The Adjectives We Use

The Adjectives We Use

As a practicing witch, feminist, energy worker and a student of life, I am often puzzled as to why, in this day and age, we continue using the terms “masculine” and “feminine” as descriptive modifiers. What exactly does it mean when we call an energy masculine or feminine, anyway?  While I understand that these are descriptors that generally address what are typical characteristics – why do we insist on being so vague, misunderstood and perhaps even, insulting, depending on who we are speaking to?

WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE FEMININITY

Dependent, emotional, passive, sensitive, quiet, graceful, innocent, weak, flirtatious, nurturing, self-critical, soft, sexually submissive, accepting

WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE MASCULINITY

Independent, non-emotional, aggressive, tough-skinned, competitive, clumsy, experienced, strong, active, self-confident, hard, sexually aggressive, rebellious.

In today’s world we are already discussing and understanding that we humans have more than two genders and certainly have more than two gender identities. Are we so brainwashed by the teachings of Carl Jung that we cannot think outside the box or even simplify how we describe people, things and energies but by two gender assumptions?

Why is it so hard to use descriptors that are accurate rather than general assumptions that may be inaccurate?

If someone is sensitive, why is it so hard to say that he is sensitive – is it accurate to say he is feminine?  If I am self-confident, does that make me masculine?

Or if we are describing an energy of a thing that is hot and forceful – why would we call it (the energy) masculine when we can say hot and forceful? And really, how does an energy claim gender identity anyway?

I did a Google search on the merging of masculine and feminine energies and was blown away at how many websites there are that are devoted to that one thing. Do people spend their lives attempting to identify what is masculine and what is feminine within themselves and then finding a way to merge them to become whole? Are we so confused by who we are that we feel we need to identify our strengths and weaknesses, our talents, our personality traits by gender identity?

Many practitioners of Wicca deal in such dualities.  In their magic, they insist on a balance of masculine and feminine – sometimes by the number of each sex in a Circle – other times but the type of energy applied to the magic.  When I first started my studies in magic I was required to learn how to project the energies of masculine and feminine, each by itself, into something else.  I found this very confusing.  I wasn’t sure how to project them without first feeling them.  So I looked for things representative of them to “feel” them and then learn how to project them.  Well, those things did not always feel the way I expected them to feel.  Nor did what I project, always feel like what I thought it should. This led me to a study of my own energies and personality characteristics – who was I, after all?  I have never had a single issue with my own gender identity. I am a woman. I love being a woman.  Truth be told, most to the words used to describe feminine, do not apply to me and yet I have never believed myself to be anything else but fully woman. I am direct, assertive and not so much a nurturer. But I loved being a mother, birthing and raising my children. I am passionate in all ways. I am passionate about what I believe in and I am one who will stand up to speak for those less-abled to speak for themselves. Because I am not a “girly” girl, does that make me less “woman?”

When I first came to the Craft – I identified as Dianic.  Now, there are two different kinds of Dianics floating around out there. Some say Dianic means woman only. I will qualify that however, and say that women need their woman only space and to be honest, my work is dedicated to working with women. But I believe that who comes into a group needs to be determined by the person leading it.  For me, it does not define Dianic. What does define Dianic is that we are all of Goddess – all sexes and all identities. Not a pair who birthed us, but of Goddess – She is Whole – One and we are of Her. Is She Nurturing?  Loving? Fierce? Dark? Light? Bold? As Above So Below – All Things – As am I, All Things.  Not feminine, not masculine, not animus, not anima – but Whole, containing All. Woman.

Personally, I think the terms masculine and feminine are part and parcel born of the patriarchy. Yet another way to separate and divide. How many of us can read that list of feminine descriptors and not see that those words feel “less than?” And the opposite with those defined as masculine.  Not all but most.  The weaker sex – yes?  Not!  Science has already proven that women are built to be stronger – to endure more (again as a general rule!). Those of you who are of my generation know how difficult it was to not grow up feeling “less than.” And if that is what happened – how difficult it has been to claim power for yourself.  I was lucky because I had very progressive parents who saw that things would be different when I grew up.  I was taught to be strong – to make decisions for myself and to believe that I could do anything I chose to do once I “set my mind to it!”

I encourage everyone to really consider the words we use.  How do we define ourselves?  How do we define each other?  What words do we use to describe a thing? An energy? And are we totally a mess inside with two beings, a masculine and a feminine that shall never meet? When something is hot – let’s call it hot.  When something is nurturing – let’s call it that and not say it is feminine.  It really isn’t difficult.  Let’s be clear and use words that really describe something or someone. Let’s step out of the patriarchal terminology and become clear in what we mean. We must start with our words.  The word is sacred.

Gratitude Expressed

Gratitude Expressed

For just an hour – a day – if you can sustain it – practice gratitude and appreciation. If we can all turn our emotions to the good in our lives, to the love in our lives and take all that energy and place it there – well, no telling what can come of that!

Today we have Thanksgiving meals and soon we will be welll into the leftovers – the turkey sandwiches and if you are lucky, you still have some dressing and gravy. That’s my favorite part!

Gratitude

Gratitude by Julie Jordan Scott

Here is an exercise I do whenever I feel troubled by negativity around me. Take of some paper and pencil – or open a new document in your computer (which is what do). Begin to make a list of all the things you are grateful for. It shouldn’t be hard. Most of us did some of this a couple of days ago. As you think of things, they will prompt you to think of other things. Soon a good memory will come up followed by more. Feelings of loving appreciation will begin to flow toward those who participated in the good times with you. You may even find some forgiveness welling up for yourself and others for the bad times. Keep writing until you have it all out there in front of you. Most of us could easily have fifty things on that list. As you are writing these things out, if you are like me, you will feel your heart lighten and brighten with good feelings – loving feelings. This is gratitude. This swelling up of feeling inside us – this is our awareness of feeling blessed. This gratefulness feels lovely. Continue reading

Tlachtga

This is the story of Tlachtga. Her name means “earth spear.” Her story gives us the name for a famous place in Ireland where to this day, the rites of Samhain are held in her honor. This location is called the Hill of Ward and it is near Tara. At this gathering Druids would light the bonfire on Samhain, from which embers were carried far and wide and were used to light the new fires for the new year. The location of the celebration was critical because they believed it to the place where this world and the Otherworld were the closest together.

Continue reading

Feeding the Dead

Feeding the Dead

Most people love this time of year and I share much of that. Living in South Central Texas we only have two seasons, with a perhaps two to three weeks in between what we laughingly call spring and fall. Because the winters are not harsh here, the step into spring feels different from those whose winters are frozen for months on end. We do experience some relief when our temperatures finally drop a bit in October. Even then those drops are only teasers. When we do finally get a briskness in the air in the wee, early morning hours of dawn but when the sun rises overhead, any memory of that coolness is forgotten. This morning at 5:30 am, when I woke, it was 54 degrees. I stepped outside to smell and feel the air, so clean and cool. And yet, now it is 85 degrees and rising, it once more feels like summer. We don’t have the sudden frosts that turn our trees to vibrant reds, yellows and browns. Yes, the leaves eventually turn and fall to the ground, but we have no heavy freeze and so our colors are pale compared to those in the North and colder climates. Continue reading

The Sacred Boar and the Dark of the Year

For the last few weeks I have been feeling the presence of the Boar. This would not be completely out of the blue as the Boar is the sacred animal for this lunar cycle of Gort – representing tenacity and ruthless strength. In my spiritual practice, I travel into the Otherworld and typically discover allies with animals. My first step in getting to know an animal that has become present, I do the research.

Celtic Boar

Wikimedia Commons

“The Boar is the beast of death,” (Graves, 210), and much of what we read about Boars and pigs is in general connected with death. Death is a concern in most religions and contemplation of death takes on a special vividness and immediacy. The Boar is, among other things, a devourer; it is a menace to crops and to people, it is voracious and it is omnivorous. Even the goat will not eat meat, its young, or manure. Continue reading

One Red Leaf

It seems to me that the goal of most people is to be happy. We seek it ourselves and hope that those we love find it as well. Happy is an elusive state. At best it is hard to define – what is happy anyway?

As young adults we may seek happiness in alcohol and parties, perhaps even in drugs. We hope to find it in our careers and certainly in the unions we make and partners we choose. Happy is to be pleased, or glad, over a particular thing. The dictionary associates a state of happiness with contentment as well as with the experience of joy. And it also says that happiness is associated with good fortune or luck.

I think the last is very telling about happiness. It says to me that no matter how we live our lives, no matter most of our actions, so long as they are done with good intent, happiness is a random emotional experience.

Even more random is a state of joy. Certainly experiencing joy brings feelings of happiness. For me, however, joy is larger, something bigger than happiness. It is more fleeting and certainly is random and unpredictable.

When I look back over my life, I clearly remember many moments of joy, the birth of each of my children, heart soaring moments of bliss. Even small joys, those that can be found in each day if we are open to them remain fixed in our memories. Moments of beauty seen in another human being, breath-taking glimpses into nature such as a red setting sun, a pounding ocean, or even the small features of a small black beetle.

There have been times for me, when plagued with worry, loss of work, aloneness and fear, that when they seemed to drag on, I found that what made them telling for me was that they were periods in my life entirely lacking in joy. I also came to recognize that it wasn’t what triggered joy that was absent but simply my lack of awareness or openness to see and feel it.

I had one of those times that I remember clearly. It was about this time of year, which is probably what has triggered me to write about it. I was turning cold and the leaves were falling from the trees as they prepared for their time of quiet. I was having a “pitty pot” day. Feelings of doom and gloom and longing already for spring, even though we had not yet even experienced winter. I was thinking about all of these feelings and recognizing how little joy seemed to be in my life at this moment. Walking along, I looked up and right at that moment a beautiful red leaf fell from an ornamental pear tree in front of me. I watched as it gracefully dropped to the ground. As it fell, with pristine clarity, I felt overwhelming feelings of elation and joy! Out of nowhere, and randomly, came the totally certainty that in that one moment – I had found my joy!

red-leafOne red leaf
Falls to the ground,
Before me a moment of total clarity
And the experience heartfelt joy.
A heart lifted
From the darkness of persistent gloom.
A day brightened
In utter simplicity – one red leaf.

 

As we enter into this season of festive celebrations, as Thanksgiving Day approaches, let us all remember the joys of the past, those moments that light us through the darkness. Let us give thanks for those perfect moments, given when we least expect them. And let us remain open to seeing and feeling them in the coming days. May we find those moments of joy everywhere!

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Dianic Craft, Celtic Shamanism, and Feminist Dianic Wicca and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

The Descent of Inanna to the Underworld

Inanna provides a many-faceted image of the feminine. She is a goddess of order, fertility, grains, love, war, heaven and earth, healing, and emotion. She is called the “Lady of Myriad Offices”. Most of the powers once held by her, “the embodied, playful, passionately erotic feminine; the powerful, independent, self-willed feminine; the ambitious, regal, many-sided feminine” were eroded by the patriarchy throughout time.

Her descent to the Underworld is a valuable story at any time of the year but even more so here as the wheel turns fully into the dark of the year. During the dark of the year, we are to turn inward, our most introspective work is to be accomplished at this time. It is vital that we enter the darkness as did Inanna, bare and bowed low.

Inanna’s most important myth begins with the great goddess opening “her ear to the Great Below”.

“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.”

In the Sumerian language, the word for ear and wisdom are the same. Enki, who is the God of Wisdom, is said to have his ear “wide open” indicative of being fully receptive. The message here is that Inanna’s primary reason for traveling to the Underworld was to seek wisdom and understanding.

What this meant was that Inanna had to abandon everything she knew, everything she possessed, all of her powers in heaven and on earth to gain this wisdom and understanding.

“My Lady abandoned heaven and earth to descend to the underworld.
Inanna abandoned heaven and earth to descend to the underworld.
She abandoned her office of holy priestess to descend to the underworld.

She gathered together the seven me.
She took them into her hands
With the me in her possession, she prepared herself:

She placed the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, on her head.
She arranged the dark locks of hair across her forehead.
She tied the small lapis beads around her neck,
Let the double strand of beads fall to her breast,
And wrapped the royal robe around her body.

She daubed her eyes with ointment called “Let him come,
Let him come,”
Bound the breastplate called “Come, man, come!” around her chest,
Slipped the gold ring over her wrist,
And took the lapis measuring rod and line in her hand.”

She gathered all of these things as a means to protect herself. Each of these adornments is worn at one of each of the seven chakras. She traveled to the Underworld and when she arrived she met with Neti and demanded to speak with her Sister Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is the place where potential life lies motionless. When Neti described Inanna and how she looked as she waited at the outer gate, Ereshkigal was not pleased.

She sent Neti to defend her. Ereshkigal wanted Inanna to experience what it is to be rejected, to enter only when she is “bowed low”.

At each gate, Inanna is asked to remove one item and when she asks why, she is told,

“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned.”

She is deprived of her godhood, her connection with heaven, her ability to manifest, her feelings of ecstasy and rapture, her emotional being, her will and her sexual role in life. All of these represent who she was, as a queen, a holy priestess and as a woman.

Naked and bowed low, Inanna entered the throne room.

“Ereshkigal rose from her throne.
Inanna started toward the throne.
The Annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her.
They passed judgment against her.
Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
She spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt.

She struck her.

Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall.”

It is here, at this point that we end this part of the story, for Inanna must remain in the Underworld until it is time for Her Return. Her transformation as a result is not something that happens quickly.

And so it is that we too, as we enter the dark time of the year, must shed what we hold too close. We must step out of ego, let loose all of the things we think we know or understand. We must present ourselves to the dark, laid bare and bowed low. For it is in this state that we open to wisdom and great knowledge. We too, must turn our ear to the Great Below.

Wolkstein, Diane and Kramer, Samuel Noah, Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1983

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, and Feminist Dianic Wicca and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

Letting Go

For the last year, I have been scheduled and planning a trip to Brazil, having been invited to speak, plus do a workshop at a conference in São Paulo and then two workshops in Brasilia. Four weeks ago, and three days after a Pertussis vaccine (needed before I could see my new great-granddaughter), I was hit with bronchitis which exacerbated an acute flare of my asthma. I was in the ER three weeks ago, but went home trusting that the steroids would work. They did not. So Sunday (the 15th), I once more bit the bullet and headed to the ER, now in a panic, unable to breathe.

They admitted me and here I am. Stressed and struggling to breathe, I quickly learned that I was never going to be able to be far removed from oxygen again, bringing up the issue of what to do about my trip, not really being able to get oxygen in Brazil and cost prohibitive to take it with me. My Sisters and dear friends here were all so generous trying to help keep my dream alive, while those in Brazil were being much more real about concerns for my health and what the trip could cost me, health wise. I think those here just really wanted the trip for me, as I did, and I love them for that.

All of this was adding to my stress and I was not responding to treatment as they hoped.

Yesterday, my dear friend, Brother, in the Craft, asked me to please not come. He offered another trip when I am better. At those words, I was able to see the wisdom of what was being said to me and I cancelled my trip, for now. So many wonderful things were going to happen on this trip – the speaking engagements, seeing my friends and chosen family there, plus I was being ordained as a priestess in the Fellowship of Isis, a dream of many years. A lot to let go of, but I did. Hopefully, not for too long.

What happens when you let go? The space is now cleared for what I really need. My healing process immediately improved. I left Intermediate Care yesterday afternoon and am now in a regular care section, which means I am getting better. I still cannot detach from oxygen, but that and its meter are now the only things attached to me, so I can get up and do for myself for much of what I need. I am breathing deeper, strangling less and my stress levels are nearing normal. I am hoping to go home Monday, the 23rd, as they wean me down from so much oxygen, finish the antibiotics and wean me off the steroids.

I am sharing all of this because many times we all can forget about the value of “letting go.” We focus so hard on what it is that we are being told we must give up, that we lose sight of what is most important and that many times, simply by that one thing – letting go – what we need most will be given to us.

I am grateful that I have not lost my trip forever. I am grateful for the wonderful advice my wise friends have all offered and all the generosity of support from everyone. And finally I am grateful for the space so clearly received so that I may return to better health.

So when you are faced with having to let go of what appears to be necessary and so very special in your life, remember that opening that can come with that one simple step of letting go.

Blessings are often quite hidden until you allow yourself to reveal them.

***Footnote – I am home and feeling great – Nothing like oxygen! I am breathing better than I have in a very long time. MY ADHD mentioned in the last article is gone and even my hair has turned from brittle to silky!!!

Connection

As an introvert, I do a lot of listening. However, I have noticed that when I am in a group and think I am listening, quite often I have tuned out and am lost in my own thoughts. That doesn’t happen near as often when I am with one person, sharing in conversation.

Clearly there are times when I am with someone who is a “talker” and our conversation is mostly a monologue. I find this need to talk comes either from being alone most of the time or from not being listened to by anyone. So when I care about someone, I simply listen as the rattle on. Pretty soon however, the pace slows down and the content of the conversation takes on substance and if we are lucky a true conversation can begin. If it doesn’t, then at least the other person who needed to be heard got a chance.

There are other conversations that we can have that we might call discussions. In these two or more people tackle a subject, tear it apart, analyze it, chew it up and finally spit it out. The whole idea is to analyze the subject, look for answers, agreements or results. These discussions can be extremely stimulating.

Then, there is what we call a dialogue. You might think that discussion and dialogue are the same thing but in truth, dialogue happens in a uniquely different way. The meaning of the word dialogue is “words flowing through.” This is really very different from discussion. Here we have a completely open-ended exploration where all parties enter with the spirit of inquiry. A discussion is something that arises out of the intellect and a dialogue comes straight from the heart.

We can see the difference quite easily if we look at how we might approach a conversation about a truly “difficult” subject, one that has many emotional triggers for the people involved. If this is the case, discussion would build walls between them, when dialogue offers the hope of true understanding.

Listening to another is for most, a learned skill. Listening and truly hearing can be the most valuable gift we can give another. Listening involves letting go of the need to speak, the need to counter, the need to give advice and to simply open and receive what another needs to say to us. In requires that we become still and open to receive. We suspend our judgments and assumptions, and listen to understand rather than agree.

Certainly, in this process of listening, we can offer acknowledgement of what is being said along the way but we don’t take away the conversation from them. We give of ourselves in this way to allow the other to unfold. For me this is “heart listening.”

I have found, for myself, that this kind of listening becomes a gift for me as well. When I can open myself in this way to another, my soul is able to touch their soul in a sacred communion of being.

When I deeply listen to you
it is as though
all the walls I have built around myself
disappear.
That space between us
no longer exists
as a boundary between strangers.
The oneness of who we are
and the whole of who we are
create new patterns of being.
When I deeply listen to you
understanding and a deep knowing
of our shared experience
connects me to you in a way that is holy.

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Feminist Dianic Wicca, European Witchcraft and Druidic Shamanism. She mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

Apathy

When I sat down to write my article this month, I browsed through my computer for ideas. As I did, I found this article that I wrote about 18 years ago for a newsletter I prepared for my workplace. Because it is still a very relevant topic to me today, I thought I would share it here. ( food for thought – I am an introvert, a triple Aries and a Myers Briggs INFJ)

I have spent a lot of my life sorting through very strong feelings in order to decide to express them or not. Of course, there are those that erupt before given the opportunity for that kind of sorting! Just ask my friends and family! I have often wondered if everyone has this going on inside their heads. It is part and parcel of being an introvert to ponder such things. I have even wondered if perhaps some just don’t have that experience of heavy duty “feeling”! Of course, that’s a ridiculous idea. We all have feelings. We all just have varying levels of willingness to share them.

For the last several days there have been three words drifting around inside my head looking for expression. They are apathy, passive, and passion. So, finally, I decided to look each of them up in the dictionary and here is what I found:

Apathy … lack of emotion or feeling … indifference

Passive … not active but acted upon … accepting without resistance

Passion … a powerful emotion … boundless enthusiasm

Apathy and passive appear to be quite similar, and they are, but if you look closely, passive does not necessarily mean that one has a lack of emotion, simply does not act. So, apathy can lead to being passive as well as the other way around.

So, next look at the word passive (acted upon – scary thought!) and the second part of the definition, “accepting without resistance”. I can think of a lot of examples of people being what I thought of as passive but behind the scenes they certainly did not accept without resistance. They chose not to act upon when given the opportunity, but later, created quite a disturbance. So they were not really passive, were they? They felt a passion to disagree but did nothing to speak out at the moment it mattered. They then grumbled and caused dissent after the fact! They experienced passion but acted upon that passion in a destructive way.

In thinking about that, I wondered why that happens. It does happen. It happens to all of us. We have feelings, we want to share those feelings at the right time but for one reason or another, we don’t. But those feelings don’t go away. They fester. They lead to stress, or even worse, they lead to negative behavior. Why do we do it? The only reason I can find, really, is fear. If we could not express our feelings appropriately, it was because we feared we would not be understood, or we feared the response. Something about the moment led us to believe that our feelings would be rejected, invalidated, cast out, laughed at, or simply ignored. In thinking that, it is easier to not express in the first place. But of course, as I said before, if we felt strongly about something and didn’t speak out, it will find a way out – somehow!

Every day, if we look around, we see situations of apathy. Look at the percentages of turnout on voting day! Look around you at the work place. How many times have you come from a decision making meeting, where it was like pulling teeth to get anyone to voice an opinion, and later, after a decision was made, everyone hashed and rehashed, complained and grumbled about the decision as if they had never had a say in the first place!

Why is it that when we are given an opportunity to have a voice, such as in responding to questionnaires and surveys, which are anonymous, we still don’t respond? Do we really not care? Do we really think it doesn’t matter? Certainly, if there is no response, there is no voice! As women, many of us were raised in environments that did not encourage speaking out. Girls were taught to be quiet, to be respectful, and to not stand out in the crowd. We were taught it was not ladylike to be bold and assertive, that we were better off being quiet and meek! And of course, I ask, “Better off how?”

I believe it is important to think about this, to look at how we respond to our own intense feelings, to injustice in the world. I suggest that by acknowledging the passionate feelings we have and speaking out, whether it is on the job, at home, wherever we are, it is critical to being fully engaged and involved in our lives. Let us find ways to express ourselves. Let us find ways to create an atmosphere in every discussion that all will feel safe in sharing those opinions and feelings without fear.

Women have been silent in far too many situations. Elders are silent and invisible in many cases. If we do not contribute, how do we expect to ever make a difference? My “Mama” raised me to believe that “you only get out what you are willing to put in.”

Let’s find a way, throughout our lives, to say what’s on our minds at the appropriate time, to speak out! Let us find ways to do that. There are concepts to explore in the areas of communication and ways groups can safely and fairly come to agreement where everyone has a voice. Find those ideas. Implement them in your lives. Encourage those around you to share their opinions. You be the one to create a safe place. Find your voice. Live a passionate life. Get involved. Remove apathy from your existence. Do not be passive. Life’s too short!

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess, and author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Goddess Spirituality and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.