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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in forgiveness

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I Used To Be Transphobic

Recently I have listened and read and watched the Pagan community face transphobia. Again. Denora wrote a summary here and offered the challenge “How will you enact change?”

I wasn't around in previous years. I long to see our Pagan community become a healthy and welcoming place free from transphobia. I have no easy answers but I’ve been encouraged to tell the story of my personal struggle with transphobia. I used to a fundamentalist Christian and that meant also being misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, a creationist, and then some. So I offer here a glimpse of my own struggle and transformation.

I briefly lived in San Francisco, or “sin city” as we called it, with a Christian Outreach group over a decade ago. Someone in said group once warned me not to go to the “wrong side of the Safeway”, beyond which lay the Castro, the place where “the gays” lived their sinful lives. I once crossed over to eat at a Thai restaurant and felt frightened and guilt ridden the entire time.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Love this!!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Ksama in Sanskrit means forgiveness. An indispensible word on the spiritual path at practical and cosmic levels, ksama is a virtue that, perhaps more strongly than any other, binds us to a tantric life. Its practice requires that we move beyond our ego and take sanctuary in the naked truth of reality. It is a gateway to Her through relationality (one of the five-fold qualities of the Dark Goddess), a way of creating connection across divides of difference on inner, outer and causal levels.

At times, forgiveness means making a choice to be present with another. It can also mean holding a space of respectful distance in order to let truth unfold. In its many manifestations, the path of forgiveness is a tall order in a world filled with insecurities and vitriol. So many of us harbor terrifying yearnings to be loved—terrifying because we fear we are unworthy of another’s love or worse, somehow unlovable. But as a mechanism for unleashing the power of unfettered love—the antidote to much of our struggle—forgiveness is worth taking the time to understand and practice.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_rise-to-standing.jpgI'm clearing out the clutter in my studio when a scrap of paper pops up with a poem I must have written years ago.

Reading the piece, which sports the title "Forgiveness," I wonder: What does belly wisdom have to do with that?

The Woman's Belly Book: Finding Your True Center for More Energy, Confidence, and Pleasure includes two poems, but this isn't one of them.

Searching my computer for a file that might contain the poem, thinking I could copy and paste the words here for you rather than type them out again, I find files labelled Forgiveness.0, Forgiveness.1, and Forgiveness.2.

Turns out, back in 1995 — twenty years ago — I guided people through a Ritual of Forgiveness in a workshop that was (if I remember correctly) part of a Sufi conference on healing.

The ritual involves moving through the Honoring Your Belly sequence of power-centering gestures — twice, in fact, each time with a different narration.

Apparently I wrote the two narrations for this Ritual of Forgiveness sometime after writing the ones that inform the Rite for Reconsecrating Our Womanhood and the Rite for Invoking the Sacred Feminine. The Reconsecrations voice a sequence of affirmations tracing the heroine's journey; the Invocations present a series of body prayers addressing the Feminine Divine. In each case, the words imbue the 23 gestures they accompany with personal meaning.

Likewise, in the first round of this Ritual of Forgiveness the 23 movement and breathing exercises enact "Decomposing the Old, Conceiving the New." The same gestures, in the second round, animate "Gestating and Generating the New."

Both rounds involve drawing out images emerging from the body's center: first, what we're willing to release; then, what we welcome to take its place.

Twenty years ago, I discovered that energizing the belly and activating its wisdom with movement and breath could contribute mightily to the process of forgiveness. I believe I'm ripe for exploring that connection again.

How are you with forgiveness — needing to forgive, resisting forgiveness, knowing how to forgive — in your life?

Here's the poem that sparked a twenty-year retrospective that, for me, is oh-so-timely today. I hope it's a pleasure for you.


pulls you out of the muck with a pop
sets you on your feet here
where the ground is sturdy
and the footing's firm
turns you around to face the
dawn-rising horizon
brushes you down, proclaims you
good as new
sends you on your way
with a scarlet smudge on your sacrum
and a turkey sandwich on rye
and a note safely pinned to your lapel:
moving forward

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Finding Blessings in the Crazy

I was invited to guest minister at the Goddess Temple of Orange County in southern California the morning of Sunday, November 23, on the theme of "Our Blessings" and on that very day, my husband, Roy, and I were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and renewing our vows before our beloved feline Mother, Sekhmet.  I thought I'd share with you the message I delivered to those gathered:

I know sometimes it doesn’t always feel like it, but we are so lucky, we have so many blessings, and none of them have to do with money, though that’s what our culture would have us believe is one of the things that count most -  but truly, does having wealth bring us love?  No, certainly not. 

Does having money help us grow as better human beings?  Not always.  Sometimes I think not having wealth is more of a blessing.  Out of necessity, we have to learn to connect and interact with each other because we depend on each other so much more. 

So I’m here today, with Thanksgiving around the corner, to suggest we each peer into the window of our life as if we were standing before a department store window.  Take stock and I bet you’ll  marvel at all there is inside the “store that is our life” because I think sometimes there is so much clutter inside we stop seeing the blessings.  And it looks different for each of us, just as every storefront we walk past in the mall has different and wonderful things within.  Our blessings are all so diverse. 

But there are blessings many of us  have in common, too.

We are so blessed to live in a blue state and not be at risk of vaginal probes, personhood amendments, and loss of control of our reproductive health.  We are so blessed to have this brick and mortar temple where we can gather to express the oldest religion on the planet - without fear.  We are so lucky to have such a brave, dedicated and talented community, like so many of you here, including Ava and the women and men who keep this temple thriving.  We are so lucky for the internet and clean water and advanced medicine.  It’s easy to forget everyone doesn’t have that.  We are blessed we aren’t forced to kill our girl children at birth because we can’t afford their dowry later in life.  We are blessed because we can vote, although too many of us don’t.  We can disobey male authority without paying a price.  But we forget so many of these things.  We’re human and we kind of take them for granted sometimes.

But as you put your nose on the glass of your own storefront - and I hope you will - to peruse all the goodness inside,  I hope you’ll also be courageous enough to lift the lid of your challenges, disappointment and pain because I’ll bet there are blessings there too.  I know Roy’s heart attack made him start to take his health more seriously.  My mother’s death helped me deepen my ability to forgive.  And sometimes it’s the bullies in life that teach us the most about who we are and what we’re made of.

And don’t overlook the little blessings that make us smile.  See the blessing in the brave little hummingbird at the bird feeder, the beautiful and perfect roses in the garden, or the smell of bacon in the morning.  Myself, I cherish that fleeting moment  between being sleep and fully awake, feeling the cool sheets in the dim light of morning.  Maybe your cat is sleeping next to you and you feel the softness of her fur as you hear the alarm go off and there’s beautiful music on the radio.  Don’t overlook either sweet  memories or your feisty friends who challenge your thinking and help you grow. 

I know I feel blessed and Roy does too, that so many of you drove all this way so early in the morning to be here today with us.  You too are our blessings and we love you.  Thank you for being in our lives. 

So this week and as often as you can, try to take inventory of your blessings like a good shopkeeper so you know the value of all the assets in the store of your life. Be sure you look in all the nooks and crannies.  We can really find the blessings in the craziest and most unexpected places as I was reminded recently.

You see this “scholar” had blown me off because he saw me as a disillusioned advocate of Marija Gimbutas theories, but we talked, and talked - and to my surprise he’s offered me a private showing of the valuable artifacts within his goddess collection.  Dare I hold out hope that crack in the door will swing wide enough for him to fully embrace Gimbutas herstory?  Who knows.  We shall see. 

So think about that next week when Uncle George who parrots Fox News is talking crazy round the Thanksgiving dinner table.  As he goes on and on setting your hair on fire next week, making you choke on the green bean casserole,  maybe he’s helping you grow patience and tolerance.  Who knows, you might even find a kernel of truth in all the crazy that can lead you toward bridging the gap.  We can really find blessings in the craziest and most unexpected places sometimes

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  • Linette
    Linette says #
    Well, this one hit me on the head with a hammer! Duh... Reason being that my boyfriend is the manager of a store and "inventory"

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Power to Forgive

I had so many things to be angry about.  So many people had wronged me, from my biological father who molested me, to my beloved grandmother who’d bailed him out of jail and brought him home to live with me after he shot my mother in the head, to my mother who taught me that I was worthless and unlovable, to the so-called friends who had used and betrayed me over and over.

They wronged me.  They hurt me.  They deserved to suffer for what they did to me.  How could I possibly forgive them, especially if they were not even pretending to be sorry?

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  • Me
    Me says #
    Hi, Ashley. Thank you for writing with both skill and vulnerability about the power of forgiveness. This is something that needs t
  • Me
    Me says #
    *From my review here:
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thank you, Jason! I will have to check out that book. ((HUGS)) Ashley Rae

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Keeping Calm v. Carrying On

The other day I was gifted with the opportunity to practice what I preach.

I received a shock that left me hurt, angry, and more than a bit anxious.  My tummy churned, my breathing became shallow, and I slipped into negative thinking – angry thoughts towards myself and others, fearful thoughts about finances, dark humor.

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  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thank you, Alianna! My main goal with my blog is to give practical examples and suggestions to make it easier for my readers to s
  • Alay'nya
    Alay'nya says #
    Dear Ashley - Really, REALLY, REALLY GOOD. We all need continued encouragement and practical examples of how to shift when we'

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Building BridgesTwenty years ago, there was no Pagan community to speak of in the Okanagan Valley.  My sister in spirit Rowean met a girl named Unruhe, and they started talking about forming a Yahoogroup for Pagans in the Okanagan.  Rowean had come from Prince George, where a couple who had been trained by the Wiccan Church of Canada in Ontario had opened a shop and formed a community years ago; and Unruhe had moved up from the Coast, where there was a very large and established Pagan community; and they missed it.  I was a solitary from the time I was 14 years old and the idea of connecting with other Pagans appealed to me.  I knew a few others from the Society for Creative Anachronism and so I encouraged Rowean to call Unruhe up.  We met in a coffee shop - I think a Tim Horton's, but don't quote me on that - and discussed the idea.  Unruhe and her friend Perchta formed the Yahoogroup, I was the third person on it and Rowean was the fourth.  We decided to meet for Sabbats and the first ritual was at my place, led by a Celtic Witch named Havoc.

Over time, the group split over the typical ideological differences that split Pagan communities, compounded by the fact that most of us went through the stuff that I would now, as a Witch, refer to as "Second Degree ego issues," all at the same time.  There were hard feelings and bad blood.  Some people bowed out of the community for a long time.  Some spread rumours about other groups.  Some bowed out entirely and disappeared.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Sable Aradia, Thanks for sharing! Praise the Goddesses and Gods, that your community came together in such an awesome way.

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