Happy Thanksgiving!

“Come into my lap and sit in the center of your soul. Drink the living waters of memory and give birth to yourself. What you unearth with stun you. You will paint the walls of this cave in thanksgiving.”

–Meinrad Craighead

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This year I’m thankful for my sweet new baby as well as for my other children, a husband who is home with us, the opportunity to pursue creative work together, my parents who live so close and who are so helpful, our first nephew who is so smiley and cute, my friendship with my sister-in-law, and our “tribe” and community of friends. This year has been a really formative year for us and one in which we have completed a lot of significant projects and focused our energy in building our creative business together.

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IMG_9836As a thank you to our Brigid’s Grove customers, we’re offering free shipping for United States customers in our etsy shop through December 1st. For our international customers, we have a thank you discount code for 10% off: SMALLBIZSATURDAY.

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Categories: family, holidays | Leave a comment

Book Review: Naming the Goddess

namingthegoddess

“On any spiritual path, and most especially on one that is simultaneously a path of magical practice, our real progress and growth is measurable largely in the capacity to pass the challenges that are set before us. The easy parts of the journey are not the most important.”

–Philip Kane (in his essay on Laverna, Naming the Goddess, p. 232)

Naming the Goddess, published by Moon Books, is a collaborative work bringing together essays written by over eighty scholars and practitioners of Goddess Spirituality, including contributions from Selena Fox, Kathy Jones, Caroline Wise and Rachel Patterson. A unique aspect of this book is that it is a two-part project with the first part of the book containing a series of contemplative and scholarly essays and the second part serving as a “gazetteer” of different goddesses, making it useful both as a reference book and as well as one that encourages reflective spiritual thought.

The perspectives and thealogies explored in the first section are pleasantly diverse and engaging. I do wish this section was longer, because I felt like it was still getting going when the focus then shifted to the second, larger section of the book.

I confess I didn’t expect to particularly enjoy the gazetteer portion because I have a variety of goddess “dictionary” type books already and I expected much of the second part of the book to be a repeat of information I already have. However, the approach in Naming the Goddess was decidedly different. First, because many of the seventy goddesses included were uncommon deities with whom I was not familiar. Second, because the entries were written with a personal flair, often by women or men who directly work with the goddesses profiled, rather than solely being a generic overview of the mythology or cultural lore associated with the goddess. Having so many voices represented in one book also means that I found a number of other books to add to my wish list as well as diverse authors and bloggers to follow online!

Another enjoyable element of this volume of essays was the “bite-sized” nature of each piece. Most of the essays are 2-5 pages long, meaning the book can readily be digested in a stop-and-start manner that is very compatible with a busy life that includes four small children!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

November 2014 136

Categories: books, feminist thealogy, Goddess, readings, resources, reviews, thealogy | Leave a comment

Simple Full Moon Ceremony for a New Baby

IMG_8557On October 30th, I gave birth to a new baby boy. He was born at home in water, my fourth homebirth, but my first waterbirth (his birth story is available here). On the full moon of his one week “birthday,” we took him outside for the first time in his whole life–to meet the world, to feel the fresh, cool air, to be introduced to the moon and the Earth as a member of our family. Here is an outline of the very simple ceremony of welcome we held for him. While we did this with just our other children present, it could easily be expanded to include additional guests.

Each family member carries a candle outside into the full moon’s light.

Circle up, hands on each other’s backs, and hum in unison three times to cast the circle (this is our tradition in our local circle–the hum quite literally unifies and harmonizes our energy and centers us in time and space together. Very simple and effective).

Placing our hands on the new baby:

Welcome to the spinning world, baby boy!
(family repeats)

Welcome to the green Earth!
(family repeats)

We’re so glad you’re here!*
(family repeats)

Each family member chooses a piece of corn from a chalice and makes a wish aloud for the baby, tossing the corn into the moonlight. November 2014 066

(Our kids love tossing corn so we use this during many full moon rituals.)

Hold the baby out under the moonlight. (Our baby stared right at the moon with solemn, wide eyes.)

Join hands and say closing prayer:

May Goddess bless and keep us,
may wisdom dwell within us,
may we create peace.

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*Adapted from the children’s book On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier

Closing prayer adapted from unknown source.

Crossposted at SageWoman.

Categories: birth, blessings, family, night, parenting, priestess, ritual | 4 Comments

Of Chainsaws and Change

October 2014 168Sometimes you have to let dead things go
sink back into the body of the Earth
from where they came.

Let them re-enter the cycle of life.
Let them breathe again into the rustle of fall leaves.

Sometimes when the sheltering arms that have surrounded you
have dropped away.
Your horizons are broadened
Your eyes opened.
And you breathe deeper, climb higher, and run freer.

There is a time for gathering in and drawing close.
There is time for opening up and letting go.
Softening the grip that demands that nothing ever change.
Letting go of the way things used to be.
And just watching, to see what grows anew.

One day there will something here
that has never been here before.

October 2014 169

What now remains of my favorite maple.

During the drought we experienced around three years ago, a lot of the trees in our woods died. Some of them died that year, but we weren’t absolutely sure they were really gone until they got no new leaves the following year. Some of them died the following summer, probably due to having been weakened so much by the drought conditions that they couldn’t rebound. This year, we decided to cut some of them down—both because we heat with wood and winter is approaching and because some of them are so close to the rocks I visit that if they were to fall, they could hurt me. It felt, and continues to feel, like a “selfish” decision by me though to have cut them, like we should have just let the cycle of the forest continue its life and rhythm unimpeded by human interference. It was hard to evaluate the variables of good woodlot management, firewood procurement, and personal safety while also feeling like I was betraying my sacred spot in the woods, betraying the relationship I built there. I still don’t know whether we made the right choice. I do know that the landscape in the woods has changed now.

While my husband and the friends that helped him were as careful as possible not to damage anything unnecessarily and to only October 2014 164 cut trees that were most certainly dead, one of those trees fell on a plum tree that I enjoy very much and split off the top part of the plum and several branches. I can hardly stand it. This is the tree for which the strongest feeling of betrayal comes, since it is very much still alive. I know this tree. I know how it starts to blossom early in the springtime, how the petals of the flowers fall onto the rocks like snow when an early frost comes, how its leaves are the first to fall in the autumn and to carpet the rocks with their even, nearly round shapes. It is by far the biggest plum tree in the woods—I rarely see them as big as this.

One of the things I learned from my whole woodspriestess experiment was that it is completely possible to create a deep, rich, full, complex, genuine relationship with a physical space and the non-human life forms within it. As I looked at the damaged tree, I thought though, this relationship now is NOT a mutually rewarding for the trees. I’ve gained so much and learned so much in this space and what I have now returned to it is destruction. I cried over the plum. But, tears do not heal broken trees. Nor do apologies re-grow broken limbs. I have to sit with that. I put my hands on its trunk and told it I was so sorry. I felt my heart beat in my palms in this rhythm: I am strong. I am strong. I am strong.

And then, look what I’ve already been through. October 2014 166

I looked at its trunk then, how to emerges from a small space between two rocks—pushing its way up through very inhospitable, rocky terrain—and how it grows at nearly a right angle to the rocks themselves. This is not a tree that grows straight and tall, this is a tree that arches over the rocks in its own, powerful, individual manner of survival.

I had taken an altar bowl my mom made down to the rocks with me to photograph and after I was done with my pictures, I carefully poured the water from the bowl around the base of the plum and while I did so, I started to sing the Hoʻoponopono song that I learned about from a friend.

I am sorry
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Thank you.

It was still a betrayal of this plum tree. I’m not making excuses about that. However, I will wait and watch and see if it can rise again anyway.

 

 

Categories: death, nature, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 4 Comments

Fall’s Return

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I love the last roses of summer as the wheel turns towards fall.

Weed it out
cast it off
let it go.

Let it sink
into the body of the Earth
where it will be recycled
renewed
refreshed
reborn.

Let the seeds drift where they may
let your fear drift where it may.

Roll your shoulders
Tip back your head
Open your hands

Let it all fall away
unclench your life.*

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And, my love affair with tiny flowers persists throughout any season that blesses me with them.

Open your heart
be vulnerable
say, oh well
keep going.

It is time to sit on the rock
watch the leaves change colors
feel the winds shift into winter

It is time to let go
to recognize what has dried up
what is falling down
what can be chopped into firewood
and burned.

The spiral twists of the wheel
the turn of the stone
the rhythm of the seasons
which care not a thing
about your to-do list.

It just happens.
It unfolds.
It blooms and withers
takes root again
grows something new, but familiar
and surprises us
with the consistent,
wildly mysterious
Return.

I have been traveling this month and very busy. I am 35 weeks pregnant and I feel overbooked, overwhelmed, tense and taut more than like to feel at this moment. This morning, I woke up before the rest of my family and headed for the solace of the woods, this place that never fails to soothe me and bring clarity. I found myself pulling up a bunch of fuzzy-headed weeds, clearing them away where they had grown up between the rocks. Yes, I was trying to weed the forest, even though my list for the day was very long. As I did so though, I realized I felt good. Calm. Mind stilled. The ache I’d been feeling in my sacrum disappeared and the tears that I keep feeling stinging behind my eyes did too. I remembered that this is a common feeling in the fall for me–the sensation of needing to “stop the world,” the sensation that I’m spinning too fast and trying to do too much. I have documented these feelings for at least the last five years. It felt comforting to recognize the turn of the wheel of the year right there in my own life and to know that the woods simply don’t care whether I cross items off my list or not, the leaves keep falling, the squirrels keep running up the trees, and the sun rises and sets every day.

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*from a poem by Andrea Potos.

Crossposted at SageWoman.

Categories: family, nature, seasons, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

Dance in a circle of women…

Dance in a circle of women
Make a web of life
Hold me as I spiral and spin
Make a web of my life…

Marie Summerwood

Apparently, it takes me a complete year to finish “processing” my annual Gaea Goddess Gathering experience and finally writing a blog post about it! At the moment, I’m embroiled in packing and preparations to go to this year’s event beginning later in this week and don’t really have time for in-depth posts…but, here I am. I’m traveling this year with two friends and meeting my mom, sister-in-law, and another friend there (as well as friends made at past events too). One of the things I realized last year was how much I appreciated the sense of connection and community with a larger circle of women than just our own small local group.

One of the songs we sang, danced, and drummed to around the fire at GGG in 2013 was Dance in a Circle of Women. I’ve been humming to myself as I pack for this year’s event. I created the pewter pendant design shown above based on the song and also this one, which we’ve had trouble casting properly and thus only a very small quantity exist (traveling with me, not available online yet!):

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At this year’s festival, I am vending as well as giving a workshop on Womanrunes. I’m also going to be 8 months pregnant, but I won’t be bringing any kids with me this year (other than the one inside!), which hopefully means my attention will be less fragmented than in years past. I’m a little worried that the twin demands of my merchant booth and wanting to go to the various good happenings will create a similar sense of fragmentation though.

One of the things I enjoy about the GGG is collecting resources to bring home to my own community. I jotted down lyrics to these songs from the 2013 festival and have used some of them locally:

Make sacred space
Remember who you are

–Shawna Carol

(we sang this one during the main ritual on Saturday night and it was lovely in the darkness, surrounded by candles and be-robed women!)

Oh woman
Oh sister
She is me

Holding me
That I may hold you

Forever goddess

(we sang this one in the rain during the dedication of the 2013 temple to Brigid)

I am alive
I am beautiful
I am creative
I am…
I can do anything
I put my heart and mind into.

(this one is a raucous and delightful experience when shouted out in call-and-response format by the fireside. I’ve used it several times since experiencing it at GGG with Priestess Kim.)

So, as I described in a past post, the morning after our 2013 return, I’d typed up a list of fabulous insights gleaned from the experience and my ipad “notes” feature experienced a bizarre glitch never experienced before or since and deleted my entire list. I was able to remember some of them and re-type them, but after that moment they never made it into another post of their own:

…After my unbinding ritual, I walked slowly back to the house feeling light and contemplative. Inside, before anyone else woke up, I typed up all of my reflections and insights from this year’s [2013] GGG. I felt integrated, settled, whole, and at peace. I went to do laundry and when I was in the room, I thought of something else to include in my list which was going to be a later blog post. I returned to my screen where the insightful note had been waiting for me and it was gone. Never to be recovered. I could NOT believe it. All my insights! All my wisdom! Gone! I have to start over…But, then I really just had to laugh and cry a little, because here was another insight, another lesson, another hiccup in my story. And, not everything has to be a blog post after all….

via Be Still | WoodsPriestess.

Since it is time for 2014’s event already, I decided to just put up my unfinished, unformatted, incomplete, re-created list from last year and here it is…

  • I find it is hard for me to have “spiritual experiences” in a group, vs. alone. I do not necessarily know how to create that atmosphere for others. I know how to create a “retreat” atmosphere, but not really a “spiritual experience” atmosphere.
  • I was way too attached to past experience and therefore had difficult appreciating the experience in front of me.
  • I had to stare right in the face that I’d come primarily to collect, rather than share. I found myself feeling disappointed by certain elements on multiple occasions and realized that part of it was my own fault for wanting to collect rather than share.
  • I had a disquieting sensation of the women there not knowing who I am—and, I didn’t show them. I felt like I kept what I am capable of and good at hidden. I realized I feel taken for granted a little in own community. I came wanting to “receive” again, but could have/should have given. I unbound my 2012 medicine bundle when I got home and I absolutely should have done so before (literally and metaphorically). Released ties that bind…
  • Context matters and brings compassion
  • Unlike the preceding year, I had several experiences in which I felt encouraged to be less—to dim my shine…

[from 2013 post on my other blog]

…When I attended the GGG this year, one of the realizations I came home with is that sometimes I feel like people are trying to get me to be less (more about this some other time). And, I remembered a session I had with a healer who did a somatic repatterning process with me—one of the beliefs she tested on me was, “I am not enough.” It got a marginal response, but then she tested, “I am TOO MUCH.” And, THAT is the one that tested as true. I wonder how much about myself that I try to change or that I struggle with actually comes from the fear of being, too much. Too intense. Too active. Too talkative. Too much thinking, too much writing, too many ideas, too many projects, too much waving of my hands and pacing when I talk. Too, too, too, too much.

via Blogging, Busyness, and Life: Part 1 | Talk Birth.

Previously quoted here: via The Warrior-Priestess | WoodsPriestess.

  • As referenced above, not everything a story or blog post.
  • Also as referenced earlier, my attention felt very split by having my toddler daughter with me. I very much look forward to the experience of going alone this year, while I also look forward to eventually taking her with me again when she is a little bit older.
  • I still lack confidence/standing in personal power in a variety of settings/contexts.
  • The experiences that were the most potent were those unanticipated or planned for, like a misty morning walk around the lake with my sister-in-law, or watching the full moon rise over the ritual circle.
  • It is possible to forge a connection with the land somewhere other than where I live.
  • I like new experiences—fresh surprises. Unexpected experiences hold most power. What I was looking forward to/expecting was a letdown, what I did not have preconceived notions about was rewarding.
  • I very much appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to spend quality time with my sister-in-law and before this experience had never spent time with her one on one without my brother or my mom also around.
  • Another unlooked for and unexpected experience was when I was volunteering as as temple priestess in Brigid’s temple and the main altar caught fire. I beat the flaming vines and tablecloth and candles out with my sandal while wearing my toddler daughter in a baby carrier asleep on my chest. It was a fiery initiation into service to Brigid and I think was actually the beginning “spark” of our business dedicated to her (I heard in the woods during a woodspriestess experience last year that Brigid does not need/want me as a priestess [that service is to Gaia], but she wants us as “dedicants.”)
  • Being a merchant was really fun. It was also a significant expenditure of energy.
  • I had several experiences and conversations that told me I might be overlooking the capacities of those around me.
  • I noticed that while being an excellent bonding and sisterhood experience there might also be an inhibiting factor to be present with existing friends and relatives (both in the sense of me possibly inhibiting them and them me), because we have such history and past, established means of interacting with each other/what we expect from each other, etc., so perhaps we were embarrassed to “let it all hang out” (emotionally and literally!), because we have an existing friendship rather than a festival only relationship/friendship. However, at the same time, it was also an opportunity to deepen, grow, and know each other better and I’d much rather have that than a once-a-year-festival-based friendship, that is likely less whole and authentic, though also perhaps less complicated too.

I also made a lot of observations about the role of non-facilitating members during rituals as well, previously explored in part in this past post:

…I witnessed how easily a ritual can lose power when the co-circlers do not take the ritual seriously. It is easy and simplistic to point to the Priestess as the one who “failed” to hold the energy of the circle, but the responsibility for the circle belongs to all its members. Ruth Barrett in Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries explains the responsibilities of circle participants as such: “Ritual Priestessing is not for the faint of heart. If you fear chaos, the unexpected, or the unforeseen, choose another vocation. A ritual facilitator regularly finds herself in challenging situations that are not at all what she originally planned. In order to facilitate others, you first need to know how to be a good participant. I don’t believe that it is possible for a woman to priestess/facilitate a ritual effectively until she first knows how to truly participate in one…

I would also add “avoid heckling.” What does this mean? In my observations at the GGG, I noticed a trend for circle participants to call out different comments in a joking way, either across the circle or to the woman facilitating the ceremony. While it seemed to be done in a light-hearted way and perhaps was the local custom of this group of women, the effect on the group as a whole was striking. The “heckling”—at least to me—led to palpable energy “leaks” in the ritual container and resulted in a commensurate drop in the power and focus of the circle.

via Co-Circling & The Priestess Path | WoodsPriestess.

Continuing my jotted notes:

  • No heckling
  • The middle of ritual matters—a successful ritual has to have a working phase
  • It is easy to be critical and when you’re just watching.
  • Low energy? How do we contribute to that? Group members hold powerful responsibility too!
  • Leadership matters and is big responsibility and sacred duty.
  • Letting go of self-pressure, perhaps in the name of “self-care,” can have a definite negative impact on others (this is more a judgement by me of others, though I want to take heed of what I noticed so I don’t do the same thing to other people—I noticed that phrases like, “cut yourself slack” or “be flexible” or “go with the flow,” or, “don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” can be used as excuses for doing a bad job, letting other people down, and failing, basically).

And, some pictures (captions will show if you click to enlarge):

Related past posts:

Gaea Goddess Gathering: Listen to the wise woman….

I make the effort

The Warrior-Priestess

Co-Circling & The Priestess Path

Be Still

Moonpriestess

Woodspriestess: Brigid

 

 

Categories: community, friends, GGG, Goddess, night, priestess, retreat, reviews, ritual, self-care, spirituality, thealogy, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Womanrunes Book and Card Sets!

What are you unearthing? What are you digging up? What are you uncovering? What is causing sweat to drip from your brow, your cheeks to flush, and your August 2014 011heart to beat faster? This work can be dirty. It can be long, it can be hard. But, you can do it. You ARE doing it. Keep digging.

Remember too that others are doing their own hard work, unearthing their own riches, discovering their own treasures. What might you be missing in other people and how can you work side by side, turning over your deepness together?

via Womanrunes: The Tool | WoodsPriestess.

Slightly ahead of schedule, our Womanrunes book and cards sets are now available! The sets are available directly from us via our etsy shop. The book alone is also available via Amazon, Amazon UK, CreateSpace, and Etsy (print and digital).

While it was intense and challenging, this work was an incredibly fulfilling co-creative process between my husband and me and it used both of our strengths to the fullest. When the decks of cards first arrived, I drew one and it was The Tool: Rune of Labor. How extremely appropriate! While I’ve been a writer for many years and have published a number of journal articles, magazine articles, countless blog posts, and even three short social service booklets and a miscarriage memoir, I completely underestimated the expenditure of energy required for a book project like Womanrunes. I am still in disbelief that I did it. It feels like a fulfillment of a promise to myself as well as a carrying on of Shekhinah’s powerful legacy.

I took the cards and book with me to the woods and thanked them for giving this to me. This book was conceived of and “written” in the woods, on the priestess rocks. I say “written” in quotes because it many ways it feels like something I received instead of wrote. Each interpretation was first spoken and then later transcribed. And yet, the result was still a book!

Thank you.

Categories: books, divination, family, resources, theapoetics, Womanrunes, woodspriestess, writing | 6 Comments

Womanrunes Book!

We did it! After an 18 months process of working with Womanrunes and developing my interpretations of them, we’ve published our book! It took much longer and was a much more significant birthing process than I imagined, but it feels so good to have completed it.

I’m interested to now witness the fear that has come up for me in the last two  days though as we’ve approved the final proof and ordered the first copies—what if no one likes it? What if it is too much? What if in “stepping out” like this, I open myself up for “attack” of some kind? Anyway, regardless, it is here!

This book is a collaborative effort between my husband and me. I wrote the text and my husband did all the illustrations, layout, and formatting. At present the book is available in two formats: in paperback from CreateSpace and in digital pdf version from Etsy. A version that includes a professionally printed set of Womanrunes cards is forthcoming by September 1st.

We are extremely pleased with our work on this project and are so glad to offer it to the world! Womanrunes_Cover_for_KindleWomanrunes: A guide to their use and interpretation

From an idea by Shekhinah Mountainwater smAugust 2014 006

In 1988, women’s spirituality foremother and wayshower, Shekhinah Mountainwater, experienced a “goddess-lightning” strike of inspiration and created a set of 41 woman-identified rune symbols for divination and personal growth. Twenty-four years later, I discovered Womanrunes and created an expanded means of interpreting, using, and exploring these powerful, magical symbols.

Discover and explore…

*the herstory and development of Womanrunes
*how to interpret Womanrunes
*how to make your own Womanrunes
*how to lay out and read Womanrunes

Publication Date:
Aug 19 2014
ISBN/EAN13: smAugust 2014 008
1500761214 / 9781500761219
Page Count:
124
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.5″ x 8.5″
Language:
English
Color:
Black and White
Related Categories:
Body, Mind & Spirit / Divination / General

smAugust 2014 014August 2014 011

I took the book down to the woods with me, of course, because that is where it was conceived of, gestated, and birthed.

In gratitude.

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Growing more than one new creation at once! :)

 

Categories: books, divination, Goddess, pregnancy, priestess, resources, spirituality, theapoetics, Womanrunes, womanspirit, woodspriestess, writing | 5 Comments

Ocean Seminary College

“The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. Sit. Feast on your life.” –Derek Walcott

(quoted in The Mother’s Wisdom Deck)

“Human connections are deeply nurtured in the field of shared story.” –Jean Houston

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m working on the Thealogy/Goddess Studies D.Min at Ocean Seminary College and took a little pitstop for an M.Div, completed in July. I get occasional questions on my Facebook page or via email about how I feel about the program and I’ve been promising for a long time that I would write a blog post about it. In general, I love it! You do have to be extremely self-motivated to succeed with the programs though. There is not a lot of feedback and can be long delays in communication. So, lots of self-discipline, self-motivation, and self-starting is very key to actually making progress. Luckily, I’ve always been very self-motivated, so the self-organized structure works for me.

After finishing the M.Div, I am slowly picking back up my D.Min work too and expect to finish my dissertation next year. I very much enjoy my work with OSC and have grown exponentially personally, professionally, and thealogically as a direct result of diving into the work there and really doing it, but there are two things to go into the experience with—be prepared to be VERY self-directed and self-motivated and be prepared to be patient. The staff is small and somewhat overtaxed and so it can take a LONG time to get any feedback or response on your classwork. I learned to just move forward at my own pace and appreciate the feedback when it came. And, no one will hold your hand or push you to get started and to do the work, that drive and motivation has to come from within and is self-directed. The classes themselves are extraordinarily well-organized and comprehensive and my mind boggles at all the work that went into creating and planning them. But again, though, your progress through them is going to have to come from within!

These are the classes I completed as my Ministerial/M.Div courses and D.Min foundation work:

02.01.004 Stigmatization of the Witch in History Spring 2012

This class was emotionally difficult due to the intense violence experienced by women during the “witchcraze” years, but amazing in terms of what I learned and the connections I made. As I’ve referenced in prior posts, I really made the sociological connection between current political climates and past events and they are not as far away from each other as we may like to believe.

02.02.001 Goddess Traditions in Contemp. Society I Fall 2011
02.02.002 Goddess Traditions in Contemp. Society II Spring 2012

These classes were both helpful in refining my personal thealogy, developing a framework for my beliefs, and in providing me with material that later became blog posts or essays for other publications!

02.02.003 Historical Roots of Goddess Worship Fall 2012

In this course, I realized that Goddess herstory is simply not my area of interest. I don’t need to be convinced of the role and presence of goddesses throughout human history and so I had to really kind of force myself through this class which felt repetitive after all the reading and writing I’ve already done on this subject.

02.02.004 Introduction to Thealogy Spring 2012

This class was a tremendous academic challenge that really pushed me to grow, expand, and refine my own thealogy and my own conceptual understanding of this field. It was hard, mentally exhausting work. This class took me a year to finish and it twisted my brain in many ways and really made me dig more deeply.

02.02.005 Matriarchal Myth I Spring 2013
02.02.006 Matriarchal Myth II Fall 2013
02.02.007 Matriarchal Myth III Winter 2014

See my notes on Goddess History above. These classes got repetitive and I felt like, I got this already. I kept returning to the same themes, topics, quotes, and references because I really have already built my “case” and understanding in this area. However, the final class in which we had to read and respond to several books that attempt to debunk or challenge goddess-centered narratives was very valuable at, again, pushing the boundaries of my own understanding and my ability to articulate it and make a case for my own understanding or interpretation.

02.02.012 Birth, Death, Regeneration Fall 2012

This was a fun and experiential class, exploring the classic Maiden, Mother, Crone archetypes in one’s own life. I did some art projects for this one.

02.02.015 Thealogy & Deasophy Spring 2013

Ouch! Another major brain stretcher. I feel really good about my work in these classes, but they were hard work.

02.02.013 Goddess Wheel of the Year Spring 2012

Another fun and experiential class.  It is a very personal class about your own experiences and creating ritual and ceremony within your own life and kind of dancing with the Goddess throughout the year.

02.01.005 Sacred Groves: Covens & Npg Groups Spring 2012
02.01.006 Ethics & Professional Practice Summer 2012

Closely related, these two classes were really important in forming a clear vision for organizing, facilitating, and maintaining a spiritual group as well as practicing in a professional manner. July 2014 048

02.01.007 Ritual & Liturgy Summer 2012

Very enjoyable and practical class in creating meaningful rituals for specific occasions. I did a lot of work in this class that I went on to use for other purposes.

02.01.017 The Role of the Priest/Priestess Winter 2013

While there was some overlap here with the other professional practice courses I already mentioned, this was a personally very valuable class that really encouraged me to dig into the heart of priestess work and my own relationship to it. Lots of deep stuff as well as fears and insecurities came up for me in this class. I explored themes related to this class in a series several posts about practical priestessing on my SageWoman blog.

03.01.033 Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life Summer 2013

This course was a required year-long course. I found it helpful, relevant, and valuable, though perhaps I need to revisit it on an annual basis to get it to soak in completely!

04.01.001 Ecology & the Sacred Fall 2011

This course was my first course and I loved it. It was the first time I’ve spent any time with formal ecological concepts and I really loved digging into something that was a new subject for me, but that could be easily and intimately tied to my own spiritual understanding. It was in this course that I joked about writing a Thealogy of Chickens and it was in this course that the seeds of my Woodspriestess experiment, as well as identity as such, were planted.

E: 04.04.002 Ecofeminism I Spring 2013

This class was an elective and I really loved it.The connection between the exploitation of the earth and the exploitation of women comes into sharp focus as well as the connections between the human body and the world body. It helped inform the later class in breastfeeding and ecofeminism that I taught for an independent study student at another college.

Doctoral classes completed:

02.02.016 Goddess Ritual Theory Winter 2014

I really enjoyed this class. The orientation was theoretical and conceptual rather than practical—as in we were writing about and exploring the whys of ritual, rather than creating rituals.

02.02.017 Adv Thealogical Praxis I Spring 2014
02.02.018 Adv Thealogical Praxis II Spring 2014

Brain. Stretched. It is both funny and fitting that the classes that were the most intense and difficult to slog through were those with titles close to “Thealogy,” the very subject of my degree. These classes helped inform my M.Div thesis project and dissertation, however.

02.01.008 Crisis of Faith & Inspiration Winter 2014

This course uses a very helpful, highly recommended book by Judy Harrow called Spiritual Mentoring. This was another one of the practical, helpful, nuts-and-bolts of direct practice types of courses that are so important to have along with the academic, theoretical coursework. Ritual Recipe Kit for Women's Ceremonies (digital kit, mother blessings, maiden ceremony, menarche, crone, sagewoman)

02.01.014 Crafting Rites for Npg Clergy Spring 2014

This class I “tested out of” in a sense, by submitting my work for my Ritual Recipe Kit. Good stuff here!

Classes remaining to complete D.Min:

02.01.009 Empowering Members
02.02.019 High Priestess
02.01.015 Death & Dying

02.02.020 Goddess Priestess Practicum (10 Credits)—requiring a 40 hour priestess internship, this is almost complete as I just need to finish getting reviews/evaluations from women’s group members.

02.02.022 Goddess Thealogy Dissertation (20 Credits)—working on it! I have a 300+ page word document of possible content, but need to focus and center in on this now that my thesis and M.Div are complete.

Currently registered for elective courses:

02.02.009 Goddess Mothers: Shekhinah Mountainwater

Couldn’t resist this one after all my Womanrunes work!

01.02.001 Shamanism, Creativity, & the Arts I

Mask-making! How could I refuse?! This class is an experiential course in which you explore many concepts through art as well as through a culminating final project. I was packed with ideas for this class when I enrolled in it, but I became so focused on my required coursework (and other projects) as well that I let this course become inactive and will have to resume it later.

I’d like to close this post with two excerpts from my original application to OSC in 2011. It has been a wonderful, deep, complex journey so far and I look forward to continuing my work…

Who/what inspires you? June 2014 045

I long to speak out the intense inspiration that comes to me from the lives of strong women.” –Ruth Benedict

I believe that these circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we’re weak and sing with us when we’re strong.” –SARK, Succulent Wild Woman

I am most inspired by the everyday women surrounding me in this world. Brave, strong, vibrant, wild, intelligent, complicated women. Women who are also sometimes frightened, depressed, discouraged, hurt, angry, petty, or jealous. Real, multifaceted, dynamic women. Women who keep putting one foot in the front of the other and continue picking themselves back up again when the need arises.

I am also inspired by women from the past who worked for social justice and women’s rights—women who lived consciously and deliberately and with devoted intention to making the world a better place. Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton. Women who have studied and written about feminist spirituality—such as Carol Christ, Hallie Ingleheart, Patricia Mongahan, and Barbara Ardinger–are also a source of inspiration. As a mother, I find additional inspiration in the self-care encouraging writings of Jennifer Louden and Renée Trudeau.

My children have provided a powerful source of inspiration and motivation. I wish to model for them a life lived as a complete, fully developed human being. After birthing three sons, I gave birth to a daughter in January, 2011. I always envisioned having daughters and felt well-prepared to raise a “kick-ass” girl. Having sons first presented me with a different type of inspiration (and, to me, a deeper challenge)—to raise healthy men. Men who treat women well and who are balanced, confident, loving, compassionate people. I came to think of myself as a mother of sons exclusively and was very surprised to actually have a girl as my last child [updated note: not really my last child as I am now pregnant again!]. When I found out she was a girl, my sense of “like carries like/like creates like” was very potent and my current need to participate in the creation of a world in which she can bloom to her fullest is very strong.

My own inner fire inspires me—my drive to make a difference and to live well and wisely my one wild and precious life. Good conversations, time alone with my journal, time alone outdoors sitting on a big rock, and simple time in the shower provides additional fuel for this inner fire…

Reasons for applying to your specific program of study and how this fits into your personal and spiritual goals for yourself.

I have been “dancing” with Goddess ideas and imagery for about seven years now and I feel deeply called to pursue my study on a more committed level. To me, this program with Ocean Seminary College represents an integration of something I feel with my mind, heart, and spirit. My whole being. In women’s spirituality, I glimpse the multifaceted totality of women’s lives and I long to reach out and serve the whole woman. I wish to extend my range of passion to include the full woman’s life cycle, rather than focus on the maternal aspect of the wheel of life as I have done for some time. I want to create rituals that nourish, to plan ceremonies that honor, to facilitate workshops that uncover, to write articles that inform, and to teach classes that inspire the women in my personal life, my community, and the world. I am currently the vice-president of my Unitarian Universalist church and I facilitate women’s spirituality classes and retreats. In these capacities, I plan programs, give presentations, and facilitate ceremonies (including the occasional wedding). I feel I have already contributed a lot to my community based on my own self-study and exploration and now I feel ready to take that further—to go beyond what I’ve been able to learn, discover, and share under my own power, by studying with a formal program.

I have both a scholar’s heart and a heart for service and at the root, this is what makes me feel like I am a good match for Ocean Seminary College’s program in Goddess Thealogy. I wish to live so that my life becomes a living, embodied prayer for social change and to do work that is both spiritually-based and woman affirming…

July 2014 097

 

Categories: feminist thealogy, Goddess, liturgy, OSC, resources, reviews, ritual, spirituality, thealogy, thesis, writing | 2 Comments

Red Tent Mini-Ritual Recipe

In 2012, when we held our first Mamafest event in my local community, my eye was caught by this room within the beautiful setting of Tara Day Spa:

August 2014 013I wanted to have a Red Tent in this room! I could just feel it calling to me. The next year, when the time came to plan the event, I was dealing with a lot of different things and I knew I did not have the energy to also pull off a Red Tent event and so I tabled it again, but still, I saw that room that year and I wanted it.

The following year,  we started planning even earlier for Mamafest and I had been seeing posts and updates from the Red Tent Movie (Things We Don’t Talk About) and I decided I wanted to host a screening and a Red Tent event during our Mamafest this year. While there are things I would do differently in the future, notably that having a screening at the same time as another event was simply too much, I still feel so happy and pleased that I did it. I scheduled the film based on past experience in which the final half of Mamafest slows down in terms of traffic and so it seemed like the film screening would be a good way to keep people involved with the entire duration of the event. However, this year was so busy and vibrant and successful and energetic, it felt like it was actually disruptive to the flow to try to pull people away for the screening and the “calm” and contemplative energy of the film ended up not matching the celebratory, exciting atmosphere of the rest of the event. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely do the screening separately and then offer the Red Tent space and mini-ritual during Mamafest itself.

Anyway, back to set up. We arrived at Tara Day Spa almost three full hours before the event was scheduled to begin and we needed every single minute of it, plus some. I am so grateful to my husband and my friend Amy who took over most of the actual hanging of the red fabric in the Red Tent space. When I saw the finished entrance, I knew I’d fulfilled my dream!

August 2014 023We set up the inside in an inviting manner with several little stations: a refreshment station with chocolate, tea, and bindis, a henna tattoo area, and a free jewelry making station. Due to size constraints, we actually had to make an “emergency” decision to move the screening of the film itself to the upstairs room at Tara. It was a little stressful to make this transition, but I think it was the right call. We did a mini ritual to open the film (had some technical difficulties getting the film equipment set up and I was extremely flustered to have to make this last minute switch, so that was not ideal for the mood I had wanted to create), we watched the film and then closed by circling up and singing a song together. We ended right on time and then it took more than another hour to dismantle and repack everything. This type of event is not for the faint of heart! Nor is it for pregnant women unless they have husbands and good friends to pack up most of their stuff for them!

IMG_5659Some additional commentary and more pictures are available at Talk Birth.

Rather than repeat all of that post’s content as a crosspost, I decided that on this blog I’d like to share the simple mini-ritual I created for the Red Tent event.

  • Women receive bindis as they arrive
  • Welcome and purpose of screening, as well as some background on the documentary.
  • Water self-blessing bowl—I explaining this is a symbolic cleansing and opportunity to settle into sacred space. We also rang a table chime as each woman entered and took her seat.
  • Group hum—this is our tradition within our ongoing women’s circle and it felt important to carry it over into this experience. The women stand in a circle with hands on each other’s back or hand-in-hand and we hum in unison three times. This “casts the circle” so to speak with just our bodies and presence and it is a very centering experience that literally pulls us into harmony with each other and into the present moment.
  • Sing modified version of May All Mother Know song (see below)
  • Screen film.
  • Scarf dance (with film and Sacred Blood Song) to close (we ended up running out of time for this part).
  • Circle up and sing Woman Am I
  • Welcome them to sign up for future Red Tent events and to receive a red stone and goddess charm as they leave.

May all mothers know that they are loved. June 2014 022

May all sisters know that they are strong.

May all daughters know that they are powerful.

That the circle of women may live on.

That the circle of women may live on.

Circle of Women | Nalini.

~~~~

Woman am I

Spirit am I

I am the infinite within my soul

I have no beginning

And I have no end

All this I am


 

 

Categories: community, friends, priestess, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Fear

“Immense can be our Fear surrounding ‘coming out’ with our beliefs, our passions, and our ancient wisdom whether to our families or friendships let alone the July 2014 018community at large. Afraid we can be of ‘speaking out’ on behalf of the Feminine.

For in doing so we may experience rejection, ridicule, abandonment… all experiences masking an even greater fear… that of ancient memories of persecution, torture and death…”

Chrysalis Woman Circle Leader Manual

Perhaps the above sounds a little dramatic and perhaps it is a feature of the region in which I live, but I do think there is a lot of truth here to the buried fear/memory or worry of being put to death for speaking up for women, for priestessing, even for self-empowerment. When I read the book Witchcraze for my Persecution of the Witch class at Ocean Seminary College, I was disturbed and frightened to see how very clearly the sociological connections could be made between the witchcraze of the Middle Ages and attitudes, more subtle and framed in different language, that still exist today.

In a post I wrote based on my final essay for this class, I wrote:

In her book, Witchcraze, Anne Barstow concludes with the following sobering statement:  “This book has been an effort to remember the names of those who died across Europe. So far, few have said, ‘Yes, these things really happened.’ And no one has yet said, ‘They will never dare to happen again.’” (p. 167).

My first response upon reading this statement was, I’ll say it! They will never dare happen again! But, then I more somberly thought about the things I currently see in society that to me still carry living threads of the witchcraze legacy and I realized that I truly think that globally as well as in the U.S. we teeter on the edge of having history repeat itself. When I read about the histrionics of the extremely conservative and fundamentalist movements in the U.S. and their increasing and frightening political influence, it is not so farfetched to me…Some of the things conservative religious movements promote and advocate are very scary. And, they are increasingly gaining political influence in subtle but powerful ways. While I don’t think we would literally experience a resurgence of the “burning times,” I think the type of misogyny that produced them remains alive and well.

via Never Again? | WoodsPriestess.

I written before about a related experience:

I’ve been feeling depressed and discouraged lately after reading some really horrifying articles about incredible, unimaginable violence and brutality against women in Paupa New Guinea who are accused of being witches as well as a book about human trafficking around the world (I wrote about this in a post for Pagan Families last week). Then, I finished listening to David Hillman on Voices of the Sacred Feminine recently, in which he issues a strong call to action to the pagan community and to “witches” in the U.S. to do something about this violence, essentially stating that it is “your fault” and that instead of wasting energy on having rituals to improve one’s love life (for example), modern witches should be taking to the streets and bringing these abusers to justice. And, he asserts, the fact that they don’t, shows that they don’t really “believe”—believe in their own powers or in their own Goddess(es). This brought me back to a conversation I had with a friend before our last women’s circle gathering…does this really matter that we do this or is it a self-indulgence? We concluded that it does matter. That actively creating the kind of woman-affirming world we want to live in is a worthy, and even holy, task. I don’t have time to fully go into it all right now, but I also think the legacy of the sixteenth century “witchcraze” is powerful and the attitudes that drove it are alive and well in the world today. There is a lot of fear still bound up in that word and perhaps that is why people fail to respond to Hillman’s challenge to take to the streets…

via Woodspriestess: Saving the World? | WoodsPriestess.

And, that post was later modified and transformed into a more detailed post at Feminism and Religion: Do Women’s Circles Actually Matter?

As I re-visited this topic following our most recent Rise Up class in which we talked about why a goddess-honoring culture does not automatically translate to being a woman-honoring culture (even though it seems like they would be logically connected). We talked about standing up, speaking out, about activating the goddess within, and about the idea that showing up and doing it matters. We talked about how creating alternative images and ideas and sharing them—not in a conflictual or challenging or “you’re wrong” oppositional way, but in terms of sharing and showing up with our own symbols and art and ideas. I thought about the fear that is associated for many women in doing this kind of work. I also thought about just how big it is and how far and deep it goes and I remembered the idea of “small stone activism.” I suspect perhaps many women end up withholding their own “small stones” of empowerment and activism because they don’t seem big enough or profound enough to actually change the world…

While reading the book The Mother Trip by Ariel Gore, I came across this quote from civil rights activist Alice Walker: “It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes failing over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope. Many who believe this choose to withhold their offerings out of shame. This is the tragedy of our world.” Ariel adds her own thoughts to this: “Remember: as women, as mothers, we cannot not work. Put aside your ideas that your work should be something different or grander than it is. In each area of your life—in work, art, child-rearing, gardening, friendships, politics, love, and spirituality—do what you can do. That’s enough. Your small stone is enough…”

via Small Stone Birth Activism | Talk Birth.

July 2014 049

Speak your truth
tell your story
stand up for the silenced
speak for the voiceless
believe that hope still has a place

Hold steady
hold strong
hold the vision
hold each other…

 

Categories: community, feminist thealogy, priestess, spirituality, women's circle | 1 Comment

Seed Corn

I dream of a sacred fire where 20140809-191111-69071118.jpg
a family circles
arms linked
as one.

Shared dream
shared harvest
shared blessing
of family, spirit, hearth, and home.

Light the fire
with your children.
Sing with your partner.
Create a temple
of your hearts
hands
and bodies.

This afternoon we had our tenth session of Rise Up and Call Her Name. The focus was on Mesoamerica and we looked at the Virgin of Guadalupe and at the Sacred Corn Mother.

As the year has progressed, I’ve gotten much better at the process of intentional altar creation. I used to always include basically the same items and the process of laying out the altar items was often somewhat rushed and also rote. I’d put the altar items out as one of the last tasks before people arrived. Now, I make the altar creation process a priority much earlier in the day. I center and focus and choose items specifically and intentionally to reflect the theme or focus of the class or ceremony. I let the items “tell” me what wants to be included, rather than including what I think should be there.

 

 

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Our group was small today, but our discussion was robust! At the close of the class, we did a seed corn ritual in which we considered what we would like to save from this year’s “harvest” to plant in the new year. We also closed our eyes and let the seed corn share a “dream” with us. The above lines are what my seed corn (actually, popcorn) had to share with me. Ever since our summer ritual, I’ve been thinking of ways for the upcoming year to include my family more in my rituals and events and how to welcome/include the families of the women I circle with. A lot of the reason behind having women-only rituals at this point in my life is purely logistical. It is difficult to impossible to have a full “retreat” with kids also present. Someone has to take care of the kids during said retreats…hence, single-sex rituals/ceremonies make the most sense! However, shorter and simpler rituals are possible with kids, though they have a completely different feel and even function and so that energetic output needs to be balanced with the renewal and restoration we often need as mothers and women. In our conversation today we talked about how to “change the world” for women and my mom mentioned that perhaps one of the biggest impacts is how we raise our sons. So, I’m not surprised my seed corn dream opened with a fire and a family surrounding it.

Categories: community, family, feminist thealogy, friends, parenting, poems, priestess, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 2 Comments

The Women’s Hearth

“A peaceful revolution is going on, a women’s spirituality movement, hidden in plain sight. Through circles of women, healing women, might the culture come around? . . . When a critical mass—the hundredth monkey, or the millionth circle—tips the scales, a new era will be ushered in and patriarchy will be over.”

– Jean Shinoda Bolen

“The calling a woman feels to gather in Sacred Space with other Sisters starts first as a low and slow warmth that begins to burn. If left unfed, it rises quickly to a raging fire of desire. It will not be denied and can only be quenched by the nourishment of Truth, Candlelight,
Song And Sisterhood”
–Ayla Mellani (Founder of Chrysalis Woman) 

July 2014 038

Nature mandala from our summer solstice ritual this year.

I forget if I ever posted that I did officially finish my M.Div degree this year! July first was my “priestessaversary.” It is also my husband’s birthday AND his “quitzaversary”—the anniversary of his entrance into self-employment and a home-based life. When I got my M.Div diploma via email (physical copy coming later), I was completely surprised to see that the date on it is….July 1st.

While I wait for the remainder of my doctoral courses to begin in the fall, I’m working on one of my elective courses: Women Engaged in Sacred Writing. A recent lesson was to: Discuss the concept of the hearth as it refers to creativity. Our texts for this class are Sisters Singing, an anthology edited by Carolyn Brigit Flynn, and Women, Writing, and Soul-Making: Creativity and the Sacred Feminine by Peggy Tabor Millin. The following post is some excerpts and quotes from one of my lessons for this course

Chapter 2 of Women, Writing, and Soul-Making struck me with its exploration of the role and power of a circle. While I do not participate in a writer’s circle, I’ve been involved in my women’s circle for about four years now. I have a tendency to be other-directed and service-oriented and have to remind myself often to, “tend my own hearth first,” rather than caretaking for others at the expense of myself or my family. With the women’s circle, it is intensely important to me that I plan and facilitate things for it that I want to do myself. Often, the safe container of the circle allows me to do or explore things that I otherwise do not afford myself the time to do. The circle is about both nurturing myself and the women around me, rather than be exclusively other-centered as has been a lot of my previously volunteer efforts and group experiences.

For the authors of the class texts, the new “hearth” for women IS the women’s circle.

Millin writes:

“It is true that the loss of the hearth is linked to a change in the roles of women, and it follows that women can also provide a hearth from which the new June 2014 001model will evolve..

We are forming circles in which to listen, speak our truth, lead, and follow. In the safety of circles, we learn to respect silence, create safety, build trust, set boundaries, resolve conflict, and laugh—at ourselves and at the vagaries of life. Circles include and have no hierarchy. They allow us to see one another face-to-face. Circles of women support, uplift, encourage, protect, and inspire. They also share, instruct, and guide through example. Through circles, we find the courage to fulfill our potential to teach peace and justice. Through circles, we can hold sway over the table of the earth without “waging a war on poverty” or “fighting for peace.”

She goes on to further explore the process of discovering and co-creating a new hearth…

I believe this “hearth” to be sacred and to be present in circles of women who gather for a common purpose. Because the purpose in writing groups is writing, defining the sacred nature of the circle too specifically by aligning with any specific spiritual practice can discourage diversity among participants. The formation of a circle of women automatically includes the sacred if the leader invites this energy and holds the space for it. Even a short silence within which members focus on the breath will center the group. When a circle is centered, its purpose is clear, and the energy of the circle radiates out to attract members who will be most served by it. The result is a circle of women with diverse personalities, backgrounds, spiritual practices, and belief systems who are able to unite for the purpose of writing and the sharing of stories.

I posted a couple of weeks ago about “gathering the women”:

I’m in the middle of my Chrysalis Woman Circle Leader training program and enjoying it very much. As one of our assignments we were supposed to create a priestess collage as well as a new circle leader/priestess altar. As I prepared the altar, I found myself singing the little song that follows. I later googled it just in case, but it looks like I did actually make it up in that moment at my altar. That is what I do with my work: gather the women. And, I want them to feel welcome in the circle. Sometimes I feel discouraged though and I wonder if this work matters. I wonder if people really can work together “in perfect love and perfect trust,” I wonder if people like me and I them, and I struggle with wanting to reach “more” women, rather than being completely satisfied with the small group of beautiful souls who do regularly show up to do this work with me.

Gathering the women July 2014 140
gathering the women
gathering the women.

You are welcome here.
You are welcome here.

Come join the circle
come join the circle
come join the circle.

You are welcome here.
You are welcome here…

“A Women’s Circle helps you to find the river of your life and supports you in surrendering to its current.” –Marian Woodman

(quoted in Chrysalis Woman Circle Leader manual)

“The ripples from a women’s circle are not only magical, they are miraculous.” –Peggy Tabor Millin

At the center of my Chrysalis Woman priestess altar, I put a pottery bowl that I made during one of our retreats and painted during another one. It felt like a symbol to me of gathering the women. Inside of it, I actually ended up putting some little gifts different friends have given me, but first I put in a tiny hummingbird feather as a reminder that these circles and relationships are delicate, surprising, and beautiful and need to be treated with care.

Come to the hearth. Join in the circle. Hug. Love. Dance. Laugh. Cry. Stomp. Drum. Howl. See and be seen. You are welcome here.

July 2014 060

Our summer solstice ritual welcomed husbands and children to come join the circle as well!

Categories: community, friends, OSC, priestess, spirituality, women's circle, writing | Leave a comment

Cave (prayer and meditation)

“Only in the deepest silence of night

the stars smile and whisper among themselves.”

–Rabindranath Tagore (quoted in Dear Heart, Come Home page 52)

20140711-160329.jpg

Nearly full-moon over model Stonehenge last night.

I know it is summertime and that we’ve just passed the summer solstice. It is also the full moon—bright, full of promise, energy, and enthusiasm. The time for descent, and retreat, and rest, and cocooning is not yet upon us. Regardless, I remain in the mood to wrap up, wind down, finish up. I’m having a new baby in October and I feel a powerful, powerful call to finish all kinds of things so I can fully greet him. One of my projects is evaluating and reducing my book collection. As I do so, I find odds and ends I’d marked to write about or remember. Rather than storing the whole book, it makes sense to me to save the one or two pages I’d marked instead. So, despite the incongruency with the time of year, I’d like to share this prayer and meditation exercise I saved from the book Dear Heart, Come Home: The Path of Midlife Spirituality by Joyce Rupp (now up for grabs in my giveaway box if anyone local wants it for free!). I think it would be a perfect reading and brief meditation to use during a late fall or winter ceremony…

A Prayer for the Cave Time

Guardian of my soul, thank you,

for guiding me in the dark places,

for reaching me through the people of my life,

for drawing near to love me when I feel unlovable,

for teaching me how to tend my wounds,

for guarding me with words of truth

and moments of empowerment,

for allowing my pain and struggle

so that I can come to greater wholeness.

Guardian of my soul,

you are my Coach in the Cave,

my Voice in the Fog

my Midwife of Wisdom.

I place my trust in you

as I give myself to the process

of learning from my darkness.

–Joyce Rupp (page 53, Dear Heart, Come Home)

Because I’m feeling on the lazy side, I did not transcribe the meditation, I took a picture of the page instead (page 183).

cave meditation

There are some associated journaling and discussion questions about the cave of darkness in your own life as well (slightly modified/edited from page 51-52):

  1. Have you experienced a significant time of darkness? What was it like for you?
  2. What do you most resist about the cave of darkness?
  3. Do you care for yourself when you are in darkness? (If so, how?)
  4. What gives you the courage to go on?
  5. How has darkness been a teacher for you?

For more about endarkenment see my previous essay here:

…In fact, what if the Goddess Herself is found in the dark? Judith Laura writing about dark matter in the cosmos writes, “might we call this ‘unseen force’ Goddess? Dark matter could be identified with the womb of the Mother, continually gestating particles, suns, galaxies, which flow from her in a continual stream…Dark matter might also be represented as the Crone aspect of the Goddess—dark and powerful…”

via Endarkenment

Remember to listen to the night wind woman and her talkative silence: June 2014 017

Listen to what is walking here
tiptoeing through your dreams
knocking at the door of your unconscious mind
whispering from shadows
calling from the full moon
twinkling in the stars
carried by the night wind woman
rising at sunset
peeking out
in tentative
yet persistent purpose.

Listen to the call
trust the talkative silence…

via Womanrunes: The Crescent Moon | WoodsPriestess.

 

Categories: books, endarkenment, GGG, nature, night, prayers, readings, resources, retreat, ritual, seasons, spirituality, thealogy, theapoetics, womanspirit | Leave a comment

Blackberry Summer

Summer’s bounty July 2014 090
both sweet and spiky
sun-kissed and thorny
able to draw blood
and to cause you to smile
as you taste the juices of life.

Summer is a time when you both wrestle with what isn’t working and celebrate the fruits of your labors. When you peek under leaves only to discover bugs in your cabbages, whether literal or metaphorical. When you bask in what is growing well, what has taken root firmly, what is beautiful in the sunshine, what you can trust, taste, enjoy and savor. In the summer, we see both weeding and harvesting. Planting and tending and maintaining. We see withering. We see giving up. We see what is dying and what is thriving. This is the balance of the year. The wheel turns and turns and turns and before we know it, we are holding a palm full of blackberries once more. Older, different, changed and yet, right there, again. That juicy bite of summer.

Heat and light. Growth and transformation. Bearing fruit. Spreading open in the sun. Digging up by the roots. Weeding out. Composting. Turning over. Turning over. Turning over.

July 2014 094I’m preparing for our summer ritual tomorrow afternoon and the themes above are on my mind. Summer is a perfect time to see what is growing well and what needs to be yanked out by the roots.

Last year, I expressed similar thoughts in my summer solstice poem. It is interesting to see how the wheel of the year is reflected within my own mind and thought processes. In the late fall, I turn inward and feel like retreating and pulling away from commitments. In the winter, I incubate and make plans. In the spring, I emerge again and feel enthused with new ideas. In the summer, I start to make decisions about what to keep and what to prune away.

It feels fitting that I am gestating a new baby right now and making decisions about what I need to wrap up or change before he is born in the late fall. Then, we’ll be ready to cocoon through the fall and winter together.

July 2014 062

Crossposted at SageWoman.

Categories: family, pregnancy, seasons, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

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