In 1963 I built this large wooden construction (10’ x 8’ x 6’) of a ritualized female figure in meditative pose playing a built-in xylophone. I originally named her Priestess/Musician/Witch. My understanding of the meaning of this image deepened with the passing of time and increased reflection. When I finally transformed that long cumbersome name to Rune, “her” fuller meaning gelled inside of me.
Rune refers to a variety of ancient alphabets, taking on mythical and mystical roles in modern times. I was interested in their role as magical symbols in New Age divination and their appearances in fantasy literature such as Tolkien’s novels, The Hobbit (written in the year of my birth) and in Lord of the Rings.
I am not a scholar of Runes. It has served me that an old alphabet, implying mysteries and secrets through the centuries, could set off my imagination and become the true name of my last sculpture. My female creation, nee Priestess/Musician/Witch, aka Rune, existed as a real image and as a symbol of women’s inner spiritual strength, holding a key to the mystery of life itself.
The sculpture is in meditation/prayer, her two hands pointing to her third eye, the place of intuition, inward “seeing”; no real eyes were carved into her face. A full description of the making of Rune is portrayed in Chapter 1 of Fire Dragon Street Theater; 1962-1967, Book One of RUNE QUARTET.
That I was essentially building an image of who I would become, a musician traveling about the country, playing my marimba (a xylophone with resonating tubes) and singing out long meditative chant-songs as Jeritree, was only clear to me years after “she” was built. She was mysteriously destroyed in New York City when I was immersed in anti-war street theater half way across the country in Indiana.
Her murder during a gathering at a friend’s loft, where she was supposedly in safe hands, becomes one of the driving plots of my quartet. It takes the novelized doppelganger of myself, Lucina Holzer, three decades, the time frame of the trilogy, to delve deeply into the characters and motivations behind this brutal destruction of my/her work and fully own the resounding effects it has had on me/Lucina.
The RUNE QUARTET has to be read in its entirety to understand the meaning of this real image, Rune (as opposed to “RUIN”). Her image haunts the entire quartet as the protagonists struggle from the 60s to the 90s to keep their creative spirits alive as they confront endless injustices. For starters, to feel what Lucina (and I) felt upon hearing about Rune’s destruction, read the chapter excerpt “The Blue Giraffe”, from Book Two, Wheeling Across America.