My personal embarcation into The Great Work was the 1983 kundalini awakening that gives the first volume of Critical Trilogy its title. My father was a pioneer in the Human Potential Movement of the early 1960s, who established Aureon, the east coast counterpart to Esalen, where I had my first encounter group at the age of five. Before I graduated from high school, he became a disciple of Swami Muktananda, whom he introduced to the scientific community when the guru visited California in 1974.
I stayed at my father’s Kundalini Clinic in San Francisco during a college vacation in 1979, intrigued, but not fully aware of the mysterious serpent power and its potential for genius or insanity. I was soon to find out, because at his funeral in 1983, I experienced the healing heads of Sister Denise, from father’s Raja Yoga circle. This remarkable woman was the most angelic being I have ever encountered in a life-long journey of meeting many sages, magicians and gurus. She was so light that she seemed to glide on air, and when she cupped her hands over my head, as I wept before my father’s coffin, I felt the sensation of the thousand petal lotus opening — the tingling in the crown chakra signaling the higher coniunctio, the hieros gamos that would become my art theory.
Following this sublime experience, I lived through a decade of personal turmoil while running across three continents as a writer, with little else but my pen to attach me to the earth. Not until 1994, when I arrived back in my family home in Stamford, Connecticut, did I commit myself to the process of bringing this spirit fully into my physical body — and my literary corpus. Typically, I thought it would take a few days, maybe a month; instead it took fifteen years. Along the way, I experienced the great paradox of my life as an extroverted Aquarian: in going inward, I found not only myself but also a profession. Or I should say, criticism found me, for it gave me the ability to exorcise my daemon and reconcile persistent dreams of needing to relieve myself in public.
How else could I work through the challenges of grounding a new myth--Kundalini pioneer’s daughter awakened over his coffin. — when the lack of roadmaps was compounded with the necessity to earn a living? Psyche was a mythical mortal who symbolically reflects our soul. You are already participating in her rebirth, simply by reading this introduction. An odyssey, compiled in three volumes, brings an intensive decade-long process of relentlessly tracking the re-emergence of the sacred feminine in contemporary culture to an ending, and a new transformation. Initially, the journey was propelled by my own struggle to find Psyche in a tangible form. This evolved into a physical act of impromptu performance/installation art archived through traditional photography, later taking on an entirely new skin in The Alchemy of Love, a 2007-2008 five-chapter live multimedia production in the Lab Gallery of the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan.
The first volume of Critical Trilogy covers Psyche’s falling in love with Eros and ends with the beginning of her disenchantment with romantic love. Vol. II contains the character building that rewards Psyche with the profession of art critic under a gender-free label. Vol. III results in the transition from critic to curator as a means of introducing the public to an aesthetic reflecting a new cosmology. In 1997, I met acclaimed author Margaret Starbird (The Woman With the Alabaster Jar), whose search for the “lost bride” of the gospels was to inspire Dan Brown’s writing of The Da Vinci Code,which became a global phenomenon.
My passionate exchange with Margaret about the hieros gamos prompted me to begin a conscious and proactive journey to find evidence of the bride’s return in art. Kundalini’s Daughter, the book and blog with the same title, is the refined product of this search. In bringing together a vision of Psyche with a written chronicle of the journey of Her emergence, it reflects an authentic quest: to restore the image of the lost bride to psychic life through the passionate expression of a newly emerging face of the feminine. The obstacle facing the culture at the turn of the millennium was this: how do we penetrate beyond post-modern cynicism to the embrace of a new cosmology containing the full expression of the divine feminine in union with her male consort?
On a personal level, I embarked on a contemporary remaking of a twentieth century urban myth reflected in the title of the second volume, Psyche on 79th Street: the “underground” descent of the uptown New Yorker to an earthiness embodied in the downtown artist community. By becoming fully engaged in developing a codex of this process, I confronted the challenge facing all art disciplines today: how to create an elastic form that is alive, yet timeless, contemporary, yet rooted in the past. Above all, this new quantum art form must tell the truth about the joys and sorrows of being awake at this crucial point of history. The abyss we are staring into, declared by twentieth century critics as the End of Art, holds the potential for our transformation. It is the paradigm leap we all face--the point where past and future converge into present, the collapse of the Quantum Wave. It is precisely in this undefined space that Kundalini’s Daughter lives and breathes the fresh air of creative freedom — no matter if she is uptown, downtown, or anywhere in between!
Once it became obvious that the serpent power was pushing me to creating a new form, my path was clear: to establish myself as a leader in a new avant-garde. How did I get to that place from my refuge in Connecticut? In 2001, I plunged into a freelance job as regular art critic with Southern Connecticut Newspapers (Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time). I began writing about visual art and eventually expanded into dance and theater. Over a span of five years, I published nearly 250 reviews and articles. At every possible opportunity, I chronicled the return of the authentic feminine repressed by both the corporate media, on one hand, and the institutionalized feminism in academia, on the other. Some of these reviews and articles appear in Kundalini’s Daughter, while others will appear in future volumes. Paradoxically, the content and rhythm of this book are composed of the shedding of the serpent’s skins of the desire catalyzing the real life experiences required to write it. Yet, beyond an immersion into the collective consciousness, my , required surrendering to the universal unconscious--a new version of the myth of Psyche and Eros.
There are aspects of the original Greek narrative that are missing, as the myth was being lived through a contemporary woman who had been schooled by a father whose core identity through all his transformations was unshakeable: participant and observer rolled into one. In this respect, the virgin in the myth was being newly invented as the solitary female intellectual who betrays her own mind, as Eros betrays Psyche, in order to confront her veiled desire for an authentic connection to another human being. In breaking through the modernist myth of the solitary genius, and narrowly escaping the trap of narcissism, she overcomes the illusions of romance to learn about a love that is real. To succeed in this quest, she must develop her character through discrimination, courage and containment of spirit. This growth leads to a new relationship between Eros and Beauty.
Wouldn't a critic with a pioneering spirit embracing such an evolution at the time Eros was still repressed by feminism expect to be enthralled by a bold new aesthetic? Perhaps, yet to fall into its enigma meant betraying my professionalism. This was the paradox that I chose to embody, rather than repress. Therefore, the tension of navigating such risk defines the very structure of the trilogy.
My decision to self-publish (in 2009) was prompted by the discovery of my father’s introduction to a book that he was writing on his guru. A particular passage caught my attention: “A point that Muktananda keeps making…is the necessity of having direct, personal experience with higher states of consciousness and spiritual energy. This may seem obvious but it is easy to forget this simple truth. Again and again, he exhorts the scientist to study himself, the healer to heal himself, the psychologist to witness his own mind. The pressures to achieve and perform in these fields before one has gone very far into one’s own Self are very great in America. Muktananda says that the journey into the Self can only make one into a better therapist, a better minister, a better researcher. Nothing will be lost; much will be gained. That is what he told me when I first met him. From direct personal experience I have found he was speaking the truth.”
Naturally, I have something to add to that list: a better critic. My father raised his progeny to undertake his own spirit of scientific inquiry in pursuit of the Self, breaking through any boundary standing in the way — whether in the body, society or profession. I never doubted that to understand art on the cutting edge, I had to follow my father’s path and balance the tension between the opposites to become both observer and participant. The suspense was high, but triumph lay on the other side of the tightrope: a new language to interpret the innovative art forms for the twenty-first century.
Kundalini’s Daughter goes beyond the struggle to cope with my father’s legacy as death-defying explorer of a forbidden realm. It is also the attempt to make good on his unconventional teachings, particularly in regards to the principle of non-attachment, essential to keep the narrative moving. The qualitative value propelling the narrative forward is not at all apparent in a consumerist culture tyrannized by the quantitative accumulation of the LIKE. As I surrendered to the Aquarian Surfgeist filtered through my body, the body politic of the future was relegated to the avant-garde of the present via the past that my neo-Reichian psychologist father catalyzed as founder of the Human Potential Movement behind the sixties countercultural revolution. As a millennial critic, I followed the vigor of his tireless breakdown of energies blocked in the body by zeroing in on corporal impediments in the artist’s work reflecting the constraints of the increasingly institutionalized art and the distracting surfaces of the celebrity-obsessed culture. These dead zones harbor outworn archetypes and patriarchal myths that need be reinvented for a new age of gender equality.
Turning the Third Eye inward, I had to apply this same rigor to my writing. To break through the shadow threatening the critic — who can profess to see everything, it would seem, except their own backside — requires the creativity and imagination of the novel, along with the rigorous adherence to truth required by journalism. In combining both form, Kundalini’s Daughter is a personal art-I-fact of a leap into the Aquarian Surfgeist, a mythical journey filtering the buried quest of the collective body for an authentic living and breathing sacred reality that would become pronounced by 2020 through the Covid-19 attack on the lungs.
In retrospect, it is a given that the monumental task of bringing heaven down to earth was essential to drive the narrative forward. Yet, at the time the only sentient awareness was this: the requirement to confront the seemingly impossible at every new turn was Psyche’s challenge as well. Coming upon the insurmountable obstacle, she didn’t simply whine as so many do about the state of things; instead, she fully surrendered to the process of the inner evolution reflecting the outer. In giving up her life to a higher power, the universe came to her aid in unpredictable ways. This was also true of my journey. The lights of the cosmos guided my way, along with the infamous words of Hermes Trismegistus: “As Within, So Without, As above, So below.”