+ ARTIST STATEMENT +
Apprenticing to Bright Forces
In my early teens, I encountered a phrase from the 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho:
Seek not the paths of the ancients; seek that which the ancients sought.
Inspired by Basho’s spirit for the quest, I embarked on a meandering 30-year journey of experiences and studies — contemplative, creative, cross-cultural, ecological, psychological. Regardless of the setting, I was always tracking something. A way of being. A way of living attuned to the numinous.
Eventually, I encountered a New Mexican wise woman who would be a “root teacher” for me. doña Río (as some called her) was part-”holy clown”, part-curandera, part-”dangerous friend.” For over ten years, until her death in 2007, this “horse-woman”, wilderness guide, dreamer, and creative mentor guided me in a path of deep inquiry.
From her juniper-shaded adobe bungalow in Santa Fe, to the shapeshifting landscapes of northern New Mexico, the work, play, and “tortilla wisdom” that was the focus of her “Dust in the Wind School” was how to be what she called a “dream-traveler” — a deep-seeing poet, a deep-feeling human being, a deeply-observant creative being attuned to the dream of the land wherever one may live.
The poems you encounter on this site are but a glimmer of that learning process.
Eye of the Rainmaker:
A Word About the Pure Land Poetry Logo
For a long time, I have sought a symbol for the past, present, and future work of Pure Land Poetry. At times, I’ve leaned on a symbol from the Japanese Zen tradition. At other times, I employed images from the natural world. None of these icons, however, felt like they got at the essence of the path I walk as dreamer and poet.
Naturally, it would be from the directives of the dream realms themselves that I would be shown an image that simultaneously speaks to the creative journey, that is all-encompassing enough, that did not drift into cultural misappropriation (lifting an isolated symbol out of a cultural context).
I refer to the above symbol as the ‘Eye of the Rainmaker’—my own personal association. As an image, it is a near-universal cross-cultural motif that appears in Japanese sashiko stitchwork, in the Book of Kells in Ireland, in various Irish, Scottish, and Danish knitwear patterns, and in various tapestries, blankets, beadwork, and basketwork designs from the American Southwest, the Andes, the Northern Plains, and Persia.
Like the universal human symbol of the circle, various solar symbols, step patterns, and lunar images, what I call the Eye of the Rainmaker speaks to the primal human experience of place and spirit. In addition to the obvious centering effect of the icon, which draws the eye inward, this universal human symbol also acknowledges the four directions, the ongoing steps of the soul’s journey, and a path of movement and balance.
Frank LaRue Owen
near the Chisha Foka Trail