embodiment

Earth’s Mystery School

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“Earth is a mystery school complete with initiations and discoveries that you only experience by living with your feelings, touching the earth, and embracing the fullness of your humanity.”

–Queen Guenivere

(awakewoman)

Three recent moments come to mind…

On Samhain morning, I wake early and mist was rising out of the forest and dancing through the field and out of the trees. I have a moment of sheer awe to see it…the veil was literally thin. october-2016-024

Over the weekend, I visit the nearby river to connect in personal ceremony in appreciation before the park closes for the year and also symbolically to those at Standing Rock. This river eventually meets the Missouri. I run my hands through the water. I anoint my brow, neck, and hands. I whisper my prayers into the ripples. I sing: “I am water. I am water…I am flowing like the water, like the water I am flowing, like the water…”

I am hurrying outside to get some work done. I feel tight and hurried with the length of my to-do list and my superhuman plans for the day. The bright red flame of a bloom on my pineapple sage plant catches my eye and then…the perfection of a bright yellow butterfly alighting on one slender stamen. My breath catches and I stop in wonder. I smell the flower and it smells of pineapple, just as the leaves do. I can hardly believe this treasure and the tightness melts into nothing. The rest of the day is full of joy. october-2016-065

I am once again healed by flowers.

I create personal ritual almost every day in my tiny temple outside my house, sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate, sometimes tearful, sometimes joyful, sometimes hurried, sometimes leisurely, sometimes distracted, sometimes astonished at the wonder of it all. Last week, I smudged the temple with sage I grew in the flowerboxes by my front porch. I rang my bell 13 times. I sang “I Am Fire.” I laid out cards and tiny goddesses and created a mandala out of fallen leaves. I left an offering of flowers from the herbs and let rose petals drop from my fingers. Ritual captivates all the senses…in this sacred space, I invoke my own senses of smell, touch, sight, sound, and wonder and the result is magic.

“Through ceremony we learn how to give back. When we sing, we give energy through our voice; when we drum, we allow the earth’s heartbeat to join with our own; when we dance, we bring the energy of earth and sky together in our bodies and give it out; when we pray, we give energy through our hearts; when we look upon our relations, we give blessings through our eyes. When we put all these activities together, we have a ceremony, one of the most powerful forms of gift-giving we humans possess.”

–Sun Bear and Wabun Wind

b2ap3_thumbnail_October-2016-027.JPGHow have you experienced the power of personal ceremony recently?

(We are also offering our Liminal Space Ritual Kit free here. And, a free 2017 Calamoondala how-to class.)

Categories: blessings, ceremony, earthprayer, embodiment, feminist thealogy, Goddess, nature, practices, prayers, priestess, ritual, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, womanspirit, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

A Single Glorious Thing…

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

This week as I called the circle for our Creative Spirit Circle weekly ritual, I sat on the sunny back deck with small representative pieces of the herbs I had been gathering and sang the Body Prayer song.

That morning, I’d begun by picking rose petals and plantain, but then kept going to harvest pineapple sage, spearmint, chocolate mint, oregano, october-2016-031and lemongrass. In the evening I dried them in the dehydrator and then moved on to the many bags of wild persimmons we gathered to process. It feels so good to lay aside the other to-dos and enjoy the sunshine, the plants, and the wild.

I laid on my back in the sun with my arms spread out and my eyes closed as I sang. And, it was basically a perfect ritual! No more, no less.

The Womanrunes card of the day was The Heart, rune of love. This rune asks us to take a moment to pause. To rest. To draw it up, draw it in, and breathe easy. Love is the ground of being. We are embedded within it.

In the book Sisters of the Earth, Barbara Kingsolver is quoted as saying:

“In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window.”

What do you love? What makes you light up? What single, glorious thing have you experienced this week?

Affirmation for the week: I walk in love and love rises up to greet me.

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Categories: blessings, ceremony, earthprayer, embodiment, Flowers, nature, practices, prayers, ritual, sacred pause, spirituality, womanspirit | Leave a comment

Flower Prayers

“We may need to be cured by flowers. 

We may need to strip naked and let the petals fall on our shoulders, down our bellies, against our thighs. We may need to lie naked in fields of wildflowers. We may need to walk naked through beauty. We may need to walk naked through color. We may need to walk naked through scent. We may need to walk naked through sex and death. We may need to feel beauty on our skin. We may need to walk the pollen path, among the flowers that are everywhere. 

We can still smell our grandmother’s garden. Our grandmother is still alive.”

–Sharman Apt Russell, in Sisters of the Earth

This month, this beautiful rose made me drop to my knees with delight on my way out to my tiny temple. I drew my Womanrunes card and got the Sun and Moon, rune of laughter. Yes. This right here. This is a beautiful moment. As I knelt beside the rose, the Body Prayer song* welled out of me until I had tears in my eyes.

september-2016-077When I at last went inside, I opened a book I’m currently reading to this very quote:

“The frailest of nature’s objects, these most female of emblems, have staying power. Staying power has healing power, too. You can stand in front of flowers and look them in their many eyes and see just them, and for a moment you are doing only one thing fully, being in the presence of their tart soil and tender personalities, and connecting with the tart and tender within yourself.”

–Molly Peacock in Sisters of the Earth

Then, later in the week, I was surprised by the gift of another flower outside my tiny temple. This one a volunteer pumpkin blossom, a little too late in the game to succeed this year, but still feeling like a blessing of the season to be graced with. My Womanrunes card that day was the Pentacle which makes me think about my responsibility to protect my own energy and boundaries even when so much clamors to be done. It is more vital than ever to just sit for a minute and admire a flower.  That same afternoon, when I returned to the tiny temple to collect my laptop, I noticed that the pumpkin blossom has closed back up or fallen off. If I hadn’t taken that very moment to appreciate it, I may never have even known it was there.

october-2016-046It wasn’t until I looked at the photo later that I noticed that the blossom is also a five-pointed star…

In the anthology Sisters of the Earth, Sharman Apt Russell muses:

All around me are plants that heal and connect to the human body. The yucca spiking above is a steroid. Mullein acts as a mild sedative. Mullein root increases the tone of the bladder. Juniper is used for cystitis. Yarrow clots blood.

My body is interwoven into the chemistry of juniper and yarrow. The tone of my bladder is related to mullein root.

How can we doubt our place in the natural world?flowers

Several years ago I wrote a poem called Body Prayer, which is included in the Girl God’s Mother Earth book as well as in my own Earthprayer poetry collection. I was so touched when Goddess Magic Circle sister Angelique (Deb) shared a chant she created from the last stanza this poem. I’ve been waking up in the mornings singing it, or sitting by flowers and singing it, and it delights me. It also brings my mind back to self-care, an ever-present issue it feels like for women.

At our most recent small study group in my tiny temple, we also sang it:

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

May we each be healed by flowers, time to ourselves to sit on the earth and sing, and the simple, every day beauties and miracles that surround us each day.october-2016-137

“The autumn woman moves towards dreamtime. Though she knows her limits, she has also felt limitless. She has known the ineffable. She wakes at night from dreams of high windy places where small blue flowers bloom, and she knows in her bones that such places exist. Luminous beings appear in her dreams and pull her towards them. She recognizes the dust of infinity in a windstorm, the fragrance of timelessness in a fire…”

– Patricia Monaghan, excerpted from Seasons of the Witch

Side note: I created a Samhain ritual recipe kit that is currently free in our October issue of the Creative Spirit Circle Journal. Enjoy!

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Categories: blessings, ceremony, chants, earthprayer, embodiment, Flowers, meditations, nature, practices, prayers, priestess, ritual, sacred pause, seasons, self-care, spirituality, woodspriestess | 4 Comments

Book Review: The Other Side of the River

13603729_1759471264265088_2502141005184380413_o“Braids, tapestries, and currents in the river show us the way again and again–it cannot be one clear way or another, it has got to be both ways and together.”

–Eila Carrico, The Other Side of the River

It has taken me many months to review this book and as I sit down to write about it, I find myself at a loss for words. Go. Read it. It is a powerful book.

The Other Side of the River is a lyrical personal narrative that runs in multiple streams and ripples of thought to one riverrushing river: Women’s lives matter. Women’s stories matter. Women’s bodies matter. Women’s voices matter. Women’s lives and the health of the planet are inextricably intertwined. It is gorgeous and also stunning in its complexity. As I read it, I kept thinking, “how did she do this?” How did she weave so many experiences and thoughts and insights into this one text that flows so powerfully together? In The Other Side of the River, author Eila Carrico’s personal experiences and stories of her life are interwoven with descriptions, thoughts, and experiences from the world’s waters and her travels to many different bodies of water. Eila has listened to the river, learned from the waters, and these many ripples blend together into a juicy, creative, thought-provoking, complex web of questions, thoughts, and lessons. As we journey with her from the Florida marshlands to New Orleans, to San Francisco, to Africa, to India, to London, and even some time in the Mojave Desert, we also meet many water goddesses from world culture and are treated to an evocative exploration of the Goddess, the sacred feminine, at work in women’s lives and in the world as a whole. We learn from Tara and Aphrodite and Ganga and Oshun and Cailleach and Kali, all swirling together in a labyrinthine journey of depth and profundity.

Published by Womancraft Publishing, The Other Side of the River is not only a personal memoir, but a treatise on ecofeminism, ecology, and environmentalism. I discovered ecofeminism during my doctoral studies and have often returned to a phrase womb ecology reflects world ecology, world ecology reflects womb ecology. In this book we come to see how the damming of the rivers, the polluting of the oceans, the re-routing of the streams, reflects the stifling of women’s voices, the control of women’s bodies, and the oppression of women’s lives.

“I imagine that women look outside for answers because they cannot feel the wisdom of their own bodies anymore. Years of creating an icy barrier to keep out the stares, the calls, the threat of rape and worse. Women take care of their friends and families, but they do not take care of themselves. Women have lost what sustains them, forgotten what brings them to live, pushed down their rage and denied their need for rest..

…I think of the time during and after the witch burnings in Europe as a time when once fluid women chose to turn themselves into ice for self-preservation. They decidedly slowed and suppressed their wisdom of ways sensitive to the natural landscape and began to lives much further beneath the surface of their skin. They learned to conceal, conserve and control themselves to survive.”

–Eila Carrico

I am reminded of a quote from Clarissa Pinkola-Estes: Be wild! That is how to clear the river.

It is hard for me to write as compellingly as I would like to about such a compelling book. Please read it and let its magic stream through you too.

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

Crossposted at SageWoman and Brigid’s Grove.

Categories: books, embodiment, feminism, feminist thealogy, Goddess, resources, reviews, self-care, spirituality, women, writing | 2 Comments

Day 16: Prayer (#30daysofspring)

I roam 12901399_1722523711293177_6840123945282848509_o
sacred ground
my body is my altar
my temple.

I cast a circle
with my breath
I touch the earth
with my fingers
I answer
to the fire of my spirit…

I wrote this poem several years ago and it was then published in The Girl God’s Mother Earth book as well as my own Earthprayer book. I thought of it when I read the prompts for today and I offer in my photo my own woodsprayer of wild plum blossoms.

I am also pleased to offer a free Earthprayer mini class for you beginning in April. Register via this link.

Two related past posts:

Categories: #30daysofspring, blessings, embodiment, Flowers, poems, prayers, resources, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 9: Generosity (#30DaysofHarvest)


Resting and rocking and nursing the child. Figuring out enoughness. ❤️

Today’s prompt brought the day in and day out body-based connection of breastfeeding to mind. Inexhaustible. Ongoing. The fibers of life and living. Body and blood into milk, into life. Here’s the clincher though, the more you nurse, the more milk you have—the more you put in, the more there is. It expands. Body generosity…

“I know that for me, writing has something in common with nursing the baby. I can’t do it if I don’t do it all the time. Put it aside to build up strength, the flow will dwindle and finally disappear. When the baby was at my breast ten times a day, I had a rare secret feeling that we were violating a law of nature, defying a form of entropy…One cannot hoard some things. The more I gave the baby, the more I had to give her, and had I tried to conserve myself, I would have found that I conserved nothing.”

–Rosellen Brown

Source: Writing and Nursing | Talk Birth

Since I wrote the post below, I’ve re-estimated my total to more like 43,000 times (not kidding):

I calculated that so far in my life I’ve put a baby to my breast more than 12,000 times. Even if I only experienced a single moment of mindful awareness or contemplation or transcendence or sacredness during each of those occasions, that is one heck of a potent, dedicated, and holy practice. In the unique symbiosis of the nursing relationship, I recall a quote from the book The Blue Jay’s Dance (1996) by Louise Erdrich about male writers from the nineteenth century and their longing for an experience of oneness and seeking the mystery of an epiphany. She says: “Perhaps we owe some of our most moving literature to men who didn’t understand that they wanted to be women nursing babies.” (p. 148)

Source: Breastfeeding as a Spiritual Practice | Talk Birth

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, art, embodiment, family, parenting, practices, sacred pause | Leave a comment

Divination Practicum Course Announcement!

September 2015 0099I’m excited to announce my newest online class!

Listening to the Deep Self, a six-week divination practicum for women begins online on October 27.

This course is designed to help you flex your intuitive and oracular muscles. It will help you become confident in drawing upon your own wisdom and what you have to teach and source from this wisdom

In this practicum you will learn:

  • How to work intensively with Womanrunes
  • How to make, cast, and interpret Goddess Runes
  • How to use women’s divination resources as guidance for other women
  • How to use a pendulum for yourself and with others
  • How to create personal oracle cards
  • How to create a trinket oracle
  • How to lead a Womanrunes divination workshop for other women

You will gain:

  • Practical experience in giving readings for others
  • Confidence in the resources of your own intuition and the womanspirit guidance surrounding you
  • An opportunity to create income for yourself using your gifts, skills, and resources
  • The ability to speak in the language of the runes
  • The ability to reliably and regularly connect to womanspirit wisdom, the Goddess, the Earth, your spiritual guides, and your own deep self
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Womanrunes in use in the Red Tent in Pembrokeshire

Your Practicum Kit Includes*:

  • Free shipping!
  • Womanrunes book and cards
  • Professionally printed practicum workbook
  • Goddess pendulum
  • Trinket oracle starter kit
  • Gemstone heart palm stone (we will intuitively choose the stone for you)
  • Amethyst gemstone point
  • Amethyst bracelet
  • Purple cloth upon which to do readings smallMay 2015 057
  • Purple bag to store your resources
  • Certificate of completion in Readings for Womanspirit
  • Complete workshop outline and handouts for you to lead a Womanrunes class with other women at festivals, circles, conferences, or events (plus an opportunity to purchase books wholesale to have available to sell to others!)
  • Live interaction, support, and feedback via a private Facebook group
  • Optional add-on: goddess pendant or inner wisdom goddess sculpture

(*contents subject to slight changes depending on availability)

Early bird registration pricing ends September 25th! Register via our Brigid’s Grove website.

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Categories: classes, embodiment, practices, resources, Womanrunes, womanspirit, women, women's circle, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Body to body. The Boat of Heaven. (#30DaysofMay)

“The tools are unimportant; we have all we need to make magic: our bodies, our breath, our voices, each other.” –Starhawk

(quoted in Dedicant)

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

–John Muir

I stand on the body of the Goddess
I sit on her bones
I breathe her breath
Spirit of Life moving through me
Her voice sings in my blood
stars shine in my veins
my heartbeat a drum
tuned to the core of the planet…

via Goddess Body, World Body | WoodsPriestess

Related posts: Woodspriestess: Body Prayer  Woodspriestess: Pelvic Cradle

Categories: #30Daysof May, blessings, embodiment, Goddess, nature, poems, sacred pause, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Womanrunes: The Yoni

Womanrunes: The Yoni. Rune of Making. Creativity, Fertility, Wealth, Pleasure, and Birth. December 2013 012

This is a stone of creation. The womb of all possibility and all changes. The cauldron of life. Doorway, initiation, birth, and re-birth. Receptive, open, embracing. Fertile in her power and her purpose. What waits within to be given birth and what wants to enter to incubate? What nestles in fertile ground?

This is a hopeful stone, a joyful stone. One that reminds us to dance in the moonlight, to enjoy being naked, to delight in our bodies, and to celebrate the bodies, capacities and creations of others. This is stone of form. Of being formed. Of forming. This is a rune of fertile possibility.

Put your hand on your belly. What is waiting there in your pelvic bowl? What is waiting in quiet wombspace? What is hidden away, but growing bigger and bigger and waiting to be born? What do you need and what needs you? Take it to the body, bring it down into your pelvis. Sweep around the curve of the bowl and listen. What does she want to tell you?

There is a time to nurture and a time to be nurtured. A time to make, create. A time to receive and wait. Take pleasure in being alive at this moment. Take pleasure in the works of your hands and the sweetness of kisses upon your lips. Enjoy, stroke, touch, feel, engage. Honor feeling. Scoop it all up. Run wild with life, breathe deep, and smile.

When this stone is drawn, something is building to a climax, and ecstasy awaits.

January 2014 063Yoni is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as meaning: origin, source, womb, female genitals. It’s root is “to unite.” The companion word for males is lingam. “The yoni is the crucible where things are combined (male and female, mother and fetus), where creation and re-creation takes place. Where the unseen (not perceptible to the senses) world takes material form. (Did You Know :: Matrika)

In our house, we’ve used the word “yoni” for a long time. I find it much more descriptive and appropriate than the often-incorrectly used “vagina” and the often-awkward-sounding “vulva.” I actually drew this stone and wrote the description in December, but then didn’t get around to posting it. However, in just a few minutes, I’m leaving  to go see the local production of The Vagina Monologues in town, so I knew that the time for The Yoni stone has finally arrived!
Update: this project evolved into a real book!
The first post in my Womanrunes series is available here and all others here. The runes and the names of them come from Shekhinah Mountainwater’s Womanrunes system for which there are no written interpretations available other than the name and one word meanings. I’m engaging in a semi-daily practice of drawing one and then going down to the woods with it to see what it “tells” me–basically, creating what I wish I had, which is a more developed interpretation of the meaning of each womanrunestone.
Categories: divination, embodiment, Womanrunes, women, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

Thesis Project

Here is your sacrament MR_089
Take. Eat. this is my body
this is real milk, thin, sweet, bluish,
which I give for the life of the world…
Here is your bread of life.
Here is the blood by which you live in me.”
–Robin Morgan (in Life Prayers, p. 148)

“…When I say painless, please understand, I don’t mean you will not feel anything. What you will feel is a lot of pressure; you will feel the might of creation move through you…” – Giuditta Tornetta in Painless Childbirth

“I am the holy mother; . . . She is not so far from me. And perhaps She is not so very distinct from me, either. I am her child, born in Her, living and moving in Her, perhaps at death to be birthed into yet some other new life, still living and having my being in Her. But while on this earth She and I share the act of creation, of being, and Motherhood.”Niki Whiting, “On Being a Holy Mother” in Whedon

“Woman-to-woman help through the rites of passage that are important in every birth has significance not only for the individuals directly involved, but for the whole community. The task in which the women are engaged is political. It forms the warp and weft of society.” –Sheila Kitzinger

In 2011, I started working on my doctoral degree in thealogy (Goddess studies). Before I even began my first class, I chose my dissertation subject: birth as a spiritual experience. I’ve been steadily plugging away on my coursework and somehow in the midst of everything else that I am responsible for, I’ve successfully completed 13 of my classes. I already have a (not related) master’s degree and this is why I was admitted straight into the doctoral program, even though I have to complete a lot of M.Div (master’s of divinity) level coursework as prerequisites to the actual doctoral classes. After I finished my most recent class and got my updated transcript, I finally actually noticed how many M.Div classes I’ve completed thus far on my journey and it occurred to me to email to inquire what it would take to finish an M.Div degree first. I had this sudden feeling of what a nice stepping stone or milestone experience it would be to finish something, since I know that I have a minimum of three more years remaining before I complete the D.Min! They wrote back quickly and let me know that with the completion of three courses in matriarchal myth (I’m halfway through the first right now), my almost-completed year-long class in Compassion (I’m in month 11), and The Role of the Priestess course (involving three ten-page papers), all of which are also part of my doctoral program, the only other thing required for successful completion of my M.Div would be a thesis (minimum of 70 pages).

As I’ve been working through my classes, I’ve felt a gradual shift in what I want to focus on for my dissertation, and I already decided to switch to writing about theapoetics and ecopsychology now, rather than strictly about birth. I was planning to mash my previous ideas about birth and a “thealogy of the body” into this new topic somehow, perhaps: theapoetics, ecopsychology, and embodied thealogy. Then, when I got the news about the option of writing a thesis and finishing my M.Div, it became clear to me: my thesis subject is birth as a spiritual experience! This allows me to use the ideas and information I’d already been collecting as dissertation “seeds” as a thesis instead and frees me up to explore and develop my more original ideas about theapoetics for my dissertation! So…why post about this now? Well, one because I’m super excited about all this and just wanted to share and two, because I’d love to hear from readers about their experiences with birth as a spiritual experience! While I don’t have to do the kind of independent research for a thesis that I will be doing for my dissertation and while my focus is unabashedly situated within a feminist context and a thealogical orientation, I would love to be informed by a diverse chorus of voices regarding this topic so that the project becomes an interfaith dialog. Luckily for me I’ve already reviewed a series of relevant titles.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What are your experiences with the spirituality of birth? Do you consider birth to be a spiritual experience? Did you have any spiritual revelations or encounters during your births or any other events along your reproductive timeline? (miscarriage, menstruation, lactation…) Did you draw upon spiritual coping measures or resources as you labored and gave birth? Did giving birth deepen, expand, or otherwise impact your sense of spirituality or your sense of yourself as a spiritual or religious person? Did any of your reproductive experiences open your understanding of spirituality in a way that you had not previously experienced or reveal beliefs or understandings not previously uncovered?

When I use the word “spiritual,” I mean a range of experiences from a humanistic sensation of being linked to women around the world from all times and spaces while giving birth, to a “generic” sense of feeling the “might of creation” move through you, to a sense of non-specifically-labeled powers of Life and Universe being spun into being through your body, to feeling like a “birth goddess” as you pushed out your baby, to more traditional religious expressions of praying during labor, or drawing upon scripture as a coping measure, or feeling that giving birth brought you closer to the God of your understanding/religion, or, indeed, meeting God/dess or Divinity during labor and birth).  I’m particularly interested in women’s embodied experiences of creation and whether or not your previous religious beliefs or spiritual understandings in life affirmed, acknowledged, or encouraged your body and bodily experience of giving birth as sacred and valuable as well as your own sense of yourself as spiritually connected or supported while giving birth. I would appreciate links to birth stories or articles that you found helpful, books you enjoyed or connected with, and comments relating to your own personal experiences with any of the comments or questions I have raised above. I would love to hear about your thoughts as they relate to:

  • Pregnancy IMG_0225
  • Labor
  • Birthing
  • Lactation
  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility
  • Menstruation
  • Reproductive Rights
  • Birth as a feminist or social justice issue…

 Thank you!

With these things said, I also want to mention that I’m planning to redirect a lot of my writing energy/time into this thesis project rather than to blog posts. I’m trying to come up with a blog posting schedule for myself, but in order to actually do this thing, I must acknowledge that I have to re-prioritize some things and that means writing for my blogs probably needs to slip down a couple of notches in terms of priority of focus.

Oh, and I also hope this thesis project will turn into a book of some kind as well! 🙂

“It is hard to find a female-based concept such as Shakti alive within Western spiritual traditions. Shakti could be viewed as an expression of goddess in the female body at the time of birth. I would say its flow / expression and outcome of love is hindered by unnecessary interventions at birth which divert such energy towards fear- based, masculine forms. The use of masculine, rescue-based healing forms such as cutting (Grahn, 1993) can be necessary and useful, yet such procedures are currently used at the cost of women’s autonomy in the birthing process (see Jordan on C-section, 2007), and define the parameters of what feminist thinker Mary Daly called patriarchal medicine (1978). Modern women are largely lost when it comes to giving birth, turning to medical authority figures to be told what to do. Daly pointed to the dangers of this appropriation for women’s personal and collective autonomy.

Birthing bodies resist, disrupt and threaten standard North American modernist investments in linear time, rationality, order, and objectivity. Birth disrupts the Judeo-Christian male image of God, even as He hides the reality of female creation and creativity. I hold that women giving birth act from a focal point of power within their respective cultures and locations, the power to generate and renew human life itself from within the female body. This power is more absolute in its human reality then any other culturally sanctioned act of replication and material production, or social construction. I speculate that how this female power is expressed, denied, or acknowledged by women and within the society around a birthing woman reflects the degree to which women can and may express themselves at large. As each soul makes the journey through her/his mother, re-centring human consciousness within the female-based reality of human birth causes transformation of patriarchal consciousness as a whole…” –Nane Jordan, Towards an Ontology of Women Giving Birth

This post is crossposted at Talk Birth

Categories: birth, embodiment, feminism, feminist thealogy, Goddess, OSC, spirituality, thealogy, thesis, womanspirit, writing | 8 Comments

Riverpriestess: Lava’s Echo

Lava’s echo July 2013 173
river’s run
inhabiting my form
with ancient memory
each sense engaged
alive…

Breeze kisses skin
moves my hair
blood separate from water
only by thin skin

Bone close to rock
mineral

Child in arms
once inhabiting my body July 2013 155
separated
by a few millimeters
of skin and muscle

And now…
here, together
in lava’s echo.

Today we got home from a quick little anniversary mini-vacation to Johnson’s Shut Ins and Elephant Rocks in southern Missouri. Our whole family loves rocks and these are some rocks! While at the Shut-Ins, which are formed from past volcanic activity, I had a little “poem” moment above.

At Elephant Rocks, which is where the pictures in this post were taken, we found this cool symbol that made me think of a spiral:

July 2013 168

And my husband made me a pretty new necklace!
July 2013 018Before you get in to the major part of Elephant Rocks, there were some cool triplicate stones.

July 2013 111Other pictures and more narrative here.

Categories: embodiment, family, nature, poems | Leave a comment

Woodspriestess: Bloodtime

Bloodtime 2013-06-22 08.59.09
moontime
dreamtime
womb time
rest time.

Pause
stop
celebrate
consecrate
honor
breathe
feel…

touch
with potential and promise
sing with the planet
dance with desire
hold your wishes close to your heart
incubate them lovingly

gather up your resources 2013-06-26 16.03.46
gather in yourself
cocooning
safe, held and loved

building power
holding power
collecting body wisdom
listening deeply

draw it to you
hold it close

emerge with strength
clarity
purpose
energy
and renewal.

This is a time of powerful medicine if you remember to listen. 2013-06-25 13.34.33

Soft belly
no longer bearing children
I am pregnant with myself
ripe with potential,
possibility, power
I incubate my dreams
and give birth to my vision.

It is so hot and humid lately that I’m finding it challenging to fully enjoy my time in the woods. I feel slow, dull, draggy, like my brain is foggy and hot. I’m tired. Today I sat on the rocks listening to bugs and birds, watching ants and a little winged creature sit on my foot. I closed my eyes. I took some deep, thick-aired, humid breaths and I thought:

I cradle my own body here on sacred ground.
Celebrating all that she has brought forward into this world.
Pausing to honor the patient creativity of my womb,
the pulse of my blood,
and the rhythms of my life.

Thank you
holy one
thank you
sacred space within
thank you
hopeful spirit
thank you
embracing Goddess
of my heart and planet…

2013-06-25 11.50.06

Categories: blessings, embodiment, moontime, nature, poems, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 4 Comments

Woodspriestess: Chorus

Birdsong 20130429-135905.jpg
Heartsong
Bees buzz
Mindbuzz
Flowers bloom
Hopebloom

Interconnected
in a deep
magical
dance of life.

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Tulip tree is still blooming!

Spinning souls into being,
unfurling leaves,
beating my heart
and that of
mouse
chicken
dolphin
elephant
monkey
panther…

This animating force
that dances through the cosmos
speaking through our lips
hearing through our ears
touching our skin
creating through our hands
and bodies.

The lifepulse
of reality.
The skeins
of time and mystery.

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Sage is sneaking up out of the weedy grasses.

This beat
this dance
this beautiful rhythm
I waltz with it
and I sing
in its chorus…

(4/29/2013)

I’m feeling pretty beat. Wrung out. Exhausted. Tired. Strained. I still went down to the woods though and I still practiced yoga this afternoon. And, I’m still planning our women’s retreat for May 10th. These things should NOT be the first to go. I must uphold my commitment to these practices for my own well-being. Likewise with writing even this simple post—I “should” be doing something else, or should I? Doing this actually matters too.

At our craft workshop this last weekend, I lamented briefly to my husband that I hadn’t gotten everything done I’d hoped to do while there. Then, I noted that I had, in fact, finished reading two books, prepared for both of my college classes, graded 11 genograms and 4 papers, kept up with my online class (even though I had to drive up the road for the internet access), and made five new sculptures. And, oh yeah, I also ran a craft camp and took care of my three kids too. Perhaps I actually rock.

In addition, I published a brief post here and I woke from a nap humming with inspiration and wrote a blog post about Womenergy for my other blog:

…Womenergy moved humanity across continents, birthed civilization, invented agriculture, conceived of art and writing, pottery, sculpture, and drumming, painted cave walls, raised sacred stones and built Goddess temples. It rises anew during ritual, sacred song, and drumming together. It says She Is Here. I Am Here. You Are Here and We Can Do This. It speaks through women’s hands, bodies, and heartsongs. Felt in hope, in tears, in blood, and in triumph.

via Womenergy (Womanergy) | Talk Birth.

Here are some pictures of the sculptures I made while away:

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VBAC “Hope” mama.

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Cesarean “je donne” sculpture.

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Mamapriestess made with every scrap of remaining clay.

Experimented unsuccessfully with some A'kuba style sculptures. While I was originally excited about the potential, I am not a fan!

Experimented unsuccessfully with some A’kuba style sculptures. While I was originally excited about the potential, I am not a fan!

The opening poem was from yesterday, this was mine from today (I was lying on my back on the rocks):

April 2013 040
Hot sun
cool stone

restore me

body
mind
and soul

stilling
nurturing
holding
nourishing

granting peace
grace
and harmony.

Dog breath
on my face.
Surprise!

Categories: art, blessings, embodiment, nature, poems, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Woodspriestess: Breathing Meditation

Hand on heart March 2013 005
hand on womb
body’s center.

Breathing in…
peace
stillness
softness
receptivity.

Breathing out…
tension
stress
anxiety
overwhelm.

Breathing in
breathing out.
Feeling the present moment
settle around me

Each breath
a gift of renewal
each breath
a gift of refreshment
each breath
an offering.

Breathing with compassion
breathing with love
breathing with strength
breathing with grace
breathing with hope.

My body softensMarch 2013 001
and expands
heart open
hands relax.

I give what I have to give
I am what I am
I feel what I feel
I know what I know.

One hand on my heart
one hand on my womb
resting in wholeness
within me
and around me.

I give
and I receive
with every breath
intimately interconnected
with the land around me
and the heartbeat of the Earth…

As I sat in the woods today, I noticed how cold it was outside. The rock I sat on was cold and slightly damp, there was ice on the dry leaves. I had to get out a hat and gloves and put them on in addition to my coat. I could hear an engine revving in the distance. As I looked out at the horizon, it started to rain very, very lightly, not enough to be disturbing or to actually make me damp, but a steady pattering just the same. I focused on my breathing and watched the trees.

For the concluding sections of the breathing meditation, if reading aloud to a group, replace “I” and “my” with “you” and “your”…

Your body softens March 2013 003
and expands
heart open
hands relax

You give what you have to give
You are what you are
You feel what you feel
you know what you know

One hand on your heart
one hand on your womb
resting in wholeness
within you
and around you

You give
and you receive
with every breath
intimately interconnected
with the land around you
and the heartbeat of the Earth…

 

Categories: blessings, embodiment, nature, readings, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Woodspriestess: Sensory

20130316-165127.jpg

The chair rock has a couple of nice little “shelf” nook on the side of it. I’m always tempted to leave things on it, but I make a habit of not leaving things in or (usually) taking things from the woods. Sometimes I set something on the shelf just during the time that I am out there.

Breathe deep
Breathe peace

Open hands
Open heart
Open mind
Open spirit

This is both my prayer
And my vow

Resting in sheltering stone
Listening to bird song
Feeling the breeze
Seeing the trees against sky
Tasting the very center of life.

A thealogy of embodiment is the subject of my dissertation, so I was very interested to read the Allergic Pagan’s smart and thought-provoking follow-up post to his thoughts about objectivity. He draws the conclusion that it is the body that bridges the gap between the subjective and objective. While I focused on subjective experience and the Goddess in my prior post about objectivity, I actually do find that the Goddess can be interpreted/understood through science as well—some people call it evolution, others call it Goddess and others call it God…subjective experience need not exclude scientific concepts/understanding. As in my breastmilk example from that post, I can understand the experience both objectively and subjectively and, just as John notes, this intersection occurs within the body. I also believe theapoetical language can include both as well. I’m going to explore the question of the place of the God within thealogy in my Thursday Thealogy post next week. I tend to come from the notion that Goddess holds all—and, that Goddess-language is simply a consciously chosen name for unnameable forces of life, the weaving that holds the world, a weaving including but not limited to females and males of all kinds.

Today, rather than standing or sitting on the priestess rocks, I visited the chair rock instead. It is super comfortable and I used to come here to sit after my miscarriages and then during my pregnancy with my daughter and then this is where I brought her one-month-old self to introduce her to the Earth. I used to sit here with her in a pouch or the Ergo and feel our bodies breathing in harmony, chest to chest.

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The scenery looks different when considered from the chair rock rather than the priestess rocks. Here is a “slingshot” tree” and behind the big mother tree that I like so much (and that I keep hoping is still alive!)

As I’ve previously referenced, Gloria Orenstein refers to endarkenment as, “a bonding with the Earth and the invisible that will reestablish our sense of interconnectedness with all things, phenomenal and spiritual, that make up the totality of our life in our cosmos. The ecofeminist arts do not maintain that analytical, rational knowledge is superior to other forms of knowing. They honor Gaia’s Earth intelligence and the stored memories of her plants, rocks, soil, and creatures. Through nonverbal communion with the energies of sacred sites in nature, ecofeminist artists obtain important knowledge about the spirit of the land, which they can then honor through creative rituals and environmental pieces” (Reweaving the World, p. 280). This speaks to me because of my theapoetical experiences of the presence of “the Goddess” in my own sacred spot in the woods behind my house, where I go to the priestess rocks to pray, reflect, meditate, do ritual, think, and converse with the spirits of that place.

Categories: embodiment, endarkenment, family, feminist thealogy, Goddess, nature, pregnancy loss, spirituality, thealogy, theapoetics, womanspirit, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

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