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An Ancestral Teaching: My Body of the Ancestors

Posted on:  Oct 22, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

A Spiritual Journey to the Land of the Ancestors

As the season shifts toward Winter, and the mysteries of death settle upon the land, my mind turns to the Ancestors, and the insights that came to me during a week-long spiritual retreat in the wilds of British Columbia.

It’s day one of my spiritual retreat, and time for our morning learning circle.  I’m part of the Ancestors Path that meets in the shade of a mighty willow tree, with a pristine mountain lake and craggy peaks to one side, and untamed West Coast rainforest to the other.

Our teacher leads us on a guided trance. We’re going to meet our psychopomp: our personal spiritual guide in the land of the dead, and then journey with this ally to connect with the Ancestors.

My body is the body of the Ancestors: the Ancestors are alive in my body, and through my body and lived experiences, I can heal and transform my ancestral line.

In the trance, I come to an ancient wooden door. There’s a key in a lock, the key of conscious choice, that I turn and then enter the space beyond.  I find myself on silver, shining path suspended in a black void — a vast, fertile emptiness of infinite possibilities.

My psychopomp meets me on this silver path. She takes the form of a sleek black panther who greets me by placing a paw on each shoulder. Even though I’ve never worked with a psychopomp before, my soul immediately recognizes my spiritual guide as an old ally and friend.

The teacher continues the guided trance, and tells us to seek out the land of our Ancestors with our psychopomp.

So I climb onto my panther companion’s back, and as we begin to walk, she says me: “the land of the Ancestors that calls to you is your own physical body. Your body is the body of the Ancestors, and each part is connected to a different piece of your ancestral story.”

Although there’s more to this guided-trance experience, this one, crystal-clear insight stayed with me: my body is the body of the Ancestors.

My Body is the Body of the Ancestors

On a surface level, this may seem like an obvious statement. My physical form is the result of the coming together of the DNA of my parents, and this DNA holds the material characteristics of the generations that went before me.

But below the obvious is something far more profound and life changing: the Ancestors are still alive in my body, and through my body and lived experiences, I can heal and transform my ancestral line.

In simple terms, this means who I am, how I live, what I give my attention to, how much I let the past and my family patterns determine my now thoughts and actions, and the myriad of other big and small life choices and experiences that make up my everyday existence matter deeply.

Each of us inherits not only the physical DNA of our family lines, but also the energetic DNA of generational stories and experiences, especially those of trauma. For many of us, it’s the unacknowledged trauma, passed on generation after generation, that’s our shadow partner in life. These things live on in our body and life choices.  And they can also end, be healed and transformed, through our body and life choices.

Beyond the trauma, how I care for my body speaks to how I treat the body of my Ancestors. Giving my body the food, sleep, relaxation, exercise and pleasure it needs to be happy and healthy are the ways I honor myself and my Ancestors, and how I show respect and gratitude for the precious gift of life and physical form that my Ancestors have given me.

This body of mine, the body of my Ancestors, is a great responsibility.  It’s a miracle — a living, unfolding story  — an opportunity for healing, growth and transformation  — an invitation to joy, pleasure and love. Our Ancestors in the land of the dead no longer have access to this gift and miracle. There are things that they can’t undo, can’t experience, can’t touch and care for.  Yet I can do these things on behalf of my Ancestors and family line.

My Body Is an Ancestor in the Making

Life is short, and there will come a time when I’ll leave this world and join the ranks of the Ancestors.  My physical body will be gone, but what I did with my body in this lifetime will continue on in the energetic DNA I leave behind.  I can pass on the energetic lineage I inherited, or I can make this DNA anew, and gift the Descendants in my family line with something more healed and whole.

Perhaps more importantly, my son and the younger generation in my family witness and absorb how I’m living my life now.  All the things I do, or don’t do, to respect and honor my body, and the gift of my life are on full display to the Descendants of my family line.

My body is an Ancestor in the making, and this too is a great responsibility.

No one can live a perfect life. These insights from the Ancestors aren’t coming to me as a burden, or to increase my self-judgment and guilt.  Instead the Ancestors are calling me to claim and rejoice in this precious body and life of mine, and to know that I have a great responsibility to them, to my Descendants, and to myself.

As always, the lessons from the dead remind us how to live.

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Photo Credit: Benji Aird on Unsplash

Season of the Sacred Feminine: The Wild Winds of Change

Posted on:  Oct 4, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

Outside my windows, a wild wind is blowing. The trees bend and swirl in its fierce, unrelenting force. Somewhere on my island home, trees will be falling over with root systems exposed to the bright light of day, power lines shutting down, and homes returning to a simpler, natural ethos of candlelight and going to bed in synch with the descending darkness.

A wild wind is blowing in our world, unleashing a power born of the intensifying weather patterns of climate change along with a growing discontent with unpalatable political choices, increasing social and economic imbalances, and the stresses of our personal lives.

There are mysteries afoot, strong, beautiful counter-forces that whisper in our ears: the season of humanity is shifting. The Goddess is awakening within and without.

I feel it in my bones, in my soul and everywhere around me — it comes to me in my dreams, waking me at 4 am with visions of what is and what can be — a fierce and unrelenting force, eroding the pillars of our social order and exposing its root systems to the scrutiny of the sunlit world.

There’s rot in the roots of our human society, born of greed, corruption, manipulation, lies, ignorance, apathy and fear. So much of what was hidden in our cultural fabric has come to our collective awareness. We have lost our naivety and trust in our social and political institutions. How we live our lives, individually and collectively, no longer works for most of us or for our planet home.

And there are mysteries afoot, strong, powerful, beautiful counter-forces that whisper in our ears: “the season of your humanity is shifting. The Goddess is awakening within and without. It’s time to live in accordance with the powers of life, and your best, most beautiful instincts. Do not despair. Turn your face back to Her living light and nurturing ways. It’s time; you are ready, you are ripe.”

This too I feel in my bones and in my soul — the season of the sacred feminine is upon us, bringing with it a return to a simpler, natural, life-centered ethos that puts love, people and the care of our Earth home above the reckless, egocentric pursuit of dominance, money and things.

When a tree falls down, the forest is opened up for the small seedlings to have their time in the sunlight. In death, there is a quickening where new life is called to the empty space left behind. Let us open to this wild wind of change. Let it strip away what no longer serves our lives and the life of our Earth home. Let us trust that a new season of the sacred feminine is upon us, and, though some pillars of our human-made world will fall, others, more caring and life-serving, will rise up in the empty space left behind.

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Reclaim what you have lost, your true, beautiful Self and the life-giving mysteries of the Goddess.

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Artist: Unknown

Our Whole, Holy Womanhood: A Death and Life Story

Posted on:  Oct 1, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

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 feminist fantasies. 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: kamakebelieve.deviantart.com

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Reinveinting Your Worldly Toolkit

Posted on:  Aug 24, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Path Basics, Pathwork

Everything we are, everything we’ve experienced, learned, and suffered can be used in service of the healing and transformation of ourselves and our world. What matters is not so much who we are, or what has happened to us, but what we do with what we’ve been given. We can choose to reinvent our worldly toolkit, and make beauty with the good and the bad of our life.

You have the power to do beautiful things with what life has given you in your worldly toolkit. From both the good and the bad, you can create positive change.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we have been socialized to see the world through the black and white lens of good and bad. Good things come about through the best sides of our humanity and personal nature; bad things through our worst instincts and the shadowy, nasty places in our collective humanity.

We apply this dichotomous lens not only to the world around us, but also to our personal history and characteristics. There are parts of ourselves that we embrace as good and positive, and other parts that we reject as bad and negative.

As we embark on a journey of healing and transformation, we may think that positive change will only come about if we can somehow get rid of or transcend the bad parts of ourselves. This is a destructive premise that is more likely to block, rather than enhance, our personal work. 

Instead I offer a different perspective: within each of us is the power to do beautiful things with what life has given us. From both the good and the bad, we can create beauty and positive change.

Our life story brings us the things we need to heal, grow and change, and whatever we have gathered in our worldly toolkit in the form of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics can be used to bring about positive, beautiful change in ourselves and our greater environment. It all comes down to personal choice: what we do with what we’ve been given.

A Personal Story: A Witch with an MBA

This insight came to me in the midst of a crisis on my island home. A small corporation had bought a huge tract of land in the southern portion of our island and began to clearcut the forests, leaving a swath of devastation in its wake that threatened the environmental and economic fabric of our community.

In this story, the corporate world was the bad guy: the business men who owned the land, the multinational corporation that funded their activities, the government legislation that enshrined corporate rights over community and environmental considerations, and a cultural ethos that worshiped money above all things.

Our community rose up in resistance and I found myself, for the first time in my life, deeply involved in a collective activism that fought, with every bit of skill, knowledge, and inspiration at our disposal, to protect this stunning, natural landscape we called home.

Yet I faced a strange dilemma. I was also the bad guy in this story. I had a corporate, consulting background and an MBA. Whatever we were fighting out there was also part of my personal makeup and worldly toolkit.

This split within me wasn’t new. I had long struggled to reconcile the two divergent, powerful sides of me: the MBA with a corporate career, and the wild witch connected to earth and magic. Our community crisis and activism brought this struggle to the forefront.

But, as is the case in any crisis, there was no time for indulging my inner angst; I just jumped in with all that I had. With my witch skills, I did magic and ritual to protect the land, and with my corporate skills, I led a small group that organized public, consciousness-raising events like street theater. As the group’s business manager: I made agendas, ran the meetings, delegated tasks, made sure the financial resources were in place, and followed up on logistical details. Our group did amazing things, with a handful of people, little money, and quick, efficient meetings, due to the massive, diverse talents within our group and my well-honed business skills.

A light went on for me. The corporate world and my own business skills were not the ultimate bad guys. I had the power and potential to do good or do harm with the skills, abilities, and gifts life had bestowed upon me. And I chose to use my business acumen to do something beautiful: to help protect my island home.

This story has a beautiful ending. Our community activism stopped the clearcutting and turned big tracts of the forest into magnificent parkland. A middle ground was found between the interests of our community and the corporation that owned the land. And I reclaimed and reinvented my worldly business side in service of the beauty of my island home and community.

Reinventing Your Worldly Toolkit

1.  Take an inventory of your worldly toolkit.

List the key knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics that you draw upon to navigate the demands of the everyday world. Be sure to include the parts of your toolkit you see as good and bad.

2.  Choose one thing on this list, or a bundle of related things, that you view in a negative light.

This can be a “bad” side of your personal characteristics, a skill that you aren’t proud, or anything in your toolkit that you believe negatively impacts your life.

3.  Explore this part of yourself with clear eyes and an open heart.

Where did this part of you come from? What is its story? How does it bring about negative situations or outcomes?

What is your attitude toward this part of yourself? Do you want to: a) hide it, get rid of it, pretend it doesn’t exist, or transcend it; or b) embrace it, learn from it, and find a way to make it a positive part of your life?

4.  Now imagine, no matter what you current attitude is, that you can do good, beautiful things with this part of you see as “bad”.

Open your heart wide, with love, compassion, and acceptance of all that you are and all that life has brought to you. Know that you have the power to do good, to choose something new, beautiful, and life-affirming, with these parts of you that you see in a negative light.

This new, beautiful choice may be committing to heal an inner hurt or old story, or to reframe this part of you as a strength and ability that you can use in more positive ways.

Don’t overthink this, instead let go of your current way of thinking, and explore what else is true and possible. See how you can take this part of your worldly toolkit in a new, beautiful direction.

Everything you have experienced and learned, the good and the bad, has made you who you are today. Within your worldly toolkit, you have what you need to heal and transform yourself, and bring positive, beautiful changes to your greater environment.

Positive change doesn’t require that you reject or cut away your “bad” parts, but that you open yourself to love, self-acceptance, and new possibilities for these parts you see as negative. You can choose to do beautiful things with what you’ve been given.

Artist Unknown

The Lost Daughter: A Story For Our Times

Posted on:  Aug 19, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Goddess

Long, long ago, in our personal story, family history and the unfolding of humanity, She was lost to us — Goddess, Great Mother — priestess, healer, wise one — the sacred feminine within.

One half of the Universe, one half of our humanity, one half of our true Self — She who is wild and untamable — She who is liquid sensuality and earthly pleasure — She who wields the powers of magic and mystery — She whose laws are love and the nurturance of all life — were despoiled and repressed, until we learned to fear and forget Her very existence, and essential place in our inner landscape and shared society.

The lost daughter transcends our personal life stories, connecting us to an older, primal wound of disconnect from the Goddess and our sacred feminine nature.

We became the lost daughters and lost sons, cutoff from the true power and presence of She as Goddess, woman and the feminine side of human nature. And we have been profoundly wounded, individually and collectively, ever since.

Yet things are shifting. Deep hungers are stirring within, arising from a sense that something essential, precious is missing from our life and world.  We are waking and finding our way home to the Goddess, our true womanhood and sacred feminine nature.

Dreaming of the Lost Daughter

When I began to write Tale of the Lost Daughter, I started from a place of emptiness, of opening to the Goddess to direct my writing and focus. I would sink into an altered state of awareness, place my fingertips on the keyboard and let the words flow onto the blank page of their own accord.

Early in this process, a dream story came to me. I was given a specific day — a very snowy, Saturday, December 21st. With this information I could pinpoint the year. At this time, I was still fast asleep in my corporate career and completely unaware of the depth of my discontent and unhappiness.

On this fateful night, surrounded by the magic of the Winter Solstice, I dreamed of finding a silvery, shining path between the worlds that led me to Hecate’s realm, the Dark Goddess who is the Mistress of the crossroads, and guardian of our human destiny. She bid me to look into Her magic cauldron where She revealed my life story, the beauty and the horror, and everything that I had forgotten and denied. From this place of greater awareness, She asked me to choose how I would live the rest of my life. And I made a vow to remember Her in my waking life and find my way home to Her sacred ways.

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