The new book, How to Handle an Anthropologist: Russell Shuttleworth, PhD interviews shaman/performance artist Frank Moore, was featured on “Jovelyn’s Bistro” on KPFA’s Cover to Cover Open Book, August 21, 2019.
Linda Mac and Michael LaBash joined Jovelyn Richards in the studio for this live broadcast. Listen to the interview here:
About Jovelyn Richards:
“Sometimes We Need Art, More Than Food & Water.” Jovelyn Richards interviews artists who explore emotional intimacy through their narratives within theatre, film and literature, along with voices less heard. She talks with artists who explore emotional intimacy and the fringes of our culture. Jovelyn Richards is a writer, international performance artist and speaker. She holds both an MA and MFA in the Humanities.
the cave is our world, his and mine. together around the fire in the warm cave. it has always been this way. mother and grandmother…mothers and grandmothers have always been in the cave above the tribe, have always been talking to the world spirits for the tribe, have always been taking the tribe out of the world of survival, cold wet fear…into our body cave of warm laughing joy, taking them into us deep for awhile.
and there has always been one of his kind in the cave. mother said that before i was born, the one who she lived in the cave with died. his death cursed the tribal field, cursed the tribal planting. the tribe again survived only by the hunt and the gathering. the spirit of the field would only come back when mother could mate in the tribal field with a healer after hair grew on his body. until that time, during times of moon blood, mother led the tribal women in the chant of plant magic, keeping their knowing of the secrets of growing alive during the years of waiting.
as the world spirits desired it, for many years no deformed male baby who could be a healer lived for more than for a few days within the tribe…even when mother secretly took such babies from the sacrifice rock and brought them to the cave, where she and the old healer tried to bring them fully into life.
so after the death of the healer, mother had to make the secret and dangerous journey to the sacrifice rocks of other tribes in her quest for a deformed boy baby, for a spirit that didn’t dwell in the world of survival, for a magical son who could be a healing bridge between all realities. mother had to hide behind the sacrifice rock of each tribe for many nights, waiting for a father to put a deformed boy child on the rock to die.
one day the tribe discovered that mother was not in the cave. they went into a ritual dance and a fast, piling all the food outside the cave to bring her back. they had a feast when they discovered that she had returned with a new healer. she had found a deformed boy baby. she saved him from the sacrifice rock and carried him to the cave. there she gave birth to him. everyone knows that cave magicians can give birth to even full-grown men. so no one was at all surprised to see this baby in the cave.
mother took care of him, raised him in the cave. she grew to understand his sounds, his moving body, his spirit talk. i understand him now. as he grew up, his healing magic became physical touch. he was in the future and the past and the world spirit…linked with mother’s body. now linked with my body.
when hair grew on his body, mother took him as her magical mate. then the secrets of growing, the magic of the plants, again came out of the moon cave and into the field. once again, the spirit entered the field and was attended to by the women of the tribe.
once again, before every harvest and every planting, the tribe carried mother and her magical mate to the fields. there she would take him deep inside her. they became one body together in ritual pleasure, offering the pleasure to the earth spirit as a thanksgiving. these were the only times he left the cave. these were the only times that she took him deep into her, although they were always together in the sacred play when they were in the cave, rubbing, licking, laughing, moaning, crying within the awareness of life. he and i are still in that awareness cave.
mother got big and i came out of her into the cave. if i was a male baby, mother would have gone like a spirit with the baby out of the cave to where the woman of the chief slept. she would have put the baby beside the woman and then slipped away. the boy would be born to the woman of the chief. the magic of the cave mother can only be passed on to a daughter of the cave. if i did not come from mother’s body, she would have gone on a quest for a cave daughter, leaving the healer alone in the cave. the tribeswomen would take care of him as best as they could. but if mother would die on the quest, the healer would die. then the tribe would die.
i grew up cuddled up between their bodies, playing with their bodies, smelling the herbs mother hung to dry in the cave, smelling the teas and other medicines mother made from them to give those who came to the cave to be healed. i ate the food and drank the water and the milk that the tribe brought to the mouth of the cave everyday.
i always played with mother and the healer…to me, he is laughing face because his hairy face always has tickled me…when they played together. but she put me into the child hole to play whenever she and he did rituals with a tribesperson. grandmothers from long ago dug these child holes. there is one just outside the cave for when mother danced with the chief before every hunt, before every battle, arousing his power.
i now arouse him.
there is a child hole at mother’s secret place where she goes when the tribe faces death from nature offended…the secret place where she offers herself to earth spirits as a sacrifice by working herself up by dancing and rubbing until who she is burns away. and there is a giant children hole in the middle of the moon cave where all the tribeswomen with children without body hair go during the times of blood. i watched the rituals from the child hole. when i could get out of the child hole, i could take part in the rituals…even before body hair and times of moon blood.
mother started teaching me cave mother magic and how to combine and blend it with the magic of laughing face. laughing face has always been my brother, my playmate. i grew up understanding his sounds, understanding his body, hearing his thoughts, seeing through his psychic eyes. he is my body. since i had body hair, he has been my mate.
mother started teaching me cave mother magic. cave mother magic is body magic. the body of the cave mother is the body of the earth. after i could get out of the children hole in the moon cave, mother started teaching me cave mother magic. mother said a long time ago the women of the tribe did not bleed together as one body in the full bright moon time. each woman bled alone at her own time away from the tribal fire, bled alone in dangerous cold darkness. one day, the moon, full and bright, told cave mother that the women will only have their time of blood in the nights and days of bright moon. the moon told cave mother that on the night before the full bright moon, all the women with all the children before body hair should leave the tribal fire, carrying a flaming branch, and dwell together in the special cave until the last moon blood fell. the times of moon blood are the most magical.
during times of moon blood, the elder men with the chief stay with the healer in the healing cave, taking care of him until the cave mother returns. they feed him, give him drink, bathe him. but they themselves fast and chant and rock and gently touch him. they can not understand him, can not see through his eyes. but as they sit around him, his spirit fills them and they are filled with visions.
mother began my magical training by taking me with her when she left the moon cave during the waiting day and the day of restoring. on these journeys she would collect herbs, special stones, healing mud, and all the other magical objects that she would prepare and use with the healer in their cave, our cave. she told me the story and the power behind each object. she told me the secret magical stories hidden within the stories that the women shared within the moon cave, rubbing one another, rocking together, enjoying their single body.
after the times of blood, when we returned to the healing cave, mother started letting me help her prepare the healing objects. mother said the objects by themselves do not have healing powers. but the body magic calls forth the healing effect of the object just as mother and the healer call forth the healing magic within each other. after someone left the cave after a ritual, mother started explaining to me what had happened. most of this explaining was not done in words, but by mother and laughing face playing with me, turning my body and spirit on.
laughing face would melt into the person’s body as they played, seeing what was needed. sometimes by touching deeply, he could transmute the inner sickness. other times, when he felt death was approaching, he and mother would arouse the body spirit to melt with death. but most of the time, as the healer was physically melted with the person, mother saw with the healer’s eyes, felt with his body. then the healer would lay back, and mother would begin her body dance, rubbing wet warm, sucking the other into her, licking coolness, blowing life into the other, dancing hard and long deep into the woman cave. the other could be the ill person. often it was the healer. just before she left, mother started to pick me to be the other dancer. the dance would fade into sleep. then just before dawn, mother would wake the person up, give him herbs or a magical object, give him rituals, then would send him back into the tribe in survival.
i absorbed all of this. i saw boys come to the healing cave when they first had hair on their bodies. the boy with first body hair would be barred from entering the moon cave on the first time of blood after body hair first appeared. the cave mother would ritualistically force his mother to not bring him into the moon cave again because he would never be again her son. the cave mother would send him to the healing cave. there, the chief would bar him from the cave, telling him to sit on the rock outside the cave, to wait for cave mother, to wait, not moving, without food, without water, without sleep.
days later, the cave mother would return to the healing cave, without giving any notice to the sitting would-be man. she would enter the cave and would lie beside the healer. the elders would slowly dance from the cave to the sitting would-be man, lift him up, carrying him into the cave mother, lying him on her, belly on belly. then the elders would leave to dance outside of the cave.
mother would gently let the boy enter her body, guiding him to melt with her in body and spirit, pulling him into the deep trance of transforming pleasure. then, when the boy had died to his child soul, the elders of the tribe would enter the cave, lift the entranced would-be man onto their shoulders, and carry him out of the cave and on into his quest for a vision, for a new soul, and for a proof of his worthiness to be within the tribe.
when a girl first entered the moon cave on her first time of blood, the women gathered around her and rocked her gently day and night until the moon blood stopped flowing between her legs. then they washed her childhood away, washed her into womanhood, washed her first in their moon blood, then washed her in clear cold water, welcoming her into their collective body.
then the cave mother took the new woman outside of the cave, laying her down on a bed of leaves. mother would reach deep inside the new woman, gently breaking the seal of skin, if it had not been broken in child play. the mother started calling forth from inside the new woman, started calling forth wave upon wave of intense moaning burning pleasure moving within the new woman’s body, joyfully burning up the little girl’s insides, the body of the young new woman writhing, opening wide to let the whole universe in. when the little girl had been completely burnt up, the tribal women took the new woman into their circle to rock with her.
as my mother did before, i live with laughing face in our cave of love and play, far outside the reality of cold survival of the tribe. most of the time, people of the tribe come to our cave not to be healed of some sickness, nor to know the future, nor to appease the spirits, nor anything that you in your time might think would be magically important. most of the time, they come to be rocked by me and the healer, to be sung to by us, to play with us, to come into our personal love of warm playing skin. the possibility of this personal love has not truly entered their reality of survival…except in their memories of what they have experienced within our cave…slowly this pleasure playing of personal love has leaked out of the cave over the lifetimes of the many cave mothers from the time when the first young girl found the first healer and hid with him in a cave, sneaking out to steal a blazing branch from the group fire of the human pack, sneaking out at night to gather berries and fruit…sneaking out so that the pack wouldn’t kill the useless deformed boy…sneaking out until she became an earth spirit to the pack when they caught sight of flashes of her. the young cave couple lived a new kind of existence together. in the pack there has always been the physical love of a mother for her babies, and children of the pack always have played together. but when the children entered the adult pack reality of cold survival which was dominated by fear, by individual isolation, and by being together solely out of physical need, this love and this child play quickly faded into the ultimate black beyond the light of the night fire of the pack.
but in the first cave couple, the personal love that was the mother-child physical love within the pack transmuted into the personal love between people that hadn’t been linked by the birthcord. this new kind of love was what melted the bodies of the first cave couple together. their playing together as children in adult bodies called forth this new kind of love. slowly their play revealed totally new physical pleasures which humans had never experienced before. in the pack, there was an ever-present lurking of a violent urge erupting in some male, grabbing a female from behind just to let her go a minute later after the pressure of the urge had been relieved, the woman going off to soothe her wounds.
but within their cave playing, the first cave mother and the first healer began discovering the many paths of pleasure within their body of two…long giggling tickling belly warm chest moaning exploding white light turning colors sleeping warm skin. on these paths of pleasure, the moon came to them and taught them magic. the moon told many strange things…that men were not just protectors and providers…that men have a direct and active role in the creation of life…that everyone in the pack is physically connected to one another as a body. becoming aware of these things would transform the pack into a tribe, calling forth tribal love, extending into the land and animals. this awareness would come slowly as the tribespeople visited the cave, visited the personal love of the cave mother and the healer, experience within their own bodies the new physical pleasure. they would take tiny bits of the expanding cave reality back to their relationships within the tribe. the moon said every pack had a cave couple developing, hidden, playing.
i am seeing into your time through laughing face’s eyes. i’m seeing past the marble temples where cave mothers became sex goddesses…past the men of power dividing the cave mother from the wounded healer, chaining her to promote isolation by turning her into just a safety valve for the release of guilt of power and the frustration of unattainable desire.
but laughing face and i are still in our hidden cave waiting for you to come and play with us.