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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

Embrace Possibility

Usually when I create a new design for a pendant or figurine, I know who I’m making when I begin. A few days ago, I created a new design who emerged as January 2014 002a mystery. When she was finished, I loved her. But, I didn’t know her name or what she represents. I asked on my facebook page for input and I got some suggestions…

Druid priestess. Seraphine. High Priestess. Tri-Goddess. Mother. Celtic goddess.

I took her to the woods and held her in my hand and spoke in a little sing-song of emergence…

She who unites body, mind and spirit. She who calls upon earth, sky, and river.  She who speaks to oaks and mountains. She who sings with the ocean.  She who opens arms to the sky and feels raindrops bless her brow. She who circles in the moonlight. She  who gathers with her sisters. She who hears the drumbeat of the earth. She who tunes her heartbeat to this call.  She who steps in time with the wind.

Of this earth, for this earth, on this earth.

She holds the vision. She holds the space. She holds an ancient wisdom.

Encoded in her cells, written on her bones…

The mantle settles around her shoulders.
Sinking into belly, bones, and blood,
until she knows,
without a doubt,
that this is who,
she really is. IMG_0522

The next afternoon, a friend who has one of these pendants sent me a message suggesting a title: Embrace Possibility. I thought about what I’d written in the woods. I thought about how different women saw different names for her and I knew that THIS was it. Embrace Possibility. What message does she hold for you?

This new pendant is one of the designs released for the launch of Brigid’s Grove, my collaborative project with my husband. We’re hosting giveaways on our website throughout the month of February to correspond with our launch and one of these pendants will be offered as a giveaway! We’ve also got an etsy discount code, a free digital Ritual Recipe Kit, and more to check out on the Brigid’s Grove website and Facebook page.

book

Categories: art, blessings, family, friends, priestess, sculpture, spirituality, theapoetics, womanspirit, women's circle, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

Celebration of a Maiden

Hope before her

love behind herJanuary 2014 102

empowerment around her

she is strong

she knows her own power

she is blessed.

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet on this blog lately. There are a couple of reasons for my quietness. One, is that I’ve found that after the conclusion of my year in the woods, I need to re-evaluate my relationship to this blog—what is its purpose now? How much time do I spend on it? How much time to I spend on other projects? (several of which this blog directly contributed to birthing!) How do I focus the energy of my life? I also need to really DO what I’ve said I’m going to do: use my writing energy to focus on completing my thesis project, meaning thesis is first, rather than what I do with leftover time (and blog moves to the “leftover” time slot). And, finally, my reduced writing in this virtual space is because my husband and I have been very hard at work on our new, shared project: Brigid’s Grove! This site will be an “umbrella” to embrace all of our projects, particularly our shared endeavor of pewter-casting and jewelry-making. Brigid’s Grove will officially launch on February first and we’re working on some launch products for our etsy shop as well as a special site launch discount code AND a fun and useful freebie, which will be a collection of my ritual “recipes” (outlines for ceremonies, not food recipes!). You can sign up for our newsletter now and you will then get the ritual kit on our launch day. As I work on preparing this ritual kit, I remembered something that has been languishing in my drafts folder since the springtime when we held a maiden ceremony for a friend’s daughter during one of our women’s circle gatherings. I made her a braided cord of initiation and shared a photo and brief description of it in this past post. It was an initiation cord in four colors for the Maiden to step over as a symbolic threshold into womanhood. May 2013 008

On that spring day, I took the cord to the woods with me and this is what I said:

Celebration of a Young Maiden

With the earth, trees, wind, and sky as my witnesses, I bless this cord of initiation for her. May it remind her of how she is interwoven with her ancestors, her own unique gifts, with the blood of her mothers, with the spirits of the women who surround her. She is so blessed. May she draw up great strength from the earth. May she engage in deep relationship with the world around her, including the animals and the plants, other women, men. May she know that she is loved. May she know that she is needed and may she know that her voice counts. May her eyes be blessed with clear vision, may her mind be blessed with clear thought. May her heart be open, may her hands be open, may her creative center be abundant, and may her legs carry her strongly on her own true path.

Let this cord remind her that she is so blessed, let it remind her that she is so loved, let it remind her that she is connected. Blessings of natural places and wild spaces, blessings of women and small girls, blessings of real life…

Categories: blessings, community, friends, liturgy, nature, prayers, priestess, readings, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

Priestess Year in Review (2013)

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“Women united in close circles can awaken the wisdom in each other’s hearts.” ~The 13 Indigenous Grandmothers (via The Girl God)

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. 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. To continue this commitment, I also kept a list during 2013 and here it is!

January: facilitated winter women’s retreat and first session of the Rise Up curriculum. Simple family full moon ritual.

February: One Billion Rising event hostess/speaker, second Rise Up class, family full moon ritual, personal week-long retreat with private creativity ritual.

March: Spirit in Practice presentation at UU church. Ovary ritual for pregnant friend. Third Rise Up class.

May: Spring women’s retreat/healing ceremony/maiden ceremony. Family memorial ceremony for my grandma on Mother’s Day.

June: Officiant at my grandma’s committal service and one speaker at her celebration luncheon (this was actually at the close of May, but for some reason it was on my June list). Miscarriage presentation and Moontime presentation at LLL conference (June 15th). Rise Up class times two on June 28.

July: summer retreat (7/12). Mini new baby ritual by river (7/18/13). Family full moon simple ritual (7/22/13)

August: spontaneous family full moon ritual (kid directed. 8/18), poem reading at Day of Hope ceremony. (8/19), Sixth Rise Up class (8/30). Ordained by American Priestess Council.

September: Gaea Goddess Gathering. Walked as one of the Mothers in main ritual. Volunteer as temple priestess. Booth in marketplace (9/21).

October: candlelight vigil for pregnancy loss (10/12), family harvest full moon ritual (10/16), officiant at wedding (10/27)

November: fall retreat (double ritual. 11/9), full moon family ritual, 11/17)

December: mini-date-night full moon ritual, family winter solstice ritual (12/21). Mini-New-Year-Greeting ritual planned for evening of 12/31.

Throughout the year I kept my commitment to contribute something for each of the eight issues of The Oracle (publication of Global Goddess). I also wrote one post a 20131201-232125.jpgmonth for my SageWoman blog as well as one post every other month for the Feminism and Religion project. And, I wrote 39 posts for Pagan Families on my own somewhat haphazard schedule. This was in addition to the 188 posts published on this blog. (And, not theme-of-this-post related, but writing-related, I also wrote 160 posts on my birth blog!) I finished five classes at Ocean Seminary College and am extremely close to completing two more. I decided to finish my M.Div degree and completed my thesis prospectus twice as I settled on my topic. I also refined my dissertation topic for my D.Min degree. I created a priestess work study group on Facebook. And, I created art whenever I got the chance!

My Woodspriestess experiment was a deep personal success for me that created a lot of change, opportunity, reflection, and healing. I didn’t keep an exact count of the days I was “off” because of travel, but I estimate that I visited the woods on 334 days, as I’d committed to do on a daily basis during 2013.

As I read this over, some things are coming up for me—-does this look “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? Cue minimal cognitive dissonance and do-I-post-it-like-this-or-not conundrum…but, the intention with which my list was created was simply as an accountability thing—both in terms of the vows I made to my community as well as to myself. And, so that I can see, collected in one place, what I’ve offered as a priestess this year. I am also reminded of some things I originally planned to do and then didn’t and I also note the obliteration of April on my “service” list (that was the month my grandma was sick). However, this post isn’t about what I didn’t get done, it is accounting of what I did actually offer.

Last year I included a list of plans for the coming year. Part of me would like to just remain open to what comes in 2014, but I do have a couple of relevant goals (many of which are similar to last year’s):

  • Finish thesis project
  • Finish 5-6 more classes at OSC and make good progress on dissertation project
  • Finish Rise Up class curriculum and perhaps do some other classes/workshops
  • Continue to plan and priestess quarterly women’s retreats
  • Family full moon ritual each month
  • Host public Red Tent event
  • Present about Womanrunes at next GGG (also create little booklet)
  • Go to Goddess Weekend in St. Louis
  • Booth with goddess jewelry and pewter figurines at least three events
  • Embark on new Mamapriestess daily experiment (more about this later)
  • Listen to myself, check in with my heart, and rest when I need to.

Happy New Year!

December 2013 015

Categories: community, friends, OSC, priestess, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women's circle, woodspriestess, writing | 5 Comments

Gratitude’s Song

Thank you sacred one December 2013 026
thank you sacred ground
thank you Ancient Mother
thank you sacred womb

Thank you loving family
thank you sacred ground
thank you sacred body
thank you healing sound

Thank you sacred one
thank you sacred ground
thank you Ancient Mother
thank you sacred womb

Thank you loving family
thank you solid ground
thank you sacred body
thank you shining moon

Thank you solid stone December 2013 016
thank you sacred oak
thank you ancient wisdom
thank you sacred hope

Thank you ancient rhythm
thank you song of blood
thank you holy hour
thank you holy wood

Thank you sacred one
thank you sacred ground
thank you Ancient Mother
thank you the world around…

The day after Christmas I took some of the books I’d received as gifts down to the woods. I laid them out the rocks and felt so appreciative of having a family who cares about me and what I’m interested in. I got a selection of priestess books, other books from my Amazon wishlist, and the Amazing Year workbook from my friend. I felt so grateful to have a mom who looked at the picture of the pottery elemental altar I showed her in a magazine at some point this year and then worked and worked to make one for me as a surprise. I felt grateful that she comes to my rituals and reads my blog. I felt grateful for other family members and friends who read my blogs and cheer me on when I make new things and try new avenues. I felt grateful for parents who will hold candles in the darkness on solstice night with me, for a husband who will make a drum and cast pewter with me, for friends who support and encourage me and are able to accept when I need to make changes or let go of things. I felt grateful that I live in a beautiful place and that I have woods to go to and rocks to sit on. I felt grateful for the small adventures of the past year and even for the losses and the lessons of grief and change. Then, I picked up my drum and I sang a song. I feel like acknowledging that yes, I can see there are flaws in my lyrics in that they are perhaps roughly patterned and could be reworked into something smoother, but when I listened to the recording of it again I heard something authentic and something that worked for what it was, when it was. And, I decided I like it just the way it is.

And, then, just now as I type…I felt grateful for myself-–that I will sit in the woods with a drum and sing spontaneous things and write blog posts about it even though maybe I could be embarrassed or self-conscious instead and hide my song away instead of posting it for people to read and possibly feel critical and judgmental of, but I do it anyway and I own it and I keep trying…

(and that is a run-on sentence and I’m not going to edit it either)

Today, I hung up the new goddess-ful Good Karma flags that my mom gave me for Christmas. They’re gorgeous and I loves ’em!

December 2013 034 I’m working on making a “Temple” workspace for myself instead of just huddling in a corner with my computer…

December 2013 035

(my new little altar goes in front of the Cretan priestess figure here, but it is still on the living room floor waiting for me to finish my life-and-biz-planning session)

BOOKS! Oh my first love, I will never forsake you!

 

Categories: blessings, chants, family, friends, holidays, moontime, music, nature, poems, prayers, readings, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

Birth of a new year

20131229-213310.jpg“Let’s work together, you and I,
alongside earthsongbeat,
heartfirst, handtouch
souldance.
please.”

–Holly Wilkinson
(in We’Moon on the Wall, 2014)

Today my husband and I set a date to start our 2014 biz and year planning using Leonie Dawson’s annual workbook, which was a very thoughtful solstice gift to me from a good friend. We got started on our planning session a little later in the afternoon than we’d hoped, but rather than let that derail us, we just did it anyway (Leonie would approve, I think). It was important to me that we set up a nurturing and inspiring little nook in which to work, with items near us that symbolize some of our intentions and goals for 2014:

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We even added some snacks (and some wine and tea!) as we went…

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And, then some kids….

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Interestingly, we finished out the 2013 review section of the workbook and right as we finished putting our hands on the “closing circle” page to symbolize the ending of 2013, the candle went out in our altar space on its own. And, right then the kids got home as well. (Not-so-symbolically signaling the ending of our time to work uninterrupted!) After the kids came home, our focus definitely waned and we decided it was a natural pausing point anyway, since it was the start of the 2014 section of the book. We fixed dinner and came back to our planning nook later in the evening. One of the things I wrote down for 2014 was to listen to my body and to honor natural pauses, calls to rest, need to eat, and so on. We realized as we got to number 35 on the “things to do in 2014” list that we were both yawning and starting to feel a little more trapped than inspired. Rather than push forward and force it, which can be my habitual inclination, I said, “hey, I think we’ve done great with this today. Let’s pick back up tomorrow morning when we feel full of energy and possibility again!” And, this felt like the right answer, even though the planning part of me had envisioned doing the whole entire workbook TODAY and really we only got through the first pages of 2014. We already feel more organized and clear about what needs to change with our household organization and business planning. Looking forward to what tomorrow holds…

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Categories: family, friends, parenting, resources, retreat, ritual, self-care | 2 Comments

Gaea Goddess Gathering: Listen to the wise woman….

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Mini mamapriestess sculpture I made to take with me for my medicine bundle.

Last summer after I finished my priestess certification and I’d been facilitating women’s retreats and circles for about four years, I got a wild idea to go to a womanspirit or goddess festival of some kind. I did a google search and found one that sounded great—the Gaea Goddess Gathering–and it was happening in just two weeks. Imagine my surprise to then look at the bottom of the screen and see that it was located only a five-hour drive from me, just over the border into Kansas. I decided it was “meant to be.” My mom and a friend signed up with me (and my toddler daughter) and we packed up my van and went! The night before we left on our adventure, I sat down at the kitchen table and felt a knife-like stinging pain on the back of my leg. I’d accidentally sat on a European giant hornet (these are not regular hornets, they are literally giant hornets about two inches long).

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Sting before I left.

Though it became hot and swollen and terribly painful, we set forth anyway. I asked for input on Facebook and did google research and started putting benadryl cream on it, even though I usually go with home remedies over medical-model remedies. It got worse and worse, eventually running from my hip to my knee and wrapped around my entire leg so that two thirds of my thigh was sting-area and the difference in size between my legs was noticeable through clothing. During the festival, as I watched myself get worse and worse and people kept making remarks about needing epi-pens and maybe I should go to the hospital, I decided to dispense with the benadryl and listen to the wise women instead. My friend found plantain and made me a poultice. The cook gave me baking soda that I applied in a paste. I went to a ceremony that involved a healing ritual with sound and a priestess in a tent beat a drum over me as I lay there on my stomach. After a little Reiki healing, she then leaned very, very close to my ear and said quietly, “are you taking good enough care of yourself? You give and give and it is time to receive. You need to be taken care of too.” And, I cried.

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Sting after arriving. I didn’t take any pictures of it at the worst. It got about twice as bad as this. Every time I thought it could not possible get worse, it got twice as bad!

I came out of the tent and laid on a bench and women I didn’t know came and put their hands on my back and made me tinctures of strange plants they found in the herb garden and I drank it even though it almost made me gag. Another woman I didn’t know rubbed my back and though I couldn’t even see her face, she leaned close to my ear and said, “sometimes life stings you. Your friends, your family, being a parent, taking care of your children. It stings sometimes. Things people say without meaning to sting you. You’re sensitive, Sometimes it stings a lot and you worry that you’re not good enough. I see you with your baby. You are such a good mother.” And, I cried again, lying there on bench in the middle of nowhere with my dress pulled up and my red, sore, swollen, horrible thigh covered with a poultice of mysterious weeds, surrounded by women I didn’t know, but who were caring for me. And, I got better. By the time I got home, the sting was almost totally healed.

As soon as I returned home, I made a list, intending to develop it into a blog post about everything I’d learned at this gathering of women. The list languished in my drafts folder and the wheel of the year continued to turn and now it is September again and next week, some friends and I will be hopping back in my van and heading back to the GGG for this year’s festival. I decided the blog post will never get “developed” into the post I had intended, but that I can still share my list anyway. I’m also writing now because I’m going to go ahead and give myself a week off from blogging and I wanted to post some sort of explanation as to why. I’m going to focus on getting ready for the festival (I’m selling jewelry while there too!) and hanging out with my family (and, oh yeah, grading all the papers that are due this Sunday night!).

So, what did I learn at the GGG?

  • I have a lot to learn
  • Likewise, I know more than I give myself credit for—I am both more skilled than I may think and less skilled than I’d like to be.
  • I want to be more confident
  • I need to always remember to look for a wise woman when I need help. And, that allowing myself to be cared for by strangers is a surprisingly powerful experience.
  • I am much more quickly judgmental than I realized or like to admit—I judge the book by its cover and assess “worth” by appearance more often than I thought and I disappointed myself with that. I learned that ALL women have hidden gifts and I was surprised over and over again what people had to offer, that their appearance might not have suggested.
  • My body knows how to heal (I’ve learned this before, also from a bug)
  • It was great to have just one-on-one time with my little girl. She just wants to be with me. I didn’t have to cook/do laundry or anything else. I just toted her around which is exactly what she needs/wants (*note from this year: she still wants exactly this and I’m looking forward to giving it to her).
  • My mom is incredibly creatively gifted. And, I’m lucky to be around so many creative women in my own community. They have awesome gifts!
  • I don’t need to do everything—other people have their own talents and I don’t have to “do it all,” all of the time.
  • But by the same token, I don’t have to be good at everything and it is still okay to do things and be bad at them, but still try. (However, it also good to let other people have their specialties/share their gifts. I don’t have to do it all.)
  • I can be open to receive.
  • I can be a singer! Perform in a group! Feel awesome!

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    Once this started, I knew I’d made the right choice to come after all!

  • Ditto drummer!
  • Explanation of the two points above which also connect to the one about not having to do everything and yet it also being okay to try. One of the sessions at the festival was the “GGG Soul Singers.” One of the women taught a large group of us several cool songs. During the special dinner that night, we got up together with sound equipment and everything and performed our songs. Everyone was yelling and cheering and clapping and it was great. So much fun! I’m a terrible singer, I know that, but that night I felt like I was amazing. And, I learned that being terrible at something doesn’t mean you can’t do it anyway and enjoy yourself. I’m looking forward to doing this again this year! At this festival I was captivated by these massive community drums the women had. Large enough to be played by four or even more women at once, I absolutely loved them. Even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I tried, and discovered I could indeed do it. I could drum and sing and keep up with the group. When I got home, I decided I must have a drum like this and spent way too much money and ordered one online. And, even though I’m tone-deaf and “non-musical,” I can play it. And, I’m still amazing, whether I really am or not!
  • I felt both more and less competent—related to knowing a lot and yet having a lot to learn, I discovered that I’m a pretty good ceremonialist, a lot better than I’d given myself credit for, but that some other people are way better than me (and others are not. What matters is trying).

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    Intense stairs from the dining hall and lodging to the “ridge” where ceremonies took place. Navigating these was NO FUN with that sting on my leg! But, isn’t my tiny girl cute setting off on her own and heading on up?!

  • I was acknowledged/recognized as priestess/clergy to my own circle of women and it felt very good to be seen in that way. I’m trying to be/offer/bring something to the local area that still feels tender and vulnerable in myself. I lack some confidence. Want to build it! And, yet, I do it anyway. I’m brave! Maybe I’m not as skilled or musical or awesome as I could be, but I’m pretty darn good and…at least I TRY!
  • Want family to be clear priority. Family harmony is a top goal. I want to make sure to give them my good stuff too! Don’t save my passion and enthusiasm for “others” only!

When I got home from this festival, I was so inspired that I planned and facilitated a pretty great nighttime, firelit “sagewoman” ceremony in a teepee (with drumming on my new community drum) for the wise women of my own community. As a ritualist/ceremonialist, I learned from the GGG-experience that ambiance really, really matters in offering a cool ritual.

Since last year, I’ve developed my ceremonialist skills even further and last month received an additional supplemental ordination from the American Priestess Council. I’m almost three years into my D.Min program, I’ve taken advanced coursework in ritual design as well as pastoral counseling, liturgy, the role of the priestess, ethics, history, and so forth. At this time last year, I was struggling with whether or not it was “okay” for me to own the Priestess identity I felt “called” into and at the GGG I was seen and heard into this identity particularly by my friend and also by my mom. It turns out it is okay for me to serve others as a Priestess and to claim that title with authenticity even though I’m not as perfect and amazing as I feel like I should be (I’m also a blogger for SageWoman magazine and I’m currently working on a post called who does she think SHE is, that is about exactly this tension).

Some more pictures:

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Henna feet! From the woman who did this for me, I learned the phrase: “sparkles are my favorite color.”

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Medicine bundle! This was the best class ever. The woman brought piles and piles of random and awesome stuff and it was all free to choose what you wanted for your bundle. How cool is this face?!

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She also had simple clay goddesses for us to paint and attach as well as we could.

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Pensive little child  gazing back at the stairs up which she just journeyed.

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Back home demo’ing a beautiful sarong gifted to my by my seeing friend!

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What’s this…

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…I hear…big DRUMS!

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When I got home, I was inspired to make some new sculptures and my husband cut a lovely gemstone and made a pendant.

Here I go again! I wonder what lessons await me this year…

Crossposted at Talk Birth

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Categories: community, family, friends, GGG, Goddess, priestess, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 7 Comments

Inanna’s Ascent

Inanna’s Ascent

August 2013 011

Tiny goddesses as gifts for my friends. See the crack in the chalice? We all go through the fire and get cracked by life, but that’s how the light gets in!

by Deanna Emerson

I have seen the piercing eyes
of the dark goddess
as she stands naked in the silent shadows
planting the seeds of vision
reached into the arms
of my deepest sorrow and
looked into the eyes of death
yet the world dance did not cease.
By the light of the waning moon
I have seen the faces
of the shining ones and
taking the sword of wisdom
cut the cords that bind me.

August 2013 003

Altar space. The untidy red strips are for the hopes/fears for the “Kali” pot (I use quotation marks because its original identity was as a bean pot from an antique store! :))

Armed only with love
I have entered the healing
power of the moon
drawing it down around me
to enter the sacred womb
of the dark goddess and
turning pain into power

I have returned.

(In Casting the Circle by Diane Stein.)

During our last Rise Up class, we focused a lot on the dark goddess and the idea of endarkenment. There is wisdom and nurturance to be found in our dark places. We wrote down our fears and hopes and burned them in a “Kali” pot watching as the smoke transformed fear in the crucible of hopeful creation. The next day, I found this poem marked in one of my books and I wished I’d had it available to read during our class! August 2013 009  August 2013 016

Categories: friends, Goddess, poems, quotes, retreat, ritual, spirituality, theapoetics, womanspirit, women's circle | 1 Comment

Woodspriestess: Medicine Woman

Medicine Woman 20130820-150831.jpg

She who heals

Reaching out
strong hands
supple wrists
cleansing touch
place your hand in hers
and you will feel it…

Energy
passing from one to another
conduit of grace
and repair.

Restoration

Medicine Woman reminds you
to sleep when you’re tired
to eat when you’re hungry
to drink when you’re thirsty20130820-150854.jpg
and to dance
just because.

Medicine Woman
let her bind up your wounds
apply balm to your soul
and hold you
against her shoulder
when you need to cry.

Medicine Woman
Earth healer
she’s ready to embrace you.

(7/5/2013)

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Memorial prayer flag

I wrote this poem last month as another character/archetype poem that came to mind after my original outraged ancestral mother poem and prayer. (Both of which were recently published in the current edition of The Tor Stone). Prophet Woman and Shakti Woman also showed up, as did Medicine Woman. I’ve still got Yoga Woman out there too and I thought there weren’t any more, until I had a Buzzard Woman encounter earlier in the month.

Last night I went to a local ceremony for the Day of Hope and Healing, which is a national memorial day for families who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. The photos in this post are from the event. And, today then felt like the perfect time to share my Medicine Woman poem. I’m also having a giveaway on my other blog for this pendant that I made over the weekend:

20130820-150921.jpgI also made some new sculptures and necklaces and updated my etsy shop!

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Categories: art, friends, poems, spirituality, theapoetics, womanspirit, women, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

Ritual Recipe: Women’s Summer Retreat

July 2013 021

My husband picked these summer wildflowers for our circle’s altar 🙂

Friday afternoon was our quarterly women’s retreat and I’d like to share the outline of our process as well as some reflections in case they are helpful for others…

Summer retreat outline

1. Choose bindis (I got some nice fresh ones that are not stuck to the paper!)

2. Circle up and group hum. We do this at every women’s ritual to unify our energy, to harmonize, to focus our intention and to bring our minds and bodies solidly into the ritual space. I feel like this simple action is what “casts the circle” for our group and is a point of continuity from ritual to ritual that we all value.

3. Invocation (slightly modified from Gathering for Goddess by Melusine Mihaltses):

South: We call on Fire with our flesh. Rub your hands together fast and furious, feel the heat you have generated. Now place this heat upon your chest. Feel the heat upon your heart.

We have invoked the powers of Fire.

(group together) Welcome Fire!

West: We call on Water with the moisture found on our lips, lick your lips, wet them with your saliva. Feel how this element lives within you.

We have invoked the powers of Water.

Welcome Water!

North: We call on Earth with the solidity of our own bodies, give your neighboring sister an embrace. All embrace each other.

We have invoked the powers of Earth.

Welcome Earth!

East: We call on Air with our breath, panting and sighs, inhales and exhales. Altogether, breath audibly.

We have invoked the powers of Air

Welcome Air!

4. Candle lighting with reading by volunteer:

…Make a sacred fire
and throw on it all that you would use to harm yourself.
Make kindling from shame.

Let your dance be wild,
your voice be honest
and your heart untamed.

Be cyclical,
don’t make sense..

Initiate yourself.
Initiate yourself.

By Aisha Wolfe

5. Quick centering guided meditation using Elemental Connecting by Traci Nichols.

July 2013 013

Summer altar

6. We’re a bit past the summer solstice date, but the energetic theme and the season are still the same, so I shared some summer solstice information and reflections. Each woman took a turn to add a symbol of what she’s been womanifesting to the altar as well as discuss any responses to the questions…

It’s now that we Celebrate the womanifestation of the seed dream/s we conceived at Winter Solstice. Much like the Mother Mysteries associated with this time, we are giving our full attention, time and creativity to nurturing, sustaining and protecting our dreams, while reveling in the abundance of all that we are the creatrix of.

With all of this heightened activity and energy, we may find ourselves bumping up against the shadow of the Mother Archetype. With the full activation of our Fire energy that Summer Solstice generates, we can experience “burn out” by over-giving, over-nurturing, over-protecting, and/or over-doing. So remember to “Mother yourself” as you are caring for your creations. Seek out and create support systems that sustain YOU, as you work to sustain your hopes, dreams and all that you love.

The LIGHT of Summer Solstice not only activates us to “tend the fire” of our creative dreams, we can also feel the heat and challenge of spiritual tests we may be going through at this time. Honoring where we are in our spiritual journey, as well as all of what is being brought to “greater light” and asking for “healing” and “transformation” –

via Shine Your Light! – Chrysalis Woman – Returning to the Mother and Each Other.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

What seed dream have I nurtured since Winter Solstice that is now in full radiance?

Do I Mother myself as I Mother my creations? How do I create support structures for myself that sustain me during times of high activity? Do I experience “burn out” during this time of year due to overwhelm or have I cared for myself in order to feel my full radiance and vitality?

What part of my soul’s growth is being “lit up” this season? What am I being asked to shine a light on in order to heal or transform?

Is my life a reflection of the abundance that is being mirrored to me by the Mother Earth? Does my life flow like Her rivers? Is it abundant like Her gardens? Is it buzzing with loving community? Does it illuminate others with the radiance of the sun? If not, how can I shift in my relationship to abundance so that I can fully and completely shine my radiant light?

via Shine Your Light! – Chrysalis Woman – Returning to the Mother and Each Other.

7. Dance! With jingly hip scarves and scarves in our hands, we raised some energy! This was new for us. After dancing to the African drumming on the Rise Up curriculum CD during our last Rise Up class, we re-visited the action during this retreat. My mom planned out a simple, circle dance and then we did a small spiral dance too. It was fun!

8. For this retreat, we also tried something new for the middle “working” part of the retreat in that I asked each woman to bring an offering to the circle as a sort of group-prepared “potpourri.” Women read stories, shared wisdom and articles, and we made a fun project (see more soon).

9. Shamanic drumming journey CD (15 minutes) followed by journaling and brief discussion. This was also new for the group and had interesting results. Our experiences varied widely, but most had a powerful experience. I think if we did this more often, we’d be more comfortable with the feel of a “journey” and would relax into more easily.

10. Then as my own potpourri contribution and reflection, I read my recent Outraged Ancestral Mother Prayer

11. Closing reading:

…May this day of longest light become for each of us a day of longest gratitude.

A day of longest peace.

A day of longest creativity.

A day of longest hope.

Hold up to the sun your heart, and feel fully present in your life.

May it be so.

via Teo Bishop: Summer Solstice 2013: Hold Up to the Sun Your Heart.

Then, joining hands, we sang Woman Am I together and headed for the kitchen for tasty potluck snacks! I’d originally planned to make a project using some nifty new mooncharmcrescent moon charms I bought recently. My vision for what exactly we were going to do with them wasn’t very clear and so it was great that one of my friends had brought a surprise project to do as her potpourri offering. Perhaps by next time, I’ll have a charming plan in place! My friend had sewed a set of 40 tiny white prayer flags for each of us upon which we drew our Womanrunes symbols with Sharpies. She also brought us each a dowel upon which we can mix or match the womanrunes and stick it in a garden, a plant, or elsewhere to be a rotating sort of “prayer branch.” She suggested either choosing the runes whose meanings match that which we desire OR randomly selecting a set and seeing what messages want to be carried on the breeze. We can switch them out in a semi-infinite array of mini prayer flag action. It was a really good idea and I was excited that she brought something like that to offer to the circle. When my husband got home, he drilled a little hole in one of the beams of our front porch and we stuck my new prayer flag system into it (flying five randomly selected womanrunes).

July 2013 023

July 2013 024

Isn’t that fun?!

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.”
  • Retreats like this provide an opportunity to explore/experiment with ideas and activities that we usually do not allow ourselves time for in everyday life—I know that I often “run out of time” for more spiritual/contemplative/relaxing pursuits.
  • Circling together in a woman-to-woman atmosphere allows for a type of healing and connection through shared experience that is qualitatively different from getting together to casually chat and socialize. Shared experiences matter and are in some ways more satisfying than shared conversation (most women do plenty of chatting–we can benefit from some being and experiencing together).
  • The potpourri thing was a good idea. While my husband said it sounded like a nightmare idea to him—he hates being responsible for bringing something to a group setting—I felt like it created a sense of investment and shared responsibility for our circle. It was fun for each woman to be at the center for a while and to share her contribution with the rest of us.
  • I find great value in interacting with my friends in a woman-to-woman context, rather than a mother-to-mother context. So often when I’m with my friends we are in a space of “co-mothering” (i.e. mothering together and “friending” at the same time). While this can work and be fun, a lot of times it is actually kind of unfulfilling—there are constant distractions and I often feel I’m doing neither well–not paying full attention to my kids OR to my friends, and it is a scattered, distracted, stop-and-start, unfinished sort of mode of interacting (I think this is particularly a feature of having a toddler. If I only had my bigger kids, it probably would be a less scattering experience to co-mother). There was a time earlier in this year when I felt like the sense of unfulfillment or frustration I often experienced during friend conversations had to do with my friendships themselves and it took a post-retreat revelation in the spring to realize that it actually had to do with trying to have a substantive visit with friends with all of our kids present!
  • That said, perhaps it is somewhat ironic that my own mother is a regular part of this women’s circle—apparently, she can’t escape her kid, ME. But, this too is of important value—despite the close proximity of our homes, we rarely actually have the chance to interact in a woman-to-woman context, rather than as busy adult daughter and grandmother co-strategist. Also, along the same lines of my first point, I also feel lucky to have a mom who is willing to plan ritual dances and lie on the floor with me listening to shamanic drums!

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Categories: community, friends, liturgy, priestess, resources, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 7 Comments

Collaborative Orisha Poem

Orisha altar. A little cluttered! (there are three different areas, one for each orisha)

Orisha altar. A little cluttered! (there are three different areas, one for each orisha)

Spirit of change
destiny sweeping
good vibrations
respect
and thunder.

Float freely
release
and encourage.

Momentum building
crescendo

Water wisdom.

At our last session of Rise Up, we were talking about the Yoruban Orishas, specifically Yemaya, Oshun, and Oya. After dancing together to honor the orishas, we looked into a bowl of water and each spoke aloud what had come to us following the dance. I wrote down what we said and the result was just what was supposed to happen: we’d created a collaborative poem about the orishas. I thought it was a neat experience 🙂 We did a double session of Rise Up this last time and I think it was too much to try to do at once since we kind of lost our steam. Next week, I had planned to do our next Rise Up class followed by our summer retreat, but now I think we should do only the retreat and keep Rise Up on a different day. It took a lot out of me to try to do two classes back to back and I could tell the rest of the group wasn’t really “feeling it” either. I have a tendency to always want to multitask and to double-up to be efficient, but sometimes there is a price to be paid for efficiency and in this case it was a lack of “steam” or connection during our time together. The dancing was fun and invigorating, but I felt like during other portions of the class people started to get bored or otherwise unfocused. I also left out some details about what to bring for our collaborative project and so that was confusing for people too and I kept losing my place in terms of what to do next, because the two classes blended together in my head and I couldn’t remember what went with what. I’d also had a bad morning with my kids (described on my other blog) and that dramatically impacted my ability to be present with our circle. In general, I felt like I basically failed with this particular session, though I try to remember that success or failure of a group endeavor does not rest with only one person, there is a collective responsibility to the usness of a group and a group is a living system with a personality and life of its own. At least our group poem worked pretty well! 🙂

Categories: blessings, community, friends, invocations, poems, priestess, spirituality, womanspirit, women's circle | Leave a comment

Priestess Prayer

Here I am Goddessgarb 223
this is me
I am woman
giving birth to myself.

The priestess within
is shrugging off old ideas, old habits, and old patterns of behavior.
She’s stepping out, stepping strong, standing tall
lifting arms to the sky
gathering women
drawing down the moon
visioning the future
priestessing the temple
of her own hearth and woods.

I actually wrote this immediately after my little “pregnant with myself” poem from a couple of days ago. That post got long and so I saved the addendum for today, which is the one year-anniversary of my ordination as a priestess with Global Goddess!

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Wireless meets woodspace for my ordination ceremony last year.

ordination4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of months ago, I wrote another priestess prayer and I saved it to offer on this day:

I walk a priestess path Goddessgarb 175
may I walk with presence
may I walk with purpose
may I walk with potency
may I stand in my personal power
may I protect
may I make possible
may I trust the unfolding of the path in front of me
the pattern of my days and life
the people I love

may the past inform me
and may I greet the present
with patient participation

may I protect the web of life
may I pay careful attention
may I pace myself
may I plan and pray
may I play and persevere
and may the plain promise of priestesshood
remain planted firmly in my person.

So, I didn’t fully get it until I got to “past,” but then I had to keep going with the “P” alliteration 😉 This morning on Facebook I coincidentally read the following quote:

A priestess has a foot in each world. She works with the *as above, so below*…*as within, so without* mysteries. She works ceaselessly to balance humanity and honors Nature. A priestess is not a witch, yet honors those who practice their craft with true integrity. A priestess is sovereign unto her Self. She is the female counterpart of priest…a holy woman who officiates sacred rites. She is an emissary of the Divine Feminine here on earth. And so it is. ♥

WellSprings Women added: “I like to think that each one of us is a priestess as we each help to hold a part of the space open for the others. Can you own that for yourself no matter where you are in your journey?”

I liked this reminder, because I so very often place pressure on myself to be perfect and I’ve noticed that accepting the priestess call has added another layer of something-at-which-I-try-to-be-perfect-and-when-I’m-not-I-feel-like-a-terrible-person-who-doesn’t-deserve-the-name. So, I liked this quote also:

“She walks not away from the fire…but toward it…because not only can she handle the HEAT…she contains it…and her fire wills forth the work that is meant to be in the world…” ~Anni Daulter Goddessgarb 050 Goddessgarb 101 Goddessgarb 130

I have a dear friend who is is wonderfully creatively gifted and she made me a new goddess priestess robe recently! You’ve already seen it featured in recent posts. I love it! She recently opened a new online shop called Goddess Garb and another friend (who is also creatively gifted) did a photo shoot to model the robes and sarongs last week (along with another friend who is graceful and lovely and who looked wonderful in the robes—you can see her in the gallery here :)). I got some of the pictures and thought they went well with this priestess prayer priestess-aversary post. My goddess-garb making friend is really important to me and was actually very instrumental in helping me feel I could “own” the priestess role and that I could step into it fully—she believed in me and saw me and what I was trying to do for our community of women and offered me reinforcement and encouragement when I needed it that what I’m doing for women matters and is worthwhile. So, when I wear her artwork, I feel that affirmation and encouragement. I also feel magical!

Happy Priestess-aversary to me!

Goddessgarb 231

 

Categories: community, friends, poems, prayers, priestess, spirituality, women's circle | 5 Comments

Saturday Sabbath: Summer Solstice Redux

Summer solstice 2013-06-22 08.55.58

Look at what’s blooming
see what you’ve said yes to
and look carefully for that
which can now be pruned away.

The bounty is before us
we see it clearly
knowing that what we have sown
has borne fruit.

Noting that which is
beautiful and good
and that which has
withered in the heat.

Life is open before us
spreading its petals
dripping with juice

Sweet, simple
infinitely complex
and magnificent.

(6/21/13)

Last night, after picking five more pounds of wild black raspberries, I went down to the woods at dusk and found I did have a couple of more summer solstice words in me. I also worked on my content for my first post as a blogger for SageWoman magazine. I’ve been feeling really stalled out on it—like I’m afraid I can’t write something “good enough” and so I asked the woods for help. Luckily, they answered!

I’m excited to be featured in this month’s Full Moon Share from Paola at Goddess Spiral Health Coaching and I just barely finished some new goddess sculptures to add to my etsy shop in time for the Full Moon Share tomorrow!

In keeping with this time of seasonal change, I made my first ever set of goddesses depicting the four seasons!

20130622-185002.jpgI like them all, but my favorite is the Summer Goddess.

20130622-184949.jpgI made just a few more as well, including a butterfly goddess as a special request for someone who is grieving.

20130622-185018.jpgAnd, today my husband briefly took our toddler out in a kayak for the first time while we were at our friend’s house for a work party!

20130622-185030.jpgSpeaking of our work party, while there, we worked what felt like way too hard on scheduling several ceremonies and celebrations for the coming months—two blessingways, a summer retreat, a fall retreat + coming of age ritual, and of course, our ongoing series of Rise Up and Call Her Name classes. I struggled to fit it all in, but realized that this is what I want to do. I came back to the words I wrote last night and thought, this is what I’ve said yes to and it is bearing fruit. And, I like it. 🙂

Categories: art, friends, Goddess, nature, poems, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 7 Comments

Womanrunes: The Sun

Womanrunes: The Sun. Rune of Healing. Rejuvenation, Recreation, Play, Radiance. May 2013 002

When you draw this stone, you know the time has come to be healed. Not healing as in forgetting, or in letting go, but in accepting, opening, changing, and growing. An integration of difficult changes you may have experienced in life. Healing may be physical, it may be emotional, it may be spiritual, it may be relational. Consider in which ways you need healing and rejuvenation. In interpersonal relationships? Physical health? Emotional well-being? Mental health? In your relationship with yourself? In your relationship with your body and with the earth?

Healing is both possible in all there is and available, sourced, through all there is. Healing comes in sharing silences, and sharing stories, and in sharing songs. Healing comes in creation, in offering to others, in opening your heart to the circle with women, in silence with another, in connection with your partner. It is also found in being playful; laughing together. This stone also reminds us that trying again is always worthwhile. Draw upon the resources of the earth. Draw upon the resources of your sister. Draw upon the resources of your own heart. And, in quiet spaces and laughing faces, you will be healed.

Yesterday, as I was getting ready to set up the altar for our women’s ritual/retreat, I decided to draw my womanrune for the day. I drew it as I was looking at the altar space and thinking about how to make it a “healing altar,”  to bring the energy of renewal in for my mom who gave so much of herself during my grandma’s dying process. I drew the stone and saw the sun on it and immediately knew it was a “healing” rune and it felt like a “blessing” upon this retreat. I was also struggling with a crisis of confidence because several people cancelled at the last moment and the night before I’d been feeling like I shouldn’t bother trying to do this kind of thing any more. I explained to my husband that each time I I plan a retreat I really feel like I’m offering a “gift” to my friends–so, when people don’t come, it is like they are saying, “take that back, we don’t want it!” There is a tenderness and a vulnerability to trying to serve my community in this way. After drawing the womanrune, I then went on a divination feeding frenzy and drew cards from all of my different decks! They were all remarkably connected and had good insights to share about “surrender” and letting things flow and also about new beginnings and new projects, but the best was the Seven of Wands from the Motherpeace Tarot deck which opened with: May 2013 003

“The priestess is challenged by her group…

…anxiety, doubt, and fear may be clouding her ability to stand up for herself…”

This retreat was a combination of rituals. We had a Maiden turning 12 and so we had a coming of age ritual for her. My mom is turning 60 this month and so it was also a surprise birthday ritual for her with an emphasis on healing. We also had a tea ceremony, a yoga practice, and a guided meditation.

My mom went through a lot in the final stages of my grandma’s life. She born witness to her mother’s final journey and it was really, really hard, but she did it. I wanted to hold this ritual for her so she might know that we see her. She offered a deep gift of love and we came together in this space because we wanted to help her rest and restore and to give her back some of the care she shared so graciously with her mom. After she was seated with flowers in her hair and her feet in a footbath, I offered her the body blessing of renewal I wrote for her:

Gratitude body blessing

Head

May your mind be blessed, so that you may be at peace that you were enough.

Eyes

May your eyes be blessed, you saw her through. May 2013 014

Nose

May your nose be blessed, breathe easy now.

Lips

May your lips be blessed, you spoke with love.

Chest

May your heart be blessed, you have loved and been loved.

Hands

May your hands be blessed, you have reached out when you were needed.

Belly/womb area

May your center be blessed, so that you may honor all you have created.

Feet

May your feet be blessed, so that you may continue to walk your own true path, knowing that you do not walk alone—there are those that support and care for you. You do not walk alone.

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My mama!

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Aromatherapy footbath for maiden!

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Triple Goddess cord that I braided for the Maiden to step over as a symbolic threshold into womanhood. I wrote a blessing that goes with it and will post that in a separate post in the future, hopefully.

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This interesting, unidentified bone was sitting right in the middle of my path on the way down to the woods shortly before our ritual.

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My toddler went with me to bless the ritual items and yelled and complained the whole time. My nine year old was also yelling out the door at me, “you have NINE MINUTES left, Mom! Mooooooom!!!! NINE MINUTES.” I kept going anyway. Such is the mamapriestess life.

Update: this project evolved into a real book!

The first post in my Womanrunes series is available 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: blessings, friends, ritual, spirituality, Womanrunes, womanspirit, women's circle | 1 Comment

Womanrunes: The Box

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Today for the first time I also noticed that one of the large stones has a vaguely humanoid/female form.

Note: The beginning of the process originally described below evolved into a full-length book of Womanrunes interpretations and uses. The book and cards are now available on my business site here as well as via Amazon.

I’ve written before about my attraction to Shekhinah Mountainwater’s Womanrunes system. Information on interpreting them is limited—available is a small booklet containing the name of each rune and several associated words as meanings. Shekhinah’s book, Ariadne’s Thread, says that the womanrunes are very intuitive and can readily be interpreted in this manner. While this can be true, I’ve also observed that many women wish there was more explanation for each in the little booklet, beyond a couple of words. At our craft workshop last week, I took my bag of homemade Womanrunes with me and I envisioned working up a more detailed paragraph about each rune. That didn’t happen, since I was running a craft school after all, but I did bring this idea together with my previous idea about a post-a-day experiment drawing a divination card, rune, or CroneStone and sharing the results here. I decided that instead I will draw one of the Womanrunes each day and take it to the woods with me to think about and then I will share here what I come up with. After I manage to work through each one (could be tricky since I’m drawing randomly, at least right now!), I will then have created that booklet of paragraph-long interpretations that I’ve wished for 🙂 I’ve been doing this for several days already, but time to write has been extremely tight to nonexistent.

Today I got off-course at the beginning of the day in trying to help someone with a complicated situation in conjunction one of my volunteer roles as a breastfeeding counselor. It ended up taking several hours and involved more than 20 text messages and an email. I was very preoccupied with the situation, as well as with several other “must-dos” and I found myself lamenting about needing to set boundaries on my roles and that it is okay to say no and to hold my own boundaries. I’ve also been fretting over several other things and feeling very behind on life—the things I need to finish before leaving for California (grandma’s memorial, plus family vacation) actually feel beyond the capacity of one human to handle. Today I also needed to get ready for both my in-seat classes, catch up with my online class, and finish the preparations for our spring women’s retreat on Friday—which includes multiple small ceremonies within it. I did manage to also almost finalize the ceremonies I was working up for my grandma’s memorial services. I experienced a “boundary” issue with some of my students this weekend too and I honestly just felt like lying on the floor and saying, please let me rest. I need to stop, but I can’t say no. I can’t stop responding to people who need me. I feel almost helpless and paralyzed at the foot of this Mountain of Too Much. Yet, I keep going.

Anyway, I am not kidding when I say that the Womanrune I drew after this was THE BOX: “rune of limitation: stability, lessons, boundaries.” So, I went to the woods with it and this is what I learned:

The Box: rune of boundaries. Boundaries. Hemmed in. Closed off. Boxed off. Or: safe, protected, assertive. What do you need to stand up for yourself May 2013 068about? What do you need to speak out about? How do you own your own needs? How do you respect your own inner call? What you want to do. How you want to spend your time. The Box reminds us of the critical importance of saying NO and how that relates to our ability to stay alive, vibrant, connected, vital. In order to be of good service, in order to be strong and healthy, sometimes we will disappoint others, let them down, say no to good ideas, good projects, and even sometimes to legitimate requests for help. What does your body want from you? What does your soul want from you? What do you need? Heed that call.

Set firm boundaries, establish personal space, draw lines in the sand if needed. Mothers know, women know, that boundaries must too be fluid and flexible, because that which cannot yield when necessary, snaps and breaks. So make sure that in your effort not to become taken advantage of, you don’t also become shut off, boxed in, and unable to connect. We must forever balance the forces of separation and connection. Boundaries. Boundaries. Lines. Squares. Diamonds. Protective forces. Sometimes with sharp edges. Sometimes with assertive language, but blessedly essential to wholeness of being and defragmentation of self. Sometimes we desperately need The Box. And, so we refine these boundaries, hone them, trust them, own them, and respect them, in ourselves and in others, when that is what our lives call out for.

To the woods with me, I also brought several items gifted to me for my recent birthday. A mini rosebush from a friend and matching candles from another (one to take to the woods and one to take with me in my travel altar) as well as a niftiest mini crocheted Goddess of Willendorf from my mom.

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I also took a new statue of the Goddess Hathor, one I requested for my birthday specifically because she was advertised by Goddessgift.net as Goddess for the Exhausted. That’s what I need, I thought. Bring her my way! I had a lot of thoughts for her and recorded, I thought, about four minutes worth of musings about what is it okay to say no to, what is it okay to not do, but when I checked my phone I saw that I’d accidentally paused the recording 27 seconds in, so those insights have slipped away. (I record myself when I’m in the woods because I forget so quickly what it is that I say when I’m alone there.) I thought there was a bit of a “lesson” for me there too though—maybe I need to not try to type up those things I record! 😉 Or, perhaps her gift was allowing me to just speak and not have to transcribe. There was lots said about permission and not doing self-criticism or blame.

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Categories: friends, introversion, Womanrunes | 7 Comments

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