ancestors

Day 28: Releasing the Beloved Dead (#30DaysofHecate)

IMG_9382When my grandma died in 2013, we first did a family ceremony with sky lanterns in the field by my parents’ house, since her actual service wasn’t held until the following month. Even though it was daylight at the time, we lit a “wish lantern” (paper sort of hot air balloon thing that you release and it floats high into the air until the fuel finally extinguishes). As we watched the lantern sail away on the currents of the breeze and above the green trees, we called out the following as a responsive reading:

Into the freedom of wind and sunshine

Response – We let you go

Into the dance of the stars and the planets

Response – We let you go

Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the stars

Response – We let you go

Tonight, at sunset-moonrise, I took a drawing of her down to the woods and had a little personal ceremony using the elemental release included below that was in Joanna’s prompt for Day 28.

Then, I drummed and sang as night fell.

Last Rites: An Elemental Release
(To be said in ceremony when a loved one has died.)

This is the place we will all one day gather, the place where the Dark Mother waits.
This is the path we must all walk alone, to stand at the quarterly gates.
Here lies what’s left of all that has been, of Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
Into the cauldron of tears we commit her [him], to change into waters of birth.

We release to the North her [his] flesh and her [his] bones and all that belongs to the Earth.
We release to the East her [his] breath and her [his] voice and all that flies free on the Wind.
To the South we return her [his] passion and Spirit and all that burns pure in the Fire.
To the West we release her [his] blood and her [his] tears and all that’s washed pure in the Water.
To the Center we turn. We let our hearts grieve, seeking comfort of family and friends.

For we know in our hearts we will see her [him] again on a Wheel turning round without end.
Gentle and beloved Spirit of ___________, fly from this place on wings of speed, where gentle breezes blow to a place that has no pain. Have no thought of leaving us. Your work on Earth is done, you ran the race, you loved and were loved, you danced the dance* and won.

We will call your name at Samhain. What is remembered, lives.

— Angie Buchanan, death midwife, founder/director of Earth Traditions.

(*this was actually “fought the fight,” but that didn’t fit to me, so I changed it)

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Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, blessings, death, endarkenment, family, night, practices, priestess, readings, ritual, sacred pause, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 25: the palm of my hand (#30daysofHecate)

Echoes of MesopotamiaIMG_9352
small figures from ancient places
ancient times
and ancient faces
ancient words
and ancient wisdom
still flowing in my veins…

I occasionally get requests to make bigger goddesses–people wanting figures that are large altar pieces 12-18 inches tall or taller. The goddesses I make are all about three inches tall and there’s a reason for that: they fit in the palm of my hand. When I create them, I feel as if I’m part of an unbroken lineage stretching back 30,000 years to the person who carved the Goddess of Willendorf. I feel connected to the priestesses of the Mesopotamian temples who sculpted hundreds upon hundreds of tiny clay goddesses. Someone commented on my sculptures once saying, “echoes of Mesopotamia.” And, I said, “exactly.” I feel the connection between the clay in my hand and the clay in their hands, running through the ripples and eddies of time.

I’ve been inspired recently to re-read Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, finding new bits of wisdom from it that speak to something different in me than they did the first time I read it. She writes of the attempts to discredit Goddess religion by invalidating the historical narratives or archaeological evidence: “The idea seems to be that if they can disprove our origin story, they can invalidate our spirituality…Is Buddhism invalid if we cannot find archaeological evidence of Buddha’s existence? Are Christ’s teachings unimportant if we cannot find his birth certificate or death warrant?…the truth of our experience is valid whether it has roots thousands of years old or thirty minutes old…a mythic truth whose proof is shown not through references and footnotes but in the way it engages strong emotions, mobilizes deep life energies, and gives us a sense of history, purpose, and place in the world. What gives the Goddess tradition validity is how it works for us now, in the moment, not whether or not someone else worshipped this particular image in the past” (p. 4).

The ancestry of my goddess sculptures is not the energy that raised temples and built monuments (or walls), it is the energy that carried a baby on one hip and a basket of supplies on the other and needed a goddess just the right size to tuck down the front of a shirt.

People might also look for altar pieces that stay in one place, but I create sacred art that goes wherever you do. It makes my day when I see a photo from a customer of their goddesses living life with them, rather than dusty on a shelf, and I keep envisioning a collaborative photo book of these sculptures as they travel the world. In the last month, we’ve shipped goddesses to France, Sweden, Portugal, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Canada. An archaeologist of the future may wonder why people in so many different geographic regions have little goddesses in the same style—perhaps this is evidence of widespread Goddess worship, they will say.

Sometimes I describe my life in the woods as being held in the hand of the goddess. And, I make goddesses that I hold in my hand. Am I in the palm of her hand or is she in the palm of mine? The answer is both.

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One of my all-time favorite fan photos–a rainy day traveling goddess picture, taken by my friend/SIL (this one is only an inch tall, but look how she calls in the waters of the world!)

Related past posts:

Echoes of Mesopotamia by Molly Meade

Amazon.com: Earthprayer, Birthprayer, Lifeprayer, Womanprayer

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

Thursday Thealogy: Goddess as Symbol, Statement, and Experience | WoodsPriestess

Goddess Body, World Body | WoodsPriestess

Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, art, feminist thealogy, Goddess, priestess, sculpture, spirituality, womanspirit | Leave a comment

Day 21: Old Woman (#30daysofHecate)

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Life’s sunset.

Quilted in bright colors
Sinking over hills of gold
and long dry valleys…

(Woodspriestess: Grandmother)

Last night I dreamed of my grandmother. Dressed all in white, she was visiting at my parents’ house. Amazed to see her, I exclaimed over and over again about how I’d missed her and how it was so good to see her again. I hugged her, heart to heart, and marveled to her–I know exactly what you look like, how you sound, what your smile is like, how your eyes look, what it feels like to hug you. I haven’t forgotten! I know just what you’re like! We talked about how the last time I saw her alive was at my brother’s wedding and we didn’t know it was the last time. We talked about how it was a such a surprise to have her illness progress so quickly. She told me that she will only be back to visit four more times and showed me a scrapbook with only four unfilled pages left in it. She reminded me that one of the other times she visited had been to see Tanner (when he was new, I dreamed she was holding him and smiling.)

I woke up too soon and spent the rest of the night trying to make sure I remembered the dream (including dreaming about telling people I dreamed it). When I got up this morning, I told my husband about the dream and cried.

carry my gratitude
straight to her heart
fold it into her hands
nestle it in her body
where it will take root
and blossom…

(Woodspriestess: Grandmother Prayer)

 

Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, death, family, night, sacred pause | 1 Comment

Day 10: Old Woman (#30DaysofHecate)

“May you be kept safe. May you be watched over. May all the good you are seeking, seek you as well. And may you know that everything you need, is given to you in the proportion you need it. And may you see the signs everywhere that help you to understand who you are, why you are and most of all that you belong to us, the tribe of the sacred heart. ”

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes, from The Dangerous Old Woman

  
At our Red Tent a couple of months ago, we did an “inner mentor” meditation that took us twenty or thirty years into the future to meet our wise future self. Mine was in a red tent yurt built in the woods to the side of my current house. She had herbs hanging all around the yurt and a neat fireplace and she was very calm and welcoming. I think of her often, actually. She was more centered and calm and soothing than I currently feel, but I can see her as my future self.

When I read today’s prompts, I immediately thought of this meditation and I also thought of the card above. I’m not sure who the artist is, because I cut it off of the front of a greeting card to make a personal oracle card with. 

Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, blessings, community, sacred pause | 2 Comments

Day 8: We remember them (#30daysofHecate)

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“Tell me again, a story of an ancestor of your bloodline or of your heartline, a story you have not shared before…” (30 Days course prompt)

This is a photo of my grandma on her wedding day to her second husband (who is still alive). Her first husband was the love of her life and he died from colon cancer at age 59 (in 1989). The next year, she married one of his lifelong friends and they were married for more than twenty years until her death from sudden, aggressive pancreatic cancer in 2013 (at 83). I remember this wedding clearly, in the living room of the home she’d shared with my grandpa and in which they raised their three children. I remember my mom and her siblings as being a little strained and tense. I remember my grandma laughing and almost giddy. They kept the wedding a secret from all of their friends and had a family-only ceremony and then an after-party with a group of friends, to whom they then announced their marriage. I remember standing next to my grandma at the front door of her house, greeting guests. She’d turned her new sapphire wedding ring around so the stone was hidden in her hand and she showed it to me, saying, “see, now no one will see it accidentally before we make the announcement!” I remember feeling like this was a “weird” or “funny” (not funny “ha ha,” but funny as in odd), because I’d never seen her in this mood before–kind of silly and excited–I didn’t know how to experience her this way, like she wasn’t as grown up as I’d thought.

Looking back at the photo as an adult myself, I can now begin to imagine how she must have felt in this moment, making this decision, possibly facing criticism and disapproval from friends and family and being giddy with excitement and nervousness and perhaps some fear about doing it anyway.

Prayer for my grandmother October 2015 002
sweet wind carry it
hope guard it
love keep it
peace bless it

carry my gratitude
straight to her heart
fold it into her hands
nestle it in her body
where it will take root
and blossom

(Full disclosure: I am standing right next to her in this photo [you can see part of my arm and hair], but I cropped myself out because I look terrible! I am only 11 in the photo, so maybe I should have left myself in, but it was not my best look.)
Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, death, family, sacred pause | Leave a comment

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