Listening to the woods, to the stones, to Gaia, and to women...
In the woods behind my house rest a collection of nine large flat rocks. Daily, I walk down to these “priestess rocks” for some sacred time alone to pray, meditate, consider, and be. Often, while in this space, I open my mouth and poetry comes out. I’ve come to see this experience as "theapoetics"—experiencing the Goddess through direct “revelation,” framed in language. As Stanley Hopper originally described in the 1970’s, it is possible to “…replace theology, the rationalistic interpretation of belief, with theopoetics, finding God[dess] through poetry and fiction, which neither wither before modern science nor conflict with the complexity of what we know now to be the self.” Theapoetics might also be described, “as a means of engaging language and perception in such a way that one enters into a radical relation with the divine, the other, and the creation in which all occurs.”
Moontale, Moontide, Moonspell
"...we also come to learn an important thealogical statement: the relationship of self to Goddess is a physical relationship--it is material. It is not a dislocated, distant experience of some far-off Deity 'out there,' but it is embedded within our very bodies and their own rhythms.” --Katie Batten, Goddess Wheel of the Year
When reading Z. Budapest's book, Grandmother Moon, I was surprised to connect very deeply with her Moontale, Moontide, Moonspell model. In the past, I haven’t felt much of an intuitive connection to Budapest’s work, but this concept is different for me.
My moontale begins following a story of loss that represented a spiritual turning point in my life. After experiencing my second miscarriage, I was brought to a very dark and distressed place. During this time, I started reading a really wonderful book called Wild Feminine by Tami Lynn Kent. It contains many visualization exercises centered around healing our “pelvic wounds” and connecting with our “pelvic bowl.” One exercise was about visualizing the “guardian of the womb.” As I read the phrase that night in bed, immediately I experienced a strong, clear image of a black, stone goddess figure with upraised arms and a stylized jackal head. I was saddened by the image, feeling that my subconscious was identifying my womb as now home to Anubis, the God of Death, rather than a place of life and birth. I felt shaken by this spontaneous “vision” and felt like it perhaps meant that I would never have another living baby. However, I also felt like the figure I had seen was not, itself, threatening, but was actually serene and beautiful. After thinking about it for several days, I did a little internet research, wondering if there was a female Anubis or Goddess Anubis, since the “womb guardian” with the jackal head that I had seen was distinctly a goddess figure. I then discovered that apparently Anubis had a wife, not well known or much explored, named Anput. As I read about her, my heart eased and the message from my body about my womb’s guardian became a deeply meaningful message of comfort rather than despair—Anput was referred to as, “Guide and Guardian. A Bringer of Life and Order.” This felt like a “message” to me, whether from my psyche/subconscious or Goddess herself, I’m not sure, but it meant a lot to me...
Moontide (or, Moontale part 2)
It is a time of transformation and retreat.
I go to the priestess rocks in the woods and sit in the stone alcove. I become still and listen. First, I hear the wind and the birds. And, then I write these words: She will come to me in dreamtime. During the moon's time, I will hear her speak.
She communicates in the deep. She calls from within. From wombspace. She listens. She waits. She knows. She regards.
Be still. Rest. Feel.
She is carried with your breath. Your in-spiration. Song. Hope. Vibrant. Trust. Deep regard. Deep healing.
Every day holy
Every day sacred
Remember, too, there is strength when you are most ragged and torn. Accept the feelings of weakness. Not everything has to be a pinnacle moment.
My wombspace has held the sparks of five. She has pushed three into the world to take their first breath and to nuzzle at my breast.
She has done great work. I have known great love, great trust, and great courage as I have opened myself to my children. I have paid with my body and it was a holy gift.
In the darkness, in the dreamtime, I gestated and nurtured. The womb's guardian. Bringer of life and order. This is where she dwells.
My uterus holds a great knowing, a great energy, and a commitment to the flow of life. She knows. She feels. I can sink back into that embrace and soft touch.
I hold it all. I am alive with creative potential.
In keeping with our family tradition of Family Full Moon fun, I planned a full moon ritual to do with my family. We each chose a power object to “charge” with the energy of the full moon. Accompanied by small hand drums, after moonrise, we made our way through the woods to the priestess rocks. The nearly full moon is perfectly framed by a forked tree. She shines down onto the flat, mossy surface of the largest priestess rock. Here, we set up our mini altar. A candle for each direction and a moon goddess for the center. I do a brief invocation to the elements. Holding our power objects, I read a passage from A Woman’s Book of Rituals and Celebrations and then we “draw down the moon” together. She glows and seems to develop a corona of blue and a then a halo of white. We speak aloud our intentions for the “charging” of our power objects and I read another segment from A Woman’s Book of Rituals and Celebrations, ending each statement with, “let my will be done.” My two sons (then ages 8 and 5), get extremely into this—repeating each statement loudly and with great energy and solemnity. We affirm our new paths of transformation and my husband and I hang our objects in the tree to continue to charge until the moon begins to wane.
We go inside then and drum, listen to Goddess chants, and eat homemade brownies. The boys are wild with energy, leaping, running, chaotic. Perhaps next time, we will need better "grounding" as part of our ritual...
In the hand of the Goddess
The Moonspell I describe above was really a magical and meaningful night. I loved to see my husband and kids fully participating and I’m so glad we chose to go out into the night for our Moonspell. It made it real and holy, rather than feeling hoky or inauthentic standing in our regular old living room.
I do not feel like the Goddess is something I believe in, but a reality that I experience in daily life. As Naomi Wolf said, I feel that “We were all held, touched, interrelated, in an invisible net of incarnation…”—I might describe this additionally as being held in the hand of the Goddess. As my family celebrates the Full Moon together monthly and as I honor my own recurrent need for stillness and retreat during my Dark Moon Retreats, we are making visible this interconnected dance with nature and with life. We are affirming our commitment, our relatedness, to each other and to the natural environment around us. We are communicating and in relationship to that larger force of life and spirit that we know as Goddess. And, we bring our spiritual beliefs into our bodies, hands, minds, and hearts in an ever-spinning Wheel of celebration, attention, observation, enjoyment, and communion.
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