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Week of February 16, 2016 - Fifty Years of Justine and Susun

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 11:15 AM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Fifty Years of Justine and Susun

Yes, less than a year after completing it, I was turned out of my hand-built house. It was my fault entirely. I failed to recognize that ever-full wine glass in the hand of the woman who owned the land I had built on. I failed to register the huge pile of half-gallon wine bottles on her porch. And I had no previous experiences with alcoholism.

So I was unprepared to find myself no longer the beloved, but the enemy. With little notice, I packed my few belongings – and my goats – and moved to a friend’s basement (and barn). Justine and I had a large space there; bigger than many people’s houses, though it was just one big room.

One big wet room. Though the original stream no longer ran through the room to keep the milk cool, its memory exhaled wetly. And the fifty-acre pond a few feet away from our window added to the moisture. Great for the complexion. Hard on my books.

There we began to dream of a safe space. Not just a safe space for us, but a safe space for women. My lover and my friend and I began to search for this safe space. It was a long search. It occupied us for up to 20 hours a week for nearly two years. We amazed the relators by being more interested in the weeds growing the yard than the number of (modernized) bathrooms in the house.

There were moments of elation and times of despair. After so much work, we were ready to abandon our search. We couldn’t find a large property set well back from the road at a price we could afford. Until one winter day in Woodstock, when I idly went into a realty office. We had not looked at all in the Woodstock area as we figured the prices there would be out of our reach. I told the relator what I wanted, expecting her to laugh at me. But that isn’t what happened.

I have no photographs from these years, so this week I invite you to enjoy a dozen artistic images others have made of me.

Artistic Images of Susun



1953: Susun at seven: Jean Houston’s husband Bob Masters proposed the theory of entelecy: That some people are who they are the moment they are born. Rather like the lamas who move from body to body with their personality intact. This is a great photo to prove his theory. If only I were holding a plant. I am writing though.




1979: Portrait of Susun by Liza Cowan: I hadn’t yet settled in my mind that I was earning my living as an herbalist. I still thought of myself as an artist. I was doing a lot of art during the sixties and seventies. In New York City, I did a weekly display ad (psychedelic to the max) for our store. I drew while Justine was in kindergarten. And I helped to create the Amazon Tarot (published in 1980), a collaborative effort, and I drew The Transparent Tarot (unpublished) as well. Liza and I met weekly to stir each other to do more art. On this occasion I drew her while she drew me. Later, we created Paint Yourself An Amazon workshops where women had their outline traced onto a six-foot length of paper, ready to be turned into an Amazon of their choice. Here is the amazon I created; she hangs right by my computer.




1986: My 40th Birthday: And what a great time it was. Here I am in my favorite heart tie-dye tee-shirt. I wonder whatever happened to that shirt, as I wonder what ever happened to some of the people in the collage of that party. The weaving of our lives carries us together and carries us apart.




Undated: pastel; unsigned: I love the posture and the colors of this drawing. If you did it, get in touch please, so I can credit you.


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