Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gift of the Earth

I have shared in the past about the start of my journey toward discovering the Divine Feminine. I'm going to recap some of that, and then share with you where this journey is leading me now. 

It all started about 7 years ago when I was reading a book by Sue Monk Kidd, "Dance of the Dissident Daughter." In the book, Sue asks the reader to draw what the Divine Feminine looks like to us. So on a small piece of paper, I sketched out the image of someone with no hair and no facial features, seated in lotus pose with a pregnant Earth belly. It was a couple of years later I came across the image of Gaia. I had never before seen this image, but it was the image I had drawn when I was first discovering the Divine Feminine in my life. I have always been connected to the Earth, and this was yet another manifestation of that in my life. Through these past few years my journey with the Earth has ebbed and flowed and some days I've felt more connected than others, but in the past year I've gradually been coming back to it…or perhaps we have been moving closer to one another, and even more recently I have found one thing after another drawing me more and more closely on that journey to connecting with the Earth.

At the start of the season of Lent, we are reminded through the administering of the ashes, that we come from the earth and we return to the earth. And so perhaps it is fitting that so much of this reconnecting with the earth has come together in such profound ways during this Lenten season. About a week or so ago in my OA meeting (In January, I joined Overeaters Anonymous - which is another journey altogether, but not without it's connections), I told my group that my Higher Power is manifested through my connection with Earth and the interconnectedness with one another through the Earth….and that if I look to the Earth when I make my choices about food, if I take my nourishment directly from the Earth, I will get all I need. Well, It was right around that time that a friend had started talking with me about essential oils (which is something I've always loved, but hadn't done a lot of research into using them beyond massage). The company she works with is called doTerra, which means "gift of the Earth." Wow! "gift of the Earth?" Really?! It was like the Universe was grabbing me by the shoulders and saying, "Hello Shannon, Here I am. What are you going to do?!"

So with all signs pointing toward connecting with the Earth and through the Earth, I have signed on to be an Independent Product Consultant with doTerra, because I believe that my Higher Power has guided me there. I believe that mind, body, and spiritual healing is a gift of the Earth. (FYI: I have attached my doTerra website below, and please feel free to contact me with any questions about the oils or the company.)

I wish you all happiness and health always! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In the Wings of the Mother

The celebration of Beltane was just yesterday...May 1st. It is a celebration of all of life: plants, animals, and humans. The birds have built their nests in trees and many babies are just being born.

This morning, as I walked my dog, Abby, I noticed a nest toppled to the ground in my yard. As I looked around, I saw a baby bird (probably just born yesterday or the day before) lying broken in the grass...and then I saw another, and another, and another....There must have been four or five baby birds broken and bruised, lying in the grass. Some were obviously gone, but there was one that I carefully and lovingly checked on, gently nudging it with my finger. Only when I saw a slight movement, I gently picked up the tiny bird and carefully rubbed it's little back....another tiny movement, but so very strained and struggled. I was torn between wanting to take care of the baby myself and letting it's mother do her work, whether in healing or in grieving. Ultimately, I picked up the bird and placed it in it's nest on a low branch of the tree.

As I was taking care of these babies, in the tree branch above my head I heard a mourning song from who I can only assume was their mama.

As I thought about burying the baby birds, it occurred to me that perhaps a part of the grief process of the birds is in knowing that when one of them falls, she gives her life back to the insects and the earth that provides her food during her life. It is the cycle of life...the way of life and death...and perhaps even a part of the healing process of animals. Because of this, I thought I might not bury them at all, because the decision of how these babies are "buried" is not mine to make since they are not my babies...but they are mine. I don't mean this in the sense that I am their biological mother. Obviously, I'm not. They are birds and I am human. Rather, because we area all interconnected, it is the responsibility of all living beings to care for one another, especially in times of need. These baby birds belong to their mother and they belong to me and to you and to the earth and all that crawls on the earth and within the earth....and they belong to the Great Mother.

Great Mother, take these babies under your protective wings...and hold their Mother safe in your arms as she grieves the loss of her babies.

 "Fur and Feathers and scales and skin, different without but the same within. Many a body but one the soul, by all creatures are the Gods made whole." --Patricia Taylor ("Fur and Feathers and Scales and Skin")

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn Lessons in the Leaves

It's been a while since I last posted. It's not for lack of encounters with the Goddess. She's always present, making Herself known in both small and not so small ways. I have simply neglected writing about my encounters with Her over the past year. But there's just something about the season of autumn. I think it's quickly becoming my favorite season. It is almost like my internal new year. I seem to recharge with the swirling leaves. Having an affinity for the earth, spring and fall are definitely my favorite seasons. In the spring we dig into the earth to plant. Sometimes in autumn we even dig into the earth to plant bulbs which will emerge, bursting with life through the earth in the spring, but I think what I like most about autumn is that the earth literally changes before our very eyes, blazing with colors and dancing in the wind, almost as if she is daring us not to notice.

This year I began running, and I have found that I truly prefer to run among natural surroundings rather than on a treadmill. Running during this golden season of change has proved to be my favorite so far. On a recent run at a park as I was running around a pond I noticed the wind swirling, blowing the leaves in spiral circles, sometimes around me or in front of me and other times just barely missing my face. It was almost as though my run was part of a spiral dance among the golden leaves upon which I tread. (It reminded me of lyrics from the song "Lady Moon" by Kellianna: "Strange winds blew, leaves floating around me. Change winds blew. It changed me that night. Something so deep, so deep down inside me. My life for you, your daughter am I.") The air and earth elements danced around me and through me, begging me to join in their dance, and encouraging me on in my run with their playfulness. There were times on my run when I would get tired, and a gust of wind would blow in my face like a splash of cold water. Other times, the wind blew at my back, pushing me onward, or it blew against me challenging me to run harder to push through it's strength in order to make me stronger. Observing these wonders of nature, I smiled at my Mother's sense of humor and at the beauty that She has created, and I also paused to think of the lesson of impermanence that She teaches through the seasons. ("Spirit speaks in rustling leaves." --Kellianna, "Serpent Mound")

It's rather appropriate that All Hallows Eve (Samhain) and All Saints Day are celebrated in the season of autumn, because it is perhaps in the season of autumn that we are most reminded of the lesson of impermanence. All things (and people) pass. As the leaves change into vibrant colors in the fall, we know that they will soon fall from the trees, and that before long the trees will be bare for what usually seems like a never ending winter, as we wait for that first bud of spring. So it is with all things. Autumn is the advent of winter. It is a beautiful reminder that all things fade. Birth, life, death. The cycle of life. The cycle of the seasons. The cycle of the moon....

Some believe that life continues even after death, whether in another world or in another life. Perhaps that is a sense of hope in the midst of impermanence. We know that eventually life will bloom again. We will see that first green blade of grass or daffodil coming up through the grey winter earth. Babies are born, continuing the cycle of life. The moon emerges one sliver at a time until she shines full and bright again. The cycle continues. And through it all, there is yet another certain hope...our Mother, our Divine Creator, is present through the playfulness, through the challenges, the doubts and uncertainties, and through the hope. She walks with us through every season and surrounds us with her presence every step of the way.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Goddess Thealogy in a Trinitarian Tradition: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Goddess the Holy Spirit, Maiden, Mother, and Crone

I've been thinking lately about the Goddess in relation to the Trinity. I think perhaps because Goddess thealogy for some reason or another tends to get excluded from most Christian traditions, and given that my family is rooted in a Christian tradition, I have been thinking of ways that the Goddess really is already present in that tradition. It occurred to me that the Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father and Son are fairly clearly defined in the Christian traditions, but what is this Holy Spirit? It is very mystical and mysterious. It is described as wind or breath (air element). It is almost vapor-like, something that can move within and without, or at times it is described as a fire (fire element). What I have come to believe is that the Holy Spirit is the Goddess.

We really don't hear much in the Bible about this Holy Spirit. I mean, there was that bit in Acts where the Holy Spirit mixed up people's speech, confusing people and causing rumors of drunkenness (and I know there were more instances, but in all fairness God and Jesus did get a bit more attention in the Christian Scriptures). And it seems to me that very much like the confusion in Acts, Christians are generally speaking quite confused by the Goddess. Most Christians don't quite know what to do with Her. And so rather than trying to understand one another's [theological] language, rather than trying to actually come to terms with a feminine aspect of the Divine, we place a "Spirit" label on Her, though we are careful not to actually refer to the Holy Spirit in feminine terms. No, it is "God the Father, God the Son, and GOD the Holy Spirit." Never do we hear "Goddess the Holy Spirit." In fact, when someone dares to invoke the Goddess, people become uncomfortable because it sounds like idolatry....like one is invoking a separate deity. However, if the Trinity is 3 in 1, then why can't the Goddess simply be a part of that Divine Being. That is exactly what I tell my daughter.

My five year old daughter has noticed on more than one occasion that most people don't understand the Goddess. I think most of us would say the same about the Trinity. In fact, I've had to explain to my daughter also that when we talk about God and Goddess, they are not separate, but rather different parts of the same Divine Being. I don't think she really understands this. Most of us don't get the Trinity, so why should a five year old? But I figure that for now the best I can do as a parent is to introduce her to all three parts of the Trinity, and so most every night before I tuck my daughter in to bed we pray. I always begin by asking her if she'd like to pray to God, Goddess, or Jesus. In this way, she can connect in her own five year old way to particular varying aspects of the Divine rather than through one (typically masculine) name alone.

There is a symbol that is used in both Christian circles as well as in "pagan" circles. It is a triquetra. In Christian circles, it symbolizes the Trinity. In "pagan" circles, and in its Celtic originality, it symbolizes a different trinity, that of the feminine life cycle of maiden, mother, and crone. This life cycle can be seen in the seasons. It can be seen in the waxing and waning of the moon cycles. It can be seen in life herself. I believe both aspects of it's symbolism are relevant. With Goddess recognized as the Holy Spirit, we are also free to recognize the beauty in the cycles all around us. They are cycles created and moved by the Divine Herself, so why label one symbol as Christian and another as pagan? Why not recognize the divinity in both Trinities? Why not recognize the unity in both Trinities?

God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Goddess the Holy Spirit, Maiden, Mother, and Crone be with you now and always. Amen.

Surrounded by the elements, Surrounded by the Goddess

My family and I moved about 2 1/2 weeks ago. Moving always has it's own challenges, but I must say that this move comes with it's own freshness as well. We moved from an urban setting to a rural setting (though only 15 minutes from the city). With these new surroundings I am feeling a renewed connection to Mother Earth and the oneness between us.

I am quite literally surrounded by all of the elements: earth, air, fire, water. When I step out onto my back porch, all around our back yard (and side yard, and front yard) are trees (earth), which are absolutely gorgeous with their flaming reds and oranges this time of year. The wind (air) blows these changing leaves about and brushes past my cheek as though the Mother is giving me a kiss or whispering loving words in my ear. We used our fire pit (fire) for the first time last weekend as we had family over and roasted veggie dogs. We also have a pond (water) inhabited by fish (put there for fishing, but they are safe as long as we live here) who love when we bring treats of bread for them to eat.

The Goddess can be found inside our house as well. Ironically as I was taking my 5 year old daughter through the house, she noticed the spirals the previous residents had painted in the walls and doors of the bathroom, and she said, "Look! It's the Goddess! Someone else must know about her too!" We also have 2 fireplaces, a hearth for the family altar (we just need a statue of Brigid), which we really missed having in our prior home.

We look forward to celebrating the changes brought by each new season, watching the transformation of the elements surrounding us, and watching as we are transformed by their presence, and by the presence of the Goddess through our own elemental natures.

Earth my body.
Water my blood.
Air my breath.
Fire my spirit.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Akhilandeshvari: The Never Not Broken Goddess

I know so many people right now going through hard changes/transitions and journeys in their lives....a friend battling cancer, friends confronting infertility, other starting new chapters in their lives through new relationships or new jobs or new locations. I, myself, am in the midst of major changes in my life. My daughter is preparing to begin kindergarten. My husband is preparing to change jobs, which will mean a move sometime in the coming months. And with our move, I will have to pack up my own yoga and massage business and move too, being unemployed for a time while reestablishing myself and my clientele in a new community.

In the midst of change or transitions, there is a part of us that wants to run screaming in the opposite direction or plant our feet firmly and say, "No! You can't make me!" And yet while change can be terrifying, it can also be exciting and rewarding, and as my wise sage of a hairstylist told me, "When there is change, there are infinite possibilities. It is only when you take away the prospect for change that those possibilities cease" (or something along those lines...she probably said it much more eloquently than I can recall). It's so easy to get comfortable in our lives. But is comfort what it is really all about? Is comfort what we really need? Perhaps it is when we get too comfortable that the Goddess reminds us about all the other possibilities and exciting opportunities that are available if only we will get out of our comfort zone...If only we will ride the wave of fear that holds us back from all that is beyond.

Apparently the Goddess knows what it feels like to ride the terrifying waves of change, because I recently discovered Her in the form of the Hindu Goddess, Akhilandeshvari. (Here is the article where I discovered Her.) Her name quite literally means "never not broken goddess," and She is my new shero. She is not weak in her brokeness; rather, She renews Herself over and over again through brokeness, ridding Herself of the things that keep Her comfortable or stuck from moving on to other more rewarding and limitless possibilities. And that is what Akhilandeshvari offers us in the midst of our own fear of change....the possibility of the power of starting over, of embracing the change, and embracing the infinite possibilities that come along with change.

Akhilandeshvari does not promise an easy transition. Rather, it is the journey through that makes us stronger. She, herself, is seen riding on the back of a crocodile, symbolic of the fear often attached to change. The crocodile spins it's prey, wildly thrashing about, even disorienting it's prey. Likewise, on the path of change we may sometimes feel disoriented, even thrashed about as though we are spinning wildly out of control.

Even so, there is hope. We are not alone. Our Divine Mother is riding the crocodile with us, and we will make it through. And know this...when we make it through, we will not come out the same on the other side. We regenerate through change. Like a salamander who, when trapped, lets go of its tail and grows a new one, we will be different. And because of our renewed self, we will have a whole new life of endless possibilities ahead of us....until the next time we face change, and then we will do it all over again. Just like the Goddess, Akhilandeshvari, we are "never not broken," and as such the possibilities are limitless.

Monday, March 14, 2011

She is not dead...She is rising.

Today as my daughter and I were coming home from her preschool, our road was blocked by a truck that was cutting down and hauling off a tree. My five year old daughter, budding environmentalist that she is, was quite disturbed by this image. I tried to explain to her that it was very likely that the tree was either sick or had been hurt in a recent storm. Even so, with sadness she said, "The Goddess is in the tree. The Goddess is dead." I then reminded her that the Goddess is in everything...She is not dead because the tree is dead; rather, She lives in the mulch that the tree will become and She lives in us and in all that is around us.

The Goddess is present as Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Perhaps it is the Crone Goddess that lives within that tree, walking with it from this life (form) to the next. She is the same Goddess who lives in the darkness of the new moon. However, just as the moon slowly reveals herself until finally shining in her fullness, so too, if we look around us, we will see the evidence of the Goddess in her other forms of Maiden and Mother as the earth buds in anticipation of the new life of spring and the harvests of summer and fall.

As we celebrate the season of Lent in the Christian calendar, I am reminded of the words that many congregations say on Easter Sunday, "He is not dead. He is risen. Christ is risen indeed." And in remembrance of those words, I say the same regarding the Goddess...She is not dead, She is rising. Out of the dormancy of winter, She is rising. In the midst of destruction, She is rising. She is rising indeed.