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Women Hold Up Half the Sky

It’s March and the season of International Women’s Month, International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

~*~Women Hold Up Half The Sky~*~is a saying as old as culture itself.  Some say it is African…some Japanese…some Chinese.  Regardless of the origin, indeed women hold up half – if not all – the sky.  Women have traditionally been the world’s farmers, child bearers and caretakers of young and old – the backbone of families and societies.  If not for women, agriculture would not exist.  However, despite their contributions to humanity, women continue to suffer from gender discrimination in almost all the world.  Being born female in many places means a lifetime as a second-class citizen, denied most of the opportunities available to males in the areas of health, education, employment and legal rights.  This second-class citizenship hurts the well-being of women themselves and ultimately the whole of society.

Every March the world takes a pause and officially acknowledges and honors women and the contributions they make each and every day.  The entire month is International Women’s Month with a specific and directed focus on International Women’s Day, celebrated every year on March 8th.  In the US, March is also Women’s History Month.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 95 years and is an occasion marked by women’s groups around the world.  This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday.  When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day – a day set aside simply to honor and celebrate women –  they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history… in truth a herstory typically overlooked in the telling.  It is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.

~In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war.

~During the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for liberty, equality, and fraternity marched on Versailles to demand women’s suffrage.

~Susan B. Anthony was an American suffragist and women’s rights activist who fought for women’s rights, especially the right to vote.  Rosa Parks fought for the right for a dignified existence that was NOT based on race.  Gloria Steinman and Betty Friedan were pioneers in the Women’s Rights Movement of the 60’s and helped pave the way for Women’s Spirituality Trailblazers, Merlin Stone, Carol Christ, Starhawk, Z Budapest, Luisah Teish and others, all of whom helped create an environment that allowed the birth and evolution of a women’s spiritual tradition outside the confines of patriarchal religion.

~Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto and Aung San Suu Kyi were all freedom fighters and political revolutionaries. Today if one searches the internet, 28 countries show women as their leaders.

~Frida Kahlo, Judy Chicago and Georgia O’Keefe dared to push the boundaries of art and life.

~A young girl named Malala redefined courage demanding freedom for girls via education.

~All the women, all over this planet who make contributions in a myriad of other areas – many putting their lives on the line daily – fighting for gender rights, social and economic justice, and planetary sustainability while also ensuring their families are fed and daughters are safe.

International Women’s Month and, more specifically, International Women’s Day, celebrates the collective power of women past, present and future all over the world.  On International Women’s Day, Remember… all the women who have come before… all the women who have influenced you… all the women who inspire you… all the women who guide you… all the women who show girls that they can think outside the box becoming scientists, astronauts,  mathematicians redefining the cosmos or even the next violin virtuoso crossover playing both Vivaldi  and Queen … all the women who have made it possible for you to be the woman you are today.  Then Remember… all the women who fight for a daily existence… who are denied basic human rights and even tortured simply because of gender… who are sold into slavery as part of the sex trade… who are forced into arranged marriages as young as 8… who have NO voice.  Remember and light a candle, say a prayer, for Your Sisters wherever they may be.

I first wrote the above in 2007 for a women’s circle ritual.  Ten years later it is 2017 and the patriarchal backlash against women of the world is at a heretofore unseen level of vengeance.  Everything about the experience of being woman is attempting to be controlled and modulated and, even as we celebrate new and greater achievements, we fight for even the most basic of our rights, especially our rights around our own bodies.

March is International Women’s Month.  March 8 is International Women’s Day.  In the US, March is also Women’s History… no, Her Story… Month.

Is this enough one might ask?  It is not.  It IS a beginning and…

If ever we needed a focused period to openly and vocally celebrate who we are, it is now. 

If ever we needed to join together in welcoming the return of the Powerful, Spiritual, Divine Woman – as both Deity and Deity-incarnate walking our Blessed Mother Earth – it is now.

If ever we needed to stand in circles with other women… with our Sisters… it is now.

If ever we needed a time to shout from the roof tops… we will not go quietly into the proverbial night, but rather rage, rage against the dying of our light*… it is now.

During this focused time of honoring women on this planet, I honor each and every one of you knowing that when even one of us struggles we all struggle and with every victory we all celebrate.

This month – March 2017 – let’s celebrate the power of woman that is a long red thread stretching across the generations connecting us all.  Let’s honor ALL women with our stories and our rituals, our strength and ingenuity, our courage and vigilance.  Let’s make allowance for each others’ differences and celebrate the unique contribution each woman makes.  Let’s teach our daughters they are beautiful, sacred beings and they can be and do anything.  Most of all, let’s honor that She is Rising, She is Returning.

In this season of celebrating Women of the World, a Deep Bow and Blessings to every woman on this planet with Deep, Profound Gratitude to those women walking beside us as Ancestors.

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For more information and to learn more about amazing women on this planet, visit
https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/

http://www.nwhp.org/

*Wording re-imagined from Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.

 

 

 

Woman Know Thyself: The Season of Quickening

Recently I spent an amazing weekend with deeply intuitive and powerful women.  Women who honor the liminal points in Nature’s journey through the Seasons, each knowing that as they follow the Wheel of the Year, listening to the language of the trees and plants and animals, they are also listening to their own cycles and rhythms.  Our teachings were rich in the folklore of Imbolc and Brighid and Stone Medicine for these times.  Our rituals touched sparks of ancient memory glimmering with ideas for relevant practice in today’s world.  Like generations of women standing behind us, we participated in the ancient ritual of creating Brideog dolls birthed by our own hands from the weaving of our hopes and intentions.

I came away with many things, but this one idea settled into a deep knowing.  In this time of quickening and ripening to a yet unknown birth, we hold a deep and profound power within.  However, it is up to each of us to find that one thing (or things) that inspires and sustains us, that one thing that replaces feelings of tenuousness and hesitancy with forward moving courage.  To do that we must know ourselves.  It is then I heard Her whisper… Woman Know Thyself.

For me, that thing(s) comes from the knowledge of a strong and powerful female lineage of Ancestors standing behind me – along with strong and powerful Sisters walking beside me in this life – both holding me with a wisdom that informs my steps.  It is connecting to the ancient ways of being and knowing, including the myths and stories, knowing they have relevance and meaning in this time.  It is grounding in that which sustains me via the language of ritual any time I have need or desire.  It is tapping into the wisdom and guidance of the practices and honorings of those liminal points in nature where shift and transformation happens.  It is listening to the voice of my Soul.

It is knowing that as a woman who walks the Wheel of the Year, I am informed and guided by a spiritual and psychological language which provides me with understanding and power within in tenuous and unknown times.  This is the way of Nature, of the Cosmos and, after cycles upon cycles of this mindset, my Beingness is entrained to that of the Great Mother Goddess who birthed all.

It is having an intimate knowledge that – at my core – I am a woman who seeks to know herself in the fullness of the cosmic mystery.  My path in this life is as a mystic with a hunger for the deep end of experience so I may begin to understand that which is the most hidden of all mysteries… the soul of a woman.  Like the reindeer herds guided by the Ancient Deer Goddess and the more modern, Elen of the Ways, I follow the energetic paths that sustain me.  As I move along these ancient paths, these ley lines or dragon lines, I am reminded I am a woman born into this time who carries ancient wisdom in her DNA.  I am awake and I remember.  Woman Know Thyself.

It is having both ancestral and modern myths and archetypes to guide me.  In this Season of Imbolc, this time of quickening, like many I honor the Goddess Brighid and find great comfort in her stories and rituals.  However, it is the Ancient Deer Goddess and Elen of the Ways, with whom I really resonate and to whom I turn for support.  For me, Elen guides me on my path teaching me to move in those ways that sustain me.  She is deeply connected to the land, teaching me both courage and discernment.  Like Brighid, the Ancient Deer Goddess is also a Creatrix archetype propelling me forward into creation and birth at a time when I might otherwise be hesitant or resistant.  As the Artist and Writer, Jude Lally*, writes… The Deer Goddess is a Creatrix, weaving the luminous strands out over the land. 

This is the season of Quickening… the season of Woman Know Thyself.

Do you know yourself?

Who… What… inspires you to create?  What makes you feel tenuous and hesitant?

What are the paths that sustain and ground you?  Who supports you on you path?

What has even now settled into that deep place of knowing, already quickening and desiring to be birthed?

What will you allow to come forward into fruition?

In this Season, may we imprint on our total Beingness this idea of Woman Know Thyself.  May we connect to the deepest part of our Core – that place which inspires us and move us forward –  that place that grabs hold of us and says this…THIS… is your inspiration, your path… this is what sustains, supports and grounds you… THIS is what you already know.  Deep inquiry is required, as is the art of opening and allowing, but with every brush stroke our knowing creates life on the canvas of our lives.

It is the Season of Imbolc, that time when all of creation awakens to begin a new journey around the great Wheel.

As we join this ancient ritual, may we all see ourselves in the fullness of the Cosmic Mystery that is She who stands in her fullest and deepest power, knowing and embracing her power within, allowing for the birth of her gifts, trusting that which sustains… She who paints the strokes of her life from a place of deep knowing and expansive love… She who knows herself.

May we all see ourselves as She Who Dances with the Mystery.

Blessed Quickening.

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*Jude Lally, Artist and Writer, Celtic Soul Craft

I’d also like to offer gratitude to Jude Lally for her teachings on Imbolc and the ancient ritual of doll making, to Jesssica Sparks-Mussulin of Moontree Apothecaries for teachings on Stone Medicine and to Flora Aube of the Art of Allowing Academy for feeding the soul-desire of She Who Paints, opening this woman to even deeper inquiry and knowing.

~Artist Unknown

Mother’s Night

Tomorrow is Winter Solstice.  Today, though, many cultures (especially Norse and Northern European) celebrate what is known as Modranicht* or Mother’s Night.  Celebrated on the eve of the Solstice, Mother’s Night is a tradition specifically honoring our female ancestors, the guardians of the home and family.  As it is on Solstice Eve, this celebration also marks the beginning of the 12 night celebration of Yule**.

Altars are adorned with pictures of loved ones along with offerings for these ancestors and candles burn all night in anticipation of the return of the sun.  In these cultures, the sun is always considered female – with her life sustaining light – so this is an appropriate time to think of our mothers and our female ancestors.  It is also a perfect time for the weaving of healing works and mending broken bonds between generations.

The Toast below is a beautiful honoring and while, specific to Asatru and the Norse tradition, it could be altered to fit any of our traditions.

Toast to the Mothers
Hail mother Nerthus, Sacred Earth, you who nurture us. May you continue to uphold us.
Hail mother Frigga, beloved Great Mother of hearth and home.
May you keep our household whole and safe.
Hail mother Freyja, Lady of the Vanir. May we receive prosperity in the coming year.
To our family’s Mothers, our Dísir, going back in a line to Elmbla,
You who have watched over us and loved us always. Bless us in the coming year!
We remember you with love and honor you this night.
~From Ozark Pagan Mamma

On this Solstice Eve, it is with Deep, Deep Gratitude that I honor all the women who have come before me, all the women in my lineage, blood of my blood, and…

Raising my Chalice, I drink a toast to them and to the amazing women who currently are on this Earth journey with me proclaiming…

Blessings to all on this the night of Modranicht, this night of the Mothers…

Blessings to all in this Season of the Returning Light!

~Artist Unknown
* Alternative spelling is Modranecht
**There is also the idea handed down through the ages, that Modranicht was what became Christmas Eve when Yule became Christmas.

For more information on Mother’s Night, visit
https://gathervictoria.com/2015/12/16/cranberry-hazelnut-peppermint-honey-cake-hail-to-the-mothers/


	

Voting: Embracing Paradox and Rebellious Uncertainty

A while back I saw a meme with a message around the idea of “voting our conscience even if that meant our vote was wasted”.   I was both shocked and saddened by this mentality and a grief previously unknown began to paralyze me.  As a country… a citizenry… how did we get to this place?  Feeling helpless, I picked up my drum and have spent time in ritual until the voices came reminding me I’m not helpless and can take a stand.  So, to the many others who have decided they can no longer stay silent, I add my voice.

And so it is, with conscious awareness, I enter the realm of “things we don’t talk about” in choosing to write on voting.

Throughout this election process there’s been a lot of discussion around voting…. voting to make one’s vote matter, voting one’s conscience and staying in higher vibrations, not voting at all on principle because we do not support any candidate and, finally, voting (or not voting) from a place of fear.

Personally I feel all of the above energies – the concerns, the questions – and have wondered if there is any way to vote in this election such that I am able to maintain my vibration – which makes my Empath happy and comfortable – and also stay in integrity with my Social Activist who wants to make a difference and guides my separate actions toward the most positive outcome for all, which makes her happy.

The question that keeps coming to mind is this…  As things currently stand in this election, is it possible to move from a place of conscious empowerment rather than a place of fear, vote my conscience while also having my vote matter AND vote to realistically affect positive change?   Can this be done in this election?

I believe it can IF we remember that being human sometimes requires stepping deeper into the messiness of the fray.  I believe it can if we remember that, while we may be moving toward a more enlightened state – may even already live there much of the time, we also came to experience life on this planet which is to say “be human”.  I believe it can if we can step outside our individual-ness for a moment and look at the whole.

I hear so many say there is no good choice in the two main candidates and hold to the idea that they will not cast a vote out of fear.  So they will either not vote at all or will vote their conscience while admittedly wasting their vote.   Personally, I do not believe this dichotomy needs to dictate our choice.

~Why does casting a vote for someone who is perhaps not our first choice constitute placing a vote out of fear?  Acknowledging concern is not the same as acknowledging fear.

~Why does casting a vote for someone different than our first choice have to be an act out of integrity with our conscience?

If we are willing to join these different parts of ourselves who are speaking loudly demanding to be heard… if we are willing to have conversations with each bringing the separate needs and desires into a cohesive whole… then perhaps, just perhaps, we can make a choice that supports our conscience, keeping us in line with our internal integrity and also makes a real difference.

Sometimes the greatest act of enlightenment – existing in and moving toward the higher vibrations – is to be willing to step back down into our humanness and make the tough decisions.

Sometimes staying in balance and creating a new world requires that we go to those places that disturb our comfortable-ness – daring to jump into the bubbling cauldron of energies that are both dissonant and creative.

Sometimes moving from our soul and heart, moving from a place of integrity and our conscience, requires brave acts of rebellious uncertainty and embracing paradox.  Sometimes – MANY times – it means taking what we see as negative and looking for what is good and right about the situation or, in this case, person.  These are the times for the courageous of heart, the warrior-ess, the Amazon, the person who can juggle the seemingly incongruous while simultaneously standing in personal integrity AND actively participating in effecting change.

I began this journey liking both Bernie – loving his fresh and unique take on so many things – and Hillary, finding comfort in the wisdom of her varied experiences.  I also liked the idea of a woman being president and still I was unsure as I really wanted someone not so locked into the system.  Then along came the other party’s nominee and another very unpredictable variable in the mix.  I went back and forth – vote, not vote, vote my conscience, vote to make my voice count.

As the months have gone by, however, I have come to realize that not voting IS voting.  It’s the same idea that to make no decision is to actually make a decision, only without conscious choice.  I realized I had an opportunity to actually contribute to making a difference and how I voted determined the value of that contribution.  Not only do I not want to throw away my chance to make a difference, I do not want my vote to open the door to the possibility of a very unpredictable variable becoming President.

This country is in the middle of great social change and stands on the precipice of major evolution.  How we vote on Election Day determines if that social change moves us backwards or propels us forward.

Personally I will vote for the candidate who has the “strongest and most likely” chance of guiding us into our next evolution.   Do I like everything about this person?  No.  Can I look past what I don’t like focusing rather on what I do like or at the very least what is positive?  Yes.  In the end, at least for me, considering the greater good IS voting my conscience.

So I will pluck my part of the web realizing that what I weave – what seems like an isolated individual choice – actually sends out wider vibrations and affects the whole.

When this is all over I want to be able to say I participated in electing a President who honors ALL citizens regardless of color or gender or even nationality and that the foundations of freedom this country was founded upon are still in place.

Holding space today for America.  May She move into her next incarnation in the spirit of Allowing.

Cosmic Dancing and Pulling Threads

On this Virgo New Moon, replete with a solar eclipse and influenced by Mercury Retrograde, my thoughts turn to hope of new paths while also looking backward at prior journeys.  What is it I hope to manifest in this new cycle? What treasures will this solar eclipse bring?  What do I need to revisit with new eyes?  What needs to fall away or perhaps simply be left to lie fallow for a while?

Did you know eclipses come in families and this one is connected to those of 1997/1998?  What were you doing then?  I had just returned from working in Thailand and my husband and I settled into a genteel life on a lake in Virginia with our beloved fur family – kitties who now all reside on the other side of the Veil.  He was at a new University and I… well I was re–acclimating to American culture after having lived in Asia – cultures about as far apart as one can get!

I was in what is known as reverse culture shock and I was seeing and evaluating everything through very different eyes.  It was a time that was both beautiful and extremely hard.  Everything made sense and nothing made sense.  Living on the lake in the beautiful Southwestern Virginia mountains grounded me deeply and I was also floating with no groundedness.  Light and Shadow danced around me enveloping my being-ness with both loss and gain.

At the same time, I was also beginning to see/accept/understand certain special gifts – gifts that would eventually lead me to connecting many threads from past journeys and experiences – in this lifetime and those of the past. I was opening up and expanding, sometimes so quickly and so profoundly I could barely keep up.  It was a time out of time for me and it allowed so very much to come in… things that had probably been hovering around me for years, but in the pace of our crazy, hectic life I could neither see nor hear what was waiting on the edge.

The period in my life right now is somewhat akin to that time.  I have in the past few years gone through a type of culture shock where everything was strange and unfamiliar with profound re-adjustment.  I lost many of my coping mechanisms and at the same time, I have reconnected with a deeply enriching lineage from my past and more amazing gifts have birthed.   Both Shadow and Light have demanded I pay attention to their voices – sometimes separately, sometimes screaming at the same time – all the while as paradox and allowing became my allies.

I have come to see that my story is not so unique for we live in a time where we each are walking similar paths.  We each dance with light and shadow, loss and gain, hope and sadness, and the craziness of this period in herstory/history.  It is also a place in time on the threads we weave where we are opening our hearts and sounding our voices in a declaration of this is MY time.  We all want to live our truth!

Much is currently happening in the sign of Virgo… the sign of the Priestess – a woman who has walked in light and dark and now again is daring to step more fully into the light.  As she acknowledges and embraces her gifts and talents – reclaiming both hers and those of all the women who have come before her – she is also demanding her place in the cosmos.   It is my deep-felt belief that all women carry the archetype of the priestess, though that knowing may manifest in different ways.  Even still it is our time.

So what of you Sister?  Are you willing to embrace this new moon – this dark moon – and the revelations brought by this solar eclipse?  Are you willing to embrace the messages that Mercury brings with his gift of past reflections and assessments?  Look back to your life in 1997/1998 and pull the threads forward, weaving them through the warp and weft of this life and those of the past, connecting them until they settle into a deep knowing of your calling in the Now.

Today I reflect and assess, I vision and I set intentions for what I want to call in.  I open my heart and give gratitude for this beautiful cosmic dance, embrace all that is paradox, and allow for the Mystery.

 

~Artwork by Flora Bowley

 

Walking in the Woods: Morning Reflection

Every morning, weather permitting, I walk in the woods and then enjoy a cuppa tea on my swing beneath an old Grandmother Oak.  At some point, I offer up a prayer* to all the Spirits of the Land and to the Sun for another day of sustenance.  This morning was particularly special as it rained last night and the moss tribes were a brilliant shade of emerald.  Their joy and thanksgiving for life-giving moisture was almost palpable.  I am especially fond of moss!  Adding to the walk was the presence of some of my kitty tribe.  They almost always walk with me and it’s so entertaining to see their reactions to what they find and to each other as they run up and down trees, hiding and playing with each other.  They always make me laugh and their play feels sacred and a prayer in motion.

Normally, I do not have my phone (or any device) with me, but I was expecting a call so today became the exception.  This proved fortuitous as there were some nice photos awaiting on this journey… emerald moss with a leaf still holding water, fungi and moss on a lightening-struck oak, the yoni-like portal to another world that is at the base of my favorite Grandmother Oak and the black and yellow caterpillar that is shiny and smooth that always begins to appear this time of year.  I remember there is folklore around this appearance, but sadly do not remember exactly what it is.  I do know that the black fuzzy caterpillar comes next and both of them (shiny and fuzzy) are oracles of weather changes to come.

I am so very grateful to be able to walk this land I’ve called home for almost 11 years and do not take for granted its beauty or grace.  These woods and her inhabitants – all the spirits that dwell here – have saved me many times and I always… ALWAYS… honor that I live here in a symbiotic relationship with these beings.  I give thanks daily and I make offerings when it feels right.  She sustains me and through my practices I sustain Her.

Ahhh… mornings in the woods… When the sun is still weak and the woods still hold the essence of the night – the simultaneous scent of new life and beginning decay – one can both see and feel the numinosity of a place in time that is indeed a liminal portal.

For more photos from my walk, check out my Facebook page  Dancing With The Mystery

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* Honorings and Thanksgivings

Good morning Grandmothers and Grandfathers, Tree Beings and Wind Spirit.

Good morning Beautiful Singing Ones – thank you so much for your beautiful sweet song.  Good morning to all the Winged ones, Good morning Crow, Good morning Owl.

Good morning Deer and to the Ancient Deer Goddess, to Elen.  Good morning to all the walking animals, all the crawling animals, all the slithering animals, all the insect tribes.

Good morning Fairies, Plant Devas and Elementals.

Good morning to the Spirits of Light which walk this land and to the Land Spirits and Land Guardians, to the Stone People and Moss Tribes.

Thank you for allowing me and my family to share this space with you.

Good morning Brighid and Amaterasu, Good morning Sun.  Thank you for another day of light and for sustaining all life on this planet.

May I use the light of this day toward my highest good.

And So It Is.

 

Come Sister, Let’s Dance

For the past few years I’ve been on a journey of exploration and discovery of who I am at my core.  Who is the woman who incarnated into this time and place and what is she meant to do with her one wild and precious life*?  I’ve been turning deep within and exploring my inner psyche, looking at what the Cosmos and Spirit…the Great Mother Goddess…were/are asking of me, learning about and working with what I call the Deep Mysteries, leaning into the silence and the stillness and remembering an ancient primordial lineage that informs and guides my steps.  I’ve been on a journey of deep alchemical transformation that has led to my discovery of the Wild Primal Feminine and the juiciness of being in the flow of discovery and knowing.

The term I was given for all of this is Dancing with the Mystery and this blog is my take on the magic of learning to hear the music that sweeps us up and onto the dance floor and into the realms of a magical journey of juicy authenticity.  It’s all in knowing the steps and being open to the subtle nuances of a dance that is sometimes fast and furious – at times discordant- and that which is slow and sensual and provocatively loving.  It is light.  It is Dark.  It is everything in between and therein lies the sweetness.

Come Sister…
I invite you to join me in the deep end of experience
where the rich juiciness of our being-ness lives.
Embrace the light. Embrace the dark.
Recognize the beauty of both in the whole.
This is the Mystery and we are the dance.

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*From The Summer’s Day by Mary Oliver