Monday, November 7, 2016

Revelations: An Interpretation of Loves Lies Bleeding in Dance

The playbill of the performance, 

part of the Crossing Boundaries Series at Dixon Place

     On October 25, I had the honor of watching Corporeal Arts Inc. perform Revelations, a work in progress based on my novelette  Love Lies Bleeding: The Lady of the Forest.

     It was every writer's dream - Selma took inspiration from my story and how the characters made her feel to create something unique and magical.

     Dixon Place is a 30 year old off-off Broadway theater known as "one of NYC's most important and fiercely experimental artists' nests." The minute I walked in I was struck by the welcoming, open atmosphere: wood-paneled walls covered in photos and art, a bar (the city's only non-profit one, I believe!) and an intimate lounge with a stage. The actual theater was a flight below and could seat around 50 people. This was a place I wanted to be, a true artist's nest, safe and encouraging.

     One of the frames on the wall held an old program from 1992, with a Thursday literature series. The last performance of the night showed a science fiction series of readings, curated by...Gordon Van Gelder!  Those of you who subscribe to The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy will understand why I almost fell to the floor - he was the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of the magazine (the top in the genre, publishing such authors as Asimov and Bradbury back in the day) for many years and is still the Publisher. To think my work was being adapted in the same place that Gordon Van Gelder once curated readings...I was over the moon!

     The performance focused on the transformative effect of story. Selma made the reader (herself) a character and had the two main characters (Aislin and the Forest Lord) interact with the reader. The movements evoked both the character's personalities as well as the reader's reactions to them: the unfolding transformation of Aislin, the menacing yet sensual strength of the Forest Lord, and their competition to capture the emotions of the reader. 

     There was so much richness and symbolism here that I could probably write a paper to analyze it all! But instead I mingled with the artists and spectators afterwards, a glass of wine in hand, and talked about performance and literature. It was truly a magical experience!

     Unfortunately we were unable to take pictures of the performance itself, but - good news - Selma intends to expand Revelations and perform once again at her home-base studio! So hopefully pictures will be forthcoming!

All the world's a stage...the players and I!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sacred Groves and Writing: On Enchantment and Elder

Lady Ellhorn is my muse. 
She is the "figment of my imagination" that I turn to when I am stuck with my stories. 

She has never failed me. 

But all magic comes with a price. 

It may be a compulsion to write or create that distracts from other things in your day, that makes you feel incomplete until you attend to the muse. Or it could be days of writer's block before the onrush of inspiration. Or perhaps a day where the laundry just doesn't get done...or creativity doesn't get done because of laundry, appointments, or life getting in the way. The price can simply be the time and energy it takes to complete your passion. As I often tell my children, nothing "worth its weight in salt" comes without effort.

The poem "A Song of Enchantment" by Walter de la Mare expresses the fickle magic of creativity:

A song of enchantment I sang me there,
In a green-green wood, by water's fair,
Just as the words came up to me
I sang it under the wild wood tree.
Widdershins turned I, singing it low,
Watching the wild birds come and go;
No cloud in the deep dark blue to be seen
Under the thick-thatched branches green.
Twilight came; silence came:
The planet of Evening's silver flame;
By darkening paths I wandered through
Thickets trembling with drops of dew.
But the music is lost and the words are gone
Of the song I sang as I sat alone,
Ages and ages have fallen on me -
On the wood and the pool and the elder tree.

The English Elder tree, the Sambucus nigra or Ogham "Ruis," is the most enchanted of the Ogham trees. Beneath her roots lies a gateway to the Otherworld, the fairy realm. The Elder Mother, or Lady Ellhorn, can be associated with Titania, Shakespeare's Fairy Queen. The Elder tree is also used for spirit contact and symbolically for connection with our own subconscious and the collective unconscious...the otherworld without and the otherworld within. Like in Walter de la Mare's poem, the outer landscape mirrors the one within.

The Elder is such a powerful and revered tree that its wood should never be cut without obtaining permission from the tree first. In Celtic society elders often grew near a sacred spring or well, as they were a deep source of magic themselves, but were also planted by homes to grant the dwellers the Elder Mother's protections. 

When I received my Ogham stave pouch, I placed great significance on the wood that I would pull out the very first time. It was Elder. I admit I was a bit taken aback, because at that time I felt my affinity was to Oak. But upon reflection I realized Elder was trying to tell me something about the pattern of my life and my art. From then on I turned to that wood for advice, comfort, and inspiration. When I practice yoga, I give my intentions to the Elder Mother and wish for a greater connection to her.
My Lady Ellhorn Talisman of Eldritch, a custom order from WytchenWood shop on Etsy.

The Elder tree is symbolic of sacrifice (which is why it is an appropriate wood in the Harry Potter books for Dumbledore's wand, by the way). "Ruis" means red and is symbolic of blushing or the embarrassment we may feel when we make mistakes. Thus the Elder Mother teaches us that all great gain comes with sacrifice. Loyalty to Lady Ellhorn, however, in the form of tapping into our own inner otherworld and tending the roots of our creativity, can result in wondrous enchantment!

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All images, unless otherwise noted, are from Pinterest.