Spring

Redbud Flowers We celebrate the Spring Equinox as a reflection of the birthing time of the year. We have made it through the winter’s cold and ice, experienced the warming of the Earth and the flood waters that prepared for the birth of all that is new. Seeds are germinating and beginning to sprout. We see that around us, depending on where we live. Here in Texas the red buds are in bloom and some of the trees have their fresh green leaves opening up at the tips. Just seeing these indicators, brings an internal feeling of birth. My heart expands in joy when I see my first red bud tree in bloom – the first buttercup opening to the sun!
Four-rocks-balance
This is the time that the Goddess makes herself known by birthing all into existence. She first creates day and night and on this day they are equal, only to rise and fall as the year changes. Then She creates the stars, the heavens, the green things upon the earth, the animals and us – all Her children. All of us glistening in Her birth waters, ready to dance in Her rhythms.
I see the creation of day and night in equal portions coming first, as a lesson for all that follows; balance, a moment of equilibrium, manifesting everything else. We attempt to have that place of balance in our lives, but know from experience it never stays exactly in the center. All we can do is hope to bring it back as we move between states. It is like the pendulum, swinging back and forth from one side to the center then to the other side, but always seeking center.

We do this in our lives. We move from emotional times of happiness and joy, to anger, to sadness and in between, we find center. It is this place where we connect with ourselves – become still for a moment, one with all. It is from this place that we spring forward, renewed and rested. We seek center when we pray. We seek center when we work our magic. We seek center when we begin our rites. This is the place of balance in ourselves, for it is from here we that we manifest.

Another aspect of spring is celebrating the child within. So often we get caught up in the heavy aspects of life and forget to have silly fun. Laughter and light are all part of the Season of Spring. In the rituals I offer to women for the Spring Equinox, we all become children again –love, laughter, carefree hearts – these are what spring is all about. We get out the hula hoops, the jump ropes, the jacks – you remember playing jacks? We dance the hokey pokey and frolic together as we did when life was easier, when life was play.
persephone kelly
Spring is the time of the Kore, the Maiden. Persephone returns from the Underworld, where she spends the dark half of the year caring for the departed, while her mother, Demeter, mourns her loss. In Her sadness, Demeter calls a halt to the growth of all new life. The trees become barren, reflecting her sadness. At the emergence of spring, Kore returns and brings with her all the aspects of the young maiden in flower. The Maiden Goddess of Spring is reborn from the Earth. She emerges from the confines of winter, bursting with flower and budding greenery.

Her mother is overjoyed. It is this spirit of reunion and renewal that we feel when we ourselves discover spring! The leap of our hearts, the urges to make new everything around us, garden planning, a magnificent breath of fresh air to our souls!

Hail Kore, Child of Spring!

Persephone by Mary B. Kelly

See post on  Feminism & Religion as well.

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 Witchcraft, 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.

Fire, Her Bright Spirit

dd croppedIn Celtic Tradition our world is composed of Three Realms, those of Land, Sea and Sky. In the midst of these Realms we find the Sacred Grove, the place of flowing together. There the Sacred Fire burns, by the Well of Wisdom, beneath the World Tree. Sacred Fire is that which weaves itself throughout the Three Realms.  It connects us and all of life to the Realms as well as to our gods and goddesses.  Fire is Sacred Spirit, Sacred Inspiration, without which life would have no meaning. (image by Marilyn Masden)

Fire is the spark, the flame, the heat of passion.  It is what ignites our creativity, fuels our passion and fires our hearts to love.  It is the Dance of Life, the joy found in movement, sexual energy and the warmth that germinates new life in seeds. It is the warmth of sunlight on our skin and the ecstatic pleasure of orgasm.

Fire is that which transforms fuel to light and heat as it can transform anything we feed it to pure energy.  We associate Fire with the Sun which provides all living beings on Earth with warmth and light. Without it, life as we know it would be impossible.  The Sun burns above us…and its energy supports life.

In magical traditions, we associate Fire with noon, when the sun is at its peak in the sky. We also associate it with summer, that time when the Sun is with us for longest days in the year.  It is associated with the active phase of our adult lives, the time we expend the most energy.  It is the time of creating families and careers. Clearly, sex and passion are all about Fire.

Fire also heals by stirring things up and getting them moving. It overcomes the stagnation of apathy, the heaviness of depression, or the distant coldness of always living in one’s head. Fire corresponds to our will.  It is our power to choose, to make and keep goals and to take care of any obstacles that prevent forward movement.  We use fire to remove anything in our way. Fire is what gives us courage. Fire is our independent spirit. We can use the magic of fire to face fears and overcome them.

We must also look at the destructive side of Fire.  The consuming hunger of fire is what strikes fear in our hearts. Magically, then, fire is about transformation.  Changing what no longer serves us and fueling what does.  And as with any burning fire, we must carefully contain and direct it lest it burn out of control. We see Fire within us, when it is out of control, as destructive tendencies, aggressiveness, jealousy, hatred, resentment and vindictiveness.

CenterFire is at Center of the World. If asked the question, “where is the center of the world,” I have three answers. When speaking for myself, my answer is “where I stand.” To someone else in my family, it would be wherever we gather at the center of the home. In ancient cultures, that would have been the hearth or the center pole.  Today, it may be at the kitchen table.  And if you were to ask a Druid of her clan, it would be the sacred Bíle or sacred tree of the Gods. As one who practices, Celtic based spirituality, the Goddess Brighid connects all of these “centers” for She is the Goddess of Fire. She is Fire in the head and the heart, the Fire in the home and hearth and the Fire of smiths and poets. She is the magic that connects the Three Realms of Land, Sea and Sky. She is the Fire that transforms. She is the Fire that opens the way into the Otherworld, into Inspiration.  For, it is Fire that gives inspiration to all creativity.

Author Tom Cowan introduced many to the term, “Fire in the Head”  which he described as meaning to be called to another world, that which carries one who can travel to realms unseen by others and return with special knowledge.

Words, written a certain way, in their finest expression can set us fire. The Celtic expression “Fire in the Head” also makes reference to the passionate inspiration that leads us to our finest work, our most beautiful creations, our poetry, songs and written words.

Amergin, a great Druid whose name means “Birth of Song” said as he stepped ashore in Ireland, “I am a god who sets the head afire with smoke.” It was this “Fire in the Head” that fueled Amergin’s ability to “be” all he claimed to be and thus use that power to claim the land for his people, the Gaels.

We are at the time of Midsummer – the height of the Season of the Sun; the longest day of the year.  Fire is an important aspect to Midsummer celebrations with bonfires on hilltops, at crossroads, or any place where folks could gather. The Midsummer Fire is traditionally kindled from the friction of two sacred woods, fir and oak. Nine different types of herbs are thrown upon the Midsummer fire. These consist of mistletoe, vervain, St. John’s Wort, heartsease, lavender, and a choice of four others chosen from herbs typical of this season such as yarrow. In Celtic traditions, it was nine sacred woods, thought to be the first nine trees of the Celtic Tree Calendar.  Folks would feast, dance and jump the fire for luck and fertility. The herds were driven through the smoke to purge disease and illness from them. In the Isle of Man, fires were lit so that the smoke could pass over the corn fields.  In Germany, Fire wheels hurtled down the hills representing the Sun’s movement.   If the wheel flamed, all the way down the hill, farmers expected a plentiful harvest.  If not, lean times lay ahead.

This is the time when the fullness of the Mother is evident in the lushness of growth around us.  It is when the crops are ripening in the sun; the time the honey bee gathers in sweetness.  We celebrate this season with dance, bonfires, and yes, sexual pleasure. This is the revelry of Midsummer and the Dance of Fire…

midsummer brings a craziness of spirit,
a wild urging to break loose and soar.
the drones impregnate the queen
and fall to death’s door.

my longing and lustful heart
seeks this ecstatic trance.
is it the horned Sun King
drawing me into the dance?

seeking the company of wild youth
to dance at revel fires,
drumming out nature’s rhythms
triggers my inner desire.

heat caught from the Solstice fire
and the sun on its longest day
arose this sleeping woman
now ready for sacred play.

I dance bare breasted in the sun
seeking the fire and the flame
my heart opens to all that is
my spirit wild and untamed.

Blessings in the Summer Solstice Season

The Breath of Goddess (Spring 2013)

cropped-breath_sm11.jpgI am a child of the Earth.
I live and breathe, walk and dance upon Her face.
She is my source and I learn from Her each day. This I know…

Life begins in the dark as Desire.
Deep in that dark place life begins to form, taking root and becoming…..

As life stirs…… deep in the Mother’s Belly,
there is a gentle quickening, movement
that alerts us to a “knowing”
of the presence of something yet to come.

As the Earth prepares Herself with warmth,
the rains and waters come to flood the land,
nourishing the soil in which She is creating new life.

Earth and Water and Fire
come together and Form continues to take shape.

One last thing is needed.
Just as new form emerges,
She breathes Air upon it.
Her Breath, giving Life to all.

In previous posts I have focused on the Earth as the Body of Goddess and well as Her Sacred Waters. Now I would love to play with Air. We cannot live without air. Without air, our breath, we can die in as little as four minutes. We take air into our lungs and it replenishes our body with the oxygen it brings to us. When we exhale, we release what oxygen we did not use, as well as carbon dioxide. The beautiful symbiosis with this is that our plant kindred produce oxygen for us as we release carbon dioxide for them. Air is our “shared breath.”

In our speech, we use many idioms such as:  you take my breath away, like a breath of fresh air, with bated breath, don’t hold your breath and I don’t have time to breathe.

For air itself, some well-known ones are: a breath of fresh air, have your nose in the air, build castles in the air, air your dirty linen in public, put on airs, clear the air, vanish into thin air, float on air and full of hot air. Of course there are many more.

As an element, air has many magical associations. Some are imagination, clearing, dawn, and birds of prey. In the tarot, we associate air with both the sword and the wand, depending on which traditions we follow. Some of the colors connected to air are yellow, purple, white and lilac. These are all colors that help us to feel “light as air.”

And the hopeless romantic that I am – I am swept away when I hear the words in the song, “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias:

“And I will stand by you, forever
You can take my breath away
You can take my breath away … “

When we think of air we also think of wind. Wind comes to us from all directions.  It can be warm, cold, wet and gusty. It carries pollen from plant to plant. We might have the pleasure (or dismay) of a gusty wind lifting a skirt. Our feathered friends fly on the drafts and currents of the wind. How many have played as children, running with a kite until the wind catches it and lifts it into the sky?

Some well-known idioms for wind are written on the wind, three sheets in the wind, scattered to the four winds, throw caution to the wind, spitting in the wind or pissing in the wind.

Our ability to taste our food is primarily a function of our sense of smell. Air carries smells to us.

In his Book of Secrets, Rajneesh/Osho writes, ”If you can do something with breath, you will attain the source of life. If you can do something with breath, you can transcend time and space. If you can do something with breath, you will be in the world and also beyond it.”

Many spiritual traditions include spiritual breathing into their practices. It is a great way to clear your head and calm yourself when stressed. You can become centered, clear and uplifted.

Working with the breath helps open us to a more spirit centered life. It opens us to sacred play. We can transform our breath into prayers. Breathing is the language of the soul.

I like to associate voice with air.  Voice when lifted in song expresses deep emotions through the words of the song as well as in the tune.  These tones arise from deep in the belly.  They are formed through the vocal cords and finally shaped by the tongue, lips and teeth.  These tones release both joy and anguish.

Our spoken voice is the vehicle through which we communicate intelligent sound with others.  They tell our thoughts, express our needs and help us make connections as we travel through life. The voice is used to defend our position, to stand up for what is right and for what we perceive of as wrong.  Our voice, as women, is often suppressed and lost to “power over” control of others. Let us call upon Air to heal this and to open us to reclaiming the power of voice.

We have many arguments today as to when life begins. The Ancients believed that without breath there was no life. There were times when a woman would become pregnant and the delivery of her child would occur when food was scarce. Rather than deprive any already living soul, those assisting in the delivery, or the mother herself, would not allow the infant to breathe and therefore, was never alive.

It is the same with our own creations. We first think them into being. Then we give them form and finally we must breathe into them, infuse them with life so they are manifested into reality.

In Celtic mythology we read:

Nine Maidens, laughing and singing;
Then veiled in the mist, silent as stone.
Changers and Life Makers, Breath of change, Life Breathing all.

In the shifting realm between the worlds, these nine maidens revealed the beckoning cauldron of unknown potential through which life is taken and out of which life is born.

The wind blows away dead leaves that cover the earth, exposing the soil to the new light. We link our concept of Spirit as a metaphor with the breath, breath hovers over the waters.

The wind is seen as a great power behind the natural world and becomes that power’s creative spirit. A strong gust of wind suggests an infusion of creative potential.

The Tuatha De Danann, the Old Gods of the Celtic people, suddenly appeared in Ireland out of the air, on wind-borne clouds.

What this all means to us, is that we must open ourselves to this gift of the life giving breath.  Let us breathe in creative potential.  Let us breathe in sacred inspiration. Let us breathe in the breath that we all share. The breath that we have shared since the beginning of time is the sacred life giving source of life – Air.

Liminal Time and Space

The word liminal comes from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold.” The word threshold has several definitions.  It can be the sill of a doorway or the entrance of a building.  Ultimately, it means any place of point of entering or beginning. In psychology the term limen means the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect.

Liminal time therefore, is that moment when something changes from one state to another.  Examples would be dawn, when the morning sun rises high enough in the sky to bring daylight.  Another is dusk, when the evening sun sinks into the horizon bringing nightfall.

Another is that moment when we move from a clearing into a deep fog which shrouds us in mist and for a moment, we stop all thinking. There is that moment when we first wake from a deep sleep, not fully awake but no longer asleep.  Plus there is that state when we move from wakeful consciousness into sleep. There are also those moments of transitions between life and death and from an unborn fetus to a living, breathing infant.Read More Here

Watcher

red-tail

Watcher sits just behind my left shoulder,
His disdainful look ever with me.
I asked him once what I could do to make his job easier
And he declared quite vehemently, “open your eyes.”

Hawks see everything below them
Soaring as they do on high
Their keen eyes missing nothing
In their search for predator and prey.

Solitary creatures by nature
Territorial, sharing only with owl,
Hunting by day as owl seeks at night
Allowing no other intrusion.

Soaring majestically in your realm
You have chosen to enter mine,
Offering clear vision for what I miss
In my narrowly focused world.

It is like having an added sense,
A keen knowing beforehand,
Of what is coming
Before my poor eyes can see.

Let me take up my drum
And climb upon your back.
We’ll visit new realms on wings together
seeing with wonder the land below.

Treasured friend, bonded brother
You offer this gift of sight
You are steadfast and loyal
As you for me watch day after day.

Brother in spirit, may I be worthy
Of your loyalty and love,
For your gift of vision and clear seeing
I honor you and trust you always.

Water, Spiritual Source

We are creatures of water.  Water is our original source as well as what makes up at least 70% of our bodies. It is part of every cell and fiber in us and is our essence.  What if water were the common denominator weaving all of life (earth, animal, human, and plant) together? Is it what connects us all?   It is pretty incredible when you realize that the water we have here on Earth right now is the same water that has always been here.   Do you suppose there are messages contained within water?  Do you think it is possible for our ancestors to speak to us through water?

When I think about water I am immediately taken down memory lane to the various “waters” I lived near or visited.  As a child I spend several summers on Hermosa Beach in Southern California where the intertidal zone reaches far out, gently sloping to deeper waters.  There is an abundant kelp forest off the shore there in the warmer Southern California waters.  For a child, kelp was the food for imagination, as we dressed ourselves in it, becoming sea monsters chasing each other about! In addition, I found pleasure in popping the pods, which sprayed seawater upon bursting.

I most remember the sand crabs tickling the bottoms of my feet as I walked out to deeper waters. The feeling was often so disturbing that I could not walk any further but had to swim!  What fun we had in scooping up great handfuls of wet sand as the waves receded and watching then squiggle and squirm to get away.  We never hurt them but allowed them to bury themselves in the sand when we released them.

As a teenager, I lived in Carmel where the intertidal zone is different.  There was very little shallow area as the ocean bottom dropped quickly. This caused very different and very dangerous currents for swimming.  There, we had far less kelp.  The kelp did not make it to shore because of the harsher impact tides against the coastline. The water was also much colder here.

As an adult, I lived for a while in Ventura, perhaps 100 miles north of my childhood home.  My favorite beach to visit was at a spot where the river came down from Ojai Valley and met the sea at Sanjon Beach.  The water, as it came onto the beach, was very slow moving, somewhat boggy and sadly, not very clean.  Many seabirds loved it and found good fishing in those waters.  Smooth river rocks covered the beach, which became sand over years of time.  I did not swim there but loved to sit on an old log and just feel the salt air and watch the birds.

As a young teenager I lived next to a lake in Massachusetts.  We were the only residents who lived there year round, the remaining houses serving as summer homes for families living in Boston.  Also, all around us were wet boggy areas filled with grasses and cattails.  In the winter, the lake and bogs froze over providing wonderful spots for ice-skating.  If you walked though the boggy areas, you could find open clearings where the grasses and reeds prevented the wind from disturbing the surface. The ice was as smooth as glass – pure black ice.  That is where I practiced my twirls and spins without fear of hitting bumps.  If you walked out far enough on the lake, you could also find patches of smooth ice.  You had to be careful of bumps and ridges coming out of nowhere.  Along the shoreline the ice was frozen in waves from the wind hitting it as it froze.  The lake and the creek running into it, provided homes for many grasses, water plants, fish, snakes, and turtles.   In the summer, I would often swim out to the center of the lake with my rowboat tied to my ankle by a rope.  There I could sit and sun, and read my book or fish for a while. At times I swam across the whole lake (about one mile)to visit a friend.

While living in Georgia, I lived in a log cabin out away from civilization on an acre and a half with a year round creek running beside the house and a pond in back.  The pond was man made and I don’t think it had been there long enough to develop much plant life.  It was however, a haven for insects and frogs! In the spring, the Spring Peepers put on a performance every evening, singing and chirping – peeping sound back and forth across the pond.  About a month later, the American Toads joined them, sending beautiful tones out across the land.  It was like a symphony between the Spring Peepers and American Toads!

One incredible moment was when a great blue heron flew in over the pond, swooping down and settling on the shore.  He took my breath away!

Some mornings I would take my coffee down to the edge of the creek.  There I would sit in my swing and listen to the rushing water.  All along the banks grew talk grasses and in one place were beautiful yellow, water iris.  I never saw any fish in the creek but I could not get very close to it because of the steep bank.  The bottom was clear but there was moss on some of the rocks.

Here in Austin, right in the middle of downtown, we have Lady Bird Lake, a man-made lake created from the Colorado River.   It is what makes Austin the lovely city that it is.  Greenbelts and parks are everywhere.  The bridges that span across it are the nesting grounds for the largest bat colony in the world.  All along the shoreline trees come right down the edge.  Most are Texas natives.  The city stocks it with bass and sunfish.  When I visit, I find ducks and other water birds, the most spectacular of which are the cormorants that sit high in the tree tops, diving into the lake for their food.

Water plays a huge role in my spiritual life, in that it calls to me to be close.  I am at home in it and beside it.  I learned to body surf with my father before I could swim.  Later, at the age of fourteen, I began teaching others to swim. After attending the Red Cross Aquatic Academy, I trained water safety instructors for the Red Cross and lifeguards for the U.S. Army.

The ocean is my biggest love.  For me it is the most nurturing and welcoming.  It is not however, all peaceful but can also be terrifying!  When I lived close enough, it was Mother Pacifica who took my pain into her healing waters.

Lakes can substitute but to me they are just not the same.  A running river makes a better substitute.  It is clear to me why so many rivers and seas are named for goddesses as they are most holy and nourishing places, teeming with new life.  There are other water spots peppered throughout my life; these are but a few and those that standout the most for me.  I am more than 10 miles from any water sources that I know of and those are very hard to get to for me.  To my body, this feels like a loss, that something is missing in my life.

In Celtic spirituality, the spirit of the land is often embodied in water — in springs, rivers, lakes and later, the sacred or holy wells. The people associate the surface and underground waters of rivers and tributaries as well as all the lands drained by them, with goddesses. Local rivers are the mothers of the clans and the bestowers of health. In Her arms, She carries the overflowing cornucopia of the abundant, giving land.

From Living River …..

“Flowing like a river, like a river to the sea
Love flows through you, and it flows through me…”

I am grateful for the many opportunities I have had to be in or near water. I am profoundly grateful for the spiritual connection it brings to me.

The water right now is the same water from the beginning. It holds within its depths all the energy since the beginning. Imagine how strong this energy is!  The closer we can be to this energy, the stronger the connection.   Is it any wonder then, why we seek this water?  We yearn for the ocean as a child for her mother. When I stand next to a rapidly rushing river, I am thrilled.  The clean cool surface of a pond calms me.

Water is a spiritually nourishing mother, a healer and a source for inspiration.  The message is one of abundance and permanence.  It is no wonder some call Her, Goddess.

Three Sisters

From time to time I dive into the idea of seeing the Triple Goddess as Sisters rather than Mother, Maiden, Crone.  I have to confess that the idea of Sister Goddesses, complete in their familial connectedness, representing unity, connection, and interdependency, is very appealing.  We, who practice Goddess Spirituality, strive in our relationships to reflect this in our work together.  Shared power!If I were to look at the sisterhoods individually, I enjoy the Ananke and the Moirae from Greek mythology.  I like them because they represent a balance.  One side setting the standards and the other, enforcing them!  A perfect example of the laws of cause and effect!

The laws and customs of this time caused the oppression of women with very few rising up to any sort of power at all and then, only at great cost.  These goddesses must have arisen from this oppression, for they perfectly reflected all areas of women’s lives.

Living under oppression, there was great need for women to reach out for help.  They needed assistance from their goddesses to help them deal with the peril and confines of their daily lives.  They would need protection and recourse from injustice.

Ananke was an early goddess of inevitability, compulsion and necessity. People referred to her as the “inescapable.”  They said that she was born self-formed as a serpent whose arms reached across the entire universe.  From her very beginning she entwined herself with her mate, Khronos, the god of time.  As a pair, they surrounded the egg of matter or “form.”  As their coils grew tighter, they split the egg into earth, heaven, and sea bringing about the creation of the ordered universe.

They were seen as the “cosmic-circling forces of fate and time–driving the rotation of the heavens and the never ending passage of time.”

She was also the mother of the Moirae.  Under another name for her, she was Adrastea, “incorporeal, her arms extended throughout the universe and touching its extremities.”  (from an email from Max Dashu)

Donna Wilshire calls her “Ananke, the Yolk,” a woman’s core center, her “knowing self,” that part of our wholeness that strives to have everything in right relationship.  This was not because of regulations outside of one’s self, but governed by that inherent self-knowing, deep within.

She is a woman’s voice of authority.  Wilshire states that Teleia allows woman to embrace response-ability which in turn allows Ananke to prosper and grow within.  Those values associated with Ananke such as inevitability, compulsion and necessity are not things brought to woman by outside.  Neither are they forced when they come from her true Ananke within.  What is inevitable and necessary is that she honors that true Ananke within, her own voice of authority and wisdom.

With the passage of time her stories changed.  Her essence grew ever sterner, binding people perhaps to lives without choice.

Her daughters were the Moirae, called the Apportioners.  Individually, they were three sisters, Clotho, the Spinner, Lachesis, the Allotter and Atropos, the Cutter.

They were symbolic of the process of weaving with thread as life.  They were divine midwives – creating a tapestry and weaving individual lives together. All three represent Unavoidability, Necessity, and Ethical Principle.

Women have come a long way in the struggle for “freedom from oppression.” It is in looking at goddesses such as these, as well as Goddess as “whole and becoming” and Goddess who is “growth, merging, and creation” we see that she represents all of life in one whole package, chaos, complexity, unity and diversity, all at once.  For such powerful goddesses to arise in a time when women needed help with the constant oppression under which they lived, just imagine how powerful they could be today, if we called upon their power.  These goddesses share their stories to remind us of the strength and resolve we each carry within.  From this we can go within and pull their strength.  For they are a part of us today and their strength lives within us, giving us the deep knowledge of our own “knowing self.”  As feminists, familiar with oppression, it is important for us to know them and to know they are with us today.

Information gathered  from:

http://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Ananke.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ananke_(mythology)
http://www.maicar.com/GML/Ananke.html

MacDowell, Katherine, The Three Fates: Sister Goddesses, Ocean Seminary College, Monmouth, NJ, 2008

Wilshire, Donna, Maiden, Mother, Crone, Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont,  1993

Embody the Sacred – Engaging Through the Senses

The human body is designed to utilize all senses. We, human beings, have drifted away from our natural state through which, at one time, we engaged with all of life through our natural senses, including the intuitive.  This change has come about through our active, stress filled lives in which we seldom slow down to even appreciate what is around us.  We have ignored much of our sensory ability due to a change-over from right brain functioning, which is more imaginative, creative and intuitive, to left brain functioning, which is linear and analytical. Two of our senses are developed out of proportion to the others.  Many people grow up in an environment lacking in exposure to the natural world.  With television, computers and video games we have become residents of an indoor and often sedentary world.

In early civilization, humans and all other animals depended on finely tuned sensory awareness for survival.  We walked the Earth, using those senses for protection, to find food and to move around.  We did not just see and hear our way around but we felt, touched, tasted and smelled in order to survive.

We were at one time a right-brain functioning species but over time, with the development of written alphabets rather than those based on pictures, and a fast paced, artificially constructed environment, we have gradually become mostly left brained in our approach to life.  This keeps us in our heads and out of touch with our bodies as we move through our lives.  This in turn, can leave us disconnected and out of touch with the sacred.  We are meant to be sensuous creatures and were not designed to live out our lives with only our mental bodies.

It is my belief that with conscious practice of the use of the five sense as well as all of the other subtle ways in which we experience life, we can return to fully functioning beings with a full body appreciation of the oneness that we share with all of life.  Through diligent practice we can develop an appreciation for nature, in fact, a return to nature.  Awareness of our inclusion within the web of life will be the result and the benefits of becoming more attuned with nature and the sacred will return.   It is my belief that a return to nature with opened and developed sensory awareness, a greater appreciation for the value of peaceful co-existence will become clear. Engaging in full-body awareness with all of life will broaden our appreciation of the “whole” and our inter-connectedness to the web of life.

As human beings we are capable of having fully “sensing” bodies. We come into this world as infants, somatic in nature – all sensory awareness – without cognitive process – all feeling. Our parents, in their care for us, serve as the cognitive part of our worlds until we reach a certain stage of development then able to move from our full body awareness into our cerebral functioning and thinking processes.

Some of us, out of pure need for survival, developed very quickly into thinking beings, leaving behind completely, our somatic selves, because it was not safe to be in the body. We were in situations where our cerebral functioning was necessary to survive.

Because so many of us grew up in troubled homes, we have few memories of being children. Many of us have very little awareness of being fully alive, expressive, and in our bodies. Many of us left our child self behind and our task now is to retrieve her, to find that child of feeling, the one who experiences pleasurable sensation all throughout her body.

If we are to fully embrace living a magical life it is important to remember how to live in our bodies comfortably and safely. If we re-awaken all of our senses, our awareness is expanded and our perceptions clarify and develop. Without this, our magical life will not develop as it could. Our enjoyment of all that is Sacred will be impeded as if walled in and separated from all that is possible.

When I was a child and I needed to remove myself from what was to me threatening, I found solace in nature. I grew up near the Pacific Ocean and was, from an early age, like Child to Mother, fully attached to the Sea. Even today, just standing with my feet in Her blessed waters, I am relieved of my sorrow and stress. Swimming in her, my body finds total freedom.

When I was no longer near the Ocean, I discovered trees. I climbed them to the highest places to rest my body on their branches and be comforted as no human ever comforted me.

And finally, when no escape was possible other than my room, I had my music. I have always used music to comfort, to heighten, or to fully experience any emotion that I might be having. As a child, I lay on my bed, the music playing next to me.  I felt it course through my body much as I sense energy today, feeling it move, dancing it with my hands, all over my body.

Twenty-five years ago I suddenly became aware how I had lost that sensing, feeling child and how much work I had in front of me to find, heal, and restore her. Now, so linear in my thought processes, so cut off from my ability to express emotion, feeling and yet unable to express, those feelings so long stifled within needed to be opened and embraced. I knew I had to find a way to get out of my head and back into my body.

Over the last 25 years and in the process of finding this again, I have served in the community of women as a Priestess of the Goddess.  When I bring a new woman in to assist in her spiritual growth, within our Sacred Circle, these words are said to her,

“I, Bendis, daughter of Danu awaken the power within you.” (I move my hands over her head and face and say) “These are the senses we have abandoned.” (I press my thumbs to her eyes and say) “To see with acuity,” (I now place the palms of my hands over her ears and say) “to hear with clarity,” (I brush her lips with my fingers and say) “to taste with purity,” (I lightly brush her nose with my fingers and say)” to smell with intensity,” (I then run my hands down her arms to her hands and say), “and to touch with sensitivity.”  I then place my hands over her third eye and say… And now as since the beginning of time, from mother to daughter, from Danu to Her own, “Danu, Bless your daughter. Open her wisdom eye that she may join with us, in a line forever unbroken, Danu’s daughters.”

From this point we begin our journey, walking together engaging with all of who we are, fully embodying the divine, one with the Earth. Be-ing in Her embrace.

Arrogant or Confident?

I grew up as an “Army Brat.”  The biggest impact that had on my life was of having to change schools often.  As an introvert I don’t integrate easily into new surroundings or with new people.  It was not horribly difficult when I attended schools in the military dependent school system but when it was time for me to enter high school, my parents decided that my brother and I needed to be exposed to “normal” life.  What that meant was we were suddenly thrown into small community schools where students seldom experienced the welcoming of strangers.

Teenagers are cruel – well, not just teenagers – children are cruel.  For the most part they are not “other” concerned.  Their focus is on “self” and while a new student in class might be a curiosity to them, in actuality a new student, if smart or attractive, is instantly a threat.  They are perceived of as competition.  I know this because it happened over and over to me as the new kid in town in three out of four of my high school years.

It was hard for an introvert and so I would quietly attempt to find my niche in each new school.  It quickly became evident that I was a good student and, being a pretty new face, I was marked as a threat for the girls already competing for the popular boys.  I was, however, a backward adolescent, a late bloomer, and was put off not only by those ostracizing girls but also by the advances of the guys interested in my new face.

Somehow through my quietness, I was labeled as “arrogant.”  That was something that always confused me because feeling arrogant was not something I could identify with in my lonely world of isolation.  It was not until I was in my mid-thirties, in my first work situation as a supervisor that it suddenly clicked and I understood why I was labeled arrogant.  As a new supervisor I wanted to “manage” my department in a way that I wanted to be managed.  I wanted everyone in my department to be properly trained, to feel totally supported and able to achieve success in their jobs.  Many years later I learned to label this philosophy “servant leadership” but at that time (70’s) it was just my idea of how I wanted to lead my team.  I began having weekly meetings with my team and I quickly learned that these women’s sense of self had clearly been damaged by their patriarchal upbringings.  This was my first time to actually see and witness women thinking they were “less than” or unable to achieve things because of being female.  I know it existed, I just did not see it.  This was my awakening to my own feminist views on life. Prior to this I was simply unaware.

I was raised by very progressive parents.  I was born in the 40’s and graduated from high school in 1960. Clearly I should have been a product of the 50’s, but because of the forward thinking of my parents, I was instead raised to be self-assured, confident and able to stand on my own two feet.  They instilled within me a personal belief system that said “I can do anything I choose to when I set my mind to it!”  So the women in my small accounting department back in the 70’s became the first women I took on to mentor.  It became my job to help them find their own power, to learn that they were smart, beautiful and able to achieve anything they desired.

I also now understood why I was perceived of as arrogant by those girls back in the 50’s. I was self-assured and confident.  I was aware of my own abilities to achieve my desires during a time when girls thought all they were ever going to be able to achieve was to make babies and please some man who provided for them.

Here is one example of my parents in action. When I was in the fifth grade (age 10), my parents were called to school for a conference with my teacher.  I was in trouble for failure to say “yes, mam” to my teacher.  I was not born or raised in the South so saying “mam” was unfamiliar and foreign to me.  I was taught to say, “Yes, Mrs. Skinner” when replying to her.  So my parents had their conference and my father explained to her that I was not raised in the South nor were most of the children she was teaching in the Military Dependent School System and that she was going to have to allow for cultural differences if she were going to be successful with these children.  He told her that as long as I was polite he would not require me to learn “yes, Mam” as a way of replying.

When the conference was over, my father sat down with me and shared what he had discussed with my teacher.  He ended by saying “Certainly if you wish to say ‘yes, Mam’ you can.  However, I hope I never hear you say ‘yes, Sir.’  Never place yourself beneath a man!” This is just one example of a parent looking toward the future for his daughter.

And so, with my first supervisory experience, it became a life-long passion to assist women in finding and claiming their own power.  For ten years I did this work only in the work place but when I came into my own “Goddess Awareness” it became the focus of my spiritual life as well.

Now, seeing women blossom in their own sense of self-worth because they have found the divine within themselves brings me my greatest pleasure.  For a woman to know of her own sacredness, to know how powerful she is, to know that she can achieve her wildest dreams brings the greatest joy imaginable.