Living on a Fault Line
Oya dances at the edges of my life,
slowly shaking and inching her way,
to the core.
I was born at the dark of the Moon;
the infant I was
wore a gown of burnt orange,
fruit too long on the tree.
My number was 9,
sacred to the Great Lady,
so they say.
I eat green grapes,
though drink red wine,
and grew to love eggplant
wrapped in its purple splendor,
I make plum butter,
sweet as the days of late summer,
to lick from the body
of my lover.
I build my life,
piece by piece,
mindfully meditated -
the structure falls apart.
A life without seams
blows to bits in the winds of change
I love the wind;
I ride the storms at sea
Playfully, I shroud my face
in black lace -
they fear me
as they fear the unknown;
This amuses me.
I am an Amazon
with the soul of a Poet
who, gazing into the Seer’s pool,
spills her own secrets.....
The ground shakes under my feet.
Jessica North-O’Connell, (c) October 14, 2000
Metaphysical Musings: On Green Men, Camels, Sacred Trees and The Abyss
Okay, kids, go brush up on your Kabbalah/Qabala studies. You never know when you’re likely to meet another Spirit Guide or even a Goddess, eh?
So, I was exiting the Akashic Records after a session the other day when I encountered a big, beautiful, muscular green man with sleek black hair and kind eyes.
When I asked him who he was, as I’ve never before met anyone who looked like him in the Records before (or out of them, for that matter!), he replied that he is “the Spirit of the Abyss.”
As I looked around, I realized that he and I were on a great, long “road” above a seemingly bottomless depth of darkness, rather than the carpeted aisle leading out of the Records to which I am accustomed.
As I personally experience the Akashic Records as a “sky full of stars,” I have to admit to not being really surprised – after all, we do occasionally refer to the cosmos as the Abyss of Space…
The Spirit and I had a brief exchange of “good feelings” - from my perspective, at least. He had no particular message for me but I definitely got the impression that we would be seeing more of each other. Green, I thought, that was interesting…
The Abyss, on the Kabbalah’s Asherah (Tree of Life), spans the distance on the Middle Pillar between the Sephiroth Tiphareth and Keter. Legend maintains that there is a hidden Sephira called Da’ath (Knowledge). The Path itself, which connects Tiphareth to Keter, places Tarot Card 2 (The High Priestess) on this Path, according to the Qabala of the Western Mystery Tradition (from which many of our magical practices are descended). The Path is called Gimel (the Camel).
Considering the popular conception of the camel as a beast of burden, able to cross vast expanses of desert without needing food nor drink, I discern that we are in for some interesting times ahead! I also note, however, that we are equipped and equal to the Journey; we have our nourishment, our intuition and, most of all, our collective Memory - access to “what has been,” and where to locate the information about it.
Always remembering that the Priestess is forever in service to the Divine and so is ineffably connected to Source, I’d say this period is one of envisioning new paradigms while being fully cognizant of the ones to which we have previously been beholden.
The evening after my Spirit of the Abyss encounter, I was letting the dog out of the car for a walk when movement overhead attracted my eye. Looking up, I caught sight of a big shooting star, green in color, with a copper train – what a treat to witness this before it winked out on hitting Earth’s atmosphere, with the backdrop of the starry sky! “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…”
Wise words from a popular song of my childhood.
Green and Copper – the color and metal associated with the Lady in her guise as Venus…
Goddess For Tomorrow: Goddess Ideology and the Path From Here
Originally written as a submission to an Anthology.
At the close of the last millennium, I was actively involved in a project to bring visual representations of Goddess into greater focus. I was newly married, for the second time, and we’d just bought a house away from the city of Victoria, my husband’s hometown and where I’d lived for the previous sixteen years, raising my family as a single parent. I was also pregnant with our first child.
The Goddess 2000 Project was the brainchild of artist Abby Willowroot and the Project’s reach was global – 24 hours of Ritual in honor of the Divine Feminine, and the “return” of her images to public view. The Project had been almost a year in the planning.
I have been playing in the field of the Feminine Divine since I first discovered her at the age on nine. In 1983, at thirty-one, arriving at my new home on Vancouver Island, I felt I’d been given instructions to “bring awareness of the Divine Feminine to the greater world.”
My view of Goddess is probably best represented by Shakti, the Hindu interpretation of the moving force behind the actualized realms. From my first acquaintance with her, Goddess had represented the myriad aspects of Woman, as well as the essence of the sacred Feminine expression of a larger universe, mirroring both women and men alike. “She of 10,000 Names” (though now it is more like 10 billion names) is the affirmation of our inherent creativity, mother of the actualized realms, the word - or logos - made visible. We are her, and all that we know, perceive and suspect about the nature of reality is the evidence of her existence, for she is immanent, pervading all known creation, as well as that which we might only imagine.
So here I was, after years of talking, presenting and incorporating the many aspects of Goddess into my work, welcoming the city-at-large to a celebration that included not only images, but poetry, incantations, original music and a Spiral dance in her honor – in a way, the culmination of sixteen years of my work.
The venue I had rented was only meant to accommodate seventy-five people. We had pre-sold tickets to ensure we knew where the “cut-off” was. To my complete amazement, not only was there a huge line-up on the night of the event, we ended up cramming ninety people into the space, leaving a number of very disappointed would-be participants to find other ways to honor her on their own. I had printed up a supply of booklets with invocations and the evening’s program, so at least there had been something to give some of them as we sadly sent them away.
That evening, just prior to the event, I miscarried, the second time in nine months.
The Human as Machine
As prime organizer and High Priestess for the event, I felt responsible for serving those who were depending on me to deliver what I had promised, so I set my own feelings aside, “girded my loins,” and got on with things. The event went smoothly and beautifully, despite our cramped quarters. After the public participants left, our team tidied up, offered one another appreciation, and all went home.
I had always thought of the city of Victoria as being under the auspices of the Eastern Goddess of Compassion, Kwan Yin, she who also oversees children. The idea of my simultaneously honoring the Divine Feminine, juxtaposed with such a profound loss gave me sudden insight into our desperate need for compassion toward ourselves.
To our collective detriment, we have pushed ourselves, or allowed ourselves to be herded, too far into the Cartesian behaviors that treat the human being like a machine. Because of centuries of training in the “scientific method,” we run ourselves, and now must learn how to humanize our attitudes again, to treat ourselves like the miraculous beings we actually are. It is only through such respect for ourselves that we can truly learn appropriate ways to treat other people and other life forms on this planet for the short time that we are here.
Modern psychology has indicated that those aspects of our humanity which we refuse to acknowledge or which we suppress, will appear nonetheless, often in a perverted form. Our collective experience of soul loss (a shamanic term for dis-integrity), spiritual deprivation and the devaluing of all life results from the devaluing of women, and by extension, the Earth, arising directly from the suppression of the range of possibilities which Goddess, in her myriad forms, represents.
Human nature still seeks to uphold a force which it deems greater than itself, even if that force is outside the concept of spirituality. For many in North American culture, that force shows up as the drive to acquire money, material goods, status and prestige, at whatever cost to the person, humanity at large, the environment, or the Earth. As the awareness and values of Goddess have been swallowed up by her male progeny, (for indeed it is always the female who births the male), and hence his ideologists, so does her suppressed shadow self, via our collective negations and omissions, threaten to indiscriminately devour our very existence.
When we do not observe and honor her through caring for ourselves - the Divine Feminine of which we are the actual embodiment - our innate, uniquely human senses become disrupted, rendering our lives seemingly senseless or devoid of meaning, and our health suffers on all levels. We become unable to access the profound state of ecstasy – that ability to move out of stagnant or outmoded states - which is our birthright and our responsibility. We are no longer able to find our creative self-expression, to “problem-solve,” nor to envision new paradigms that can carry us forward in more satisfying ways. At least, that is what we come to believe, and that sense of loss of our connection to our creative source becomes a deep wound in the soul.
The Heart that Rejoices
As we collectively begin to awaken and to move beyond such a limited and painful view of the self, it becomes natural to gravitate toward a re-integration of those aspects which we have suppressed or attempted to disown. As we remember and re-access our humanity, we become capable once again of activating our creative potential. This is a primary function of the returning Goddess consciousness.
The simplest, most basic and most radical creative act we can perform is loving self-care; it is also the most challenging. By turning our attention inward and noticing who we are and where we are in the moment, we can begin to assess what it is we need, and determine how we want to feel, instead of expecting to feel “bad” or merely “okay” about ourselves. We can ask ourselves to look at what is driving us, and whether it is in our own best interest to continue down a particular path in a particular way. We can learn to gently put aside that voice which constantly tells us that looking to ourselves first is “selfish,” for we cannot truly serve anyone else if we ourselves are empty, broken or not present in our own lives.
As we embrace Goddess ideologies, and re-acquaint ourselves with her many guises, while allowing more to unfold before us, we become able to re-affirm for ourselves our own expanding plethora of aspects and expressions, some of them uniquely female, and to then facilitate the enlightenment of the equally-beleaguered masculine, encouraging our brothers to access their own inner feminine selves and the implications that reconnection could entail.
As the daughter of a visual artist, and being intimately involved in the arts myself, I consider Art to be the mediating language of the soul, and its purpose that of informing, inspiring, exploring and celebrating the actualized realms of which humanity is an intrinsic part. Through the ages, Goddess as Muse has inspired us to tap the larger body of our creative potential. Art can also be a form of therapy for its originator, depending upon how deeply the creative is moved to explore her or his own inner landscapes. Creatives may also assume the role of psychic messengers by depicting for us the varying configurations of our collective soul.
And whether or not we consider ourselves “artists,” we are, each of us, creative. Creativity is the ground from which we all are formed. When we unbridle ourselves, when we pay attention to ourselves and care for ourselves, this becomes apparent almost immediately, for we finally touch that irrepressible wellspring of joy and become inspired in some way. It is not that life suddenly becomes devoid of suffering, but that our suffering has a chance at transformation, thus giving our lives deeper meaning. A meaningful life is creative by default.
Goddess is immanent, the mirror of our human being-ness. Because of this, our highest acknowledgement and celebration of her must of necessity be the
acknowledgement, care and celebration of ourselves, and the exploration of our creativity, for this is the avenue through which our healing and ultimate enlightenment will occur.
Good morning, Saturday!
Four a.m. The Bitch wouldn’t let me sleep – you know, the one with The Bone, gnawing away at it, “worrying” it.
I used to just turn on the light and read for awhile, occupying my mind with something else until the “gnawing” stopped, but since I’m now sharing the bedroom again, turning on the reading light is out of the question. Going into another room isn’t an option; getting up to go back to bed starts the whole cycle all over again and anyway, there is no couch – it’s a loveseat and it’s also the reason why I’ve been incapacitated with excruciating lower back pain for most of the week; I forgot that I can’t sit on it for any appreciable length of time – mind you, I did get a fair amount of the sorting and filing done during my two-day period of forgetfulness...
And then this morning, after two fruitless hours of trying to get back to sleep and finally admitting defeat, I find a lovely piece from Nick Polizzi (The Sacred Science Team) about self-care. And a list of things to do to increase energy, according to Ayurvedic medicine...yes, I’ve started adding spices to my cooking again; no, I’m not spending “quality time” with anyone right now, except the dog (the cat thinks “quality time” is me keeping her dish filled and her walking all over my sleeping body while purring loudly at 2 a.m.)
I know this stuff intellectually. Heck, I even know this stuff from repeated first-hand experience – so why is it so difficult to understand that the more we take care of our own needs, the more we are able to offer others?
Isn’t that the $64 question?
So here’s your two-week challenge: Make a note of the “nice things” you do for yourself every day (you know, like showering and going to the washroom and sharing “good food” meals with loving family and friends). Then also notice when you override your own needs because you are “too busy” to attend to them. What does that look like in your life? What are you going to do about it?
Got something to share?
Jessica is currently working on her first manuscript of “Goddess’s Little Book of Sacred and Exquisite Self-care.”
Where have you been all my life?
Ever had one of those events you just knew you had to attend? And then something came up and you had to cancel? And then, you got a second chance?? Yessss...
My life is anything but predictable, even though it may look like that on the surface. I’m forever planning on attending things, or participating in things, then have to cancel at the last minute because “something came up.” Comes from “living in the now” that everyone was so keen on recommending a few years ago.
With my current lifestyle, (read: stuck in the woods) I have to be pretty flexible about taking advantage of what comes my way. Most of that is online (yay, Internet! I love you so much for preserving my sanity – or a reasonable facsimile thereof). We’re down to one vehicle and with my limited access to “regular income,” it may be some time before I can remedy that situation. So most of what I do is online, including attending workshops and webinars, participating in Masterminds and creating community with like-minded folk.
But then there’s the other side of life, which includes such practical things as getting groceries and having my eyes checked (they’re improving with age, apparently – who knew??) And sometimes we do require actual face-to-face interaction with other live beings besides the dog and cat. And that’s exactly how I end up missing out on events I really wanted to attend “online!”
I’m so grateful that Andrrea Hess decided to run her introductory webinar about Soul Realignment again! It gave me the opportunity to watch it – and I will say that I had already made the decision to take her course before she even began her pitch! For the first time ever, I heard another person not only using terms I’d learned years before from my own etheric Teachers (my Spirit family, the Belara), but also describing information they had given me as long ago as the 1950s, when I was still a very little girl.
So, what exactly is Soul Realignment? In Andrrea’s own words:
“...Soul Realignment is about helping us understand exactly HOW the human Soul creates its experiences in the physical. It helps us understand why our lives are the way they are. And of course, when we understand what choices got us to this point, we are then empowered through consciousness to make new choices!”
In a nutshell, Soul Realignment reminds us that we are remarkable and powerful beings, choosing to experience and explore free will in the three-dimensional realm. It frees us from the idea of victimhood and allows us to assume our natural state as creative beings.
By accessing the Akashic Records and petitioning the help of the Guides, practitioners assist their clients to clear the blockages and restrictions accumulated through those choices they’ve made, sometimes beyond conscious memory, which no longer serve them. In so doing, clients realign with Divine Source, (or whatever name one chooses to give the generating Consciousness) and become able to use their divine gifts and to rediscover their Soul (or life) purpose so that they can create the lives they want for themselves.
I’ve always been involved in helping others – one way or another – throughout my life. This practice is becoming the pivotal piece in my extensive wellness repertoire. And it doesn’t only benefit others; Andrrea pointed out that simply taking the course and doing the prescribed homework results in profound self-transformation, even if one never takes a client after completing the training! I certainly have seen some deep shifts and changes in my own life since I began this course last March, as though I am “growing into myself,” and one of the remarkable effects of having had my own session is the complete disappearance of the constant anxiety I had experienced for my entire life... until now!
Happy dancing, all the way home…Ω
As some of you may know, I recently discovered the beautiful work of Australian artist and plant aficionado, Cheralyn Darcey (cheralyndarcey.com), and have been passionately pursuing the study of her Flower Reading Cards. While her publisher has requested she hold off teaching the certification course designed to accompany the cards until such time as they become available in North America, I have been spending time each day practicing at least a one-card draw in order to become better acquainted with them. The experience has also inspired me to haul out a French flower deck I bought years ago (early 90s?), also sporting beautiful artwork, and begin reading with them as well. What could be more “natural” and appropriate for an aromatherapist and herbal medicine practitioner? (Even my standard Tarot deck is Michael Tierra and Candis Cantin’s Herbal Tarot.)
With the new season of Spring upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to take a quick peek at what’s in store for the next few months. Along with the Flower Reading Deck and the French Flowers Tarot (though it really isn’t a Tarot deck at all!), I decided to include a one-card draw from another interesting deck called The Sacred Rebels Oracle, with text from the well-known Voice of the Soul channeller, Alana Fairchild, featuring illustrations from Canadian artist (now B.C.’s own) Autumn Skye Morrison.
Flora’s Seasonal Spread
I decided to use a spread recommended by Cheralyn, with a few modifications to allow for the inclusion of extra cards for the other decks.
1) Jade Vine (central card: Communication) - Ah, spring! We’re bursting at the proverbial seams - all that “good stuff” has been gestating and we can’t wait to let it loose in the world. Be advised! In so doing, we give those plans and ideas license to take on a life of their own. That means we have to let go, to a certain extent. Have we nourished them with the best nutrients, done our homework so they have a chance to flourish in the “big world?” Expect lots of interaction with others - new friends, new groups - as these ideas and visions seek out the proper ground in which to embed. It’s the end of a cycle (Nine Universal Year) so things are apt to move quickly, with the desire to attain some completions this season, or at least by year’s end (Oct. 31).
2) Himalayan Blue Poppy (below central: Potential) - Cheralyn says “you have the power to realise your dreams,” though things may suddenly look a little different in the light of increasing possibilities. A good time to put some focus on developing our intuitive abilities as this will help us stay attuned to our overall progress and alert to any divergences or distractions. Also an excellent time to refine our meditation practices.
3) Indian Paintbrush (left of central: Understanding) - There’s always more than on perspective! This is a great time to look at things from a different point of view. Expect some amazing insights into situations or events that may be very “old news” by now but have, nonetheless, some pertinent information to impart. (I just got some valuable insights about a dream I had when I was seven years old!!) Remember to write those down, as they are apt to be fleeting glimpses. Also, go spend time outdoors with the plants and trees.
4) Magnolia (right of central: Wisdom) - Those ideas we sent out into the world come home for a visit. Welcome them back for review, no matter for how short a time. There are some valuable Soul messages here as we move toward Beltane. Those revisited ideas begin a new chapter in their development.
5) Daisy (above central: Protection) - In the greatest sense—the Unseen Realms are ever-ready to lend aid. Call on the Ancestors, Power animals, Totems, Angels, Spirit Guides and/or any other allies now. And don’t forget the “magic words!” (They are “Thank you,” just in case you forgot.)
Helps & Hindrances: drawn from the Flowers “Tarot”
Dill (bottom, far left) - Our plans may be interrupted by having to take a short trip.
Scarlet Pimpernel (bottom, second from left) - We find ourself involved in some family (or extended family) matters. (This may be the cause of the short trip.)
Eryngium (bottom, right of Blue Poppy) - Not only a short journey, but a distant journey may be required or there may be an invitation (or suggestion) to travel.
Box (bottom, far right) - Deep and sincere friendships - whether personal or business. Perhaps a good time to form some “planning alliances” as well, such as Mastermind groups. We go further when we work together.
Sacred Rebel Oracle draw: Relax the Hold of Darkness and Be At Cause: “If the sacred rebel is not awakened, we will continue to live in a culture drenched in fear and distrust of nature. Those without awakened hearts don't yet understand what nature knows - she knows timing, she knows life and death, she knows the creative process, she just knows - and can be trusted to support us, her own creations, in becoming all that we can become…It is your time - leap!”
WELCOME the SEASON of SPRING
Ostara, or Eostre, is a Teutonic Goddess associated with spring and, according to authors Janet and Stewart Farrars, the Maiden aspect of Earth. Some people suggest that the name Ostara is the European form of Ishtar, the Assyro-Babylonian Mother Goddess (her Festival day is April 22) or Astarte, the fertility Goddess of the Canaanites, and it has also been suggested that Eostre is cognate with Eos, Greek goddess of the dawn, which would accommodate her association with daybreak (new beginnings) and the direction of east, home of the rising sun. Her sacred month is Eastremonath, which means “the Moon of Eostre,” another key to the all-pervasive lunar nature of the Lady. Her symbols are the hare (a common symbol of the Goddess in her lunar aspect) and the egg, specifically the red egg as a solar symbol of rebirth and renewal (red represents life and dawn). This dual association of lunar and solar symbolism also reflects the Equinox. In the Celtic tradition, this is the season of the Green Goddess and the Lord of the Greenwood.
Not only do we derive the name of the Christian celebration of Easter from Eostre’s name, we also get the word estrogen, the female hormone responsible for developing and maintaining the body’s female characteristics, and estrus, the cycle of sexual receptivity in many mammals.
Ostara’s season is one of rebirth and renewal of the Earth, of promise and of new beginnings, and many cultures considered the Vernal Equinox the beginning of their new year; (the Western zodiac begins with Aries here). Daylight and night-time, being of equal length, portends the balancing of polarities. From the Spring Equinox through Beltane, this is a season when we begin new projects. Crops are planted and ideas (some of which have been percolating since Brigid’s Day (February 2), are also cultivated.
According to Barbara Walker, the association of this season with the theme of the death and rebirth of the God (a personification of plant life) harkens back to pre-Christian times when one pagan sacred drama involved placing a representation of the God into his tomb, then withdrawing him so that he might live again; also, the pagans of Germany celebrated the “Hoch-Zeit,” the sacred king’s love-death, during this season. I have also seen this season described as the time of the God’s infancy, when the Goddess nurses her son who will become her consort, and as the time when the Lady and Lord prepare to come together for the Sacred Marriage at Beltane, though other traditions place this event at the Summer Solstice. Variations most probably arise from the different locations where customs developed, depending upon the varying lengths of the growing season, as well as the philosophical tenets of the times.
Another festival which coincides with this season is the Jewish holiday of Passover, marking the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt, and the start of a new way of life for the Hebrew people.
Nah-Ruz, the Bahai’i and Persian New Year, is also celebrated at the Spring Equinox.
In the Celtic lunar calendar, Ostara’s season coincides with the Month of Hawthorn:
“The Hawthorn tree is significant of cleansing, purity and chastity. The type of ‘chastity’ that Hawthorn suggests is not mere sexual abstention. It is more a type of sovereignty over yourself, in as much as you exist in your own right, for your own purposes, and are not appropriated or distorted by anyone else’s agenda. Of course, this often includes a period of celibacy, as sexual connection establishes an energetic bond that is visible to some as a bridge, or arc, of light, and so compromises the purely sovereign state of selfhood to a degree. Perhaps this is the underlying reason for the valuing of abstention during some periods of personal retreat or clearing.” (The Witch’s Book of Days, Jean Kozocari, Jessica North, Yvonne Owens, p. 87)
And further from the same source: “The priestess of Hawthorn is both the virgin spring, unsullied and untrammelled - and its protector. In this relationship, you are both the zealously guarded, pure, wild essence, and the thorns that prevail against invasion. During this period, you might consider a spiritual retreat, a fast, or cleansing diet. Regard yourself as perfect and immaculate in your essential Self, in your conception of yourself, and then adopt a stance of fierce resolve to defend this purity - your natural condition.
“You may want to look back over you life, starting with your earliest memories. Recall the first time when you might have been terribly upset, or a time when you were suffering. Look to see if there is a sense of injustice connected with this memory; have you been wronged or misjudged in someway? Has a parent or a teacher projected an erroneous or distorted image on to you? If so, go back into the scene in a visualization, and defend yourself. You can see yourself saying or doing the things you were unable or too small to say or do at the time. Or you can see yourself enter the scene as your adult self, defending, protecting and comforting your child self.
“This type of visualization is so powerful that it actually changes the past, or what we might call the “Roots of Karma,” and puts your present and your future on a different and firmer foundation. This is due to the fact that, having re-visioned (revised) the scene or scenes that damaged your sense of Self in the past, you have supplied yourself with an advocated, even if it is your own, present, grown-up self doing the advocacy. If the visualization is powerful, it will go deep to subconscious areas of your psyche. In other words, if your light Alpha-trance is convincing (and they always are - this is our “deep” mind, and it is programmed in precisely this manner), your memory of the events that have harmed your self-esteem and your sense of yourself will transform, and likewise your present and ongoing reality, for you will remember having been protected and respected, instead of having been defamed. You will, thereafter, think of yourself as someone who is worthy of protection and respect, and this will change your life accordingly.
“This is also a month that may inspire you to clean house, literally as well as figuratively. Clearing out emotional baggage is often helped along by a thorough house-cleaning, discarding old, burdened memories and restoring your environment to its prime condition.” (p.91)
The Egg and the Hare are the primary icons of the season, one representative of the sun and potential and the other of the moon and fertility. The tradition of the egg and hare survives in hunting for eggs left by the bunny and the most famous example of “egg art” has to be the Ukrainian pysanky.
Originally, the pysanky were made with only two colors: red, the color of the sun, life and happiness, hope and passion, and white, symbolizing purity and true pysanky still feature a great deal of white in its designs. The custom of placing red (for adults) and white (for young children) eggs on graves carries within it the idea of rebirth.
In making pysanky, the most ancient and commonly-used symbol is the sun (not surprisingly) which can be represented by a myriad of designs. Birds, hearts, fruit and vegetables, wheat, spiders, animals, ladders (for older people who would soon be moving on to another existence), the forty triangles (representing the many facets of life), circles, trees, garlands (called vinok and representing a girl’s desire for freedom), crosses (representing the solar wheel), grapes, bees, the snake (holder of mystical powers), the fish (originally the mystical being of action), the net (originally representing knowledge and motherhood and later, the Christ’s reference to his followers as “the fishers of men”), water and meander lines are some of the symbols one finds on traditional pysanky. A further clue to the antiquity of some of these symbols can be found in Marija Gimbutas’ book, “Language of the Goddess,” in which she states that the meander first appeared in Upper Paleolithic art and was a symbol and metaphor for water. This design reached a peak of popularity during the Copper Age and, of course, is still found in pysanky today, representing eternity and everlasting life, the eternal cycles of nature.
Now for the Paper Egg part: Cut out an large egg shape from a white piece of paper. Write down your plan or wish on one side and color in the other side in red. You may decorate it with meaningful symbols if you like. Then from completion of this activity till Beltane (April 30/May 1), sleep with your “egg” under your pillow to further imbue it with your intention and essence. At Beltane, burn it by throwing it on the Beltane fire (or any other way) and watch as the fire transforms the paper into ash, knowing the intention has been released to do its work.
SPRING CHICKEN YELLOW EASTER (EOSTRE) BUNNY BROWN
1 tsp tumeric 1 tbsp (heaping) instant coffee
2/3 c boiling water 2/3 c boiling water
1/4 tsp white vinegar ½ tsp white vinegar
Simmer egg with one of the following:
onion skins (golden orange), beets, (reddish purple), spinach (pale green), red cabbage leaves, walnut shells (buff), or grape juice (mauve) and 1/4 tsp vinegar. (Feel free to experiment with other natural items.)
For CHICKEN YELLOW, add tumeric to boiling water, stir until dissolved. Add ¼ tsp.vinegar to water.
For BUNNY BROWN add heaping tbsp instant coffee to boiling water, stir to dissolve, add ¼ tsp. vinegar to water.
For SEREN”DIP”ITY, simmer eggs with one of the ingredients listed above.
Wash eggs in mild soapy water to remove oily coating which could prevent dye from adhering. Poke a hole in one end of the egg with a straight pin to release any air and reduce possibility of egg shell cracking. Put into prepared water and simmer 20 mins. Do not put eggs into rapidly boiling water as this will cause them to break.
Insights at Imbolg
Wondrous Imbolg greetings to you all! Now begins the turning of the great Wheel toward Spring once again. So grateful for that, for the lengthening days, the eager awakenings in the natural world, the new green visible in the grass, the tiny buds beginning on the trees, the pussywillows!
Ah, the pussywillows, in this the Druid Celtic lunar month of Willow, a time highlighting Women’s Mysteries…
I’m all about change right now, (with choruses of David Bowie’s Ch-ch-ch-changes flowing through my mind: “Turn and face the strange…”)
And life is nothing, if not strange – and wonderful and mysterious and exciting and challenging and enticing…I once told a woman, with whom I was in a discussion about “god,” that to me god was always asking “what if…?” (Maybe that’s a bit of narcissism on my part; I’m always asking “what if…?” Yeah, curiosity may have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought her back!)
One curious thing, to me, is synchronicity – how sometimes we are “in the flow” and at other times that river seems to be flowing so far from us that we can’t even find it.
And then there’s intuition…
Yesterday as the sun was going down, I craved fresh flowers, a sweet bouquet just honoring – it could have been an honoring of the season, an honoring of dear lovely Brigid, an honoring of…me! After all, I’m doing all the work on myself lately, recovering the creative self, learning new skills, leap-frogging back on to a path I believed I’d put behind me years and years ago…and there it is again, right in front of me and feeling so very right…
So, flowers. Then I suddenly knew that my husband would hand me a bouquet when he came through the door.
And he did. Five perfect, beautiful roses – my very favorite! – in an array of colors. Five splendid fresh flowers.
My heart sang.
Especially when I saw the label which read:
“Choose these Flowers
& change the world
Find out how at fair-trade.ca”
As we chatted and I transferred the lovely flowers from their wrapper to a vase, I remembered a story I had written when I’d first learned some devastating truths about the floral industry. Things have changed a lot since this story was published in 2003, but here is the story anyway in the hope that we all remember and actively support those who help bring such beauty into our lives.
A Song for Columbia
"Oh, mama, look at those flowers!" Trina's excitement momentarily caught my attention. I stopped loading the groceries into the car to glance over my shoulder for the source of it. We were parked in front of the florist's that was situated next door to the grocery store. There, row upon row, were blossoms in an array of colors to delight the eye: luscious roses in yellow, red and white, variegated carnations, gerbera in that luxurious shade of pink, orange brown-freckled tiger lilies whose upward tilting heads made them look like they were laughing at the sky.
“Yes, aren’t they pretty?” I said, trying not to let my own ambivalence creep into my voice as I answered her. I suppose I was hoping to forestall the inevitable next question.
“Can we get some, mama?” There it was; now, how to explain to my four-year old daughter that the beautiful flowers she was hoping to take home were grown in questionable conditions, about which I had enough misgivings to cause my hesitation. I took the easy way out.
“Not today, sweetie,” I replied, hoping to placate. “How about we plant some of the flower seeds that Grandma sent us from her garden.”
“But I want flowers now,” she whined. I told myself it was because she was hungry and turned back to the grocery bags in search of a snack with which to distract her. My hand landed on a fruit snack.
“Here’s a nice fruit leather to tide you over till supper, okay?” I wished it were as easy to distract her as that.
“But why, mama? Why can’t we get the flowers? You like flowers, right?” She was doing her best to reason with me. I was impressed; some kids, even Trina on occasion, would burst into a full-blown tantrum about now. I also realized I’d have to launch into an educational seminar about the “political correctness of the floral culture” when all I wanted to do was flop in an armchair with a warm husband, a bowl of popcorn and a corny movie, no pun intended! I’d already had one heck of a week and it was only Tuesday. Well, one thing about parenting – it’s twenty-four seven. I took Trina out of the shopping cart, fastened her into her car seat with the fruit snack, parked the cart outside the market and slid into the driver’s seat, buying time.
“I like the flowers, too, honey, but I don’t feel good about the things that happen to the people who grow them.” For the rest of the drive home, I tried my best to explain the situation in terms a four-year old would understand.
Most flowers sold in this country come from foreign-owned flower farms located in Columbia, where some 75,000 workers, mostly women, are required to work forty-eight hour weeks but may work up to sixty hours for pay as low as ninety cents an hour. They have to meet daily quotas which often see them skipping or limiting their restroom and lunch breaks in order to hold onto their jobs, at worst, or face reprimands and suspensions. In order to maintain their control over the workers and to keep wages low and unions out, many flower farms only keep workers on for a few months, then hire unskilled replacement staff. Their work includes seed-sowing, picking and packing flowers for shipment, mostly to foreign countries. What bothers me most is that these workers are often faced with the possibility of developing various illnesses, ranging from allergies to cancer, as a result of the toxic products used to ensure a profitable crop, but the most offensive consequence is the high incidence of birth defects in children born to former flower workers, the innocents who suffer as a result of their mothers’ being forced to work in dangerous conditions just to make a living for themselves and their families. Then there is the environmental impact that flower-farming has on the nation’s water supply, which is subjected to over-consumption and DDT and other pesticide contamination.
We finally arrived home. Trina forgot about the flowers on seeing her father and Alex, our big, fluffy household guardian cat. However, I couldn’t put our earlier conversation out of my mind. Once Trina had been tucked in for the night after stories and songs, Hal and I collapsed on the couch to spend some “quality time” with each other before turning in ourselves. I told him about the flower incident which had transpired earlier.
“But by not buying the flowers, in effect, you’re punishing the workers,” Hal offered.
“Well, perhaps if those women refused to work on the farms, they’d fold!” I retorted.
“And what should they do then? Honey, the flower farms are already there. The floral companies have taken over land that was once used to grow food for the local people. The locals are forced to do what we’re doing now - buy imported food to feed their families.”
I was too tired to continue the discussion, or perhaps just too frustrated. I wanted the women to stop working for greedy, unfair flower farm companies; I wanted consumers here to stop buying mass-produced, pesticide-laden flowers. I wanted my daughter to grow up in a world that honored the basic rights of human beings and the entire natural world!
All the next day, I found my thoughts wandering back to the flower farm issue. Visions of front yards, flower boxes, lawns and gardens covered in flowers haunted me. “But who has the time?” I asked myself, feeling guilty at the knowledge that we scarcely had time to keep the lawn mowed, let alone cultivate flowers for our own gift-giving. For starters, we’d have to have greenhouses for the winter months……
All I could do was stew and write a few lines while I gulped down my lunchtime soup:
The flower in the field,
Nourished on the lifeblood
Of the people….
Hal stopped by my workplace instead of going straight home. He seemed a bit excited about something.
“Hey, what’s up?”
“Remember the flower thing you were talking about last night? Well, I found you some information. Looks like you’ll be able to take a more pro-active stance about it.” He grinned widely at me, handing me an article. The headline read “Activists strive for fair flowers.” It spoke about the work of a non-profit organization called Cactus,* whose aim is to help create equitable conditions for flower workers. “Fair flowers” are available in Europe, but not here. I felt the seed of an idea begin to sprout……
*Note: The organization, Cactus, no longer seems to exist (at least, I couldn’t find it with a pretty good online search). But do check out fairtrade.ca to learn more about ethical purchasing.
New Moon in Capricorn
The New Moon is always a good occasion for a check-in with the Oracle. The one which occurred yesterday, and whose influence will be with us for the month, occurred at 19 degrees 13 minutes of Capricorn (and for those of you in the Pacific Northwest, it falls in the 6th house of employment, workplace and co-workers, as well as health, so if “diet and exercise” are among your intentions, you’re “whistling down the right road,” so to speak).
For many of us in my particular circle, we are focussing on developing and building our businesses, so you can believe that we’re looking at the best ways to position ourselves so that we can fulfill our intentions.
I decided to use Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Oracle to take a look at what’s brewing. A three-card draw, based on the model of:
a) what we have set in motion
b) where we are currently (energy level)
c) where we’re headed actually on this path
22 - The Master Maker
“Practical problems solved here...” Jessica Macbeth
The list of qualities for this card offered by Jessica Macbeth’s handbook reads as follows:
Pretty impressive, no?
It behooves us to remember, however, that craftsmanship is hard work, so be prepared to buckle down and work those plans. If you haven’t done so already, write down your plans and intentions, and use them as a roadmap to keep you on course. Go back and check them regularly so you don’t inadvertently veer off the road.
Don’t take any shortcuts right now; lay down the best ground work possible. A good foundation will hold if things “get shaky” later on. Be Life’s apprentice by paying close attention to all the details.
Learn what your skills are so that later you can find others who excel at those bits which aren’t your particular forte. My dear uncle once wrote in my autograph book (I wonder how many people remember those?!!) “Good, better, best; never let it rest, until you’ve made your good better and your better best!” So, Uncle, to me that’s a recipe for anxiety, disillusionment and possibly even failure, if not total burnout. Sure, do the very best you can, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone who can do it even better. Hey, if you were meant to do it all on your own, what are all these people doing on your planet?
52 - The Rarr
It may be difficult right now to rein in all that excitable energy of possibility. Do you have a million things you want to accomplish or a thousand tasks that need finishing before this completion year of the Nine-Year Cycle is over?
Recipe for overwhelm here!
Breaking your list down into small, more manageable bits means you’re more likely to actually complete things.
What are the most pressing issues? Can you actually do anything about them right now, or are you still waiting on some “missing components.” such as paperwork, information, etc. before you can complete these projects?
Bring to the top of the list those things you can complete right away, and if they are onerous, so much the better. Get them out of the way so that your journey through your list—and your year– becomes more enjoyable, at least, as much as possible.
Your daily meditation practice (whatever it is you do to focus and centre yourself) can help ground any excess jittery energy this card indicates. Remember, too, that the overall “ability to do work” that was available to us during last year’s 8 Universal Year has actually dropped down to a lower level with our entry into the current 9 Universal Year, so pacing yourself, and getting plenty of rest, is a really good idea.
35 - The Faun
Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he…
Probably one of the most important things for us all to remember is how very important it is for us to be in connection with “the natural world” After all, we’re part of it - it really isn’t something that is happening “out there.”
Finding ways to see ourselves reflected in Nature is mandatory to our continued healthy soulful existence. Care for plants, put out birdseed, keep the birdbath filled during the hot weather, walk barefoot in the grass (just beware where you walk!), take the sun, breathe the fresh air deeply, go to the ocean and simply watch the waves—you get the idea! Make your own list and make it part of your daily “ sanity practice.” This will take you beyond the ho-hum of the workaday world and so beyond limiting beliefs you may not ever be aware that you’re harboring!
Consider keeping a journal—actually don’t just consider it; make it a priority. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll discover about yourself. Let the river flow and dance with it.
Playing with the Roots in the Dark
The world outside is still dark, the thick fog that blanketed the night slowly dissipating. I love the fog, in its thickness and its patchiness, the way I love dancing with a veil, the intermittent flashing of concealment and exposure to a unique rhythm, that of the dancer’s own soul.
Though others may curse it, to me fog may well be the “saving grace” of winter, (I admit that fresh snowfall is lovely - for about a minute). Winter: that time of dark and drear, of slowness and “puttering,” of resentment toward a culture that demands a certainly level of productivity even though every cell in my mammalian body is telling me to “slow down” and my brain frequently and frustratingly hits the “pause” button.
Admittedly, I’m not good at “slowing down,” I realize. I’m energized by sunlight – the subdued light of winter days does nothing for me outside of irritating my creative and “productive” self. One reason I rise so early is to take advantage of the dark, when I can still be “productive” without the intrusion of sunlight filtered through my least favourite color – dull grey. (In all fairness, this winter has been something of an anomaly in these parts, with a fair bit of blessèd sunlight so far. Praise be!)
Yes, I recognize in myself the product of the culture that is relentless in its demands for productivity. “What do you do?” is a standard question when we meet a new person, rather than more truly significant ones such as “What do you love? How do you feel? What is your greatest dream? Who are YOU, and what do you serve?”
It could simply be that winter is a time that demands introspection (and believe me, as an introvert I’m a queen of that pastime already, so I don’t actually need “weather” telling me to do more of it!) The Dark often has us looking at our discontent and, given the strictures of our society, there’s often not much we can do about it – well, that’s the perception anyway. In truth, we are the “captains of our fates” but, again, with all the rushing around that’s deemed necessary to “make a living,” there’s precious little time to figure out exactly how to captain our own fates, so we tend to let someone else “captain” for us (and then we complain about it – how ironic is that?)
Yet it is precisely in this dilemma - this emergent , grumbly discontent - that we are likely to gain insights, if we allow them to surface, rather than persistently pushing them aside, or acting as though they don’t exist at all. The dark of the season reminds us of the greater Dark, the personal and collective Underworld, where our true treasure lies (forget about what you learned in Bible class – we don’t get to the “treasure” by waiting until we’re dead; we just arrive at the Afterlife with a “balance due” for not having actually lived our lives. While transcendence may, undoubtedly, have its place somewhere within this realm of immanence, to me “laying up treasure in heaven” to find one’s heart hardly accomplishes that purpose within an infinitely-evolving Consciousness, especially if one adheres to the idea that “heaven” is only attainable upon physical death. Other cultures were aware of this: Egyptians of yore, for example, had an elaborate after-death vision which involved the newly-dead’s heart being weighed against a feather to see if all its life missions had been fulfilled...).
In the Dark, we find the roots – and nothing can grow without them! Think about it...
So, Winter can be an opportunity to examine the roots, perhaps even to check their health. Plant roots, though they may appear dead, are in stasis, waiting until a more convivial time to “awaken” and resume the work of plant support. It could be that we aren’t so very different.
The dark of winter can certainly bring up issues that are lying in the Dark, seemingly designed to derail us – consider the link between winter and depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (no, it’s not a “disorder” at all, simply a call to shift focus), and a host of other “conditions,” including physical ones.
I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we could all integrate our inner worlds with our outer lives – without the angst engendered as a result of “making a living,” often doing something we dislike, if not downright despise? What would happen if we took this time to examine our own roots? If we looked at our “issues,” to see how they influence our daily lives? To reconnect with “from whence we came” by acknowledging and considering our ancestors? To check the health of our own “roots” in our own particular corner of our Underworld? To discuss such things and share our findings - and feelings - with those nearest and dearest to us? What if this were a natural part of the way we lived our winter lives instead of something seen as “anomalous” or “disordered“* or “weird?”
I know there are “winter lovers” among us. They are invigorated by the bracing winter air, they love the winter sports, the long, cold nights; they wilt like picked wildflowers during the summer months. They probably experience heightened productivity at this time of year, too, and it isn’t forced or as a result of habitual cultural training, as it is for others of us, simply an expression of their own true natures. Yet, they, too, can benefit from peering into the Dark. Perhaps they need to withdraw into their own Underworld, the cool and active root systems, when the Upperworld gets “hot?”
Food for thought...
Well, I guess I can assign responsibility for this verbal foray to my “morning pages” practice (done by 6:30 a.m.) combined with reading Morris Berman’s “The Re-enchantment of the World.”
Breakfast of champions...that and morning coffee ☼
*Interestingly, one of the origins of the prefix dis- is the name of the Roman god of the Underworld, Dis, aka Pluto, guardian of hidden treasure.
Winter Solstice, ‘December Sun’
and the story behind Angelos Escentia
Solstice blessings, everyone!
We’ve finally crept our way to the ultimate day of winter bleak and dark. Tomorrow the new-born Sun starts inching forward in its journey to increasing daylight, here in the Northern Hemisphere.
So here’s a true story for you, about something that’s dear to my heart.
I watched my husband chuckling slightly as he read a post on his phone this morning.
“I’ll let you read this in a minute,” he told me. “It’s a long one.”
As I eagerly awaited my turn (he rarely finds something worthy of sharing at 5 a.m. beyond coffee and plans for the day), I reviewed the contents of a particularly interesting dream which involved winning a new dictionary, styles of learning and metacommunication, influenced no doubt by the fact that I’m reading Morris Berman’s soul-seeking book, “The Re-enchantment of the World” – but that’s probably a tale for another time (smile).
The post, when I finally got to read it, was about someone who describes themselves as Pagan taking umbrage with fellow Pagans’ acceptance and involvement with angels, because the person thought this was strictly a Christian concept which had no place in Paganism. The reply to this post was well-presented, I thought, full of linguistic research about the roots of the word itself, as well as historical information regarding the appearance of angels in various traditions outside Christianity. In fact, the respondant pointed out, successful magical work itself is dependent upon angelic energy, as Ceremonial Magicians, and many others, know.
My hesitancy to reveal my lengthy association with the angelic realm probably has its roots in this type of misunderstanding about the nature of angels (which, to me, are like gargantuan energy fields* which contain specific types of information, hence the proliferation of types of angels in our lore. Because of the human tendency to anthropomorphize, people tend to envision angels as “winged people,” – it’s just easier to develop a relationship with something that looks more like us than with something as obscure as geometric shapes, sound that is intuited or felt rather than heard, the appearance of colors beyond the usual visible spectrum, a sense of “overwhelming presence” and other types of expressions I’ve personally experienced as angelic contact.)
Truth is, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t at least aware of the angelic realm, even if I didn’t think I was working with it and even when I decided, at the age of seven, to embrace atheism (that got turned around dramatically when I had an astounding numinous experience at the age of nine – again, a story for another time…) It’s probably the reason why I was led to become a Reader, which took me down a completely different Path than I had envisioned for my “professional life”! It’s certainly why I named my eldest son for two angels and it’s also why I recognized the “visitors” who indicated they were waiting for him, five years before his diagnosis of cancer, though I didn’t realize at the time “they” were planning to take him with them. To this day I am immensely grateful for the appearance of Anaphiel, the soul-gatherer, whose presence tenderly enveloped me during the whole ordeal…
It was during that last year of Zachariah’s life that I received the message to co-create Angelos Escentia, the “soul-scented messages.” I was working on an advanced course in Spiritual Aromatherapy at the time, doing my practicum. I remember researching the etymology of what later became the name of this practice. “Angelos” refers to messenger, the accepted translation of the Greek, while escentia plays with the philosophical concepts of “quintessence” and “essence” (Zachariah was a philosopher, working on his Master’s degree) and “scent.” (See links at the bottom if you would like to learn more.)
From the moment I had first heard the word “Aromatherapy,” I’d been hooked! I had visions of myself as a “mad alchemist,” passionately working away in a laboratory cluttered with varieties of oddly-shaped yet beautiful colored bottles, filled with exotic aromas. The very idea of it lit me up like a chandelier! When I got the opportunity to “follow my bliss,” I threw myself into it with full passion and have never regretted it. To me, it is vital “soul work.”
Since graduating from Healing Scents Holistic Clinic in 1997, then under the guidance of Aromatherapist Beverley Hawkins, I have practiced Aromatherapy pretty much daily, so when I got the “invitation” to partner with “angels,” combining the benefits of Plant Spirits with the Angelic Realms, I lit up in a whole new way. And as they say, the rest is history.
Cutting to the chase here…A “soul-scented message”
So here’s a little Winter Solstice insight, a soul-scented blend I was called to create yesterday while the amazing light of the winter Sun momentarily streamed through my kitchen window (my husband described it as “masculine”):
Angelos Escentia December Sun
Cedarwood: Speaks of integrity, steadfastness, and communion; ability to enlist the wisdom of the Ancestors/Ancient Ones; using one’s will to change one’s circumstances
Benzoin: Simultaneously grounding (Earth) and strengthening in solar qualities; invites perseverance, acceptance and release from worry; “spiritual shielding”
Pine Needle: Clarifies boundaries; offers protection and the strengthening of self-confidence; promotes understanding, trust and humility; encourages tenacity
Petitgrain: Helps to protect what is vulnerable, and provides assistance through difficult or trying times; uplifts the spirit
Juniper Berry: Looking within with the ability to release fears; completions and purification; moving forward
“Steadfastness,” “perseverance,” “tenacity”…notice a theme? Gonna be an amazing year!
Bright holiday blessings to you all, my Loves…..
NOTES & such:
*Rather like the morphogenetic fields spoken of by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, I now realize.
And as the Fates would have it, two of my resource links are no longer active. So, Quintessence is described as “the pure and concentrated essence of a substance, the most perfect embodiment of a thing, and in ancient and medieval philosophy, the fifth essence or element, Aether, the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies, the others being Air, Fire, Earth, and Water.
Scent is derived from the same source that gave us such words as sensation, sentient, sentiment and sense - the Latin word sentīre, meaning ‘ to feel, to perceive.’ We find it in Old (and current) French as sentir. In English, it was first spelled sent (‘Fishes lurking among the stones [the dogs] seek out with their sent’, James Dalrymple, Leslie’s history of Scotland, 1596). The current spelling, with the added “c,” first appeared in the 17th Century.
Appreciation, Gratitude and Some Thoughts
on the Art Gift-giving
A current popular meme is “having gratitude.” Gratitude – immensely important to a feeling of fulfillment in life. However, without an understanding of appreciation in the first place, gratitude simply becomes another way for us to “punish” ourselves for the failure to live up to yet another “expectation.”
I’m grateful – of course, I’m grateful! I have a place to live, clothes to wear and food to eat. I get to experience changing seasons throughout the year, so I’m either revelling in the summer months or anticipating them (nah, not a big fan of winter). I have access to the world via the internet – wow! That in itself is a miracle - I grew up in a world without personal computers…
I no longer remember when I discovered my sense of appreciation – most likely it was always there and later cultivated by some very wise teachers. It’s my sense of appreciation that often provides a balm for some of the major losses in my life.
Having a sense of appreciation allows me to find pleasure in simple things, to enjoy something about the moment, to re-orient my little self in the vast, undulating, never-resting ocean of Life. A bird call, the scent of alder trees on the hot summer air, the chiaroscuro of sunlight dappling a deep, dark forest path, the song of crickets, the laughter of a baby, Sunday morning in the city, the way the dog rests her chin in the crook of my elbow…
Likewise, the story behind that gift your friend brought you “for no reason” can stimulate your appreciative self, combining sentiment with memory to deepen your experience, giving you a sacred moment of recall, a chance to reconnect with your feelings.
In some traditions, it is said that the act of appreciating what is around us is a form of worshiping the Divine – a marvelous concept. Imagine everything you see being an expression of the Divine in whatever form it chooses to take, the form which you are observing, animate or inanimate! Imagine every gift you have ever given, regardless of what it was, being yet another sacred expression.
How does that shift in perspective impact your sense of gift-giving? Does it inspire your choosing a gift with which you resonate, or which you are sure the recipient of the gift will? Isn’t it a worthwhile endeavor, then, approaching the gift with a sense of reverence rather than simply grabbing something “at the last minute?”
Depth of Dark
I struggled with depression from the age of seven. It didn't help that my mother told me (at that age) that she "had to love me" because I was her child, but she "didn't like me as a person." I thought I must be pretty despicable and started doubting my right to exist at all.
The struggle didn't go away for a very long time. I decided the best way to deal with it was to try and spread as much joy as I could. My nickname, as a kid, was "Little Miss Sunshine" to many of the people who were acquainted with me. Many told me to "never stop smiling because it made others feel good."
I am so grateful for my ability to write - writing saved me repeatedly as I was growing up. So did music - I played instruments from as far back as I can remember until I got too busy to play regularly while I was in university. (I remember when I gave my guitar away as a thank you to a friend for helping me out through a difficult period. I had a four-day, non-sleep crisis afterward; I'd never been without an instrument before!)
One day, in my forties, I was walking along on my way to work (I had a shop at the time) and saw a bumper sticker which said "Every day above ground is a good one." I became instantly grateful for my own ability to survive (including some pretty nasty illnesses). I can’t say that I never became depressed again, but that bumper sticker made an imprint on my soul.
I don't know that I ever considered my struggle with depression a mental illness - I truly don't think it was, but I do know that for many it may be, and my heart goes out to each and every one of you.
I also believe that it is a normal thing for us to have "swamp trips," to descend into our own Underworlds from time to time. Learning how to manage the Underworld descent underscores some of the most significant work I do, I think. We truly need to shift our perceptions within society to be able to accommodate this, to know that it happens to everyone at some points, to a greater or lesser extent. We are not machines. We are magnificent beings. We are here to experience a great range of feelings but we should never have to believe that they are any sort of punishment – and that is certainly what depression felt like to me!
Love yourself. Be kind to one another. These are the fastest ways to change the world…
No Brown Girls in My Show
It comes as a surprise, but perhaps I’m simply naïve. In this age of –isms, and the growing awareness of –isms, I guess I figured most people would at least be monitoring their own actions, especially in the realm of business. After all, “money talks,” doesn’t it? And regardless of personal preferences and beliefs, even the most unenlightened business people respect money’s “neutrality” when it comes to making a sale.
The occurrence: I saw the proprietor of a shop I frequent and support in a local store where we were both making a purchase. I told her how much I was loving the new blouse I’d bought at her shop, my latest purchase, though I wasn’t wearing it today. She sort of looked me up and down. Then she asked if I was “going to the fashion show” on Saturday, about which I knew next to nothing. I told her so and without giving me much information other than stating “Hospital Auxiliary,” she told me I could get a ticket at one of the local shops, said “it’s a Wine and Cheese,” then proceeded to show me her own tasteful black and white ticket. I commented on how classy it looked. She mentioned that one of my students will also be modelling in the show. Nice!
Then she turned to the cashier and asked if she was going, offering her a position as a model. The lovely young woman agreed (okay, that might be ageism, but how do I know what outfits she has in mind? – perhaps they are more appropriate to a younger person).
Then she turned to a woman behind us both in the lineup and asked her if she wanted to model at the fashion show. Okay, this woman was certainly no more attractive than me – we look about the same, though I suspect this woman is younger (I look younger than my age). The woman said she, too, would like to model at the fashion show.
So, I’m standing there thinking “well, I’ve modelled in the past. I like dressing up in nice clothes. In fact, I’ve bought quite a few things from this person’s shop and I would buy even more if I could afford it. I like quite a few of the items that she brings in.” It suddenly struck me – all the models are Caucasian.
Then she turned to me and repeated “it’s a Wine and Cheese.” No, food isn’t the only thing that appeals to me… I do obviously like nice clothes, too, and a lot of other things this woman actually wouldn’t have a clue about, like sociology.
I have spent hours with this woman, conversing about her health issues, her shop, the colors she is featuring at particular times, her knitting projects, her dog, her partner. Yesterday, I chose some yarns for her from a big bundle brought by my mother-in-law, while wishing I knew what colors she would like so I could pick out some more to bring to her the next time I went to her shop.
Today I am thinking, “she doesn’t want any brown girls in her show.”
Yes, I’m glad to be moving from this area, finally, after 16 years of this type of thing. I’ve done what I can to bring awareness to issues like this in the most kindly, delicate and polite manner possible. This time I’m leaving it to someone else to “educate” her, but I sure won’t be using my dollars to support her business anymore…and I’ve just met someone else to whom I can give the lovely yarns for her own beautiful crafts.
How I’m Spending Six Glorious Weeks (and beyond)
The children of Set
sealed the casket;
With liquid lead,
they sealed the casket.
Osiris was trapped within.
They carried it
to our Great River,
they were seventy-two;
they tossed it
into the green waters.
It was carried away.
My beloved was carried away.
Anubis told me;
I cut my black hair
and put it in a sack.
I tore my gowns.
I covered myself in ashes
and wandered barefoot
in the desert,
on the scorching sands
with the serpents and scorpions,
Many years ago - more than twenty now, and even before the birth of this 25-page poem - when I was steeping in the works of the Post-Jungians, I dreamed a workshop.
I called it “Isis Mysterium" and it was an invitation to women to explore and re-gather the scattered parts of their own Animus, the indwelling Masculine aspect inherent in everywoman, using the Egyptian Myth of the Great Goddess Isis as a model.
We didn’t have the Internet at that time. My flyers were made completely by hand, with Letraset lettering (remember that?) carefully placed on a white sheet of paper to which I subsequently pasted the typed description of my offering. I visited my local print shop and photocopied the original, then hand-delivered the flyers to every public bulletin board I could find. I even paid for ads in those popular papers with high readership.
No one called.
No one signed up.
No one came…
I wandered upon
the banks of the Great River,
I wandered the villages
asking and asking,
frightened by the sight of me,
their loving Mother,
ran from me screaming…
Because I had taken the Vow when I first arrived on Vancouver Island to carry forward with my work as a Priestess in service to the Divine Feminine, I really didn’t mind. After all, I reasoned, I’d always been at least ten years – and usually 20 - ahead of “fashion.” One day the time would arrive when other women would be interested in the underpinnings of the Myth that was so fascinating and informing to me, and whose message is so critical to understanding how we as women move in this outer male-defined, though constantly shifting, culture. And one day we would appreciate how Archetypes evolve with our active participation, just as Isis herself evolved within her own story to become something greater.
The stars hid themselves,
the land did not bear fruit,
the river shrank,
its banks turned to mud.
I slept alone in the cold,
under the starless sky,
half-mad in my grief,
with my bag of hair…
Fast-forward twenty-some odd years: “Goddess” has become a buzzword in many progressive women’s communities. What I once envisioned as a weekend workshop based on one Myth has evolved into a six-week Goddess program, (precursor to a year-long, more complex adventure), where participants are supported and guided to explore aspects of the Divine Feminine for themselves and to learn to identify their own particular Archetypal orientations, i.e., what aspect(s) of Goddess with which they resonate, and so facilitate the progressive momentum of our human story.
I am called "eternal savior of the human race."
Fractured and fragmented am I, female and male,
dissected as the body of my lover,
flung upon the waves and the winds…
There’s a good annotated Bibliography, so you can design a “personal handbook” of sorts for your journey, with the help of other seekers who have, in their own ways, travelled the path before us.
Journalling is encouraged: a record of your own unique adventure, a constant companion to mirror your thoughts and discoveries, a “silent, go-everywhere-with-you friend”; and there’s also a Workbook that can be re-used for years as a woman explores all the aspects of her Divine Self, gathering and reassembling the scattered pieces to help her recreate once again that Self she once knew…and loved with great passion.
As we pick up and examine those pieces, one by one or perhaps in bouquets of illuminated self-discovery, we may surprise ourselves with deeper understanding, insights and joy – I know I certainly have.
And as every woman tells her own story, the world changes…just as it does for ever-living Isis.
…for this is a time of re-membering.
may you live in blessedness,
may your life be glorious
under my protection.
And when the River of your life
has wound its course unto
the Realm of Osiris,
my husband, my beloved,
my brother, my Other Self,
then may you still find my light
brilliant and unobscured,
For I am
That Which Is,
One and Indivisible.
Excerpts from The Passion of Isis and Osiris © 1998, 2004, Jessica North-O’Connell