Will the birds sing
on the last day or go quiet
before
humanity breathes its last breath?

The day of reckoning will be of our own making,
a day of cause and effect.

Mosaic by Helen Miles
[image used with the artist’s permission]

We often feel that there’s no justice,
but don’t reckon with the fact that we ourselves
are Mother Nature,
our actions of consumerism not a polluting disaster but suicidal madness,
un-inspected and never uprooted,
never taken self-responsibility for.

Self-responsibility seems too hard, our modus operandi is still to always look outside of ourselves, to science, to miracles, to big daddies and mummies, to fairytales, money, hope or even hopelessness.

Our well intended communal attempts at fixing things are too little too late
and still based on the principle of our survival,
rather than understanding Mother Nature’s love-full principles
of sacrifice and surrender,
proven by each birth and death of all beautiful, harmless temporary forms.

Humanity has often thought the world was about to end – but it didn’t.
So…

…we carry on, making plastic and babies and merry and mayhem at the junction of knowing and acting, hoping for the best, as if the best is yet to come.

All the while the best is always right in front of us, as us, part of us, standing radiantly, glaringly obvious in our blind spot.

Mother Nature wants us, but doesn’t need us.
We need her and she’s exhausted.
She’s at her wit’s end.

Sitara Morgenster (written June 2017. First published now, January 2020)

Your body is yours to do with as you please. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do with it. Your body is nobody else’s possession; not your parents’, teachers’, politicians’, employers’, leaders’, country’s, wives’, husbands’ or lovers’ possession. Your body is your temple and your laboratory. It’s your “rental property”, belonging to you from birth to death.

Your body is yours


Your body is occupied by your being-ness, only to be used with your permission, in ways that you consent to. It is your soul’s home and the vehicle of your life. Even when you consent to someone “using” (or perhaps helping) your body, you’re allowed to say no, to stop, or to strictly stay within the agreement that you have made with that person or others. Until you decide to change it. You have the right to walk away from anywhere, anything, anyone, at any moment. If you can. Hopefully you always have a safe place to retreat to. Hopefully you can always return if you change your mind.


Hopefully you have friends who selflessly support you for your own sake while you need inspiration and encouragement or perhaps a temporary shelter.

There will always be people in “power” who will tell you what you can and cannot do with your body. As if they know better. As if they know what’s good for you. They’ll forbid you to play with your genitals for pleasure. They forbid you to show certain body parts to the world. They forbid you to experiment with nature-given chemicals found in certain plants. (At the same time, they’ll allow you to poison yourself with others, such as alcohol or sugar or antidepressants). They may force you to be vaccinated, or to retain a foetus against your will. They may even forbid you to daydream for too long. This is all about controlling you for the sake of their agendas.
The controllers of other people’s bodies either have a country’s law on their side, or history, or some piece of knowledge, or the use of violence, religion, manipulation, or money. This is no justification.

You’re allowed to ignore them and listen to the wise voice of your inner wilderness instead. The younger you start, the better, but it’s never too late. Your instinctual intuition will guide you to know what route to take, what adventures to engage in, what subjects to choose, what purpose to serve. You will find the support of those with your best interest at heart. There is room for trial and error. There is room for mistakes and second chances. Yes, you will need to make informed choices as to not harm yourself or anyone else. 

Those who truly love either you as a person or you as a valued member of humanity will help you with this. They will freely help and encourage you. They will assist in drawing out of you what is true for you to do, to give and to express. They will give you the strength to make your own choices without involving their own interests. They will never judge you or threaten you with punishment.

You may want to enlist the knowledge of a doctor when your body needs healing, but the decision about whether or not to go with that knowledge rests with you. You have known your body your entire life and know it best. What is good for one body is not good for another. Only the body’s owner knows and can decide.

Your body is formed mysteriously through an awe-inspiring creative intelligence we do not know the origin of, then processed and disappeared by that same force, and de-compose to help continue new life. In the meantime, you’re not obliged to adhere to the made-up systems on this globe that you are born amongst. May your intention be to avoid them when needed, though you may not always be able to. Yes, you need to earn some money for food and shelter. But most of all, you need to cherish each moment in all the freedom you can muster and experience the pure joy of existence as a unique expression of the human species. How you do this, is your business and your business alone. You will then share your body (in work, attention, pleasure and service) where it is honoured and appreciated, adding your wonderful gifts to this world, whatever they are.

(c) Sitara Morgenster

Published in Black & White Oman Magazine (August ’19)

Dearest child,

Wherever you are appearing on this earth, you are a wonder.

We don’t know where you came from. Which is not to say we don’t know how babies are made; it means that the ultimate source of breath that gives you life until you draw your last, is a mystery to all of us, even to the wisest of the wise.

As a family, a society, a culture, a religion and even – these days – as an economy, we claim ownership of you as soon as you pop out of your mother’s womb. In most countries, we give you a tax-number straightaway, claiming this is for your benefit. With baby fashion-design, we set out to define and imprint your gender on you. Perhaps more sophisticated than when I was tiny – girl? Pink socks! Boy? Blue socks! – but nevertheless. We look at you with eyes filled with desire of all the things WE are hoping you will fullfil, for us or for yourself, in your lifetime.

Seldom do we look at you as a creature already complete, like a seed containing a tree, imprinted by nature (sourced by God, Allah, or whatever sacred designation you choose to indicate the mysterious divine, ultimate life force by). As Kahlil Gibran put it, you are “the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself”, only for us to nurture, feed, protect and love with open arms, open mind and open heart, while you show us, in your own time, what you have come here to express and gift to the world and others.

Dearest child, forgive us that at this point in time of the history of our species, we expect you to perform in a way already pre-ordained for you. A bit like slavery used to be. We want you to be a productive member of our society. Very, very soon, we will fill your life with things you must do or say and with ways to behave to please or appease others. We will forget to grow you emotionally strong, because most of us ourselves have not been grown emotionally strong and will not remember how to do this, how to live and “teach” with a profound capacity to feel and intuit this existence from the place prior to thinking and knowing, and thereby interact with others (human, animal or plant) and take action for the wellness of nature and the world. In this way we will rob you of your inherent happiness. As a result, you will develop an addictive reliance on other people, or acknowledgment and success, or objects, food, substances or activities, to get happy and okay. You will forget that you are already happy and okay and complete. That your mysterious, wonderous birth was IT, and that anything else in word or deed is simply a bonus, a free gift.

Photo: 123rf.com, Keith Levit

Dearest child, forgive us for interfering with you by teaching you swiftly that your behaviour and conduct must be based on outer authorities, be it parents or teachers or religions or governments or even science, as opposed to your own, unique for you, inborn, internal source of wellness and wisdom.

Like the seed containing the tree.

Nature has plans for you, even if that doesn’t fit the current systems, even if those plans are misunderstood or not economically viable.

Dearest child, there’s no doubt that most parents, extended families, teachers and even community, to the best of their abilities, understanding and experience, love you very much and have your best interest at heart. But for thousands of years, your species has been neglecting its obligation to, collectively, become intelligently active in all aspects of human development wherever on this earth. You will therefore inherit a crisis that will not be solved by more technology or economic growth. The natural world is dying and we are on the verge of human extinction, taking with us species from nature’s cornucopian basket of life. A self-created crisis that will fundamentally confront the minds, perceptions and values of all human beings very soon, if not already. Dearest child, may you find the strength to cling to your wise inherent knowledge, which feeds your love of life and guards you from all the forces of consumerism and culture that are trying to possess your attention; the realisation of free-feeling existence; the most honourable and most profound and most sacred of all teachings, which is already yours.

This is your nature-given birth right.

(Published in Black & White Oman magazine, February 2019) https://blackandwhiteoman.com/

The brave…
The fallen…

More like the duped and the manipulated, and perhaps the innocent and the naive.

Yes, my heart goes out to all men and women that were (or are) forced to do the most unnatural thing (and go fight and kill each other, and be killed, or at best serve that machine’s casualties), losing their lives, one way or another. Perhaps they didn’t “have their life” in the first place. They were forced by propaganda, social pressure and ideologies, “national pride”, or simply a desire for an adventure away from home, not knowing what they were getting themselves into.

Remembering war perpetuates it.

Humanity is not made for war and the sooner we forget about it, the sooner it will stop.
Whatever we give our energy to, duplicates. It’s a law of nature. Haven’t you noticed?

And please don’t say they “fought for our freedom”, or even mine. They did not! They didn’t even know what real freedom is. Why are we perpetuating that romantic myth?

They fought for the sake of empire building and differentiation. Perhaps we’re perpetuating this myth of necessary warmongering (some call it defense) because we haven’t tasted real freedom.

Sitara Morgenster

Lee Krasner’s mosaic table that continues to inspire me, and has influenced much of my mosaic work

There is a delightful mosaic scene in the biopic “Pollock” (2000), starring Ed Harris as the painter, and Marcia Gay Harnden (who received an Oscar for this role) playing his wife Lee Krasner. At just over an hour and 4 minutes, Krasner is seen creating a mosaic table. Four minutes later it resurfaces, only just visible if you watch carefully, in a poker scene, holding beer bottles at Jackson and Lee’s house one evening. Again at 1.21 minutes, with some coffee table books and coffee cups while Jackson’s family is visiting following his success being featured in Life Magazine.

It’s inconsequential to the movie and you’ll miss it if you’re not into mosaics, as I did the first time, watching it two years prior to starting out in mosaic art. I retraced and re-watched it only years later, when I became curious about the source of the mosaic in the photo by this article, which I had enlarged and printed on real photo paper and stuck on my computer screen, to inspire myself to “one day be a real mosaicist” (a goal I’m still working towards!). I had found it on the internet and did not know who it was from.

The reason I had picked this mosaic to be my inspiration was the deceptively randomness and simplicity of the design, the use of a wide variety of materials, the playful rhythm and vibrant colours. But most of all: how looking at it made me feel happy, carefree and alive. I knew one day I wanted to make mosaics like this.

I had no idea I was punching above my weight. Lee Krasner is the sole woman artist mentioned as part of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, who exhibited alongside Picasso, Matisse, de Kooning and Pollock himself. But once I found out it was her who created my mosaic muse, it gave me a wonderful inner validation of the mosaic style I aspired to.

Pollock’s rejected mosaic

It turns out this table was one of two low, round mosaic tables Lee Krasner (who was predominantly a painter) made around 1947 or 1948, using pieces of her own jewellery, everyday objects such as keys and coins, as well as tiles and bottle glass. According to other sources, Jackson Pollock gave Lee all his leftover material and encouraged her to do her own mosaic after he created his only mosaic for the Work Progress Association (which was rejected).

The story goes that Jackson Pollock helped her pour the concrete and attach the wagon wheel rim to the legs. But she laid the mosaic pattern.
“It’s a landmark work in terms of decorative arts and has been reproduced in many contexts and published widely,” says Hallie Harrisburg of Michael Rosenfield Gallery, interviewed by “Mosaic of Art”.

According to Harrisburg, the mosaic table was a foreshadowing of Krasner using the abstract form as her own language in her paintings later on.

One of the tables was sold, but my favourite stayed in Lee Krasner’s possession her entire life.

Sitara Morgenster 17 February 2018

Sources:
– Mosaic of Art, retrieved from https://archive.org/details/GeorgeFishmanHALLIEHARRISBURG_onLeeKrasnerMosaic in December 2017)
– Artfortune, retrieved from http://www.artfortune.com/lee-lenore-krasner/artistbiographies-116718 in February 2018

This blog was also published as an article in the February 2018 issue of “Opus Oracle”, the members-only magazine of MAANZ (Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand) and on my mosaic website, www.mosaics.gallery


Are you comfortable with feeling uncomfortable?

Not something they teach you in school.

If your answer is no, you will find it hard to try new things and maintain an open mind about your forever changing self.

Your body pretty much unfurled and formed by itself as you grew from a baby into a toddler into a teenager and beyond. At the same time, your sense-of-self needed experience, knowledge and memory as building blocks.

Driven by your innate curiosity, you initially played with all colours, shapes and sizes. But you soon intuited your significant elders interpretations of your exploration, showering you with love and affection when you met the criteria of the tribe, and withdrawing from you with frowned looks and cold energy if you didn’t.

You’re a boy.
Pink socks? No!
Blue socks? Yes!

Disapproval rattles the part of you that wants to belong (it’s the lizard brain, stupid!). Approval unsettles the part of you that wants to feel full of life through adventure, risk, innovation and excitement.

The rules of the tribe become firmly embedded and your mind takes over the tribal arbitration as by osmosis. ‘I like this’, ‘I don’t like that’, ‘I am like this, not like that’. ‘I’ve never been able to eat peanut butter’, ‘I’ve always loved dogs’. ‘I’m shy’, ‘I like to be the centre of attention’, ‘I…’ You can’t try new things because you’re already fully formed. Set in concrete. Or so you think — and even feel.

Now try and change that.

Circumvent the internalised arbiter and the fearful people pleaser and you’re away. Short-circuit that fearful reptile part of the brain through the smallest acts of exploration, defiance, humour and creativity. Suspend the call for efficiency, be happy to bust your own myth of who you think you are. Don’t go it alone, but find or create a tribe that supports and encourages it.

Cliché or not, all boundary-pushing, eternally curious, interesting, eccentric, innovative travelers, cooks, thieves, inventors, entrepreneurs, knitters, entertainers, scientists, artists, lovers, happy sages and other brave humans have one thing in common: they feel uncomfortable but try it anyway.

Sitara Morgenster

Published on Medium.com

 

Mindfulness practice is thousands of years old. Some even argue it is a natural skill much like walking. It’s just that society hasn’t valued it so we weren’t taught as kids. This has caused our mindfulness-muscle to go flabby and be forgotten.

Both those premises are currently changing.

You can’t turn around or there’s another article about mindfulness, a course or a retreat, and many schools are introducing forms of mindfulness into their curriculum.

If you wonder why it has suddenly become insanely popular (to the point of risking a place in the top-10 of irritating fads) here are seven reasons for its revival and prevalence:

  1. Once you master the basics, you never need another course again – just keep practicing on a not too irregular basis;
  2. It’s a cheap and simple modality that everyone can master and no one can do wrong;
  3. We finally have the science to prove the benefits of daily meditation practice;
  4. Over the past decades, it has been freed from religious and airy-fairy connotations by people like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eric Harrison and lately in New Zealand, Karl Baker, and returned to the realms of effective body/mind human hygiene. Think of it like this: what brushing does for your teeth, mindfulness does for your mind;
  5. It has been cleverly re-branded from not so catchy (attention training) to pretty juicy (mindfulness/meditation);
  6. It doesn’t require you to change anything and you don’t need to buy anything (although you may want to spend some money on initial training and guidance to get you going);
  7. We live increasingly hectic lives in an overwhelming, fast changing world, so we can all do with something that brings us back to our natural state we all, to one degree or another, have a hunch about and a hunger for.

You probably know about the main benefits. Regular mindfulness practice improves sleep, is an antidote against anxiety and depression, lowers your heart-rate and blood pressure and improves the immune system.

But you don’t have to be stressed, desperate or on anti-depressants to reach for this fascinating, mind-altering modality.

Even in a life that feels quite balanced, the advantages of using mindfulness meditations are bountiful: improved focus and clarity, increased creativity and more easy going in relationships with your self and therefore others, to name a few.

And maybe the best thing of all: it is devoid of the subtle pressures of self-improvement, behaviour changes and self-help techniques. Because it is about being aware, not about fixing anything about yourself or a situation.

For sure, things may improve for you and you may find the space to make different choices in your work, relationships and so on. But that is not the primary aim. The primary aim is to observe, notice and allow things to be as they currently are. All the benefits and outcomes will naturally follow.

In the first instance, it is about being relaxed in the present moment. Because the minute we start looking for results, our nervous system tenses up and all benefits fly out the window.

 

The effects of this “Sitting Still and Shutting up for 12 minutes a day Practice” will surprise you. Give it the benefit of the doubt and find out how to do this. Try you must, because it is an experiential practice, like cycling, swimming, sexing, eating: you can read about it until you’re blue in the face, but you will still not know if it’s fad or fab. You need to do it. Give it at least 6 days a week for 12 minutes a day during a month. Then, if you it doesn’t suit you, you can always abandon it. At least you will have given it a try.

If you’ve tried it already, leave a comment on this blog below and share your experience. It would be great to hear from you!

Sitara Morgenster

 

Paraparaumu Beach Market, Saturday 14 October 2017

I watch the patrons strolling up and down the Paraparaumu Beach Market on a chilly spring Saturday morning. Tourists, locals, visitors from nearby towns, with or without dogs, partners, children; throngs of people moving past my stall, toward my stall, away from my stall. Most of them are after vegetables, seedlings and food. Maybe also a take-away coffee but definitely lots of “hi-how-are-yous” and chats. I want to yell out to them: “I have the perfect necklace for you!” What’s holding me back is that New Zealand stallholders don’t seem to operate that way. It’s more the way of Dutch herring sellers at markets such as the Albert Cuyp.

Paraparaumu Beach Market patrons are appreciative enough of the arts and crafts available, but alas, while these are much and often vocally admired, they are not as frequently purchased as I would like. There’s a few of us selling “wants” rather than “needs”, luxuries superfluous to basic daily needs, but oh so yummy to possess and flaunt.

My pretty pendants, made of broken ceramics in myriad colours, set in cement glue and grout, are well presented on a pick-nick table covered in a black velvet cloth. But wearable mosaic art is not on anyone’s shopping list and perhaps it’s also not close to Xmas enough yet. In my mind, I festoon especially the lady-market-goers with my pendants.

I spy on them. I stalk them – ever so discretely – with my eyes. Some of them are distracted by a string of grandchildren in their wake, others have difficulty pushing their walker over the gnarly pebbled path past my stall. Or they were early and with their arms already chockful with produce keen to return to their car as soon as they can.

Making while selling

Stalking potential buyers with my eyes

A lot of them don’t wear anything around their necks today. I generally can’t tell if this was caused by lack of motivation or time. Some look hastily clad (the “I’m-only-going-out-briefly”-style). Others have made the most of this see-and-be-seen opportunity and even wear bright coloured shoes matching their lipsticks. You can also assess meteorological skills, with the number of clothing layers reflecting the market goer’s abilities to predict the weather.

Some have obviously underestimated the chill factor (it would have looked so much more inviting from a closed bedroom window than it actually is) and walk past shivering. Others left the house well prepared and donned scarves, hats and puffer jackets. I scan personalities, dress styles and colours to find a match with my best wares.

I rely on first impressions rather than thorough interpretation. Sometimes it takes just one look at a woman to know that she isn’t the type to buy herself something nice and frivolous. Frugality or low self-esteem, let’s not try and analyse to find the cause. The consequence is obvious: the likelihood she’ll buy something pretty for another is dramatically reduced by this mindset. But look, that lady, over there, she’s definitely into blues and turquoise greens and is already wearing pretty earrings. A mosaic necklace would enhance what’s already there, without a doubt! I scan my table for a matching pendant and choose one for her. In my head.

Ah, black-and-white ensembles, they go well with the mirrored pendants or the broken bits of Crown Lynn. Even though I can see that I could do with more purples, reds and yellows in my repertoire, I have the perfect necklace for each and every one of these passers-by, complementing their personality and outfit. As if they were made uniquely for them. Sometimes I even adorn the males. It’s just a trend waiting to catch on. I know it! Males or females, young or old, I visualise them all wearing one, the zinc/alloy backing touching their skin.

If only they knew! They’d immediately rush over to my stall and part with their cash. But most of them will never know. Unless of course they read this blog.

 

This blog appeared first on my mosaic website, www.mosaics.gallery

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Curriculum Vitae of “I” or who needs water into wine

From my earlobe dangles a praying mantis and a family of rats nests in my nostrils. My pubic hair paves forests with moss, my toenails form bark and fungi. I grow trees from seeds, with deep roots in dark earth, only to snap their branches and trunks in my drunken, heavy storms. With or without my interference or that of another, when they die it is my death and their decay is yours.

I am the genesis of all elements and flocks of birds flying as one. I am wet and old, broken and cold. I am breath and hot, wet and sod. From my lungs comes the air, from my veins the rivers, from my saliva the rain. My singing voice carries the wind. The sun bursts out of my shining eyes to all directions. When I move, an earthquake ensues and dissolves countless forms with life in them. They are destroyed but never lost. Temporariness is always back into me, silence and matter.

In my generous red anger, the volcano flows her lava, first killing, then turning soil so fertile that on these excrements of rage all unthinkable other life forms grow and bloom. I am your ancestors and your brother and sister, your mother and father and your future self. I am all the children who are never born, whose blood, marrow, bone, mind, bile and feeling you share. I am your offspring. Whenever a life form or member of any species bleeds, the great ocean turns white, the coral splits your skin and a finned shark dies.

The life that I am becomes the death that I am and the death becomes the life again, climaxing statically ecstatic. I am ultimate creative force from which creatures evolve into existence, more varied than any imagination conjures up, more numerous than the cipher pi. They all have my heart. They love completely. They feel the same. I am not fooled by the way they express it. I intuit the way they stay silent. I can see how immensely they suffer from my callous self-elevation during moments of Self-forgetfulness. My speech is not the measure of feeling- capacity and neither is my logic.

I am the source of beauty. Nothing exists without me. I wait for you to join me with beauty in verbal expression, beauty in physical surroundings, a symbiosis with natural given resources, beauty in sound, beauty in breath, beauty in movement. This is an extremely slow process. Not like building a road in two years and claiming you’ve achieved something. “Playing it safe” must be destroyed again and again for my creativity to flourish. I cannot afford to think there is night and day, nor you and me. I cannot afford to numb any feeling. For feeling is what I am made of, in every moment without a second.

I am your mojo, I am the valley of your highest achievements. I am the grass on the other side and light and dark in intimate embrace. Time and space? Who cares! Plucking the remnants of rotting flesh, I tease a fragrant melody into being. I release a bounty of white tiny eggs from my steaming vagina, inseminate them with my touch, nurture them into universes. It would never occur to me to watch a calf being born, then take it away from its nurturing, intensely emotional mother in order to drink her milk or have the calf entertain taste buds. Yet there are no deserts without my sacrifice, no icecaps without my joy. Each stone unturned, each pebble kicked, carries the imprint of my face. I shape your mountains from a galaxy under my tongue. I place your future in a clear brook flowing to the sea.

I am everything that buzzes, hoots, cries, whimpers, snorts, howls, meows. Everything that flies, swims, everything that walks, floats, wriggles, hangs, jumps, dances, dives and kills. I am everything that throbs, digests, swallows, licks, chews, flaps, crushes, collects, spits and gurgles. Everything that turns food into faeces. Who needs water into wine?

The initial version of this article was first published in The Vessel Magazine
(c) www.creativityispower.com

I saw a rat on the highway
it was dead
splattered on the asphalt
by car tyres and rain

I wonder
is it the same rat I saw the other day
in front of my wheels
on a dark late night near the same spot

I slowed down and watched it run
over unfamiliar surface in artificial light
a recent divide
of human intervention

it jumped off the road onto the grassy berm
and survived
to be with lovers and babies
it is spring after all

The highway is new
the rats were here first
what right do we have
to drive through their patch

 

Sitara Morgenster 11 October 2017