Belated Autumnal Equinox greetings to you!
After an unexpected, grief-induced pause over the summer, Luna Arcana’s issue 6 is back in production. We have an awesome cover painting by a tremendously talented Joshua Tree -based painter whom we’ll be telling you more about soon.
And over the coming weeks, Letters from Luna will be featuring contributors to our next issue in these missives, so you can get a sampling of what’s in store, and start exploring their work + creations.
Today, I wanted to introduce you to the brilliant Adriene Jenik, who has crafted a gorgeous piece for our upcoming issue based on an insightful reading from her ECOtarot deck, from which she has given over 1300 readings around the world, including at the UN Climate Change Conference.
Adriene is an artist, educator and end-of-life doula living in the California high desert. Her computer and media art spans 3 decades, including pioneering work in interactive cinema and live telematic performance. She’s been featured The New York Times, published in The Drama Review, and recognized by the Rockefeller Foundation. Her current creative research practice spans “data humanization” performances, public climate future readings with her ECOtarot deck, and experiments in extreme experiential learning. Adriene serves as Professor of Intermedia at the School of Art, Arizona State University, and has recently started the PhD program on Sustainability there. She’s also affiliate faculty in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and Desert Humanities Center, and a sustainability scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation.
Adriene is Creative Producer of the Artists’ Grief Deck, a set of 60 medium format ‘flashcards’ that are individually designed by artists, sometimes in collaboration with grief workers. One side displays an original artwork, created by artists from around the world responding to an open call, and on the reverse is a ‘grieving prompt.’ These are memorial and processual actions that give the individual something to do – a gesture, a tiny performance, a movement, an act of mindfulness – in memoriam for someone or something whose loss they are grieving. As a toolkit, the decks have been disbursed for free to grief workers and community organizations.
The original Artists’ Grief Deck, has been out of print since October 2021 and will be available again from Princeton Architectural Press from October 18. You can explore and pre-order from here.
We’re thrilled and honored to have Adriene’s powerful energy in Issue 6!
The energy of autumn is also being ushered in with a transition into a new myth in Root + Rise: The Membership Space for Mythic Inner Alchemy, this season in the form of the ancient Indian story of Goddess Durga & the Buffalo Demon.
This season is also the time of her annual celebration of Navaratri(literally meaning “nine nights”) which this year began 26 September, and ends on 5 October. Navaratri is an epic celebration of Durga across India, observed through its diverse cultural lenses.
Durga first emerged as the primordial Warrior-Mother Goddess in the fifth century CE in the three-part myth-poem known as the Devimahatmya – Hymn to the Great Goddess, although her mystery traditions date back to betweeen 2600 and 1900 BCE and the time of the ancient Harappan civilization which arose on the immense flood plains of the Indus & Sarasvati rivers. The pre-Vedic Harappans would have had contact and cross-pollination with the ancient Egyptians and Mespotamians.
One of my fondest memories of my very early years spent in India, where I was born, is of the annual Durga Puja at my mother’s ancestral home in the state of Bengal, north-east India. The celebration at the family seat’s temple there dates back to the 16th century, and each autumn the victorious Goddess has been welcomed back “home” after defeating the buffalo-demon Mahishasura.
Durga Puja was the smell of jasmine and marigolds, mind-meltingly delicious food, the exchanging of gifts, getting dressed up in vivid finery, laughter, cousins, aunts, uncles and my beloved living goddess, my maternal grandmother, who first told me about – and embodied – Durga’s fierce, loving, protective power.
To be honest, there was much hesitation in offering this as autumn’s mythic excursion. Both ancestrally and personally, Goddess Durga has deep, deep roots in my psyche and her myths are ones that I have a very personal relationship with. But as with all the stories that present themselves for exploration in Root + Rise, this one made it unequivocally clear that it was time.
The frequency of Durga is unapologetic. With unfailing precision and power, she cuts through the oppressive delusions of the colonizer – literally personified as the demons who have usurped the natural order and taken control of Earth, of the Self-regulating inner sovereignty of the soul. First and foremost, this is a journey within in order to dissolve the stubborn, shapeshifting forms of the inner-colonizer, before any such feat can be undertaken without.
And it’s only Goddess as the Source of all that is, who can do this when called upon with the power of sincere surrender.
We’re going to be diving into some deep waters – not least the potent alchemizing properties of the story. In the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda, the practical expression of Indian philosophy and alchemy, there are three fundamental qualities of cosmic energy – the three gunas.
These are black – tamasic; red – rajasic; and white sattvic. They correspond to the overarching black, red and white stages of so-called “western” alchemy (which originated in ancient Egypt). They are all emanations of Goddess – and Durga’s myths point to the cycles of transmutation and the endless play-dance of Life.
When the balance of these cycles is upset, and the organic interplay of the three gunas is distorted, as is the case with the colonized self/world, we are existing in a state of delusion, divorced from the power or shakti of Goddess which wants to move through us, which is our very animating essence.
Individually and collectively, as we transition into a new cycle of Self re-membering, it’s the lion-mounted Durga who can be called upon to pierce through stubborn layers of untruths. No matter how deep the forgetting, when called upon, she always calls us back home to her. And it is in this spirit of Soul reclamation and the composting of the false self that autumn’s myth of Goddess Durga & the Buffalo Demon is offered.
Autumn enrollment to Root + Rise ends tonight, 1 October at midnight PST.
Explore more here.