An Interview with Celeste Allegrea Adams
Author of Keepers of the Dream
(An edited version of this interview is available in the January / February 2005 edition of
Southern California's Awareness Magazine,
Donna Strong is the interviewer.
Keepers of the Dream, by Celeste Allegrea Adams, is the mystical tale of a woman who embarks on a magical odyssey down the Mississippi River, in search of her lost daughter. It is a journey that takes her out of the depths of despair and into the heart of self-discovery where she outgrows old wounds, and transforms into the colorful Creatrix, Eartha Mae.
This magical tale runs parallel to the journey of the embittered and ambitious archaeologist, Betina Sharp, whose life changes when her path collides with Eartha Mae and her daughter Evangeline, and the truth of an ancient mystery text is revealed.
Keepers of the Dream is a myth for the future, based on the mysteries of the past. It fuses the poetic and the political as it celebrates the return of the sacred feminine, in a most original and memorable incarnation.
1. Why did you write Keepers of the Dream?
One purpose of Keepers of the Dream was to create a feminine metaphor for the sacred life energies that live in all things. All religions have their own set of metaphors, but as Joseph Campbell points out, trouble arises when people get stuck in the metaphors and interpret them as fact. Imbalances have occurred in Western civilization for thousands of years because the dominant metaphor has been the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
In the feminine trinity depicted in Keepers of the Dream, Eartha Mae is the self-proclaimed incarnation of the Great Mother, and Evangeline is the divine daughter. Their story is book-ended, in the beginning, by Betinas references to the ancient Great Mother spirit (whose archaeological remains are the focus of her studies), and at the end in her daughter, the young earth spirit, (who emerges as the voice of the mystery text announcing the possibility of a New World of pristine beauty).
2. The mother and daughter bond has been characterized by Demeters recurring search, retrieval, and loss of her daughter Persephone. It is a cycle that represents the change of the seasons from summer, to fall, to winter, to spring. How does this cycle affect the relationship of Eartha Mae and Evangeline?
The myth of Demeter and Persephone reflects the dance that exists between mothers and daughters. This dance of connecting and distancing occurs in all relationships, since all relationships go through different seasons. There are times when there is closeness and time when space and distance is desired.
The distance between Eartha Mae and her daughter brings out the possibility of love in its purest form. In Keepers of the Dream, the wind carries Evangelines voice to Eartha Mae, bringing with it Evangelines idealized image of her mother. This dream helps Eartha Mae transform from a victim of her husbands brutality, to a Creatrix of all things. Evangeline, as the daughter of a Creatrix, is able to become her highest self and realize her greatest potential.
Sometimes we become our highest selves when someone else believes in our potential. Sometimes we have to hold onto that vision of possibility by becoming the keepers of our own dreams.
3. The two minor characters, Malcolm and Peter, have very different perspectives on the earth changes. Why are these shifts happening and what is your perspective on the idea of earth cycles.
Both Malcolm and Peter are knowledgeable about calendric systems, though they respond very differently to the shifts taking place. Malcolm hides out in an underground shelter to survive the apocalyptic cataclysms. Peter, on the other hand, sees it as a galactic New Year and is excited about the changes that will occur.
The shift in cycles is popularly described as an end of the Piscean Age and the beginning of the Aquarian Age. The Piscean Age began at the time of Christ and is symbolized by two fish swimming in opposite directions, a time when polarities of perception dominate. Now we are at the beginning of a new 2,000-year period, the Aquarian Ageit is described by some as a time when there will be a balance between male and female energies and by others as a time when feminine energy will reign. According to the Hindu tradition, quite a number of cycles are coming to an end. The 438,000-year cycle known as the Kali Yuga, the 1.8 million-year Satya Yuga, the 4.4 million-year cycle the Maha Yuga, and the 4.4 billion-year cycle called the Kalpa are all ending at once.
Change is the only constant in the universe, since the pulse of life moves through everything in cycles. Women have body cycles (menstrual, menopause), caterpillars become butterflies, tadpoles becomes frogs, the moon cycles around the earth giving us day and night, the earth cycles around the sun giving us the seasons, our solar system cycles within our galaxy. We can choose how we want to respond to the changes that naturally occur in our bodies, on the planet, and in the universe as we experience these cycles of life.
4. You describe Keepers of the Dream as a myth for a New Age. What old myths do we need to release?
Demythologizing old millennium concepts that are no longer constructive to individuals and society is essential for maintaining personal and environmental health. These are just a few of the myths we need to release:
o We need to move beyond the Genesis myth that man was given dominion over all things, since humans are not the pinnacle, or crown of creation, but are one of the jewels in the crown. We also have to let go of the myth that the earth provides an infinite wealth of resources. We cannot afford to continue to lose more than a hundred species of life every twenty-four hours, or hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest everyday.
o We have moved beyond the misogynist time of the early church fathers, when it was believed that women did not have souls, but we still need to release all traces of the myth of original sin. The myth that it was a woman who tempted man to eat from the tree of knowledge, causing the wrath of the creator and the oppression of women continues to have a devastating effect in many societies.
o We need to move beyond myths of cultural and racial superiority, since all cultures and races have a significant piece of the puzzle in terms of understanding the meaning of human existence and our purpose in the universe. Our planet, and all the people on it, will evolve into a higher state as technologically advanced cultures open to the wisdom held by its indigenous people.
o As the wisdom of physics and spirituality converge, we are also moving away from the limiting myth of space and time. String theorists have discovered that there are traversable wormholes that connect dimensions and link physical and temporal time. Shamans from all different cultures have known this and have been moving effortlessly through these portals or stargates for millennia. Perhaps these breakthroughs in physics will inspire release from enslavement to the Gregorian calendric system. By moving beyond the artificial categorizations of time that keeps us disconnected and out of balance with natural earth cycles, people in technological cultures can begin to reconnect to the earth. The health of this planet will be restored through gratitude and respect for all that the earth provides.
5. What new kinds of myths do we need for the new millennium?
We need more myths and stories about healing and nurturing and less stories about aggression, destruction, and warrior power that dominates our national mythology and Hollywood films. By creating new myths for the earth, and reviving and reinterpreting old earth-centered myths, we can take a stand for nature and our environment. The role of the artist is crucial in helping people to become more aware of the transcendent beauty of the earth and of all creatures on it. This new mythology needs to be created in all forms, including television, novels, short stories, poetry, and paintings and in the feature films that Hollywood sends to countries all over the world.
6. Where did your ideas and images for this mystical tale come from?
One source of inspiration for this book came from reading the works of the classical archaeologist Marija Gimbutas who demonstrated that cultures that worshipped the Great Mother lived in peace.
Images in the story came from travelling around the world, exploring archaeological sites and ancient and modern mythic traditions and ritualthe archaeologist, Betina Sharp, visits many of the sites I explored. The idea for the character, Eartha Mae, came from spending time in sites devoted to the Great Mother. The region of Cappadocia, north of Ankara in Turkey, also made a deep impression on me. There were homes carved out of conical structures made of stone, and underground cities carved out of limestone, that were once inhabited by Christian refugees. Visiting these underground tunnels inspired images of the tunnels that led to the central fire in the earth, (the earths womb), where Betina joins Marletta in a ritual, during her dreamtime explorations.
At one point in my life, I moved to New Orleans to write about Voodoo, but my interest shifted to a group of teenage street musicians in the French Quarter. A girl who wore lavender and sang on the street corner caught my attentionshe became the character Evangeline. References to voodoo appeared only in the scenes of Maw-Maw.
7. You talk about worship of the great mother in prehistoric times and also allude to Marletta and Fogarths heretical worship of the feminine in Medieval times. What is the connection between the two and what effect will the emergence of the divine feminine have on society in the new millennium?
Western Civilization once had an earth-based spirituality where society was built on partnership rather than domination. These matriarchal societies worshipped the Great Mother in the Mediterranean region before patriarchal systems took over. The pervasive power of the feminine did not completely end when Christianity and the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit were embraced. The feminine aspect of divinity still continued to be worshipped in the form of the Virgin Mary, though the myth of Immaculate Conception made her into a chaste vessel and stripped her of her former power as Creatrix and fertility goddess.
Recent scholarship suggests that heretical groups like the Freemasons, the Cathars, the Knights Templar and the Priory of Sion secretly embraced the feminine, in the form of Mary Magdalene. The black Madonna was worshipped along with Mary Magdalene, in places that might once have been pagan centers. Scholars such as Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince in The Templar Revelation have even suggested that the black Madonna may have been Mary Magdalene. Worship of the power of the feminine and of sexuality as a pathway to God went underground during the 2,000 years of Christianity.
Now we have entered a new millennium and can no longer allow religion and its dogma to be the root cause of violence in so many regions around the world. A contributing cause of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, (mentioned in the first chapter), was the conflict among three religious groups: Muslim, Roman Catholics, and Serbian Orthodox. Americans experienced the aggression of Al Quada on 9/11, in its efforts to promote a worldwide war between Muslims and non-Muslims. Religious differences have caused conflict in places like India, Indonesia, Middle East, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, Tibet, and many other countries around the world. The re-emergence of the feminine aspect of divinity in this new millennium should shift cultural values away from war and aggression, to peace tolerance, and sharing.
8. Will feminine energies dominate in the new millennium or will we move into a balance between the masculine and feminine?
This is a complex question, but I think there is a continual evolution between cycles of masculine domination, periods of balance, and cycles of feminine domination, since change is the nature of being alive. At the present time, we are experiencing feminine emergence which will lead to a period where there will be a dominance of feminine energy. Ive enjoyed hearing my friend, Choctaw Shaman Many Knives, speak of these shifting energies as a beautiful dance, between the sky father and the earth mother, with each one allowing the other to take the lead at different times, and each one caring for the needs of the other. This is a very exciting time period, and I am looking forward to all the changes that will take place.
The current language used to describe feminine emergence is sometimes confusing because our perception of it is shifting and evolving as we struggle to understand the nature and possibilities of the true archetypal feminine. This is unexplored territory, since it is something we did not experience in its fullness during the millennia of patriarchal dominance.
The dichotomy between feminine and masculine energies has commonly been reduced to pairs of yin/yang opposites like: intuition vs. logic; heart vs. mind; and partnering vs. dominating. This is a Piscean Age language, which sees things in opposite. As we develop an Aquarian language, our way of categorization may change so that it may seem overly simplistic, too black and white, to classify partnership and heart as feminine qualities, and logic and domination as masculine. A new language may emerge as man and woman become whole and balanced within themselves, holding both masculine and feminine qualities.
9. How did you find the voice of the ancient mystery text?
Discovering the voice of the ancient text was one of the most electric, emotional, and mystical experiences of my life. Chills ran up and down my body like a current, while tears streamed down my face. I was blinded by the radiance of this young earth spirit and realized that it had to be the voice of the ancient mystery text as well as one of the final voices in my novel. I started typing and there was magic all around mesparkling light and singing. I believe that above all else, this will be the voice of the futurethe voice that brings the renewal of wonder, mystery and celebration of life. I look forward to the luxury and blessing of accessing and sharing the exquisite fullness of this voice in my next book. Et inhoresco et inardesco.
10. Do you feel a particular resonance to any of the characters?
Ive enjoyed being all of the characters and exploring aspects of myself that exist but are not necessarily developed or dominant in my personality or nature. I loved going through the process of solving the pain of abandonment that haunt the lost children in the ruins of Bosnia and the street kids in New Orleans, by creating families of friends and discovering true life directions. I feel infinite tenderness for Zoran, Vesna, Samir, Salome, Tex, Raider, Christian and Evangeline in their struggles to create a life for themselves, in a world that has forgotten them. It was interesting to explore Malcolms frustration and rage as he madly grasps for answers and insists on preaching the little he knows. He often lives underground, in a kind of oversized box or coffin (without tunnels to the central fire), out of his inability to trust in the Mysterium Tremendum. Peter, on the other hand, has no attachment to knowing, and in his lightness of being effortlessly connects to greater truths. Andrews journey to self-discovery takes a unique path, since he is at an impasse and needs to be cracked open and liberated from a self-imposed box that prevents him from connecting to his potential in love, and perhaps in workthat is the gift the children bring. I loved living in Betinas whirling mind, that goes a mile a minute, always running off on tangents of associationI guess I'm not so different. Eartha Mae, as she moves from victimhood to Creatrix, awakens in me an understanding of what it means to own everything in my world, as an act of my creation. She teaches me a powerful pathway of possibility.
11. What is your spiritual background and orientation?
As a child I attended Unitarian services where we honored the wisdom found in all religions and appreciated the many different pathways to the Great Mystery that is in all things. As a teenager, my focus and passion was on tuning myself to the celestial Music of the Spheresmy artwork and short animated film was a daily meditation on this theme. During my teenage years, I read everything from Gurdjieff to writings on Pythagoras, and then began exploring ritual and spirituality in cultures all around the world. I camped out with the Bedoins, Berbers and Tuaregs, explored ancient ruins around the world, and participated in modern day rituals like Burning Man. I have no name for my own faithit is deeply personal. I feel an electric connection that alerts me to profound truthsthese moments tell me everything I need to know and guide me on my path. You could say that sometimes Im an ecstatic, often Im a Creatrixwhen I write and create my worldbut always Im a Celebrant in that I live the dance and song that celebrates the Mysterium Tremendumthat is my religion.
12. Would you like to see Keepers of the Dream made into a film?
I first wrote Keepers of the Dream as a script and then as a novel. I would like to see it as a film and am interested in hearing from Executive Producers who resonate with this book.
If you have WMPlayer installed, you can view a Video Reading from Chapter Nine "The Painting." "Keepers of the Dream" is a finalist in the Hollywood Spiritual Film and Entertainment Festival. This reading is from a cable show where Celeste was interviewed by the host, Tory Jay Berger, founder of HSFF.
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