Day 17: Awen (#30DaysofBrigid)


This goddess sculpture reminds me of being open to change and to flowing inspiration.

Can I trust the rhythm?
Can I embrace the flow?
Can follow inspiration?
Can I heed when to let go?

I feel like I am in the process of learning, or re-learning something lately. Perhaps it is simply being the mother of a baby again, but perhaps it is something deeper that wants to shift. Either way, when I got the 30 Days prompt this morning, I knew exactly what my response was to the prompt of “flowing inspiration.” One of the mottoes or reminders that I wrote down in our Shining Year workbook this year was to follow the inspiration. Life unfolds much more beautifully, creatively, productively, and powerfully, when I don’t “force it,” but instead sink into my heart space first and feel what it is I wish to do next. I have an ongoing issue with turning every “could do” into “should do,” every fun idea into work, and every possibility into an obligation. That said, I also have been reminded that while I give myself very little credit for being flexible and in fact makes jokes about my lack thereof, but in reality, I demonstrate a lot of flexibility every day–I just don’t always like it and I argue with it, but I flex and bend every. single. day to respond to what is around me and what a situation requires from me.

One of the things I realized recently is that I really shouldn’t have planned to do monthly Red Tent and monthly Full Moon circles throughout the coming year, because planning and facilitating 24 rituals is simply a lot. When I had the idea, I was thinking month by month, instead of realizing that I was committing myself to TWENTY-FOUR rituals. That is simply too much to expect of myself while also mothering a baby (and other kids!). And, it is also too much to expect of those around me. While the only person who would actually have to show up for all 24 would technically be me, that much participation is a lot to ask of my friends as well and a lot of dates to add to their calendars! I’m trying to remember to check in with Future Molly when I make plans for this year and Future Molly predicts that attendance and enthusiasm for either or both events will wane with “too much,” particularly after midsummer when people are traveling and then into fall when they are beginning to switch into holiday mode. So, I’m pledging to myself that I will look at the rhythm of each month as it flows before deciding which/what/when/how many events to plan this year. I wonder why I thought I needed to commit to an entire year of anything, rather than simply seeing what makes sense over time and what I, and those around me, will enjoy? Something like 8 rituals for a year sounds like a much more reasonable and enjoyable general plan! (not including private  family rituals or personal rituals)

Back to flowing inspiration though. This is where I feel it:

IMG_2580And, this is why:


This weekend, I followed the inspiration when it said SCULPT instead of do class prep and all of these new pendant prototypes were the result! Now, to wait for the time and space and moment in which to mold and cast them…

Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you

Are not lost. Where ever you are is called HERE.

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying, HERE…

–David Wagoner, in Life Prayers

via Stand Still… | WoodsPriestess.

I’m also reminding myself to flow with milk time…

Give up your calendar and clock,

start flowing with milk time.

via Surrender? | Talk Birth.

Unclench your life.

That’s what I wish to flow with and into.


Awen symbol pendant Mark carved for me for Solstice.


Categories: #30daysofBrigid, nature, quotes, ritual, sacred pause, self-care, woodspriestess | Tags: | 1 Comment

Women Who Run With the Wolves

“Remember, there is a natural time after childbearing when a woman is considered to be of the underworld. She is dusted with its dust, watered by its water, having seen into the mystery of life and death, pain and joy during her labor. So, for a time she is ‘not here’ but rather still ‘there.’ It takes time to re-emerge.”

–Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves (p. 441)

I’ve spent years quoting Clarissa Pinkola Estes and yet had never read one of her books. My favorite quote is this one and I’ve returned to it again and again at various points in my life:

Be wild; that is how to clear the river.”

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Interestingly enough, I finally began reading Women Who Run with the Wolves while literally sitting in the river this summer while my kids played. One of the remaining items on my Leonie Dawson 100 Thing list for 2014 was to finish this book. And, now here in this “underworld” time with my new baby, I finally did it! In the afterword to the book, she mentions that this is a book meant to be read in small doses. She explains that she took twenty years to write it and that it is meant to be read in sections, thought about, and then returned to again. So, I guess I did exactly the right thing in how I read it this year—it took me more than six months to read it (I also read 90 other books this year in addition to this one!).

One of the quotes I quoted before reading the book was this classic one:

I am wild.

Wild Woman.

When women hear those words, an old, old memory is stirred and brought back to life. The memory is our absolute, undeniable, and irrevocable kinship with the wild feminine, a relationship which may become ghosty from neglect, buried from over domestication, outlawed by the surrounding culture, or no longer understood anymore. We may have forgotten her names, we may not answer when she calls ours, but in our bones we know her, we yearn toward her; we know she belongs to us and we to her.There are times when we experience her, even if only fleetingly, and it makes us mad with wanting to continue. For some women, this vitalizing ‘taste of the wild’ comes during pregnancy, during nursing their young, during the miracle of change in oneself as one raises a child, during attending to a love relationship as one would attend to a beloved garden.As sense of her also comes through the vision; through sights of great beauty. I have felt her when I see what we call in the woodlands a Jesus-God sunset. I have felt her move in me from seeing the fishermen come up from the lake at dusk with lanterns lit, and also from seeing my newborn baby’s toes all lined up like a row of sweet corn. We see her where we see her, which is everywhere.

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves, quoted in Celebrating Motherhood by Andrea Gosline and Lisa Bossi

via Celebrating Motherhood: The Wild Woman and Sacred Business | Talk Birth.

Photo: "Remember, there is a natural time after childbearing when a woman is considered to be of the underworld. She is dusted with its dust, watered by its water, having seen into the mystery of life and death, pain and joy during her labor. So, for a time she is 'not here' but rather still 'there.' It takes time to re-emerge."</p> <p>--Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves (p. 441)

I also love this quote about doors:

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” 

— Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D (Women Who Run With the Wolves)


While many quotes caught my attention upon this complete reading of her book and spoke to where I am, in addition to the one with which I opened this post, there are two in particular that really grabbed me. The first was about rage and creation. I love the idea that there is a time to show your incisors:

“…there is a time to reveal your incisors, your powerful ability to defend territory, to say ‘This far and no farther, the buck stops here, and hold onto your hat, I’ve got something to say, this is definitely going to change.'”

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes on rage and creation in Women Who Run with the Wolves, p. 363

IMG_0920And, this powerful thought on creativity and the call to listen to the whispers of our own hearts:

“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

Photo: "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


I just love the way my sweet little baby (now six weeks old!) holds onto my goddess necklace while he is nursing.

Categories: books, quotes, readings, womanspirit | 4 Comments

International Women’s Day: Re-storying the world

I remain firmly convinced of the power of story. Story shapes our world. And, reality is socially constructed in an active process of storying and re-storying.

 “The universe of made of stories, not of atoms.” –Muriel Rukeyser

“Power consists to a large extent in deciding what stories will be told.” –Carolyn Heilbrun

Last spring, I wrote a poem called Body Prayer and was very pleased when Trista Hendren, author of the children’s book The Girl God, wrote to ask permission to reprint it in her new book: Mother Earth. I received my copy of the book last month and wanted to offer a mini-review of it today, International Women’s Day, because as Trista says, it is “a beautiful tribute to the world’s first ‘woman.’” Mother Earth is theoretically a children’s book, but it offers an important message and call to action to all world citizens. Along the top of the pages is a story, written as a narrative experience between Trista and her daughter Helani, about the (human) mother’s need to rest. The story evolves into a message about the Earth and the care and rest she is crying out for. Each page features a large illustration and below the illustration is a relevant spiritual quote, poem, prayer, or message.

…Breathing deep
stretching out
opening wide.
My body is my altar
my body is my temple
my living presence on this earth my prayer.
Thank you. –Woodspriestess: Body Prayer

International Women’s Day is a political event, not just another Hallmark holiday.

International Women’s Day is not about Hallmark. It’s not about chocolate. (Thought I know many women who won’t turn those down.) It’s about politics, institutions, economics, racism…. As is the case with Mother’s Day and many other holidays, today we are presented with a sanitized, deodorized, nationalized, commoditized version of what were initially radical holidays to emphasize social justice. Initially, International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. Yes, every woman is a working woman. Yes, there is no task harder perhaps than raising a child, for a father and a mother. But let us remember that the initial impetus of this International Working Women’s Day was to address the institutional, systematic, political, and economic obstacles that women faced in society. via How we miss the point of International Women’s Day–and how to get it right. | What Would Muhammad Do?.

Now is the time to focus on a new story for women.

While the matriarchal myth has been critiqued and attacked from an anthropological and sociological perspective, I think it has important value—it doesn’t have to be true or verifiable to have a potent impact on society. The very fact that people feel that the matriarchal story is a myth that needs to be “debunked” to me is proof of the mythic power of our old, patriarchal story on current culture. Earlier this year I finished reading Reid-Bown’s book Goddess as Nature and he says this: “What is significant, however, is that the matriarchy thesis has considerable mythopoetic value for the Goddess movement: it affirms that the world was not always distorted by patriarchy, it contributes moral meaning to the state of the world today, and it aids in an imaginative revisioning of a better goddess-centred future” (p. 18). The power of the matriarchal story—myth or fact—is in the assertion that the world CAN be different. Patriarchy and war are not the “just way its always been,” or a “more evolved” society, or the only possibility for the future. The matriarchal myth opens up the door for a new FUTURE story, not just a revisionist look at the past. via Thursday Thealogy: Matriarchal Myth or a New Story? | WoodsPriestess.

As I’ve previously written, the primary function of value of a matriarchal myth is that patriarchy is no longer the only story we’ve known. An alternate past gives hope for an alternate future.

“Stories are medicine…They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything—we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Stories ARE power and that is why a feminist, matristic, Goddess-oriented narrative has value, regardless of whether it is myth or fact. As we know too well, the victors write the history books—they get to tell the stories and those stories, logically, may involve significant distortion of the facts of the past.

In a quote from iconic author and physician Christiane Northrup, she addresses the subjugation of female power through body control: “…if you want to know where a woman’s true power lies, look to those primal experiences we’ve been taught to fear…the very same experiences the culture has taught us to distance ourselves from as much as possible, often by medicalizing them so that we are barely conscious of them anymore. Labor and birth rank right up there as experiences that put women in touch with their feminine power…” And, from Glenys Livingstone: “It is not female biology that has betrayed the female…it is the stories and myths we have come to believe about ourselves.” We also find a connection in Carol Christ’s explanation that: Women’s stories have not been told. And without stories there is no articulation of experience. Without stories a woman is lost when she comes to make the important decisions of her life. She does not learn to value her struggles, to celebrate her strengths, to comprehend her pain. Without stories she cannot understand herself. Without stories she is alienated from those deeper experiences of self and world that have been called spiritual or religious. She is closed in silence. The expression of women’s spiritual quest is integrally related to the telling of women’s stories. If women’s stories are not told, the depth of women’s souls will not be known” (p. 341. Emphasis mine).

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth–penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.” ― Joseph Campbell

In The Chalice and the Blade Eisler explains, essentially, the re-storying of culture, society, and world and feminist spirituality and seeks to “re-story” dominant, patriarchal narratives into that which is woman-honoring and affirming. According to Eisler, the triumph of the dominator culture involved “fundamental changes in replicative information” (p. 83). In short, a complete cultural overhaul and literal “reprogramming” of culture and the human minds within it. This reprogramming involved coercion, destruction, forcefulness, and fear.

“The priests who now spread what they said was the divine Word—the Word of God that had magically been communicated to them—were backed up by armies, courts of law, and executioners. But their ultimate backup was not temporal, but spiritual. Their most powerful weapons were the ‘sacred’ stories, rituals, and priestly edicts through which they systematically inculcated in peoples’ minds the fear of terrible, remote, and ‘inscrutable’ deities. For people had to be taught to obey the deities…who now arbitrarily exercised powers of life and death in the most cruel, unjust, and capricious ways, to this day still often explained as ‘the will of God.’ Even today people still learn from ‘sacred’ stories what is good or evil, what should be imitated or abhorred, and what should be accepted as divinely ordained, not only by oneself but by all others. Through ceremonies and rituals, people also partake in these stories. As a result, the values there expressed penetrate into the deepest recesses of the mind, where, even in our time, they are guarded as hallowed and immutable truths” (p. 84).

For me, Goddess religion and spirituality is as much about sociocultural valuation (or devaluation) of women and making a feminist political statement, as it is about lived experience. Both are very valuable to me. We need to hear women’s stories. We need to hear each other into speech. We need to witness and be witnessed. We need to be heard.

“…If all the women of the world February 2014 039 recorded their dreams for a single week and laid them all end to end, we would recover the last million years of women’s hymns and chants and dances, all of women’s art and stories, and medicines, all of women’s lost histories… ~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“The one who tells the stories rules the world.” –Hopi Indian Proverb

“We feel nameless and empty when we forget our stories, leave our heroes unsung, and ignore the rites of our passage from one stage of life to another.” –Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox

 “As long as women are isolated one from the other, not allowed to offer other women the most personal accounts of their lives, they will not be part of any narratives of their own…women will be staving off destiny and not inviting or inventing or controlling it.” –Carolyn Heilbrun quoted in Sacred Circles

Telling our stories is one way we become more aware of just what ‘the river’ of our lives is. Listening to ourselves speak, without interruption, correction, or even flattering comments, we may truly hear, perhaps for the first time, some new meaning in a once painful, confusing situation. We may, quite suddenly, see how this even or relationship we are in relates to many others in our past. We may receive a flash of insight, a lesson long unlearned, a glimpse of understanding. And, as the quiet, focused compassion for us pervades the room, perhaps our own hearts open, even slightly, towards ourselves.

–Robin Deen Carnes & Sally Craig in Sacred Circles


Categories: books, feminism, feminist thealogy, Goddess, poems, prayers, quotes, readings, spirituality, thealogy, womanspirit, women, writing | 3 Comments

Stepping into Ourselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From “Priestessing Ritual” by Ruth Barrett

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

Posted via Lucy at Dreaming Aloud on Facebook:

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

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

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

Beauty Way

“The quality of our laughter and joy, the knowledge of our voices, thoughts and actions are weaving beauty around the land. –Dhyani Ywahoo (in Open Mind, 12/27)


Today after a long day of errands in town, I asked my husband if he’d like to go down to the woods with me and drum for a little bit before taking a walk. He has been down there quite a few times before (these rocks were part of the reason we bought our land in the first place), but never to drum with me. I looked at him on the rocks with the drum and said, “it has been almost a year and I’m still seeing things in the woods I’ve never seen before!” 😉


Categories: family, nature, quotes, self-care | Leave a comment

The altar of love

This is my body; this is the temple of light. This is my heart; this is the altar of love.” –Sufi song (quoted in Birthrites)

“Traveler, there is no path. One makes the path by walking.” –Antonio Machado (in Birthrites)

This is a picture of the lovely elemental altar bowl my mom made me for Christmas. It “holds” all four elements in one: Earth the clay it is made from, water in the dish surrounding the candle, fire in the candle, and air in the smoke/flame.

I was going to write a bit more about the large stack of books I was lucky enough to amass over Christmas and solstice, but I decided a short, quoteful post will suffice for today (I also posted a thealogy-related Mary Christmas post at my other blog).


While I’ve read a chapter each in most of the books I received, I completely finished reading one of them: Birthrites by Jackie Singer.

Two quotes from Birthrites about the value and purpose of rituals:

Making ritual diverts our attention from the everyday tasks of survival, and for a brief time allows us to notice and comment on where we are. Faced with the awesome experience of findings ourselves conscious in an unpredictable universe, making ritual is a noble attempt to confer rhythm and coherence to our lives…

…there is a paradox inherent in the whole concept of new ceremony, because part of the power of ceremony is that it has the weight of tradition behind it. In times of continuity, ritual would be something handed down by the elders. Perhaps this is an ideal, but we do not live in times of continuity. Rather than abandoning the whole idea of ritual as irrelevant, we need to respond to the challenges of our fast-changing age by renewing ritual practise in a way that honours the past but makes sense to us now.

Merry Christmas! May we all remember that we carry an altar of love within us.

Categories: family, holidays, quotes, ritual, spirituality, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

Women’s Mysteries, Women’s Circles

December 2013 024

“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.



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.
December 2013 022

Categories: community, feminist thealogy, night, priestess, quotes, resources, ritual, self-care, spirituality, women, women's circle, woodspriestess | 2 Comments


December 2013 003

Light from the back porch (saying, “come back inside!”) and light from the moon.

“We are nature. We are nature seeing nature. The red-winged blackbird flies in us.” –Susan Griffin (Open Mind, 5/29)

I got to the woods at 11:00 tonight after a long day of grading papers, interspersed with household tasks and kid needs. I keep trying to remember that this is only a very temporary phase and my usual “balance (such as it is) will be restored soon. I enjoyed looking at the moon (which is half right now, even though it my pictures it looks almost full) and the sensation of the quietness in the woods tonight. Still snowy, dark. Almost silent. I tipped my head back and watched the lights from a far off something flying noiselessly across the sky, noticing how the sound of it followed, rather than preceded it. I listened to my own breath and became aware of a humming sound, a ringing almost, in my ears. Just the biological effect of having my head tilted back, or tinnitus, or the divine hum and heartbeat of the universe, I’m not sure. The sound I think we hear when everything else is quiet and our minds are still. I heard a guest on Voices of the Sacred Feminine talk about this once—that if you settle down and listen to the sound behind everything else, it is a “divine buzz” or hum or the “ommm” to which the world vibrates.

“Mother earth, sister sea,

giving birth, energy

reaching out,

touching me


–Miriam Therese Winter (Open Mind, 7/5)

In other news, we’re having a holiday 10% sale in our etsy shop (use code: HOLIDAYS10OFF). I love that these goddess pendants represent a collaborative creative effort with my husband. Feels like a union of energies.

December 2013 031

Categories: art, nature, night, quotes, self-care, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

I make the effort

I make the effort December 2013 006
to maintain a ground of oceanic silence
out of which arises the multitude
of phenomena of daily life.

I make the effort
to see and passionately open in love
To the spirit that infuses all things.

I make the effort
to see the Beloved in everyone
and to serve the Beloved through everyone
(including the Earth)

I often fail in these aspirations
because I lose the balance
between separateness and unity,
and I feel afraid.

But I make the effort.

–Ram Dass (via Letters to my Daughters by Beth Sage-Owens)

It was pretty silly of me to plan a new blog-every-day experience while simultaneously entering the heaviest workload of the school session. I made this commitment to myself to show up though and so I’m doing it, even though it basically feels ridiculous to expect of myself and I’m not sure that what I’m sharing in these hastily banged out little posts actually has any value to anyone else! The school session ends on Saturday though and the rest of December will be ahead of me to continue my experiment/experience as well as turning my attention to my thesis (this month of posts was kind of going to be my wrap-up “lessons” from a year in the woods). I came to the computer wondering if I already had anything in my drafts folder I could use today, in my own best friend style, and behold, I did. This poem that I copied from a book at the beginning of October. And, it was pretty appropriate for today 🙂 After the GGG this Sept., one of the women I met there offered to mail me a book of her past writings and newsletters and this poem caught my eye and I saved it to use someday.

I visited the woods very hurriedly today because I was getting ready to leave and drive to class on potentially icy roads. I said, “I’m just going to take a picture and leave!” BUT, guess what? I could see both the moon and sun from the same spot (I had to move around a little) and the light in the woods was beautiful. And, as always, it restoreth my soul.

So, this is what I’ve got to offer tonight, nothing more, nothing less. I make the effort.

Categories: GGG, nature, poems, quotes, readings, woodspriestess | 3 Comments


Let us be clear that when I say Goddess I am not talking about a being somewhere outside of this world, nor am I proposing a new belief system. I am talking about choosing an attitude; choosing to take this living world, the people and creatures in it, as the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, to see the world, the Earth, and our lives as sacred.” –Starhawk (Open Mind, 2/7)

Today I made sugar cookies with my kids:

And polymer clay ornaments for myself:

December 2013 001

I noticed that it snowed more overnight and my old footprints in the woods were covered up and smoothed over. Yesterday, I also noticed how interestingly the snow on the deck rails had melted:

I finally got some work done on my matriarchal myth paper, but it is tedious going. Tomorrow begins the big push to get the school session finished and piles and piles of papers graded. I’m going to get up early and devote most of the day to it.

Every day sacred…right?! 😉

Categories: family, nature, parenting, quotes | 4 Comments


“My writing is a practice. It requires that sort of daily repetition and solitude—being with oneself—awareness—awareness of one’s body, awareness of one’s thoughts, awareness of one’s own process. And meditation makes me more aware of everything I do, so it makes the movements within my writing process clearer to me.”

–Susan Griffin (in Open Mind, 10/16)

It is interesting to see that I’ve decided to begin this new daily writing practice at a time in which I don’t feel much like writing any blog posts! Hmm. Today, my time in the woods was abbreviated slightly by the return of my small children, but before their voices came floating over to me, I was sitting with the sound of woodpeckers. There were at least three different ones near me of at least two types and it sounded like there were more that I didn’t see. As winter steadily approaches, I’ve noticed that there is much less bird song in the forest lately, but today (warmer) the woods were alive with the sounds of birds and squirrels. Woodschorus.

I’ve also noticed that while I enjoy being alone, I’m feeling a little cooped up and isolated lately–the Thanksgiving holiday meant that our usual weekly activities were different from what they usually are and I’ve gone nearly a week without seeing anyone other than my immediate family and my parents. My nerves feel a little shot by the voices of my darling children, I’m really feeling extremely done co-sleeping with my toddler daughter, and all three of them seem out of sorts and extra messy, wild, loud, disagreeable and irritable too. I think they also miss seeing their friends and going places.

With winter’s approach and the turn of the wind to cold, it has also come to my attention that I want to create some more sacred spaces inside my home. Before I began my woodspractice, I used to sit at my living room altar every morning and spend some time in prayer/reflection. Now, I’ve let it get a bit dusty and so over the weekend I spent some time cleaning it up and rearranging the items a little bit. Today when I sat down at my desk to work on my classes, I lit a candle and then designed to squeeze a little altar space in front of my textbooks 🙂

December 2013 001I’m having trouble allowing myself the moontime downtime my body calls for as well. Though I very nearly talked myself out of it AND very nearly apologizing for wanting to do it, I did carve out a small niche of time in which to participate in Paola’s New Moon Intention call this evening. I laid down with a heat pack with a candle December 2013 009and a pocket goddess sculpture as a tiny altar space and listening with my eyes closed to her voice and to the intentions of the other women in the virtual sacred circle. I’m glad I gave this to myself, even though it meant people were waiting for dinner.

Yesterday, I decided that I’m no longer willing to expect myself to be perfect. I’m done with that. I’m cleaning it out. Unraveling it from around my heart and brain. Done.

“Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” –May Sarton (in Open Mind, 10/25)

“It is a long baptism into the seas of humankind, my daughter. Better immersion than to live untouched.” –Tillie Olsen (in Open Mind, 11/8)

In keeping with the swirling change of the seasons, I fell in love with this amazing picture of Shekinah Shaking Out the Seasons by Caron McCloud (Shiloh Sophia McCloud‘s mother). For some reason it came to me today and I felt absolutely transfixed by it:

I hope there is a print of this available someday because it must go on my wishlist! And, I signed up for her free “7 day aliveness challenge” too.

Categories: art, family, introversion, moontime, nature, quotes, woodspriestess | 1 Comment


“The question about how to ‘understand’ her now clarifies itself, as the wrong question…perhaps interstand is what we do, to engage with the work, to mix with it in an active engagement, rather than ‘figuring it out.’ Figure it in.”

–Judy Grahn (in Open Mind, 10/8)

To interstand, we must be in relationship with what is happening (Diane Mariechild). After my realization in the woods this weekend about my thesis, I also remembered that December represents the anniversary of my decision to embark on my year long woods experiment. So, it seems like the perfect time to do a wrap-up month of daily posts—kind of a conclusion month as I both finish out the year and prepare my thesis. I did this in March and it was an extremely powerful experience in deepening my practice. I’ve been wanting to do another month of daily posts for a while now, but keep letting other things get in the way. Now feels like the right time though 🙂 Of course, the day is almost over and this is all I’ve managed, but that is part of the practice: doing it anyway.

I took a couple of pictures of little treasures in the woods this afternoon and also a better one of the tree I wrote about yesterday:

As I spent time today catching up with Open Mind, a book of daily meditations that I’ve loved reading this year, I found this delightful quote:

“It is now time for all women of the colorful mind, who are aware of the cycles of night and day and the dance of the moon in her tides, to arise.” –Dhyani Ywahoo (in Open Mind, 11/22)

And, it reminded me of one of my favorite new pendant designs:

(This one isn’t yet listed on etsy. If you’d like me to set up a reserved listed for you for her, let me know :))

Categories: nature, quotes, spirituality, woodspriestess | 3 Comments

Sacred Relationship to the Land

I recently read an article about creating a sacred relationship with the land. As soon as I read it, I knew exactly who I think of as the guardian spirit of my own place in the woods. It is this tree. I’m thankful for the opportunity to get to know it.

November 2013 054

“This generation is serving as the midwife for the rebirth of the Shechinah…This Goddess who shines on us as we study sacred texts is found in redwood groves and apple orchards. She is coming to us in the wind and the water, in the ocean and the mountains.” –Rabbi Leah Novick (quoted in Open Mind, 9/8)

This weekend as I sat on a rock looking through the “doorway” created by two more tree trunks at the Guardian Tree beyond and having the sensation that it was both a doorway to and a doorway from, I had a sudden crystal clear moment of revelation about my M.Div thesis project. This is IT. This woodspriestess practice and experiment I embarked on throughout the course of 2013—I’ve been working on my thesis this entire year, I just didn’t know it. I spent some time this afternoon writing a new thesis prospectus and it came flowing out. A Year of Lessons from the Forest. I’ve got this.

[My prospective content for my birth-as-a-spiritual-experience thesis plan is over 200 pages long, which also tells me that my thesis needs to re-become my dissertation plan (it actually WAS my original dissertation plan until I decided to take a detour and complete the M.Div).]

I also remembered spending a lot of time as a child with a big sycamore tree in the valley by my house. It was the guardian spirit of that place. There was a little sort of brambly grove by it with a rock pile (from past settler field-clearing) that I used to play in/on/by. I pretended that the tree had a keyhole in it and my magic key (that I used to wear around my neck), would open the trunk and that there was another world behind the tree. I called it Idlewild. (googled this and apparently it is a series of books that began being published in 2003. I was a kid in the 1980’s though, so I didn’t read them)

Here are some excerpts from that article I mentioned…

How To Create a Sacred Relationship with the Land

Here are some tips for establishing a bond with the land near where you live:

Start with your own backyard, and apply the suggestions below. Hua reminds us that “every place is sacred.”

By foot, explore new mountains, hills, forests, lakes, ocean sides, or other earth areas near where you live. Feel which places call to you. When you find a place you like, keep returning. Make a commitment to visit it at least once a month.

Ask permission to enter any given place from what you feel is the “guardian” spirit of the place –– you’ll instinctively sense where it resides. What’s important is your respectful intention.

State your intention for being there –– to love the place, say prayers, hear what it has to say, be of service, heal the land, honor the local ancestors, make amends for transgressions to the First Peoples, etc…

Sit and feel your love for the place. That’s it. Just feel the appreciation you have for the beauty of the landscape, the trees, the plants and animals. Let Earth Mother and the visible and invisible elements feel your affection.

Listen for messages. Get quiet and see if you can receive information –– and healing –– for yourself, others, Mama Earth, etc…

Seven Sisters Mystery School Marguerite Rigoglioso

20131129-122751.jpgYep. 🙂

Categories: Goddess, nature, quotes, spirituality, thesis, woodspriestess | 4 Comments

Sunday Sabbath: An Irish conachlann

October 2013 130

New projects I’ve been working on with my husband this week!

I follow the footsteps of my foremothers Foremothers who
gave birth to me Me, a priestess of the Goddess Goddess we
draw down to us Us, the People of the Earth Earth that
supports us all All life, even you and I I follow the footsteps
of my foremothers.

–Elizabeth Barrette
Charleston, Illinois

in Talking to Goddess, edited by D’Vorah Grenn

(Formatting as the original)

Categories: art, blessings, Goddess, poems, quotes, readings, sabbath, theapoetics | Leave a comment

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

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