sculpture

Day 24: Planting Seeds (#30daysofspring)

12931205_10209251327430238_5463045808457409004_nMy “planted seeds” were our new Story Goddesses out in the wild violets and sunshine.

Yesterday, we went for a walk before dinner and admired my favorite dogwood tree that is getting ready to bloom. It is perfectly shaped like an ornamental tree, but it is wild. That’s my favorite kind of everyday magic.

12439344_10209251326510215_5725357212143025081_nNext free ecourse begins April 10th: Earthprayer.

Categories: #30daysofspring, art, creativity, Flowers, nature, practices, sacred pause, sculpture, seasons, womanspirit, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 23: “Awakening.” (#30daysofspring)

Listen.12801588_10209231288729283_4121319403236202860_n
I tell of prayers strung through oak leaves
Deep wells
Emerald fields
Hot coals
I know the courage it takes
To tend the flame
Of ancient mystery.

The lilac by the garage is huge this year and blanketed with buds. I am looking forward to seeing it!

Free Earthprayer class begins April 10th.

Categories: #30daysofspring, art, blessings, creativity, Flowers, Goddess, nature, poems, practices, prayers, readings, sacred pause, sculpture, seasons, self-care, spirituality, story goddess, theapoetics, womanspirit, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 13: Daffodil (#30daysofspring)

“I am whole unto myself March 2016 001
I am the bright maiden
Strong, invincible, and free
I am the dark maiden
Cloaked in veils and mystery
I am the pulse of the sun
And the pull of the moon
Flowing from one to the other
In perfect harmony
Where I walk
None can hinder me
I am maiden
Forever young and free.”

Shekhinah Mountainwater, Ariadne’s Thread

The prompt for today was actually to write a silly poem, but instead this poem from our study group yesterday kept floating back to me. I saw “daffodil” was the photo prompt and when I went out to my tiny temple to work, there was a daffodil right inside the front door–it had fallen out of the flower crown worn by one of my circle sisters the day before. So, even though it was a little wilted, I thought it was very fitting for today, shown here with both the bright maiden and the dark maiden at this balanced time of the season…

Categories: #30daysofspring, art, nature, poems, practices, priestess, readings, sculpture, spirituality | 3 Comments

Claypriestess (#30daysofdissertation)

12362679_1685790088299873_4037715236141904055_o“If there is one chant in the universe it is to create.”

–Chris Griscolm quoted in Nicole Christine, p. 25

If you have ever eavesdropped on a conversation between my husband and me around the clamor of our children’s voices, you will hear me making a tired lament: “All I want is a broad swath of uninterrupted time.” I am listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic, on audio book from the library right now and she mentions that many creative people lament not having long stretches of uninterrupted time available in which to work. She quotes a letter from Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne, lamenting his lack of time and how he is always pulled “hither and thither by circumstances.” Melville said that he longed for a wide-open stretch of time in which to write. She says he called it, “the calm, the coolness, the silent grass-growing mood in which a man ought always to compose.”

…I do not know of any artist (successful or unsuccessful, amateur or pro) who does not long for that kind of time. I do not know of any creative soul who does not dream of calm, cool, grass-growing days in which to work with- out interruption. Somehow, though, nobody ever seems to achieve it. Or if they do achieve it (through a grant, for in- stance, or a friend’s generosity, or an artist’s residency), that idyll is just temporary—and then life will inevitably rush back in. Even the most successful creative people I know complain that they never seem to get all the hours they need in order to engage in dreamy, pressure-free, creative exploration. Reality’s demands are constantly pounding on the door and disturbing them. On some other planet, in some other lifetime, perhaps that sort of peaceful Edenic work environment does exist, but it rarely exists here on earth. Melville never got that kind of environment, for instance. But he still somehow managed to write Moby-Dick, anyhow.

Source: Elizabeth Gilbert On Unlocking Creativity, Ideas As Viruses . News | OPB

My little temple space in which to create in uninterrupted time...

My little temple space in which to create in uninterrupted time…

Today I spent almost two hours working on my dissertation (does this take the place of the next several days of 15
minutes, I wonder?!). I decided to take a dramatic step and I opened a fresh document and started over. Well, not started over, exactly, but approached my material in a new way. I had been working within a 300+ page document that was very cumbersome to navigate. I also discovered a huge amount of repetition in the material, thanks to having copied and pasted the same sections into the document multiples times. This morning, while doing yoga, I suddenly realized that rather than try to mine through the 300 pages and delete repetition, I needed to start with a blank document and move relevant pieces from the 300 pages into it, therefore leaving behind that which is not needed, rather than trying to excavate it. So, after my two hours, I now have four documents: 108 pages of research results from my study group (originally 154), 21 pages of additional typed research notes from books I’ve read that haven’t been placed correctly within my dissertation, and 69 pages of “leftover” content from my original 300. That now leaves 113 pages in my “starter” dissertation. This was a difficult process. I got scared that I wasn’t going to have enough. I started to feel panicky that I don’t know what I’m doing and I have nothing good to say. I started to worry that I can’t do this. It became exceedingly clear that it is going to take me a long time to finish and I’m not sure how to put it all together. And, then…glimmers of something coming together. Section titles and opening stories to frame the sections started to come to me and I sense the shape of it emerging. Something worthwhile and valuable is there. I know it. Now, for that broad swath of uninterrupted time…

One of the things that caught my eye again today as I did all this rearranging was a section I typed from Priestess: Woman as Sacred Celebrant by Pamela Eakins about her past life memories of making clay goddess figures as a temple priestess

“…to me it brought a continuation of the energy of the sacred objects of the grandmothers. I contained 12310054_1685134281698787_1950735518948681440_othis energy in a new form in the dolls that would be placed upon the altars and in the graves of the daughters living now and the daughters to come…

I felt this process made my own clay stronger, too. Some of the pieces cracked in the fire because of the added ‘impurities’…but, in this case, I felt the impurities were the purest of pure and I worshipped each crack knowing the crack contained the wisdom of the priestesses who had occupied the doll-making table for more moons than I could even imagine. It contained too, the devotional energy of every grandmother who had held it in her hands or placed it on her altar. Sometimes ‘impurities’ sanctify further that which is holy to begin with.

My hands knew the mind of the clay before they touched it. My designs were fine. My fingers were nimble. I made the same figures over and over. I knew from the start, no matter what shell her outer form took, whether it was black or brown, gray or red, depending on the mix, that her essence was the same…

While I tend to have a knee-jerk skepticism about past-life memories, there is something in Eakins’ words that I know at a bone-deep level as I do my own work with goddesscraft: 12309972_1684185268460355_7337326396732314515_o

…Each goddess was imprinted with the sound of sacred life coursing through the Universe. I changed with the priestesses as the figures came through my hands. Each doll received the sacred vibration of life…For seventy-seven moons I made the dolls at the long table with the young Sisters of Nun. My hands were so fast. I made thousands of figures: beautiful little faces, etched collars of gold plates, pubic hair swirled into tiny rows of connecting spirals. They were so precious. At the end of the day, my baked clay shelves were covered with little women.

The clay goddesses healed…

This is how I apprenticed. I learned, in this manner, the art of healing. I learned that to heal means to make whole, and that becoming whole involves learning many levels of purification, balance, and reformation” (p. 32-33).

In Anne Key’s marvelous priestess memoir, Desert Priestess, she makes this important point: “It is of course no small wonder why graven images are so tightly controlled by religious traditions.” (p. 52) Sometimes I feel like this is what I’m tapping into when I make my own goddess sculptures—a resistance to tight control over graven images and over personalization of divinity as male.

And, I return to Gilbert’s thoughts on creative living as a life path:

Is this the ideal environment in which to create — having to make art out of “things residual” in stolen time? Not really. Or maybe it’s fine. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because that’s how things have always been made. Most individuals have never had enough time, and they’ve never had enough resources, and they’ve never had enough support or patronage or reward … and yet still they persist in creating. They persist because they care. They persist because they are called to be makers, by any means necessary…Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.

Source: Elizabeth Gilbert On Unlocking Creativity, Ideas As Viruses . News | OPB

In my spare minutes of hither-and-thither creating, I did put together a mini-book of Seasonal Meditations as a solstice gift for newsletter subscribers. If you already subscribe to the Brigid’s Grove newsletter, make sure you’ve checked your email for your mini book. If you don’t you can do so now and it will be sent out again tonight. 🙂

December 2015 066

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, art, creativity, dissertation, Goddess, priestess, quotes, readings, sacred pause, sculpture, self-care, spirituality, woodspriestess, writing | Leave a comment

Day 25: the palm of my hand (#30daysofHecate)

Echoes of MesopotamiaIMG_9352
small figures from ancient places
ancient times
and ancient faces
ancient words
and ancient wisdom
still flowing in my veins…

I occasionally get requests to make bigger goddesses–people wanting figures that are large altar pieces 12-18 inches tall or taller. The goddesses I make are all about three inches tall and there’s a reason for that: they fit in the palm of my hand. When I create them, I feel as if I’m part of an unbroken lineage stretching back 30,000 years to the person who carved the Goddess of Willendorf. I feel connected to the priestesses of the Mesopotamian temples who sculpted hundreds upon hundreds of tiny clay goddesses. Someone commented on my sculptures once saying, “echoes of Mesopotamia.” And, I said, “exactly.” I feel the connection between the clay in my hand and the clay in their hands, running through the ripples and eddies of time.

I’ve been inspired recently to re-read Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, finding new bits of wisdom from it that speak to something different in me than they did the first time I read it. She writes of the attempts to discredit Goddess religion by invalidating the historical narratives or archaeological evidence: “The idea seems to be that if they can disprove our origin story, they can invalidate our spirituality…Is Buddhism invalid if we cannot find archaeological evidence of Buddha’s existence? Are Christ’s teachings unimportant if we cannot find his birth certificate or death warrant?…the truth of our experience is valid whether it has roots thousands of years old or thirty minutes old…a mythic truth whose proof is shown not through references and footnotes but in the way it engages strong emotions, mobilizes deep life energies, and gives us a sense of history, purpose, and place in the world. What gives the Goddess tradition validity is how it works for us now, in the moment, not whether or not someone else worshipped this particular image in the past” (p. 4).

The ancestry of my goddess sculptures is not the energy that raised temples and built monuments (or walls), it is the energy that carried a baby on one hip and a basket of supplies on the other and needed a goddess just the right size to tuck down the front of a shirt.

People might also look for altar pieces that stay in one place, but I create sacred art that goes wherever you do. It makes my day when I see a photo from a customer of their goddesses living life with them, rather than dusty on a shelf, and I keep envisioning a collaborative photo book of these sculptures as they travel the world. In the last month, we’ve shipped goddesses to France, Sweden, Portugal, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Canada. An archaeologist of the future may wonder why people in so many different geographic regions have little goddesses in the same style—perhaps this is evidence of widespread Goddess worship, they will say.

Sometimes I describe my life in the woods as being held in the hand of the goddess. And, I make goddesses that I hold in my hand. Am I in the palm of her hand or is she in the palm of mine? The answer is both.

October 2015 034

One of my all-time favorite fan photos–a rainy day traveling goddess picture, taken by my friend/SIL (this one is only an inch tall, but look how she calls in the waters of the world!)

Related past posts:

Echoes of Mesopotamia by Molly Meade

Amazon.com: Earthprayer, Birthprayer, Lifeprayer, Womanprayer

Thursday Thealogy: Matriarchal Myth or a New Story? | WoodsPriestess

Thursday Thealogy: Goddess as Symbol, Statement, and Experience | WoodsPriestess

Goddess Body, World Body | WoodsPriestess

Categories: #30daysofHecate, ancestors, art, feminist thealogy, Goddess, priestess, sculpture, spirituality, womanspirit | Leave a comment

Day 17: Scars (#30DaysofHarvest)

where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say

holy
holy.

— Pesha Joyce Gertler

 

Creating goddess art that attempts to communicate an experience for another feels like a sacred trust. We have several designs that honor women’s scars. And, their courage. 
(Side note: whenever I type “scared” or “scar” or “scarred,” it always comes out as “sacred” first and I have to correct it. Or, do I?)

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, art, sacred pause, sculpture, seasons, women | 3 Comments

Initiate Yourself

11692528_1643738219171727_6214351850615964803_n
…Make a sacred fire
and throw on it all that you would use to harm yourself.

Make kindling from shame.
Let your dance be wild,
your voice be honest
and your heart untamed.
Be cyclical,
don’t make sense..
Initiate yourself.
Initiate yourself.

(Aisha Wolfe)

The Spiral in Womanrunes is The Rune of Initiation. Our spiral goddess pendant represents and reminds me of this lifelong process of initiation. A pivotal initiatory point for many women is giving birth and I wore this pendant all through my last pregnancy, including in the birth pool in which my last son was born. She carries the imprint of that power for me, a reminder of my own capacity to change, grow, welcome, and create.

I consider her a pendant symbolic of initiation for many events, whether a personal life transition (such as childbirth) or as dedication to a particular path, life purpose, or journey.

This is the pendant of initiation. This is the pendant of change.

It is time for dedication to your sacred path.

Pewter Spiral Goddess Priestess Initiation Pendant by BrigidsGrove.

I’m currently taking Vanessa Sage’s Enchant Your Everyday class (free!) and my daily enchantment practice is this:

  • Open arms to the sky.
  • Touch the rock/earth.
  • Place one hand on belly and one on heart and take a deep breath
    (“belly, bones, and blood,” I usually say in my head)
  • Touch my spiral pendant and say: Initiate yourself. Initiate yourself.

(I usually go to the woods for this, but sometimes my own living room has to work instead!)

July 2015 124

Categories: art, blessings, poems, practices, prayers, priestess, sculpture, spirituality, womanspirit, woodspriestess | 1 Comment

Goddess Legs!

After posting about the “twisty legs” on some of my goddess designs, it occurred to me to explain the reasons behind the forms of my other designs! Our goddess pendants have several different leg configurations. Each type is chosen to represent a specific energy…

October 2014 054 (2)Seated Mountain Pose

Used for my mama goddess designs, this pose is a grounded, mindful, yoga pose bringing harmony, restoration, and balance. These mama goddesses are centered within themselves. They are focused, intentional, mindful, meditative, and purposeful. They are connected and in flow.

Inhale and repeat silently: “I exist in the here and now….”

Exhale and repeat silently: “The present moment is all I have to be with…”

Continue inhaling and exhaling as you silently and simply repeat: “Here and now…present moment.”

il_570xN.737953003_2586Shakti

The spiral leg form represents the energy of rising. I think of these goddesses as joyfully dancing, twirling, expressing themselves actively and energetically in the world. Indeed, the sensation of moving energy is so palpable through this design, that as a high-energy person, I have to be careful how and where I wear them, because the sense of being activated is so strong with them, that it can be too much for me! However, if you feel in need of activation and mobilization, however, then these dancing, moving, energetic goddess pendants are the designs for you! Any of my pendants with dancing legs represent Shakti rising in an energetic dance of creativity, freedom, and personal power. She is unapologetically fully inhabiting her own personal power and her being is enlivened by an exuberant flow of passionate, inspired energy.

Spin
spin with me now
until we dance shadows into art
hope into being
and pain into power…

Pewter Spiral Goddess Priestess "Initiation" Pendant, Necklace (original sculpture, hand cast, spiral)Priestess

The priestess designs are those with a “dress” bottom (instead of pointy or twisty legs!). This solid foundation represents grounding, while the uplifted arms represent connection and inspiration. These designs draw down energy from the sky and draw up strength from the earth. They represent serving as a conduit of divine energy, flow, and inspiration. Draw it up, draw it down. Let it take root in belly, bones, and blood. Let the mantle settle on your shoulders until you know without a doubt that this is who you really are.

I am committed to this path
With courage, may I walk
With patience, may I love
With strength, may I serve…

February 2015 057Goddess

The pointy legs of this design are a classic goddess form. They form a connection to ancient goddess images  as well as to modern experiences and represent a numinous, everpresent, universal Goddess energy. The holding “web” of energetic, cosmic co-creation. This form makes the as-above, so-below connection with the shape of the arms mirroring the shape of the legs.

Be still and know that I am she

She who kisses your eyelids with sunshine
Blesses your brow with raindrops
Lifts cares from your shoulders

She who rises with the sun
And who holds the night sky
She who holds you firmly
While spinning in space…

Of course, the forms may speak to you in different ways. To call you to different understandings and meanings and to signify something specific in your own life. They have room for that too! 🙂

Categories: art, Goddess, sculpture | Leave a comment

Shining Year Meditation & International Women’s Day

10985048_1598397140372502_1797564772323157625_nOur collaborative business planning and progress is so intimately tied to our work with Leonie Dawson’s annual workbooks, that when I saw the theme of this year’s workbook—Create Your Shining Year—the wheels starting turning about how to communicate that in a pendant format. A friend then made the suggesting of making a Shining Year pendant with a sun at her center, so I found a sun stamp and set out to create some Shining Year goddesses. I also wanted to make a connection to the sun symbols used in Womanrunes, which are about laughter, healing, and letting go—all messages I need to receive into my own life this year!

Shining Year Goddess meditation

Take a minute to put down anything else you are carrying, doing, or thinking about. Let your shoulders relax and release. Let the breath move easy down into your belly. Then smile. Smile from your roots up through your branches. Feel joy suffuse you, filling you, bathing you, and laugh. Laugh from your belly. Laugh from your heart. Laugh with the wild abandon of freedom and release.

Let go. Feel the release and freedom that comes with unclenching your life. Remember to trust yourself and what makes you smile. Are you afraid to laugh? Are you scared to let go? Do you fear the loss of control that comes with hilarity? It is time to shake that off. Don’t be afraid. Laugh, sister, laugh. It is time to have some fun!

Know that you are as free as you allow yourself to be.

il_570xN.737953003_2586

Why the twisty legs?

Recently, the same friend who suggested the sun image asked me why some of my pendant sculpts have twisty legs and I realized that sometimes the why I’m trying to communicate through my work isn’t always immediately interpretable! To me, the spiral leg form represents the energy of rising. I think of these goddesses as joyfully dancing, twirling, expressing themselves actively and energetically in the world. Indeed, the sensation of moving energy is so palpable through this design, that as a high-energy person, I have to be careful how and where I wear them, because the sense of being activated is so strong with them, that it can be too much for me! However, if you feel in need of activation and mobilization, however, then these dancing, moving, energetic goddess pendants are the designs for you! Any of my pendants with dancing legs represent Shakti rising in an energetic dance of creativity, freedom, and personal power. She is unapologetically fully inhabiting her own personal power and her being is enlivened by an exuberant flow of passionate, inspired energy.

Other new designs

As you may glimpse in the opening image, we’ve also created two new miscarriage mama goddess pendants, a new dancing moon goddess, and a mastectomy goddess pendant.

il_570xN.737956923_5iki

We’re excited to have donated several pieces of our work to a Red Tent fundraiser project in the UK. Please check out all the details about the Community Red Tent and join supporters from around the world for the online auction taking place via Facebook on the spring equinox: Community Red Tent Auction & Raffle

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re also offering a 10% discount code on any of the items in our shop through March! Use SMALLBIZSATURDAY.

Categories: art, meditations, sacred pause, sculpture, womanspirit | Leave a comment

Day 21: Lighting someone else’s spark (#30DaysofBrigid)

Your fire is that which rests within. It is hot, it is holy, and it feeds you. IMG_2674

via Womanrunes: The Flame | WoodsPriestess.

One of the things that is fulfilling about creating art is how to speaks to others. I was brought to tears last week by reading a customer’s review of her cesarean birth goddess pendant and how her husband will be wearing the pendant for her while they welcome their second baby into the world. I am honored to be a small piece of her path and to touch the lives of other families with our work. Today my husband and I had a really great conversation about our business and its direction for the year. We want to create that which is in us to create and to share it with others. That’s the core. We have to move a little slow this year because we’re on baby-time now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to take one step at a time and to continue to build our momentum, to change and grow and dream big.

 

 

 

Categories: #30daysofBrigid, art, sacred pause, sculpture | 4 Comments

Day 4: Heart Shaken with Inspiration (#30DaysofBrigid)

Prayer to Brigid IMG_2093 

Brigid
of the Sacred Oak.
Brigid
of the Sacred Flame.

Sacred smith
shape our lives
in the cauldron of destiny.

Ignite our creativity
forge our passions.

Spill forth
in the language of poetryIMG_2097
falling leaves
and hot metal.

Brigid
Sacred Guardian
Keeper of flame
hope and hearts.

Enliven our work
guide our steps
inspire our message.

Thank you.

(modified from earlier poem: Woodspriestess: Brigid)

IMG_2089

Categories: #30daysofBrigid, art, Goddess, poems, prayers, sacred pause, sculpture, spirituality | Tags: | Leave a comment

Gathering the Women

May 2014 006 Gathering the women
gathering the women
gathering the women.

You are welcome here.
You are welcome here.

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

You are welcome here.
You are welcome here.

I’m in the middle of my Chrysalis Woman Circle Leader training program and enjoying it very much. As one of our assignments were were supposed to create a priestess collage as well as a new circle leader/priestess altar. As I prepared the altar, I found myself singing the little song above. I later googled it just in case, but it looks like I did actually make it up in that moment at my altar. That is what I do with my work: gather the women. And, I want them to feel welcome in the circle. Sometimes I feel discouraged though and I wonder if this work matters. I wonder if people really can work together “in perfect love and perfect trust,” I wonder if people like me and I them, and I struggle with wanting to reach “more” women, rather than being completely satisfied with the small group of beautiful souls who do regularly show up to do this work with me . So, I really appreciated Lucy Pearce’s recent blog post on the subject of, if what I do is women’s work, why aren’t women interested?

I had just done a book reading of my #1 Amazon Best Selling book, The Rainbow Way… to an audience of one.

I had just led a red tent circle with 14 women… most of whom had travelled 40 minutes or more to be there.

I am about to lead a workshop… a free women’s workshop… and am aware that numbers may well be small.

Where are all the women? If this truly is women’s work… then why are they at One Direction in their tens of thousands… and not here? Why are they reading 50 Shades… and not Moon Time?

I often apologise to people that my work is niche…

But how can something which is accessible to 50% of the population be “niche”?…

via Why Aren’t Women Interested? | The Happy Womb.

Once at an LLL meeting I mentioned wanting to start a group called “mothercraft” or “womancraft.” Another woman there said it sounded interesting, but if that is what it was called she would never come. I surmised because it sounded too much like “witchcraft.” I think many women retain a deep-seated, historically rooted fear of being labeled witches. Maybe that sounds silly, but I think it is real.

I am very, very carefully planning for my Red Tent even in August without including the word “Goddess” in any chants/rituals, because I want to make sure to speak to the womanspirit within all of us, rather than being associated with any one framework of belief. My observation is that Red Tent spaces have this ability to transcend any particular belief system and welcome women of many backgrounds, inclinations, and beliefs. They aren’t specifically “Goddess circles,” though they honor the divine feminine through their very being. I hope I am able to hold this space as well.

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

(quoted in Chrysalis Woman Circle Leader manual)

Someone commenting on Lucy’s post said maybe women don’t need her work because they don’t feel “oppressed.” I thought about this and realized that I haven’t ever felt particularly oppressed personally, but I still need womancraft for celebration AND because even though I haven’t been directly oppressed, that doesn’t mean countless women around the world are not—I take a stand and lend a voice in my work for a different, healthier world for women. Another observation I’ve made is that women have a lot of trouble viewing women’s circle activities as something other than an “indulgence” or something frivolous and so it is easy for them to talk themselves out of it or not be able to give themselves the time/space for it, even though they are deeply intrigued and interested.

In the article I wrote when I originally turned over the question of whether it matters, I included this poem:

May 2014 003

Finished priestess collage for CW training.

…Rise up
stand tall
say no
be counted
hug often
hold your babies
hold your friends

Circle often
stand together
refuse to give up
when defeated, rally once more.
Persist in a vision of the way things could be
and take action
to bring that vision into reality….

 via Do Women’s Circles Actually Matter? By Molly Meade

And, I saved this relevant quote:

“…But it is exactly the same thing. You cannot have male dominated spiritual practices and leadership without the subjugation of women. And the subjugation of women equals a rape culture. A rape culture equals women and children being used and seen as objects to possess. As former President Jimmy Carter put it: “The truth is that male religious leaders have had—and still have—an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.” –Jacqueline Hope Derby #YesAllWomen

The Girl God: ://thegirlgod.blogspot.com/…/yesallwomen-by-jacqueline…

And, I remembered some thoughts I’d shared from one of my posts last year in which I shared our summer women’s retreat ritual recipe:

…I’ve been feeling a little discouraged about my retreats lately, primarily because there are a lot more women on the email list than actually show up and so I always feel like I’m doing something “wrong” or am not planning interesting enough things to attract them. I also take it kind of personally—there is a vulnerability in preparing an offering such as this and each time I do it I actually feel like I’m preparing a gift for my friends. When they decline the invite, it feels, in part, like a rejection of the gift I’m offering. Cognitively, I know (or, I hope!), this isn’t true, but emotionally that is how it usually registers. This summer retreat was a beautiful experience that felt just as I wish for these retreats to feel—nurturing, affirming, and celebratory—like a blessingway for all of us with no one needing to be pregnant!

Things I was reminded of after this experience:

  • There is nothing like having friends who are willing to lie on your living room floor and listen to a shamanic drumming CD without laughing or saying you’re ridiculous.
  • Small IS good—I already know from my years as a breastfeeding support group leader that I’m a sucker for bigger-is-better thinking (I tell my own students: don’t let your self-esteem depend on the size of your group!!!!!). When the group is small or RSVPs are minimal, it starts to feel like a personal “failing” or failure to me somehow. However, the reality is that there is a quality of interaction in a small group that is not really possible in a larger group. At this retreat there were seven women. While there was an eighth friend I really wished would come and who we missed a lot, the size felt pretty perfect. I reflected that while some part of me envisions some kind of mythically marvelous “large” group, ten is probably the max that would fit comfortably in our space as well as still having each woman be able participate fully. Twelve would probably be all right and maybe we could handle fifteen. I also need to remember not to devalue the presence of the women who DO come. They matter and they care and by lamenting I want more, it can make them feel like they’re not “enough.”

via Ritual Recipe: Women’s Summer Retreat | WoodsPriestess.

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

May 2014 009Earlier this month I received a lovely surprise birthday gift from a talented friend and it is perfect for all the Red Tent plans afoot for August! I’m working on collecting red fabric and cushions as well.

June 2014 001

A few weekends ago, we made prayer flags for a friend and I used different quotes from the Amazing Year workbook on mine (I also presented about this workbook at a conference last week).

May 2014 262After I got home from making the flags, I sat at my Chrysalis Woman altar space and drew a card from the Gaian Tarot deck and it felt incredibly perfect:

May 2014 271

In other good news, I received my M.Div thesis feedback at last and it was this: “It’s beautiful. I don’t see how you can improve it or change it. It’s wonderfully articulate, moving, and elegant.”

And, I found out just today that my Womanrunes workshop was approved for this year’s Gaea Goddess Gathering in Kansas!

Check out this Rise Up video from the Red Tent Movie:

Also, read Lucy’s follow-up blog post here:

Encouragement For Women’s Workers Everywhere: When You Are Feeling Downhearted, Alone and Misunderstood | The Happy Womb.

Gather the women. They are welcome here.

May 2014 083

Categories: art, community, feminism, friends, GGG, OSC, priestess, retreat, ritual, sculpture, spirituality, thealogy, theapoetics, thesis, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 9 Comments

The Goddess of Willendorf and Does My Uterus Make Me Look Fat?

“Loving, knowing, and respecting our bodies is a powerful and invincible act of rebellion in this society.”
~ Inga Muscio

IMG_0222I do not remember the first time I ever saw her, but I do know that I have loved the Goddess (Venus) of Willendorf sculpture for many, many years now. I consider her almost a personal “totem.” I do not see her as a literal representation of a particular deity (though when someone uses the phrase, “Great Goddess” or “Great Mother,” she’s the figure I see!), I see her more as honoring the female form. I love that she is so full-figured and not “perfect” or beautiful. I like that she is not pregnant (there is some disagreement about this and many people do describe her as pregnant) and what I like best is that she is complete unto herself. She is a complete form–not just a headless pregnant belly–I just LOVE her. She represents this deep, ancient power to me.

In a past assignment for one of D.Min classes, I wrote:

I have a strong emotional connection to the Paleolithic and Neolithic figures. I do not find that I feel as personally connected to Egyptian and Greek and Roman Goddess imagery, but the ancient figures really speak to something powerful within me. I have a sculpture of the Goddess of Willendorf at a central point on my altar. Sometimes I hold her and wonder and muse about who carved the original. I almost feel a thread that reaches out and continues to connect us to that nearly lost past—all the culture and society and how very much we don’t know about early human history. There is such a solid power to these early figures and to me they speak of the numinous, non-personified, Great Goddess.

I know ancient goddess figures are commonly described as “fertility figures” or as pregnant, but most of the early sculptures do not actually appear pregnant to me, they appear simply full-figured. One of the things I love about the Willendorf Goddess is her air of self-possession. She is complete unto herself. She may be a fertile figure, but she is not clearly pregnant and she does not have a baby in her arms, which indicates that her value was not exclusively in the maternal role. Early goddess figurines are usually portrayed alone, it is only later that we see the addition of the son/baby figure at the mother’s breast or in arms. The earliest figures seem independent of specifically maternal imagery, it is later that we begin to see Goddess defined in relationship to children or as exclusively maternal. I think this reflects a shift that women continue to struggle with today (in Goddess religion as well as personal life) with the mother role see as exhaustive or exclusive. In contemporary society, the only mainstream representation of the Goddess that manages to survive under public recognition is the Madonna and Child and here, not only has Goddess been completely subsumed by her offspring, but she is no longer even recognized as truly divine.

This image has been a potent affirmation for me many times in my life. One Mother’s Day, my then four-year-old son found a IMG_0636little green aventurine Goddess of Willendorf at a local rock shop: “We have GOT to get this for Mom!” he told my husband and they surprised me with it that afternoon. It still makes me get a little teary to look at it, because it was such a beautiful moment of feeling seen by my little child.  When I found out I was pregnant for the third time, my husband surprised me with a beautiful, large Goddess of Willendorf pendant. I was holding onto that pendant during the ultrasound that told us that our third son no longer had a heartbeat and during my labor with my little non-living baby, I wore and held onto the pendant. It went with me to the emergency room and I could feel its solid, reassuring weight against my chest when dressed in just a hospital gown and receiving IV fluids as blood continued to come from me as my body said goodbye to my baby. I buried a goddess of willendorf bead with my baby’s body and put a matching one on his memorial necklace.

100_2269On Mother’s Day the following year, right after finding out I was pregnant with my rainbow baby girl, my husband gave me a beautiful new Goddess of Willendorf ring. I was little scared to wear it, because what if she too, became a sad reminder of a pregnancy lost (I have only worn the pendant again a tiny handful of times since the miscarriage-birth experience, even though I took a lot of comfort in it during that time), but wear it I did up to and through the moment when I caught my sweet little living girl in my own grateful, be-ringed hands.

The website that he bought the ring from went down shortly after and I’d not ever seen another ring like it for sale. However, I signed up to become a retailer for Wellstone Jewelry in 2011. While on the phone making an order, I requested one of their Venus of Lespugue pendants. The woman on the phone told me, “we don’t sell very many of those. She seems to make people uncomfortable. In fact, we used to make a ring too. A venus of willendorf ring, but no one ever wanted her. I think because 1057she is ‘too fat’ and she makes people feel weird.” Oh my goodness, I replied, I think I have one of your rings! I emailed her a picture of my hand and sure enough, though discontinued now, I’d coincidentally gotten one of the last ones ever made. She said they could get the mold out of storage and make some more custom rings just for me. Since I’m a business genius (what? You said they never sold? Sign me up for a dozen!), I immediately said yes and she shipped me several beautiful Goddess of Willendorf rings, which I then sold to several friends. (I still have two left if anyone wants to buy one! I would wear them all if I had enough fingers. My favorite ring ever!)

What does this have to do with my uterus making me look fat? Well, I’ve had the experience of wearing this ring and having another woman, a wonderful, peaceful, healer of a woman, laugh at it, like it was a joke ring. My mom sold a pottery sculpture version of the Willendorf to a man at our craft workshop and he laughed at her too saying, “this is hilarious.” Hilarious? Because she is fat, I guess? Several years ago, I read a post online titled Does My Uterus Make Me Look Fat? and I thought of my beloved Goddess of Willendorf, She of the Ample Uterus. While I can no longer locate the article itself and the post I had linked to in my drafts folder takes me to a re-direct site, I remember the article talking about how even pre-teen girls have a slight swell to their bellies. The author of the post was like, “duh, a flat belly IS NEVER POSSIBLE. THERE IS A UTERUS IN THERE.” When I read it, I thought about the jewelry woman’s comments about women not liking the goddess of willendorf ring because she is too fat. And, I saved a couple of quotes, the first two from the Our Bodies edition of Sage Woman magazine (Spring, 1996):

“…so it has been: women’s power has declined as woman’s belly has been violated and shamed…5,000 years of patriarchal culture has degraded belly, body, woman, the sacred feminine, the soul, the feminine sensibility in both women and men, native peoples, and nature–all in a single process of devaluation. Because our belly is the bodily site of feminine sensibility, our patriarchal culture marks the belly as a target of assault, through rape, unnecessary hysterectomies and Cesarians [sic], reproductive technology, legal restrictions on women’s authority in pregnancy and childbirth, and belly-belittling fashions, exercise regimens, and diet schemes…a culture that literally hates women’s guts…” –Lisa Sarasohn, The Goddess Ungirdled

“Our bodies are vessels of the sacred, not the homes of sinful urges. Our bodies create and sustain the sacred. And that sacredness does not equate with any artificial notion of bodily perfection. All of us are fit habitations for the divine, no matter what the diet doctors, fitness gurus, health good fanatics, New Age healers, and the fashion police try to force on us. If we don’t take our bodies into account in our expression of [our religion], then it becomes a mere shadow of itself. When we are fully present in our bodies [women’s religion] becomes a three-dimensional, vibrant, fully fleshed-out expression of the divine…” –DeAnna Alba in How to Flesh Our Your Magick

And, perhaps from the original Does My Uterus Make Me Look Fat article, I had this quote saved as well that addresses the “love your body,” rhetoric so often expressed, including, I suppose, in even the quote I chose to open this post:

“the fact that “love your body” rhetoric shifts the responsibility for body acceptance over to the individual, and away from communities, institutions, and power, is also problematic. individuals who do not love their bodies, who find their bodies difficult to love, are seen as being part of the problem. the underlying assumption is that if we all loved our bodies just as they are, our fat-shaming, beauty-policing culture would be different. if we don’t love our bodies, we are, in effect, perpetuating normative (read: impossible) beauty standards. if we don’t love our individual bodies, we are at fault for collectively continuing the oppressive and misogynistic culture. if you don’t love your body, you’re not trying hard enough to love it. in this framework, your body is still the paramount focus, and one way or another, you’re failing. it’s too close to the usual body-shaming, self-policing crap, albeit with a few quasi-feminist twists, for comfort.”

–saved from this post

March 2014 023
Even though I am a goddess sculptor myself, I have never been able to make my own version of the Goddess of Willendorf that satisfied me. I tried polymer clay, I tried pottery clay, I tried making my husband make one for me. None of them were right. Finally, just this month, my husband said, why don’t you make one, but using your own style? This was an ah ha moment for me and guess what, it worked! I successfully used the same technique and structure I use for all of my sculptures, but with a Willendorf-style-twist and I finally made my own sculpture that I’m really proud of. My husband made a mold and cast her in pewter and I’m wearing her right now. Her uterus might make her look fat, but to me, she is one of the most powerfully affirming images of womanhood I have ever encountered and there is nothing funny about her.

        “Your body is your own. This may seem obvious. But to inhabit your physical self fully, with no apology, is a true act of power.”

–Camille Maurine (Meditation Secrets for Women)

March 2014 022  March 2014 038

Crossposted at Talk Birth

Categories: art, birth, Goddess, pregnancy loss, sculpture, spirituality, womanspirit | 19 Comments

High Priestess

High Priestess
sovereign of her own domainFebruary 2014 042
her life
her destiny
Competent, confident, and strong
she walks with purpose and potency.

She is gracious and kind
yet she wears her personal boundaries
with a firmness that requires no apology
She stands up for what is right
she laughs from her belly

She is unabashedly herself
She knows who she is.
She takes time to rest
and she weaves her energy with passion
into an infinitely complex
and infinitely simple
tapestry
of love, power, and intention.

She holds her own heart in her hands
with both tenderness and ferocity
courage and vulnerability
She offers herself
all that she is
flawed, magical, radiant, truthful, powerful, creative, and whole.
She gathers up her offerings in a warm embrace
Sharing that which needed
protecting that which is tender.

She spreads her arms
and dives into an uncharted sea
of vibrant wholeness
and unfettered, glorious well-being.

One of my goals this year is to write a new poem/message to go with every one of our creations. I take the item down to the woods with me and hold it in my hand and wait to see what emerges. We recently set this priestess initiation ring pictured above and the poem is the message I got to go with it. 🙂 (I’m also still working on finishing a message for each of the Womanrunes. I’ve stalled out on them recently and hope I can pick back up the thread.)

High Priestess.
It is time to introduce yourself
to take her hand
and to swim with her
in an ocean of infinite possibility
and magnificent tapestry of being…

This week on Brigid’s Grove we’re offering one of our Embrace Possibility pendants as a giveaway. Just go to the giveaway page and enter there! 🙂

February 2014 027

Categories: art, poems, priestess, sculpture, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

Embrace Possibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encoded in her cells, written on her bones…

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

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

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

book

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

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