Lilith is the one crying out in the night when our lives have become too politically correct, shouting: ‘NO! I am here, I am real, let me in'.
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In one sense, magic is a process through which we influence events, producing an outcome to our liking. We cast a spell, we shape events according to our will. Borrowing terms from quantum physics, we collapse waves of possibility into actuality according to our intention.
In another sense, magic is a process of aligning our individual will with universal purpose. Borrowing words ascribed to Jesus, we might say “Thy will be done, O Lord, not mine.”
Both the Rite for Reconsecrating Our Womanhood and the Rite for Invoking the Sacred Feminine (each a sequence of 23 belly-energizing, power-centering movement and breathing exercises) culminate in the Alignment gesture enacting these words:
May all my actions be effortless;
may my heart’s desires be manifest;
may the universe accomplish her purpose through me.
As we align our individual wills with universal purpose — with the All-That-Is however you name this all-embracing Power of Being — what needs doing gets done. What needs to happen does happen: often playfully, by synchronicity and serendipity, as if by magic.
Our body’s center, our bellies, play into the magical process through the umbilical connection between ourselves and the worlds in which we live.
The alarm clock goes off, Aerosmith is playing on Planet Rock. There is a small white cat lying between me and my husband, her little head resting on my pillow. A spotted grey cat is curled up against the small of my back, sharing in the warmth. My husband gets up, showers and comes back to kiss me goodbye. I sigh, stretch, and slowly extricate myself from the sleeping, furry softness to greet the day.
Standing by the top landing window, overlooking my back garden and the horse paddocks beyond that, down the valley towards the little nature sanctuary, my eyes coming back full circle to see the sun, rising over the North Sea (I cannot see the sea from here, but it is less than a mile away). I let its light wash over me – sunny mornings have been few and far between, and with eyes closed I drink it in. “Hail to the Day, and Day’s Sons, farewell to Night and her Daughters. With loving eyes look upon us here, and grant peace to those living here. Hail to the Gods, hail to the Goddesses, hail to the might fecund Earth. Eloquence and native wit bestow upon us here, and healing hands while we live”. Another deep breath, and so the day begins.
Headings downstairs, I get food ready for the cats, and boil the kettle for my tea. The cats slowly make their way downstairs to breakfast. After getting my lunch ready, I prepare my own breakfast, and sit down at the table with a cup of nettle tea. “I give my thanks for this food I am about to eat. To the spirits of land, sea and sky, know that you are honoured”....
The question is, what are those roots? So many of us live in cultural exile as women, an exile imposed by the dominant religions, and we have been delving into our more distant heritages in search of a meaningful past. This process is a journey, along which our definitions and identifications shift as we go deeper.
I was part of the early feminist wave that reclaimed the witches, scooping that ancient word wycce up out of near-oblivion, and linking it back to women’s ceremony in an era before demonization. I found out, too, that wicca meant “male witch,” rather than being an archaic Saxon word for pagan tradition as a whole. So I opted out of using that name. But I loved learning about the Dutch cognate wickenrode, “witch’s rod,” meaning a divinatory wand, and finding an entire web of related words with animistic import. Over time I discovered other witch-names from various ethnic cultures, including veleda which belongs to a long and rich web of related Indo-European words. I reclaim its forms in both my Irish and Frisian heritages.
I’ve spent more than four decades trying to understand what was done to female spheres of power, spiritual leadership, the Divine in female form. How did we end up in a world so totally controlled by white men, by industrial, earth-raping corporations of a now-global empire? In college we were taught that male domination was a historical universal; there were no other options, and dissent on this point would not be brooked. Don’t forget, you’re being graded. Plus there are the other prestige hierarchies to think of. This situation has not improved, though exceptions exist....
My husband's mission this year was to purchase a camper and spend most of our summer as vagabonds. One day before we were about to leave on a trip to Vancouver Island he drove up with with a sweet house on wheels ! We immediately started nesting what would be, our cozy new home for the next 3 weeks.
Camper packed we headed out....
Welcome to my world one that is quite literally magical. In this blog I’ll share how a relict goddess, the legends of her devotees and the earth that is their homeplace have nurtured my spiritual path.
In 2001 after a protracted leave taking from England, my Irish born partner and I were led to Ireland guided by Yeats’ synchronicities, goddess guidance and the ridiculous spinning of a pendulum over a map in County Cavan, a place neither of us remotely entertained as our new Irish residence.
However Brigit and Yeats’ and the pendulum knew better than our scepticism. By various meaningful coincidences we landed in Dowra, the first village on the river Shannon. It is a village that spreads over two counties, Cavan and Leitrim. Moreover, there is rumoured to be a remnant of the Black Pig’s Dyke, an earthwork defence to keep marauding Ulsterman out of Connaught, behind Oliver McGrail’s house. So we also bestride two ancient kingdoms of Ireland. To complicate matters still, this corner of northwest Ireland was also a subkingdom – Breifne – which actually does accurately follow the geological contours that the ice sheets sculpted millennia ago....
While visiting the local Farmers Market today, I noticed a great addition to the growing easy ups. This new vendor just sold freshly grown hers. You can buy the herb picked or planted, I was particularly drawn to the Wheatgrass display. It looked so fresh and healthy I decided to share some of the interesting benefits shared by the vendor.
Wheatgrass is one of the most potently healthy substances on earth. Yet for some reason it is still not mainstream – even though there are thousands of wheatgrass benefits that are so clear and felt so quickly. A few of the benefits really caught my attention. Did you know that Wheatgrass can cause gray hairs to vanish; clear Rosacea; and get rid of bad breath?
During the early 1900's a man named Edmund Bordeaux Szekely discovered an ancient biblical manuscript which he subsequently translated. It was a remarkable discovery and Szekely was so enthralled with the translation that he formed a society he called the Biogenic Society to promulgate the teaching of this new (old) way of eating. The main teaching of the Society was “Don't kill your food by cooking it.” and also that “… all grasses are good for man and wheatgrass is the perfect food for man. “ In 1925 Dr. Charles Schnabel began to bring wheatgrass mainstream to scientist, medical doctors and health practitioners. Remember the story of Nebuchadnezzar in the Bible? He got a little to cocky for his own good so God sent him out to eat grass. After that he was completely healed and went on to rule a huge kingdom....
I haven’t made it to Greece yet to pay my respects to Athena and the rest of the pantheon, but this summer I did have the opportunity to travel to Nashville, Tennessee. Although a city of art and music seems like an unlikely home for Athena, there’s more to Nashville than meets the eye. A reconstructed Parthenon stands in the center of a city park in Music City, complete with a replica of the famous Athena statue which is no longer existent. When I realized that a writing conference would give me the chance to see Nashville, I was certain that Athena would welcome me with open arms....
Sometimes abundance looks suspiciously like chaos.
Life has been very, very busy lately. I am learning the meaning of abundance, I suppose, as both wonderful things and challenging things are happening, all at once. Each day feels like a cup filled past its brim. Taking a page out of a beloved friend's book, I have started giving each year a name, and in January I decided that 2013 would be the Year of Accepting All Gifts. Whoa-boy, did I do a number on myself with that!
Veil of soft embrace.
Your light reflects the
Pools of wisdom and grace
As illusion's cunning
Mirror cloaks the knowledge
Of inner flood gates.
Filter and flow of celestial sight
As velvet darkness parts the way
Of expansive breath and I tremble
Bowing to your Path of Surrender.
The veil parts
The portal opens
And ALL stand waiting
In anticipation of your
I walk silently down the wrought iron stairway and into my back yard, out into the moonlit night. Noise comes crowding in and I breathe deeply pushing out what seeks to intrude. Lady moon hangs high overhead and the silhouette of tree and plant crowd my view. This is the night of the moon's fullness. This is the expansion of breath and air, mind and heart flowing as one.
I walk to the sacred spot that has received the offerings of many a moonlit night and has witnessed my honoring of the seasons. My hand is warm from the herbs of energy that I carry as offering this night, empowered and quickened in ritual with coven mates two nights before. The potency of their intent moving like tidal flow and peak ready to be carried on the winds that will seed transformation....
It's late August. The grass is bleached blond, the weeds at the roadsides are turning brown, and I'm starting to feel reminiscent about rainy weather. But there is a quality of light in late August that says summer is waning, and the bright half of the year is winding down. In a month we're going to turn the corner and the dark half is going to begin, and that's when we will find ourselves indoors more. Now is a good time to consider whether we're ready to be cooped up with ourselves. Are we ready for the inward turning that often happens in the winter? Are there things we'd like to let go of, so that we don't have to carry them into the shadows with us?
During the last days of this August, we can harness not only the energy of a waning moon, but also the energy of the waning year, to help us with this process.
A purifying bath is one of my favorite ways to release unwanted energies. This version takes advantage of rosemary's powerful cleansing abilities. In the garden, my rosemary bush is undaunted by the weather, telling me she has plenty of help to give even now, when many other plants are struggling to survive the heat....
Mmmm…I just love summer. The energies run big, bright, and colorful! My fire rhythm can find herself burnt out easily though if I commit to do-ing too much instead of just be-ing. Taking quiet time is imperative for my system, especially during the vibrant summer months. A recent Saturday night was a be-ing night for me and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate a cool, quiet, rainy summer night than by working in the kitchen with fresh fruit.
Food is incredibly sensual, isn't it? The invitation arrives and we have to give ourselves permission to really, truly experience it! Fresh fruit and vegetables this time of the year are truly blessed gifts indeed and I give myself freely, fully to the sensory-filled experience of the harvest. This is also one of my favorite aspects of traveling and brings to mind a recent opportunity while in Jamaica this past spring.
My business partner and I facilitate women's retreats in a beautiful town off the beaten path called Treasure Beach. A treasure it is! Each night we fell asleep under the gentle caress of Caribbean salt air, the rhythmic drone of the sea right outside of our door, and the thud of ripened mangoes falling from the trees…a few times falling right on the roof of our cottage! So each morning the group of us women would excitedly scour the yard at our B&B, gathering the night’s treasures, and run into the ocean. Mangoes in-hand, we began to peel the leathery skin, exposing the sweet, golden flesh of the fruit, allowing the juices to fully encase our fingers. The entire fruit is then dipped in the salt water…oh, the exquisite taste! There are no words beyond this point so I will leave it to your imagination......
Autumn – it’s coming. The nights are drawing in, and though the sun’s strength is still strong, there is a chill in the breeze that carries the smell of woodsmoke. The greening is fading, the vegetation now out of room to grow after a hot summer, and is now an almost choking mass, ready to fall back and rest a while. Deep within my own soul, I feel these rhythms, and will shortly be following the inspiration I see all around me within nature. The time for rest is coming, but first there is the harvest, with plenty of hard work still lying ahead. The bees and wasps are still hard at work, soon to be looking for homes to winter through, should that be in their nature. The swallows will soon be leaving, the fledglings having already taken to the skies. They are waiting, waiting for the right wind to take them back, once their food supply begins to wane.
I simply adore the autumn. The leaves will soon be changing and falling, the sweet smell of decaying foliage and the crunching of dried vegetation underfoot. The light changes, so beautifully in the autumn – it has that certain slant that makes things seem even more magical....
At a time that was not now and a place that was not here, a woman, Anima, was blessed with a perfect life. She had never been sick, never suffered from hunger or lack of love. She went about her days without any worries or concerns. One day she came upon a young woman hurt and bleeding. The young woman told her tale of suffering at the hands of uncaring people and how she had been left to die. Anima took the young woman home, cared for her and slowly her wounds began to heal.
There came a time when Anima arrived home and found the young woman about to jump into a deep well. Anima pulled her friend from the edge, saving her. She felt frustrated for the first time in her life. She did not know how to help her friend. So Anima took the young woman to the local temple. There she asked the Priestess to help heal her friend of the wounds Anima could not see. The Priestess explained that Anima could leave the young woman at the temple to be cared for. However, if Anima wanted to learn how to heal her friend, she could undergo the temple’s initiation. Anima cared deeply for her friend and consented to the initiation.
On the night of the dark moon, Anima descended into the caves under the temple. There she was undressed, bathed in the waters of the cave and told to follow the stream. As she descended, the Priestesses slapped her face. Shaking and nude Anima was asked if she consented to continue the initiation. Anima consented. She continued through the caves with only the stream to guide her and its water to drink. As she went further, the Priestesses would appear in the darkness to disrupt her sleep or to beat her. After every disruption or beating they asked Anima if she consented to continue. Anima consented.
Finally the hunger, the aching muscles, the lack of sleep, and the fear of the next beating overwhelmed her. Anima came upon a deep pit in the caves and stood at the edge. She did not know how much longer the initiation would be. The stream seemed to continue on without end. She took a deep breath. As she stared into the darkness she saw light to her left. Anima headed towards the light climbing up to reach it. The rocks were sharp and slippery. Bloody, wet and exhausted she emerged from the caves.
The Priestesses stood around her in the light of the full moon. They beckoned her to bathe in the sea. Anima consented. Her wounds stung and she tasted her tears. The Priestesses welcomed her out of the sea with bread and honey. Anima was marked in the middle of her breasts, on her forehead and at the bottom of her back with the sign of Priestess. She traveled back to the temple and found her friend. Anima heard her story, understood her pain and supported her healing. Soon the young woman’s wounds, both seen and unseen, were healed. From then on Anima traveled throughout the lands listening and supporting women in their healing. Her life as Healer and Priestess began.
We're researchers, Linda and I. We don't just grab a bunch of seeds, stick 'em in the ground and wait. No...we think it to death, researching heirlooms, tracking down companies with organic seeds, amending our soil, measuring rainfall. We were the same way with getting chickens. I knew what breeds I wanted because I spent hours comparing the merit of Australorps versus Orpingtons. We built the coop to ensure the appropriate roosting space, and spent hours discussing placement of the nest boxes versus the roost. I have this idea I need to do things perfectly. A mistake at work costs me lost sleep and spiking blood pressure. A botched dinner prompts numerous apologies to Linda (who honestly couldn't care less), and when my sons run into life's walls, I just assume it was a flaw in my parenting that is causing them anguish. As for my writing skills, well, no one is a more brutal critic than I. Yeah, bring on that cat o' nine tails and hair shirt!
So when all that research is done, when we've planted things just so, in perfect organic soil, with organic fertilizer, watered exactly as we should, provided just the right sunshine, it's kind of a rude slap when the harvest is...well, nada. This year forty heirloom tomato plants yielded a grand total of a dozen cracked and blemished tomatoes. Our peas barely produced. Heck, even my kale tanked! Seriously-who can't grow kale? The gardening year started with such promise, and is winding down with anything but a fireworks display of produce....
“All religion is about the mystery of creation. If the mystery of birth is the origin of religion, it is women that we must look for the phenomenon that first made her aware of the unseen power…Women’s awe at her capacity to create life is the basis of mystery. Earliest religious images show pregnancy, rather than birth and nurturing, as the numinous or magical state” (Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor, The Great Cosmic Mother, p. 71)
I am working on a thesis project about birth as a spiritual experience. As I collect my resources, the quotes above keep running through my head. Birth as the original sacrament. Breastfeeding as the original communion. Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone, women transmute blood into breath, into being, into life for others.
Abrahamic theology in its root mythology, sets up the male body as "normal" as well neatly includes the notion that there is a divine hierarchy in which men are above women in value, role, and power. It also twists reality, by asserting that women come from men’s bodies, rather than the other way around. This inversion didn’t begin with Christianity, it has roots in more ancient mythology as well. Connected to the conversion of women’s natural creative, divine-like powers of the womb into the originators of sin and corruption, we readily see the deliberate inversion of the womb of the Goddess into the head of the father in the gulping down of Metis by Zeus and the subsequent birth of Athena from his head. Patriarchal creation myths rely heavily on biologically non-normative masculine creation imagery. I really appreciated the brief note from Sjoo in The Great Cosmic Mother that, “In later Hindu mysticism the egg is identified as male generative energy. Whenever you come upon something like this, stop and ponder. If it is absurdly inorganic—male gods ‘brooding on the waters’ or ‘laying eggs’—then you know you are in the presence of an original Goddess cosmology stolen and displaced by later patriarchal scribes” (p. 56).
As the nights shift to cooler weather in my part of the world, a woman’s fancy begins to turn to…beer? Well, maybe that’s just me, but the harvest time brings to my mind celebrating life around a bonfire with a cold bottle. Autumn grain festivals could be the perfect time to pour out a foamy libation. As interestingly, many researchers argue that our ancient ancestors began cultivating grains not for baking but for brewing. Ancient cultures across the world incorporated these brews into daily religious life. And in that history of the development of beer, women and the Goddess take a central role. The ancient beer makers in many cultures were often women, and their products were sacred to Goddesses....
They started showing up in my mid-twenties, little patches of rash here and there on the landscape of my body: under my breasts, on the side of my neck, on the swell of my belly. At first, I bought creams, with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce, to get rid of them. By the time I was in my early thirties, I found myself going from doctor to doctor, dermatologist to dermatologist, naturopath to acupuncturist, and even my gynecologist. More creams, pills, a variety of tinctures and teas, but no explanation.
By my mid-thirties, however, I realized my body was trying to communicate something. The patch on the tender inside of my left elbow only showed up in the spring as I fretted over an annual trip I led for a large group of high school kids to do volunteer work around the United States. I tried to read the rash, like my grandmother read tea leaves.
The wide strip on the small of my back appeared as the ministry I ran shifted from working directly with adolescents and children, which I loved, to spending more time recruiting, training, and managing adult volunteers. As the program grew, the rash also grew in size, helping me know it was time to change my work. Then there was the patch that showed up as my husband and I began dealing with his abuse as a child and adolescent and how that affected our relationship as adults. That rash invited me to look at my own relationship choices and patterns. Reading my skin had become a spiritual practice....
Here I am thinking back on the first weekend in August, we were in KC, Mo. I was speaking at a paranormal convention where a few presenters including myself, talked about encounters beyond ghosts.' How can I relate this to goddess living' I wondered, since the event impacted me in a profound way. A Native American paranormal team's approach was earthy and beautifully grounded in their culture and background. Their stories were of 'elementals' and shape- shifters harassing a family. One team spoke of an entity who 'oppressed' a team member and how she changed in behavior. One Bigfoot expert who has discovered their language told, for the first time of his own face-to-face run in with Bigfoot. Another woman spoke of her UFO experiences and of being a part of a national investigative community now. I told of my own run-ins with ghosts and beings that are-something else-
The amazing thing that happened that weekend was the nearly spontaneous outpouring of the speakers to bare events that were personal, and often traumatic. We didn't just relay sightings we'd gathered from others; the tales from our attempts at helping people to understand what's going on around them. Here was gathered a group of people who, for the most part, had never met each other before, and we were onstage, opening up to the audience and daring to face the possible stigma of being called "crazy". You could see the truth as each person spoke, tears luring behind their eyes, the break in their voice as they kept emotions in check, describing the the all-too-real brush with the otherworldly.
Onstage, we faced our own nightmares and called upon strength to face ridicule. That weekend I had people come to me and thank me for confessing to my encounters with beings that were never human, then, as with another event where I dared to admit to those types of encounters, people came to me with relief that I knew what they had gone though, that I could identify with something they experienced. My occupation is a massage therapist and energy worker, I am a healer by trade and choice. I investigate the paranormal because of the "knowing" that something else is out there, something beside punching a daily time clock. Goddess living would seem to dictate that I am to elevate beyond a merely self-servicing life; to vibrate at a higher frequency, to bring a healing to the world. Perhaps this was just one of the means at my disposal, to drop the shields I use to guard myself and allow that exposure to prove to others that they are not alone....