Posted on:  Jan 20, 2019 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

Our Whole, Holy Womanhood: A Death and Life Story

I was born into a world that didn’t teach me what it means to be a woman in accordance with my true, sacred feminine nature and power. Instead, it made me see my womanhood as weak, small and inferior, meant to serve and please others. It taught me that power was an outside force, defined and imposed by others, that belonged to the realm of men.

Though I started my adult life on the wrong track, seeking my place and power in a masculine-defined world as an educated, career-focused business woman, my deeper Self had another plan that set me on the path of reclaiming the lost fragments of my whole, holy womanhood.

Our whole, holy womanhood is powerful, with the ability to hold the light, dark, life, death, beauty and wounding of our personal story and shared humanity.

I did feminist graduate studies, ran my own gender-equity consulting business, read countless books on women’s ways and Goddess theology, spent countless hours in therapy and personal development, moved away from the city to a small, rugged island to reconnect with Nature, practiced magic, went to witchcamp, and became a priestess, dreamer and daughter of the Goddess.

Still something essential was missing, connected to the dark, death powers of my sacred feminine nature. This is the story of when this precious fragment returned to me.

It’s the early hours on the day of the Winter Solstice. I jolt awake with the word “miscarriage” screaming in my brain. I dash to the bathroom to find blood coming from me that isn’t supposed to be there at week eleven in my pregnancy. My partner soothes me, and calms me down enough to take me to the hospital. Later that morning, an ultrasound confirms that our baby has died — a child we had consciously conceived and desperately wanted.

Our midwife gives us a choice: to stay in the hospital for a procedure or to let things run their course at home. I’ve been down this road before, having miscarried five years earlier. No one had told me then that thirty percent of first-time pregnancies end in miscarriage, nor prepared and coached me for this eventuality. We had gone the hospital route, and the experience had been disorienting and disempowering. This time would be differently; I would tend my own miscarriage.   

In the darkest hours of the night, in the turning before the new dawn, my womb begins to convulse, releasing the dead life within. For hours, with each release, I collect the tissues of our child in a one-quart mason jar, not knowing which would have been his perfect face, his beating heart, his tiny body, his reaching hands, and his sweet toes. There are no eyes for me to close, or lips for me to kiss goodbye. This indistinguishable flesh, mixed with my life-giving blood, is all my partner and I have to mourn and bury.

In the midst of my keening grief, I remember myself — witch, priestess, wise woman — Holy Whore, Holy Reaper — midwife to both life and death moments with the powers of creation and destruction within my living womb.

Like all transformative moments, I have a choice: I can collapse into my grief and loss, bleeding myself into oblivion, and following the wisp of my child’s departed soul, or I can become something new, something that I’ve been traveling toward in my many years of collecting and mourning the death bits of my life, and gathering back the shattered fragments of my womanhood.

Naked and aching raw, I lift my blood-stained hands to the returning light, trusting that to be fully present — to feel all and resist nothing — to claim myself and my life as whole and holy — that a new dawn, a new beginning will come.

And I change. I become big enough, wild enough, wise enough, powerful enough to contain my bottomless grief and my unbounded love, not only for this child I’ll never hold in my arms, but for my own wounding and my own beauty, and all the death bits I’ve suffered to arrive awake and present for this death moment.

This story isn’t just about my whole, holy womanhood, but about yours as well.  Our world has deceived us. We aren’t weak or small.  We aren’t inferior and beholden to men and their ways of power. Our purpose isn’t to serve and please others, although nurturance, care and compassion are part of our sacred feminine nature. Instead, we’re big and powerful in our own right, with the presence and capacity to encompass the light and shadow, life and death, and beauty and wounding of our personal stories and collective humanity.

These greater capabilities of our womanhood aren’t a feminist fantasy. Our ancient feminine ancestors lived in accordance with their whole, holy nature. They were the red-cloaked ones, priestesses, leaders, healers and counselors that guided their communities through the natural cycles of birth, life, decay and death. Our very bodies have the powers to give and to take life. While our culture amplifies women’s ability to give birth, it completely ignores our innate capacity to terminate a pregnancy that isn’t viable. Miscarriage is natural; though it breaks our hearts, the babies our bodies reject were never meant to be.

My story has a happy ending. On this Winter Solstice, despite my heartbreak and the death and despair that threatened to overtake me, I reached for life and my whole, holy womanhood, and life reached back. I changed profoundly, becoming a woman and priestess of the light and the dark, and of life and of death. This deepened my healing journey, physically and spiritually, making me strong and present in new, empowering ways. I consciously prepared my womb and my heart for new life, and a couple of years later, as the seasons turned to Spring, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

PHOTO CREDIT: h heyerlein on Unsplash

Posted on:  Jan 18, 2019 @ 19:12 Posted in:  Featured, Goddess

Finding Your Place in the Women’s March Movement: Three Is the Magic Number

Three is a magic number.

There have been three Women’s Marches.

Before each of these marches, there were outer events that had profound impacts on our collective awareness.

Each of these three outer events show us guideposts that help answer a crucial question: how do we become active participants in the Women’s March movement?

With these 3 guideposts, find your place in the Women’s March movement, as we ride this Women’s Wave together into a new culture of love, justice and equality

The first event was the election of Donald Trump in November 2016.

Trump was the misogynist, racist, hate-mongering straw that broke the camel’s back. He clearly showed us the rotten core of our modern society, and the abuses of power and privilege of white men like him.

What had been hidden was now visible. With this visibility comes choice: do you succumb or do you resist?

A group of women activists in the US chose resistance. From the organizing efforts of these women, the Women’s March was born on January 22, 2017, the day after the inauguration of President Trump.

This is the first guidepost in becoming an active participant in the Women’s March movement.

What do you do in the face of the election of a man like Donald Trump, and all that he stands for?  Are you ready to say yes to resistance?  Are you ready to use your voice and your actions in support of change?

Yes is a potent magical word. When you say yes, you invite change into your life.

So it was with the first Women’s March. With this yes of collective resistance, the March became a movement.

The second event was the birth of the #metoo movement.

It was Tarana Burke, an American social activist, who came up with the metoo phrase in 2006. Then on October 15, 2017, the actress Alyssa Milano shared the metoo hashtag to encourage victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment to share their stories. Within 24 hours, the hashtag had been used by more than 4.7 million people.  And it just got bigger and bigger from there.

What came pouring out was the raw, ugly truths that women have long known: We live in a rape culture. Sexual violence stalks women and children from every walk of life. We are everywhere among you. Our metoo numbers, myself included, are countless.

The #metoo movement became an integral part of the January 2018 Women’s March. We now marched, with our allies by our side, not just as a protest against Trump but for women’s truth, safety and dignity.

This is the second guidepost in becoming an active participant in the Women’s March movement.

For those of you, like me, who have suffered sexual violence, I’m here to tell you that your #metoo stories have power. Claim them. Honor them. Share them, in whatever way feels safe and right for you.

For the men in our midst, we ask you to be our sacred witnesses — to let our stories move your heart, change your ways, and call you to our sides as allies in the dismantling of rape culture.

For everybody that has suffered from the hatred and abuses of racism, homophobia, and transphobia, your stories of wounding are essential to the Women’s March movement, and its fight for justice and equality for everyone.

All of our wounding stories have transformative magic. They heal us in the telling, and others in the receiving. They point the finger where it belongs, at the perpetrator. Their truth telling can set us free and remake our world for the better.

The third event was the birth of the #toomuchwoman movement.

It began in Toronto, with a delicious, passionate speech by Gina Hatzis called: I’m a Dangerous Woman. A video of this speech, along with the toomuchwoman hashtag, went viral in September 2018, reaching 16 million people, and a new, worldwide movement was born.

The #toomuchwoman movement calls women to shed our fears and the ways we make ourselves small and safe, and to fully inhabit our glorious, too much, undimmed beauty and power.

This same #toomuchwoman message is loud and clear in the vision statement for the

2019 Women’s March: We are strategic, we are focused, and we are a threat to your grip on power. We are taking back what you have stolen. The Women’s Wave is coming, and we’re sweeping the world forward with us.

This is your third guidepost in becoming an active participant in the Women’s March movement.

This toomuch message expands beyond women, across all genders, to include every single one of us. It reminds you that you are beautiful and powerful beyond your wildest imagination. It tells you to reject the abusive, controlling messages of this culture that have made you small and afraid.

It calls you to bring all of your big, beautiful, too much self to the Women’s March movement, and to offer your very best gifts in the making of a better, more loving and tolerant world.

Let’s put these 3 guideposts together, and see how they answer the question: how do you become an active participant in the Women’s March movement?

By joining the 2019 Women’s March, you’ve already arrived at the first guidepost, some part of you has said yes to resistance, and has chosen to stand in solidarity with millions of others in sister marches across the US and around the world.

This is the first step in becoming an active participant in the Women’s March movement.

The second and third guideposts come next.  With them, you have everything you need to play your own, special part in the Women’s March movement.

In your one hand, from the second guidepost, you hold your stories of wounding, be they #metoo stories or other stories of how you’ve been hurt by this culture.

In your other hand, from the third guidepost, are the power and gifts of your big, beautiful, too much self.

Now here is the most important part.  If you’re like most of us, you’ve been trained to think that you are one thing or the other — either wounded and small, like the second guidepost, or big and beautiful, like the third guidepost. But this kind of thinking is a lie that keeps you from the powerful truth that you are all these things at once.

It’s here, in this complex weaving of your true self and story, that you’ll discover the very things you need to heal your life, and to play your own, special part in the Women’s March movement.

You start with yourself, your stories, your gifts, your heart, and then follow from there.

When we do this together, each sharing our wounded stories and special gifts, and widening our hearts to be sacred witnesses for others, we will be an unstoppable force of cultural change.

May these three guideposts help you deeply, truly show up and become an active, positive part of the Women’s March movement. And may we ride this Women’s Wave together, sweeping the world forward with us into a new culture of love, justice and equality for all.

Photo Credit: Jessica Podraza on Unsplash

Source: Karen Clark Speech, 2019 Women’s March, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada

Posted on:  Jan 18, 2019 @ 12:41 Posted in:  Goddess

The Goddess and the #Metoo Movement: Mythic Tales for these Modern Times

Something essential is shifting in the foundations of our world as we witness others tell their long-hidden, #metoo stories, and tell our own stories in turn. We’re speaking truth, and being heard. We’re saying: you’re time is up, and holding male perpetrators accountable. We’ve woken up en masse, and we’re not going back to sleep. And we’re not alone.

It’s time for a new myth and reality, inspired by ancient Goddess tales, and our modern #metoo stories, in service of women’s beauty, sovereignty and power.

 

The Rape of Persephone

From the long ago of Greek civilization, comes the #metoo tale of The Rape of Persephone.

Demeter’s trim-ankled daughter whom Hades rapt away, given to him by all-seeing Zeus. Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, she was gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the narcissus, which Gaia made to grow at the will of Zeus and to be a snare for the bloom-like girl–a marvelous, radiant flower. And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take the lovely toy: but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the plain of Nysa, and the lord, Hades, with his immortal horses sprang out upon her. He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bore her away lamenting. (Source: Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter (abridged) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.)

Let this piece of Persephone’s story sink in. Persephone is a Goddess. Her Mother Demeter is a Goddess. These are big, powerful, feminine beings that bring life, abundance and beauty to the Earth. Yet the God Hades, with the help of the almighty Zeus, can do want He wants to Persephone.

Hades desires Persephone so He abducts and rapes Her, and makes Her his bride.  Persephone is taken against Her will, and Demeter can’t protect Her beloved daughter.  Later in the tale, Persephone is returned to Demeter, but the damage has been done. She’s eaten the fruit of the Underworld, and is forced to be with Hades, Her abductor and abuser, part of every year.

Here we are, some 2500-plus years later, and Persephone’s tale still speaks truth to women’s experiences of male power and sexual violence. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and the pervasive sexism of everyday life find their deep roots in this ancestral, mythic negation of our feminine divinity and sovereignty. As the Gods do to the Goddesses, so men do to women. 

Our #metoo stories are this old, and older still.  We modern women are the latest manifestation of the suffering of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and the long, long female line that went before us. And the Goddess stands with us in our suffering, and our awakening.

Persephone’s story is our story. We didn’t write or choose this story. It was written by men in power with the intention of usurping and subduing the sovereignty and powers of the Goddess, and we, Her earth-bound daughters. The purpose of this story was, and still is, to make us forget and fear our vast, mysterious feminine nature, and to make divine and normal our powerlessness in a male-defined reality.

As ancient as Persephone’s story may be, and as entrenched as sexism and misogyny may appear in our current, status-quo reality — this is just one story and one version of reality. It’s not truth, not inevitable, and not even original.  The Rape of Persephone is an abomination that debases and distorts a much older tale of the Goddess and Her descent to the Underworld.

 

The Descent of Inanna

Dial back another 3000 years to ancient Sumeria and the tale of The Descent of Inanna:

From the Great Above She opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above the Goddess opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above Inanna opened Her ear to the Great Below.
Inanna abandoned Heaven and Earth to descend to the Underworld.

When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the Underworld, She knocked loudly.
She cried out in a fierce voice: ‘Open the door, gatekeeper! Open the door, Neti!
I alone would enter!’

Neti, the chief gate keeper of the kur, asked: ‘Who are you?’
She answered: ‘I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on my way to the East.’
Neti said: ‘If you are truly Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on your way to the East,
why has your heart led you on the road from which no traveler returns?’
Inanna answered: ‘Because of my older sister Ereshkigal, Her husband,
Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, has died. I have come to witness the funeral rites.’
(Source: Wolkstein, Diane; Kramer, Samuel Noah (1983), Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer)

Let this fragment of Inanna’s story sink in. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Ereshkigal is the Goddess of the Underworld. This is a story and reality where Goddesses, not Gods, reign in the Great Above and Great Below, and hold between them the primal mysteries of life, death and rebirth.

Later in the tale, we discover that Inanna, like Persephone, suffers the trials of the Underworld. But She does so by Her own choice and great courage. Through Her descent, She submits to the transformative mysteries of the Dark Goddess Ereshkigal. She is stripped bare, and dies to Her old self in order to be reborn into Her full powers and beauty. When She emerges from Her journey in the Great Below, Inanna is whole, holy in the full spectrum of Her Goddess powers and wisdom – Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Great Below.

Inanna’s story is also our story in these #metoo times. By our own choice and great courage, we are turning our ear to the Great Below, and embarking on a journey into the Underworld that underlies our everyday reality. Here, in the dark, shadowy places in our inner psyche and shared society, we are seeking out the lost and repressed stories of sexual violation and gender discrimination that have scarred our lives.

The Great Below isn’t the realm of Hades and male power. The dark isn’t a place of rape, violence and domination. These are lies and distortions that block us from the wild, raw depths of our women’s power and mysteries, and from the very things that can mend our lives and world: our pain, grief and rage, and our truth, beauty and sovereignty. And, like Inanna before us, when we emerge from this journey, we can become whole, holy in the full spectrum of our feminine powers and wisdom, transforming not only our personal lives but also our shared society.

Our Modern #MeToo Tales

Persephone’s story is our story. Together we share a #metoo legacy of sexual violation and descent into a hell of male dominion that speaks to the everyday reality of sexism, misogyny and violence that’s endemic to our society.

Inanna’s story is our story. Together we share a heritage of the feminine mysteries of life, death and rebirth, and their pathway of descent into the Underworld as a journey of transformation into our full beauty and powers.

Feel the power of Persephone’s and Inanna’s legacy. Your #metoo story is a part of these ancient Goddess tales, and the lived experiences of the long line of women ancestors that have gone before you. Your voice is part of a world-changing movement of women speaking truth that can unravel the past, and reweave a collective reality that returns women to their rightful place in our shared society.

We’re in this together — Persephone, Inanna, you, me and the countless others braving their #metoo tales. Our lives, truth and stories matter. Safety, respect and honoring our feminine nature are our birthrights. It’s time for a new myth and collective reality, guided by the tales of Persephone and Inanna, and yet fresh and inspired by our personal stories and lived experiences.

Hades, Zeus, the male ancestors who wrote these mythic tales, and the men who continue to abuse and dominate women: their time is up.  Whatever comes next will be of our writing and choosing, in service of our greater womanhood and sovereignty, and beauty, love and justice for all.

Image Credit: Rupert Bunny, Rape of Persephone, via Wikimedia Commons

Posted on:  Jan 7, 2019 @ 16:15 Posted in:  Goddess

What’s In a Name: Good Girl – Feminist – Witch – Woman

Words are a fundamental part of our humanity. The physiology of our brains is designed to make sense of ourselves and our world through language. We name things with words, and then load value and meaning onto these names. Every aspect of our shared society, interpersonal relationships and inner self-talk are dictated by these word-names.

How we name ourselves and each other matters deeply. These names can either trap and diminish us, or heal and free us to become more fully, deeply our Selves.

There’s immense power in names. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the names people give to us, and the ones we give to ourselves. This naming can either narrow or expand who we are, and how we engage others and our greater environment.

Oppressors, those who conquer, dominate and control others, have used this power in names throughout history. Take away the names people give to themselves —  taint and distort them, make these names a weapon — replace them with other, socially acceptable, domesticating names — and you’ve set up a system of control that becomes a normal, entrenched part of our social fabric. And not just names are taken away, but also language, story, dance, art, and other forms of culture, self-identity and expression.

All marginalized groups — on the outside of the white, male, heteronormative, Judeo-Christian ethos that dominates our Western society — have been impacted by this system of control through names.

My Story of Names

I’m a white woman of British descent, born into a working class family of moderate means, and raised in a middle-of-the-road city in the eastern part of Canada.  My upbringing was mainstream, banal and seemingly innocuous. And this is my story of names.

If I had the conscious awareness to name myself in my youth, I would have called myself a good girl.

I was a domesticated creature — nice, sweet, pretty, and well behaved.  I did what I was supposed to do: work hard at school, follow the rules, hang out with other nice girls, date boys that my parents approved of, and keep a smile on my face, even when boys and men said and did not nice things to me.

No one in particular, and everything around me, gave me this name and the very narrow band of personhood that went with it.

…read more

Posted on:  Dec 13, 2018 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Sabbats

A Winter Solstice Mystery: Beauty In the Belly of the Dark

Excerpt from The Path of She Book of Sabbats.

As the wheel of the year turns to the Winter Solstice, Nature settles ever deeper into Her cloak of darkness and repose. At the opposite end of the scale, our Western culture marks the holiday season in a flurry of shopping, social obligations and overconsumption — a busy end to a busy year in an outward-focused, ever-doing, hungry-for-more world.

Nature remembers what we have forgotten: every new cycle begins in the dark; from death comes new life, and from the darkest night, the new dawn is born.

Nature remembers what we humans have forgotten:
every cycle must return to stillness, silence, the dark;
every out-breath requires an in-breath;
every outer endeavor turns back inward to its origins, its center, and begins again;
from death comes new life, and from the darkest night, the new dawn is born.

Beauty sleeps in the belly of the dark, be it the seeds of the green growth of Spring, the powers and mysteries of the unknown, and our own dormant gifts and potential. Yet the dark has a gatekeeper; our pain, losses and the denied, repressed parts of our life story and humanity also await us in the belly of the dark. We cannot reclaim our beauty without also embracing and healing our wounding; both dwell within the shadowed folds of our inner world, side by side, a mirror of the other, each with gifts and blessings to share.

The part of you that holds your wounding is not your nemesis; it is the truth keeper of how you were hurt, what was taken from you and the choices you made in order to survive and even thrive in the face of adversity. It has stood guard and shielded your tender, beautiful, true Self, waiting for the ripe moment of your healing and blossoming.

If you are one of the fortunate ones, with few bumps and bruises in your life story, still the darkness has gifts lying in wait for you. Because the sacred dark is the truth keeper of the profound potential and mysteries of our authentic, whole/holy humanity that have been denied and repressed in our collective culture.

Open to the ways of Nature at this turning into the Winter Solstice. Heed the call arising from the belly of the dark that invites you to stillness, silence, and opens portals to your inner darkness. Let go of the frenetic activity of the season; follow your breath inward and return to your center in search of the fragments of your life story and true Self ready to return to the light.

So without, so within; as the new dawn is born of the darkest nights, so too can your beauty blossom from the depth of your wounding, and your whole/holy humanity shine forth into the returning light of a newborn day.

Celebrate Winter Solstice

with the Path of She Book of Sabbats. 

Buy now at the Path Store.

Photo Credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash