womanspirit

Wisdom from Moon Time for Red Tents

May 2015 047“At her first bleeding a woman meets her power.
During her bleeding years she practices it.
At menopause she becomes it.”

(Traditional Native American saying)

One of my favorite books to have available on the resource table of our local Red Tent Circle is Moon Time, by Lucy moontime2Pearce. I reviewed it in this post, but didn’t have room for all the juicy quotes I wanted to share! One of the ideas I include in my own Red Tent Resource Kit book is to use womanspirit wisdom quotes to stimulate a discussion in the circle. Here are some quotes from Moon Time that would make great launching points for a sharing circle at the Red Tent:

“It is my guess that no one ever initiated you into the path of womanhood. Instead, just like me, you were left to find out by yourself. Little by little you pieced a working understanding of your body and soul together. But still you have gaps.”

Questions for circle: Were you initiated into the “path of womanhood”? What gaps do you feel?

“You yearn for a greater knowledge of your woman’s body, a comprehensive understanding of who you are, why you are that way. Perhaps you have searched long and hard, seeking advice from your mother, sister, aunts and friends, tired of suffering and struggling alone. You may have visited doctors, healers or therapists, but still you feel at sea and your woman’s body is a mystery to you. Or maybe you have never given your cycles a second thought … until now.”

Questions for circle: What do you feel like you need to know about your body? What mysteries are you uncovering?

“Through knowledge we gain power over our lives. With options we have possibility. With acceptance we find a new freedom.

Menstruation matters.”

Question for circle: How does menstruation matter?

Additional information about why menstruation matters on a physical, emotional, and relational level:

We start bleeding earlier today than ever before, with girls’ first periods occurring at 12.8 years old now, compared with 14.5 years at the beginning of the last century. Coupled with lower breastfeeding rates, better nutrition and fewer pregnancies, women now menstruate more in their adult lives than at any time in our history.

From the age of 12 to 51, unless you are pregnant or on the pill, every single day of your life as a woman is situated somewhere on the menstrual cycle. Whether ovulating or bleeding, struggling with PMS or conception, our bodies, our energy levels, our sense of self, even our abilities are constantly shifting each and every day. And yet nobody talks about it…

via Moon Time: Harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle

As I noted in my review, one of the things this book was helpful for to me personally, was in acknowledging myself as a cyclical being and that these influences are physical and real: IMG_5194-0

Each month our bodies go through a series of changes, many of which we may be unconscious of. These include: shifts in levels of hormones, vitamins and minerals, vaginal temperature and secretions, the structure of the womb lining and cervix, body weight, water retention, heart rate, breast size and texture, attention span, pain
threshold . . .

The changes are biological. Measurable. They are most definitely not ‘all in your head’ as many would have us believe. This is why it is so crucial to honour these changes by adapting our lives to them as much as possible.

We cannot just will these changes not to happen as they are an integral part of our fertility.

From there, another relevant quote:

“There is little understanding and allowance for the realities of being a cycling woman—let alone celebration.”

Questions for circle: What allowances do you make for yourself as a cycling woman? Are you able to celebrate the experience?

In my own life, I’ve had to reframe my understanding of the impact of the monthly moontime experience by looking April 2015 103at it through the lens of healthy postpartum care following birth—it is crucial that we care for our bodies with love, attention, respect, and time. Our local Red Tent Circle definitely doesn’t focus exclusively on menstruation or on currently menstruating women (all phases of a woman’s lifecycle and her many diverse experiences and feelings are “held” in that circle)–in fact menstruation sometimes barely comes up as a topic—however, one of the core purposes of our circling is in celebration. We gather together each month to celebrate being women in this time and in this place, together. I started out my work with women focused on birth, breastfeeding, and postpartum. While those are formative and central and important life experiences, it became very important to me to broaden my scope to include the totality of women’s lives, not just pregnant women. I want to honor and celebrate our whole lives, not just pregnancy and birth. Having a mother blessing ceremony during pregnancy is beautiful and important and special, but I feel like that care, attention, value, and ceremony can be brought into the rest of our non-pregnant lives The_Red_Tent_Resourc_Cover_for_Kindlethrough gathering together in a Red Tent Circle. This is one reason why I’m so excited to offer an online Red Tent Initiation Program this summer. This program is designed to be both a powerful, personal experience AND a training in facilitating transformative women’s circles.

Back to Moon Time quotes!

“There is no shame in tears. There is a need for anger. Blood will flow. Speak your truth. Follow your intuition. Nurture your body. But above all … Let yourself rest.”

Questions for circle: Do you allow yourself anger and tears? Do you feel shame? How do you speak your truth? How do you give yourself time to rest?

To be clear, I wouldn’t use all these quotes at one Red Tent Circle! I would use them individually at different gatherings. This one blog post has enough potential circle discussion prompts to last for more than six months of Circles! 🙂 This month I also bought a bundle of copies of Moon Time to have available for women at our local Red Tent.

More good discussion quotes here: Talk Books: Cycle to the Moon | Talk Birth.

And, there are others in my Red Tent Resource Kit.

Please consider joining us this summer for the Red Tent Initiation Program!

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Categories: books, community, friends, moontime, priestess, quotes, readings, red tent, resources, retreat, ritual, self-care, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

The beauty that is You (#30DaysofMay)

showheaderToday, my stomach bottomed out a little when I saw this pop up in my Facebook feed. Who does she think SHE is, anyway?! I was originally thrilled to be asked to participate in A Gathering of Priestesses, a live show which I really enjoy, but now that the date rapidly approaches, I find myself feeling incredibly nervous and a little sick. (And, I actually have another interview the very next day for a different program. What was I thinking?!) Gloria posted on my wall and asked me to share the link with my friends and my first reaction was, “I don’t think I will.” 😉

Coincidentally, the question I most recently posed to my dissertation study group was about politics and the priestess…

The last section of my dissertation will look at the sociopolitical value of the priestess–priestess as political statement and social change agent, basically. I’m not talking about small group politics anymore, instead I’m looking at wide cultural politics and perception. Here is a great quote:

“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, in Stepping into Ourselves)

I went on to ask:

Thoughts, opinions, personal experiences? How do you see yourself as a change agent? Do you think your priestess work has a political component? Are you consciously/intentionally making a specific “statement” with your work or is it a byproduct? (Or a personal experience rather than a cultural one.)

My sick-to-my-stomach feeling about the upcoming interview involves some of these nasty little thought-worms: Too visible. Be smaller. What right do you have? Who do you think you are? What if someone hates you? How does this relate to the 30 Days of May prompt for today about, “the beauty that is You”? Well, because it reminds me of my own strength and gift in feeling fear and doing it anyway. That takes courage and guts and, really, confidence, that I may not recognize immediately in myself, but it is there. A long time ago, I participated in a self-renewal group conference call in which the facilitator asked how comfortable we are with risk-taking.  My initial response was “not at all. I am completely risk averse.” But, in the journaling that followed, I realized that I am only risk averse when talking about physical risks, like bungee jumping or hang-gliding. In my personal life, in “putting myself out there” with my work and ideas, in teaching and writing and facilitating and speaking, actually makes me one of the risk-takingest people I know!

In an interconnected coincidence, I also watched a video from a member of my Priestess Path group, Patricia Ballentine, and seeing her speak with confidence about her experiences, helps me prepare to share mine!

Now, who wants to hold my hand and “doula” me through this interview? 😉

Related past post:

Thursday Thealogy: Interconnectivity, Witches, and Fear | WoodsPriestess.

And, here’s just one example (of many) of why this sense of fear and riskiness is not entirely misplaced: there is a place where women are dying to be heard | Pagan Devotionals.

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Categories: #30Daysof May, dissertation, priestess, womanspirit, women | Leave a comment

Red Tent Wisdom

“Moontime opens up our intuition.
By allowing ourselves to honour this time,
we can eliminate premenstrual tendencies…
Moontime is a sacred passage leading
to a greater awareness of self.”

–Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon (p. 142)

In April, on the evening of our local Red Tent Circle, a package arrived for me from the UK. In it was the beautiful book by Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon, that I won in the Red Tent fundraising auction for Moontimes. March 2015 183

Cycle to the Moon is a quick read and an inspiring one. The line illustrations are beautiful and the combination of journal pages/prompts and text is nice. I marked some good quotes to share. The first, was about womancraft, something I touched on in my new Red Tent Resource Kit book. In that book, I shared the story of how, at a meeting for breastfeeding women, I suggested having a women’s circle and calling it “Mothercraft.” Another woman at the meeting said it sounded interesting, but, “if it was called that, I’d never go.” All I could surmise is that it was because the word sounded too much like “witchcraft.”

“The early Christian Church considered the blood of menstruation to be ‘wasted babies,’ hence the mass killing of witches for ‘killing babies…women were burnt for knowing their woman-craft. That is to say, they understood their dreams, used herbs, and celebrated the process of menstruation. Witch means woman. Their craft, woman-craft, was, quite simply, understanding the mysteries of life” (p. 19).

Cycle to the Moon also suggests a neat idea of creating a “Red Box” for a pre-teen daughter. Either together with yourc2m3D daughter or on your own for a surprise, collect special items in a box to be given to her upon menarche. It can have jewelry, garnet gemstones, books, cloth pads, tea, and so forth. She makes the potent observations that how we welcome young girls into womanhood, sets the stage for how they will view themselves and their life cycles and transitions for a lifetime:

“As we hold the hands of our young sisters when they cross the menstrual threshold, we would be wise to remember that their experience of this cycle will affect them throughout their childbearing years and into menopause. There’s a red thread which weaves through these major themes of our life. Every moment is connected. Whatever we have learned and integrated benefits not only us, but the culture” (p. 41).

Robinson also writes about the idea how you treat yourself during menstruation as a “mirror of your life”:

“The simple truth is that menstruation is a mirror of your life. If you’re not honouring your body through healthy food choices; ample hydration; rest; playtime; calmly managing stressful events; positive thoughts; creativity and sleep; then it will show up in your menstrual cycle…your hormones will come to call; and they will demand that you rest. You might try and quiet them down with headache tablets or something pharmaceutical for cramps, but they will keep talking to you (even if it takes twenty years), until you get the message. If you don’t honour your body during the menstrual years, you are highly likely to suffer when you reach menopause…

What we do in our own local Red Tent Circle varies each month, but we start with introductions using our maternal May 2015 047line and a red thread to represent our connection to the women who came before us and who will go after us, we sing, we have a sharing circle where we “pass the rattle” and talk about our lives and have what we say witnessed and held in safe space. We do a guided meditation and journaling and then a project. In April we had a salt bowl ceremony and then did footbaths and in May we made moon necklaces. We close with a poetry reading and a song. There is tea and a “reflection” table with guidance cards, art supplies, and books to look at. At our May Circle, I shared these two quotes:

“The revolution must have dancing; women know this. The music will light our hearts with fire,
The stories will bathe our dreams in honey and fill our bellies with stars…”

–Nina Simons in We’Moon 2012

“A woman’s best medicine is quite simply herself, the powerful resources of her own deep consciousness, giving her deep awareness of her own physiology as it changes from day to day.”

–Veronica Butler and Melanie Brown

I asked the women to share their revolutions and their medicine. As they spoke, I realized that my “revolution” and my “medicine” were in the planning and facilitation of these Circles, as well as in the online Red Tent Initiation Program I will be offering this summer. I’m so glad I decided to go this direction this year.

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Categories: books, community, moontime, resources, reviews, ritual, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Womanrunes Immersion eCourse

cropwomanruneslogo

I’m excited to take my work into some new areas over the summer. We’ve launched a new branch for our offerings: the Creative Ceremony Academy. A Womanrunes Immersion is the first e-course!

Womanrunes Immersion 41 Day e-Course Experience

Begins June 21, 2015*

Do you want to create a sacred “time out” in your day to listen to yourself and to explore a deeper relationship with the womanrunes course messages of the world around you? Are you looking for a means of experiencing your inner wisdom as well as accessing the flow of womanspirit truths around you? Do you want to tap into Goddess guidance and Earth-based wisdom? Are you hungering for a pathway to your own “truth-sense”? This immersive experience is designed for you! This 41 day e-course will take you on a deep personal journey, uncovering your inner wisdom and deep guidance using Womanrunes, a powerful system of divination and intuitive guidance for personal growth. Used as a dynamic, hands-on, participatory system, Womanrunes become part of your own language of the Divine, the Goddess, your inner wisdom, and womanspirit truths.

Womanrunes are a unique and powerful divination system that use simple, woman-identified symbols to connect deeply with your own inner wisdom as well as the flow of womanspirit knowledge that surrounds you. Used as a personal oracle, they offer spiritual insight, understanding, and guidance as well as calls to action and discovery. Women who use them are amazed to discover how the symbols and interpretations reach out with exactly what you need in that moment. Women’s experiences with Womanrunes are powerful, magical, inspirational, potent, and mystical. The wisdom within them can be drawn upon again and again, often uncovering new information, understanding, and truth with each reading.

Many women are amazed by how these symbols speak to something deep within them. You may have the experience of feeling heard and answered when you choose a card and read its interpretation. Womanrunes provide a pathway to your own “truth-sense.” They open you up to your own internal guidance or to messages and inspiration from the Goddess, the Earth, or your spiritual guides.

There are two registration options for this course.

Immersion Experience Option 1, $62

Includes:

  • Womanrunes book and card set May 2015 033
  • Bonus tree pendant gift
  • Digital starter kit with how to create your own runes + printable rune set
  • Printable journal pages for each rune
  • 41 days of guided rune exploration through art, photo, and journal prompts
  • Full moon and new moon ritual outlines
  • Access to a private Facebook group for sisterhood, sharing, guidance, and support
  • $40 discount on our upcoming Listening to the Deep Self professional divination practicum launching in October.

Immersion Experience Option 2, $40 (includes all digital resources above, no book):

  • Digital starter kit with how to create your own runes + printable rune set
  • Printable journal pages for each rune
  • 41 days of guided rune exploration through art, photo, and journal prompts
  • Full moon and new moon ritual outlines
  • Access to a private Facebook group for sisterhood, sharing, guidance, and support
  • $40 discount on our upcoming Listening to the Deep Self professional divination practicum launching in October.

To register, visit the course page here: Womanrunes Immersion – Brigid’s Grove.

(*Why June 21st? Because it was on the Summer Solstice in 1987 that Shekhinah Mountainwater experienced her “goddess-lightning strike” of inspiration and the Womanrunes were born!)

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Categories: divination, Goddess, priestess, sacred pause, spirituality, Womanrunes, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 4 Comments

Restoring Women to Ceremony: The Red Tent Resource Kit

 “… Every day, we witness the positive, transformative effects of, ‘restoring women to ceremony’…another reason it is vital that we continue our work…”

–D’vorah Grenn (Stepping into Ourselves, p. 56)

We’ve been hard at work over the last three months giving birth to a new project!

Introducing…The Red Tent Resource Kit

redtentkit

I actually ended up sort of accidentally writing a whole new book to go with this kit. It was originally going to be a collection of handouts as a pdf. However, as I put the handouts together, I realized I was actually writing a short book or manual instead. I also reflected on how I am tired of only getting pdf manuals and ebooks when I sign up for different programs, rather than an actual, printed book. One of my mottoes this year is to follow the inspiration, so I went with it, and at the end of last month our new books arrived and they’re beautiful and I’m so excited about them!

Our unique, signature Red Tent Kit includes ALL of the following resources:

  • Womanrunes Book and Card set: ideal for personal guidance and self-development, or for the inspiration and renewal corner at your Red Tent Circle.
  • Red Tent Goddess Sculpture: symbolic of self-care and of both receiving and giving.
  • Carnelian Pendulum (kit exclusive!)
  • Brand new 58 page book: Restoring Women to Ceremony, The Red Tent Resource Kit, written exclusively for this kit. In this collection of essays and ritual resources, you will find a complete Red Tent “recipe,” circle leadership basics, moontime musings, and readings, quotes, and poems to help you facilitate a rich, inviting, welcoming, creative space for the women of your community.
  • Moontime pendant with silver-tone, solid crescent moon charm
  • Red altar cloth
  • Red organza bag to store your resources
  • Coupon for $100 off the companion Red Tent Initiation online training to be held in July-August
  • Extra surprise bonus goodies intuitively chosen for you!

The contents of this Kit are valued at $100 when sold separately!

When I was taking pictures for the Kit, I randomly drew three Womanrunes cards to include in the pictures. The ones I drew were absolutely perfect for sharing the message of what this collection has to offer to others and what we hope to create in restoring women to ceremony:

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Categories: blessings, books, moontime, priestess, resources, retreat, ritual, womanspirit, women, women's circle, writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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.

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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

Womanrunes 101

front-coverWhat are Womanrunes and why use them?

Womanrunes are a unique and powerful divination system that use simple, woman-identified symbols to connect deeply with your own inner wisdom as well as the flow of womanspirit knowledge that surrounds you. Used as a personal oracle, they offer spiritual insight, understanding, and guidance as well as calls to action and discovery. Women who use them are amazed to discover how the symbols and interpretations reach out with exactly what you need in that moment. Women’s experiences with Womanrunes are powerful, magical, inspirational, potent, and mystical. The wisdom within them can be drawn upon again and again, often uncovering new information, understanding, and truth with each reading. They amaze me every day!

il_570xN.739519116_otniHerstory

On the Summer Solstice of 1987 after having worked with traditional runes, but sensing “something more” behind them, Shekhinah Mountainwater “fell into a state of enchantment” and in a single day created a 41 symbol woman-identified rune system to be used for divination, self-understanding, guidance, and personal growth.

In 2012, I was reading a back issue of SageWoman magazine from 1988 and stumbled across an article about Womanrunes. I instantly fell in love with them. They issued a powerful call to me. I scoured the internet for more information, where I eventually found a handout and pronunciation guide on an old website. I purchased Shekhinah’s classic book of women’s spirituality, Ariadne’s Thread, and began making Womanrunes sets at women’s spirituality retreats with my friends. After working with the symbols for some time, I began to sense more detailed interpretations for them. I began randomly choosing one each day, going to a sacred place in the woods with it and discovering what it had to tell me. Over the course of 18 months, this powerful practice developed in a complete guidebook to interpreting and using Womanrunes.

il_570xN.739519120_2cycHow to Use

The simplest and most common use for Womanrunes is to draw a card daily or when you feel an intuitive need for guidance. Draw the card and feel into it. What is it sharing with you? Read the companion interpretation and let it soak in. Many women are amazed by how these symbols speak to something deep within them. You may have the experience of feeling heard and answered when you choose a card and read its interpretation. Womanrunes provide a pathway to your own “truth-sense.” They open you up to your own internal guidance or to messages and inspiration from the Goddess, the Earth, or your spiritual guides.

smAugust 2014 055Some introductory layouts are included in the free download “Womanrunes Starter Kit” available via e-newsletter subscription at Brigid’s Grove (see sign-up box on right hand side). Womanrunes may also be used to do guidance readings for friends or clients. Messages from Womanrunes are not prescriptive or directive, instead they serve as a rich conduit to exactly what you need to hear and receive in that moment.

Many women have found that Womanrunes make an excellent addition to their Red Tent work. For Red Tent Circles with others, the Womanrunes book and cards can be available in a divination, guidance, or inspiration corner. Create a quiet, nurturing nook in your Red Tent space where the women can sit with the cards, drop into their own heartspace, and receive the message they need.

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Womanrunes in use in the Red Tent, in Lawrence, KS

There are many additional uses for Womanrunes, including creating bindrunes, runewriting, runespells. Many women also find them satisfying to draw or carve onto art, calendars, sculptures and more. Used in this way, the Womanrunes can attract their messages deeply into your life or can serve as potent declarations of intention.

Why Such Simple Images?

Many divination and oracle systems include beautiful artwork on the cards. Womanrunes are simple symbols and are, in fact, a type of symbol “writing” that speaks to a deep part of the soul. The clean focus and simplicity of the Womanrunes symbols evoke rich messages and soul guidance in their own special way that differs from the image-rich paintings of other systems. They are also very easy to use directly yourself—including them in your own art, drawing or etching them onto objects, and thereby writing them into your consciousness in a living manner. Used as a dynamic, hands-on, participatory system, Womanrunes become part of your own language of the Divine, the Goddess, your inner wisdom, and womanspirit truths.

What People Are Saying…

“I have never had a deck be so right from the first draw – in tune and intuitive. Molly’s insight and interpretations only add to the experience. Using my Womanrunes deck makes me excited for my daily centering.”

–B

“Great item for gatherings of women!”

–B.F.

“This set is great, high quality and user friendly.”

–E.R.

“Powerful, beautiful, inspiring! I am so looking forward to diving deeper into this, but am already seeing benefits from the wisdom in these pages, and I appreciate everything about this set.”

–S.B.

“Wonderful deck and guidebook, and so easy to use but with great depth. Thank you kindly for manifesting this vision into reality!”

–H.V.

“The cards & books are high quality & the descriptions are very easy to understand while leaving room for your intuition. I also appreciated the tree pendant gift – total & very pleasant surprise!”

–A.A.

“Excellent product! This deck and guide book are fantastic.”

–S.C.

“Beautiful and insightful. Enjoying adding them to my morning practice!”

–L.B.

How to Buy

The book alone is available via Amazon, Amazon UK, CreateSpace, and Etsy. A set including both the book and box of professionally printed Womanrunes cards is available directly from us via our etsy shop and via Amazon.

Book Description front-cover

Womanrunes: A guide to their use and interpretation

From the system by Shekhinah Mountainwater

In 1987, women’s spirituality foremother and wayshower, Shekhinah Mountainwater, experienced a “goddess-lightning” strike of inspiration and created a set of 41 woman-identified rune symbols for divination and personal growth. Twenty-five years later, I discovered Womanrunes and created an expanded means of interpreting, using, and exploring these powerful, magical symbols.Discover and explore…

*the herstory and development of Womanrunes
*how to interpret Womanrunes
*how to make your own Womanrunes
*how to lay out and read Womanrunes

Legacy

Our Womanrunes book was produced in cooperation with Shekhinah Mountainwater’s estate, ShekhinahWorks. Many memorial projects are in the works currently, including the digital publication of Shekhinah’s amazing book, Aridane’s Thread. You can keep up with all the projects and memories via the following sites:

Facebook

Shekhinah Mountainwater Memorial Fund (website)

YouTube

Website (with a planned expansion to http://www.ShekhinahMountainwater.com)

Shekhinah Mountainwater

Categories: books, divination, feminist thealogy, Goddess, readings, resources, reviews, Womanrunes, womanspirit, women, women's circle, writing | 3 Comments

Thursday Thealogy: Interconnectivity, Witches, and Fear

il_570xN.575164324_dpckI had two more quotes that I wanted to share from the new Voices of the Sacred Feminine anthology by Karen Tate. They didn’t fit into my review of the book, so they’re getting their own post!

First, about interconnectivity and the Goddess from professor Andrew Gurevich’s essay, “Gaian Interconnectivity and the Future of Public Myth”

…new findings in neuropsychology, evolutionary biology, hemispheric science and consciousness studies are revealing that the ‘Goddess’ can be understood as an ancient, neuro-spiritual ‘technology.’ The personification of the synergistic union of the brain’s creative and critical faculties, she emerges when we put our logic in service of our intuition. This research suggests that the Goddess represents the reunification of the sensibilities; the visceral, interconnected, energetic web that is the source of thought itself. Our wisdom body, manifest.

I used the web as part of my case for the ontological existence of the Goddess in one of my first Feminism and Religion posts:

Everything is interconnected in a great and ever-changing dance of life. Not as ‘all one,’ but as all interconnected and relating to one another, in an ever-present ground of relationship and relatedness…I imagine the divine as omnipresent (rather than omnipotent).” The Divine is located around and through each living thing as well as the great web of incarnation that holds the whole…

via Who is She? The Existence of an Ontological Goddess

The second is a no-nonsense quote from Starhawk about the power of the word “witch” in her essay “Earth, Spirit, and Action: Letting the Wildness In”

“The word ‘Witch’ has power. If we don’t examine it and counter its negative associations, if we don’t go through that process with it, then it’s like a stick to beat you with.”

This connects to a recent article about young women and women’s spirituality in which we find this wonderful gem:

“the task of reclaiming the witch is a fundamentally poetic one.” –Sady Doyle

In her article, Doyle also quotes Starhawk:

“I think that part of the power of the word is that it refers to a kind of power that is not legitimized by the authorities,” Starhawk says. “Even though not all witches are women, and a lot of men are witches, it seems to connote women’s power in particular. And that’s very scary in a patriarchal world – the kind of power that’s not just coming from the hierarchical structure, but some kind of inner power. And to use it to serve the ends that women have always stood for, like nurturing and caring for the next generation – that, I think, is a wonderfully dangerous prospect.”

via Season of the witch: why young women are flocking to the ancient craft | World news | The Guardian.

I touched on this subject in two past posts. One about fear in which I quoted Chrysalis Woman:

“Immense can be our Fear surrounding ‘coming out’ with our beliefs, our passions, and our ancient wisdom whether to our families or friendships let alone the community at large. Afraid we can be of ‘speaking out’ on behalf of the Feminine…

via Fear | WoodsPriestess.

And the second based on some work from my Stigmatization of the Witch class at OSC:

…when political and religious tides were turning in the ancient world, those who wanted to dominate and control didn’t go for the leaders of countries, for political heads of states, or for those in powerful jobs, they went for the priestesses. They went for women who held the cultural stories and ritual language of the people. They went for the healers and nurturers and those who took care of others. They destroyed temples and sacred images and books. They almost succeeded in total eradication of the role of priestess from the world and worked really hard to take midwives and wisewomen out completely as well…

via Women’s Voices |WoodsPriestess.

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Categories: feminist thealogy, Goddess, priestess, quotes, spirituality, thealogy, Thursday Thealogy, womanspirit | 1 Comment

Day 11: Hands (#30DaysofBrigid)

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Mother blessing ceremony, Sept. 2014.

In my college classes, I often tell my students that in working with people, we need to learn to think in circles, rather than in lines. Circles are strong. Circles are steady. Circles hold the space, circles make a place for others. Circles can expand or contract as needed. Circles can be permeable and yet have a strong boundary. Linked arms in a circle can keep things out and show solidarity. Linked energy in a circle can transform the ordinary into sacred space. Hands at each other’s backs, facing each other, eye level. Working together in a circle for a ritual, change is birthed, friendships are strengthened, and love is visible.

Ritual Recipe Kit for Women’s Ceremonies digital by BrigidsGrove.

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Salt bowl ceremony at my mother blessing.

Recently I have noticed a lot of offerings for sacred circles and sacred temples and councils of women that are all online or virtual. The websites advertising such programs often have beautiful photos of firesides and dancing and I find myself thinking, where is the REAL fire? If we spend all of our time at computers enjoying virtual sisterhoods and looking at pictures of fires, where are our real opportunities to dance by the fire hand in hand? Today, against all odds, I managed to have a meaningful conversation with friends at the skating rink. We talked about the difference between online and face-to-face connection and why online connections can feel “cleaner” and less messy or complicated than face-to-face. It reminds me of my experiences in creating rituals for my family. In the books it looks so easy and fun. In real life, babies have poopy diapers and my sons make fart jokes and my papers blow away and I speak in a snappy tone of voice and things take longer than I expect. It is same with women’s circles. Online, we can look at pretty pictures of flower crowns and crystal grids and flower mandalas and daydream how wonderful it would be to have a real women’s circle, but in real life people don’t always like each other, we interrupt each other, we talk too much or not enough or about the “wrong” things. As the facilitator of a ceremony in real life, portions might lag, people laugh at the wrong times, guided meditations might bring up painful experiences, people stop listening to each other, or they might forget something they were asked to bring. I might lose my place, sing off-key, or get distracted when someone is sharing something important.

As a priestess, I have to engage in what is called a process of “self-facing” that can be uncomfortable and sometimes stressful—the looking at my own shadows and shortcomings and then doing it anyway. Because it matters. Because it is real. I’m not saying that online connections aren’t real or valuable, they can be tremendously so. And, I love that in writing I can carry my thoughts all the way through and develop an idea completely.* What I am saying is that there is simply no substitute for standing hand in hand with flesh and blood women in a sacred circle. (Even if someone makes a fart joke.) Our hands matter. Real hands. Reaching out to one another. Our fingers may be too long, too short, too wrinkly, too skinny, too fat. Our hands may be too cold or too sweaty. We may be too loud, too quiet, too anxious, too confident, too self-conscious, too distracted, too intense. But…we can show up.  We can offer what we offer and give what we give. Our whole, actual selves. Separated from the screens and other shields. Touching each other’s actual hands and offering actual hugs rather than (((hugs))).

My plans for a Red Tent Circle later this month have been on my mind lately and I’ve been feeling a little insecure about my plans for our first event, primarily because I’m hoping to attract a broader group of women than the women who regularly circle with me. As I explained to a friend, I want it to be nurturing, and celebratory, and fun and contemplative…somehow all at once! Oh, and not alienate anyone. And, not have it be lightweight chatty OR heavy and tearful. Serious, but not too serious. No pressure!

What I forgot until I got home is that I’m pretty good at doing this. I’ve been working with women and priestessing women’s circles for a long time, not to mention having trained and studied and read and written and studied and trained.  However, I’m also real. And, in the end, that is what I have to offer. There is a vulnerability and risk there as well as a courage.

Here’s my hand.

—-

(*All this said, our hands can also reach out virtually via typing blog posts or sending supportive Facebook messages too. I’m not discounting the role and value of using our hands for that connection. I love that a post that I wrote 3 years ago can still reach 300 people a day, that my other blog can speak in some way to 700 people a day, and that my book can essentially last “forever.” That feels like a magical power of my hands and words!)

Related past post: Do Women’s Circles Actually Matter?

Categories: #30daysofBrigid, community, friends, priestess, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Tags: | 3 Comments

Priestess Year in Review (2014)

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“Lifelong priesthoods were typically held by married women leading ‘normal’ lives, complete with husbands and children. Greek religious offices were enormously practical, enabling women to serve at each stage of life without sacrificing the full experience of marriage and motherhood.”

–Joan Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess, p. 18

“When words are inadequate, ceremony and ritual help us express our profound thoughts and feelings….rituals are symbolic activities that help us, together with our families and friends, express our deepest thoughts and feelings about life’s most important events.”

–Dr. Alan Wolfelt (quoted in The Art of Ritual)

When I became ordained as a priestess with Global Goddess in July of 2012, one of the commitments I made as part of ordination was to be of service in some way to the organization and to document my service to my community through the year. So, in keeping with that commitment, I made a year-end summary post at the end of 2012 and another at the end of 2013. It was helpful to me personally to see everything grouped together in one post and see that I’m truly doing this work. I enjoy sharing my post with the rest of the GG community in hopes of encouraging others to keep a record of their own. In 2014, this was my service in the capacity as ritualist/ceremonialist:

January: winter women’s retreat, spontaneous family morning ritual, family full moon ritual.

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Nature mandala at summer ritual.

February: family Brigid ceremony and Imbolc ritual, seventh Rise Up class, birthday blessing, help planning house cleansing, mini family full moon ritual.

March: invocation to the north during opening ritual at Goddess Weekend in St. Louis, Spring family ritual.

April: spontaneous family gratitude ritual, spring women’s retreat.

June: helped with sister-in-law’s blessingway, Rise Up class.

July:  summer ritual for the members of my women’s circle and their families.

August: Red Tent event, tenth Rise Up class.

September: temple priestess at GGG, Womanrunes presentation.

October: Gave birth to new baby!

November: family full moon ritual for baby, Sealing ceremony for self.

December: full moon ritual, Rise Up finish and ceremony, family solstice ritual, mother blessing ceremony.

I took an online training program in circle leadership from Chrysalis Woman and I wrote this post about why Gathering the Women matters to me: Gathering the Women | WoodsPriestess. (I also finally finished reading Women Who Run with the Wolves!) I wrote 47 posts for this blog in 2014, which was a dramatic reduction from previous years, primarily because I diverted a lot of my attention to finishing my M.Div, writing a book, and working on art, sculpture, and jewelry for our co-creative business, Brigid’s Grove (and we had booths selling goddess sculptures and jewelry at five events sprinkled through the year).front-cover

We published a book about Womanrunes! This was an incredibly huge project. We also published a digital Ritual Recipe Kit and a book of earth-based poetry. I sculpted more than 27 new designs for pewter pendants and 7 for resin goddess sculptures (and we fulfilled more than 540 orders for these items!)

I completed 7 more classes at OSC, finished my thesis project, and completed my M.Div degree! I only have two classes remaining for my D.Min. In the last days of 2014, a new idea for my dissertation was born and I completed and submitted my prospectus for my dissertation project (and it was approved).

I continued to host a (not very active) Priestess Path group on Facebook and started one for women interested in a Red Tent in our community as well. I also maintain my Woodspriestess Facebook page and one for Brigid’s Grove.

In keeping with the commitment I made upon my ordination, I contributed articles to 5 issues of The Oracle, the online journal of Global Goddess: Winter Solstice, Samhaim, Beltane, Spring Equinox, Imbolc

I wrote 6 posts for Feminism and Religion: Mollyblessingway 116

I also wrote 23 posts for my blog at SageWoman magazine.

And, finally, I wrote 15 posts for Pagan Families earlier in the year before decided I was spread too thin with blogging commitments and needed to let something go.

(I also wrote 100 posts at my birth/motherhood blog, but that doesn’t directly connect to my priestess year in review theme!)

I have several relevant goals for 2015:

  • Finish last two D.Min classes!
  • Finish dissertation (and therefore finish D.Min degree)
  • Begin facilitating regular New Moon Red Tent Circles in the local community
  • Continue holding monthly full moon rituals with my own family and broaden that to include a couple of friends as well
  • Present at Goddess Weekend and Gaea Goddess Gathering
  • Expand our Ritual Recipe Kit into a longer printed book
  • Promote and distribute Womanrunes more widely, especially to the Red Tent community, since it is a perfect oracle for use in Red Tent events.
  • Work on several new book and online class ideas!

As also occurred last year when I wrote my year-in-review post, when I read this over, it comes up for me to wonder if writing a post like this looks “smug” and self-congratulatory in some way. Am I too focused on numbers and hours and quantifying something instead of presence? Too much do-ing and not enough be-ing? But, in truth, the intention with which each year’s list is created is simply as an accountability thing—both in terms of the vows I made to my community as well as to myself. It is so I can see, collected in one place, what I’ve offered as a priestess this year. It is to allow me a moment of pause, reflection, review, and a sensation of a job well done, rather than immediately rushing off to the next thing, as I tend to do. I continue to struggle with issues of “who does she think she IS?” with regard to priestess work (this forms an element of my dissertation project, actually!) and in reviewing my year, I am able to see that yes, I am doing this work. I am not just talking about it or imagining it, I am walking the path.

Happy New Year!

 

Categories: art, community, OSC, priestess, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle, woodspriestess, writing | 1 Comment

Rise Up Completion

In 2010, I bought the Rise Up and Call Her Name curriculum and imagined working through it with a group of women. At the beginning of 2013, I started the program in what was intended to be a monthly class. Well, here we are almost two years later and today we finally finished the curriculum! As we read the final poem (We Hold Hands) and sang our final rendition of “Listen, Sisters, Listen,” I felt a real sense of exhilaration and triumph. I made the commitment to do this for these women and they made the commitment to work together in this way and we DID IT.

Earth-based/winter solstice altar space.

Earth-based/winter solstice altar space.

Mask-making project.

Mask-making project.

Closing ceremony--after having created a web-weaving, we "birthed" our mask project into the sacred circle.

Closing ceremony–after having created a web-weaving, we “birthed” our mask project into the sacred circle.

Yesterday afternoon, my M.Div diploma finally came in the mail (I actually finished the degree on July 1) and so I feel a sense of completion and fulfillment there as well. I asked my husband to take a picture of me with some of my finished projects of 2014 (yes, the baby counts too!) and I feel very satisfied and proud right now.
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(I typed this post on my iPad and couldn’t easily include links the way I usually do and I’m just going to be okay with that!)

Categories: community, friends, OSC, priestess, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 4 Comments

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)

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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

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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

Dance in a circle of women…

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

Marie Summerwood

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

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

photo(23)

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

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

Make sacred space
Remember who you are

–Shawna Carol

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

Oh woman
Oh sister
She is me

Holding me
That I may hold you

Forever goddess

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

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

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

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

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

via Be Still | WoodsPriestess.

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

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

[from 2013 post on my other blog]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Co-Circling & The Priestess Path | WoodsPriestess.

Continuing my jotted notes:

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

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

Related past posts:

Gaea Goddess Gathering: Listen to the wise woman….

I make the effort

The Warrior-Priestess

Co-Circling & The Priestess Path

Be Still

Moonpriestess

Woodspriestess: Brigid

 

 

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

Womanrunes Book!

We did it! After an 18 months process of working with Womanrunes and developing my interpretations of them, we’ve published our book! It took much longer and was a much more significant birthing process than I imagined, but it feels so good to have completed it.

I’m interested to now witness the fear that has come up for me in the last two  days though as we’ve approved the final proof and ordered the first copies—what if no one likes it? What if it is too much? What if in “stepping out” like this, I open myself up for “attack” of some kind? Anyway, regardless, it is here!

This book is a collaborative effort between my husband and me. I wrote the text and my husband did all the illustrations, layout, and formatting. At present the book is available in two formats: in paperback from CreateSpace and in digital pdf version from Etsy. A version that includes a professionally printed set of Womanrunes cards is forthcoming by September 1st.

We are extremely pleased with our work on this project and are so glad to offer it to the world! Womanrunes_Cover_for_KindleWomanrunes: A guide to their use and interpretation

From an idea by Shekhinah Mountainwater smAugust 2014 006

In 1988, women’s spirituality foremother and wayshower, Shekhinah Mountainwater, experienced a “goddess-lightning” strike of inspiration and created a set of 41 woman-identified rune symbols for divination and personal growth. Twenty-four years later, I discovered Womanrunes and created an expanded means of interpreting, using, and exploring these powerful, magical symbols.

Discover and explore…

*the herstory and development of Womanrunes
*how to interpret Womanrunes
*how to make your own Womanrunes
*how to lay out and read Womanrunes

Publication Date:
Aug 19 2014
ISBN/EAN13: smAugust 2014 008
1500761214 / 9781500761219
Page Count:
124
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.5″ x 8.5″
Language:
English
Color:
Black and White
Related Categories:
Body, Mind & Spirit / Divination / General

smAugust 2014 014August 2014 011

I took the book down to the woods with me, of course, because that is where it was conceived of, gestated, and birthed.

In gratitude.
August 2014 041

Growing more than one new creation at once! 🙂

 

Categories: books, divination, Goddess, pregnancy, priestess, resources, spirituality, theapoetics, Womanrunes, womanspirit, woodspriestess, writing | 5 Comments

Red Tent Mini-Ritual Recipe

In 2012, when we held our first Mamafest event in my local community, my eye was caught by this room within the beautiful setting of Tara Day Spa:

August 2014 013I wanted to have a Red Tent in this room! I could just feel it calling to me. The next year, when the time came to plan the event, I was dealing with a lot of different things and I knew I did not have the energy to also pull off a Red Tent event and so I tabled it again, but still, I saw that room that year and I wanted it.

The following year,  we started planning even earlier for Mamafest and I had been seeing posts and updates from the Red Tent Movie (Things We Don’t Talk About) and I decided I wanted to host a screening and a Red Tent event during our Mamafest this year. While there are things I would do differently in the future, notably that having a screening at the same time as another event was simply too much, I still feel so happy and pleased that I did it. I scheduled the film based on past experience in which the final half of Mamafest slows down in terms of traffic and so it seemed like the film screening would be a good way to keep people involved with the entire duration of the event. However, this year was so busy and vibrant and successful and energetic, it felt like it was actually disruptive to the flow to try to pull people away for the screening and the “calm” and contemplative energy of the film ended up not matching the celebratory, exciting atmosphere of the rest of the event. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely do the screening separately and then offer the Red Tent space and mini-ritual during Mamafest itself.

Anyway, back to set up. We arrived at Tara Day Spa almost three full hours before the event was scheduled to begin and we needed every single minute of it, plus some. I am so grateful to my husband and my friend Amy who took over most of the actual hanging of the red fabric in the Red Tent space. When I saw the finished entrance, I knew I’d fulfilled my dream!

August 2014 023We set up the inside in an inviting manner with several little stations: a refreshment station with chocolate, tea, and bindis, a henna tattoo area, and a free jewelry making station. Due to size constraints, we actually had to make an “emergency” decision to move the screening of the film itself to the upstairs room at Tara. It was a little stressful to make this transition, but I think it was the right call. We did a mini ritual to open the film (had some technical difficulties getting the film equipment set up and I was extremely flustered to have to make this last minute switch, so that was not ideal for the mood I had wanted to create), we watched the film and then closed by circling up and singing a song together. We ended right on time and then it took more than another hour to dismantle and repack everything. This type of event is not for the faint of heart! Nor is it for pregnant women unless they have husbands and good friends to pack up most of their stuff for them!

IMG_5659Some additional commentary and more pictures are available at Talk Birth.

Rather than repeat all of that post’s content as a crosspost, I decided that on this blog I’d like to share the simple mini-ritual I created for the Red Tent event.

  • Women receive bindis as they arrive
  • Welcome and purpose of screening, as well as some background on the documentary.
  • Water self-blessing bowl—I explaining this is a symbolic cleansing and opportunity to settle into sacred space. We also rang a table chime as each woman entered and took her seat.
  • Group hum—this is our tradition within our ongoing women’s circle and it felt important to carry it over into this experience. The women stand in a circle with hands on each other’s back or hand-in-hand and we hum in unison three times. This “casts the circle” so to speak with just our bodies and presence and it is a very centering experience that literally pulls us into harmony with each other and into the present moment.
  • Sing modified version of May All Mother Know song (see below)
  • Screen film.
  • Scarf dance (with film and Sacred Blood Song) to close (we ended up running out of time for this part).
  • Circle up and sing Woman Am I
  • Welcome them to sign up for future Red Tent events and to receive a red stone and goddess charm as they leave.

May all mothers know that they are loved. June 2014 022

May all sisters know that they are strong.

May all daughters know that they are powerful.

That the circle of women may live on.

That the circle of women may live on.

Circle of Women | Nalini.

~~~~

Woman am I

Spirit am I

I am the infinite within my soul

I have no beginning

And I have no end

All this I am


 

 

Categories: community, friends, priestess, retreat, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 1 Comment

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