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Wisdom from Moon Time for Red Tents

May 2015 047“At her first bleeding a woman meets her power.
During her bleeding years she practices it.
At menopause she becomes it.”

(Traditional Native American saying)

One of my favorite books to have available on the resource table of our local Red Tent Circle is Moon Time, by Lucy moontime2Pearce. I reviewed it in this post, but didn’t have room for all the juicy quotes I wanted to share! One of the ideas I include in my own Red Tent Resource Kit book is to use womanspirit wisdom quotes to stimulate a discussion in the circle. Here are some quotes from Moon Time that would make great launching points for a sharing circle at the Red Tent:

“It is my guess that no one ever initiated you into the path of womanhood. Instead, just like me, you were left to find out by yourself. Little by little you pieced a working understanding of your body and soul together. But still you have gaps.”

Questions for circle: Were you initiated into the “path of womanhood”? What gaps do you feel?

“You yearn for a greater knowledge of your woman’s body, a comprehensive understanding of who you are, why you are that way. Perhaps you have searched long and hard, seeking advice from your mother, sister, aunts and friends, tired of suffering and struggling alone. You may have visited doctors, healers or therapists, but still you feel at sea and your woman’s body is a mystery to you. Or maybe you have never given your cycles a second thought … until now.”

Questions for circle: What do you feel like you need to know about your body? What mysteries are you uncovering?

“Through knowledge we gain power over our lives. With options we have possibility. With acceptance we find a new freedom.

Menstruation matters.”

Question for circle: How does menstruation matter?

Additional information about why menstruation matters on a physical, emotional, and relational level:

We start bleeding earlier today than ever before, with girls’ first periods occurring at 12.8 years old now, compared with 14.5 years at the beginning of the last century. Coupled with lower breastfeeding rates, better nutrition and fewer pregnancies, women now menstruate more in their adult lives than at any time in our history.

From the age of 12 to 51, unless you are pregnant or on the pill, every single day of your life as a woman is situated somewhere on the menstrual cycle. Whether ovulating or bleeding, struggling with PMS or conception, our bodies, our energy levels, our sense of self, even our abilities are constantly shifting each and every day. And yet nobody talks about it…

via Moon Time: Harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle

As I noted in my review, one of the things this book was helpful for to me personally, was in acknowledging myself as a cyclical being and that these influences are physical and real: IMG_5194-0

Each month our bodies go through a series of changes, many of which we may be unconscious of. These include: shifts in levels of hormones, vitamins and minerals, vaginal temperature and secretions, the structure of the womb lining and cervix, body weight, water retention, heart rate, breast size and texture, attention span, pain
threshold . . .

The changes are biological. Measurable. They are most definitely not ‘all in your head’ as many would have us believe. This is why it is so crucial to honour these changes by adapting our lives to them as much as possible.

We cannot just will these changes not to happen as they are an integral part of our fertility.

From there, another relevant quote:

“There is little understanding and allowance for the realities of being a cycling woman—let alone celebration.”

Questions for circle: What allowances do you make for yourself as a cycling woman? Are you able to celebrate the experience?

In my own life, I’ve had to reframe my understanding of the impact of the monthly moontime experience by looking April 2015 103at it through the lens of healthy postpartum care following birth—it is crucial that we care for our bodies with love, attention, respect, and time. Our local Red Tent Circle definitely doesn’t focus exclusively on menstruation or on currently menstruating women (all phases of a woman’s lifecycle and her many diverse experiences and feelings are “held” in that circle)–in fact menstruation sometimes barely comes up as a topic—however, one of the core purposes of our circling is in celebration. We gather together each month to celebrate being women in this time and in this place, together. I started out my work with women focused on birth, breastfeeding, and postpartum. While those are formative and central and important life experiences, it became very important to me to broaden my scope to include the totality of women’s lives, not just pregnant women. I want to honor and celebrate our whole lives, not just pregnancy and birth. Having a mother blessing ceremony during pregnancy is beautiful and important and special, but I feel like that care, attention, value, and ceremony can be brought into the rest of our non-pregnant lives The_Red_Tent_Resourc_Cover_for_Kindlethrough gathering together in a Red Tent Circle. This is one reason why I’m so excited to offer an online Red Tent Initiation Program this summer. This program is designed to be both a powerful, personal experience AND a training in facilitating transformative women’s circles.

Back to Moon Time quotes!

“There is no shame in tears. There is a need for anger. Blood will flow. Speak your truth. Follow your intuition. Nurture your body. But above all … Let yourself rest.”

Questions for circle: Do you allow yourself anger and tears? Do you feel shame? How do you speak your truth? How do you give yourself time to rest?

To be clear, I wouldn’t use all these quotes at one Red Tent Circle! I would use them individually at different gatherings. This one blog post has enough potential circle discussion prompts to last for more than six months of Circles! 🙂 This month I also bought a bundle of copies of Moon Time to have available for women at our local Red Tent.

More good discussion quotes here: Talk Books: Cycle to the Moon | Talk Birth.

And, there are others in my Red Tent Resource Kit.

Please consider joining us this summer for the Red Tent Initiation Program!

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Categories: books, community, friends, moontime, priestess, quotes, readings, red tent, resources, retreat, ritual, self-care, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Red Tent Wisdom

“Moontime opens up our intuition.
By allowing ourselves to honour this time,
we can eliminate premenstrual tendencies…
Moontime is a sacred passage leading
to a greater awareness of self.”

–Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon (p. 142)

In April, on the evening of our local Red Tent Circle, a package arrived for me from the UK. In it was the beautiful book by Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon, that I won in the Red Tent fundraising auction for Moontimes. March 2015 183

Cycle to the Moon is a quick read and an inspiring one. The line illustrations are beautiful and the combination of journal pages/prompts and text is nice. I marked some good quotes to share. The first, was about womancraft, something I touched on in my new Red Tent Resource Kit book. In that book, I shared the story of how, at a meeting for breastfeeding women, I suggested having a women’s circle and calling it “Mothercraft.” Another woman at the meeting said it sounded interesting, but, “if it was called that, I’d never go.” All I could surmise is that it was because the word sounded too much like “witchcraft.”

“The early Christian Church considered the blood of menstruation to be ‘wasted babies,’ hence the mass killing of witches for ‘killing babies…women were burnt for knowing their woman-craft. That is to say, they understood their dreams, used herbs, and celebrated the process of menstruation. Witch means woman. Their craft, woman-craft, was, quite simply, understanding the mysteries of life” (p. 19).

Cycle to the Moon also suggests a neat idea of creating a “Red Box” for a pre-teen daughter. Either together with yourc2m3D daughter or on your own for a surprise, collect special items in a box to be given to her upon menarche. It can have jewelry, garnet gemstones, books, cloth pads, tea, and so forth. She makes the potent observations that how we welcome young girls into womanhood, sets the stage for how they will view themselves and their life cycles and transitions for a lifetime:

“As we hold the hands of our young sisters when they cross the menstrual threshold, we would be wise to remember that their experience of this cycle will affect them throughout their childbearing years and into menopause. There’s a red thread which weaves through these major themes of our life. Every moment is connected. Whatever we have learned and integrated benefits not only us, but the culture” (p. 41).

Robinson also writes about the idea how you treat yourself during menstruation as a “mirror of your life”:

“The simple truth is that menstruation is a mirror of your life. If you’re not honouring your body through healthy food choices; ample hydration; rest; playtime; calmly managing stressful events; positive thoughts; creativity and sleep; then it will show up in your menstrual cycle…your hormones will come to call; and they will demand that you rest. You might try and quiet them down with headache tablets or something pharmaceutical for cramps, but they will keep talking to you (even if it takes twenty years), until you get the message. If you don’t honour your body during the menstrual years, you are highly likely to suffer when you reach menopause…

What we do in our own local Red Tent Circle varies each month, but we start with introductions using our maternal May 2015 047line and a red thread to represent our connection to the women who came before us and who will go after us, we sing, we have a sharing circle where we “pass the rattle” and talk about our lives and have what we say witnessed and held in safe space. We do a guided meditation and journaling and then a project. In April we had a salt bowl ceremony and then did footbaths and in May we made moon necklaces. We close with a poetry reading and a song. There is tea and a “reflection” table with guidance cards, art supplies, and books to look at. At our May Circle, I shared these two quotes:

“The revolution must have dancing; women know this. The music will light our hearts with fire,
The stories will bathe our dreams in honey and fill our bellies with stars…”

–Nina Simons in We’Moon 2012

“A woman’s best medicine is quite simply herself, the powerful resources of her own deep consciousness, giving her deep awareness of her own physiology as it changes from day to day.”

–Veronica Butler and Melanie Brown

I asked the women to share their revolutions and their medicine. As they spoke, I realized that my “revolution” and my “medicine” were in the planning and facilitation of these Circles, as well as in the online Red Tent Initiation Program I will be offering this summer. I’m so glad I decided to go this direction this year.

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Categories: books, community, moontime, resources, reviews, ritual, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Simple Family Equinox Ritual

I offer what I offer fire
I give what I give
I share what I share
I am who I am…

via The Warrior-Priestess

When planning a ritual involving children, I always have to remind myself to keep it short and simple! Just in time for Spring Equinox, I’d like to share the simple ritual of spring welcome that my family and I enjoyed over the weekend with a group of our friends. This ritual is designed to be done at night around a campfire and to be followed by a drum circle…

Spring Family Ritual

•    Before the ritual itself, make manifestation/intention/commitment bracelets together setting one creative goal to accomplish by July. We used Job’s Tears seeds, puka shells, and watermelon quartz strung on elastic cord.

•    Practice song, We Are Circling*, together until participants feel comfortable.

•    Go outside to fire circle

•    Group hum—this is our community’s usual means of casting a circle. We stand together in a circle and place our hands on each other’s backs. Then, we hum in unison at least three times to pull our personal vibrations and rhythms into a sense of physical and literal harmony.

•    Call and response reading (modified from one in The Pagan Family by Ceisiwr Serith). Children respond well to calling the lines back, rather than just listening to someone talk.

We are here to awaken with the spring (group repeats) b2ap3_thumbnail_11043209_1600409706837912_5690695544076436482_n.jpg
Here in front of us, the fire leaps up
Reaching from us up to the sky
Up to sun, up to the moon
The sky looking down
Looking down to where our fire is burning
Fire of the Sun
Burn in our midst (group repeats)
Fire of our Spirit
Burn in our midst (group repeats)
Fire of the Spring
Burn in our midst (group repeats)
Warm us and the world
As the season turns to spring
We awaken with the Earth! (said loudly and energetically together!)

•    Group sharing of intention bracelet goals

•    Sing We Are Circling

We are circling; circling together
We are singing; singing our heartsongs
This is family; this is unity
This is celebration; this is sacred

I suggest singing the song multiple times through, because the group tends to increase in enthusiasm, confidence, and skill with repetition!

(*Song from Nina Lee’s The Deep Drink CD. Listen online here.)

Last year’s ritual outline here: Family Spring Equinox Ritual Recipe | WoodsPriestess.

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Day 11: Hands (#30DaysofBrigid)

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Mother blessing ceremony, Sept. 2014.

In my college classes, I often tell my students that in working with people, we need to learn to think in circles, rather than in lines. Circles are strong. Circles are steady. Circles hold the space, circles make a place for others. Circles can expand or contract as needed. Circles can be permeable and yet have a strong boundary. Linked arms in a circle can keep things out and show solidarity. Linked energy in a circle can transform the ordinary into sacred space. Hands at each other’s backs, facing each other, eye level. Working together in a circle for a ritual, change is birthed, friendships are strengthened, and love is visible.

Ritual Recipe Kit for Women’s Ceremonies digital by BrigidsGrove.

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Salt bowl ceremony at my mother blessing.

Recently I have noticed a lot of offerings for sacred circles and sacred temples and councils of women that are all online or virtual. The websites advertising such programs often have beautiful photos of firesides and dancing and I find myself thinking, where is the REAL fire? If we spend all of our time at computers enjoying virtual sisterhoods and looking at pictures of fires, where are our real opportunities to dance by the fire hand in hand? Today, against all odds, I managed to have a meaningful conversation with friends at the skating rink. We talked about the difference between online and face-to-face connection and why online connections can feel “cleaner” and less messy or complicated than face-to-face. It reminds me of my experiences in creating rituals for my family. In the books it looks so easy and fun. In real life, babies have poopy diapers and my sons make fart jokes and my papers blow away and I speak in a snappy tone of voice and things take longer than I expect. It is same with women’s circles. Online, we can look at pretty pictures of flower crowns and crystal grids and flower mandalas and daydream how wonderful it would be to have a real women’s circle, but in real life people don’t always like each other, we interrupt each other, we talk too much or not enough or about the “wrong” things. As the facilitator of a ceremony in real life, portions might lag, people laugh at the wrong times, guided meditations might bring up painful experiences, people stop listening to each other, or they might forget something they were asked to bring. I might lose my place, sing off-key, or get distracted when someone is sharing something important.

As a priestess, I have to engage in what is called a process of “self-facing” that can be uncomfortable and sometimes stressful—the looking at my own shadows and shortcomings and then doing it anyway. Because it matters. Because it is real. I’m not saying that online connections aren’t real or valuable, they can be tremendously so. And, I love that in writing I can carry my thoughts all the way through and develop an idea completely.* What I am saying is that there is simply no substitute for standing hand in hand with flesh and blood women in a sacred circle. (Even if someone makes a fart joke.) Our hands matter. Real hands. Reaching out to one another. Our fingers may be too long, too short, too wrinkly, too skinny, too fat. Our hands may be too cold or too sweaty. We may be too loud, too quiet, too anxious, too confident, too self-conscious, too distracted, too intense. But…we can show up.  We can offer what we offer and give what we give. Our whole, actual selves. Separated from the screens and other shields. Touching each other’s actual hands and offering actual hugs rather than (((hugs))).

My plans for a Red Tent Circle later this month have been on my mind lately and I’ve been feeling a little insecure about my plans for our first event, primarily because I’m hoping to attract a broader group of women than the women who regularly circle with me. As I explained to a friend, I want it to be nurturing, and celebratory, and fun and contemplative…somehow all at once! Oh, and not alienate anyone. And, not have it be lightweight chatty OR heavy and tearful. Serious, but not too serious. No pressure!

What I forgot until I got home is that I’m pretty good at doing this. I’ve been working with women and priestessing women’s circles for a long time, not to mention having trained and studied and read and written and studied and trained.  However, I’m also real. And, in the end, that is what I have to offer. There is a vulnerability and risk there as well as a courage.

Here’s my hand.

—-

(*All this said, our hands can also reach out virtually via typing blog posts or sending supportive Facebook messages too. I’m not discounting the role and value of using our hands for that connection. I love that a post that I wrote 3 years ago can still reach 300 people a day, that my other blog can speak in some way to 700 people a day, and that my book can essentially last “forever.” That feels like a magical power of my hands and words!)

Related past post: Do Women’s Circles Actually Matter?

Categories: #30daysofBrigid, community, friends, priestess, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Tags: | 3 Comments

Womanrunes Second Printing!

IMG_1361We received the second printing of our Womanrunes book last week! They arrived a week ahead of schedule and look beautiful! I’m thrilled to move forward with promotion and distribution of the book. It was a true labor of love and it feels really powerful to share this work with others.

The book has been available via Amazon domestically and internationally since August, but this week we added a separate listing for book and card sets on Amazon. We sell the sets in our etsy shop, but the books sold on Amazon ship directly from Amazon itself which means only books have been available there, since the cards are printed by a different company. However, for those shoppers who prefer to use Amazon, we now have a fresh Amazon listing that is for book and card sets.

You also still have time to get our free digital “Womanrunes Starter Kit” by signing up for our newsletter at Brigid’s Grove. We are also hard at work on a new freebie for our February newsletter, so make sure you’ve signed up and you will automatically get our free “How to Draw a Calamoondala” handout when the newsletter is finished.

I’ve been really delighted to get some great messages about women using Womanrunes in their Red Tent circles. The Red Tent in Lawrence, KS sent me a picture of the Womanrunes there:

January 2015 002And, speaking of Red Tents, I registered with Red Tents in Every Neighborhood as a sisterhood tent in preparation for our first Red Tent Circle in February. So, now we have an official member badge 😉

RedTent Member Badge

If you are local and would like to join the Red Tent Circle, you can find us on Facebook here: Rolla Red Tent.

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“…the business is just a vehicle for sending out my stuff into the world. The real thing, the real magic… is in the creating.”

–Leonie Dawson

“The only domain where the divine is visible is that of art, whatever name we choose to call it.”

–Andre Malreaux (quoted in The Art of Ritual)

Categories: art, community, priestess, Womanrunes, writing | 1 Comment

Priestess Year in Review (2014)

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“Lifelong priesthoods were typically held by married women leading ‘normal’ lives, complete with husbands and children. Greek religious offices were enormously practical, enabling women to serve at each stage of life without sacrificing the full experience of marriage and motherhood.”

–Joan Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess, p. 18

“When words are inadequate, ceremony and ritual help us express our profound thoughts and feelings….rituals are symbolic activities that help us, together with our families and friends, express our deepest thoughts and feelings about life’s most important events.”

–Dr. Alan Wolfelt (quoted in The Art of Ritual)

When I became ordained as a priestess with Global Goddess in July of 2012, one of the commitments I made as part of ordination was to be of service in some way to the organization and to document my service to my community through the year. So, in keeping with that commitment, I made a year-end summary post at the end of 2012 and another at the end of 2013. It was helpful to me personally to see everything grouped together in one post and see that I’m truly doing this work. I enjoy sharing my post with the rest of the GG community in hopes of encouraging others to keep a record of their own. In 2014, this was my service in the capacity as ritualist/ceremonialist:

January: winter women’s retreat, spontaneous family morning ritual, family full moon ritual.

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Nature mandala at summer ritual.

February: family Brigid ceremony and Imbolc ritual, seventh Rise Up class, birthday blessing, help planning house cleansing, mini family full moon ritual.

March: invocation to the north during opening ritual at Goddess Weekend in St. Louis, Spring family ritual.

April: spontaneous family gratitude ritual, spring women’s retreat.

June: helped with sister-in-law’s blessingway, Rise Up class.

July:  summer ritual for the members of my women’s circle and their families.

August: Red Tent event, tenth Rise Up class.

September: temple priestess at GGG, Womanrunes presentation.

October: Gave birth to new baby!

November: family full moon ritual for baby, Sealing ceremony for self.

December: full moon ritual, Rise Up finish and ceremony, family solstice ritual, mother blessing ceremony.

I took an online training program in circle leadership from Chrysalis Woman and I wrote this post about why Gathering the Women matters to me: Gathering the Women | WoodsPriestess. (I also finally finished reading Women Who Run with the Wolves!) I wrote 47 posts for this blog in 2014, which was a dramatic reduction from previous years, primarily because I diverted a lot of my attention to finishing my M.Div, writing a book, and working on art, sculpture, and jewelry for our co-creative business, Brigid’s Grove (and we had booths selling goddess sculptures and jewelry at five events sprinkled through the year).front-cover

We published a book about Womanrunes! This was an incredibly huge project. We also published a digital Ritual Recipe Kit and a book of earth-based poetry. I sculpted more than 27 new designs for pewter pendants and 7 for resin goddess sculptures (and we fulfilled more than 540 orders for these items!)

I completed 7 more classes at OSC, finished my thesis project, and completed my M.Div degree! I only have two classes remaining for my D.Min. In the last days of 2014, a new idea for my dissertation was born and I completed and submitted my prospectus for my dissertation project (and it was approved).

I continued to host a (not very active) Priestess Path group on Facebook and started one for women interested in a Red Tent in our community as well. I also maintain my Woodspriestess Facebook page and one for Brigid’s Grove.

In keeping with the commitment I made upon my ordination, I contributed articles to 5 issues of The Oracle, the online journal of Global Goddess: Winter Solstice, Samhaim, Beltane, Spring Equinox, Imbolc

I wrote 6 posts for Feminism and Religion: Mollyblessingway 116

I also wrote 23 posts for my blog at SageWoman magazine.

And, finally, I wrote 15 posts for Pagan Families earlier in the year before decided I was spread too thin with blogging commitments and needed to let something go.

(I also wrote 100 posts at my birth/motherhood blog, but that doesn’t directly connect to my priestess year in review theme!)

I have several relevant goals for 2015:

  • Finish last two D.Min classes!
  • Finish dissertation (and therefore finish D.Min degree)
  • Begin facilitating regular New Moon Red Tent Circles in the local community
  • Continue holding monthly full moon rituals with my own family and broaden that to include a couple of friends as well
  • Present at Goddess Weekend and Gaea Goddess Gathering
  • Expand our Ritual Recipe Kit into a longer printed book
  • Promote and distribute Womanrunes more widely, especially to the Red Tent community, since it is a perfect oracle for use in Red Tent events.
  • Work on several new book and online class ideas!

As also occurred last year when I wrote my year-in-review post, when I read this over, it comes up for me to wonder if writing a post like this looks “smug” and self-congratulatory in some way. Am I too focused on numbers and hours and quantifying something instead of presence? Too much do-ing and not enough be-ing? But, in truth, the intention with which each year’s list is created is simply as an accountability thing—both in terms of the vows I made to my community as well as to myself. It is so I can see, collected in one place, what I’ve offered as a priestess this year. It is to allow me a moment of pause, reflection, review, and a sensation of a job well done, rather than immediately rushing off to the next thing, as I tend to do. I continue to struggle with issues of “who does she think she IS?” with regard to priestess work (this forms an element of my dissertation project, actually!) and in reviewing my year, I am able to see that yes, I am doing this work. I am not just talking about it or imagining it, I am walking the path.

Happy New Year!

 

Categories: art, community, OSC, priestess, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle, woodspriestess, writing | 1 Comment

Rise Up Completion

In 2010, I bought the Rise Up and Call Her Name curriculum and imagined working through it with a group of women. At the beginning of 2013, I started the program in what was intended to be a monthly class. Well, here we are almost two years later and today we finally finished the curriculum! As we read the final poem (We Hold Hands) and sang our final rendition of “Listen, Sisters, Listen,” I felt a real sense of exhilaration and triumph. I made the commitment to do this for these women and they made the commitment to work together in this way and we DID IT.

Earth-based/winter solstice altar space.

Earth-based/winter solstice altar space.

Mask-making project.

Mask-making project.

Closing ceremony--after having created a web-weaving, we "birthed" our mask project into the sacred circle.

Closing ceremony–after having created a web-weaving, we “birthed” our mask project into the sacred circle.

Yesterday afternoon, my M.Div diploma finally came in the mail (I actually finished the degree on July 1) and so I feel a sense of completion and fulfillment there as well. I asked my husband to take a picture of me with some of my finished projects of 2014 (yes, the baby counts too!) and I feel very satisfied and proud right now.
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(I typed this post on my iPad and couldn’t easily include links the way I usually do and I’m just going to be okay with that!)

Categories: community, friends, OSC, priestess, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 4 Comments

Dance in a circle of women…

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

Marie Summerwood

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

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

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

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

Make sacred space
Remember who you are

–Shawna Carol

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

Oh woman
Oh sister
She is me

Holding me
That I may hold you

Forever goddess

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

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

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

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

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

via Be Still | WoodsPriestess.

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

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

[from 2013 post on my other blog]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Co-Circling & The Priestess Path | WoodsPriestess.

Continuing my jotted notes:

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

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

Related past posts:

Gaea Goddess Gathering: Listen to the wise woman….

I make the effort

The Warrior-Priestess

Co-Circling & The Priestess Path

Be Still

Moonpriestess

Woodspriestess: Brigid

 

 

Categories: community, friends, GGG, Goddess, night, priestess, retreat, reviews, ritual, self-care, spirituality, thealogy, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 3 Comments

Red Tent Mini-Ritual Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May all sisters know that they are strong.

May all daughters know that they are powerful.

That the circle of women may live on.

That the circle of women may live on.

Circle of Women | Nalini.

~~~~

Woman am I

Spirit am I

I am the infinite within my soul

I have no beginning

And I have no end

All this I am


 

 

Categories: community, friends, priestess, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 1 Comment

Fear

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

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

Chrysalis Woman Circle Leader Manual

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

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

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

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

via Never Again? | WoodsPriestess.

I written before about a related experience:

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

via Woodspriestess: Saving the World? | WoodsPriestess.

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

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

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

via Small Stone Birth Activism | Talk Birth.

July 2014 049

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

Hold steady
hold strong
hold the vision
hold each other…

 

Categories: community, feminist thealogy, priestess, spirituality, women's circle | 2 Comments

Seed Corn

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

20140809-191110-69070371.jpg

20140809-191109-69069614.jpg

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

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

The Women’s Hearth

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

– Jean Shinoda Bolen

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

July 2014 038

Nature mandala from our summer solstice ritual this year.

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

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

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

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

Millin writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are welcome here.
You are welcome here.

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

You are welcome here.
You are welcome here…

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

(quoted in Chrysalis Woman Circle Leader manual)

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

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

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

July 2014 060

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

Categories: community, friends, OSC, priestess, spirituality, women's circle, writing | 2 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.

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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:

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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 | 9 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):

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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)

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

Stepping into Ourselves

“There is also another mother….You walk upon her body. Her breasts grow your food. Her spirit is Nature. If you listen, you can hear her words carried by the wind. She says, ‘You are my daughter. You live with me.’ She spreads a cape of ferns, primroses and daisies around your shoulders. Your wounds suck healing salve from her cape. She is patient. She turns anger into poetry and grief into song. She is an alchemist of ages, wiser with each passing. She does not demand conformity. This mother is always tending and teaching you.”~ Louise M. Wisechild

“Trees are great teachers. The trees are great listeners. That is why we should meditate in their presence. The Great spirit is in every rock, every animal, every human being and in every tree. The Great Spirit has been in some trees for hundreds of years. Therefore, the trees have witnessed and heard much. The trees are the Elders of the Elders. Their spirits are strong and very healing.” —Mary Hayes, Clayoqout

I finally had a chance to draw my Full Moon Calamandala* for 2014!

Last week my long-awaited copy of Stepping Into Ourselves: An Anthology of Writings on Priestesses arrived in the mail! I’ve had a lot going on personally, some very stressful, and so I’ve only gotten to read a little bit of it so far, but I’m enjoying it very much. Here are some wonderful quotes from the book:

The work of a priestess is to create and keep open a channel between the seen and seldom seen realms in which we live, in relationship and in service to a community. It is not enough for the priestess to be able to contact spirit and travel in that dimension herself: a trained and experienced priestess can create a doorway between the worlds that is wide enough for others to join her there and those people, by joining, expand the opening still further so that the flow of power is strong and transformative for all present.

From “I am the Earth: The Priestess in Service to Community” by Deidre Pulgram Arthen

On a very primal level, seeing women hold power in the public spiritual sphere stimulates people’s belief and trust that women can therefore be an authority in other places, as in political office, or corporations. The impact of the symbolic role of the priestess in public ritual reaches into our psyche; this is why it’s important that priestesses be seen performing public rituals and openly invoking the Goddess.

From “The Priestess as Wedding Ceremonialist” by Josephine MacMillan.

There is no one way to be a priestess; each of us, as a unique individual with her unique connection to the Goddess, can bring her own vision into the role. The Goddess of many faces is enriched by priestesses with different understandings of the part.

From “Reclaiming Adam and Eve: The work of a Priestess in Israel” by Hava Montauriano.

She who is priestess experiences the calling to hold the whole of the cosmos in reverence, to observe the tides and seasons and to immerse in marking the life of the cosmos through spiritual celebration.

From “Priestess: Born Unto Herself’ by Pamela Eakins.

“A facilitator is a woman who makes the way easier; as an act of service, she assists in creating the experience of the participants. Like a guide on a journey, the facilitator’s responsibility is to hold the vision, the purpose; to keep the compass, to know what the ultimate destination of the ritual journey is, and help everyone get there and back safely.”

From “Priestessing Ritual” by Ruth Barrett

This post today is basically a potpourri post of other posts that have caught my attention!

Posted via Lucy at Dreaming Aloud on Facebook:

Just the other day, talking to a dear friend I realised out loud that my books are my biggest prayers, blessings from my soul to those yet unknown souls who dream the same dreams, worry the same worries. So I loved this quote from best selling author John Green: “Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts. Maybe they will notice how hard you worked, and maybe they won’t — and if they don’t notice, I know it’s frustrating. But, ultimately, that doesn’t change anything — because your responsibility is not to the people you’re making the gift for, but to the gift itself.”

This is how I feel also—that when I create my pieces or when I plan a ritual, I’m offering a gift to others (even though I do still charge for my artwork!). I wrote about the connection I feel through my sculptures in the post that went up on Feminism and Religion this morning (based on one originally published here):

Goddesscraft.
Womancraft.
Lifecraft.
Who molds who?
Who sculpts who?
Is it just one beautiful dance
of exuberant co-creation?

via Echoes of Mesopotamia by Molly

On a related note, we’re having a giveaway on the Brigid’s Grove FB page of one of our new womb labyrinth pendants. BONUS: if you also “like” the Brigid’s Grove Facebook page itself (not just the picture), you will be entered to win a bonus giveaway for one of our basic Brigid’s Sacred Oak/tree of life pendants. Make sure to leave a comment on this post letting me know that you did so though!

At the end of January, I had a guest post on a lovely blog by a woman in South Africa whose work focuses on the healing energy of Gaia:

Imaginary friend?
I think not
I am the ebb and pulse of all existence
of all life
the invisible web
weaving its way
throughout you and around you every day

via Guest Post:Theapoetics and the Woodspriestess by Molly | Jodi Sky Rogers.

I enjoy the gifts offered by other women  as well. Paola at Goddess Spiral Health Coaching has added free virtual Full Moon Gratitude Circles to her offerings (FB event here):

I wanted sisters who were sowing the seeds of their intentions to have a chance share what has come to fruition. I also wanted sisters to be able to focus on the blessings they did have and open up the space for more abundance. With these thoughts in mind, I created the Full Moon Gratitude Circles because I believe that…

..the act of gratitude focuses us on the abundance in our lives—welcoming even more abundance in! Gratitude is a practice that can benefit you at all levels- physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Will you join us experiencing the beauty of following the lunar cycle and acknowledging the power of manifesting the life you love? ♥

via Full Moon Gratitude Circles | Goddess Spiral Health Coaching.

And, I’ve been steadily listening to the worldwide presentations organized by DeAnna L’am and offered as the Red Tent World Summit: DeAnnaLam | Coming of Age Made Easy, Womanhood Made Richer, Red Tent in every neighborhood.

All of these experiences bring me to this delicious quote:

“[For centuries women have] had to withdraw their power – withdraw their energetic movement and flow. It had to be protected and hidden as the chalice of the woman had to survive.

Now it is time for all to bring out their chalice – to gather their “tribe” – to radiate their energetic flow. Now it is time to find the “especial genius” that is intuitively woman. It is time for women to openly exhibit their power, their knowledge, and their leadership. The ancient symbol of unity is the circle. It is the sacred hoop of wholeness and female power. It represents the feminine spirit in a sacred space that is unbreakable. It is time to bring the circle – the hoop – to its power.

It is time to restore the balance of the energies. For this to happen, you must first restore your own power – restore your own energies so that the balance of the humanity “tribe” can be restored and all be lifted in the eternal flame of love. It is time to celebrate all of woman, in all of her beauty.”

via Sometimes You Have to Create The Thing You Want to Be Part Of – A Contemporary Perspective.

This past weekend, we had our seventh Rise Up class at my home. A friend that I haven’t seen in a very long time came to the class along with another dear out-of-town friend and it made my heart sing to see them both. It was such a deep delight to have them there, it is hard to even explain it. Before the rest of the participants arrived, one of these friends, my mom and I practiced the circle dance (from Dances of Universal Peace) that we would later use during the class section on Kwan Yin. As I looked across at their faces and the reality of dancing together there in my living room hit me, I said, “I love us!” And, I do. I feel very fortunate to have these women in my life.

During the class, one of the concepts was referenced that in working with Tara, we have the opportunity to create a ritual that is in itself a sort of “mandala of the whole universe”—the ritual is then like a miniature version, a microcosm, of that pattern which is expressed at a larger level. In Stepping Into Ourselves, D’vorah Grenn writes about Jewish priestesses (Kohanot) and says: “Being a priestess can be exhausting. Without proper shielding and protection, women can find their precious energies only going out, and too rarely being being replenished. We must continually find new and effective ways to guard against becoming depleted. Every day, we witness the positive, transformative effects of, ‘restoring women to ceremony’…another reason it is vital that we continue our work…” (p. 56).

Restoring women to ceremony. I absolutely loved this. Priestess work occurs in the context of community. I so value the women who show up to do this work with me.

*My 2012 Calamandala is on my other blog: Full Moon Calendar Mandala | Talk Birth and my 2013 one is here: 2013 Moon Calamandala | WoodsPriestess.)

Categories: community, friends, priestess, quotes, resources, self-care, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 6 Comments

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