night

Day 28: The Singing Dark

To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings.

— Wendell Berry

 

The fall nights literally sing here. Walking on the veranda, a chorus of insect song fills the air, owls call, dogs bark, coyotes howl. 

I enjoyed this post which popped up synchronistically today:

But darkness has its place too, especially when we are working to understand ourselves, or to create a shift in our lives, or to transition from one state-of-being to another. These shifts and transitions are dark experiences lacking clarity and structure. And here is this little gland in the body that rides around in our brains with us, helping us perceive whether it is day or night, light or dark, stop or continue, yes or no. I’m inclined to think that this hidden jewel of the brain is not only a night-time regulator but also the source of the deep, overwhelming sense of imbalance and extraordinary “lightness of being” and loss of firmament that we experience when, for instance, we go caving.

Source: Darkness with a Capital D – PaganSquare – PaganSquare

I also read this newsletter from Moontime Rising and appreciated this reminder from Giuliana:

So, dear one, as the sun sets and the dark sky fills with stars…

Harvest what feeds you, and compost the rest.

And welcome the inevitable walk through the dark…

(My photo from tonight is of a planter on the back deck/veranda.)

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, endarkenment, nature, night, practices, sacred pause, seasons | 1 Comment

Day 25: Sweet Darkness (#30Daysof Harvest)

…Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

— David Whyte

I’ve written several times about the value of Endarkenment. Last night at our Red Tent Circle, we had a seed ceremony and talked about how beautiful things can take root in dark places. Time spent curled up in the dark is necessary before things can bloom. 

 
 

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, endarkenment, night, red tent, sacred pause, self-care, women | 2 Comments

Day 21: Dreaming (#30DaysofHarvest)

A wisdom whispers from the Dreamtime IMG_8151
calling me to ceremony and song
it flickers in the firelight
of ancient memory
rippling along my spine
dancing through my fingertips.

What is it that calls me in the night?
I look up
She’s pouring tea across from me
a patterned rhythm to her movements that speaks
of sacred knowing.

A door opens
She is ready to share
and yet, I slip away
through the undercurrents of time
falling down out of space
out of memory
out of song
and out of touch.

Landing
in a soft bed
my arm curled around my nursling
hearing his breath in the dark
and wondering
what I am missing
what I’m forgetting
and what remembering is right here.

I’ve been craving solitude and time alone to simply think. My dreams have felt very significant and yet skitter away from me during frequent night-wakings with my nursling. They roll just out of my reach and dance at the edges of my consciousness with the promise of something forgotten…

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, endarkenment, night, parenting, practices, sacred pause, self-care, theapoetics, womanspirit | Leave a comment

Day 4: An altar for Autumn Equinox (#30DaysofHarvest)

 
Time again to dance in a circle of women! Tonight, the main ritual honored the Morrigan and encouraged us all to rise up. As we chanted, the coyotes howled and the fire rose up in a shower of sparks under the crescent moon. 

  

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, community, GGG, night, sacred pause, seasons, womanspirit, women's circle | 2 Comments

Day 2: My Personal Harvest (#30DaysofHarvest)

 

 We’re at Gaea Goddess Gathering! The Brigid’s Grove booth is almost finished being set up. Very hot today and rain called for tonight. Beautiful evening for the opening ritual though. Crescent moon to the south while the sun was setting in the west as we called in the Morrigan. Now, lightning is sparkling through the dark sky as the bonfire burns. 

In my picture for today’s prompt, I set my baby on the table with some of our newest sculptures, plus my brand new Earthprayer book and my two other books. Lots of beautiful harvest to celebrate this year, including my ten month old boy! ❤️

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, community, GGG, night, sacred pause, seasons, womanspirit | 1 Comment

Moon Stained

Darkness falls. July 2015 083
I enter sacred space
stepping from holy ground
onto holy ground
only this time I recognize it.
Owl calls,
moon rises,
sun sets,
leaves rustle,
heart beats.

Breathing in,
breathing out
feeling the world spin
feeling the earth turn
watching Her weaving at work in the night.

July’s Blue Moon is coming up at the end of this week and my Womanrunes course is carefully scheduled to end on that day. I can hardly believe we have worked through 37 runes already! (I’ve also scheduled the next Immersion for October.) I’ve written a Full Moon ritual to go out with the last email for the course and I will do the ritual myself with my family. I definitely feel the restless energy referenced in this Blue Moon article:

…As amazing as this moon will be, and necessary—it’s going to be one that challenges us on every single level. In the build up to this lunar event we may have been feeling restless, or have had an excess of nervous energy. Our pulses may have been racing, and it may have been harder for us to relax or fall asleep at night.

Our souls can sense that we are on the verge of something big—but it’s up to us to initiate change.

via Unprecedented Blue Moon in Aquarius: Now or Never. | elephant journal.

Last night, I took my new crystal ball with me to the woods to reflect. I asked what I need to know right now, as I am feeling pulled in several directions and between several wonderful ideas, and I drew The Heart. It reminds me to rest for a little while, but also that I act in this world with great passion and intensity and that’s okay.

We are leaving tomorrow for a family mini-vacation at a river cabin. I’m really looking forward to it. Some healing, play, and relaxation after the energetic depletion of the hard work required for me during the last two weeks of my school session.

(Of course, I fantasize that somehow I’m going to finish writing my dissertation during our mini vacation! 😉 )

July 2015 081

“She may feel she will die if she does not dance naked in a thunderstorm, sit in perfect silence, return home ink-stained, paint-stained, tear-stained, moon-stained.”

—Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

 

Categories: liturgy, moon wisdom, nature, night, poems, practices, prayers, sacred pause, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

New Moon

July 2015 002

We honor the new moon and her blessings.
Letting go, releasing, shedding.
That which no longer serves is gently released
That which is desired, slips out into the crack of possibility
And takes root
Preparing to grow.

But, for now a moment to rest.
To keep silent peace
To soak in the dark of the moon
And her promise of quiet

Deep

Renewal.July 2015 029

Categories: blessings, endarkenment, night, poems, prayers | 2 Comments

Green Man (#30DaysofMay)

Today is my birthday and the prompt was about sensory images of May. Based on this post, tonight at dusk we made a Green Man in the field by our greenhouse. It was quite lively and fun. 



As we finished his beard, we looked up and the full moon was rising beautifully over the trees. It was one of those moments of natural magic that was really potent.



Whippoorwills were singing, dogs were barking, fireflies were twinkling, and frogs were calling and we drummed and danced together in the moonlight. 



Now let the song begin! Let us sing together!

Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather,

Light on the budding leaf, dew on the feather,

Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather,

Reeds by the shady pool, lilies on the water.

Tom Bombadil’s Song, Lord of the Rings (via Beltane Ritual)



Categories: #30Daysof May, family, holidays, nature, night, ritual, seasons, spirituality | 2 Comments

Simple Full Moon Ceremony for a New Baby

IMG_8557On October 30th, I gave birth to a new baby boy. He was born at home in water, my fourth homebirth, but my first waterbirth (his birth story is available here). On the full moon of his one week “birthday,” we took him outside for the first time in his whole life–to meet the world, to feel the fresh, cool air, to be introduced to the moon and the Earth as a member of our family. Here is an outline of the very simple ceremony of welcome we held for him. While we did this with just our other children present, it could easily be expanded to include additional guests.

Each family member carries a candle outside into the full moon’s light.

Circle up, hands on each other’s backs, and hum in unison three times to cast the circle (this is our tradition in our local circle–the hum quite literally unifies and harmonizes our energy and centers us in time and space together. Very simple and effective).

Placing our hands on the new baby:

Welcome to the spinning world, baby boy!
(family repeats)

Welcome to the green Earth!
(family repeats)

We’re so glad you’re here!*
(family repeats)

Each family member chooses a piece of corn from a chalice and makes a wish aloud for the baby, tossing the corn into the moonlight. November 2014 066

(Our kids love tossing corn so we use this during many full moon rituals.)

Hold the baby out under the moonlight. (Our baby stared right at the moon with solemn, wide eyes.)

Join hands and say closing prayer:

May Goddess bless and keep us,
may wisdom dwell within us,
may we create peace.

November 2014 061
*Adapted from the children’s book On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier

Closing prayer adapted from unknown source.

Crossposted at SageWoman.

Categories: birth, blessings, family, night, parenting, priestess, ritual | 5 Comments

Dance in a circle of women…

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

Marie Summerwood

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

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

photo(23)

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

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

Make sacred space
Remember who you are

–Shawna Carol

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

Oh woman
Oh sister
She is me

Holding me
That I may hold you

Forever goddess

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

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

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

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

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

via Be Still | WoodsPriestess.

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

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

[from 2013 post on my other blog]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Co-Circling & The Priestess Path | WoodsPriestess.

Continuing my jotted notes:

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

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

Related past posts:

Gaea Goddess Gathering: Listen to the wise woman….

I make the effort

The Warrior-Priestess

Co-Circling & The Priestess Path

Be Still

Moonpriestess

Woodspriestess: Brigid

 

 

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

Cave (prayer and meditation)

“Only in the deepest silence of night

the stars smile and whisper among themselves.”

–Rabindranath Tagore (quoted in Dear Heart, Come Home page 52)

20140711-160329.jpg

Nearly full-moon over model Stonehenge last night.

I know it is summertime and that we’ve just passed the summer solstice. It is also the full moon—bright, full of promise, energy, and enthusiasm. The time for descent, and retreat, and rest, and cocooning is not yet upon us. Regardless, I remain in the mood to wrap up, wind down, finish up. I’m having a new baby in October and I feel a powerful, powerful call to finish all kinds of things so I can fully greet him. One of my projects is evaluating and reducing my book collection. As I do so, I find odds and ends I’d marked to write about or remember. Rather than storing the whole book, it makes sense to me to save the one or two pages I’d marked instead. So, despite the incongruency with the time of year, I’d like to share this prayer and meditation exercise I saved from the book Dear Heart, Come Home: The Path of Midlife Spirituality by Joyce Rupp (now up for grabs in my giveaway box if anyone local wants it for free!). I think it would be a perfect reading and brief meditation to use during a late fall or winter ceremony…

A Prayer for the Cave Time

Guardian of my soul, thank you,

for guiding me in the dark places,

for reaching me through the people of my life,

for drawing near to love me when I feel unlovable,

for teaching me how to tend my wounds,

for guarding me with words of truth

and moments of empowerment,

for allowing my pain and struggle

so that I can come to greater wholeness.

Guardian of my soul,

you are my Coach in the Cave,

my Voice in the Fog

my Midwife of Wisdom.

I place my trust in you

as I give myself to the process

of learning from my darkness.

–Joyce Rupp (page 53, Dear Heart, Come Home)

Because I’m feeling on the lazy side, I did not transcribe the meditation, I took a picture of the page instead (page 183).

cave meditation

There are some associated journaling and discussion questions about the cave of darkness in your own life as well (slightly modified/edited from page 51-52):

  1. Have you experienced a significant time of darkness? What was it like for you?
  2. What do you most resist about the cave of darkness?
  3. Do you care for yourself when you are in darkness? (If so, how?)
  4. What gives you the courage to go on?
  5. How has darkness been a teacher for you?

For more about endarkenment see my previous essay here:

…In fact, what if the Goddess Herself is found in the dark? Judith Laura writing about dark matter in the cosmos writes, “might we call this ‘unseen force’ Goddess? Dark matter could be identified with the womb of the Mother, continually gestating particles, suns, galaxies, which flow from her in a continual stream…Dark matter might also be represented as the Crone aspect of the Goddess—dark and powerful…”

via Endarkenment

Remember to listen to the night wind woman and her talkative silence: June 2014 017

Listen to what is walking here
tiptoeing through your dreams
knocking at the door of your unconscious mind
whispering from shadows
calling from the full moon
twinkling in the stars
carried by the night wind woman
rising at sunset
peeking out
in tentative
yet persistent purpose.

Listen to the call
trust the talkative silence…

via Womanrunes: The Crescent Moon | WoodsPriestess.

 

Categories: books, endarkenment, GGG, nature, night, prayers, readings, resources, retreat, ritual, seasons, spirituality, thealogy, theapoetics, womanspirit | Leave a comment

Solstice Spiral

IMG_0419

Last year’s spiral.

In my winter solstice post, I referenced our family’s tradition of walking a “solstice spiral” each year as part of our year-end ritual. It is based on the Waldorf tradition of an “advent spiral,” which is often made outdoors using evergreen branches. During the first year we tried the spiral, I did decorate the outside of our spiral with evergreen branches, but since then I’ve simply opted to lay out a spiral shape on the floor using silver and gold tinsel garlands. It is simple, but once ringed with candles and the household lights turned out, it becomes magical! I wrote about the purpose somewhat generically in this winter solstice post from last year:

Then, lighting candles, we walk our traditional “solstice spiral” (made with gold garland laid out in the spiral on the floor, ringed with evergreen branches and candles)—leaving behind our losses and that which we no longer need in the darkness, and carrying forward the bright spark of new possibility that is taking root in our lives for the new year. After exiting the spiral, we place our candles together on the Yule log to represent that which we hope to bring into the full light of dawning year.

via Goddess Wheel of the Year: Winter Solstice Ritual | WoodsPriestess.

Solstice spiral. We shut the lights out and walk it with candles.

This year’s spiral before the lights are out.

Each year during our family winter solstice ritual we review our lives from the past year—things we’re proud of, things we’d like to let go of—and then set new intentions for the coming year. We write these down on pieces of paper that I then roll up together and put in a box. The following year, we each open our papers and read what we wrote the year before and see how/if these intentions manifested over the year. It is very interesting to see how we rarely remember exactly what we wrote and yet, how often those things have come to pass. After this goals review process, we all get our candles and walk the solstice spiral in turn to symbolize the setting forth of our new intentions. This year, as each person came out of the spiral, I gave them a stone totem animal that I’d purchased from a nifty ebay seller and also a card from the Animal Powers Meditation Kit I’d conveniently won in an online giveaway recently. The stone animal was my gift to each and the card was just an intuitive solstice message for each that they then returned to the box. We carried our candles over to the Yule log and did the following responsive reading as I lit each candle in the Yule log:

December 2013 022

Little stone bear.

When the earth is barren.
The light is reborn.
When the animals sleep.
The light is reborn.
When the leaves have all fallen.
The light is reborn.
When the rivers are frozen.
The light is reborn.
When the ground is hard.
The light is reborn.
When the shadows grow long.
The light is reborn.
When warmth has fled.
The light is reborn.
In the darkest night.
The light is reborn.

(via Family Winter Solstice Ritual)

December 2013 042

Lit Yule log.

Then we each shared the animal message from our cards. I’m actually planning to do a variation of this ceremony on New Year’s Eve when some other members of our family will be visiting. We will use it as a welcoming-the-new-year path and I have some different things to give them at the end of this one (you’ll have to wait to hear about that later, because some of them read this blog and I don’t want to spoil my little surprise!)

Categories: endarkenment, family, holidays, night, readings, ritual, spirituality | 2 Comments

Happy Solstice!

The winter solstice happens in nature around us. But it also happens inside of us, in our souls. It can happen inside of us in summer or winter, spring or December 2013 042fall. In the dark place of our soul, we carry secret wishes, pains, frustrations, loneliness, fears, regrets, worries. Darkness is not something to be afraid of. Sometimes we go to the dark place of our soul, where we can find safety and comfort. In the dark place in our soul we can find rest and rejuvenation. In the dark place of our soul we can find balance. And when we have rested, and been comforted, and restored, we can return from the dark place in our soul to the world of light and new possibilities.

via Family Winter Solstice Ritual.

Our family ritual today turned out beautifully. My favorite part is our solstice spiral tradition. I will write more about it later, but I promised myself that I would do a quick quote-and-picture post only today so I can continue to hold the mood of the day, rather than staying up late typing 🙂 I’m also going to browse through some of my new books!

Categories: endarkenment, family, holidays, night, parenting, priestess, ritual, spirituality | 3 Comments

Wholeheartedness

“Wisdom comes from applying yourself wholeheartedly to whatever you’re doing. The lessons in life are in everything.” –Pema Chodron (in Open Mind, 12/18)December 2013 029

Tonight after I finally extricated myself from my children and stumbled down to the woods in the dark to stand briefly in the light of the full moon, I recognized myself falling into a familiar pattern of self-recrimination—of wishing I was better than I am and feeling annoyed and frustrated with myself for having become annoyed and frustrated by my family. We spent all day today having a “Hobbit Day”—eating a series of themed foods while watching the first Hobbit movie and then driving into town to watch the second Hobbit movie in the theater. It was great fun, but by the time we got back home, the rest of my to-dos felt pretty hopelessly piled up around me and I felt somewhat abandoned in my efforts to get them done before bedtime (such as pack up Christmas gifts for out-of-town relatives). I also am behind on planning my family’s winter solstice ritual and really expected to have a chance to finalize those plans today. I feel perpetually behind on many things much of the time and more just keep coming. No breaks.

The final straw tonight was when I opened up my bag of cinnamon sticks that I’d bought to make cinnamon stick stars with on solstice or New Year’s Eve and they’re totally, ridiculously, uselessly short. It is too late to send them back, too late to order more, and they’re dumb and I feel dumb for having ordered them too hastily without checking the size. When I went to the woods feeling as if I should be more better, I took some of the cinnamon sticks with me to leave as an offering of sorts and to be a reminder that I’ve let go of that perfection worm as well as apologizing for things I don’t need to apologize for. When I came back in, we wrapped and packed the gifts to mail, it got later and later and I realized that my time to create a post for today was once again, up. And, I felt bad about that in two ways—one for my own silliness in making a monthly post commitment during holiday season, when obviously that isn’t particularly sensible/practical/possible, so why don’t I just give up the idea, and two, for even considering not showing up for myself and moving it up in my priority list/doing it anyway. Essentially, why would I expect this from myself?! ANDwhy wouldn’t I expect this from myself?! I’m ridiculous. I’m committed. I’m ridiculous. So, I’m still here. This post is being made. I’m not going to apologize for it—either way. For wanting to do it, for not wanting to do it, for not cutting myself slack and letting it go, for showing up and doing it anyway even if it doesn’t make sense…

Then, I opened to that nearly-finished Open Mind book and the quote I opened with was the quote for today and I thought oh. Today I did a wholehearted Hobbit Day instead of the other things that were/are waiting for me. That’s okay.

Categories: family, night, parenting, self-care, writing

Women’s Mysteries, Women’s Circles

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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)

“Feminism catches fire when it draws upon its inherent spirituality. When it does not, it is just one more form of politics, and politics never fed our deepest hungers.” –Carol Lee Flinders (in The Millionth Circle)

Show up or choose to be present.
Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.
Tell the truth without blame or judgment.
Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.

–Angela Arrien (in The Millionth Circle)

“Women’s mysteries, the blood mysteries of the body, are not the same as the physical realities of menstruation, lactation, pregnancy, and menopause; for physiology to become mystery, a mystical affiliation must be made between a woman and the archetypal feminine. A woman must sense, know or imagine herself as Woman, as Goddess, as an embodiment of the feminine principle…Under patriarchy this connection has been suppressed; there are no words or rituals that celebrate the connection between a woman’s physiological initiations and spiritual meaning.”

–Jean Shinoda Bolen

The final quote above comes from a very helpful resource for priestesses, the Women’s Mysteries Teacher’s Journal, which is available for free online!

I read and enjoyed two relevant blog posts this week as well, the first about women’s capacity to push each other’s buttons and how it can be easier to work with “victims” than “leaders.” Important to consider…

The process of working with one’s own buttons can be very useful in feminist life. From my own experience and from following the news in feminist and Goddess movement I know how easily women’s groups can break up, often due to strong women pushing each other’s buttons. Have you noticed how we find it easier working with the victims of patriarchy and patriarchal religions, than with the leaders of feminist groups? How we find it easier to help, than to cooperate? In this we might fall into a trap of patriarchy and assume the role of a patriarch rather then a feminist leader.

via Buttons and Hooks by Oxana Poberejnaia | Feminism and Religion.

And, the second this priestess pep talk:

She supports and believes in you utterly. All you have to do is trust Her, and keep on showing up.

Because You are Enough.

Always.

Completely.

You are born of magic, a daughter of the Goddess.

You are a Priestess charged with sharing Her blessings, Her beauty, Her power with the world as it manifest through you, you unique thing you, and it is your DUTY to get out there and create that vision, that life, she is inspiring you with…”

via The How to Be a Priestess Pep Talk

I’ve mentioned that I’m looking forward to the new anthology coming out from Goddess Ink and I very much enjoy the snippets from the book they shared on their Facebook page (I also pre-ordered the book!)

Goddess Ink
From “The Kohanot: Keepers of the Flame” by D’vorah Grenn: “How do we move forward from here? Being a priestess can be exhausting. Without proper shielding and protection, women can find their precious energies only going out, and too rarely 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,“ to use Lynn Gottlieb’s phrase, another reason it is vital that we continue our work. But to do so, we must protect our spirits, psyches, hearts and time25; those who have been spiritual leaders for some time are well aware of the pitfalls of not doing so. Since others rely on our strength and clarity, this is not a task to be postponed or ignored. We must carry and pass on the knowledge of how to take better care of ourselves, along with our spiritual teachings.”

How do you replenish yourself and protect your energy? In this last week as I’ve worked to finish all my grading for the end of the school session, I’ve been aware of how I tend to let self-care go first—I haven’t practiced yoga in four days, keep getting to the woods at 11:00 at night instead of in the morning, staying up until 2:00 a.m., etc. I feel okay about the out-of-balance because I know it is a very short term push that will end soon, but I think I/we must be mindful of this not becoming a regular habit or pattern of being.

There is also this good one about the priestess path and the idea of mastery…

Goddess Ink
From “Models of Leadership” by Ruth Barrett: “A woman on the priestess path must be vigilant in examining the unconscious tendencies and unexamined habits she has learned from her culture. Another unexamined tendency, which is crucial to recognize, is that American culture is in all-out war against mastery. I use the word “mastery” as it is used in the martial arts. Mastering the physical, psychological and energetic skills required to achieve, for instance, a black belt in Aikido is a path that requires discipline, openness to learning and the patience and persistence to work through plateaus. The black belt is not a goal, it is a journey. The journey is the destination. A sensei (master) of a martial arts black belt is still a student. Mastery is a path, not a title or a credential. It is the process of recognizing and achieving potential. So it is with the priestess path. The more I know, the more I know there is to learn and I must endeavor to have an open beginner’s mind.”

The snow is finally melting and this afternoon I went on a dinner date with my husband (as well as finished up shopping for stocking stuffers and for our solstice dinner. Lots of plans for fun food!). I didn’t get to the woods until about 9:30 and enjoyed the company of the full moon for a time in a much warmer-today woods. We did a very small mini-ritual on the back deck together as well, just with our candles, checking in on the intentions we set during the last full moon, making new intentions, and closing with a short prayer.
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Categories: community, feminist thealogy, night, priestess, quotes, resources, ritual, self-care, spirituality, women, women's circle, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

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