Thursday, December 23, 2010

Welcoming the Light: Reflections on Solstice and Christmas

I spent the beginning of the week baking Solstice bread in celebration of the birth of the sun. I made three loaves: one for my dear friend/yoga teacher/doula, Lisa, one for St. Peter's UCC's Solstice celebration, and one for my family to eat on Wednesday morning as we welcomed the sun.

On Monday night as I left my yoga class, I was showered with some of the most beautiful snowflakes. It was almost like an early Solstice gift from the Great Mother herself, and so I accepted Her gift, arms open wide, head tilted back, and mouth open with my tongue out, enjoying the moment with childlike wonder, and thanking my Mother for her own organic version of snow cream.

On Tuesday, I had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Solstice with many women from St. Peter's UCC. It was a beautiful service of connection with one another and with the Mother as we listened to the heartbeat of the drum and remembered the darkness of the womb. And at home, I knew that my husband and children were having their own Solstice celebration, embracing the darkness in their own way, and preparing for the birth of the sun.

On Wednesday morning, my family awoke rejoicing in the birth of the Sun. We ate our Solstice bread and shared our dreams. Isa said she dreamed of more stars...stars which remind us of another great light that we celebrate at this time of the year. 

And so it occurred to me that it is appropriate that Solstice and Christmas are celebrated so close together, because in both cases, we are celebrating birth, and welcoming light into the world. At Solstice, we remember the womb of the Great Mother, and celebrate the hope of the birth of the Sun. And at Christmas, we remember the womb of the Mother Mary, who is in her own way a representation of the Great Mother, who carried and gave birth to a great Light...a hope for the world. In both of these celebrations, the Mother is celebrated, for it is through her that hope is born.

 Love and light this holiday season and always.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lessons from the Goddess in Unexpected Places

A couple of days ago my 4 year old daughter had a Halloween parade at her preschool. She was a princess (and her nearly 3 month old brother a frog). Later that day, I looked at the dress she had worn (because she had ripped a piece of the hem during her day at school), and I had to take a second look, because I could hardly believe what I was seeing...or should I say WHOM I was seeing. I had seen this image before. There She was...a symbol of the Goddess...on my daughter's princess dress. I couldn't help but chuckle at this...the Goddess on a little girl's princess dress...what are the chances?

Today, I looked at the wallpaper on my computer screen, and read these words:
Hail Lady
Your presence is constant 
and ever-changing.
In birth and growth
In maturity and harvest
In aging and dying
In and in between worlds and lives
As the wheel turns your presence is
constant and ever-changing.
Blessed be.

"As the wheel turns, your presence is constant and ever-changing..." Why should it surprise me that She would appear on a little girl's princess dress? She is everywhere and in everything, through all stages of life, from the youngest to the oldest and everywhere in between. And all the better if she wants to make Her presence visible on my daughter's Halloween costume. What a wonderful opportunity to remind my daughter of the meaning behind Halloween (also called Samhain in our household)...that the Goddess is with us now, and just as She is with our ancestors, She will also be with us as we pass from this life into the next. Her "presence is constant and ever-changing." Blessed be.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

From Earth I have come and to Earth I will return...

I have long thought that my element is earth. I began collecting rocks when I was about 2 years old. There is just something about holding a rock in my hand or viewing them in a collection (which I have all over my house). Also, a few years ago I had this unstoppable longing to get my hands (quite literally) dirty in clay or dirt or whatever I could "get my hands on." (This was part of why I ended up leaving social work in pursuit of yoga and massage therapy. I needed the "hands on" experience rather than working only with the head.) It was also around that time that I planted my first garden, and that I experienced my first recognizable image of the Goddess, which I later identified as Gaia, the Earth Goddess. And along the way, my spiritual journey has also led me to more earth-centered traditions.

I have long thought that my element is earth, but I never bothered to research to find out if I was correct in my assumption...until today. Today, I discovered that I am indeed connected with the Earth element.

What I also discovered from my research is that the earth element is associated with percussion instruments (like the heartbeat), with browns and greens (my favorite colors), and with feminine energy. In the past year, I have been drawn to chanting and drumming (although, I, myself have not learned to drum), and the sound of the heartbeat in the pounding of the drum...the connection with the Great Mother, Mama Gaia, as our heartbeats beat as one.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to visit my in-laws in their home in Kentucky where they live on many many acres with fields and trees and mountains all around them. While I was there, I was, quite literally, in my element. One of my favorite experiences during this trip was sitting out on the front porch with my daughter and niece, looking at the full moon, and singing to Her..."Grandmother Moon shining in the night...shining in her fullness...Ancient mysteries of Mother, Maid, and Crone..." I like to think that my earth element niece and my water element daughter (no doubt moved by the moon more intensely than the other elements) will remember this experience, too, and will hold onto the knowledge that we have come from the Earth, that She holds us in her arms as we live and grow, and that we will return to Her.

"Mother I feel you under my feet. Mother I hear your heartbeat..." -- Alice Di Micele "Mother I Feel You" (from album "Circle of Women")

(On a side note, another interesting thing that I learned in my elemental research is that while I am earth, my daughter is water, my husband is air, and my son is fire. Together we make a complete circle of the elements. "May the circle be open, but unbroken. May the love of the Goddess be ever in your heart. Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.")

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Divine Yogini

I attended a yoga class tonight. I frequently feel the presence of the Divine when I am doing yoga. There is an energy in the room that is often tangible to me, like someone is brushing my hand as I move from pose to pose. Tonight I heard Her speak to me during savasana (relaxation). There is often an affirmation that stands out to me more than the others, and I believe it is a way of the Goddess communicating to me what I need to hear or what She wants me to hear. And so tonight, She spoke these words through my instructor: "Feel yourself shift from doing into being."

When I sat up from savasana, the image in front of me nearly brought me to tears. With the lights dimmed and the candles lit, there she was, seated before me, a larger than life shadow of the Goddess, seated like the Goddess, Tara (the feminine counterpart of the bodhisattva).
I could rationalize the image before me, and say that it was simply the shadow of my instructor on the wall (as I know it literally was), but the image was there. She was seated before me, and then She bowed to me, and I to her as we spoke the word "Namaste" to one another..."The Divine in me sees the Divine in you.

"Feel yourself shifting from doing into being"...from practicing the movements of yoga into becoming one with the Divine. "The Divine in me sees the Divine in you."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sage Wisdom from Small Voices

It's amazing how my 4 (almost 5) year old daughter can be a handful of drama, a little clown, and a wise sage all in one little package. Like all children, she has her moments where she tests my patience, and yet there are other moments (one might even call them holy moments - not that all the other moments aren't in their own way "holy"), where she imparts wisdom beyond her years.

Today, she brought over to me a small rock which she held in her hand, and said, "This came from water from the God of Heaven. Help it grow. It's part of nature." And then she went into the other room where I heard her imparting more wisdom to any who would listen, "Nature is everything that grows...Everything comes from God....and I came from Life...From the Goddess everything grows. I am Isa, the goddess..."

Later, she walked over to me with water on her hand. Not knowing the purpose of the water, I wiped it off her hand, and she said, "Hey! That was my power!" (I couldn't help but chuckle.) Then she went back and got some more water on her hands, and came in and splashed it on me. I asked her, "Are you giving me some of your power?...or am i remembering my baptism?" to which she answered, "Yes." Perhaps the wisdom in this action was that her "power" was her baptism...her connection to the Divine, and she willingly shares this with any who will receive it whether through water, words, or actions.

One might be quick to discount this as a child's game or imagination, but when such wisdom comes from a child, I try to listen. And it makes me wonder...Am I in the presence of the Divine Feminine? Is She speaking to me through my child? Indeed, I am in Her presence. I always have been, and I always will be. And She speaks to me in ways large and small...She always has, and I hope She always will.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Encounters with the Goddess

I'm reading a book (edited by Cristina Biaggi) entitled In the Footsteps of the Goddess: Personal Stories. As the title indicates, it is a book of personal stories of encounters with the Goddess (or the Divine Feminine). One woman, Beth Hensperger, told a story about an experience she had with the Goddess as a child, and in her story she explained about a dream she had with a vision of a feminine divine presence and how later in life she saw the same image in a depiction of the Goddess. Upon reflecting on this experience from childhood, she said, "If there is an internal knowledge of the Goddess that is passed through women, the Queen of Heaven lives within me." This story (and many others in the book) have caused me to reflect back on my own experiences with the Goddess, and how she has made herself present to me throughout my life...even when I wasn't looking.

When I was a child (I'm guessing that I was somewhere between the ages of 9 - 12 years old), I remember distinctly playing with some wax that had dripped from a candle. The size of the ball of wax was probably no larger than a silver dollar, and I was rubbing it with my fingers, not trying to form anything in particular....but there She was. After a while, I stopped and I looked at the form in my hand. My fingers had unconsciously formed the wax into an image that I recognized as the Madonna and Child. I remember the knowledge that this image was somehow significant, and yet at the same time (being a young southern baptist girl) feeling a sense of shame in forming this "idolatrous" image in my hand. I was holding Her in my hand, just as She held me in her arms.

Just a few years ago, a year or so after my first child was born, I woke with an image in my mind, so I drew it on paper (over and over again). It was an image of a woman with a pregnant belly, and her belly was the earth. It was not until some months (or maybe even over a year) later that I came across an image of Gaia...the Goddess pregnant with the earth. There She was again...making herself known to me.

On a recent trip to NC, while driving in the car, I looked around me, and saw on either side, a mountain that had been cut in two in order to put in a road, and I felt an internal pain, and was aware, having had my second c-section only 6 weeks prior, that it was not unlike a lingering pain associated with being cut open...and I wondered if that must be how She felt when the mountain was split open to build a highway, and I apologized for the selfishness of humanity, that cut open the earth of her belly without asking.

At bedtime, we give our daughter (now 4 1/2 years old) the opportunity to pray, and we ask her "Do you want to pray to God, Goddess, or Jesus?" One day she said, "I want to pray to Mary." Chad and I both looked at each other with questioning looks and said, "Okay." We still do not know where she got the idea of praying to Mary, but as I hear her pray to Mary, and sing of walking with the Goddess, Mary, and Jesus, I am reminded of my childhood experience with the wax Madonna and Child, and wonder if indeed, as Beth Hensperger wrote, "if there is an internal knowledge of the Goddess that is passed through women."

Journeying with the Divine Feminine

The image of the spiral is one that is connected to the image of the Divine Feminine or the Goddess. Over the past few years I have been on a journey to discover the Divine Feminine and what that means in my life. So that's what this blog will be about...posting stories and encounters that I have with the Divine Feminine. It is my hope that this blog, like my journey, will spiral me (and anyone who wants to join me on the journey) upward toward the discovery of the Divine Feminine. And I will admit that perhaps "spiraling upward" isn't the right phrase, because perhaps the spiral is really inward or outward or in a whole other direction that is unexpected (and maybe I'll change the name of my blog later to reflect that).
I am not typically a very consistent blogger, but I will put forth my best effort, and it is also my hope that by having a blog dedicated to this journey that I will be more intentionally aware of Her presence in my daily life.