Celebrating Ourselves as Sacred Women While Driving a Teen to the Mall

I would love to be able seek spiritual happiness by spending months in the Andes or weeks in Sedona or Montana or western Massachusetts or going on a retreat in some ancient site or a spending a winter alone in a hermit hut someplace. Most of my spiritual contemplation happens in the car while I am driving my teen child to the mall.  So, I ask myself, “How do you discover the Sacred Within when it is all you can do not to throw a shoe out the window at the car that just cut in front of you?  When you don’t feel the powerful abundance of Goddess in your heart, but instead are so frazzled trying to cope with the details of your life that you forget your own name?   When all you want to do is nap instead of meditating on some ancient goddess and her place in your life story?”

I don’t know.  I really don’t.  Believe me, my life would be easier if I did.

I suppose I should stop here, but that would be a disappointing end to the entry.  So, I will just say that…  what a wonderful opportunity driving a  teen to the mall is to dive right into the full storm of the stuff of real life.  No soap opera could ever beat a single day of the life of a parent for drama, for unexpected triumphs and heartbreaks, for never-ending toil.  When you drive a teen to the mall, you learn to focus intensely on the present moment.  No trivial chatter clogs up your mind.  You couldn’t ruminate if you wanted to, but you do live.  You do enter into what it means to be human in an elemental way. 

When the Creator made the universe, She didn’t create perfection, but instead made the world full of bustle and mess and frustration and dirt.  You kind of get the feeling that that is how She likes life, because that is how life is in nature. When you watch a chipmunk or an eagle or a turtle, they are running here and there stuffing acorns in their cheeks or flying off with baby rabbits in their beaks or shoveling out their homes in the mud. There must be something sacred about hubbub if the Creator made so much of it.

So, maybe these years of active parenthood are actually a special time of life, a unique way of being with spiritual messages that we can only get by living this way for twenty years or so.  Perhaps we can only truly understand the gift that life is by spending a quarter of our lives in the nitty-gritty of getting someone else’s life off to a good start, by cleaning up the diapers and mashing up the peas.  It could be that we can only truly appreciate solitude when we have memories of our heads exploding from the constant clamor.  I think that we can only get a true sense of the task of Creation when we understand that the glory moment of turning on the sun is part of it, but so is hearing the cries of billions of humans in despair all at the same time.  Perhaps this is one way of entering into Goddess’s own work, of being at Her side in a way that is not possible through any other means.  And you don’t even have to travel to another continent, or even across the street.

When Our Life’s Web is Unraveled by Violence, Goddess Mourns

My dream is that, at some time in the future, violence will be so rare that it would seem strange to write about it in a blog about the sacred feminine in everyday life.  Unfortunately, though, for now it is all too much a part of daily life for many women, whether through experiencing the organized violence of war, or crime, or domestic violence, or the emotional violence that is part of too many relationships. 
I first began to understand the importance of celebrating the Sacred Feminine as a way to heal the wounds left by many years ago when I heard an older woman speak to women of  her community about her life as a survivor of many decades of abuse.  After a lifetime of silence she was speaking up.  I asked myself what had given this woman – who had always been told to be quiet, to serve, to take whatever violence was forced on her — the courage to speak out.  Of course, she was never to blame for the violence against her, but something had changed her perspective of the violence and herself so that she was able to respond in a way that could help prevent other women from experiencing violence. All I could think of was that she had finally fully understood her own divinity.  She believed she had a soul, that all women have souls, and that she had to become the protector of her own soul and that of the women in her community.  It was then that I realized that the Sacred Feminine isn’t something to just study, to simply practice for my own pleasure and enlightenment, but a way to create peace in our own homes, communities, and world.

Celebrating the sacred feminine certainly does not provide instant healing from violence.  It does, however, change one’s way of experiencing the world so as to illuminate truth so that we may see violence for what it is and respond accordingly.

At its most basic, violence is a statement that the person to whom violence is being done is not a sacred being and so it is all right to violate her or him.  Celebrating the totality of one’s sacredness requires honoring the sacred feminine within all of us, especially when being a woman is part of what we consider to be our essence.  Quite simply, when we grow up in a culture that considers Divinity to be exclusively male, as women, we must readjust our thinking to honor our female selves as being sacred.  Once we see ourselves as sacred, we begin to understand that violence is never deserved. This is especially important when a component of so much violence involves convincing victims that they are to blame for violence against them.  This is especially true in domestic violence.

When you celebrate the Sacred Feminine, suddenly you are no longer alone in the universe.  So often, creating isolation and the feeling of hopelessness is part of the violence.  When you recognize the Sacred Feminine, you are embraced by all the women in the world and all they have suffered; your cries of despair are heard by She Who Hears the Cries of the World.   You are connected to that which is female in All that Is. Never again will you be truly alone or go unheard and very little is as healing as that.

So often I have heard women say “If only I had done this or that, the violence would not have happened.”  One woman who had been raped once asked me if God was mad at her for not fighting her rapist even when her life was threatened.  While some images of Goddess also include judgment, to me, the image of Goddess as ”mother” has more acceptance than judgment.  Within the Sacred Feminine, survivors are gathered to receive compassion and nurturance and not further violation through judgment by those who could not possibly understand what a woman has experienced.

So, the Sacred Feminine is where survivors of violence can find a space that offers them what they need for healing: a sense that they did not deserve the violence, being listened to, relationship, acceptance.

Of course, men also experience violence.  What about them?  Are they to suffer simply because they were born with y chromosomes?  I believe that the Sacred Feminine is just as essential for male survivors of violence as for women.  They, too, need to honor all aspects of themselves as sacred, to be heard, to find relationship to She Who Hears Their Cries, to be accepted and not judged.

The Sacred Feminine also offers a vision of a world where all beings are considered sacred and where violence, therefore, would not ever be acceptable.  While violence is considered a legitimate way to respond to a situation, it will always exist and proliferate.  As long as it is a strategy rather than an abomination, people will use it for their own ends.  Celebrating the Sacred Feminine offers a vision of a world without violence, where all beings, women and men, are sacred and therefore inviolable; where all beings, women and men, are connected through their essential humanness and generation from a Divinity that they also carry within; where all the cries of the world are heard; where judgment is less important than compassion.  When we carry this vision in our hearts and minds, we hold the seeds of a world without violence.

I have been fortunate to have few memories of real physical violence against me, but I know that few women or men can say that.  So, I invite those who have more experience than I do to comment and share your own thoughts and stories. This entry is just a beginning of a dialogue, just thoughts from my own experience.  Perhaps by telling each other our stories and talking about our thoughts about them, we can all find ways to banish the violence that threatens our lives and our very existence. 

Is There a “Women’s Language”?

Recently, the world lost the last speaker of a “women’s language” in China.  This language was one created and spoken exclusively by women so that they could discuss their lives with one another.  Is there also a “women’s language” here?

While, obviously, women and men both speak English, the ways in which women use language can express qualities that some associate with “being female,” and these can be very positive.  Some of these ways women speak have been derided as being passive and weak and women have, for years, been told to speak more like men, especially if they are in, or seeking, positions of power.  But, perhaps some of these ways can be looked at differently.  For example, women tend, the experts say, to make statements into questions.  This, they claim, makes it sound as if women aren’t sure of what they are stating.  Or, could it be that they are inviting dialogue, that they are creating relationships rather than simply declaiming facts?  That they are acknowledging that no one can be sure of just about anything and they want to know what others think and believe?  That they value the opinions of the person to whom they are speaking and not only their own?  

Women are also criticised for speaking softly.  But, does not nature so often speak powerfully in just this way in the opening of a rose bloom or the quiet gurgle of a river that has flowed for thousands of years or the cascade of a leaf onto the ground in the fall?  When we speak softly, we invite others to tell us how they truly feel, knowing that we will listen and not overshout them.  As long as we also know when to speak loudly and make our voices heard, speaking softly can bring gentleness into a world where almost nothing is needed more urgently.

When I edit women’s writing or listen to women speak, I will frequently find that women are more likely to express themselves in a way that brings ideas together rather than separating them.   Could this not be a way of communicating wholistically, showing the greater whole when one does not divide and classify?  How much more  do you taste a sundae when you read “vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce and nuts and whipped cream and a cheery on top” than “vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry”?   How much more do you feel the flow that is how life is actually expressed when you read “Today I witnessed the sunrise and counted the geese flying across the noontime sky and then lay in the field and sang to the stars” than “Today I watched the sunrise, counted geese, and sang to stars”?

Women’s writing, especially when they are communicating casually with one another, may have lots of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and other indicators of emotion.  Some may call this hysterical; I call it enthusiastic and expressive of feeling, giving a sense of the person behind the words and how she perceives what she is writing about.  If I had to choose a lunch companion with whom I knew I could discuss real issues in my real life and who would show compassion and understanding, I would much rather go with a “!” than a “.”.

The differences in the way women and men speak and write are important.  Language is important and shapes how we view the world.  If we want a world that has balance; that values women and the way they think, then we must also value those aspects of communication that present and foster those human qualities that we associate with women.

Goddess and Nothingness

Today it was announced that scientists have found a great big nothingness in the universe.  It isn’t a black hole or something that is too dark to be seen, it is literally “nothing there.”  While they are contemplating the scientific meaning, I am considering the creative and spiritual meaning. 

To me, the universe is the great artistic enterprise and whatever is in it, or not, has a message both for those who create and those who think about what Goddess, who is the original creator, is all about.  What does it mean to create a creation where a lot of it has nothing in it? 

To me it means that Goddess is looking for co-creators.  It isn’t that She expects us to make galaxies and stars and planets and park them in that space.  But, you have to create a place of nothingness for people to create in.  If every spot is filled, you do not have the emotional and intellectual space to allow what is within to come to being in the physical world.  She is saying “now it’s your turn.  I want you to create with me — whether it’s a birthday cake, or a painting, or a song, or a letter, or a quilt, or a bouquet of flowers, or anything else.  It is what we create together that is beauty.  So, here is a space that has the silence and receptivity of nothingness to hold you as you create.”

What will you make in Her space? 

Mirror, mirror…

I recently had brought to my mind a period of my life, in my 20s, when I lived in NYC and used to do things like wear floor-length opera capes to punk clubs.  I’ve always thought of myself as an Emily Dickinson type — invisible, quiet, living through the written word.  In  those memories of NYC, I am a very different person than I ever imagined myself to be, and yet I know I did what I remember because I still have the cape in my attic.

So, who am I?  I am, of course, both those people, opposite as they may be.  When you see the Divine within yourself, as you see the Divine as looking like yourself, you can be all aspects of yourself.  You do not have to hold an identity together, desperately grasping at its pieces to try to cobble together one whole person.  The person you are in each moment can be the reflection, like sun shining off water, of the much greater Divinity that dwells within.  You can be all the people who will make your life full, who will allow you to be the best you can be, who will enable you to accomplish all you must do, who will delight and amaze and teach you, even as they all are you.  Each moment you can be a new, full person that emanates from all the universe both within and outside of you. 

The Art of Envisioning

Today I was thinking about how envisioning truly is an art, something that takes care, practice, and natural talent.  By “envisioning,” I mean taking your highest ideals and imagining a future that embodies those ideals, that is better than the present we have now, that is relevant to real people’s needs, that is possible enough that people are likely to rally round you and help you achieve it. 

“Envisioning” is actually quite a useful art, like blending tea or carving wooden bowls.  Whenever I find myself in a situation that is hopelessly complicated and murky, in which there seems to be no way out, if I envision powerfully enough, I can see the situation from above and understand what needs to be done.   Envisioning is the only way to get people to stop bickering long enough to solve a problem, and not just get back to where you started, but end up with a world better than the one you started with. 

Why is envisioning a Goddess-related art?  Well, if you think of Goddess as related to intuition, then it surely is a Goddess art because you must pull up from within yourself that vision of the world that guides you, that you know in your heart is the way the world should be.  Envisioning requires faith that humanity truly can agree to live together peacefully in a better world and the creativity to figure out how to make that happen. 

 What are your best visions?

Goddess All Around Us

I have been photographing nature this summer and everywhere I look I seem to see Goddess.  Here She is.  All you have to do is look for her.

 These are “glacial potholes” from Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.  Notice that cauldronlike combination of strength and stability and receptivity and holding.

Here is the never-ending cycle of death and rebirth – a flower growing from the decomposing leaves.  It looks like a mushroom, doesn’t it?

Here is a place of peace.  Notice the sun coming through behind the tree, just waiting to energize you again when you are ready.

Some things need no explanation, like dragonflies and wild roses

My Mother Flies to Heaven

Here’s another story of how women in my family found the Sacred within themselves.

When my mother was in her 40s she took up flying and eventually earned a private pilot’s license. Though she went to church, flying alone was her spiritual practice. It was how she connected to her inner being and the Mother Earth and Sky. She always said she had thought she would do something wonderful with her flying but never did. In fact, she taught her daughters that women can do anything they put their minds to and to let their spirits soar.                                                                                                        

Goddess in my grandmother’s beauty salon

I truly believe that the Sacred Feminine has been with us for as long as women have come together, even during times when no one spoke of Her or called Her by Her true name.  Here is a story from my past that I think express how She has always been present.

In a beauty parlor in Montgomery, Alabama

When I was young, in the mid-60s, I would go to my grandparents in Montgomery, Alabama for some time in the summer. Each week my grandmother would take me along with her to get her hair done in a beauty parlor down the street. I would listen as the women would talk over everything but even then I realized that what they were really doing was celebrating themselves as women together. They may have said they were doing their hair for their husbands, but their husbands never really noticed. It was really for themselves and each other. This was their way of having time alone with other women in a place that was completely woman-centered. It was their way of feeling good about their physical being in a place and time when women and their bodies were not taken seriously. It was the mid-20th century version of women gathering at ancient temples to honor the old Goddesses and themselves.    

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