“Form is the language of the universe singing its praises. Its rejoicing is seen everywhere–in the sun through a web of hair, in the flower and its petals, in the subtle folds of a garment, in the human body.” –Dianora Niccolini
A couple of months ago I experienced a really profound dream. I was walking down to the woods and in the sky above the priestess rocks saw a gigantic, beautiful, pulsating, pink, jeweled flower. I was awe-struck and staring at it. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I became aware that a golden cord stretched from the center of the flower to the top of my head and I became aware that all people were connected to it by these golden cords as well. Then, in that uniquely expansive character of dreams, I somehow traveled through the center of the flower. On the other side was an immense snake of unimaginable proportion, spiraling around “the cosmic egg.” As I looked at it, I became aware that the snake was actually the whole of the universe and that along its body, in the scales, one could perceive not only each galaxy, but also a point for all times and places that ever were or will be. It is hard to describe in writing, but I still deeply remember by feelings of both awe and comprehension and this expansive awareness of reality. It was a gorgeous, trippy, and meaningful dream. I tried to draw something about it, but couldn’t do it. What I’m left with is that feeling of majesty, magnitude, and incredible connection.
In somewhat of a surprise, after the conclusion of my 31 day writing experiment, I’m very much missing my daily woodspriestess writing. “They” say it takes 30 days (or 21 or 15 or whatever) to create a habit and I created one that was pretty powerful. And, I’m realizing that it wasn’t only about the woodsvisits—I’ve been doing that since January and continue doing it today—it was the synthesis of experience with the written word. The writing itself was a practice too. I mentioned a couple of times that it sometimes felt like a burden, and it did, and I thought I was looking forward to having a “break” from having to write every day, and I do. However, I feel like there is something missing from my trips to the woods now—the writing afterward was an integrative experience or one that provided form, structure, and application of what I learned each day. Without the writing portion, I find I’m much more apt to leave and immediately “forget” what I experienced or learned that day. When I’m no longer thinking about how to shape it into written form, it loses some of its impact. During the experiment I felt bad at several points in going and only looking for things to blog about—it felt like the writing was a distraction to the experience—but, now I see how the link between experience and description provided a spiritual “container” for me, in which I could dig more deeply, look harder, and witness more. Writing offered a type of accountability. So, while I’ve enjoyed having a break from “having” to write on one hand, on the other I really actually feel a sense of loss and sadness about those missed opportunities to write and share and I’ve felt sort of at loose ends each day—like, “what about my blog post?” While I’m not going to force myself into an every day practice for the rest of the year with writing, I would truly like to continue to make it a priority. It is sad to me to notice how those things that nourish my spirit are easy to cut from my schedule when I become too busy, when in reality, they should take even more priority during those rhythms of life.
Today I also thought I might experiment with a new practice—one of drawing a card or a rune or a crone stone each day and perhaps make a daily blogging experience of that. I’m not sure I will, I’m toying with the idea—maybe a good daily project for May—but I did draw a Crone Stone today and I got the Daydreamer. It seemed very apt, describing fantasizing about things being different—“life can be boring at times–something is missing.” It describes the image as the woman resting against a tree, dreaming of a far away plan, while the tree behind her withers from neglect. It asks the receiver to consider how we can ground the fantasy and bring the vision into reality. As I looked at it, I thought of multiple things. One was simply about my life and family and sacred space being right there in the woods—I’ve got it. The people I love are right here in front of me, waiting for me. Sacred space is right there in the woods, waiting for me. This is it. I also thought about two recent experiences—I was dreaming as I often do of having a Women’s Temple or Goddess Temple and then I looked around my own living room and had the sudden realization, I’ve already got one. And, second, I was feeling disappointed in myself for not planning a springtime ritual and having people over and doing a fabulous ceremony, but then as I laid out the spring time altar for my Rise Up class last week I had a moment of realization, oh, yeah. This IS a springtime ritual. I DID do it (but, it wasn’t for my family, it was for my friends. I’d like to do more things for my family in this capacity).
My first class at Ocean Seminary College was called Ecology and the Sacred and a theme that emerged for me as I worked through the class was of a deep hunger for daily practice. I like looking back and seeing how my current practices evolved from the desire I tried to convey in the “reflection” portions of my assignments. In the first lesson, I wrote:
I have a thealogical view of the world/universe as the body of the Goddess. Everything is interconnected in a great and ever-changing dance of life…all things as intimately connected—not as “all one,” but as all interconnected and relating to one another, in an everpresent ground of relationship and relatedness. I am currently reading the book She Changes: Re-imagining the Divine in the World by Carol Christ and the concepts from the lesson are closely related to the process philosophy she explores and that I am personally connecting to in many ways. As does she, I imagine the divine as omnipresent (rather than omnipotent) and I feel like I can see Goddess/God in the bright black eyes of a newly hatched baby chick and in the curve of my baby’s cheek against my breast. I do not feel like the Goddess is something I believe in, but a reality that I experience in daily life.
In response to my Week 1 assignment, I was asked “when you go about your everyday life activities do you have any rituals that you incorporate into them to vivify your spiritual insight with your day-to-day ecological mindfulness? If not, this may be something worth exploring.” This question stayed in my mind throughout the remaining twelve lessons of the course. In the second lesson, I wrote:
I do feel a powerfully strong urge to bring spiritual mindfulness more fully into my daily life–“practicing the presence of the Goddess” in a more explicitly developed/acknowledged manner–but I have trouble figuring out exactly how I wish to do this. I wear a Goddess ring that serves as a mindfulness touchstone for me (when I remember to look at it!) and I find listening to various spiritual CDs as I go about the mundane activities of my day brings a sense of the sacred into my everyday tasks (like laundry), but I have a hunger in me to do something more…
Shortly after, I added to these thoughts:
…when engaged in these outdoor observations, I was struck by how I feel this deep sense of being part of the fabric of life most profoundly, clearly, and cleanly while outside. As Naomi Wolf said, I feel that “We were all held, touched, interrelated, in an invisible net of incarnation…”—I might describe this additionally as being held in the hand of the Goddess. However, in practice, I spend much more time inside than outside. There are always so many things “to do.” Work to do, chores to catch up on, things to be done inside the house, that my experience of the natural world and that sense of being held in a net of incarnation is often postponed, in a way for, “later,” once I’m finished with all my work (which, never ends!). And, I realized today, that means my sense of the sacred or of divinity in the world is sometimes also postponed. This isn’t satisfactory! So, I continue to think about—and welcome ideas about—how to incorporate some rituals into my day a way that more meaningfully integrates my spiritual life with my everyday life…
And, about midway through the course, I wrote:
I also continue to reflect on my interest in incorporating more “ritual” into my life that honors or expresses my sense of the divine and I realized that I think I’m really simply seeking to cultivate a state of basic mindfulness in my day. So, not ritual per se, but ongoing awareness and mindful participation in the daily rhythms of life (including mindfulness of my connection within a larger environmental whole).
Thanks to the opportunity to articulate this desire, I started my first truly daily practice, some time at my living room altar:
In the course of my experiences with this class, I’ve started to spend a little time in the morning before my yoga practice in prayer/reflection/communion with my sense of the divine. Since that sense is intimately entwined with nature, I find the best way to do this is to sit looking out my window, watching the play of sunlight and shadow, and talking quietly to myself/to Goddess energy about what I envision for my day. This has been a powerfully grounding and focusing experience and something that I felt was missing in my day, something I was seeking to cultivate and have now been able to do because of the observer/reflection sense that is being honed more clearly through this course.
During week six, I also wrote: I feel emotionally embedded with the land and this daily process of energy exchange.
And, I also thought about this quote by Robert Kennedy Jr. as quoted in the book Last Child in the Woods:
“‘We’re part of nature, and ultimately we’re predatory animals and we have a role in nature…and if we separate ourselves from that, we’re separating ourselves from our history, from the things that tie use together. We don’t want to live in a world where there are not recreational fishermen, where we’ve lost touch with the seasons, the tides, the things that connect us—-to ten thousand generations of human beings that were here before there were laptops and ultimately connect us to God.’ We shouldn’t be worshipping nature as God, he said, but nature is the way that God communicates to us most forcefully. ‘God communicates to us through each other and through organized religion, through wise people and the great books, through music and art,’ but nowhere ‘with such texture and forcefulness in detail and grace and joy, as through creation…And when we destroy large resources, or when we cut off our access by putting railroads along river banks, by polluting so that people can’t fish, or by making so many rules that people can’t get out on the water, it’s the moral equivalent of tearing the last pages out of the last Bible on Earth [emphasis mine]…Our children ought to be out there on the water…This is what connects us, this is what connects humanity, this is what we have in common. It’s not the Internet, it’s the oceans.” (page 198)
During week nine, I also got thealogical about chickens:
I’ve said before that baby chicks are one of the things that make me believe in “the Goddess.” Maybe that sounds silly, but when I sit before a nest and see the bright black eyes and soft down of a new baby chick, where before there was just an egg, I feel like I am truly in the presence of divinity. This, this is Goddess, I think whenever I see one. There is just something about the magic of a new chick that brings the miracle of the sustaining force of life to my attention in a profound way. (New babies of all kinds do it for me, but there is something extra special about chicks!) Of course, when several died, I couldn’t help but feel sad about all of that work and that wasted potential and how that little baby had come so far only to die shortly after hatching, but that, to me, is part of Goddess/Nature/Life Force too. I do not believe in a controlling/power-over deity who can give life or take it away at will or at random. I know that things just happen, that the wheel keeps turning, and that while that force that I name Goddess is ever-present and able to be sensed and felt in the world and in daily life, it/she does not have any kind of ultimate “control” over outcomes.
This was a really, really long way of saying that I want to keep writing regularly about my “woodspriestess” observations as I continue my year-long experiment with visiting the same place in the woods on daily basis. I found something I was seeking in the interplay between visit, spoken word, and written exploration and I think it is something worth continuing.
Here I bear witness to the universe singing its praises…