Womb Altar Cards- the Back Story

Three days before Christmas, 2016, I was diagnosed with andeno-carcinoma in situ (ACIS). I didn’t know anything about this disease- but I knew the word carcinoma and I was scared. My GP referred me to a specialist- whom she had already spoken to and made an appointment for me as it was, she said, urgent that I saw him.  This idea of urgency continued when I did see the specialist- he performed a colposcopy to determine if I had cervical cancer or ACIS only. ACIS is considered a “premalignant glandular condition” in the lining of the cervix- and is the precursor to cervical andenocarcinoma- in other words, cervical cancer. So regardless of the outcome of the biopsy he recommended that the safest and best option was to have a hysterectomy immediately.

A hysterectomy is removal of the womb and would mark the end of my menstruating years. I wanted more information before I went down that route. I wanted to know what the likelihood of getting cancer was, what other alternatives were, and I wanted to share with him my belief that the womb was sacred. I told him that although I was passed my child bearing years I wanted to keep this part of me.  Throughout this journey I was told by the medical profession that as I no longer wanted to birth more children then my womb was unnecessary.  The idea that menstruation might have an important function and meaning for me, really was not considered and the idea that my womb was the birthplace of creativity was also not acknowledged.  Though I did point this out whenever I could.

This diagnosis was the start of an ongoing healing journey. And I mean ongoing, I am still deep in process.   While I waited to find out if I had Cancer or not- I spent two weeks in Croagingalong National Park, Gurnai/Kurnai country. A truly beautiful spot on the east coast of Victoria- and it is full of birds. I spent a lot of time listening to and looking out for birds. I spent much time drawing on the energy of this place, to create as much calm and nourishment as I could.  Nature has long provided me with a sense of connection and belonging. And though I hadn’t been to Wingen Inlet before I felt welcomed to this land, and a deep sense of peace here.

Upon return to Melbourne I learnt I didn’t have Cancer- yet. That was the framing though, that this disease will likely lead to cancer.  I decided to have surgery -but not a hysterectomy. I had a cone biopsy which involves a cutting a wedge out of the cervix and testing for the disease.  This was supposed to be minor surgery- but was a huge and challenging journey for me.  Mainly because I caught an infection- which impaired me for 6 weeks.  This recuperation was however, a deeply transformative time as I travelled on the portals of illness to new understandings about myself, my body and life.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post, illness is a gateway into another way of being.  Time shifts and morphs. The hours do not tick by, for those clocks hold no sway. You are in another realm. In this realm ordinary things become extraordinary, drinking water, sensing sunshine on your body, the rush of the wind in the leaves. All these little moments are magnified and intensified. This is the realm of magic and wonder. This is the realm of the Shaman. And here I roamed for three weeks, in and out of time, of sleep, of dreams, of earth. She of whom we are all made.

And around this time I began to explore my relationship with my cervix.  I realised my understanding of my cervix was limited and at times, simply wrong.  I had always pictured my cervix as a flat circular muscle which opened during birth.  It is in fact more like the throat, a tubular organ linking the vagina to the womb.  It has two openings, the internal and external OS. And it is the external OS that opens when giving birth.  For much of my life all that I knew of my cervix was limited to the information given around birth, that it was the opening to the womb and during birth was able to open to 10 cm to allow the baby through. And for a long time that was all I knew.  Then during my Four Seasons Journey with the School of Shamanic Womancraft and later my MoonSong Apprenticeship I learnt more. I learnt that the cervix produces much of the changing mucus that we experience during our cycles, and that the cervix also changes position during our cycles, opening to blood, to sperm, and closing also. And yet there was still much I didn’t know.  But all that was about to change.

So, began a journey of getting to know my cervix.  I re-read two of the books essential to teaching MoonSong Workshops, Becoming A Woman by Jane Hardwicke Collings, and A Blessing Not a Curse (Jane Bennett)– it’s amazing what you pick up when your focus has shifted.  I really digested the information on the cervix, especially around her opening and closing in time with the cycle, and the softening and hardening of her entrances.  I began looking at pictures too…though there were not many I found the most amazing photographs from My Beautiful Cervix project which, when I looked in 2017, was just one woman’s account of her cervix throughout one cycle.  The site has grown since then and now has photographs from several different women’s cervixes throughout their cycle- and importantly has images of a cone biopsy and radical hysterectomy! I wish that had been there earlier!

Using these images, the information I had, and the feelings within my own body I began to draw my cervix, and her changes. Initially I drew her as a donut, a fleshy deep pink organ with a hole in the centre. And yet I wanted to draw my cervix in relationship to the whole of the yoni- connecting her to my vulva, vagina, and womb…. To show her as the throat, or neck like structure that she is.  I also wanted to show how I now saw the cervix – as a sacred gateway, a portal to the temple of our womb- our creative centre. I began to draw the changing  dynamics within the whole yoni region of the body. And so, began my drawings for my Womb Altar Cards

As a teacher of MoonSong I regularly used the Altar Cards produced by Jane Hardwicke Collings as a teaching aide. These cards include a set of the moon phases, the earth seasons- depicted both within the context of a rose, and through the seasonal celebrations in the pagan wheel of life, and the life cycle of woman, (drawings by Lucy Pierce and photographs of JHC and her family ).  We didn’t have cards specifically for the menstrual cycle.  So I used all these cards as inspiration- drawing on the wisdom contained within each set and the correspondences between them to create my Womb Altar Cards. For we cycle- that is our nature during our menstrual years, and these cycles correlate to and with the moon and her phases, and the earth and her seasons.

I wanted to capture these relationships in my cards. I wanted to show how dynamic and alive our cervix and yoni is. How our bodily changes reflect inner and outer changes within us too. All the while being mindful that everybody is different. As we say in the MoonSong workshops this is the map, your body is the territory. These cards are a guide for you to get to know your own body, your emotions, your feelings and how you change within your own cycling ways. And my learning went deeper too.

Susan Weed writes of the cervix, “take you’re your power. Claim your cervix and your genitals as your own. Possess your cervix, your uterus, your vagina. Look at your cervix, accept it, love it, cherish it. When we reject a part of ourselves, we can find ourselves “losing” that part to surgery!”  So, I took to looking at my own cervix, the My Beautiful Cervix project has kits you can buy to help you do this too. You just need a scapula and mirror! Though they provide some guidance too.  I was also drumming to journey to meet my cervix- my womb, my inner Goddess, and to listen to the inner wisdom and words of my body and guides. This was a time of deepening connection and love. Love for the parts of myself that still held shame, and fear, and pain.

And someone I knew pointed my in the direction of the online Self Cervix course, which is “A journey of pleasure and awakening.” For the cervix is also an integral part of our sexual anatomy and expression.  But it is often blocked and armoured, and a lot of the course was focused on de-armouring our cervixes. For it is only when they and we feel safe enough that we can really access the eroticism and pleasure that is our birthright. And I really came to know this through the course. But this information is not widely known, and when I told one of my specialists- a Gyny- oncologist Doctor, he dismissed this idea, and, when I told him that I knew from my own experience that my cervix was and is part of my pleasure zone, he wanted medical proof!!!!  How far we have to go.

I wanted to share the sexiness and juiciness of our yoni’s and the ways this shifts during our cycle too. Clearly ovulation is the peak of our overtly aroused state and yet our menstrual time has its own juicy magic. And of course, all of this is entirely personal. When you feel most alive and aroused etc is not necessarily when I do, and it’s not necessarily when you are most fertile. Arousal and pleasure are very personal and individual, and yet there are biological times when our bodies are “ripe” and ready for possible fertilization of the egg. And of course, many of us do not have male partners, and yet our bodies continue with the magical cycle of preparing for, releasing and letting go of the egg…. with all that this entails- and it’s a lot!  I must skip over so much information- but have a look at the cards, much of it is in them!

And of course, the creativity that is arising at the time of ovulation is more often than not about creative projects, ideas, thoughts and ways of being, rather than the creation of new life.…. During my ovulatory period, I used to feel a lot of love for everyone. I was also more talkative, and full of ideas…. A few days later on, a sense of perspective would arise, and it was time to let go of the many stimulating ideas.  And now I find this second half of the cycle, a time of quiet creative energy. I am more inwardly focused and so I am often writing stories, poetry and editing during this phase.

And as someone who no longer has a womb I still love to use my cards, and I hope these cards can be of use to other women who don’t have a womb- for whatever reason.  The cards are illustrative of the energy of the moon phase I am flowing with, and of the seasons.  I like to look at my day 21 card as the Maga card, this is the stage I have entered, and there is lots I can gather from meditating on the image here.

So, having produced a set of cards that I was pretty happy with I put them out to my School of Shamanic Womancraft community to gauge responses and feedback and I am pleased to say that the response was really positive.  I then set about producing more cards and releasing them to the wider community. I also produced a brief guide for using them, which you get when you purchase the cards, but they are your cards and how, where and when you use them is up to you. I hope you enjoy playing with them.

And despite all that I did to heal myself, I did get andeno carcinoma. I found out after my second cone biopsy- many months later. I kept my womb for a year longer than was originally proposed and I am so grateful for the gifts of this journey.  Which I can some up as love and trust instead of fear, and embodiment. I have connected to my body in ways I had not. Ironic that illness and disease have been portals to a greater aliveness in my body.  Before sacrificing my womb, I had a womb loss circle with dear friends- several actually, to share my grief and love of my womb, and to celebrate wombs everywhere…My husband and I also had a gentle and intimate goodbye ceremony. These ceremonies were all very healing, not only for my womb, but for the collective understanding of our cervixes and wombs- which still suffer from ignorance, shame, and fear.  This journey to love our cervixes, and our wombs is a profoundly healing process- for ourselves, all our relations, and for the womb of the earth.

In February 2018 I had a radical hysterectomy, the removal of my womb, my ovaries, some lymph nodes and extra tissue. The surgery was huge, and the recovery long and slow. But my womb, and my cervix live on in these Womb Altar Cards, and in the energy within me, a loving space where the creative energy of these cards came from. That energy remains. I bow to the womb energy within you too, whether or not you have a womb.

love and blessings

Sarah xx

Winter Dreaming

Dark Moon Musings

 

 

 

 

With this Dark Moon it finally feels like Winter is Coming. The Southerlies have been blowing up from the Antarctic, and we can finally settle into the wet (hopefully) and cold season of Winter- which is only two weeks away. I am looking forward to lighting the fire, reading and stoking my inner hestia…Maybe you already have a fire lit and a warm cuppa, sit back and read about my Winter Dreaming…where I  reflect on dreams, on becoming maga, and the call to Anwnn, but first an update on some coming events.

What’s On?

As we are heading into Winter my events are winding down…Only two events on offer in June…and then a big space until events start up in September again.  But please note bookings for the Drum Making Workshop in November are open as several spots are already taken, so if you are dreaming into birthing a drum please consider booking now.

Sacred Women’s Circle- Co Hosting with Grace Funk- Thursday 7 June
Winter Solstice Dance– Friday 22 June, 2018
Medicine Drum Making Workshop – Saturday 25 November


Dance for the Reef-
A virtual boogie…

Bleached magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica) with clownfish (Amphiprion percula). Lizard Island, March 2016.

#DancefortheReef…. is an online campaign to show our pollies how much we love the Great Barrier Reef. At the moment both Labour and Liberal Governments are either actively supporting (Libs) or not ruling out (Labour) the massive Adani led, Carmichael Coal mine on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, which by the way is the biggest living structure on the planet!  I am sure you are with me, in wanting to protect and enhance the natural wonder that is the Barrier Reef.  All you need to do is video yourself doing a couple of really simple dance moves, tag a friend and post it everywhere you want!  I am suggesting you wear colour- because the reef is usually so colourful. But if that is too much, try wearing white, in memorium for that which is already lost. Much of the reef has already been bleached- and destroyed. We are here to dance to make sure that we can support this amazing repository of life.

This is activism with a difference, no petitions to sign, no letters to write just a simple social media boogie campaign…So what are you waiting for? Here’s my video to show you just how easy the steps are. Remember to share to @dance_for_the_Reef and tag us too #DancefortheReef and #SavetheGreatBarrierReef. Together we will let the pollies know that the Great Barrier Reef is Sacred- it is sacred to all of us here in Australia and across the world.

The Wangan and Jagalingou people, Traditional Owners of the land on which Adani wants to build their mine, have said ‘No’ to the Carmichael Coalmine.  Wangan & Jagalingou people are fighting Adani because of the massive, irreversible damage the mine will have on their land, water and culture. The Wangan &Jagalingou are asking people around the world to stand with them in their struggle. You can donate directly to support there fight for their land, their culture, their people.

And feel free to make up your own moves! I would love to see some site-specific dances, especially those at the water’s edge. All the oceans and seas are connected, so wherever you are, feel free to dance for the reef, sending your prayers and love via the water.  This is a Global Dance (Virtual) Event. Lets spread the moves, to show our love for the Reef.  I will be doing a group dance  by the sea soon, get in touch if you want to be part of that! And if you want more information on what is going on with the proposed Carmichael mine check out the Stop Adani website, The World Wildlife Fund, The Australian Youth Climate Coalition website or The Wangan and Jagalingou website.  

Planetary Dance for Peace

 

 

 

I was involved in a beautiful Planetary Dance event in St Kilda on BoonWurrung country. This was a simple and profound movement offering the chance to “move together in common pulse, with a common purpose,” And as Anna Halprin, the Planetary Dance creator,  says, When enough people do this…”an amazing force takes over…a power that can renew inspire, teach create and heal.”

We drummed for this Planetary Healing gathering. As drummers we were part of the pulse, the drum beat, the heart beat for the dancers, and yet were woven in by the dancers too. The land and the sea, there at Point Ormond, were weaving us also.  It was a truly beautiful experience. It was what we women have done for millennia, before we were told we couldn’t. But we are remembering theses sacred rhythms, we are remembering our sacred birthrights.We are drumming ourselves home to Her, to sacred land and sacred connection.

We will be participating again next year -so stay in touch if you feel to participate. Thanks to Tony Norquay and Viv Neale for holding and co-creating space with all those beautiful people who showed up. And to The BoonWurrung on whose land we danced.

Drum Dreaming

And I would love to hear from all of you who have made a medicine drum with Grace Funk and I. How have used your drum? What is your drum calling forth in you? Is it for personal ritual, community healing? I will be gathering some stories for a book, so please get in touch and share how you use your drum in the world.  They take us on journeys, when we follow their call….Get in touch to share your story (a few lines is OK) with me.

 

My Teacher, Jane Hardwicke Collings, a powerful Maga doing her work in the world for planetary healing, for the Grandchildren, and the grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Maga Dreaming

Another seed or dreaming that has been forming of late is to shape some of my reflections of surgical menopause into a book. (it might be very thin!) So much learning is occurring in this space, practical wisdom, and enchanted remembering. Not surprisingly my dreams have been very powerful during this time. After all the Autumn phase of a woman’s life, the Maga phase is a time of turning within, of gathering insights, and sharing them with the world …

In a recent dream I was walking with the Glad of Mermaids through a medieval town. We know we are magical creatures…I leave the group to walk into a jewelery store…and after browsing the jewels, I am called to the balcony where an eastern yellow robin sings and then above us we see an eagle soaring. The lady is afraid of the eagle. I ask why as we watch it dropping treasures into the mud. It returns and sprays the woman. The eagle turns into a man and ask her to help him find her children. Together they walk with an old woman and a young golden child out into the street…I am left alone in the shop to mind it, when I notice a little girl enter from the muddy pool. Although she is muddy, she seems healthy and I want to shout out wait- maybe this is your daughter.

And so it seems to me that this dream is about many things, including the reclaiming of the inner child, both the light and the dark. The one who is in the shadows and the one who is in the light both need to be reclaimed and loved.  The masculine and the feminine must work together to find the treasures that lie within. It feels like such a powerful dream as it resonates on so many levels with so much that has been happening in my life, and with messages I have been receiving through various healing modalities.

image: The Return of Persephone, Frederick Leighton, 1891 in Leeds Art Gallery, Yorkshire

 

 

 

 

The reunion of and with the inner maiden seems so potent – at this time of rebirthing one’s self into the world. It coincides with my work on the Demeter Persephone myth in which Demeter mourns not only her daughter but her inner maiden too. This healing of our inner maiden seems to be essential to the task of Maga.

Menopause is a rebirth, an initiation into this next life phase.  It is a time to take stock of what we have harvested over the course of our life, and what we need to let go of. To ensure that we (re) birth ourselves in the most authentic way, we need to face our shadows, our traumas, so that we don’t continue to carry them over into this new phase of our life.  Our shadow self can be integrated into our self, with love and compassion. And in my dream, this tubby muddy girl was found in the place of treasure, and despite being in the mud was robust and healthy under all that dirt.  Perhaps she was shamed but was not shame herself.  I am walking with these parts of myself forging and finding ways to honour what I really want to do, what my calling in this lifetime is….And sometimes that calling comes with a big bang of clarity, and sometimes it is simply following the Yes, wherever it leads.

Anwnn The Deep

And my most recent dream led me back to a deep dark pool of water, something was shimmering in the dark murky waters. Was it going to rise out, or was I going to dive in? This image was so strong that I followed it to Anwnn, to the Welsh Other world, or not world, to the Deep. “It is a source of beauty and terror, of awe, of Awen, the divine inspiration quested by the bards and awenyddion who crossed the edge of the dark to explore its depths.”  (Lorna Smithers)

And on this Dark Moon, this sees perfect, and of course I was led further down the trail to the land and to Elen of the Ways, again. So here I am at the edge of the dark, trusting that Elen has more gifts and insights for me, trusting that I will continue to work with the drum, with the dance, along the crooked path, to come home to myself and this blessed earth.

A Poem for You

As always I try and finish with a poem, and this beautiful one comes from Lorna Smithers.

Because there’s no other way.
Because the gods have got me by the heartstrings.
Because I see over the horizon not what’s on it.
Because I see birds who are not birds.
Because I am in hidden spaces.
Because I love mist.
Because no-one tells the whispers of the silent.
Because words can dance like pictures on cave walls.
Because my people are hungry.
Because the wind howls down my neck.
Because I wake at night and there are stars.
Because the mortality ship is sailing.
Because I am the threshold.
Because another world’s stars hem me in.
Because I look above and the worms are singing.

Lorna Smithers is a poet, author, awenydd, and Brythonic polytheist. She is currently exploring how our ancient British myths relate to our environmental and political crises and dreaming new stories. As a devotee of Gwyn ap Nudd, a ruler of Annwn, she seeks to reweave the ways between the worlds.

I will be dreaming into Annwn and awenydd some more, and may have something for you on this next time,

until then

Blessings
Sarah xx

Dance for the Reef

#DancefortheReef…. is an online campaign to show our pollies how much we love the Great Barrier Reef. At the moment both Labour and Liberal Governments are either actively supporting (Libs) or not ruling out (Labour) the massive Adani led, Carmichael Coal mine on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, which by the way is the biggest living structure on the planet!  I am sure you are with me, in wanting to protect and enhance the natural wonder that is the Barrier Reef.  All you need to do is

  1. Video yourself doing a couple of really simple dance moves. My video shows these moves which represent our love for the oceans, our love for the coral, our love for the fish and our love for the waters. Use these or make up your own.
  2. share it @dance_for_the_Reef , #danceforthereef, #stopadani and on facebook…
  3. Tag a friend so they have to dance next!

I am suggesting you wear colour- because the reef is usually so colourful. But if that is too much, try wearing white, in memorium for that which is already lost. Much of the reef has already been bleached- and destroyed. We are here to dance to make sure that we can support this amazing repository of life.

This is activism with a difference, no petitions to sign, no letters to write just a simple social media boogie campaign…So what are you waiting for? My video  or @dance_for_the_reef (instagram) can show you just how easy the steps are. Remember to share to @dance_for_the_Reef and tag us too #DancefortheReef and #SavetheGreatBarrierReef, #stopadani. Together we will let the pollies know that the Great Barrier Reef is Sacred- it is sacred to all of us here in Australia and across the world.

The Wangan and Jagalingou people, Traditional Owners of the land on which Adani wants to build their mine, have said ‘No’ to the Carmichael Coalmine.  Wangan & Jagalingou people are fighting Adani because of the massive, irreversible damage the mine will have on their land, water and culture. The Wangan &Jagalingou are asking people around the world to stand with them in their struggle. You can donate directly to support there fight for their land, their culture, their people.

And feel free to make up your own moves! I would love to see some site-specific dances, especially those at the water’s edge. All the oceans and seas are connected, so wherever you are, feel free to dance for the reef, sending your prayers and love via the water.  This is a Global Dance (Virtual) Event. Lets spread the moves, to show our love for the Reef.  I will be doing a group dance  by the sea soon, get in touch if you want to be part of that! And if you want more information on what is going on with the proposed Carmichael mine check out the Stop Adani website, The World Wildlife Fund, The Australian Youth Climate Coalition website or The Wangan and Jagalingou website.  

Radical Self Care- Choosing Love: Newsletter May 17

Scorpio Full Moon Love

Dear Hearts,
Thanks for tuning in and turning up.

I am feeling the blessings of this full moon, of this illumination. I want to share with you the words of Mikailah as they really spoke to me. They met me in this surging tide of emotion as I come face to face with my fears both the immanent ones around the continued presence of ACIS in my cervix and the deep seated fears held in my sacred bowl through this life time and probably through the lifetimes of my ancestors. So here are her words, maybe you too will be touched by their significance, and maybe together we can choose to transmute and rewrite our Stories..

“All that has been hidden away and not addressed is rising to the surface to be personally owned (and not projected) through the illuminating Full Moon. There seems to be no hiding from our old emotional wounds. This is where mindfulness, self responsibility and the deepest attention to radical self care/ love is important for there is a golden gift to transmute the old story of our being.”

Before reflecting further here’s a link to my latest offerings:..click for further details:

MoonSong- Reclaiming Feminine Wisdom: 3/6/17
Winter Solstice Dance: 16/6/17
Connecting with Your Medicine Drum: 16/7/17
Feminine Embodiment: MoonDance Workshop for Women 3/09/17

Choosing to Walk With Love

So this moon is showing us the way home, and showing us what might be getting in the way of this homecoming. And if the opportunity for rewriting our stories is written in the stars, then why not use this energy?

You know how much I love stories, so why not rewrite our own stories, the personal and the collective ones? For now I simply need to focus on my own story and trust that the personal is political.

I need to look at the shape and texture of it, and see the paths I have taken, see the illuminated signs that I followed some of the way, or those I wanted to follow but felt unable to. I can see where I sometimes sat in the middle of the road and went nowhere, all the while thinking I was moving forward very quickly…And I can see where I went deep underground. And now I have come to this crossroad, this ACIS induced placed of choosing. And Hecate loves cross roads, so she is here with me at this point, this place. And I can choose how I want to proceed. And right now I want to choose love. Love is the radiant path, and love is actually the safest path.

Did I say love is safe? Yes, but I have learnt otherwise. I have learnt that love is sometimes unsafe. I have learnt instead to fear. And this fear is deeply held, it is embodied. It is inherited, ancient and of this lifetime.  SometimesI walk with trepidation. I walk with my anxiety in the step and in the shape of my walking. Fear is in the movements I make, the curl of my shoulders, the tightness of my hips,  the clutch of my psoas. Fear is in the footfalls of my moving. I walk with fear and this way has bought me here. And now I want to choose a different way. With consciousness, with intention, with forgiveness I choose love…

Interestingly my new moon prayers which evolved during a sacred walking womb ritual were:

I am a Priestess
I walk the Shamanic Path
With every Sacred Step

During this process  I felt  very clearly that when I hurry I am not on my path, I am in fact wobbly and disconnected. It was only when I slowed down that I felt myself present, that I felt myself Priestess. And this is not some high faluting thing….it is the very sacredness of our being, as guardians and protectors of this earth, as Priestess to Her.

And so I am trying to walk with love, to walk this path of love. And this isn’t easy… I am a loving warm person, yes but I am also someone who lives with a lot of imagined fear…You name it, it has happened to me, at least in my imagination. I was with Woody Allen in all his early movies. I totally got those fear induced scenarios, and the way he presented them to you as real, only to then reveal it was his fear talking. And Diane Keaton when she rises out of the bed during their love making scenes, Oh yes that was me too.

So choosing love is going to take time and practice. But we are so supported in this. If only we look for the love and support of the Great Mother. Last night I walked around the burbs, mindfully, slowly and I came upon a stunning Autumn tree. As I stood there gazing into her beauty,  I could feel her song. Truly, deeply, I could feel her song being sung in my body. And she was reminding me that we all have a song which we need to listen for. Just as I had been told by my Aruveydic Doctor earlier that day. …And then later I went to the Van Gogh exhibition and here again I saw the songs of life. I cried at the way he depicted the song of the trees, the movement, energy and life force radiating from them. Here again I was touched by our deep interconnection, by love. Go see this work, it is magnificent. Its on at the NGV and it links to my seasonal work too, for Van Gogh knew the potency of the cycles, the inherent wisdom in natures rhythm.

Radical Self Care

I now see that for me the radical part of this radical self care involves two aspects, choosing love is radical, and choosing to prioritise my own self care, is also radical. And I invite you to think about what radical in radical self care means to you? I wonder if choosing love, and choosing to prioritise your own care resonates with you?

So often as women, and as mothers, carers, lovers, daughters, we put others first. Not surprising really its right there in the word (m)other. And children need our attention, our presence, or that of loving caregivers, they need dependable loving adults around them. And quite often our needs are secondary. So many of us are so busy that there really does not seem to be any time for self care.

But self care is absolutely necessary. Especially at this time of mid life. This re-birthing of self will set the patterns for the next phase of our life cycle, and so it is important to consciously choose the patterns, movements and ways of being we want to bring into this next phase of our lives. Often self care is about slowing down, about meeting oneself with tenderness and awareness, about making space for  feelings to arise.

For me self care is also about finding rhythms so that the contraction is followed by expansion, the in breath  by the out breath. And one of the most beautiful writers on this subject of self care while parenting isKatrina Kenison. Her book Mitten Strings for God shows how we can choose self care as we parent, how we can choose stillness, quiet and love in the face of this onslaught of consumer, capitalist cacophony of noise and activity.   I highly recommend this book to all those parents out there. I had no intention of writing about it but somehow it popped up so  I will let those of you who want to, to seek it out and reflect on your own life, and on the ways in which your own self care could be woven into your families rituals…

Rhythms of Life and Love

Rhythm has been one of those guiding principles, one of those flashing signs showing me the way home and I have followed its call.  I have followed the path to dance, to Steiner, to the School of Shamanic Womancraft and to drumming. In each of these teachings rhythm matters, rhythm is essential. My inner healer/my intuition knew I needed rhythm but I am only now seeing how much of this inner rhythm has been curtailed. I see how although I was reaching for my internal rhythm, my fear was disabling it. Fear prevents us from really flowing with the rhythms. Its all one way with fear, its constriction and contraction. And its hard for the body to regenerate without this essential rhythm.  Our bodies like (and as part of ) the earth rely on  rhythm to function properly… This is what I teach and know and yet have not been fully embodying. The time has come to shift from fear to love, and I’m using this full moon energy, this “gift” of ACIS to move from fear to love.

This is what is being illuminated for me this cycle. I am seeing how much of my life is spent being busy and how much of my life is spent being fearful. I really didn’t see how much anxiety and fear I carry around with me. My husband did though, but he is not one to intervene, he just waits for me to see….and its been a long wait!

So here I am noticing how small things make me jump, how absence makes me fear the worst, how adrenaline pumps through my exhausted body…and how living in this way, meeting the world from a place of fear, of constriction and contraction is really unhealthy. Doh!  And so to moving towards love, moving with love, really living a life of love.

On Love

At the moment the ways I am choosing love is by breathing, catching myself when I hear the voice of fear and pausing long enough to ask what is going on? To ask myself is this fear talking? And if the answer is yes then i can practice opening to love.

Some of my daily practices involve grounding, visualizations, meditations, dancing, walking…. I’ve really upped the ante on meditations and visualisations. Love is about grounding to the earth when I deeply connect to source, to the deep embodied love of mother earth and the velvety caress of spirit.

Love is  remembering that,

“no matter how far you’ve wandered, this awake tender awareness is only a half breath of remembrance away.” (tara brach)

Love is warmth, yes I am wearing lots of warm clothes, beanies, having hot water bottles and blankies. Love is cuddles and tender moments with my children, husband and friends.

Love is also nourishing my body with healthy, life affirming foods and lots of nourishing herbal infusions, especially Red Clover tea.

Love is connection with my cervix. As Susan Weed says,

“Take back your power. Claim your cervix and your genitals as your own. Possess your uterus, cervix, vagina. Look at your cervix, accept it, love it, cherish it”.

She warns too that “when we reject a part of ourselves, we can find ourselves ‘losing’ that part to surgery.”

So there is a lot of deep healing to be done here, lots of forgiveness, acceptance, and love for all that my vagina, cervix and womb has experienced in this life and in the lifetimes of my ancestors. Yes.

This choosing of love is going to be a long journey out of my habits and reactivity towards more responsiveness.  I am trusting that  these deep seated feelings of not being safe, of needing to be on the look out will eventually be replaced with a wellspring of well being. I trust that my womb song will be sung and I will be open to her deep melody, I will claim this wombsong/bonesong of mine and  I will sing it to the world, humbly and in gratitude.

A poem for you

trying to make sense of my choices and locate them in a cultural context I wrote this….

The Grail
Why do I try and drink from this cup?
it’s empty.
The waters fled long ago
when Amagons took the maiden
and defiled the sacred flow

The waters whisper
of their return
but they wont come
until we do
full bodied, remembering
we are the waters
we are the wells
we are the holy cup.

And finally an apology I had planned to write about the history of the drum, a pan cultural history of women drummers, but alas this time it was Love writing me. I’ll post a blog piece on that.

For all my latest news and events check out my webpage 

See you next month….
Blessings Sarah xxxx

Weaving the Strands- April Newsletter 17

 

Full Moon in Libra

This full moon I drummed and danced with a beautiful glad of women connecting deeply with the medicine of the earth, the animals, and the moon. It was a place of remembering our ancestry, remembering that we are woven into this beautiful web of life. And the more that we remember this, the more that we can live in ways which support and enhance ourselves and life on earth. Deepest gratitude to the School of Shamanic Womancraft and to Nymh and Grace as the Victorian Teachers of this way, of this way showing.

Weaving the Strands

I was so blessed to attend a saori weaving workshop at ArtWeaver Studio in Box Hill recently. This is a simple hand weaving process, and  I mean simple. I am not someone who likes instruction manuals, or processes to follow. I have huge blocks with all that and so this way was so gentle and easy.  Saori is a hand weaving process that encourages each weaver to play, to create and trust in their way. It is a very simple process and one which supports individuality and free expression. It is underpinned by the belief that “everything has its own dignity and beauty” with the “sa” in saori coming from the Zen word sai which means just this. It is a very meditative and absorbing process. I sat with 5 other women listening to the swish, beat and thump of the looms as strands of cloth and of ourselves were woven into our pieces. And each of us truly enjoyed the process and what we created. I was very mindful of holding the intention of saori, “that everything has its own beauty and dignity” into the weaving, and into full moon gathering I just attended, and beyond this into my life. It is a sacred message of inclusion and diversity. We are all beautiful threads on the loom of this life.

We are the Woven Ones

This way of weaving with freedom, playfulness, curiosity and beauty is the way of my dancing too.  I want my dance sessions to be a safe place to move, explore, feel and dance. I invite each person to find their way, knowing that there is no right way, other than the way they are in this moment.  Everything is possible, everything is revelation. I move with life flowing through me and sometimes with the stuckness, the stiffness that is within me to.

On the full moon gathering weekend as I drummed for the women and danced Raven, I really felt my frozen shoulder aching, and calling for my attention. And this pain was a call to tend my heart, to allow my heart to feel deeply, rather than be protected by the armour of my ways and my ribs, shoulders etc..And my tears the next morning were a gentle tending to the pain in my heart, and that too was and is part of the dance…The dance itself being an inquiry into and expression of my life. We truly are the weavers and the woven ones. My next dance will be the Winter Solstice Celebration on Friday 16th June. Put the date in your diary now!

As always these dances are intended to celebrate our deep interconnection with the earth and the all that is. It is a way of weaving us back together. I am longing for the time when our culture celebrates this too.  And this is one of the ways I seek to change the story of our disconnection. That deep feeling of loss which arises from our separatist thinking is so evident ….And then I stumbled upon this reminder that the connection is already here, always within us.

Lost : A poem for you

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree of a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest know
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner

So here’s to standing in the forest, to being here when we arrive,  to allowing ourselves to be found.

Recently I found this gem of a book in the new release section of the library. It is a beautiful tale of finding one’s way home.  Home here is to oneself and to the Sapmi lands, of the Sami people, Northern Europe’s Indigenous people. The Sami had sacred drums, sacred drummers and deep interwoven lives with the land and her creatures, especially the reindeer. It is a beautiful read.  I hope and trust that we all find our way home.

Coming Up

As well as the Make Your Own Medicine Drum Workshop  and the MoonSong Workshop in June… I am once again hosting the following two workshops…

Connecting With Your Medicine Drum 
This is a beautiful workshop to deepen your relationship with your drum, to sense the sacred life force emanating from your drum, and work with it for your own and for collective healing. I am continually surprised and in awe of the teachings that my drum delivers. He keeps showing up, reminding me of the lessons I need to learn.

You will learn simple heartfelt rituals for connecting with your own drum  and we also drum together in sacred space attuning to the heartbeat of the drum and of the earth.  Michael Drake author of the Shamanic Drum describes, “There is power in drumming alone, but that power recombines and multiplies on many simultaneous levels in a group of drummers”. Get in touch if you are interested in this workshop.

Sunday 16th July
2.00 – 5.00 pm
Carnegie, Vic
$55

MoonDance: Feminine Embodiment Workshop
In this day we explore and embody feminine archetypes. We play with the deep interconnection between these archetypes and the earth and her seasons, the lunar phases and our own bodily wisdom.

MoonDance: Embodying the Feminine
One Day Workshop for Women
Saturday 2nd September
9.00 – 5.00 p.m
Carnegie, VIC
$150

Thanks for reading,
See you next month….
Blessings Sarah xxxx

On Sacred Ground

On Sacred Ground

Welcome to this waning moon energy, this opportunity to let go as we settle into this season of Autumn, with darker mornings and evenings…The descent has truly begun, and we are moving deeper towards the dark. How comfortable are you here? Are you looking forward to more darkness, to the cool change?  Is introspection a comfortable space for you?  I am day 29 of my menstrual cycle so really feeling this deep pull inward. I feel brittle because I am still trying to do outward things when really I just want to curl up in a red tent….or maybe lie on some warm sand…

This photo above is of my daughter and I are dancing on the Sand in Brunswick Heads.  It’s a sacred moment.  We  are feeling the joy of being connected to earth, sky, sea and each other. I want more sacredness in her life. I want a culture and community that honours her journey as a young woman, and the journey of all women, all men and all life. I want the earth to be honoured, but at this moment of descent I am feeling the loss of life, of so much life, and the dishonouring of the sacred.

And so I look to other ways of knowing and being. The Autumn Equinox is said to be the time when Persephone made her descent into the underworld. In the oldest versions of this story (pre Olympian myths)  she willingly went there. (1) She went because she heard the call of the dead.  She heard their pain and confusion. And this story is a seed for us, a kernel of truth. At this point in the cycle we too must descend, must return to the darkness and tend to those neglected parts of ourselves. It is a difficult journey for we might come face to face with uncomfortable truths, with feelings of loss and grief. But like Persephone if we willingly go there, if we pay attention and listen with compassion to those parts of ourselves, then we may become Queen of the Underworld. We may learn how to navigate this difficult terrain, so that this becomes a place of birth too. This dark place is a place where death becomes life. This is the great teachings of the Elusian Mysteries ( Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια)  surrounding Demeter and Persephone…And of course there is much here too on the mother and daughter relationship but that is for another time. There story is a story of the wisdom of the cycles.

I was blessed to hold space for a glad of women who come together to remember the wisdom of the cycles, to reflect on the ways in which we actually live this wisdom through our menstrual cycle, and throughout our lives. It is a reminder of how intimately linked with are with the earth and her days, her seasons, and her movement with the moon around the sun. Blessed work indeed, powerful remembering of our sacredness and our deep interconnection. Happy to chat further about this work, and the way it ripples out into the community, seeding change.  Bookings for my Saturday 3 June workshop can be found here.

Seven Sisters Dance

I was blessed to hold space on Feminine Embodiment with Sonia Stocco at the most recent Seven Sisters Festival. Our session explored how we might embody our truth, and be with what is arising within us.  (Just what I needed!) We noticed our feelings through our sensual experience of them, trusting that our bodies “speak” our deepest truths, and trusting our capacity to be with these truths.  We also explored how we might communicate these feelings verbally and non verbally.  And how these processes give rise to a deeper more intimate connection not only to our bodies but the good ground of our being, and with Life itself.Sonia brought her wisdom as a compassionate communication facilitator (based on Non Violent Communication) and massage therapist. It was a beautiful opening to presence for us and the participants who attended. We felt, moved, touched and danced. This photo shows some women engaged in the Shakti Awakening Dance practice, a process I learnt through a Lalita Devi Immersion with Chameli Ardagh. We will be exploring this process more deeply in the upcoming Autumn Equinox Dance.For me dancing these seasonal sabbats is an important way of honouring my ancestry and the earth.  It is a way of listening to the songs of the earth, and dancing to and for her. At these moments we can pause to reflect on the cycles of the earth and our own deep cycles held in and of the earth.  It is a sacred connection, a weaving of ourselves back into cyclical time.  Hopefully it is for you a space to commune with the sacred within you, within the group and out into the wider community of the whole earth.Due to illness I called off my last seasonal dance, so I haven’t held one since last spring. I am very excited to hold this space for the season of Autumn, or Marameet (in the Boonwurrung language) and this particular moment of balance between light and dark, between activity and rest, between the harvest and the loss…It is an invitation to honour both before we spiral into increasing darkness, and all that this entails. I trust some of you will feel called to join us in this exploration of your moving body in a safe and sacred space.

Autumn Equinox Dance

Thursday 23rd March
El Camino Wellness Studio
7.30 – 9.30 pm
Booking essential: embodiments@tpg.com.au
$25

Yesterday I woke early and went out into the dark morning, where the waning moon was still the brightest orb in the sky. She was in the west and on her way down. I listened to a beautiful “Open Sky” Meditation by Tara Brach, an invitation to listen with all of the body, and connect to the presence in everything.  Afterwards I set my intentions for the day, ‘to feel the spaciousness of my awareness and to be enlarged by all that I encounter.”  And I felt the sky responded to my intention setting with the beauty of changing light, from yellow, pink to purple and after a smattering of rain, a  delightful double rainbow. Its not so hard to feel spacious when the world speaks in such colour and movement.

But I do not always feel so open and expansive and sometimes I shut down my body. I still can close myself off from the ground of my being and from the earth too. There are times when I am closed in fear, when I run as far as I can from this discomfort. But on a personal level I am being called to open more fully to all that is arising, to allow the feelings, and to be OK with them all. As parents we need to model our self acceptance, we cannot fake it. Persephone whispers of this need for truth and authenticity. And I see this call in my children too.  And so I create spaces in which to deepen my connection and awareness. The work I do out in the world is as much for me as for you! And that seems OK too. This is the beauty of it.

Making a Medicine Drum

Pretty excited to be hosting another Make Your Own Medicine Drum Workshop with Bec Grace Funk of Priestess Your Life.  The drum is a sacred tool, an instrument of music, an intimate partner in the soul’s journey and woven through time with women’s spirituality.  In many ways it is a journey into the dark and out again, as we reflect on our own birth and the way this impacts upon our lives and our creative processes. It can be an invitation to become Queen of our own underworld, of being with the grief, and loss we may have encountered at our birth…and with all that was birthed with us. Creating a medicine drum is a powerful process providing women with the opportunity to revisit your birth as you birth your drum through a creative shamanic practice. We only have a couple of spots left for this workshop so please get in quick if you are interested.

Cultivating Community

In these times we need to come together, to find community, to build communion. What communities support and sustain you as you journey through this life?  Where can you go for the deep nourishment of compassion and acceptance? Where do you go to build your heart muscle and to learn the art of listening, of allowing? Where do you find the sacred container of stories, of song, of  earth? Much of this comes to me via the School of Shamanic Womancraft, my dear friendships with the beautiful people in my life, my family and in the places I hold sacred in my heart.

Several years ago I met two amazing women from the Earth Song community (not the witch camp!) and I really treasure the work that they and this community do. These lovely people have been holding space for many years now as a centre for ecology and spirituality, weaving these elements together….They host many wonderful talks, reflections, walks and many other offerings. I am hoping to make it to one of the Earth Song walking sessions where you are invited to walk mindfully and to Listen to the Earth. The next one, is on April 12, The Two Bays Walk in Dromana. I encourage you to check out their bountiful offerings.

To walk mindfully is a practice we can do at any time, with each step we take. Thich Nhat Hanh offers this advice….”If you have not arrived fully, 100 percent in the here and now, don’t take the next step.” (2) Hmm how to pause mid step, to rest comfortably until we come back to here and now? If we can step on this earth mindfully, if we can remember the abundance and generosity of the earth , we are coming some way towards that Aboriginal concept that, “everything come up out of (the) ground- language, people, emu, kangaroo, grass. That’s Law” (3)  This understanding of our utter interdependence upon this good ground seems to offer us as a way through the demise of current thinking/being. But we need to listen to the stories, really listen and understand the intimate knowledge embedded in them. We need to recognise and celebrate Indigenous Knowing, the wisdom in the land and walk together engaging with Country, with place and each other.

Thanks for reading,
See you next month….

Many Blessings
Sarah xxx

References:

(1) Charlene Spretnak, Lost Goddesses of Ancient Greece, Beacon Press

(2) Thich Nhat Hanh, The Long Road to Joy

(3) Hobbles Danayari, dictated to Deborah Bird Rose in ‘A Distant Constellation’, Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media and Culture vol 3. no 2 (1990)

On Illness- part 1

On illness part 1

Illness is a gateway into another way of being.  Time shifts and morphs. The hours do not tick by, for those clocks hold no sway. You are in another realm. In this realm ordinary things become extraordinary, drinking water, sensing sunshine on your body, the rush of the wind in the leaves. All these little moments are magnified and intensified. This is the realm of magic and wonder. This is the realm of the Shaman. And here I roamed for three weeks, in and out of time, of sleep, of dreams, of earth. She of whom we are all made.

leaf

I have been in the descent phase of the cycle for the past three weeks.  I have been bleeding during all this time, mostly it was not my menstrual flow, mostly it was blood loss due to surgery and then infection. I still have a small pool of blood behind my uterus which will hopefully be absorbed back into my body. Just as our blood is reabsorbed back into the body of the earth. My body is healing is recovering but it’s been a long process. For over three weeks now, I have been shedding, releasing fighting and healing.  For three weeks I have been in the dark.

I do not fear the dark, well not all of it anyway. The cultural imprint which demonises the dark has some sway but I have learnt through experience that the dark can be a great comfort, perhaps the greatest of all.  Here you are nothing and everything. Here you lay your whole body down and are met, fully.  With illness there is nothing to do, you can only be. And the darkness is a place of being. Perhaps even of not yet being, of waiting to be, for the darkness is everything, even the not yet, the not quite is here.

oakwlak

While I wouldn’t choose to have ACIS (adeno carcinoma in situ) in my cervix it has been a gift. A gift of returning to my body. This is my work, my way and yet it’s so easy to stray from this path of body wisdom, of body knowing. And illness and disease brings you right back into your body. Wham. There is no other place you can be. I felt my whole self integrated, my whole self focused deeply on myself. It wasn’t simply the pain the caused this, it was a whole shift in awareness as my body dictated where and what I could do and mostly I could not do, I could only be.

This beingness is so profound. It  is a teacher, a wise and gentle teacher.  Which is not to say the pain was gentle but the only response to my experience of it, was to be, to sit, to lie, to walk ever so slowly, each step a miracle. Really truly. Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us of this, he says “Invest 100 percent of yourself into making a step. Touching the ground with your foot, you produce the miracle of being alive.” Our aliveness is a miracle.  We are all 15 billion year in the making, we are still flaring forth with the miracle of this great unfolding, this great mystery of life here on earth. I bow.

DSC_5489

So here I am well enough now to write, to reflect on this journey aiming to stay present, to write while I write, think when I think and walk when I walk. For me, beingness is the antidote to our culture of doingness, of always being busy, of not truly being present because we are so focused on the things we still have to do. And they will never stop, unless we do. Unless we stop and pause and be.

And because I am still in recovery, this is all I am posting for now. There is more to be said but my energy wanes, even as the moon waxes. It is Lammas, the first of the harvest festivals as my cletic ancestors would have celebrated. I too celebrate with a small offering, and deep gratitude for all that I have harvested through this diagnosis/disease/illness/beingwithness. I am so grateful for the slowing down, for the reminder that my body needs rest. So too does the earth. Rest a while if you can in the pause of this seasonal descent. Many blessings

Sacred Sensuality Pathways to Presence and Pleasure

This post offers you some more information on our upcoming workshop, Sacred Sensuality Pathways to Presence and Pleasure. Both Grace and I are also free to answer any questions you have. Please read this first, and the FAQs at the bottom of this page!.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES
The Chambers Dictionary defines the word sensual as ‘of the senses, as distinct from the mind; not intellectual or spiritual.’ But actually, our embodied experience, as women, as humans, is a spiritual experience, and there is an deep intellect of the body that is wise and true! We are rewriting this old story, shedding this mis truth.

The sacred is not beyond us, but within us, and it is through our bodies, senses and intuition that we commune with divine Mystery.

We offer a shamanic perspective on sensuality, on the embodied experience of being a woman.

In our perspective, the body is the gateway to and the locus of our spirituality. In this earthly plane, Spirit is matter and matter is spirit.

* * *
flowerinhands

We are all sexual beings. Sexuality is far vaster than limited commercialised/patriarchal versions of it.

Sexuality is the pulse of the universe flowing through each of us.

We are 100 percent sexually alive beings.

Sexuality is the eroticism for life, the source of our essential creativity.

Sexuality is a whole body/whole spirit way.

We always have a womb space – whether or not we still have a physical womb – and we can always attune to its wisdom.

* * *

Sexuality is integral to our rites of passage into the phases of woman.

“As a woman journeys through her life, during her incarnation on the earth plane this time around, she encounters many a shamanic journey. These are the opportunities for transformation and development of her being. Menstruation, pregnancy, birth, and menopause are shamanic journeys. A woman travels deeply during these times into her inner world, which reflects the landscape of the shamanic realms. She meets her fears, her obstacles and her deep inner knowing in her lower world, she plays out different scenarios in her middle world, connecting with what is and she meets her extraordinary strength, wisdom and available guidance in her upper world.” School of Shamanic Womancraft handbook

Our sensual experience of each rite of passage is that which helps us to transmute the experience from a mundane one to a shamanic one in which we are transformed.

Our calling to earth, the moment of our conception, is a sexual experience.

Birth is our ecstatic entry into the world via our mother’s vagina, or not.

Menarche is our opening to our fertility cycle, a journey in which we continually cycle through hormones, through desires, through sexual, creative energies, through the life/death/life cycle. We meet our womb blood for the first time. We meet our wombs and the stirrings of this energy.

Birth is a direct response to sexual activity, a fertilisation of our creative impulse. All our births are rites of passage, whether they come to full term or not, whether they are human babies or other significant creative acts.

Peri-menopause is the opportunity to rebirth ourselves as we respond to fluctuating hormones, triggered by our wombs, eggs and the spiritual and psychological opportunities rising through the journey towards cessation of our menstrual cycle.

Menopause is the gateway to a second Spring, to a sexuality in which pregnancy is no longer a possibility and a deeper spiritual sexuality can flourish.

Our sexuality is integral to who we are.

* * *

The body is the gateway/is the portal/is the lived experience/is the temple.

We have to drop into the wisdom of the body to fully negotiate our experiences. It is by turning within, to the feelings, the energy, the cellular patterns and deep inner knowing that we can find and release the blockages that keep us trapped in old stories, and it is also the way we tap into the enormous potential of life, to the Shakti, the primordial feminine energy.

This energy/ this life force is available to us right now, it is us.

But we have become skilled adaptors and controllers. We repress this enormous energy. We resist it, we deny it because our culture tells us too. How obedient we have become.

* * *

Shame is an enormously powerful way to control another. We are shamed by our bodies, we are shamed by our sensuality, we are shamed by our sexuality and our feminine power. We are shamed. And this shame is in our cells. It is intergenerational trauma, that we pass on and pass on and pass on until we heal.

And our healing is a reclamation of our bodies as creative, sensual, intelligent, imaginal, as the source of power. We are like the Goddess Druga, staying in our truth, no matter what. Being soft and yet deeply embodied, so that the demons (shame, fear, mistrust) no longer hold sway. We cut them down by being so fully in our bodies. In our bliss.

We can use the wisdom of the cycles to create conditions that are ripe for shedding that which no longer serves and for seeding that which does. We tend to that which we want to see growing in ourselves, and let go of that which we don’t.

As Shaman we learn to witness ourselves, to be with and honour our own unique flowering on the tree of life. We recognise that our wounds & our painful experiences are as much teacher as the blessings, and sometimes more.

* * *

As shaman we know the power of the circle. We sit in sacred circle and the circle is teacher/is healer/is shaman. In this space magic arises. In this space we heal and flourish. All is sacred/all is safe/all is. We are the many faces of the Goddess, each of us mirroring the divine. We are our sisters. We are our selves.

The circle is integral to our work.

Bookings here:

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/sacred-sensuality-retreat-tickets-39999852636

FAQs

What are the principles that inform this work?

You can read more about our grounding principles at the end of these FAQs (see below).

What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Details coming soon.

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Very happy to talk through any questions! Call Sarah on 0435 140 148 or Bec on 9478 239 400.

What’s the refund policy?

Refunds

If you cancel your participation before 1 January 2018 you will be refunded 50% of the deposit- ($50).

If you cancel after this time you will be refunded 50% of your full payment.

There will be no refunds 30 days prior to the event. In case of illness you can transfer the course fees to another event within the year minus the full deposit.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, we will have your name on a list.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferrable?

Yes, just let us know who’s coming instead!

Welcome to this Pisceas Full Moon Musings!

A time of heart, of compassion, of neptunian dreaming, of Forgetting and Remembering

Sometimes I lose my way. I forget why I am here, and just how important my work is. There are many demands on our time, many distractions and some worthy. But there is so little time now. And she is calling, she is a whisper in my ear, a vision in my dreams, a cave appearing upon a walk. A cave inviting me inside, reminding me where I first met my inner shaman, reminding me where I first fell headlong into the arms of the great mother. Let me fall again, falling, falling, falling. I surrender again to this deep work.

And it is the work of enchantment, of being enchanted by the land, and hopefully enchanting others back to the land and back to our bodies as part of this land. And I was an enchanted child, curled up with a book, most often Peg’s Fairy Book, or Hilda Boswell’s Treasury of Poetry. Hours upon hours wondering and dreaming.

 And of course many more hours  playing on the beaches, the dunes,  and the cliffs of Merricks Beach. The  land always spoke to me, and as a  child I was attuned to her. I trusted in  the magic, and other worldliness of  place. And then I grew up, and part  of me forgot how to listen, and even  now I can be distracted again by a  cultural narrative which denies the reality of these old stories, of the otherworld….and when this happens I am deaf to the earth, but not for long.

I hear the Grandmothers calling me, reminding me of my work. For in my personal history, in my Celtic ancestry “women were the guardians of the natural world, the heart of the land.” (Blackie) I have inherited a tradition of songs and stories and myths in which the earth is alive, and in which we are beholden to work for her, to protect her. And despite  everything in many parts of Ireland this mythology is strong still, the land still sings her misty and even musty songs. And when I walked the west coast of Tasmania, through ancient forests alive with fungi, and lichen, thick with rivulets and rain, I felt at home. I felt the magic, and the whispers of ancient wisdom. I was enchanted by the land, and the spirit too.

It is time for us all to be re-enchanted, as Sharon Blackie notes “Let’s take back the right to be enchanted, and the right to enchant. Let’s take back the right to cast our spells again. Because stories can enchant us all the way back to the earth. Stories can help us to fall in love with the land all over again.”  And this is what each of us needs to do, fall in love again with the land. She is suffering, we are all suffering, and we need to find our way home to her.

Those of you who read my newsletters and come to my workshops would know how important coming home is to me…and this work of mine is about coming home through dance, through stories, through listening to land, to plant, to bird, to soil and worm. It is about listening to our bodies, and feeling what is arising within and without, flowing with the movement that arises in exchange with this earth, with shadow, rain, with song. It is finding treasure maps home. It is about stories, the ancient ones, the old myths in which the earth speaks to us and through us. I have inherited a mythology and identity which connects me to earth, which compels me to care for earth. But it is the earth of my ancestors and now I am here belonging to this country, born of this soil.

So when I gather myself up and head outside, open to the world, open to the stories that she is singing, I am aware that the songs and stories this land has been telling were in a different tongue, the tongue of the Boon wurrung …and all the other Aboriginal languages across this vast continent we call Australia. And so I need to find ways to listen to their old stories, to the stories of this land as she speaks them, and learn again how to sing back to country to sing her up. And there are many sharing these stories and songs…

As Senior Lore Woman Napanangka  Nelly Patterson, …”Talk to me, I give you a story, I give you a stronger story. Come, come, come listen to the good stories, good song. That’s your story. You missing a long time. Come and learning properly.” It is time to learn properly, to understand more of the songlines of this country, to know where we are born, and what the songlines are, to know all about our land, and the people who have lived here for 50 000 years and more.

And I listen to the stories of Minmia and her instructions to get to know country, to get to know every puddle, bump, tree, bush. It is a lifetime’s work, this getting to know country but it is essential now. And it requires humbleness, openness and sincerity in the face of 200 plus years of oppression. But as Minmia says, “I can only give you permission to take up what is rightfully yours and that is your sense of belongingness to this, our country. By giving permission for the belongingness to our country it is up to you to keep them alive.” This is deep and profound work. I recommend everyone reading her book, Under the Quondong Tree. See if it calls to you. I hope it does.

I wonder how the stories of my ancestral people, the stories that evolved out of that land might intersect here in this country? What paths can we traverse together? How relevant are the stories of mists and bogs from the old country to this country? Certainly there is alignment between the understanding that we belong to country. There is alignment in a culture/world view rooted in the earth as alive, as sentient, and in which humans are responsible for care and guardian ship of the earth. And in Celtic mythology women have a special place in the protection of land.

So my inquiry now is how to journey with this land here in Australia, how to connect to her songs and her stories, and those of my ancestry back in Ireland, Scotland and England, and where does this weave into my women’s work, my work with children and with the body?

I am journeying with others to understand this more deeply. I am journey with Sharon Blackie, in her Mythic Imagination Course, and I’m apprenticing with Nymh Fox Harper and the School of Shamanic Womancraft for the Four Seasons Journey. Deeply excited to dive into the embodied feminine, into the ways of the wild land of the Otways, here in Victoria.

And I also teach MoonSong, which is way to become enchanted with the empowering narrative of the life/death/life cycle that exits within you, within your menstrual cycle and which connects you directly to the earth and her seasons, the moon and her phases and the ways of the old wild women. It is a journey into the myths of the ancient ones, those who knew the importance of working with the land, of honouring her contracts with us, of understanding that we are part of her, that we are in fact dreamed by her. It is a way of rooting ourselves back into our body and into land by understanding the seasons, and their deeply spiritual celebrations of the wheel of the year.  My next workshop will be on Dja Dja Wurrung country, up in Castlemaine. If this calls to you, click here for more information on my next workshop. And please share!

It will be followed by MoonDance, in which we ground into the body of our being, follow the wisdom of the body home to maiden, mother, maga and crone, play and move with the lived experience of the seasons and cycles within our own moving bodies, and the earth around and within us. This too is a treasure map home. Details here.

And it is time to frolic, to enjoy the budding season, to drop into the heart space of the beautiful enchanted maiden. Come play with us as we celebrate the Spring Equinox with a dance. Re acquaint yourself with the joy and pleasure of your moving body, realign yourselves with the rhythm of our great mother, as She, ‘the beloved one returns from the deep”. (Livingstone)

We all cycle through the seasons of our days, our lives and the earth herself. Now it is time to rise with the Spring energy to see what is growing in your own garden, (real and metaphorical) and tend to these and all living things. And of course its time to dance, to feel just how alive you really are, pulsing with the quickening and awakening of Spring.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Minmia

“I want to bring back thinking place. I want to bring back the songs, I want to bring back the stories. I want to bring back the sense of belonging. I want to help with the healing.”

May this beautiful full moon in Pisces be a healing time for you.

Thanks for reading,
see you next month,
Blessings Sarah xxx

main image: Spring Dance, by Von Stuck
Susan Blackie, https://singingoverthebones.org/…
Glenys Livingstone, https://pagaian.org/

 

To Thine Own Self Be True

My son quoted this phrase to me tonight, having just asked why some Shakespeare lines were famous and others not, for to him they were all the same. So I asked him for a famous line as an example, and his response was this, “to thine own self be true” . Ah Shakespeare, such wise words indeed. I couldn’t help but smile.  We are all gifted this life on earth, and each of us is unique so it is our responsibility to gift back ourselves to the world in return.

Perfect words for this full moon in Aquarius. She of the unique take on the world, she who asks us to shine in our own way, to play, experiment, intuit and be true. So please take the time to shine on under the fullness of her loving gaze. You might just find more of yourself.

Lalita Devi and Janis Joplin

I have just spent around 28 days in a Lalita Devi Sadhana, exploring the consciousness of this Goddess within me. Mmm, she is feminine embodiment, she is Shakti in her full erotic power. She is divine, and she lives within us all. It was a beautiful ride, and is of course still unfolding, flowing within me. But even writing the word erotic has me feeling a bit wobbly. It is still a “no no” to be a sexual woman in this world. When I started writing this newsletter a few days ago  it was written in response to a letter by the editor of The Age, lamenting the lack of respect for girls and women. He cites horrible examples of girls’ sexuality being shamed. The editor argues “Teaching boys respect for girls falls to all of us ” And while this is true it seemed to miss the point. We as a culture shouldn’t have to go out of our way to teach this to boys, it should be the norm. We should live respect for each other. But we are so far from that, as is evidenced in all that happened to make him write the article. And so my first draft was written from a place of anger, frustration, shame, hurt, and humiliation. But I left it out. I was getting too caught up in the negative story. It can be powerful to write from this place but its also very dangerous. As was so sadly shown in the biopic on Janis Joplin that I saw at Melbourne International Film Festival.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oRLyBgz8W0

What an amazing woman, what a voice. She really sang her soul, she sang her pain, her truth and we could feel it. Its palpable. Through her singing we hear and see our own pain too. That is why upon her death, one young girl wrote to her mother and said, “even though I never met Janis, she was my best friend”. She spoke to us about our own hurts, and wounds. She sang her misery, her loneliness and confusion, and we heard our stories too. But her wounds were very deep, and part of the reason she ended up dead so young. She couldn’t actually be with her wounds on her own. She couldn’t be by herself. Despite all that singing and releasing, she was still a young girl in pain, a young girl who was awarded The Ugliest Male ” award by a group of young boys at college. A girl who was made fun of, teased and bullied for being different, for standing up for her truth. I cried and cried at the end of this film. So sad.


Such unrecognised beauty, unrecognised  by others, by most importantly unrecognised by herself. When we listen to the voices of our culture, we often fail to see our own unique beauty. This culture doesn’t recognise or celebrate the fullness of women, of woman. No we have to do that for ourselves and each other. We have to say yes to the sacred within. And a huge part of that is reclaiming our sexuality.

So being oneself is not easy. And there are degrees to which we honour our truth. And for me, when I respond to the violence against women from a place of violence I am feeding the negative energy, I am in a way legitimising the violence, by giving it energy, attention, intention. And so i remember Lalita Devi who confronts the demons with her circle of sisters. They, her Goddess sisters come with her, and sit in sacred circle. They do their work, they bring their story, their truth, and do not bother engaging with the demons’ story.

So this helps us, shows us a way of showing up, fully embodied just as Lalita Devi and the Goddesses do. They are swirling in their ecstatic energy. They are not  responding to the fight saying you are wrong or trying to prove something to the demons Instead they show up fully in their own power, Lalita Devi is swirling with erotic energy…And this eroticism is not about simply about sex. This eroticism is far greater, it is the creative impulse, the swirling ecstatic energy of life, of the whole earth, of the universe, and the universes. It is the vast expanse of energy out of which life and everything emerges and dissolves. And this is within us too. And so we remember that this demonising of our sexuality arises out of the demons fear of the incredible power within us. We don’t want to walk away from this power, to pretend its not there, to feed the shame. No. We stand in our power, allowing ourselves to feel this power. Ha!

We need to feed our own fire, and so sisters we do gather, we do come together to shine in our own unique way, celebrating womanhood, celebrating the feminine. So gather in your circles sisters, find a local red tent, join a dance group, heal your wounds so that you can step into your truth, and “to thine own self be true” . For the more we do this, the more this generates energy and excitement, and the more energy is generated and so it goes on. As the mythic astrologer Caroline Casey, says, “Live as though the desirable story were true, and our assignment  really, (is) to animate, magnetize, and spiral forth into the memosphere (a word I’ve coined, that I like) the most irresistibly all-inclusive story, going “Come! We need everybody! We need everybody’s awakened imagination!” and to frolic in the realm of culture”..

And Lalita Devi’s final victorious act is one of inclusion. She sends her arrow of love to pierce the demons heart. She loves him. So much love that he can no longer resist. Ok that is a huge practice I know….a challenging assignment so let’s start with living “as though the desirable story were true” lets start by acting as if, the feminine is fully rooted in her power on this planet, and that the masculine and feminine are united in such a way that our relationship to each other and the earth is healed.Well that’s my vision. What’s yours?

This full moon offers you a time for synchronicity, for intuition, for freeing up big time. So go for it, give thanks for that which you want manifest in the world. ..but make sure its inclusive, and remember Uranus is a trickster, so coyote might be playing with you too. Humour helps. Oh indeed.

A full moon ritual

There is so much beauty in the world, and spring is on her way. Take a moment to step into nature, to step into this moment, fully bodied and let the full moon energy rise up in you from bare feet on the earth, to the tips of your fingers reaching out in the sky. You might find yourself called to dance. And why not? Soak in the moons rays, her magic and her moods. Follow the impulses of your body, the deepest stirrings arising from within. Let this be your prayer. Call Lalita Devi into your being, and let Her inspire you!

Drumming ourselves home
Much of my work is to make manifest this vision I hold dear to my heart. I  hold women circles, dances, and rituals of various kinds all in the name of bringing home the feminine, of reconnecting to body and earth. So I am super exited to have 12 delicious drum frames and deer hides in my house for our Make your Own Medicine Drum Workshop on Sunday. As you would all know by now, Drumming is to me, a way home. When we drum we can reconnect to our own heart beat, and to the heartbeat of mother earth. We can call in spirits and allies for all the help we need to create the world we want to live in. This is magic in action.I am so excited that 12 women have come together to weave their own magic and to be part of the collective story of re imagining the drum as a sacred tool for personal and collective healing.

My partner in this workshop is Bec Funk, an astrologer, artist  and co facilitator of the Victorian Four Seasons Journey which is new this year! She will be working alongside the inimitable Nymh Fox Harper on the inaugural Victorian arm of the School of Shamanic Womancraft. They will be your teachers, inviting you to dive into the sacred mystery, inviting you home via the four seasons journey. If this is calling you or simply tweaking your interest, follow that call. This might just be the synchronicity you were looking for. I am indebted to my first teacher Jane Hardewick Collings, and to all the mermaids who journeyed with me, and of course to the apprentices which included the beautiful Nymh, dear sister of Green. You might just find me there too, apprenticing with them.

A Seven Sisters Gig
And finally on this full moon i give great thanks for being accepted at Seven Sisters Festival in March 2017. I will be holding space with my dear dear friend Sonia Stocco to run a workshop on feminine embodiment. Delicious Heh! Sonia works at Healing Well in Castlemaine, as a remedial massage therapist but that title is too limiting for her amazing work. She is a woman of many talents and skills, including Cranial Sacral therapy, Bowen Therapy, and her intuition is loud and clear! She also runs workshops on compassionate communication, so check her out if you live up that way.

Stay tuned for my upcoming Spring Equinox Dance to be held on or as close to the Spring Equinox, September 23 as possible, and have a look at my webpage for my October offerings, MoonSong Workshop for Women- Reconnecting with the Women’s Mysteries and MoonDance a Feminine Embodiment Workshop for Women. Oct 22/23 in Castlemaine.

Thanks for reading,
See you next month….
Blessings Sarah xxxx

You can check out Caroline Casey on radio station http://coyotenetworknews.com/