Happy Birthday, With Love, Sedna

This week I am 51 years old.  Last year on my birthday I began what I imagined would be a yearlong adventure gathering up those elements of my younger self that I had left behind but which I wanted back in my life.  Much of my meandering took place in New York City, where I had lived in my 20s.  I took two trips back there, and you can read about how I imagined the first trip would be before I took it in a piece I wrote for Moondance by clicking here. As it happened, the trip turned out to be almost exactly like that (without the red velvet jacket since NYC had a heat wave the April weekend I was there).  The year culminated in the very recent publication of a novel I wrote, The Temple of the Subway Goddess, that has within it elements of my time in NYC.

In any case, the year has ended and it is time for me to leave that task behind me and move ahead into the second (or so) fifty years of my life.  As I was thinking today about what that meant, I remembered one of my favorite stories, the Inuit story of the Goddess Sedna.  Here is the story as it was told to me:

Sedna was a beautiful maiden who lived with her father in the Arctic.  She married a Bird God and flew away with him to his nest, where she was very unhappy.  So, her father came to take her home.  As they were riding on the water home, the Bird God and his followers came after the boat.  Sedna’s father knew that if they attacked, they would sink the boat and all would die, so he threw Sedna overboard.  When she tried to climb back into the boat, he cut off her fingers and then her arms, tossing them into the sea where they became the sea creatures that feed the Inuit people.

Sedna sank to the bottom of the ocean where she grew old and became a Goddess.  She took responsibility for sending up the sea creatures who willingly gave their lives that her people on land might live.  But when the people disobeyed Sedna’s rules, her hands ached and she stopped sending the creatures and the people starved. Only when the people sent shamans—who had to go through many terrible trials to reach Sedna—to relieve the pain in Sedna’s hands would she relent and send the sea creatures back to the land.

I should say that I did not grow up in the Inuit culture so I am not claiming to be able to interpret, or even tell the story, correctly or at all.  I am, at most, simply relating elements of the story in which I have found resonance for my own life.  Really, it could be said that I am not telling the Sedna story at all, since I’m sure it is quite different within the context of Inuit life and faith, but a story that is similar and meaningful to me only, and perhaps to you, too.

That said, those elements of the story that I have heard seem to me to be a wonderful way of looking at growing older.  It does not glamorize that stage of life, for Sedna has her disabilities in not only her painful hands (something that perhaps makes me identify with the story since arthritis also makes my own hands ache at times) but in her leg which she drags behind her.  However, I find within the story a tremendous and active, passionate strength and power that should come with later life and its experience. 

I sometimes look forward to my later years as a time of retreat and rest, of moving away from the maelstrom of life and sending out rays of good advice to grateful children and grandchildren when I choose. Later life is no time for such withdrawal, even for contemplation and meditation, according to Sedna. Sedna has retreated from the traditional roles, but is even more active in her world.  She does not simply nurture her family, but all human life. She not only guides her children, but all people.

Sedna brings order to her world.  She sets rules which, if followed, cause the people to live in peace with their world.  Sedna teaches me that, at this stage of life, I know what is right and I need to stand up for those values of peace, cooperation, and respect for all people as they are that I have taken as core to my life and work. I need not justify my beliefs over and over, especially to those who would insist on my behaving in a more mainstream way.  I have come to how I view the world through honest reflection on real experiences and my perspective is as valuable as anyone’s.

Sedna nurtures and feeds the people.  Her hands and arms became the food that makes human life on the land possible and she sends it to the people that they may live.  Sedna teaches me that, because I have been given many gifts over my decades of life, it is time to give back those gifts in my time, talent, and counsel. I have work to do and retirement, if by that one means giving up one’s role in the world, is not an option.  In fact, it is time for be to more active, more vocal, more involved in the daily lives of those around me and across the globe because I have more wisdom to offer than when I was younger.

Sedna protects herself and that which is sacred.  Not just anyone can approach Sedna, even to assuage her pain, but only someone who has the courage and intelligence to succeed at the trials that lie between the world above and her sacred realm.  Sedna teaches me that what I have found to be sacred—the art, the stories and literature, to relationships, the ideals—are truly profound and are to be defended and protected.  

Sedna becomes fiercer as she ages.  She does not just hang onto the boat, but makes laws and punishes the people when they disobey.  Or perhaps she states the laws that exist in nature and is no longer willing to sacrifice her sea creatures when the people flout those laws until they send their shamans as redemptive penitence. I look forward to perhaps even scaring people a bit with fierceness when I do what I feel needs to be done.

Sedna, when younger, did act from her naïve dream of a better life, as she did when she married the Bird God in her youth, but in later life surrounds herself with her reality and makes herself a Goddess of it. She does not hang onto the boat, pretending that her father who has thrown her overboard will help her back in, but lives completely in the ocean world in which she finds herself, making her own realm in it from which she comes to rule all humanity and sea creatures.  I, too, must look at my world with honesty, at what I can reasonably do and what I cannot, and what I cannot reasonably do, but must try to do anyway.

Sedna seems to me to be a near perfect model for older women of our time.  Just as we are active and have begun to work into our 60s, 70s, and beyond, so does Sedna.  She takes life as it is and stands strong for what she knows is right, and so is it also right for us to value our life experience and lessons learned from it and be strong advocates for what we believe in. Sedna knows who she is and, as I read her story, I feel that I also know a bit more who I am, too.

Helen Nearing: Liver of The Good Life

Helen Nearing’s influence on my life has been profound and I am honored to write this post to celebrate her and her husband, Scott.  I grew up in the 1960s and 70s in a liberal university town where their works were widely read, so I have always just assumed that everyone knew of them and had a copy of “The Good Life” on their shelves.  But a couple of days ago, I realized that this view was most likely wrong and that there are probably millions of women who have never heard of Helen.  So, if this is the case with you, I would love to introduce you to one of my favorite women of all time, Helen Nearing.

Helen Nearing and her husband Scott moved to a farm in Vermont in 1932 and began a grand experiment in what would now be called “voluntary simplicity.”  They grew their own food, built their own house, made their own clothes, and only made enough money to meet their most basic cash needs.  (Until this time, Helen had grown up in luxury and done very little physical labor. Think of the faith, love, and courage it took for her to make the decision to do this!) They divided the day into four-hour blocks:  one was for “bread work,” meaning what they needed to do to meet essential needs to sustain life, one was for community service, and one was for leisure and recreation. 

The key was to reduce their needs to a minimum.  No trips to the mall, no fancy clothes, no new cars, nothing that did not serve a useful purpose.  In exchange, they got back four or more hours a day and the satisfaction of spending their time outside, doing honorable, healthy work, and being role models for people like me who were looking at non-traditional ways of living their lives. 

To me, voluntary simplicity is less about doing things a certain way than in creating a new relationship between yourself, your work, and money.  It is about not taking the media’s word for it that you really need 95% of what they are selling. It is the realization that if you do not needs gobs of cash, you do not have to give away your precious time and energy at a job that is extremely stressful and time-consuming instead of one that is fulfilling, requires fewer hours and serves others, but may be lower-paying.  You can choose how you spend the days of your life and what you give your precious talent and energy to.

In 1953, they wrote their book “Living the Good Life” about their experiment and, over the years, until their deaths in the 1980s and 1990s, they were visited by literally thousands of people who came to their home to learn what they had to teach.  They wrote more books and articles, lectured, and always lived what they preached.  Scott was actually the more public face of the two, but he was more analytical and pragmatic, while Helen came from a more mystical, artistic, contemplative point of view and so it was she that I felt connected to, though I never met her.

I do not, of course, follow their lead exactly (as the Coldwater Creek catalog people can attest), but it is because of them that I bought an old house with few modern conveniences and have worked for 20 years with my husband to renovate it, grow many of my own herbs, shop mostly in consignment stores, and take jobs that don’t necessarily pay tremendously well, but pay enough for me to live and help support my family. And, I should say that I am not advocating that women stop fighting to be paid as much as men or that they live at poverty level.  Of course women need to have economic equality – the issue is how much of our lives we want to spend making money, not that we should make less than men – and too many women completely underestimate how much they will really need in retirement.  If you have children or parents to support or care for or have special needs yourself, your financial need will be substantially higher than people like the Nearings, who had no responsibilities other than to themselves and were in good health till their deaths.

What I have recently come to realize is how integral this view of how to make a living can be to women’s spiritual lives.  Many women feel that their connection to the Earth is an essential aspect of their spirituality.  The importance of not over-consuming and making your living in a way that does not exploit the Earth is obvious.  “Voluntary simplicity” is one important way to reduce the amount of energy we use, garbage we generate, and pollution we cause.  There is no better way to honor the Earth than to step away from destroying Her.

Voluntary simplicity is also key to a healthy global web of sisterhood between women.  When food, clothing and materials for shelter are exported rather than used for the good of the women in other countries who make them and factories that make unnecessary goods pollute the environment, especially in developing nations, what we have here in the US really does reduce the quality of life for women around the world.  Here is where “fair trade” can come in.  If you buy goods that are made by women who are fairly paid and who work in safe, ecologically-sound conditions, you can have your imports and help women overseas support themselves in a way that benefits them, too.

Finally, voluntary simplicity is a grand way to express to yourself and others that you are sacred.  Your time, energy and talent is worth more than a cashmere shawl or yet another knick-knack or fancy dinner out.  If you spend the time you gain on “soul pursuits” like music, art, poetry, walks in the woods, reading, or whatever brings you closer to your Creator and your inner self, how rich will you indeed be.  You have not only stated your sacredness, but taken back power over your life by being the one to determine how you spend your time and energy.

In the last few years of her life, Helen wrote a book titled “Loving and Leaving the Good Life” about her marriage to Scott and her thoughts about what their lives had meant.  She chose to end the book with words that were not about economics or freedom or power, but about love.  And this, to me, is the real spiritual message of voluntary simplicity: love yourself and your soul enough not to waste them, love others enough to spend time with them rather than in constant work, love the Earth enough to conserve it; love all beings enough to participate with them in this world in a responsible way. 

But she says it much better than I do: “A network of love crisscrosses the globe…  There are so many threads of love in the world, so much love going on, for and from so many people.  To have partaken of and to have given love is the greatest of life’s rewards.”

To learn more about the Nearings and their work and lives, go to The Good Life Center, the organization that sells their books and continues to spread their message.

                                                                              ~ Carolyn Lee Boyd

Healing the Cosmic Woman’s Wound

Among the Grail legends is the story of the Fisher King.  The Fisher King lives in the Grail Castle and has been wounded in the “thigh” and, as a result, his kingdom is a wasteland, barren and full of sorrow.  Only when someone comes and asks “Who does the Grail serve?” will the King be healed and the land restored to abundance.  This story is said to express not just one man’s wound, but a cosmic male wound that leads to despair and global destruction. 

When we consider all that the location of the wound means – regeneration of life, feeling, separation from the Creator and so much more – we see how it is, indeed, representative of the wound that all men suffer when they are told not to cry and not to feel, when we give them toy guns and teach them to make war instead of dolls to love and nurture.  It is clear how this wound does lead to despair and global destruction. 

But, if that is the male cosmic wound, what is the cosmic wound for women?  Where are the female versions of the Fisher King in folklore and literature?

The story of The Handless Maiden comes immediately to mind and has been paired with the Fisher King by others.  In a version of this story beautifully retold by Clara Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run with the Wolves, a young woman is sold to the devil by her father.  However, when the devil comes to collect her, he cannot get her because she has purified herself and stands in a chalk circle she has drawn.  Even when she does not bathe so she may become impure, her tears run onto her hands, purifying her and she is still out of the devil’s reach. The devil insists that the father cut off her hands so that her tears will not run onto her hands and purify her.  The father does as he is told but the devil is still rebuffed.  When the defeated devil leaves, the father offers the handless maiden a home, but she, instead, walks off into the woods where she eventually meets a king who marries her and after a number of adventures, her hands grow back and they live happily ever after.

Many, many analyses of this story exist by people with more expertise than I have and some relate it to a cosmic wound.  Like all meaningful stories, it has many levels and many possible interpretations and these interpretations are valid.  However, I have another interpretation.  As mysterious and meaningful as this story is, it does not feel to me that being handless is the female cosmic wound from which all other wounds come.  It does seem like another, female, version of the Fisher King, in the sense that hands are the way we create and feel.  Losing one’s hands is certainly a grievous injury and women do suffer from being severed from their creativity forces and emotions. But, to me, that is not the deepest wound I feel.  Women have found ways to be creative and regenerate life, and are not considered to be unfeminine if they express caring and compassion.  Also, the handless maiden’s regrowth of her hands is almost incidental to the story.  It happens after she has already found happiness.

To me, the cosmic female wound goes beyond this.  When women became wounded, the world became a place of barrenness and despair and so out of alignment with the paradise it was meant to be that the wound became almost unknowable.

While The Handless Maiden’s loss of her hands may not be the cosmic wound in my interpretation, I think the story does hold the key.  The maiden’s fortunes begin to turn around when she walks away from her father.  Until this point, she has passively accepted all that others have done to her.  She has allowed herself to be sold and to have her hands cut off.  She rejects her father’s offer of a home and walks away into the woods.  It is at that point that her healing begins as she makes her own fortune.  She is free.

To me, the cosmic woman’s wound is the loss of freedom: freedom to be who we are, freedom to do what we wish, freedom to live where and as we wish, freedom to marry or not and whom to marry, freedom to bear children or not, freedom to earn our living as we wish, freedom to dress as we wish, freedom to live in society or away from it as a hermit.  I sometimes wonder if any woman on Earth really knows what true freedom is.  Perhaps we have not identified it in terms like “the cosmic wound” because we don’t know what it is like to not be wounded.

Stories do exist that talk about women’s loss of freedom, especially those of mermaids or selkies/silkies who are forced to marry and live on land until they find some object, a pelt or bridle, that was stolen from them, leap back into the water and return to their lives of freedom in the sea.  Water frequently does represent our deepest selves, especially as women, and being forced to live away from the water, or that place where we have the freedom to be ourselves, does indeed cause profound despair. 

These are the stories that cause my heart and soul to ache.  When I think about what other women have expressed to me as their deepest wounds, this loss of freedom is what I hear.  I think of my grandmother who told me a story about her mother.  Her mother would say “Oh, Gladys, you’ll do wonders” when my grandmother would tell her mother her hopes and dreams.  Her mother was not encouraging her, but was rather saying “Don’t dream too high for you are sure to be disappointed.  You cannot do all that you wish.”  Eighty years after she was told that, the bitterness was still in my grandmother’s voice at the retelling. 

Women can also be a great source of healing and freedom for other women, however. The other stories my grandmother told me were of her mother’s not remarrying for decades after my grandmother’s father died and my great-grandmother, instead, making her own way in life as a seamstress.  Also, my grandmother told of how her mother supported her wish to go to college by moving near the college so my grandmother could attend.  In these stories, she showed my grandmother a freedom that my grandmother, and my other female relatives, in turn, taught me. 

Perhaps it is the task of this generation of women, and men, to name the wound and begin healing it before it is too late, before the Wasteland caused by all our wounds spreads to all of Earth.  What would our world be like if women had never lost their freedom that so many ancient civilizations seem to have offered women?  What would a world be like in which women, and men, were truly free to be the best, most caring and compassionate, creative, happy and joyful beings they can be?  May our wounds be our guide to healing ourselves, each other, and the Earth.

                                                                              ~ Carolyn Lee Boyd
 

Into the Cave with Donna Read

Deep in our psyches is a cave, a place of shadows and warmth, nurturing and fertility, where we can go to reflect, revitalize, and reconnect with our souls, beliefs, and values.  We may venture there alone, but sometimes a talisman appears to ignite the bonfire in the cave’s center that gives us enthusiasm and lights our way as we emerge onto the next steps of our path.  Such a gift to all women are the films directed by Donna Read.  

A series of Read’s films, The Goddess Trilogy, was released today by Alive Mind. 

The three films are Goddess Remembered, a panoramic sweep of 35,000 years of global worship and reverence of the Sacred Feminine, from cave drawings to the present day; Burning Times, which gives the viewer a real sense of horror and tragedy, as well as the consequences that still continue today, of the witch hunts in Europe from the Middle Ages to the 18th century; and, finally, Full Circle, a very personal film about the meaning of Goddess spirituality to those who practice it as a western eco-feminist movement as well as those who are following their own culture’s traditions that are thousands of years old.  The series is available from womenandspirituality.net.

A year or so ago I saw another of Read’s film, Signs Out of Time, about the archeologist Marija Gimbutas.  Gumbutas uncovered tens of thousands of artifacts from the Goddess culture of Old Europe, giving back to us Europe’s peaceful, joyful ancient times.  This is available from Belili Productions.

It is impossible for anyone to watch these films and not have her life changed in some way.  I have studied women’s spirituality for 25 years, but I was still moved to tears by seeing the ancient temples where women and men peacefully worshipped a loving, abundant Mother, the village square where women were tortured and burned not so many centuries ago, and the commitment of those all over the world who revere the Earth and are determined that we shall not be the last generation.  For anyone who is not familiar with women’s or Goddess spirituality, watching these films will give a background that it took me decades to gain from reading books. 

The films are like sitting in a circle with women from our ancient past who tell us how their lives revolved around a diety who was a woman and women residing next door who talk about how their daily lives have been enriched and purpose found through women’s spirituality.  They have a warmth and passion that will inspire, move, and teach.  Go into your cave, invite these films in, and let your fire be lit.

                                                                              ~ Carolyn Lee Boyd

Preparing for Imbolc: The Kitchen Mysteries Celebration

Winter seems to be the time for celebrations.  All over the world, people focus on festivities around both the Winter Solstice and then the Spring Equinox.  These are the celebrations of the Great Mysteries — the coming of the Light, the birth of Diety,  magnificent miracles, overcoming death – that happen in the realms beyond our everyday senses, in the great cosmos, as we watch from below in awe and wonder.  I enjoy these holidays, but they always seemed a bit too far above my day-to-day life for me to really understand and be an essential part of.

Imbolc, which falls between the two celebratory seasons on February 2, always seemed to me to be a somewhat outdated holiday.  In the Celtic cultures in which it was celebrated, it was the early spring holiday when the lambs began to be born and the first plants began pushing up through the soil.  Where I live, it occurs in the deepest of winter, when the snow is three feet deep and the first crocuses are almost three months away.  

But, if we look at it differently, perhaps it could become a third holiday that celebrates the Mysteries that occur in everyday life, the “kitchen mysteries” that do not originate in the heavens, but on earth; that we help create with what we always do after getting up in the morning everyday; that are not celebrated with global festivities, but at our breakfast tables and in our gardens. 

Though I cannot see the seeds of rebirth preparing to bud, it is happening all the same in this most basic manifestation of the Great Mystery of the coming of the renewal of life, of light’s return, of the earth and Divine joining to make the world anew.  This coming back to life or into life occurs each day as our children grow from babies into full-grown adults with lives, spirits, and personalities of their own.  I see it in all of our creative endeavors that begin with the smallest of ideas and transform into books, paintings, quilts, organizations or businesses, and so many things.

Perhaps we can make Imbolc a time to celebrate those Mysteries in our everyday lives the same way we do the other holidays, with decorations, foods, and activities that symbolize the message of this time.  Just as we begin to prepare for those other holidays for weeks, I plan to get ready for Imbolc starting now.  What might we do to honor those seeds of so many things that are the bridge between the winter and spring, a wasteland and abundance, the old and the new?

I have already begun watering a planter full of crocus bulbs and their little heads peeked through the soil yesterday.  If I had enough light in my house, I would plant more seeds for flowers, vegetables and herbs.  What can you begin to plant?

We can make an Imbolc mix of seeds, nuts, and dried fruits to put out for snacks during these weeks ahead.  We can serve meals to ourselves and our families that are high in nutrients, full of the life of the seed as it prepares for its journey to the upper world, and that are full of the spirit of the earth.  These might include more seeds, lentils, beans, root vegetables and, to celebrate the coming abundance, grains.

We can read or listen to a retelling of the story of Innana. This story is, to me, a perfect Imbolc tale because it recreates the journey of soul to the underworld where she is purified and made wise so that she can re-emerge into the earth better able to serve. 

We can find ways to nurture children and help them bring forth their own inner powers. We can spend more time with our own children or others for whom we have caregiving responsibilities, asking more questions about their interests and dreams. We can volunteer or donate to organizations that work for children with special needs, education, or other similar causes.  We can share our skills and experience to benefit children who may come across our paths at this time and throughout the year.

We can spend some time doing at least one creative project that has lain dormant for whatever reason.  It may be writing about a subject that scares us.  It may be trying some new media – if you are a writer, paint; if you bead, make something out of clay; if you are a singer, try cooking.

This new kind of Imbolc is a holiday that you can make your own.  What does it mean to you and what would you like it to be?

At the Altar of the Goddess of the Unexpected

I recently learned a lesson in both the magic of the unexpected and the life-giving and deeply complex flow that makes the ordinary and everyday possible, which begins with the earth’s turning to bring each dawn and has grown into cars and jobs and all that makes up our modern life.

 

I was waiting at an intersection on a snowy day when a driver on the cross street ran a red light, hit another vehicle, skidded, and came flying across the intersection to whack me head-on.   My car has been out of service ever since and it is only now, two weeks later, that I am beginning to feel  as if my soul has re-entered my body.  I now know why traditional people and others seek shamans at times of illness and trauma.  Even though my trauma was minor compared to what many other people face, how I have wished that someone would venture into the otherworld to retrieve who I was as I wandered without center, without the previously unspoken, but still absolute belief that I would survive each day unscathed. 

 

So, during these two weeks I have worshipped at the altar of the Goddess of the Unexpected.  I have been cast into her realm where no other, more comfortable, aspects of the divinity within can dwell. It has been just She and I as I have come to slowly explore my home in exile from my comfortable kitchen where I know who I am and what I will do each day.

 

It is a place where the everyday becomes deified simply because I finally understand how each day is truly a miracle, where each moment that goes as I expect it will is a complex orchestration of galactic mathematics, of earth’s delicate ecology, of human interaction and cooperation. I have come to truly appreciate this everyday life that I have been trying to celebrate in this blogsite.

 

But, this temple of the Goddess of the Unexpected is even more than that.

 

It is a place where I can be truly myself, can finally see myself exactly as I am because who I have built myself up to be, who I wish others to see, no longer exists while I am in this realm. 

 

It is a place of true new beginnings. Without the gravity of the my own expectations of what I should be and do that day pulling on me, I can now take flight into the endless sky.

 

It is a well of power freed from within myself as I experience my own will to survive, as I allowed myself to fall into dissolution and stopped the descent by pure desire to live again my everyday, “in a teapot” life.

 

It is a well of intense terror that I had no idea could be unleashed within me and the knowledge that now I can magically turn it back by the force of my mind’s ability to see myself from outside myself and to think analytically.

 

I am now gathering all these gifts as I embark on my journey back to everyday life.  Even though, during the first few days, I experienced that realm as a prison into which I had been cast to undergo some kind of tortured inquisition, now I embrace this Goddess of the Unexpected and express my appreciation that I have lived in Her Realm, as much as I hope not to have to go there again anytime soon.

 

Coincidentally, before the accident, I had been “memed” by Cate to list unusual things about myself.   Each of these aspects of myself is a small spell cast by the Goddess of the Unexpected, something that does not quite fit with most of my everyday life and makes my life therefore more fascinating, more passionate, more creative.  By venturing into these unexpectednesses, I taste some of that power, some of the liberation, some of the otherworldly sparkle of life outside the routine and expected.

 

1. I love kitsch.  When I moved into my house, I inherited lots of objects from my grandmother and mother-in-law so my home reflected their rather elegant and Baroque tastes, respectively.  As I came up on half a century of life, I decided it was time for my surroundings to appeal to me, so I went shopping and bought whatever caught my eye.  As I unpacked my shopping bags I came upon an undeniable truth.   I love kitsch – tiny ceramic teapots for my kitchen, silk flowers in every room, circus pink pillows.  Someone stop me before I hang velvet pictures of waifs with really, really big eyes… I think I love the innocence of kitsch, the pure childlike joy of it, the colors and icons that bring my heart back to another time of my life when I had fewer questions and answers were surer.  Maybe I just have no taste.

 

2. I once sat in a taxi with Helen Hayes, the famous actress.  I was working for the press office of a NYC agency and she was helping us publicize a program for low-income, frail elders.  I have no idea what I said, but I’m sure it was ridiculous, and I’m sure she was absolutely gracious.  I also met Danny Kaye at a fundraiser for the same program.  He was extremely jolly.  And I once danced with Patti Smith at a rock and roll club in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  That’s about it for my encounters with celebrities.

 

3. One of my legs is a half inch longer than the other.  This throws off my whole bone structure and has ultimately caused me to be in mild pain just about all the time.  But, at the same time, it makes me constantly aware of my physical being and the fact that I am connected to the air around me and the rock or soil of the earth under my feet, since these both determine if I will walk well that day.

 

4. I look almost exactly like my mother.  Photos of us when we were both quite young are almost indistinguishable and we both look different from anyone on her side of the family. Sometimes this is distressing, when I think of some of the physical problems she had that I worry about inheriting or when my identity sometimes seem to meld into hers.  Other times it is quite comforting, an obvious link to the women of my family that has, I think, made me more aware of the importance of being bonded to those women who came before and after me.

 

5. My favorite Goddess icon is The Sleeping Goddess of Malta, the statue of the woman or Goddess asleep on a couch, possibly experiencing some kind of vision.  In fact, I love sleeping more than just about any other activity and always have.  I don’t have especially insightful or inspiring dreams, I just love the physical feeling of sleep.  Perhaps in a former life I was some kind of priestess whose job it was to envision while sleeping and I got a taste for it.

 

6. I have an almost supernatural attraction to Scotland.  I may or may not have ancestors from there.  One evening, about 30 years ago, I heard the Tannahill Weavers, a band that plays Scottish traditional music and I was completely mesmerized.  For about the next 15 years, I was obsessed with finding out everything I could about this country and its history and culture.  About 20 years ago I took a trip there and came across the field where the Battle of Culloden took place, the battle that ushered in the attempted destruction of Highland culture and the migration of hundreds of thousands of Scots who were forced off their land, including possibly my ancestors.  I found the spot where the clan that has the same name as my mother stood. I stood on that ground and thought about how forces much mightier than me in terms of weapons and power had done everything in their power to destroy the spirit and the lives of those who had stood on this ground before me, but, yet, here I was 250 years later, their living legacy, returned, alive, remembering, and carrying on all that had been taken from them and that they had come to America to regain.

 

It has been so long since I have been able to write in this blog that the meme has, I’m sure, gone on without me.  So I now tag anyone reading who would like to make her or his own venture into the Temple of the Goddess of the Unexpected by writing about seven unusual biographical things.