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Lilith and She Who Paints

A few days ago I had an incredible need to release a lot of pent up energy.  Some of it was mine, some from others and the collective.  I have learned from experience – the hard way of course (is there any other way?!) – the energy is going to come out and it’s best if I find an appropriate vehicle for its release. Thankfully, as an artist becoming and growing, I am learning to turn to the canvas for release, finding this free-form movement of brush, hands, and paint an invaluable tool of transformation. So I went in with no intent other than clearing energy, simply surrendering to the Mystery – with no mind –  to allow the emergence of who or what needed to come through.

When I reached that place of completion, my only thought was ok, this is ugly.  Later when my husband asked if he could see it, my reply was yes, but it’s hideous and I’ll probably gesso over it.  Looking through eyes not attached to outcome, his reply was I like it.  It’s very expressive.

I sat with that thought for a long time and I realized my painting was not ugly, not hideous.  It was expressive, very expressive and a visual container for all the energies I’d been carrying for days.  I’d painted for 2-3 hours with no attention to form or detail – painting wet on wet without allowing previous layers to dry and adding features without attention to detail (very unlike me!) – letting whatever needed to happen, happen.  Of course, when I finally took a step back and began to assess all that had come – coming out of the zone of soul and into that of the ego – I began to see things I thought needed to be fixed… nose, mouth , eyes, more red here, more black or gold there.  But a voice said, NO! This was never about creating something beautiful or perfect.  It was about expressing your feelings… a vehicle for the self-expression of where you were in the moment and it is enough.

The next morning as I sat looking at her, I learned a very valuable lesson around simply allowing without judging or needing/wanting to fix.  I saw my raw vulnerability in its own kind of beauty and I realized it is enough.

Fast forward a few days, moving through hours of simply staring at her – leaning into how I felt – and allowing messages that wanted to come through this sacred container to flow into me.  In the end, I realize I LOVE her.  I still see my raw vulnerability, though that is now centered in the unabashed raw, vulnerable strength and power of release and transformation.

And…

She is a Dark Goddess who comes when we need to shed outworn habits and ideas… those ways of being and knowing, living and doing which no longer support us or move us forward on our Soul’s path.  As frightening and possibly uncomfortable as this may be, her presence means we are in a place of powerful alchemical potentiality.  We are the seed in the darkness being stretched and pulled as we gestate awaiting birth.  We are the dark matter in the forceps being held to the fire, hammered and forged until we are pure gold.  First, though, we must embrace the wisdom of the serpent who sheds what it no longer needs.  That too requires stretching, pulling, even possibly discomfort as what no longer fits is shed.  Only then can we move into our new form and allow our brilliance to light up the dark sky.

She is Lilith.  I chose this naming so that I am reminded that it is ok to be ALL they told me I could not be.  It is ok, NO!, it is imperative I embrace all my brilliance and wisdom standing strong and firm in pure unbridled authenticity and beauty.  It is imperative I reclaim all I have been told… all EVERY woman has been told… is wrong and evil.  It is imperative I allow my rawness to bleed through the veneer of patriarchal acceptability.

Lilith is here to remind me that in my darkness I find the most incredible gifts and beauty.  She is here to remind me that the serpent is not something to be feared, rather the representation of an ancient, primordial wisdom… a form of the Great Mother, the Great Goddess, herself.

Lilith is my guide to reclaiming our potent woman-ness which has for millennia been hidden in the shadows.  She is the ultimate guide to my Sacred Wild Woman.  She carries the key to my Soul and my path in this lifetime and is the Sacred Container that holds me as I grow and change and become.

I continue to be amazed with this thing called intuitive painting.  Amazed at how things come and what can emerge on the canvas.  I continue to grow and learn and shift by staying in the flow such that I allow both the dark and the light… by being willing to be pulled and stretched… by being willing to be uncomfortable as I feel the heat of the forge and the swirling darkness as I depth dive to those worlds that birth me anew, all the while Dancing with the Dark Goddess in the ever-turning primordial dance of creation and re-creation.

I am in love.  With Lilith… With Me… With my Light… With my Dark… With my Rawness and Wildness… With the quirky way I see things… but most of all, with my Soul’s walk in this lifetime as She Who Paints.

All because I needed to release some energy…. Welcome Lilith!  Her coming is auspicious indeed in this time when women are remembering and reclaiming the power of their innate wildness and authenticity and daring to say You no longer get to tell me the magic and mystery I carry as woman is wrong and evil.

A final gift from this experience…

~The Coming of Lilith~

When you least expect her
The Dark Goddess will appear
Beckoning you follow her
For there’s work to do.

Work that can only be done
When Gaia’s bare bones shine bright
To illuminate that which
Hides in the light.

That liminal time when the
Architecture of the trees shines through
Revealing their
Raw…
Naked…
Strength…
And
Beauty…
Too.

When you least expect her
The Dark Goddess will appear
Beckoning you follow her
For in the Darkness
Lies your Beauty too.

Through an ancient portal of
All they told you not to be
Listen as she whispers
The Darkness is She.

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Art and Poem, The Coming of Lilith, by Arlene Bailey, ©2018

 

 

 

Altars and the Language of Ritual

On this very cold grey day, I sat watching 4 huge crows eating the bird food I’d thrown on the ground especially for the birds too large for our feeders.  These harbingers of  magic and mystery suddenly gave me the urge to build an altar to this deeper path of the inner time.  Of course the Old Antlered One and Elen of the Ways (as both shamanic dolls* and an antlered skull) had to be present along with my painting called Sovereignty**.  Joining the circle were the feathers gifted to me by two amazing birds, along with a few stones appropriate to this journey (including a piece of amber for the ancestors).  Completing the altar are my beloved Celtic Soul Craft Prayer Beads* with small antler and my Norse Priestess Talisman*** with the Hulinhjalmur (Helm of Disguise), an Icelandic magical sigil.  Finally, though there is no visible representation of her, I called in the Cailleach whose season it is and who is very present in our current weather.

I love building altars as they create such a shift in energy in both me and my environment.  The ritual of these creations allows me to speak in a way that words cannot.  The tools I choose giving reflection to my current journey.

May you find your own symbols of meaning which remind you of the deep cave time and inner journey of this season.  May you speak the language of ritual on this cold winter day.

Blessings of Deep Peace and Inner Journeys!

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*Shamanic Dolls and Prayer Beads created by Jude Lally of Celtic Soul Crafthttps://www.facebook.com/Celtic-Soul-Craft-127237380645774/

**Sovereignty by Arlene Bailey, ©2017

***Norse Talisman created by Moons Craftshttps://www.facebook.com/moonscraft/

All animal parts found and/or ethically sourced.

Winter Solstice: Knowings of Light and Dark

Before going to bed last night, I blew out the candle on my Solstice Altar and let the darkness of the Winter Solstice Eve envelope my being.  I reflected on all the different things darkness means to us today and how our ancestors must have felt on this longest night of the year.  For our bone ancestors, there was no knowing that the light would always return.  For our more recent ancestors, there was the knowing the light would return, but also the knowledge that this time of the year was a very tenuous time.  Food stores were getting lower and there was still much winter to come.  Still, in darkness, they awaited the rising sun of the Winter Solstice morn knowing that once again the Great Wheel was turning and with it the return of the light.

I awoke in darkness this morning and made my way to the kitchen for coffee.  I then sat and waited for that first sliver of light before braving the cold of the deck.  I live deep in the forest so normally I don’t get to see the sun until it’s fairly high in the sky.  This time of year, however, as the trees stand in their naked beauty, my view of the actual sunrise is spectacular.  As the sky shifted into its gloaming and then into a spectacular display of reds and purples and gold, She began to rise.  Oh my, is there anything more beautiful than the rising sun after the longest night?!

For those of us who follow the Wheel of the Year, each turning brings its own symbolism, language and internal psychology.  There is a rhythm to this way of being and knowing that entrains our bodies to that of Gaia and the Cosmos.  A knowing deep in our Soul that says YES, THIS!

Many cultural traditions flood both our psyche and our rituals with one singular thread weaving its way through them all.  As nature moves deeper and deeper into her darkest hours right before the dawn, our ancestors desired reminders of the light and of life.  Standing strong amidst all the apparent death of nature were the evergreen trees, candles and community.  Both trees and branches were brought inside as reminders of life and the coming greening of nature.  Families and individuals shared with each other things that might be needed in the coming months and were reminders for each other of the strength in community.  Candles and celebrations brought the much needed light into homes and hearts.  To this day we desire those same symbols, our material culture and practices reflecting the very same need of the reminders of light and life.

I love the different ways that cultures celebrated and the myths and stories that developed around this time of year… Love that those stories were born from the ordinary rhythms of life and nature and the basic necessities required to maintain both individual and communal life.

Maybe it’s the time of year.  That time when we are literally in our darkest hours right before the dawn.  That time of year when there is more darkness than light.  That time of year when we reach deep within to find the comfort the ancients knew.  Darkness has its cycle and Light will always return.

That light will return, but for the next three days we are in Solstice and the time the Sun stands still.  After that She will start growing and strengthening and every day we will gain a bit more light and with that Nature will begin her journey of greening.  For now though I rest in the dark womb of the Mother, visioning and waiting for the light that will bring the potential that now gestates to its fullness and its birth.

Blessed Winter Solstice.

 

~Arlene Bailey, ©2017

Image – Sunrise at Newgrange, Photographer Tourism Ireland

For more information on Solstice at Newgrange visit the link below:

https://mythicalireland.com/MI/blog/videos-and-films/newgrange-winter-solstice-2017-live-broadcast/

 

I Am a Flame

Maybe it’s the time of year.  That time when we are literally in our darkest hours right before the dawn.  That time of year when there is more darkness than light.  That time of year when we reach deep within to find the comfort the ancients knew.  Darkness is only part of the cycle.  Light will always return.

Even now new potential gestates, awaiting the light that will bring it to fullness and birth.  That light is coming as we enter the final two weeks of the dark half of the year.  On December 21 the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn ushering in the Winter Solstice and the return of the light.

This morning as I wandered through my Facebook Feed, I was amazed at the number of posts whose themes are celebrating and honoring Women as flames of both social and cultural change, along with posts that also name the death of patriarchy.  I can’t help but relate the darkness we currently find ourselves in culturally and socially to the time of darkness we are currently in cosmically and, just as with the inevitable return of sun light, a new light is now beginning to usher in a new era of being and knowing, living and doing.

Like the light at Winter Solstice, this flame starts small – as a flicker of a candle in a very dark room – but with each day, each turning of the Cosmos, each action and act of paradigm shift, this flicker grows stronger and brighter giving life and light to new possibilities awaiting birth.

Here are just a few examples, from just one day.  Please feel free to add your own in the Comments section!

https://www.facebook.com/awakestorytelling/videos/718987841626746/?hc_ref=ARQ4chCN-G_ydrVv9gLNrfhl80K18srQJzbDNgVadQkZnLuGPObW_R9FngaFLN6URNM

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-choice/ar-BBGiwOy?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartandhp

http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017-silence-breakers/

http://time.com/5051822/time-person-year-alyssa-milano-tarana-burke/

https://www.facebook.com/abcsoutheastnsw/videos/1697122016998925/?hc_ref=ARTAQphUsaTd-db_sIEBLO8zC4hCeixMXE0Ar2Av0QOYD6ZqYYg1B46gQqXq5vGjIgc&pnref=story

Paradigm Shift is never easy, but it is an inevitable part of evolution.  As Biology is the physical side of evolution, Paradigm Shift is the consciousness side*.  Throughout the timeline on this planet there is evidence of this happening over and over again and, those of us currently living on this planet, are experiencing a huge and profound shift.

Is it happening quickly enough?  I suppose that depends on perspective.  In some ways it seems not.  However, I love this quote by American feminist writer and Harvard Law Professor, Catharine MacKinnon…

People say change is slow, but that isn’t true. It’s resisted until something happens that breaks that. And then change happens extremely quickly. There have been a few times when real change has gone forward and right now is one of them in the US.”  **

On a quiet day you can hear Her coming… hear the chants and songs of her daughters remembering… hear them calling in the ancestral amazons whose voices join those of present women echoing in roaring screams enough is enough… me too… death to patriarchy… our time has come… again.

We are in the darkness, but it’s the final hours.  The light will return.

Until then, I am a flame.

~Arlene Bailey, ©2017

 

*Original quote by Arlene Bailey

** http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/books/playboy-made-sexual-abuse-ordinary

 

The Season of Remembering

Late yesterday afternoon, close to dusk, after a very busy day of pouring candles and making winter herbal remedies, I made a cup of tea and walked out to my swing to try and regain some sense of the sacred.  The minute I entered the Grove I knew something was different.  It was an overwhelming feeling of different, as though the woods had completely changed from earlier in the morning.  It felt SO otherworldly – so thin and light.  I remember turning around looking at everything, trying to figure it out and, for a minute or two, I felt completely disoriented, confused, as though I’d stepped into a different place, a different time.  Then I knew.  I remembered.

They were here.  It was Samhain Eve, the Veil had thinned, and the Ancestors had come.  I sat down on my swing – I was a bit light-headed by this point – closed my eyes and just sat with this energy.  Breathing in.  Breathing out.  Then tears came, but not tears of fear, tears of gratitude and understanding.  Tears of profound awe of the deep presence of the numinous.   I was completely overwhelmed at the vast implication of it all and even more humbled by my place in this dance.

Today is Samhain.  In a bit I will go out to the Grove and place a vase of red carnations and blooming rosemary on our Ancestor altar.  Then I will build a fire in my cauldron and create the larger sacred container that will hold us on this day.  As I prepare favorite foods of my ancestors and those of my partner’s ancestors, the Samhain fire will burn.  Then tonight, a few friends will join us for a ritual honoring and blessing this sacred portal.

At the liminal point of dusk, we will gather around the Cauldron, building up the fire, and invite all the ancestors in – both human and those from our respective animal tribes – and we will tell stories, say prayers, laugh, cry, and we will feed them and thank them.  We will also honor the Dark Goddess of this season – the Crone – and remember those who died during the times of the European and American inquisitions.  We will then divine and later dream, leaving offerings for the fairies, devas, elementals and all the others that will walk this night.

The veil has thinned.  The Wheel has turned.  This is such an incredibly magical time and I am deeply honored to know the language of ritual and the ways of conversing with Nature and the Ancestors.

I am so very fortunate to walk this path of the Mystery made manifest… a path that is a portal to ancient lineages and deepening into the inner time… a path that brings me cycles and empowers me with rich and raw magical authenticity… a path that teaches me both old ways and new ways of being and knowing, living and doing.

On this day, I honor and I remember.

The Halloween Witch

The Halloween Witch

Each year they parade her about … the traditional Halloween witch.  Misshapen green face, stringy scraps of hair, and a toothless mouth beneath her disfigured nose.  Gnarled, knobby fingers twisted into a claw, protracting from a bent and twisted torso that lurches about on wobbly legs.

Most think this abject image to be the creation of a prejudiced mind or merely a Halloween caricature.  I disagree. I believe this to be how witches were really seen.

Consider that most witches: were women, were abducted in the night, and smuggled into dungeons or prisons under the secrecy of darkness, to be presented by the light of day as a confessed witch.

Few, if any, saw a frightened, normal looking woman being dragged into a secret room filled with instruments of torture.

To be questioned until she confessed to anything that was suggested to her, and to give names or whatever would stop the questions.

Crowds saw the aberration denounced to the world as a self-proclaimed witch.

As the witch was paraded through the town, en route to be burned, hanged, drowned, stoned, or disposed of in various other forms of Christian love… all created to free and save her soul from her depraved body… the jeering crowds viewed the results of hours of torture.

The face, bruised and broken by countless blows, bore a hue of sickly green.  The once warm and loving smile gone, replaced by a grimace of broken teeth and torn gums that leers beneath a battered, disfigured nose.

The disheveled hair conceals bleeding gaps of torn scalp from whence cruel hands had torn away the lovely tresses.

Broken, twisted hands clutched the wagon for support. Fractured fingers locked like groping claws to steady her broken body.  All semblance of humanity gone.

This was truly a demon, a bride of Satan, a witch.

I revere this Halloween crone and hold her sacred above all.  I honor her courage and listen to her warnings of the dark side of humanity.

Each year I shed tears of respect.

~Author Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are Our Sacred Work

One of the questions I get most these days is what is your sacred work in the world?  There have been times in my life when I would have said I absolutely knew the answer to this question.  Recently, though, as I move into the next chapter of my life, I have struggled with this idea with absolutely no clue as to the answer.  One day out of the blue – as it frequently happens – words began to flow and the Mystery offered this gift.

Changes come in waves these days.
The tower crumbles ever more.
Footing is elusive.
Heartstrings are sore.
Have hope you say,
As tears fall again.
How I ask?
Where to begin?
Where to put the hope of years gone by?
Now unmet and left to die.
Focus on yourself She says.
Own your own precious self-worth.
Stop focusing on things outside yourself.
For YOU are your Sacred Work.

WHAT?!?  I am my sacred work??  That can’t be right.  I really struggled with this because I’d been taught – and embodied the idea – that what we do is our sacred work.  This seemed too simple an idea to accept and, at the same time, the more I let it seep in it brought a deep resonance in that place of knowing I’d never felt before.

Though it didn’t come as part of the poem, the other knowing that came was this.

Once we make space for ourselves – allowing our Soul priority and authenticity – our medicine comes to us.  Then and, only then, can we move out into the world to share this medicine.  Movement before one is ready, is akin to a plant trying to bloom before the roots have deepened sufficiently to provide support, nourishment and a solid foundation.

We are our own sacred work.  I am my sacred work.  You are your sacred work.

How we walk in the world – what we do – is how we give concrete expression to our Soul’s fullest expression of being.

First, though, I must know myself well enough to know how my Soul’s fullest expression looks.

To do that I must enter that place of Woman Know Thyself.

I am my sacred work.

 

 

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*All writings by Arlene Bailey, ©2017.  If you wish to share any or all of this writing, please link back to this Blog and credit the Author.

~Artist, Elena Ray