writing

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

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.

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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

Day 21: Time out of time (#30daysofyule + #30daysofdissertation)


I have trouble expressing how significant it has been for me to claim this “room of my own” in which to work, dream, contemplate, and enjoy solitude. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d converted my kids’ former clubhouse into a tiny goddess temple. I’ve been working on my dissertation project in there and it feels so peaceful and quiet. Like it brings out my own best self. It is hard to separate out from my family to go out to the temple on my own, lots of demands pull at me, but it benefits everyone when I take the time to do so. Yesterday, I spent almost two hours working only on my dissertation–devoting time is the only way to bring this into being and it is amazing how much more “flow” developed with focused energy spent on it. I never even opened a single other computer window as I worked and the single-tasking allowed for big steps! I feel it being born…

Yesterday afternoon, I also started working on our Shining Year workbooks for 2016. These liminal days between years feel perfect for it.

In the photo with the candle above, I see my first augur/omen for a “12 days of Christmas” divination exercise that Joanna shared with our class: Soundings: The Omen Days: The Twelve Days of Christmas. In the knot in the wood next to the candle, I see The Flying Woman (rune of transformation) in the center–a little figure with arms raised. ❤️

On Christmas evening, I used my new camera to take some pictures of the beautiful full moon. We also drummed and danced on the deck.

I’m getting ready for the next Womanrunes Immersion ecourse and I’m looking forward to connecting and centering in the energy of the new year. This 41 day ecourse explores each one of the runes in depth, allowing you time to practice with and learn from that rune in your own life. The course includes journal and photo prompts, journal pages, full and new moon ritual outlines, and a private facebook for interaction, support, and shared learning.

You can register for the course here: Womanrunes Immersion – Brigid’s Grove

 

Categories: #30daysofyule, 30daysofdissertation, divination, holidays, introversion, moon wisdom, nature, practices, sacred pause, seasons, writing | Leave a comment

Claypriestess (#30daysofdissertation)

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

–Chris Griscolm quoted in Nicole Christine, p. 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The clay goddesses healed…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing Rituals (#30daysofdissertation)

IMG_9805Today, I finally got down to the nitty-gritty and tackled something that I’ve been having a lot of trouble with on this dissertation: cutting out content. I’ve noticed that my first response with my fifteen minutes each day is to add content and so far, that’s what I’ve done almost every day this month. However, since my 320 pages is mainly a compilation of all kinds of past writing, papers, and articles, there is quite a bit of repetition in it–quotes I’ve used in multiple articles, long sections of text from articles that either isn’t relevant or is simply too long of a quote, etc. So, today, I set my timer for fifteen minutes and cut out twenty pages of content. I then kept working and ended up posing a new demographic question in my research group (I suddenly realized I’d completely left out race) as well as making some edits and about five pages of deletions from my document of raw research results (the date/time stamps and disclaimer that carried over when I copied and pasted. Boring and tedious to do, but necessary. I finally had to stop myself, because I’m certain I’ll need something to do with my fifteen minutes tomorrow…)

In the course of my cutting down, my attention was drawn to several useful resources for creating rituals. The first is a very comprehensive look at the structure of creating a ritual. It has a lot of sub-pages and lots of detail: RITUAL: Purpose & Format of Ritual

The same website also has an index of ceremony outlines (they follow a more typically Wiccan outline than I personally connect with, but a useful resource nonetheless!): RITUAL: Index

I chopped out a bunch of saved stuff from a really wonderful article about using chants during rituals: Chants & Enchantment | M. Macha NightMare, Priestess & Witch. I’m saving this information for our personal study group rather than trying to include it in a dissertation format.

I followed a link from the two ritual pages to this interesting sounding book: The Ritual Magic Workbook: A Practical Course of Self-Initiation. I then ordered a copy, but I vow not to try to add anything from it into the dissertation. 😉

I also added some links to my own resources page: Ceremony Resources – Brigid’s Grove

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, chants, dissertation, priestess, resources, ritual, writing | 4 Comments

Ritual energy (#30daysofdissertation)

November 2015 059“Personally, what I have noticed most often about the level of energy in the many rituals I have experienced has far more to do with my mood and personal energy level in solitary rites, and the personalities and personal connections of the people involved in the group rites I’ve experienced than with any external factor, from clothing or lack thereof, to male-female alternation around the circle, to tradition or jewelry or hairstyle, or whatever. Are the people happy to be there? Do they genuinely like each other? Do they believe in the work they’re doing? These are the things I’ve noticing affecting magic’s potency for me.” (Thuri Calafia, Dedicant, p. 159)

I didn’t feel like I had a lot of generative, creative energy for dissertation work today, so I decided to spend my fifteen minutes finishing typing up some quotes from the book Dedicant, by Thuri Calafia. It was a smart way to spend my time, made me think of a new question to pose in my Priestess Path study group, and “decluttered” my research desk by moving the book from the stack on the desk to back on the bookshelf!

This quote caught my eye because I’ve written before that I find it easier to have spiritual experiences on my own rather than in a group, even though I deeply value and enjoy working with groups. Working with groups of people has a lot of power by their own right, but for divine connection, give me solitude in the woods!

That reflection brought me to a quote I’d used in a past blog post:

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…

Source: Dance in a circle of women… | WoodsPriestess

And, considering the why of doing this 30 Days project now. Why expect this daily dissertation work during the holiday season, when business is booming, my kids need me, etc.? Can’t I just wait to work on the dissertation until January? Well…first of all, I said I’d do it this year and I feel like I’d like to honor myself by giving it the best effort I can during what is left of the year!  Second though, I realized with the “fifteen minutes” tip from my friend that I routinely spend way more than fifteen minutes scrolling through my instagram or facebook feeds, so it really isn’t too much to expect of myself to redirect that energy into #30daysofdissertation. So, appropriately, this afternoon I also typed this quote I’d marked down months ago from Dedicant: As it is with our gardens, so it is with life. We sometimes can have too many choices, too many things that pull us in too many directions. There comes a time when we must decide what we will keep putting our energy into, and what we will let go of, even if only for a while…Be gentle with yourself, as you need to nurture your own growth…” (Calafia, p. 202-203)

I don’t know that I’ll actually make a companion blog post each day, but so far I am enjoying the accountability factor in doing so.

Now to turn my attention back to my Feminism and Religion blog post!

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Categories: 30daysofdissertation, books, community, dissertation, Goddess, introversion, practices, priestess, quotes, resources, spirituality, woodspriestess, writing | Leave a comment

Everyday Priestess (#30daysofdissertation)

12309972_1684185268460355_7337326396732314515_oI am a priestess nursing my baby. I am a priestess molding my clay. I am a priestess crying over unhung up dresses in my closet and how I didn’t get my own way about how the day would unfold today. It is hard this work of self-facing. It is hard to be confronted with one’s lack of serenity, empathetic failures, relationship rushes, mothering moments of impatience and snappishness, meltdowns, and minutia, bogged down in the molasses of the daily round. Where is my fluttering robe, my twinkling eyes, my beatific smile spreading graciously across my face as I serenely embrace each moment as it unfolds?

Today, I used my fifteen dissertation moments to transcribe a recording about the “everyday priestess” as well as one about initiation and growth. I also re-read this old post of mine:

In the book, West County Wicca, the shared responsibility for the Circle is identified as well: “The Circle belongs to all who are in it. I have heard people in recent times say, ‘I wouldn’t have such and such in MY circle.’ But it is not THEIR circle. It is the circle of the coven. We had no permanent leaders when I was taught” (p. 17). Ryall also explains that, “The Priestess actively involved in the ceremony is merely the key that unlocks the door, and the Goddess Power brought down into the Circle is for the benefit of all…(p. 27, emphasis mine).

Source: Co-Circling & The Priestess Path | WoodsPriestess

I started working on my post for Feminism and Religion this month. I am unsure which direction I am going with it…perhaps addressing my mamapriestess musings, perhaps doing more development of the “palm of my hand” post from earlier this month.

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, dissertation, practices, priestess, spirituality, writing | 2 Comments

Setting forth (#30DaysofDissertation)

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Setting forth she claims her magic, guided by faith and ritual.

This is the year I planned to finish my dissertation. I submitted my prospectus early this year, have done hundreds of pages of reading, and have collected 286 pages of my own writings for it. I also gradually built up 154 pages of original research thanks to the generous voices of sister priestesses in my Priestess Path study group on Facebook. And, now…nothing. I’ve just been waiting, hoping it was going to finish writing itself. Surely there is a dissertation in there somewhere amongst all those pages, right? RIGHT?!?!?!

I picturing nurturing my masterpiece into completion during the restful, dark, incubatory, gestational winter months. I imagined curling up into the cocoon of winter and then bursting forth with completed dissertation in hand. I didn’t count on fulfilling 360 orders on etsy during the month of November!

I posted on my personal facebook about my slim hope of still somehow finishing it before the end of the year and one of my friends, who finished her PhD quite a few years ago, suggested working on it for 15 minutes a day. This seems like a tiny and obvious suggestion, but it released something in me. I realized that this year I have participated in four 30 Days courses in which I made a blog post every single day (save Hecate, for which I still made more than 20 individual posts). Why wasn’t I steadily working on my dissertation during all of those days? I think if I spend a minimum of 15 minutes for the next 30 days working on my dissertation in some capacity, I can finish it. So, #30DaysofDissertation is born. I’m making a commitment to spend at least 15 minutes a day working on my dissertation for the next 30 days. That means it has to come first or at the very least, it can’t be left until last. Something else will have to slide underneath it in priority, because I can no longer continue to wait for the mythical perfect time that involves long stretches of uninterrupted, contemplative hours. Today, during the baby’s naptime I added 30 pages of text from my ritual kit books plus transcribed 2.5 past recordings from the woods, bringing my pages up to 308. Clearly, my most significant challenge is not going to be in not having enough information, it is going to be about wading through what I do have and shaping it into a coherent final form.

I can do this!

November 2015 079Side note: I’ve also been having fun making bookmarks out of our goddess greeting card bundle. If I can find time for bookmarks, I can find for daily dissertation work, amirite? You can get your goddess greeting card free bundle here: Come Join the Circle! – Brigid’s Grove

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, dissertation, practices, priestess, self-care, writing | 5 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 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.

IMG_7770-0

*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

Call for Contributions: Practical Priestessing

July 2015 001I am in the process of finishing my dissertation project about contemporary priestesses in the U.S. The working title of my dissertation is “Practical Priestessing.” As I’ve collected data and dialogued with practicing priestesses throughout the U.S. and in four additional countries, I have been touched, honored, and amazed to see how much deeper, more nuanced, and powerful my work is with the gracious contribution of additional voices. I have always intended to publish my dissertation in book form after I complete my degree, but I now envision including an anthology section in the book about practical priestessing from a variety of perspectives. I gratefully welcome the contribution of your essays (previously published blog posts or articles acceptable) for this project!

Contributions should center around the following themes:

  • Priestess path: how did you become a priestess? How did you hear the call? How do you serve?
  • Practical service + vocational priestessing: what does priestess work look like for you? (Yes, this project is about the DO-ing work of a priestess, rather than the be-ing work.)
  • Community support: how do you work with the community around you? What would it take for the community to support you in vocational priestessing?
  • Nuts and bolts: thoughts, reflections, and suggestions on ritual facilitation, pastoral counseling, teaching, group dynamics, etc.
  • Scraping the candle wax. My dissertation project has its roots in a quote from Ruth Barrett that ends with this thought: “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 dissertation 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, for me, the differentiation between “title” and practice. The difference between inner activation and outer vocation. I’m not talking about pop culture priestesses or “The High Priestess Nail Your Webinar Manual,” 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…

You may also include a brief biography as well as links to your own blog or business to be included in the book. Please include your mailing address with your submission if you would like to receive a copy of the book when it is published! 

Submissions should be emailed to Molly: priestessworkbook at gmail dot com. 

Deadline for contributions is February 1, 2016. 

Suggested word count: 500-2000 words. 

“The priestess is worn within the soul, not donned for occasion or kept in a bowl.” (http://schoolofsacredscience.com/Priestess_Training.html)

“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)

“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)

Categories: community, dissertation, priestess, spirituality, woodspriestess, writing | 7 Comments

Woodspace

Woodspace July 2015 005
soul unbound
mind unhurried
emotions settled
mood soothed
life paused
senses sharpened
awareness heightened.

Solitude soaks in
like a mantle of truth.

and yet
all around me
are life
companions
creatures
trees
plants
all that
which is seen and unseen
watching, waiting, living,
growing, learning, knowing,
spinning
the world into being.

Body relaxes
I am whole
Complete unto myself
I know who I am
I am real
I am at peace
I rest in authenticity
And appreciate my own company.

I read several articles this week that I identified with. One was about how walking in nature changes the brain (for the better!)

But the volunteers who had strolled along the quiet, tree-lined paths showed slight but meaningful improvements in their mental health, according to their scores on the questionnaire. They were not dwelling on the negative aspects of their lives as much as they had been before the walk.

They also had less blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex. That portion of their brains were quieter.

These results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers, Mr. Bratman said.

via How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain – The New York Times.

The other was a thoughtful, critical analysis of the “shadow” side of the mainstream “green” movement:

These days, in the ‘new green economy’, trees are seen simply as things that make the air better for people to breathe. This new, modern functionality stems from the next generation of green propaganda, which strives to homogenise everything into one giant communist planetary pie chart. Small ecosystems like a forest or river no longer matter in this grand global picture. It sounds almost acceptable now to hear someone say something like ‘But after they clear-cut the old growth forest, they replant way more trees than were there before, so they improve the climate, now it’s even better than it was!’ Marketing air as a commodity from trees created things like carbon credits and off-setts.

via Our Footprints on the Earth | The Dark Mountain Project.

Reading this article as well as getting ready for our Red Tent Circle this Friday, brought me to revisit an article I’d saved several months ago about creating a Black Tent temple as a space for endarkenment: The Black Tent Temple: A Space for Incubation and Endarkenment | The Black Stone Hermitage.

I also enjoyed browsing through the blog posts of a woman who writes about her life living and farming in an Irish cottage: Bealtaine Cottage | 11 years of Permaculture in and around a small Irish cottage, 3 acres and 1 woman…creating Eden!.

I haven’t been making many blog posts here lately myself because I’ve been working on my newest program: Listening to the Deep Self: Divination Practicum for Women. I’ve also been keeping up my writing with my other blog and my business site. My most recent Feminism and Religion post came out today, I submitted an essay to a new book about the placenta from Demeter Press, I’m working on multiple essays for The Oracle and for Motherhouse of the Goddess, and I’m continuing to collect data for my dissertation project. I also finished the content for a new book about ceremony that will hopefully be published in September. And, yes, I do actually get eight hours of sleep each night. 😉

Thank goodness for the woods!

 

Categories: nature, resources, woodspriestess, writing | 9 Comments

Raspberry Revolution

…The spirit of adventure b2ap3_thumbnail_June-2015-067.JPG
    runs through my veins
    with the rich color
    of crushed raspberry

    May it always run so free
    may it be blessed
    and may I be reminded
    of the courage and love
    shown in small, wild adventures.

June brings out the hunter in me. The mission: wild raspberries.* A friend once laughed to hear me describe picking raspberries as a “holy task,” but it is. A task earthy, embodied, mundane, and miraculous at once.

Two of June’s treasures each year for me are the roses and the raspberries. This week, I sweated and struggled and was scratched and stung, but I returned home once again with my bounty.

Last year I wrote about my “Inanna’s descent” as I picked wild raspberries with my children:

    …I was thinking about how I was hot, tired, sweaty, sore, scratched, bloody, worn, and stained from what “should” have been a simple, fun little outing with my children and the above prayer came to my lips. I felt inspired by the idea that parenting involves uncountable numbers of small, wild adventures. I was no longer “just” a mom trying to find raspberries with her kids, I was a raspberry warrior. I braved brambles, swallowed irritations, battled bugs, sweated, swore, argued, struggled, crawled into scary spaces and over rough terrain, lost possessions and let go of the need to find them, and served as a rescuer of others. I gave my blood and body over to the task…

I consider any berry picking expedition to be the very definition of success as long as there are enough berries to make a cobbler! It is so delicious I feel like sharing my version here, in case any of you would also like to enjoy one with your family during berry season (modified from this recipe).

Ingredients:

1 stick butter b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5581.JPG
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 ts. salt
1 ts. baking powder
1 cup milk
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Instructions:

Melt butter. Mix sugar and flour into the same baking dish in which you plan to bake the cobbler. Whisk in milk. Pour in melted butter and whisk again.

Scatter rinsed raspberries evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly.

Serve with whipped cream on top if desired, though plain is delightfully delicious as well!

While in the woods with my raspberries this year, I also finished taking pictures for my upcoming Womanrunes e-course:

b2ap3_thumbnail_June-2015-078.JPG
“Revolution keeps a steady tempo with your heartsong and the color of your wings.”

Sometimes revolution tastes like raspberries.

(*This post is crossposted from my Sagewoman blog where it received many Facebook comments from people feeling compelled to inform me that these are called blackberries, not raspberries. Have no fear, however, yes, wild raspberries are black in Missouri and these are indeed raspberries, even though they are not red. We have wild blackberries also, which will ripen in July. The wild raspberries and blackberries, both black in color, grow right next to each other in my back yard. There are distinctive differences. The raspberries are less seedy, sweeter, juicier, and tastier. Their canes are green-white and waxy in color and they ripen a month earlier. We also have mulberries and dewberries here, which are both black as well.)

Categories: nature, prayers, seasons, woodspriestess, writing | 5 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:

IMG_4889

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

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