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)

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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.

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Crossposted at SageWoman.

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

Gathering the Women

May 2014 006 Gathering the women
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.

I’m in the middle of my Chrysalis Woman Circle Leader training program and enjoying it very much. As one of our assignments were 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 above. 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 . So, I really appreciated Lucy Pearce’s recent blog post on the subject of, if what I do is women’s work, why aren’t women interested?

I had just done a book reading of my #1 Amazon Best Selling book, The Rainbow Way… to an audience of one.

I had just led a red tent circle with 14 women… most of whom had travelled 40 minutes or more to be there.

I am about to lead a workshop… a free women’s workshop… and am aware that numbers may well be small.

Where are all the women? If this truly is women’s work… then why are they at One Direction in their tens of thousands… and not here? Why are they reading 50 Shades… and not Moon Time?

I often apologise to people that my work is niche…

But how can something which is accessible to 50% of the population be “niche”?…

via Why Aren’t Women Interested? | The Happy Womb.

Once at an LLL meeting I mentioned wanting to start a group called “mothercraft” or “womancraft.” Another woman there said it sounded interesting, but if that is what it was called she would never come. I surmised because it sounded too much like “witchcraft.” I think many women retain a deep-seated, historically rooted fear of being labeled witches. Maybe that sounds silly, but I think it is real.

I am very, very carefully planning for my Red Tent even in August without including the word “Goddess” in any chants/rituals, because I want to make sure to speak to the womanspirit within all of us, rather than being associated with any one framework of belief. My observation is that Red Tent spaces have this ability to transcend any particular belief system and welcome women of many backgrounds, inclinations, and beliefs. They aren’t specifically “Goddess circles,” though they honor the divine feminine through their very being. I hope I am able to hold this space as well.

“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)

Someone commenting on Lucy’s post said maybe women don’t need her work because they don’t feel “oppressed.” I thought about this and realized that I haven’t ever felt particularly oppressed personally, but I still need womancraft for celebration AND because even though I haven’t been directly oppressed, that doesn’t mean countless women around the world are not—I take a stand and lend a voice in my work for a different, healthier world for women. Another observation I’ve made is that women have a lot of trouble viewing women’s circle activities as something other than an “indulgence” or something frivolous and so it is easy for them to talk themselves out of it or not be able to give themselves the time/space for it, even though they are deeply intrigued and interested.

In the article I wrote when I originally turned over the question of whether it matters, I included this poem:

May 2014 003

Finished priestess collage for CW training.

…Rise up
stand tall
say no
be counted
hug often
hold your babies
hold your friends

Circle often
stand together
refuse to give up
when defeated, rally once more.
Persist in a vision of the way things could be
and take action
to bring that vision into reality….

 via Do Women’s Circles Actually Matter? By Molly Meade

And, I saved this relevant quote:

“…But it is exactly the same thing. You cannot have male dominated spiritual practices and leadership without the subjugation of women. And the subjugation of women equals a rape culture. A rape culture equals women and children being used and seen as objects to possess. As former President Jimmy Carter put it: “The truth is that male religious leaders have had—and still have—an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.” –Jacqueline Hope Derby #YesAllWomen

The Girl God: ://thegirlgod.blogspot.com/…/yesallwomen-by-jacqueline…

And, I remembered some thoughts I’d shared from one of my posts last year in which I shared our summer women’s retreat ritual recipe:

…I’ve been feeling a little discouraged about my retreats lately, primarily because there are a lot more women on the email list than actually show up and so I always feel like I’m doing something “wrong” or am not planning interesting enough things to attract them. I also take it kind of personally—there is a vulnerability in preparing an offering such as this and each time I do it I actually feel like I’m preparing a gift for my friends. When they decline the invite, it feels, in part, like a rejection of the gift I’m offering. Cognitively, I know (or, I hope!), this isn’t true, but emotionally that is how it usually registers. This summer retreat was a beautiful experience that felt just as I wish for these retreats to feel—nurturing, affirming, and celebratory—like a blessingway for all of us with no one needing to be pregnant!

Things I was reminded of after this experience:

  • There is nothing like having friends who are willing to lie on your living room floor and listen to a shamanic drumming CD without laughing or saying you’re ridiculous.
  • Small IS good—I already know from my years as a breastfeeding support group leader that I’m a sucker for bigger-is-better thinking (I tell my own students: don’t let your self-esteem depend on the size of your group!!!!!). When the group is small or RSVPs are minimal, it starts to feel like a personal “failing” or failure to me somehow. However, the reality is that there is a quality of interaction in a small group that is not really possible in a larger group. At this retreat there were seven women. While there was an eighth friend I really wished would come and who we missed a lot, the size felt pretty perfect. I reflected that while some part of me envisions some kind of mythically marvelous “large” group, ten is probably the max that would fit comfortably in our space as well as still having each woman be able participate fully. Twelve would probably be all right and maybe we could handle fifteen. I also need to remember not to devalue the presence of the women who DO come. They matter and they care and by lamenting I want more, it can make them feel like they’re not “enough.”

via Ritual Recipe: Women’s Summer Retreat | WoodsPriestess.

At the center of my Chrysalis Woman priestess altar, I put this bowl that I made during one of our retreats and painted after 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 this tiny hummingbird feather as a reminder that these circles and relationships are delicate, surprising, and beautiful and need to be treated with care.

May 2014 009Earlier this month I received a lovely surprise birthday gift from a talented friend and it is perfect for all the Red Tent plans afoot for August! I’m working on collecting red fabric and cushions as well.

June 2014 001

A few weekends ago, we made prayer flags for a friend and I used different quotes from the Amazing Year workbook on mine (I also presented about this workbook at a conference last week).

May 2014 262After I got home from making the flags, I sat at my Chrysalis Woman altar space and drew a card from the Gaian Tarot deck and it felt incredibly perfect:

May 2014 271

In other good news, I received my M.Div thesis feedback at last and it was this: “It’s beautiful. I don’t see how you can improve it or change it. It’s wonderfully articulate, moving, and elegant.”

And, I found out just today that my Womanrunes workshop was approved for this year’s Gaea Goddess Gathering in Kansas!

Check out this Rise Up video from the Red Tent Movie:

Also, read Lucy’s follow-up blog post here:

Encouragement For Women’s Workers Everywhere: When You Are Feeling Downhearted, Alone and Misunderstood | The Happy Womb.

Gather the women. They are welcome here.

May 2014 083

Categories: art, community, feminism, friends, GGG, OSC, priestess, retreat, ritual, sculpture, spirituality, thealogy, theapoetics, thesis, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 8 Comments

Goddess in plain sight

Several years ago when I was taking one of my Goddess History classes at OSC, I drove through my town as I often do and past the “Millenium Arch,” a commemorativeOctober 2012 054 sculpture that was created and installed on the local university’s campus in 2000 (this is also my alma mater for my BA —it is an engineering school, known for its programs in science and technology. I was a psychology major, but it was still an awesome program). I’ve thought it before, but I was struck again that this is, to me, a Goddess sculpture, right in the middle of town, right in the middle of campus. Indeed, it is on one of the main, most-traveled roads in town, meaning that many people every day are in the presence of a Goddess figure, whether they recognize it as such or not. We explored in that class how there are “hidden” Goddess/Goddess imagery in many places and I think this is an awesome example. The theater on campus uses a sketch of this sculpture as their logo also.

Here is a link to some more photos that were taken of it as part of a photo contest.

If you can’t see very well in the picture, there are stylized cutouts of a woman and man in the arch and then the figures themselves stand beyond the arch. I looked up the artist and she has done other large art pieces including, Christa, a female Christ on the cross figure, and also an Eve and the apple installation. So, I think she knew what she was doing! As a side note, this campus also has a half-scale model of Stonehenge on campus carved of granite by engineering students. At the time of its construction it was accurate as clock to within 15 seconds. It sits next to a major highway and anyone can stop and walk through it if they wish. I didn’t know until I was writing this and checked the school’s website, but the “megalith was dedicated on June 20, 1984, on the summer solstice, by a Druid Priest.” Looks like I chose the right school for my undergraduate work!

As Podos says on page 309 (this is excerpted from my lesson and I’m not actually sure to which page 309 it is referring), “…goddess figures have been found dating as far back as 25,000 years [further now] before the birth of Christ. We know that throughout the ancient world cultures were built and sustained on a belief in the Great Goddess in Her many and various aspects. We know that remnants of Her worship exist throughout the world today despite the many recurrent efforts made to destroy Her power…We know that the memory of Her and the memory of women as free and powerful being lives on, even though it is often buried so deeply that it no longer reaches out to us.” I think She reaches out to all of the people and students in my town from this university campus sculpture!

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My boys by the figures before seeing a show on campus.

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A smaller, related version is on the grounds of another campus building on another highly traveled road.

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In the lobby of the theater.

This past week I took my kids on a field trip to City Museum in St. Louis where I was pleased as can be to discover some awesome goddesses in plain sight there as well (well, actually down in a cool cave-type structure). City Museum is basically a huge indoor playground for kids. This carved wall is in the “cave” section and really surprised me when we came across it! I took pictures of at least four different goddess-type sculptures/art while there (and there were more—like big mermaids on the floor of the main hall, but my phone ran out of battery and I couldn’t take pictures of them all). This is not typical museum with displays and artifacts or anything, it is an explore-and-play kids museum, so I wasn’t expecting cool goddess art!

May 2014 054This carving was at the entrance greeting us as we arrived too (the back had a kind of Isis-like wing flavor to it):

May 2014 025

I haven’t mentioned on this blog yet, but I’m pregnant! We had an appointment for an ultrasound while we were in St. Louis and new baby is BOY! (due in October)

May 2014 226

Categories: art, community, Goddess, spirituality | 6 Comments

100 Things List!

As part of Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Year workbook, I wrote a list of 100 things to do in 2014.  My blog has been quiet lately, but that doesn’t actually mean I have been! A lot of the energy previously used for blogging has been diverted into other exciting projects on my 100 Things list. :) I finished my second free gift offering for newsletter subscribers at Brigid’s Grove (if you aren’t signed up yet, fill in your email on the right hand side of the screen at the BG website and you will receive the free book within 24 hours). This freebie is a 56 page book of earth-based poetry. Most of the poems were originally published on this blog, but there are several released only in this book (so far) including a re-write of Psalm 23 (which somehow felt too “risky” for me to put online before now, even though I wrote it almost two years ago!)

May 2014 078We’re also offering a spring giveaway of one of our new healing hands pendants AND also a 10% off discount code for our etsy shop (2014SPRING10OFF).

May 2014 062

“…Medicine Woman reminds you

to sleep when you’re tired

to eat when you’re hungry

to drink when you’re thirsty

and to dance

just because.

Medicine Woman

let her bind up your wounds

apply balm to your soul

and hold you

against her shoulder

when you need to cry.

Medicine Woman

Earth healer

she’s ready to embrace you…”

via Woodspriestess: Medicine Woman

Even more exciting from a personal perspective is that I actually finished writing my thesis. Yes, after all my many days of joking, “Oops! I didn’t write my thesis today!” I suddenly really did write it. I had more done than I thought and all I needed was some class-free, focused writing time (my spring school session ended this past Saturday) to get it to a finished position. It might be a first draft if significant revisions are requested/needed (the format is somewhat non-traditional), but I’m hopeful it might be a last draft too! I’ve been working on my D.Min since 2011. I realized last year that I had almost the right credits to do an M.Div first (since my existing master’s degree is in social work instead, I had to take a LOT of M.Div classes as part of the D.Min program), I just had to add a thesis and a couple of classes to the work I’d already done. So, I call it a “pitstop,” because I don’t really need to do it and I’m actually working on something else, but…here I go! I also found out recently that I really only have three D.Min classes and my dissertation left. I’m giving it at least another year on the dissertation though. When I started the thesis idea, I had more like eight classes left, so it seemed like further away and “might as well.” After two partial starts and two different prospectuses submitted, I switched gears again and I actually used my Earthprayer book above as the basic frame or structure for the thesis. I’d been attempting to work with a 400-page Woodspriestess document and then I realized it was way too much. The Earthprayer book had ended up being a distillation of some basic themes from my year in the woods and I thought, “ah ha! I’ve accidentally been working on my thesis without knowing it!” I developed it with articles and essays and my theory and process of theapoesis and magically I produced 84 pages and 26,000 words! (My thesis handbook says it should be 80 pages and 25,000 words. Go, me!)

I also booked an official screening of the Red Tent Movie: Things We Don’t Talk About. It will be held in Rolla on August 2nd and it is the first ever screening of this film in Missouri! Before I booked it, a friend surprised me with this lovely little Red Moon painting and said it was for me to use in my eventual Red Tent. I felt motivated after getting it and booked the screening the next morning.

May 2014 005After doing this and apparently feeling the freedom of being off for the next two weeks, I took advantage of her full moon special and somewhat impulsively decided to sign up for the Chrysalis Woman circle leader program! This was on my Leonie Dawson 100 Things list with a question mark. Now, it is a question mark no more because I signed up and paid…hope it was a good idea! I’ve only downloaded the manuals and listened to the first week’s materials so far, but I really like it. It feels very thorough and comprehensive and feels like a good value for the discounted price it was being offered for. I’m still a little surprised at myself that I did it though!

Categories: books, OSC, poems, theapoetics, thesis, writing | 1 Comment

Gourd Drum!

May 2014 067

My birthday was this weekend and my husband gave me some gourds and some goatskin rawhide pieces so we could make a gourd drum! I already have forgotten the exact details, but sometime in March we somehow came across a mention of a gourd drum and were instantly intrigued. We liked the idea of being able to make a drum without having to shape or acquire a wooden circle for the base. We liked how gourds are used throughout the world for musical instruments and how they have a long legacy through history. My husband bought the hides and gourds from two different sellers on etsy. We used instructions from the very helpful Arizona Gourds website (hides are very inexpensive from this site as well). We did use a small wooden embroidery hoop to secure the lacing rather than a metal ring and it worked just fine.

We had tons of fun and felt very successful. We already bought some gourd seeds to plant this year and now we’re even more excited to plant them. In the future, I would like to make one using a bigger gourd. I’d also like to experiment with dyeing the gourd and hide both purple and making an amethyst drum!

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Categories: art, drums, family, music | 1 Comment

Book Review: Goddess Calling

 goddesscalling“Any woman who has birthed or raised a child, had a book published, started an organization, manifested a temple – they all know the strength, courage and determination women possess…”

–Karen Tate, Goddess Calling

I’ve been a huge fan of Karen Tate’s radio show Voices of the Sacred Feminine for several years. The voice of Karen and her versatile, diverse, talented, inspirational guests keep me company every week on my commute to teach at a military base.

Goddess Calling sounds just like Karen. I could hear her voice in my head throughout the many essays compiled in this book. Readers familiar with her radio show will recognize content, themes, and quotes as they appear sprinkled through the text.

There are two features that set this book apart from many of its other modern counterparts: first, the explicit recognition and discussion of the connection between the personal and political. Goddess is more than a nice idea or a friendly, beautiful archetype, she can transform the world. Second, the third section of the book contains a nice selection of guided meditation exercises, perfect for use with groups. So, Goddess Calling is beneficial both to the solitary Goddess woman, helping to contextualize their personal, private experiences with cultural, political, and social realities, and for the ritual priestess as she seeks to plan services, retreats, or programs for members of the community.

But I’m not just talking about politics. I’m talking about stretching ourselves, challenging ourselves, trying to accomplish things we might feel are a bit beyond us. It is a journey of becoming and of growing we all must take, and we cannot be afraid of the journey. It’s the journey that steels us. It is the trying,the praying, the stumbling and picking yourself back up, the seeking, the very act of doing that staves off fear and fills us with hope. The destination doesn’t necessarily hold the reward. The reward comes from that which has been gleaned from the journey. The destination is just where you take a deep breath,reflect and relax after the journey has molded you. It’s where we take a respite before beginning again to meet the next challenge or climb the next mountain.

–Karen Tate (Goddess Calling, p. 109)

Goddess Calling is available from Karen’s website, from Changemakers Books, by request from your local bookstore, and from Amazon.

Related posts:

Top Thirteen Most Influential People in Goddess Spirituality

She did what she could….

Do Women’s Circles Actually Matter?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary pdf version of the book for review purposes.

 

Categories: books, feminist thealogy, Goddess, readings, reviews, spirituality, thealogy | 2 Comments

Dogwood Flowers

Each day April 2014 034
offers new gifts
new mysteries
new discoveries
new promise
kissed with rain
and garnished
with dogwood blossoms…

via Woodspriestess: Real Magic | WoodsPriestess.

The dogwood trees have been beautiful again this year. Last year at this time was very stressful. After noticing and taking pictures of the dogwood flowers again this year I re-read one of my old posts and it brought back the memory of finding solace in the dogwoods, strung through the woods like lace:

Greening air

Dogwood lace

April 2014 145

I just love the dogwood flowers against the blue sky!

Restoring soul

Sacred place…

via Woodspriestess: Dogwood | WoodsPriestess.

I am a little taut and overextended and perpetually “out of time” again lately (always?!). It seems like no matter what I cut out of my schedule, something else oozes into that spot and I’m right back at the same point and making decisions about what to trim and what to keep. You will notice this blog has been very quiet lately and that is because I’ve been trying to direct my writing energy into three projects: my M.Div thesis project, a poetry book freebie for our spring newsletter for Brigid’s Grove, and finishing the content for my Womanrunes book (to launch in September). I also have several new classes at OSC that just opened for the spring semester and I’m eager to work on all of them. However, what has really happened, is I haven’t written much of anything and I’m struggling with that. Trying to remember that I’m hitting a busy part of the session with regard to teaching and that grading papers eats up free writing time, but it is NOT permanent and I do myself no good by becoming despairing about how I have “no time,” because the time will come back (not for at least three weeks though!). I was planning to do another month of woodspriestess posts for May since it is my birthday month, but luckily before I even I got started, I realized that was a fairly ridiculous expectation to consciously add to myself!

Anyway, maybe I just need to take a ramble through the woods and look at dogwoods…

Happy Beltane! (a little late)

 

 

 

Categories: nature, self-care, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Spring is here!

Tiny flowers know April 2014 072
that hope blooms eternal
pushing the way
through cracked stone
reclaiming
repopulating
rebirthing the Earth

via Woodspriestess: Tiny Flowers | WoodsPriestess.

It is my favorite time of year again! The bright new promise of springtime, the pretty weather, the sense of discovery as new flowers start to bloom. This evening I headed down to the woods and saw that my baby’s memorial magnolia tree is just about to bloom! That always makes me so happy!

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I made my way down to the priestess rocks and admired the lovely rue anemone: April 2014 061I heard buzzing and looked up to see the wild plum blooming high above me and attracting bees and butterflies:

April 2014 064My favorites, the wild violets, are blooming now too (over by the woodpile):

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Grape hyacinths from a friend surprised me earlier in the week:

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And my grandma’s memorial hydrangea is coming back too!

April 2014 074Today my new Red Tent on the Go arrived via ebay! I’m planning to use it to vend in at the Gaea Goddess Gathering (“it is like a sacred temple of Brigid!” my ten-year-old said), but maybe for some other things too. I love it!

Last weekend I finished transcribing the 40th and final Womanrunes interpretation (which included having to do two new recordings for the stones I’d overlooked and never done!). It is a lot of work! I’m so excited about what I’m doing though. I submitted my workshop proposal to the GGG as well and plan to have my little book finished by then.

I warned my friends that The Pap Smear Diaries was coming and I did it! My most recent post at Feminism and Religion is Pap Smears I Have Known:

One afternoon at the skating rink for homeschool playgroup, a few of my friends sit in a hard plastic booth and the conversation turns to pap smears and pelvic exams. Later, I read Michele Freyhauf’s post about her hysterectomy experience and the skating rink pap smear stories come back to me with vivid clarity. Being a woman is such an embodied experience and we have so many stories to tell through and of our bodies. During my conversation with my friends, I warn them: watch for my new show–Pap Smears I Have Known. At the time, several other friends are preparing for a local production of the Vagina Monologues and I have a vision: The Pap Smear Diaries. But, really, how often do we have a chance to tell our Pap smear stories, our pelvic exam stories? Where are they in our culture and do they matter?

via Pap Smears I Have Known by Molly

This week, I finished my first assignment for my Women Engaged in Sacred Writing class at Ocean Seminary College (how lucky am I to get to take classes like this?!) and my theme was (surprise!): story power!

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

I’ve gotten several questions about OSC lately and I hope to do a blog post about it soon. My short tip is that you do have to be extremely self-motivated to be a student there. 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! Alas, I must heed my own advice when it comes to my thesis project. I’m just not doing it! I have a long file on my computer (300+ pages), but every time I open it, it feels overwhelming or like the wrong time and I end up going away without making any significant changes.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to a workshop and then to our spring women’s retreat. This is what planning a ritual looks like for me: it starts with a general idea and some books and turns into a little scribbled outline with arrows and question marks and then eventually moves into my laptop where it becomes a four page ritual recipe!

April 2014 001I’ve been feeling a little down today about how “little” I’ve gotten accomplished today, but looking over this post makes me feel pretty satisfied. :)

 

Categories: nature, OSC, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

Woodspriestess: Shadows

Shadows   April 2014 132
shadows of time
mystery and space
shadows of home
shadows of place
shadows from life
stretching past death
shadows of hope
crossing the rest.

Lives past
Lives future
Unlived lives
Dream lives
Each casts its shadow
on the rest
making patterns on the ground
patterns on rock
arms of branches silhouetted April 2014 030
against the sky
new leaves
shadowing across a carpet of those gone before.

We all cast shadows
and create cool places
in which others may sit.

 

April 2014 018

Categories: death, nature, poems, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Womanrunes: The Sun and Moon

Womanrunes: The Sun and Moon. Rune of Laughter. Joy. Ease. Oil. Poise. Hilarity. Belly Laughter. Pure Fun. Healing Laughter. Baubo’s Rune.March 2014 006

When you draw this stone, take a minute to put down anything else you are carrying, doing, or thinking about. Let your shoulders relax and release. Let the breath move easy down into your belly. Then smile. Smile from your roots up through your branches. Feel joy suffuse you, filling you, bathing you, and laugh. Laugh from your belly. Laugh from your heart. Laugh with the wild abandon of freedom and release.

This is a stone of letting go. This is a stone of release and freedom. This is a stone of trusting oneself and what makes you smile. Are you afraid to laugh? Are you scared to let go? Do you fear the loss of control that comes with hilarity? It is time to shake that off. Don’t be afraid. Laugh, sister, laugh. It is time to have some fun!

Know that you are as free as you allow yourself to be.

This month I’ve been steadily working on the final handful of Womanrunes that I had left to interpret. I’m actually working on a little book to hopefully unveil during a workshop I plan to offer at the Gaea Goddess Gathering in September. The remaining 18 interpretations that I wrote over the last two months are probably going to be saved for first publication in that booklet! However, this one was the very last stone remaining in the bag and it felt significant for a couple of reasons. One, because it was actually the stone I drew to place on our New Year altar when my husband and I started our biz and life planning work with Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Year Workbook. When I drew it then, I knew it was a message that I needed to have more fun this year. Two, when I drew it this second time in order to do the interpretation for my book, I found myself experiencing a huge amount of reluctance and resistance about actually doing the interpretation. I drew it an entire day before I actually took it down to the woods with me. I found myself making excuses about not going and worrying about somehow not being able to “do” this one. And then I heard: Are you afraid to laugh? Am I…?

The first post in my Womanrunes series is available here and all others here. The runes and the names of them come from Shekhinah Mountainwater’s Womanrunes system for which there are no written interpretations available other than the name and one word meanings. I’ve been engaging in a year-long practice of drawing one and then going down to the woods with it to see what it “tells” me–basically, creating what I wish I had, which is a more developed interpretation of the meaning of each womanrunestone.
Categories: divination, Womanrunes, woodspriestess, writing | 5 Comments

Family Spring Equinox Ritual Recipe

Today we had a simple family ritual to celebrate springtime. We missed our family full moon ritual this month because I was out of town at a Goddess March 2014 142Weekend (and then it was St. Patrick’s Day and we had a corned beef and cabbage dinner and full moon cookies, but no ritual. Too tired!) It feels important to me at we do at least one family ritual a month, so today felt perfect! My three year old daughter helped me set up a spring-themed altar outside. She had tons of fun choosing items to add and I let her set most of the altar up herself. It looks a little haphazard accordingly, but she really enjoyed herself.

Our ritual recipe was as follows:

  • Gather in circle by altar and group hum (hands on each other’s backs, hum together three times).
  • Smudge with sage (my daughter got very into this—we don’t usually smudge during family rituals so it was new to her—and just wanted to keep doing it).
  • Drumming invocation—I use a modified version of Circle Casting Song from the Second Chants CD

Eastern morning
First breath of the soul
Worldview forming
Sacred and whole
Wind of knowledge
Simple and wise
Bringer of the lightning
That strikes in our minds.

Come to us.
Be here now.

Southern Fire
White rays of the sun
Source of will
That always is done
Heat of passion
Longing and need
You who push the green one
Out of the seed.

Come to us.
Be here now.

Western River
Devotee of the moon
Gentle sculptor
Of babes in the womb
Spring of jubilation
Courage and tears
Bringer of the sweet love
That soothes all our fears.

Come to us.
Be here now.

Northern Mountain
Body of the earth
Finite treasure
Of infinite worth
Cave of transformation
Childbirth and death
Suckler of the wild ones
Who curl upon your breast.

Come to us.
Be here now.

  • Planting ritual—we planted primrose seeds in front of the house. Each person took a turn stating what they’re hoping to “grow” this season and this was probably the best part of the ritual.
  • Chant (from a website I recently became reacquainted with from my Priestess Path group: En-Chant-Ment

Sweet water and warm sun bless us
Sweet water and warm sun bless us
Oh spring comes hope—begins in us
Oh spring comes hope—begins in us
Out comes the leaves, up comes the grass
Out comes the leaves, up comes the grass
Sweet water and warm sun bless us

  • Earth Listening exercise—I forget where I originally learned about this, but basically you lie on the ground with your ear to the earth and listen, first March 2014 144tuning into your own heartbeat and then following it to the heartbeat of the Earth and as you continue to breath and connect and go deeper, see what else you hear…
  • Drum/sing—Mother I Feel You

Mother I feel you under my feet
Mother I hear your heartbeat
Mother I feel you under my feet
Mother I hear your heartbeat

Heya heya heya, ya heya heya ho
Heya heya heya, heya heya ho

Heya heya heya, heya heya ho
Heya heya heya, heya heya heya ho

I can hear your heartbeat, heartbeat, heartbeat
I can hear your heartbeat, heartbeat, heartbeat

Mother, Mother, Earth, Earth March 2014 145
Mother, Mother, Earth, Earth

  • Closing:

Open your heart to the Sun
Open your eyes to the Sky
Open your ears to the Sea.
Deep love to the round Earth who has given us bodies.
Deep love to the stars for their energy and light.
Deep love to our mothers and fathers for the gene patterns of our souls.
Deep love to our mothers, for the home of our first growth.

We bless each other for the truths we have shared.
We are people of love.
We are people of bone.
We are blessed.
We are people of light
We are people of words.
We are blessed.
We are people of truth.
We are blessed.

May it be so. March 2014 165

–Rachel Pollack, The Power of Ritual via Blessing to Close a Ritual | WoodsPriestess

  • Decorate hard-boiled eggs
  • Make honey cakes

Spring Honey Cakes recipe

(modified from this one: Easy Spanish Dessert – Fried Cakes with Honey Recipe – Tortitas con Miel)

March 2014 156

I opted to roll larger circles and cut them into quarters before cooking.

6 eggs
4 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour (I had to add at least 1/2 c. additional to get a rollable dough)

oil for frying
honey, fruit, or powdered sugar for topping

Beat all ingredients together, using your hands to finish mixing. Divide the dough into two-inch balls and roll out flat (about 1/4 inch thick and four inches around). Heat oil and fry the rounds until they are puffy and golden on both sides. Drain on paper towel and serve with your chosen toppings (honey recommended so that they are actually honeycakes).

There were a couple of hiccups with our ritual—basically, priestessing ritual with children is not for the faint of heart or easily discouraged!—such as the kids rolling around and fighting during the Earth Listening, but overall it was a satisfying experience!

Categories: family, holidays, priestess, resources, ritual, spirituality | 1 Comment

The Goddess of Willendorf and Does My Uterus Make Me Look Fat?

“Loving, knowing, and respecting our bodies is a powerful and invincible act of rebellion in this society.”
~ Inga Muscio

IMG_0222I do not remember the first time I ever saw her, but I do know that I have loved the Goddess (Venus) of Willendorf sculpture for many, many years now. I consider her almost a personal “totem.” I do not see her as a literal representation of a particular deity (though when someone uses the phrase, “Great Goddess” or “Great Mother,” she’s the figure I see!), I see her more as honoring the female form. I love that she is so full-figured and not “perfect” or beautiful. I like that she is not pregnant (there is some disagreement about this and many people do describe her as pregnant) and what I like best is that she is complete unto herself. She is a complete form–not just a headless pregnant belly–I just LOVE her. She represents this deep, ancient power to me.

In a past assignment for one of D.Min classes, I wrote:

I have a strong emotional connection to the Paleolithic and Neolithic figures. I do not find that I feel as personally connected to Egyptian and Greek and Roman Goddess imagery, but the ancient figures really speak to something powerful within me. I have a sculpture of the Goddess of Willendorf at a central point on my altar. Sometimes I hold her and wonder and muse about who carved the original. I almost feel a thread that reaches out and continues to connect us to that nearly lost past—all the culture and society and how very much we don’t know about early human history. There is such a solid power to these early figures and to me they speak of the numinous, non-personified, Great Goddess.

I know ancient goddess figures are commonly described as “fertility figures” or as pregnant, but most of the early sculptures do not actually appear pregnant to me, they appear simply full-figured. One of the things I love about the Willendorf Goddess is her air of self-possession. She is complete unto herself. She may be a fertile figure, but she is not clearly pregnant and she does not have a baby in her arms, which indicates that her value was not exclusively in the maternal role. Early goddess figurines are usually portrayed alone, it is only later that we see the addition of the son/baby figure at the mother’s breast or in arms. The earliest figures seem independent of specifically maternal imagery, it is later that we begin to see Goddess defined in relationship to children or as exclusively maternal. I think this reflects a shift that women continue to struggle with today (in Goddess religion as well as personal life) with the mother role see as exhaustive or exclusive. In contemporary society, the only mainstream representation of the Goddess that manages to survive under public recognition is the Madonna and Child and here, not only has Goddess been completely subsumed by her offspring, but she is no longer even recognized as truly divine.

This image has been a potent affirmation for me many times in my life. One Mother’s Day, my then four-year-old son found a IMG_0636little green aventurine Goddess of Willendorf at a local rock shop: “We have GOT to get this for Mom!” he told my husband and they surprised me with it that afternoon. It still makes me get a little teary to look at it, because it was such a beautiful moment of feeling seen by my little child.  When I found out I was pregnant for the third time, my husband surprised me with a beautiful, large Goddess of Willendorf pendant. I was holding onto that pendant during the ultrasound that told us that our third son no longer had a heartbeat and during my labor with my little non-living baby, I wore and held onto the pendant. It went with me to the emergency room and I could feel its solid, reassuring weight against my chest when dressed in just a hospital gown and receiving IV fluids as blood continued to come from me as my body said goodbye to my baby. I buried a goddess of willendorf bead with my baby’s body and put a matching one on his memorial necklace.

100_2269On Mother’s Day the following year, right after finding out I was pregnant with my rainbow baby girl, my husband gave me a beautiful new Goddess of Willendorf ring. I was little scared to wear it, because what if she too, became a sad reminder of a pregnancy lost (I have only worn the pendant again a tiny handful of times since the miscarriage-birth experience, even though I took a lot of comfort in it during that time), but wear it I did up to and through the moment when I caught my sweet little living girl in my own grateful, be-ringed hands.

The website that he bought the ring from went down shortly after and I’d not ever seen another ring like it for sale. However, I signed up to become a retailer for Wellstone Jewelry in 2011. While on the phone making an order, I requested one of their Venus of Lespugue pendants. The woman on the phone told me, “we don’t sell very many of those. She seems to make people uncomfortable. In fact, we used to make a ring too. A venus of willendorf ring, but no one ever wanted her. I think because 1057she is ‘too fat’ and she makes people feel weird.” Oh my goodness, I replied, I think I have one of your rings! I emailed her a picture of my hand and sure enough, though discontinued now, I’d coincidentally gotten one of the last ones ever made. She said they could get the mold out of storage and make some more custom rings just for me. Since I’m a business genius (what? You said they never sold? Sign me up for a dozen!), I immediately said yes and she shipped me several beautiful Goddess of Willendorf rings, which I then sold to several friends. (I still have two left if anyone wants to buy one! I would wear them all if I had enough fingers. My favorite ring ever!)

What does this have to do with my uterus making me look fat? Well, I’ve had the experience of wearing this ring and having another woman, a wonderful, peaceful, healer of a woman, laugh at it, like it was a joke ring. My mom sold a pottery sculpture version of the Willendorf to a man at our craft workshop and he laughed at her too saying, “this is hilarious.” Hilarious? Because she is fat, I guess? Several years ago, I read a post online titled Does My Uterus Make Me Look Fat? and I thought of my beloved Goddess of Willendorf, She of the Ample Uterus. While I can no longer locate the article itself and the post I had linked to in my drafts folder takes me to a re-direct site, I remember the article talking about how even pre-teen girls have a slight swell to their bellies. The author of the post was like, “duh, a flat belly IS NEVER POSSIBLE. THERE IS A UTERUS IN THERE.” When I read it, I thought about the jewelry woman’s comments about women not liking the goddess of willendorf ring because she is too fat. And, I saved a couple of quotes, the first two from the Our Bodies edition of Sage Woman magazine (Spring, 1996):

“…so it has been: women’s power has declined as woman’s belly has been violated and shamed…5,000 years of patriarchal culture has degraded belly, body, woman, the sacred feminine, the soul, the feminine sensibility in both women and men, native peoples, and nature–all in a single process of devaluation. Because our belly is the bodily site of feminine sensibility, our patriarchal culture marks the belly as a target of assault, through rape, unnecessary hysterectomies and Cesarians [sic], reproductive technology, legal restrictions on women’s authority in pregnancy and childbirth, and belly-belittling fashions, exercise regimens, and diet schemes…a culture that literally hates women’s guts…” –Lisa Sarasohn, The Goddess Ungirdled

“Our bodies are vessels of the sacred, not the homes of sinful urges. Our bodies create and sustain the sacred. And that sacredness does not equate with any artificial notion of bodily perfection. All of us are fit habitations for the divine, no matter what the diet doctors, fitness gurus, health good fanatics, New Age healers, and the fashion police try to force on us. If we don’t take our bodies into account in our expression of [our religion], then it becomes a mere shadow of itself. When we are fully present in our bodies [women's religion] becomes a three-dimensional, vibrant, fully fleshed-out expression of the divine…” –DeAnna Alba in How to Flesh Our Your Magick

And, perhaps from the original Does My Uterus Make Me Look Fat article, I had this quote saved as well that addresses the “love your body,” rhetoric so often expressed, including, I suppose, in even the quote I chose to open this post:

“the fact that “love your body” rhetoric shifts the responsibility for body acceptance over to the individual, and away from communities, institutions, and power, is also problematic. individuals who do not love their bodies, who find their bodies difficult to love, are seen as being part of the problem. the underlying assumption is that if we all loved our bodies just as they are, our fat-shaming, beauty-policing culture would be different. if we don’t love our bodies, we are, in effect, perpetuating normative (read: impossible) beauty standards. if we don’t love our individual bodies, we are at fault for collectively continuing the oppressive and misogynistic culture. if you don’t love your body, you’re not trying hard enough to love it. in this framework, your body is still the paramount focus, and one way or another, you’re failing. it’s too close to the usual body-shaming, self-policing crap, albeit with a few quasi-feminist twists, for comfort.”

–saved from this post

March 2014 023
Even though I am a goddess sculptor myself, I have never been able to make my own version of the Goddess of Willendorf that satisfied me. I tried polymer clay, I tried pottery clay, I tried making my husband make one for me. None of them were right. Finally, just this month, my husband said, why don’t you make one, but using your own style? This was an ah ha moment for me and guess what, it worked! I successfully used the same technique and structure I use for all of my sculptures, but with a Willendorf-style-twist and I finally made my own sculpture that I’m really proud of. My husband made a mold and cast her in pewter and I’m wearing her right now. Her uterus might make her look fat, but to me, she is one of the most powerfully affirming images of womanhood I have ever encountered and there is nothing funny about her.

        “Your body is your own. This may seem obvious. But to inhabit your physical self fully, with no apology, is a true act of power.”

–Camille Maurine (Meditation Secrets for Women)

March 2014 022  March 2014 038

Crossposted at Talk Birth

Categories: art, birth, Goddess, pregnancy loss, sculpture, spirituality, womanspirit | 10 Comments

Spell for Family Balance

Cross-posted at Pagan Families.

For a number of years we’ve had a family mantra: our family works in harmony to meet each member’s needs. At times, I’ve felt like I’m repeating it through clenched teeth. At times, I have felt that none of our needs are being met well and at times I’ve felt like harmony is a distant, unattainable treasure. However, we keep using it and sometimes, sometimes it feels like we’re there. I do not subscribe to the ideal of the self-sacrificing parent. I refuse to repeat the cliche that “everyone has to make sacrifices” and I refuse to see my work in parenting as a sacrificial endeavor. Our family works in harmony to meet each member’s needs. Each member of the family is important. Each person, including both parents, has needs and our family unit is responsible for working together to help each other and to contribute our best to a healthy, well-functioning, happy, harmonious family.

I am a professor who works mainly from home and teaches outside of the home once a week. My husband and I have a shared goddess art business. We homeschool our kids. We know we are lucky to have two parents in the home almost full-time and to be able to live on the income produced by only one out-of-the-home day per week for one parent (though this arrangement was also only possible beginning July of last year after careful planning, hard work, and a leap of faith). I teach on an eight-week session schedule. The final week of the session involves piles of papers to grade and final exams to give. While we know it is coming and I’ve been keeping this schedule since 2009, it throws our family out of balance every time. Our family works in harmony to meet each family’s needs. Hahahahahahahahahahaha! ::::sob:::: I begin to feel as if no one is getting what they need from me and I’m not getting what I need from myself. I’m snappy at my husband and feel beleaguered and put upon and unappreciated and unsupported. I start casting around for things to quit because somehow, I must STOP doing everything. I must reclaim myself and some sensation of harmony. Then, magically, the session ends. I did manage to do it all…again. I am often left with a lingering sense of frustration and dissatisfaction and am often heard to make the vow, “next session will be different,” and typically attempt to enact sweeping family changes that will Change Our Lives ™.

Recently, I reviewed a jazzy little book called Goddess Spells for Busy Girls. Written by Patheos writer Jen McConnel, this book is a collection of 80 simple spells using readily accessible materials and focused on 25 different goddesses. Each goddess is carefully chosen for relevant spells and appropriate cautions are issued about not calling upon a goddess like Sekhmet lightly or on a goddess like Aphrodite with an irrelevant issue. The book is somewhat like a “recipe book” of suggested spells for busy women, with each mini-ritual requiring as little as five minutes (or one hour. It is up to you!).

Written in a casual and conversational tone that feels intended primarily for single or non-parent women in their 20’s-30’s, the book’s lightweight attitude towards magic and the “sparkle” added by goddesses may feel either accessible and friendly or insufficiently serious, depending on your own spiritual path. However, as a parent who always has her eyes open for material to add to my own family’s full moon rituals, I found the brief length of several of the spells to be very appropriate for working with my children. Related to our family mantra, this Spell for Family Balance immediately caught my eye:

No matter who constitutes your family, sometimes it can be hard to please everyone. Use this spell to help you find balance in tricky situations.

You will need:

  • About six inches each of red, black, and white thread (I use embroidery floss, but yarn works, too.)

1. This spell is best done outside, or at least in a well-lit room. Take the three strands of thread. Tie a knot using all three threads at once, and try to position your knot as close to the center as possible.

2. Say, “I am bound by ties of love.” Starting at the knot first, begin to braid the three threads. Tie off the end. Now, begin to braid the threads beneath the knot. Tie off the threads.

3. Put this charm in your kitchen (the junk drawer is an ideal place). Whenever you are feeling stretched or stressed about your family, take out the charm and look at it…

(p. 48)

While I may need to repeat this every eight weeks, I found it a simple and soothing affirmation of the ties that bind, and that bond, our family.

Our family works in harmony to meet each family’s needs.

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

 

Categories: family, Goddess, parenting, reviews, self-care, spirituality | 3 Comments

International Women’s Day: Re-storying the world

I remain firmly convinced of the power of story. Story shapes our world. And, reality is socially constructed in an active process of storying and re-storying.

 “The universe of made of stories, not of atoms.” –Muriel Rukeyser

“Power consists to a large extent in deciding what stories will be told.” –Carolyn Heilbrun

Last spring, I wrote a poem called Body Prayer and was very pleased when Trista Hendren, author of the children’s book The Girl God, wrote to ask permission to reprint it in her new book: Mother Earth. I received my copy of the book last month and wanted to offer a mini-review of it today, International Women’s Day, because as Trista says, it is “a beautiful tribute to the world’s first ‘woman.’” Mother Earth is theoretically a children’s book, but it offers an important message and call to action to all world citizens. Along the top of the pages is a story, written as a narrative experience between Trista and her daughter Helani, about the (human) mother’s need to rest. The story evolves into a message about the Earth and the care and rest she is crying out for. Each page features a large illustration and below the illustration is a relevant spiritual quote, poem, prayer, or message.

…Breathing deep
stretching out
opening wide.

My body is my altar
my body is my temple
my living presence on this earth
my prayer.

Thank you.

Woodspriestess: Body Prayer

International Women’s Day is a political event, not just another Hallmark holiday.

International Women’s Day is not about Hallmark. It’s not about chocolate. (Thought I know many women who won’t turn those down.) It’s about politics, institutions, economics, racism….

As is the case with Mother’s Day and many other holidays, today we are presented with a sanitized, deodorized, nationalized, commoditized version of what were initially radical holidays to emphasize social justice.

Initially, International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. Yes, every woman is a working woman. Yes, there is no task harder perhaps than raising a child, for a father and a mother. But let us remember that the initial impetus of this International Working Women’s Day was to address the institutional, systematic, political, and economic obstacles that women faced in society.

via How we miss the point of International Women’s Day–and how to get it right. | What Would Muhammad Do?.

Now is the time to focus on a new story for women.

While the matriarchal myth has been critiqued and attacked from an anthropological and sociological perspective, I think it has important value—it doesn’t have to be true or verifiable to have a potent impact on society. The very fact that people feel that the matriarchal story is a myth that needs to be “debunked” to me is proof of the mythic power of our old, patriarchal story on current culture. Earlier this year I finished reading Reid-Bown’s book Goddess as Nature and he says this: “What is significant, however, is that the matriarchy thesis has considerable mythopoetic value for the Goddess movement: it affirms that the world was not always distorted by patriarchy, it contributes moral meaning to the state of the world today, and it aids in an imaginative revisioning of a better goddess-centred future” (p. 18). The power of the matriarchal story—myth or fact—is in the assertion that the world CAN be different. Patriarchy and war are not the “just way its always been,” or a “more evolved” society, or the only possibility for the future. The matriarchal myth opens up the door for a new FUTURE story, not just a revisionist look at the past.

via Thursday Thealogy: Matriarchal Myth or a New Story? | WoodsPriestess.

As I’ve previously written, the primary function of value of a matriarchal myth is that patriarchy is no longer the only story we’ve known. An alternate past gives hope for an alternate future.

“Stories are medicine…They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything—we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Stories ARE power and that is why a feminist, matristic, Goddess-oriented narrative has value, regardless of whether it is myth or fact. As we know too well, the victors write the history books—they get to tell the stories and those stories, logically, may involve significant distortion of the facts of the past.

In a quote from iconic author and physician Christiane Northrup, she addresses the subjugation of female power through body control: “…if you want to know where a woman’s true power lies, look to those primal experiences we’ve been taught to fear…the very same experiences the culture has taught us to distance ourselves from as much as possible, often by medicalizing them so that we are barely conscious of them anymore. Labor and birth rank right up there as experiences that put women in touch with their feminine power…” And, from Glenys Livingstone: “It is not female biology that has betrayed the female…it is the stories and myths we have come to believe about ourselves.”

We also find a connection in Carol Christ’s explanation that:

Women’s stories have not been told. And without stories there is no articulation of experience. Without stories a woman is lost when she comes to make the important decisions of her life. She does not learn to value her struggles, to celebrate her strengths, to comprehend her pain. Without stories she cannot understand herself. Without stories she is alienated from those deeper experiences of self and world that have been called spiritual or religious. She is closed in silence. The expression of women’s spiritual quest is integrally related to the telling of women’s stories. If women’s stories are not told, the depth of women’s souls will not be known” (p. 341. Emphasis mine).

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth–penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.” ― Joseph Campbell

In The Chalice and the Blade Eisler explains, essentially, the re-storying of culture, society, and world and feminist spirituality and seeks to “re-story” dominant, patriarchal narratives into that which is woman-honoring and affirming. According to Eisler, the triumph of the dominator culture involved “fundamental changes in replicative information” (p. 83). In short, a complete cultural overhaul and literal “reprogramming” of culture and the human minds within it. This reprogramming involved coercion, destruction, forcefulness, and fear.

“The priests who now spread what they said was the divine Word—the Word of God that had magically been communicated to them—were backed up by armies, courts of law, and executioners. But their ultimate backup was not temporal, but spiritual. Their most powerful weapons were the ‘sacred’ stories, rituals, and priestly edicts through which they systematically inculcated in peoples’ minds the fear of terrible, remote, and ‘inscrutable’ deities. For people had to be taught to obey the deities…who now arbitrarily exercised powers of life and death in the most cruel, unjust, and capricious ways, to this day still often explained as ‘the will of God.’ Even today people still learn from ‘sacred’ stories what is good or evil, what should be imitated or abhorred, and what should be accepted as divinely ordained, not only by oneself but by all others. Through ceremonies and rituals, people also partake in these stories. As a result, the values there expressed penetrate into the deepest recesses of the mind, where, even in our time, they are guarded as hallowed and immutable truths” (p. 84).

For me, Goddess religion and spirituality is as much about sociocultural valuation (or devaluation) of women and making a feminist political statement, as it is about lived experience. Both are very valuable to me.

We need to hear women’s stories. We need to hear each other into speech. We need to witness and be witnessed. We need to be heard.

“…If all the woman of the world February 2014 039
recorded their dreams for a single week
and laid them all end to end,
we would recover
the last million years
of women’s hymns and chants
and dances,
all of women’s art and stories,
and medicines,
all of women’s lost histories…

~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“The one who tells the stories rules the world.” –Hopi Indian Proverb

“We feel nameless and empty when we forget our stories, leave our heroes unsung, and ignore the rites of our passage from one stage of life to another.” –Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox

 “As long as women are isolated one from the other, not allowed to offer other women the most personal accounts of their lives, they will not be part of any narratives of their own…women will be staving off destiny and not inviting or inventing or controlling it.” –Carolyn Heilbrun quoted in Sacred Circles

Telling our stories is one way we become more aware of just what ‘the river’ of our lives is. Listening to ourselves speak, without interruption, correction, or even flattering comments, we may truly hear, perhaps for the first time, some new meaning in a once painful, confusing situation. We may, quite suddenly, see how this even or relationship we are in relates to many others in our past. We may receive a flash of insight, a lesson long unlearned, a glimpse of understanding. And, as the quiet, focused compassion for us pervades the room, perhaps our own hearts open, even slightly, towards ourselves.

–Robin Deen Carnes & Sally Craig in Sacred Circles

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Categories: books, feminism, feminist thealogy, Goddess, poems, prayers, quotes, readings, spirituality, thealogy, womanspirit, women, writing | 3 Comments

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