world. Her death ended a three month battle of me against her death. I fought like crazy, turning my back on two suggestions by her vet that we "do it now" and compiling an array of medicines, holistic and non-. Antioxidants, vitamins, drops, iron, vitamin E, prednisone, nausea pills, painkillers. . . and I was feeding her "dogsure" with a syringe. Death has been living in my house, pacing. And now it's gone. The way she died mystifies me. I was holding her as I have done so many times, my arms wrapped around her neck (by now so skinny) and my face buried in her fur. I had never visualized how she would go. I only feared it and wept for it since the vet told me in November he'd found cancer in her liver. But when the moment came, when her breathing changed, I talked her through
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OLD --for Michele and Barack Obama He has grown into an old man, Even older than Mandela did who also did The remarkable thing simply by doing the only Thing he could do. Be. His hair is longer now, not fully gray. It is as though he has stopped time the same way Anyone who changes the course of history holds a power over time. He stands tall, still, Dressed, as always in his best Because that is what his grand-mother taught him. He remembers every single one Of her lessons because she gave them in the Soft language she knew could shape a man from the inside. His wife is old now, too, and she Still holds him to her every word and to his Word and to the words of the world. She is his weaver And he is her web. Their love forms A constellation of stars all the places they walk. It lights the path. Two presidencies down, they still talk mostly of their daughters who are Grown and do not recall A time when either a woman or a person with dark Skin could not make a home of the Whit

Life as God Has It

LIFE AS GOD HAS IT ζωη(zoe) n. - greek "life". Life in the absolute sense, life as God has it, that which the Father has in Himself, and which He gave to the Incarnate Son to have in Himself (Strongs #2222) In his adaptation of an Abenaki legend, Joseph Bruchac speaks of the origin of dogs as Great Spirit’s gift to human when He saw we were moving farther from the natural world and therefore farther from Him. Spirit saw that human was in trouble and needed an animal that would sleep inside the shelter, curled up at the foot of the bed. And so came Dog. I named my dog “Zoe” because it means “life” in Greek. More specifically it means Life as God has it. My dog “Zoe” now as I write this is leaving this other life, life as mortals have it. She’s lying next to me as I write this, as I’ve written so many other pieces, with her beside me through every word. Her white and apricot fur is healthy. It is her winter coat, thick with curls and swirls. The softest fur covers her head,

Zoe the Dog

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My dog of 12 years is dying. She has cancer, at the very least, of the liver. Two months ago I took her in for a rabies shot. The vet, feeling something in her abdomen, told me we should operate immediately. During the surgery he called me (I was across the parking lot, at Old Navy, looking at turtlenecks as though they mattered) and offered to just "put her down" then and there, having seen the cancer. More than a month later, and two weeks ago, he told me again it was time. I didn't listen and have had two more weeks with her. Yesterday we went for a long walk at the Biltmore Estate. This morning she is lying on my bed, warm and cozy. Every night I say good-bye to her, and then in the middle of the night I wake and reach my foot over the blankets to feel her breathing. I want to cancel everything I have to do today just so I can sit with her, walk with her, talk to her. I know she'd get tired of me, though, and, as she often does, she'd get up from wherever w