Excerpt from Tale of the Lost Daughter: Chapter 1
Without a word, she dropped a brochure on our table and then headed out into the frosty, winter air. It was from one of my favorite Toronto hangouts, the Art Gallery of Ontario, or the AGO in local lingo. The front page featured a traveling exhibit from the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Even with my limited knowledge of Canada’s geo-cultural map, I knew Vancouver was a West Coast, urban destination for the alternative and spiritually-minded, and most certainly a raven hangout. I felt a faint, downward, fluttering sensation in my gut, and then a soft, tingling touch, as if something as light as a feather had come to rest inside me.
“The first feather clue from my raven dream,” I said to Jules, pushing the AGO brochure in front of her.
Jules turned to the door but the woman had vanished from sight. Then she gingerly ran her fingertips over the brochure.
“How do you know?” she asked with a wide-eyed look that mirrored my own disconcertion at this sudden turn of events.
“I don’t know,” I said, “Something in the woman’s look when she left the brochure on our table told me it was a clue. And then I had an odd sensation in my belly when I saw the visiting exhibit from Vancouver.”
“Things just got a little wilder,” Jules said with a quick grin, “Are you going to go?”
“Yes. I have to. Can you come with me?” I asked as I quickly pulled on my coat and grabbed my purse.
“I can’t. I’m so sorry,” Jules said as she also stood up to leave, “I promised my Aunt Lily a month ago that we would have a Christmas shopping day together. It would break her heart for me to cancel. Besides, I think you need to figure this one out on your own.”
Thirty minutes later I stood, my whole body rigid and alert, before a riveting, modernist canvas entitled “Big Raven” in which the artist, Emily Carr, depicted a larger-than-life raven gracefully awaiting its death and return to Mother Earth. In that moment an alternative reality, one where ravens talk, direct your dreams, and show up in breathtaking paintings, truly kicked in. This stuff was not a fantasy game I’d cooked up for my entertainment; it was real, scary real.
I stared at this oil-painted masterpiece of the West Coast mythos, absorbing the vibrant, bold strokes of the down-flowing radiance of sky, and the swirling, momentary embrace of flesh and forest, with the raven, earth-anchored and heaven-reaching, suspended between the two.
My own flesh hummed with these big, untamed, primal forces that danced my heart to an erratic, cacophonic beat. My hands clenched and unclenched at my sides. Terror and delight, equally present, equally powerful, coursed through me, leaving me paralyzed in doubt and confusion. One part of me fumed and sputtered that this was utter nonsense, spiritual pap for the weak minded, and that I should squeeze my eyes shut until it all went away. The other, breathing heavy, legs spread wide, and fingers reaching out hungrily, knew good food when she saw it — soul food that she had been waiting for her whole life.
Emily Carr was a passionate, free-spirited woman who refused to be domesticated by the Victorian strictures of her early years, or to let her spirit and magnificent originality be broken by the backwater isolation of her Canadian West Coast home and the misogynist ethos of her times. All around me her masterworks spoke of her feral, ardent communion with the forest and the earth-rooted, aboriginal culture in a language that I have always, innately understood: the capturing of energy, color and beauty in art form.
“Fuck your tidy ways,” I heard her whisper through the palpable, wild otherness reaching out from her canvases, “Fuck your fears. Be bold. Be brave. Be free.”
Feather number two, this one plucked from the oil-painted back of Big Raven, fluttered down into my belly and rested beside its ebony sister.
Feather number one had pointed me in the direction of the West Coast. Feather number two suggested a location closer to Victoria, Emily Carr’s hometown located on Vancouver Island, a large island off the British Columbia mainland. A slow, delicious smile spread across my face, melting the clenched tension in my jaw, as my thoughts turned to feather number three, and the possibility that it held the secret destination of my raven dream.
What Readers Are Saying:
I suggest everyone reads this book! First time read this book like the beautiful story it is. Then read it a second time slowly to start transforming your life. Kathleen McCutcheon
It changed my life- for real! I hadn’t had an actual “connection” to the Goddesses until I read it!
Then the dreams started and it’s just moved me from one thing to another. It caused a hunger I couldn’t feed, but gave me a fullness I have never know. Amazing. Jody Sutfin Delva
I’ve read Tale of the Lost Daughter two times, and will read it again. Sarah is me, or at least that’s how I felt as I followed her through her adventures. She is a businesswoman and a spiritual woman at the same time, and she learns to listen to her heart rather than just her head. I didn’t want to put the book down. Sherry Farrell
Photo Credit: Frantzou Fleurine on Unsplash
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 playing with the deep-bosomed daughters of Okeanos and 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.); http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/HaidesPersephone1.html)
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.
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.
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.
My Lady abandoned Heaven and Earth to descend to the Underworld.
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.
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 our 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
Something profound and 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 may not have words to capture this shift. Yet it’s there – blazing through the eyes and voices of women aligned with the #metoo movement – stirring up the secret, restless places inside of us.
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.
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.
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
The hero’s journey comes to us through the comparative mythology writings of the late, brilliant Joseph Campbell. Stripped to its basic structure: the hero is given a quest or call to adventure; he sets out on a journey, gaining allies, struggling through great trials, and growing through his experiences; he has to face his biggest battle and through his victory he achieves his quest and claims his treasure; and then he returns to the ordinary world as a reborn or changed man.
If this storyline sounds familiar, it’s because we humans have been telling this tale through much of our history, most currently in some of our most beloved movies and books. Frodo, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter have captivated us with their hero’s journey, activating the archetypal roots of this mythic story in our human psyche.
The assumption in many literary and academic circles is that the hero’s journey is a universal tale that speaks to our human quest for spiritual and personal growth. And though I love these hero stories as much as the next person, this assumption has never sat well with me.
In the basic structure of the hera’s journey: the Goddess chooses to leave the land above and descends to the Underworld; She travels the ways of this realm, embracing its mysteries and suffering its trials; She dies to Her previous life; and then She is reborn and returns to the land above, transformed into Her full maturity and powers.
Two dreams, thirty years apart — a modern Goddess tale for these times.
I’m in my mid-twenties, with a business degree and a promising career in a blue chip company. My desires are purely materialistic — I want power and success in a man’s world. I don’t know any better, and I’ve no idea how immensely unhappy I am.
I have a dream that I don’t remember until many years later, yet my life is changed forever.
It’s a Winter Solstice eve, in the darkest hours of the night. Outside my apartment window, the world nestles down under a crystalline blanket of fresh-fallen snow. I dream of a silver shining path, as if hewn of moonlight, that leads me down, down, down to Hecate’s realm — the Goddess who is the Mistress of the crossroads, and guardian of our human destiny.
Deep in the belly of the Earth, Hecate directs me to Her magic cauldron and shows me the raw, naked truth of my life story — the beauty and the wounding — all that I’ve forgotten and denied, the very things I’ve been running hard from, and undreamed of possibilities sleeping just below the veneer of my waking reality.
Hecate gifts me with this crossroads moment, with my life laid bare before me, and asks me to choose how I will live for the rest of my days. I make a vow: to wake up, to remember, and to find my way home to my Self, my womanhood, and Her sacred ways.
By my choice, my destiny is woven.
Now, thirty years later, I’m lost no more. I’ve found my way home to my Self and the Goddess. I live nestled in the forest on a magical island with my beloved family and community, writing and teaching the life-changing ways of the Goddess that are now as natural to me as breathing.
I have another dream, within days of co-priestessing a community Samhain ritual to honor the beloved dead and the blessed newborn.
The same message — one that seems simplistic and naïve at a quick glance — comes to me over and over again: to mend our soul and heal our world, we need only show up to the love that is Goddess, that is life, that is here, now, all around and within us.
This message first came to me in a group trance led by Starhawk at a spiritual retreat focused on being a positive agent of change in these turbulent, evolutionary times:
Our intention for the trance is to seek guidance from the Mysteries on how to shift the destructive ways of humanity. A sense of urgency and despair fuels our magic. The human world is a mess. We are destroying the planet. And time is running out.
As we close our eyes and begin to visualize together, someone suggests we head to the East, the direction of new beginnings. A path appears that leads to a broken-down stone castle, overrun with vines and weeds. People see and name what appears to them in this desolate place.
But I see only one thing: a voluptuous, naked Goddess floats above the ruins, on Her back, Her legs spread wide, with a river of golden honey flowing from Her yoni — down through the broken castle, down the path we have traveled, and out into the waking world. The image is so unexpected and outrageous that I have to push myself to share with the group.
I have no idea what this vision means. There’s a sense of disappointment with some group members. When you’re looking for practical, concrete spiritual guidance, what do you do with a larger-than-life, honey-gifting yoni?
Yet the peace and grace in this vision stays with me — a seed of wisdom, of power, of hope, of ease — gestating in the secret depths of my inner landscape.Waking to Her Golden Love
Fast-forward several years, and many powerful magical and life experiences later — the vision returns to me, and this time I get it: