women

Book Review: The Other Side of the River

13603729_1759471264265088_2502141005184380413_o“Braids, tapestries, and currents in the river show us the way again and again–it cannot be one clear way or another, it has got to be both ways and together.”

–Eila Carrico, The Other Side of the River

It has taken me many months to review this book and as I sit down to write about it, I find myself at a loss for words. Go. Read it. It is a powerful book.

The Other Side of the River is a lyrical personal narrative that runs in multiple streams and ripples of thought to one riverrushing river: Women’s lives matter. Women’s stories matter. Women’s bodies matter. Women’s voices matter. Women’s lives and the health of the planet are inextricably intertwined. It is gorgeous and also stunning in its complexity. As I read it, I kept thinking, “how did she do this?” How did she weave so many experiences and thoughts and insights into this one text that flows so powerfully together? In The Other Side of the River, author Eila Carrico’s personal experiences and stories of her life are interwoven with descriptions, thoughts, and experiences from the world’s waters and her travels to many different bodies of water. Eila has listened to the river, learned from the waters, and these many ripples blend together into a juicy, creative, thought-provoking, complex web of questions, thoughts, and lessons. As we journey with her from the Florida marshlands to New Orleans, to San Francisco, to Africa, to India, to London, and even some time in the Mojave Desert, we also meet many water goddesses from world culture and are treated to an evocative exploration of the Goddess, the sacred feminine, at work in women’s lives and in the world as a whole. We learn from Tara and Aphrodite and Ganga and Oshun and Cailleach and Kali, all swirling together in a labyrinthine journey of depth and profundity.

Published by Womancraft Publishing, The Other Side of the River is not only a personal memoir, but a treatise on ecofeminism, ecology, and environmentalism. I discovered ecofeminism during my doctoral studies and have often returned to a phrase womb ecology reflects world ecology, world ecology reflects womb ecology. In this book we come to see how the damming of the rivers, the polluting of the oceans, the re-routing of the streams, reflects the stifling of women’s voices, the control of women’s bodies, and the oppression of women’s lives.

“I imagine that women look outside for answers because they cannot feel the wisdom of their own bodies anymore. Years of creating an icy barrier to keep out the stares, the calls, the threat of rape and worse. Women take care of their friends and families, but they do not take care of themselves. Women have lost what sustains them, forgotten what brings them to live, pushed down their rage and denied their need for rest..

…I think of the time during and after the witch burnings in Europe as a time when once fluid women chose to turn themselves into ice for self-preservation. They decidedly slowed and suppressed their wisdom of ways sensitive to the natural landscape and began to lives much further beneath the surface of their skin. They learned to conceal, conserve and control themselves to survive.”

–Eila Carrico

I am reminded of a quote from Clarissa Pinkola-Estes: Be wild! That is how to clear the river.

It is hard for me to write as compellingly as I would like to about such a compelling book. Please read it and let its magic stream through you too.

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Crossposted at SageWoman and Brigid’s Grove.

Categories: books, embodiment, feminism, feminist thealogy, Goddess, resources, reviews, self-care, spirituality, women, writing | 2 Comments
 
 

Where I am and what I’m doing!

August 2016 128Over the last year as more and more of my time, focus, and attention have shifted to Brigid’s Grove, my posts here at Woodspriestess have become more sporadic and it has finally become clear to me that I am “retiring” from my commitment to regularly maintaining this blog. I’ve increasingly found my voice at our Brigid’s Grove blog and that is where I am currently posting updates and sharing information. I miss the more personal flavor and personal insights and “small” moments/everyday miracles that I’ve explored here at Woodspriestess over the years, so I’m not completely retiring it, but rather acknowledging the reality that I am just not using it as a writing environment much this year. I’m also interested to note that the feeling of “completion” here and reduction of writing coincides with the completion of my dissertation. I have blogged here throughout my studies at OSC and now those studies are officially complete.

The time has come for me to lay aside this means of expression and to continue to pour my heart into what I offer through Brigid’s Grove. Feel free to join me there! In fact, I have a free Introduction to Thealogy class going on right now! And, my next section of our Goddess Magic Circle begins on September 5.

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Categories: art, community, creativity, nature, priestess, seasons, self-care, spirituality, womanspirit, women, woodspriestess, writing | Leave a comment

The Motheredness of the World

“…We were all held, touched, interrelated, in an invisible net of incarnation. I would scarcely think of it ordinarily; yet for each creature I saw, someone, a mother, had given birth….Motherhood was the gate. It was something that had always been invisible to me before, or so unvalued as to be beneath noticing: the motheredness of the world…”

–Naomi Wolf, Misconceptions

This quote from Naomi Wolf  as she reflects on an ordinary street scene and suddenly comes to understand the web May 2016 113of life and the universality of motherhood (even for squirrels!), forms a key part of my own thealogy as well as my ethics. I return to this concept of the invisible net of incarnation over and over. I am aware that some people critique mother goddess imagery as exclusive or reductionist, but I am of the opinion that Mother Goddess imagery is not specifically about women as mothers, but rather about the motheredness of the world. In this way, I do not find the image of the Mother Goddess (that web of incarnation Herself!) is exclusive, rather I find it exceedingly appropriate. It isn’t about a culturally constructed role, it is about the primal relationship. The root of life.

At Brigid’s Grove, we value, honor, and celebrate each turn on the women’s wheel of life, whether someone has children or not. There are many women’s mysteries and much goddess wisdom to explore at all ages, stages, phases, and family configurations. I find that to honor and celebrate one experience need not devalue or denigrate another’s experience, rather we hold multiple realities at one time. The journey of woman who has experienced infertility. The celebration of the woman who gives birth at home. The joy of a mother of many. The self-possession of the woman who is childless by choice. The wisdom and life experience of the sage woman crone. The priestess path as it is expressed in many forms of service, healing, wisdom, gifts, and ceremony.

I began my professional career focused on what I, as a still-teenage college student in Psychology, broadly described as “women’s issues.” This first was expressed in working in domestic violence shelters as an undergrad and then ongoing into my clinical practicum as a graduate student in social work. After I gave birth to my first son at 24, my passion shifted expressions to focus on childbearing women. After the miscarriage-birth of my third son, my passion expanded to the totality of the women’s life cycle and each person’s right to define and acknowledge the significant moments of their other lives, regardless of whether these passages, initiations, and rites are celebrated, held, or heard by the larger culture. This experience set me firmly on my priestess path. My walk through grief followed by my pregnancy with my daughter, led me to create goddess sculptures to honor experiences of all kinds–to form as sort of “3-D journal” of significant life events as well as connection to the Divine. Now, as I facilitate Red Tents and women’s rituals and work with women online in our practical priestessing and red tent courses, I am honored, humbled, and blessed to be a small part of the deep, diverse, rich, and powerful stories and paths of each of these women. There is so much goodness and courage to bear witness to in this world.

…See your worth March 2016 002
hear your value
sing your body’s power
and potency
dance your dreams
recognize within yourself
that which you do so well
so invisibly
and with such love…

(via: A Prayer for Mothers)

As I consider mothers, women, and women’s power this weekend, I have some additional resources and thoughts to share with you:

Other news:

  • The Goddess Magic Circle has begun and the experience we’ve been having so far are beautiful to witness! More than 25 women have joined the Circle from around the world and I love sharing sacred space with them. Registration remains open through the end of the month if you’d like to join us and create some powerful magic together!
  • I’m guest teaching with the beautiful Awen Clement for the Merry Moon MoonWiseWoman Circle.
  • Check out the recent Beltane issue of The Oracle from Global Goddess for many May articles and resources from goddess women across the country.

March 2016 001

Categories: family, feminist thealogy, Goddess, holidays, parenting, priestess, resources, sacred pause, spirituality, womanspirit, women | Leave a comment

International Women’s Day Resources

My body is my altar  10286915_1714565075422374_6164793523246448200_o
my body is my temple
my living presence on this earth
my prayer.

Thank you.

(Source: Earthprayer)

Today is International Women’s Day! In addition to my work online and face-to-face with women as well as with the products offered by our shop, I support two resources that help make every day “international women’s day.” I sponsor a woman through Women for Women International and I keep multiple microloans going at Kiva – Loans that change lives. We started making Kiva loans in 2012 when we covered economic freedom in the Cakes for the Queen of Heaven feminist spirituality class I was teaching at the time. We decided to put our money where our mouths were and make a collective loan, from our women’s circle to a women’s circle somewhere else in the world. We collected $50 from the members of the circle and I made two microloans to two different women’s groups, both in Senegal. A few more women contributed in later months, I contributed another $25 of my own and we got a $25 referral credit, and I’ve steadily kept microloans going there ever since, loaning a total of $650 to 26 different women’s groups in 19 countries since we began. The cool thing is that this did not cost me $650, instead it is the same, original money from that long-ago Cakes for the Queen of Heaven class that I keep relending as soon as my Kiva account builds up to $25 in repayments. There are 7 loans currently going, from what was originally only $50. Just a drop in the bucket. I encourage you to do this too!

I’m offering a new, free Earthprayer e-course beginning April 10.

My Red Tent Initiation and Practical Priestessing courses are coming up soon! There are a few spots left in each and we’ll accept new participants until March 10th.

More International Women’s Day Resources:

A collection of recent women’s circle-oriented blog posts and resources:

Categories: feminism, resources, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

New Practical Priestessing Program

Our new Womanspirit Initiation program in practical priestessing begins on the Spring Equinox! I’m really thrilled IMG_0050to do this. Since it is the inaugural offering of this program, I’m offering an “early bird” registration option until February 15th. There are 19 spaces currently available in the training.

I’ve been working on my dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the US for a long time and it has deep roots in my passion for priestessing as real work, not a self-empowerment buzzword. While I’m a huge fan of self-empowerment, I also adore practical priestessing–what does doing this work look like? I call it “Candle Wax Priestessing,” based in quote from Ruth Barrett who said:

What is your motivation for leadership? The title of Priestess sounds mystical, powerful, and conjures up fantasy images of flowing robes, crescent tiaras, charged magical tools at your fingertips, and rooms full of chanting, awe-eyed devotees lingering on your every muse-inspired word. You dispense wisdom directly from the Goddess Herself, channeled in perfection to the unquestioning multitudes that wait and depend on your guidance.

If that’s your vision, get another hobby. The reality is this: you will be the last one left in the rented hall, scraping candle-wax droppings off the floor with a razor blade…

While it sounds “mundane” and even a little harsh, at the core, my research is focused on these Candle Wax Priestesses. Anyone can say, “I’m a priestess,” but when the wax actually hits the floor, who is there? That’s the crux of it; the differentiation between “title” and practice. The difference between inner activation and outer vocation. I’m not talking about pop culture priestesses or “High Priestess of sales conversion” manuals, I’m talking about candle wax. I’m talking about toting tubs of supplies, I’m talking about making copies, and picking dates, and writing rituals, and doing this…

This program is more than just a class, it is a process of discovery, preparation, and initiation. What does it involve to do womanspirit priestess work in a variety of settings, including women’s spirituality circles, seasonal ceremonies, family celebrations, rites of passage ceremonies, rituals, and retreats? That’s what we’ll uncover, explore, and share together! Of course, we’ll also create plenty of magic and deep, transformative personal experiences, it isn’t all about candle wax! You also get a fabulous resource kit of real supplies, including a brand new spiral goddess sculpture in deep purple.

These questions of candle wax priestessing connected deeply with the priestesses in the research group, with many sharing stories of candle-wax, or accidental fire, related experiences. One of my own moments was when I beat out the flames on the altar table with my sandal while wearing my baby daughter in a pouch on my chest while working in Brigid’s Temple at the Gaea Goddess Gathering in Kansas.

Womanspirit Initiation is a sister program to the Red Tent journey I offer (and love!). I think it is funny that I developed the priestess course second, because I’ve been planning and facilitating women’s rituals and retreats for many more years than I have been facilitating Red Tents, but that is how it emerged! I explore some of the differences between the two programs in this post: What is the difference between a Red Tent and a Women’s Circle?

If you are currently enrolled in the free Womanspirit Wisdom mini class you will get a $25 coupon code that can be combined with the early bird registration. This coupon will arrive in your email on February 12.

I’d love to walk this spiral path of initiation, discovery, and practical leadership with you!

cropMolly 184(I’m also cooking up a semi-secret new Goddess Magic Circle. It isn’t a class, it isn’t a “virtual circle,” it is opportunity for collaboration, experience, and co-creation!)

Categories: dissertation, priestess, programs, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Priestess Year in Review (2015)

IMG_7758“… 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)

“The Goddess is not only for the temple, she must be carried out into the world to wherever she is needed…” –Vivianne Crowley (in Voices of the Goddess edited by Caitlin Matthews)

When I became ordained as a priestess with Global Goddess in July of 2012, one of the commitments I made as part November 2015 050of 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 at the end of 2013 and 2014. It is 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 each year with the rest of the GG community in hopes of encouraging others to keep a record of their own. To continue this commitment, I again kept a list during 2015 and here it is!

January: family full moon ritual (1/5), beta test priestess class based on Stepping Into Ourselves (they also offer a free intro to priestessing course). Reprinted Womanrunes book with a few revisions and updates.

February: family Brigid Day/Imbolc + baby feet on ground ceremony (2/1. Post regarding is here) IMG_8126

March: full moon ritual (3/7), Sacred Year manifestation ritual (3/8). Family Spring ritual (3/14). Red Tent (3/21).

Also: published Restoring Women to Ceremony: The Red Tent Resource Kit

April: full moon ritual (4/5). Red Tent (4/17). Spring women’s retreat (4/25).

May: Family Beltane (5/3). Red Tent (5/15)

June: Red Tent

July: group summer ritual for whole families (7/1), New Moon ritual (7/15), Red Tent (7/17), Blue Moon ritual IMG_7770(7/31)

Also: Womanrunes Immersion ecourse began

August: Red Tent, Family abundance + gratitude + harvest + full moon ritual

Also: Red Tent Initiation began online

September: Red Tent (9/11). Interview during virtual Red Tent for Journey of Young Women twice. Interview on Goddess Alive radio. Autumn family drum circle. Mini full 11986976_1661342964077919_7888471579811176826_nmoon/eclipse ritual. Went to Gaea Goddess Gathering as vendor and participant.

Also:

October: Red Tent, mother blessing ceremony (10/22), Family Halloween ritual, family full moon ritual

Also:

November: Pink Tent ceremony for mothers and daughters (11/6). Family full moon ritual.

Also:

December: Family solstice (12/21), Family full moon (12/25), Yuletide ceremony (12/28)

Completely unanticipated for 2015 was my “raising” of my own tiny Goddess temple in the woods in which I have happily worked for the last two months and in which I plan to hold small rituals and celebrations throughout 2016.

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My tiny temple!

I wrote 179 posts here in 2015, which was a dramatic increase from previous years, primarily because I took four different 30 Days seasonal ecourses from Joanna Powell Colbert and posted almost every day during those courses.

We published two new books: The Red Tent Resource Kit and Earthprayer, Birthprayer as well as updated and made minor revisions to the Womanrunes book. We also put together a 340 page workbook for the Divination Practicum course. I sculpted six new designs for pewter pendants and 13 for resin goddess sculptures and created our line of beautiful ceremony kits and blessing pouches (and we fulfilled more than 1300 orders for these items, particularly our wildly popular goddess holiday ornaments!)

I continued to host a Priestess Path group on Facebook and began doing dissertation research in this group over the course of the entire year, eventually collecting more than 100 pages of original research thanks to the thoughtful and generous contributions of the practicing priestessing in the group. I started a new Facebook group for Brigid’s Grove: Creative Spirit Circle, as well as maintaining the Brigid’s Grove and Woodspriestess front-coverFacebook pages.

In keeping with the commitment I made upon my ordination, I contributed articles to 7 issues of The Oracle, the online journal of Global GoddessImbolcBeltane, Summer Solstice, First Harvest, Samhaim, Fall Equinox, Winter Solstice.

I wrote 6 posts for Feminism and Religion:

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

And, I wrote two articles for Motherhouse of the Goddess:IMG_7927

and for the Rhythms of the Goddess journal: Rhythms of the Goddess – Seasonal Journal | The Motherhouse of the Goddess

I moved some of my blog writing to Brigid’s Grove, creating 86 posts there in 2015, and I will continue to do more and more of this as I phase out some of my other blog commitments.

(I also wrote 100 posts at my birth/motherhood blog and taught ten college classes, but those don’t directly connect to my priestess year in review theme!)

One of my biggest goals for 2015 was to finish my last two D.Min classes (which I did) and my dissertation (which ISeptember 2015 0099 didn’t).

My relevant 2016 goals include:

  • Finish usable draft of dissertation by February
  • Continue hosting monthly Red Tent Circles
  • Continue having family full moon rituals
  • Have at least one community family ritual
  • Participate fully in the Lunar Priestess course I registered for at the beginning of this year
  • Hold a monthly study circle with a few friends12036397_1667128160166066_8284211676923229933_n
  • Finish writing practical priestessing manual and perhaps convert dissertation into a new book
  • Write the book for the Shekhinah Tarot project
  • Facilitate two new sections of the Red Tent Initiation course as well as the very new Womanspirit Initiation course as well as continue to offer the Divination Practicum and the Womanrunes Immersion
  • Gestate and birth and delight in a new Goddess Magic study circle online

As occurs each year, when I write 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 small logopresence? 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. In reviewing the past 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. I also have to shake my head with some self-compassion and a smile when I recall all the times I worried that I haven’t been doing “enough” or everything that I’d like to do and offer to my community.

July 2015 103

It was a beautiful year! IMG_4933August 2015 089

Categories: nature, practices, priestess, programs, red tent, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle, woodspriestess, writing | 7 Comments

Free Mini Course: Womanspirit Wisdom

I’ve developed three new free mini courses to offer this year. The first is ready to roll and begins on February 1!

Here are the details…

Womanspirit Wisdom

IMG_0173This three week ecourse is designed to offer you a gently nourishing daily “sacred pause.” Beginning February 1, each day for 21 days, take a moment and simply receive. There is nothing to do, just enjoy taking a daily minute to connect with yourself.

Includes:

Categories: blessings, practices, priestess, programs, quotes, readings, red tent, resources, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Priestess Semantics (#30DaysofDissertation)

IMG_9643-1I revisited one of my first posts at SageWoman yesterday as I continued to type notes from Under Her Wings.

“The journey to become a priestess…(even of the urban variety) remains a grueling task, not something capable of being conferred by a few weekend workshops or sweat lodges. The glibness with which such terms are used can be infuriating…” –Vivienne Vernon-Jones in Voices of the Goddess by Caitlin Matthews

Source: Practical Priestessing: Who Does She Think SHE is?! – PaganSquare – PaganSquare – Join the conversation!

Nicole Christine also addresses the fear, the chastisement, of “who does she think she is?” as she describes working with her first group of initiates:

“This is when the priestess within came to life! Many wanted me to tell them how to be a priestess. Now, through direct communion with the Goddess and the priestess within, we were, each in our own time and own way, discovering what it means to be a priestess in these times.

Facilitating, rather than directing, I was in continual awe over what was seeking expression through us.”(p. 69)

She reached a conclusion with her group: “And we concurred that to be a priestess in these times was about inner mediation between the Goddess Within and our woman self, rather than serving as an intermediary between the Divine and humankind” (p . 68). But, she also acknowledges a shared fear that I find reassuring in my own work:  “A split in consciousness regarding use of the term priestess existed in the first circle of initiates. Most fear ridicule and/or misunderstanding if they openly identified as priestesses, and also felt somehow unworthy of such identification. But when time came for their ordinations, these women radiantly reclaimed their worthiness and courageously broke ground for new priestesses” (p. 81).

I marked one more quote on the topic of self-worth, since I struggle here a lot as well: “[a priestess in the initiation process] shared her inner pilgrimage process. ‘I kept trying to be a priestess and feeling more and more worthless because I wasn’t being what I thought a priestess should be. Finally, I realized that a priestess, more than anything, needs to be honest with her feelings—that is where the power and self-worth are” (p. 96).

Switching gears, I realized that in all of my 311 pages of typing so far (plus 154 pages of research participation questions, I’ve almost totally overlooked an entire element of The Priestess (as archetype) and that is the sexual priestess. I think my knee-jerk reaction is to completely dismiss “temple prostitute” type of verbiage in literature as an artifact of patriarchal conditioning/interpretation. i.e. I don’t know that I believe that the role of ancient temple priestesses actually had anything to do with sex per se, instead I think that later historians/archaeologists have trouble understanding that female religious leadership could be in a capacity other than sexual and so they dismiss priestess evidence as “temple prostitute” (much like dismissing all sculptures as “fertility icons” instead of goddesses). But, in that rejection of what I see as the temple prostitute “myth,” I am missing out on a whole category of responses or interpretations.

Nicole Christine actually addresses this subject in some depth in Under Her Wings:

“The author [of The Sacred Prostitute] affirmed my knowing that it is the sacred prostitute/sexual priestess who actively brings goddess love into the human realm” (p. 93).

(Though, I kind of scratch my head here. I recognize that I’m probably layering on some of my own culturally ingrained judgements/stereotypes/conceptions here, but to me, I see and experience many ways of bringing goddess love into the human realm that have nothing to do with being a sacred prostitute/sexual priestess…)

Actually, as I type now, I realize I didn’t completely overlook it, because I did read Aphrodite’s Priestess by Laurelei Black. I listened to several Voices of the Sacred Feminine shows that related to “sacred courtesanship” and I participate in enough women’s empowerment focused Facebook groups to know that some women embrace themselves as “dakini” or priestesses of the sexual arts. Though, it has also only very recently caught my attention that some people, other than those patriarchally blinded archaeologist types, actually perceive Priestess as a synonym for Prostitute! I mean more that I overlooked it as a serious area for further exploration and discussion. I also just found out about this book, but I don’t know that I have time to add another book to my pile!

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Categories: 30daysofdissertation, dissertation, feminist thealogy, practices, priestess, quotes, readings, resources, spirituality, women, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

Mamapriestess?

She who changes IMG_7770
She who expands and contracts
She who stretches her limits
She who digs deep
She who triumphs and fails
Every day
Sometimes both within a single hour
She who tends her own hearth
She who comforts and connects and enfolds
She who opens wide…

(via my past post: Goddess Mother)

I recently finished reading Under Her Wings: The Making of a Magdalene, by Nicole Christine. A theme running through the book was the concept of “As Above, So Below and As Within, So Without.” I read this book as part of my research for my dissertation about contemporary priestessing. I posed two questions based on this book in my dissertation research study group, but I’d like to invite other responses and experiences as well.

I want to hear from the Mamapriestesses, from the Hearth Priestesses! Where are the other practicing priestesses b2ap3_thumbnail_11209411_1658113891067493_624517776654095662_n.jpgwith children at home? I noticed in Christine’s book that the bulk of her work took place after her children were grown and, to my mind, she also had to distance or separate from her children and her relationships in order to fully embrace her priestess self. How do you balance this? How does it work for you? Parenting, for me, can simultaneously feel as if it is stifling my full expression and yet perhaps as if it holds the greatest lessons and teachers

I notice that many women seem to come to priestess work when the intensive stage of motherhood has passed, or they do not have children. Is there a reason why temple priestesses were “virgins” and village wise women were crones? Where does the Mamapriestess fit?

So, if you have children, I’d love to hear from you about this! If you do not have children by choice, how does that play into your spiritual work? If you do not have children and that is not by choice, how does that play into your spiritual work?

As I read Christine’s book and witnessed her intensive self-exploration, discovery, and personal ceremony and journeys, I realized that in many ways personal exploration feels like a luxury I don’t have at this point in my parenting life (as an example: for an entire month I’ve been dreaming what feel like really powerful and almost revelatory dreams, but I have a night-nursing 11 month old and after multiple night wakings with him, the dreams slip into nothingness and I’m left with a sense of “forgetting” something that is trying to communicate with me or share wisdom).

How do you balance your inner journey with your outer process? Christine references having to step aside and be somewhat aloof or unavailable to let inner processes and understandings develop, since our inner journeys may become significantly bogged down by interpersonal relationships, dramas, venting, chatting, and so forth. Or, as I tend to joke, during a full moon ritual as my two pre-teen sons make fart jokes or the baby has a poopy diaper. For me, this distance for inner process exploration isn’t possible in the immersive stage of life as a mother. And, yet, I also know in my bones that I’m not meant to give it up. How does the As Within and the So Without work together for you?

Several years ago, I was sitting at the table sculpting clay for a new design and my then six-year-old son worked at the table too, finally presenting me with a special gift of his own design:

February 2013 051“This is the Goddess of Everything,” he told me. “See that pink jewel in her belly, that is the WHOLE UNIVERSE, Mom!!”

Categories: dissertation, family, Goddess, OSC, parenting, priestess, self-care, women, woodspriestess, writing | 4 Comments

Day 25: Sweet Darkness (#30Daysof Harvest)

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

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

— David Whyte

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

 
 

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

Day 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

Day 16: Story-ing Up for Winter (#30DaysofHarvest)


I’m playing fast and loose with the 30 Days of Harvest prompt for today, which is really: storing up for winter.* However, I wrote a post today about story and I though, why not, “storying up for winter” instead! One of the things that was really special about GGG this year was having women visit my booth, pick up our goddesses and ask, “what is her story?” Once I told the story for one, they would start asking, “how about this one, what’s the story for it?” And, I even had a woman stop by and say, “I remember you had stories for these last year, can I hear them?”

IMG_7758Yesterday, I went searching for a quote for one of my Red Tent Initiation students. She had shared some powerful reflections about the vulnerability required to reveal our personal stories—there is a lot of risk, sometimes shame, and more, bound up in our ability to uncover ourselves and speak our truth. What I wanted to communicate with her was the idea that in sharing our stories, including the painful pieces, we free other women to do the same. Our courage to be vulnerable, to be naked, to be flawed, to experiment with ideas, concepts, or ways of being gives permission for other women to do the same. I went to a workshop at Gaea Goddess Gathering in 2012 that was about dancing and the facilitator said that when facilitating ritual, you have to be willing to look a little ridiculous yourself, have to be willing to risk going a little “over the top” yourself, because in so doing you liberate the other participants—“if she can take that risk and look a little goofy doing so, maybe it is okay for me to do it too.”

After a lot of digging through old posts on my blog, I found the quote! It is from one of my favorite authors, Carol Christ, who said:

“When one woman puts her experiences into words, another woman who has kept silent, afraid of what others will think, can find validation. And when the second woman says aloud, ‘yes, that was my experience too,’ the first woman loses some of her fear.”

This is part of what makes Red Tent Circles so powerful! It is also part of what makes the Red Tent course itself powerful—when the women in the course are willing to dig into the journal questions, assignments, and processes, to turn them over, to explore how they work in their own lives…they lose some of the fear and they encourage others to lose their fear too.

As I was mining my blog for quotes about the power of story, I came across my older post: I am a Story Woman. In this post, I describe how I was preparing a ritual for New Year’s Eve and planning to include the chant: I am a strong woman, I am a story woman. My husband raised a question about it…

 “I’m not sure about this,” he said, “what is a story woman anyway?” I wasn’t able to give him a solid answer at that moment, but guess what, I am one.

In fact, didn’t I just write earlier this week that story holds the key to the reclamation of power for women? How and why does this work?

Because of these two things:

“The one who tells the stories rules the world.”

–Hopi Indian Proverb

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

–Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox

We need to hear women’s stories. We need to hear each other into speech. We need to witness and be witnessed. We need to be heard…

Source: I am a Story Woman | Talk Birth

Over the summer, I was interviewed by Lucy Pearce for her Be Your Publisher Author Interview series. My interview came out today. Since months have passed since we talked, the details of our conversation have dimmed in my memory. (I’m also noticing that I need to get over my own fear and vulnerability that listening to me talk can somehow be perceived as a “bonus” to anyone!) So, imagine the delight I felt when I saw some of the words she chose to describe our interview conversation:

  • Learn to mine your blog
  • The importance of sharing our stories as we navigate the challenging parts of life.
  • Turning a blog into a book and very wise advice … Don’t die with your music still in you.

Just yesterday, I was mining my own blog as well as musing on the importance and power of sharing our stories.

I am a story woman.

The other quote she mentions, don’t die with your music still in you, has been a guiding philosophy in my life and work for at least twelve years. It comes from the work of Wayne Dyer, who passed away last month. I used this quote to describe my relationship to writing, identity, and wholeness as a person, in a vulnerable post about the power of story in my life in early motherhood:

…I’ve finally realized that maybe it was literally my words dying in me that gave me that feeling and that fretfulness. They needed to get out. I’ve spent a lifetime writing various essays in my head, nearly every day, but those words always “died” in me before they ever got out onto paper. After spending a full three years letting other women’s voices reach me through books and essays, and then six more years birthing the mother-writer within, I continue to feel an almost physical sense of relief and release whenever I sit down to write and to let my own voice be heard.

Source: Birthing the Mother-Writer (or: Playing My Music, or: Postpartum Feelings, Part 1) | Talk Birth

Just this year, we’ve ordered printings of our Womanrunes books four times, published our Red Tent Resource Kit manual then added twenty pages to the second printing and re-released it, and published my new Earthprayer, Birthprayer poetry book. I’m working on my dissertation: 275 pages of past writing (much mined from older blog posts) and 145 pages of data collected from others, as well as a companion book project. I am getting ready to publish a miscarriage support group manual that I wrote for The Amethyst Network a few years ago and I have big plans to significantly expand my Ritual Recipe Kit ebook into a much longer, print, resource manual in 2016.

I am a story woman.

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*Actually, I see now it was really “STOCKING up for winter,” but too late, I’m going with it! Really fast and loose with this prompt! 😉

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Cross posted at Talk Birth and Brigid’s Grove.

Categories: #30DaysofHarvest, art, GGG, practices, priestess, programs, quotes, red tent, sacred pause, spirituality, women, women's circle, woodspriestess, writing | 1 Comment

Divination Practicum Course Announcement!

September 2015 0099I’m excited to announce my newest online class!

Listening to the Deep Self, a six-week divination practicum for women begins online on October 27.

This course is designed to help you flex your intuitive and oracular muscles. It will help you become confident in drawing upon your own wisdom and what you have to teach and source from this wisdom

In this practicum you will learn:

  • How to work intensively with Womanrunes
  • How to make, cast, and interpret Goddess Runes
  • How to use women’s divination resources as guidance for other women
  • How to use a pendulum for yourself and with others
  • How to create personal oracle cards
  • How to create a trinket oracle
  • How to lead a Womanrunes divination workshop for other women

You will gain:

  • Practical experience in giving readings for others
  • Confidence in the resources of your own intuition and the womanspirit guidance surrounding you
  • An opportunity to create income for yourself using your gifts, skills, and resources
  • The ability to speak in the language of the runes
  • The ability to reliably and regularly connect to womanspirit wisdom, the Goddess, the Earth, your spiritual guides, and your own deep self
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Womanrunes in use in the Red Tent in Pembrokeshire

Your Practicum Kit Includes*:

  • Free shipping!
  • Womanrunes book and cards
  • Professionally printed practicum workbook
  • Goddess pendulum
  • Trinket oracle starter kit
  • Gemstone heart palm stone (we will intuitively choose the stone for you)
  • Amethyst gemstone point
  • Amethyst bracelet
  • Purple cloth upon which to do readings smallMay 2015 057
  • Purple bag to store your resources
  • Certificate of completion in Readings for Womanspirit
  • Complete workshop outline and handouts for you to lead a Womanrunes class with other women at festivals, circles, conferences, or events (plus an opportunity to purchase books wholesale to have available to sell to others!)
  • Live interaction, support, and feedback via a private Facebook group
  • Optional add-on: goddess pendant or inner wisdom goddess sculpture

(*contents subject to slight changes depending on availability)

Early bird registration pricing ends September 25th! Register via our Brigid’s Grove website.

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Categories: classes, embodiment, practices, resources, Womanrunes, womanspirit, women, women's circle, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 3: My Place in the Family of Things (#30DaysofHarvest)

 
Sleeping baby in Ergo. Notebook full of amazing possibilities. Feet on the grass in my red tent canopy at Camp Gaea with our goddess art and Womanrunes books on the tables. Surrounded by fascinating women, listening to drums…  

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

Red Tent Initiation Program Launch

11692528_1643738219171727_6214351850615964803_nFollowing the spiral path of maiden, mother, and crone…

Do you want to take a journey into a deeper understanding of yourself? Do you wish to unlock insight and understanding? Do you want to reach out to other women in sisterhood and co-create a powerful circle experience?

This new online program is both a powerful, personal experience AND a training in facilitating transformative women’s circles. You will listen to your deep self, access your inner wisdom and prepare to step into circle as guardian and guide for other women who are hungering for depth, connection, restoration, and renewal in today’s busy world.

This intensive course is limited to 15 women, to allow for deep connection and dedicated attention.

August 29-October 12, 2015

Your online experience includes…

  • Asix week immersive journey over the course of the spiral path
    • Knowing Self (Maiden Unit)
    • Might of Creation (Mother Unit)
    • Gathering the Women (Crone Unit)
  • Each unit includes a ceremony, meditations, discussion questions, journaling exercises, projects, and prompts designed to take you deep into the Red Tent process.
  • Live interaction, support, feedback, and conversation via a private Facebook group

With your registration, you will also receive an incredible resource package valued at more than $100 including:

  • 58 page manual: Restoring Women to Ceremony, The Red Tent Resource Kit, written exclusively for our Red Tent redtentkitKit and Initiation Program. 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.
  • Womanrunes Book and Card set: used throughout the program for personal guidance and self-development. And, perfect for ongoing use in an 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
  • Moontime pendant with silver-tone, solid crescent moon charm
  • Red altar cloth
  • Red organza bag to store your resources
  • Altar Candle
  • Head wreath kit and tutorial
  • Special Red Tent Circle Leader initiation gift (to be opened only upon program completion!)
  • Red silken cord
  • Moon or spiral goddess pendant

After your process is complete you will also receive:

  • Certificate of Completion
  • Ritual Recipe Kit e-book
  • Circle-ready digital files of the rich meditations and insightful readings used in the program
  • Ongoing support and guidance through continued participation in our private Facebook group

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For inspiration on your own path, feel free to listen our local Red Tent Circle singing the beautiful chant Dance in a Circle of Women during our May Circle

Register via our website or check out via Etsy here.

 

Categories: community, Goddess, priestess, programs, red tent, resources, retreat, ritual, sacred pause, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

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