WomanCrafter- Crafting ourselves through this Crisis

image: by Jennifer Henrikson 
Full Moon – Truth and Dare

Under this Aquarian full moon Astrologer Grace Funk suggests we are asked to “Be Courageous in Living Your Truth”. And this is a very timely moment, for today I am reflecting upon who and what is a Shamanic Craftswomen? And for me she is Woman Standing Rooted in her Truth, determined to share her truth to heal the vast ecological crisis of our times.   She is Healing Woman, Healing  Earth.  So dive in dear sisters, and awaken to your own magnificence and power- you really have the whole earth and cosmos within you. Unleash your power as a force of good into the world.  Before reflecting further, here’s a look at what’s coming up..

What’s Coming Up

Shamanic Womancraft- An Introduction, August 18, Melbourne
Sacred Women’s Circle
 – September 19, Carnegie
Spring Equinox Dance  Sunday 22nd September, Carnegie
MoonSong – Menstrual & Cyclical Wisdom Workshop, 19 October
Sacred Women’s Circle – 24 October, Carnegie 
One Day Drum Making Workshop – Saturday 26th October, Carnegie
Two Day Drum Making Workshop – 9 & 10 November, Peace Farm, YJ
Sacred Women’s Circle – 21 November, Carnegie
Connecting with your Medicine Drum, Friday 22 November, Carnegie
Opening Gathering- 4 Seasons Journey Vic Otways, 6-8 December  
Shamanic Womancrafter

Given that Nymh Fox and I are holding a circle on Shamanic Womancraft, tomorrow, I wanted to explore my personal reflection on what shamanic craftswoman is,  and particularly to investigate “womancraft”- which is term that came from Jeannine Pavarti Baker. Baker is  one of my teacher, Jane Hardwicke Collings, most important teachers..so its part of the lineage of the School of Shamanic Womancraft.  I hope you can relate to some of my musings….they certainly feel relevant to this moon cycle.  

Woman – What is She?
She is beyond simple definition, or simple categorization- for She is vast, intelligent and diverse– the earth, of which we are one species among billions is nothing if not diverse.  And so She, Woman is of the earth and her bodied intelligence. We are all of the earth- made from her minerals, her particles, her rain, her living waters, her energy. We can tap into this energy, this earthiness of us, and when we do we can understand woman,

as, 
 “a staggering force of nature.” 


as Claire Dubois, of TreeSisters says.
image sourced from Desenio
When we think of woman, we often think of the bodied identification of woman which involves breasts, womb, cunt…(and if you cringe at that word, remember these taboo words/ways are often an indication of great power- a power that has been repressed by patriarchy….And our cunts are powerful, as I shared in my last newsletter, the root word of cunt, ken means knowing/wise and also relates to kindness.) And we think of the cycles, the cycles of renewal within our body, and the menstrual cycle. 

But even biology is not always a marker of what Woman is- we are being shown this by the many women whose biology does not fit into “normal”- She is beyond these categorizations. For some, She is beyond particular biology…but She is deep embodied knowing… that inner call of the feminine, this inner authority of being Woman whatever your biology is acknowledgement of Her Gentle Wild Knowing.

Woman is creative. She births life and death.  She cycles. And she is attuned to all life. She is life:

Woman is “tornado’s, hurricanes, we’re sumptuous meadows, were forests and oceans and rivers of awareness”. 1

 
Loutit Bay Lorne

The feminine power, that creative life force that birthed the earth, the stars, the galaxies flows in her and through her…and yet this flow has been blocked and dammed. Our awareness of our power, of the women’s mysteries, of feminine wisdom needs to be rekindled. For too many of us believe the lies that we are inferior, lesser. Too many are living out the wounded feminine. So part of our work as women is to enable that river of life to flow within and through us again.

Woman is needed now, more than ever in these times of great ecological crisis, of this tipping point. It is said that women will save the world, and Jane Hardwicke Collings said in her latest post, “Social change will be facilitated by women who are resilient, adaptable and accessing their inner strength.”  

Woman needs to remember Her innate power. She needs healing. And the way of the Shamanic Womancrafter is a way of healing thy self, with the support of safe and sacred spaces, and of gentle wild places. 
 image below from my MoonSong One Day Workshop for Women held at RAW Gardens
  Craft

And so to the crafting of Woman. Each woman is her own craftswoman, each is crafting her own story, reweaving herself back into the web of all life, or not.  Womancrafters hold space for other women. Womancrafters hold space for woman to recognise the dams, the stagnant pools within and for the tears to flow, tears that will help un-dam her waters, so that the river of life can flow majestically through her, so that she can become the woman she is, majestic and powerful.    

Crafting as the name implies takes skill, practice and patience. We show up again and again, in service to Life. We show up with all our messy parts, knowing that everything is perfect in imperfection. Nothing in nature stands still, all arises and erodes, arises and erodes. We are part of that too. We acknowledge the times when we are emerging, and when we are submerging. And thus we get to have another go, and another and another at showing up as we are….in the darkness and in the light.  

We use our hands, our hearts (yes we women have a womb heart, a physical heart, and an energetic heart ) and our heads. We are not stuck in the mind- though there is still much chatter there. We breathe and are breathed by life.  And the more that we can trust life, and ourselves, the more we can get out of our own way, the more Life will move us in the direction of our soul and purpose. 


 
my crochet
 As craftswomen we are crafting our bodies, our souls, our being into that which we came for. We are crafting ourselves back into the web of life, strand by strand.  Each of us is a beautiful strand in the web of life, and each of us is necessary, important, valued. And when we show up, as ourselves – our unique selves in service of the earth, we model this for others.

It doesn’t mean that we are perfect, that we get it all right.. No, healing like everything is a cycle, a continuous cycle of renewal, and there are times when our wounds show up, loom up to the forefront,  but as womancrafters we bring consciousness to this, and all things.  We hold ourselves with compassion and tenderness, our wounds, our shadows, our orphans…And then we can do this for the women who come journey with us. We are offering ourselves back to Life, to this blessed earth, to the creative cosmos, asking to be in service again.

We can ask of our inner wise woman, and of the earth,  “Show me what I came here for, show me what is required of me, to live my full potential in service of you  Earth/Cosmos/Gaia”. And she will respond.  Life is supporting every inch of her to do this.  We need to remember how to listen….
 image below of Nymh Fox my co- presenter Introduction to Shamanic Womancraft and co teacher of the Otways Four Season Journey 2020
Plotkin says, “nature depends on us to embody our souls”  

And embodiment is necessary, coming back to the body, living our truth as part of the more than human world is vital now. And nature guides us, shows us. So as craftswomen we remember to listen, to watch, to pay attention to nature, to everything that is going on, to the messages the world is singing up.
 The image below is an original tablet showing Ninshubar (left)  and Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth
Ninshubar and Inanna, Image from Sumer c 2000 bce sourced Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth
Woman crafters are embodied,  emplaced and empowered.

We are our own shining knight, we cannot look to others to blame or too rescue. Time is too short for that. But our sisters, our Ninshubar- are standing at the thresholds with us, drumming with us, staying present with us….waiting for us to return each time we descend, and each time we arise. Shamanic Womancrafters are Ninshubars drumming our sisters through her inner journeys.2

And I am reminded of the beautiful words by Bill Plotkin- author of SoulCraft
 The gift you carry for others is not an attempt to save the world but to fully belong to it.3
And so this is our work as womancrafters, to remember we belong to this world.

The way of the Shamanic Womancrafter is a way of belonging, to ourselves, to our communities, and to the more than human world which is inseparable from our human becomingness…We are immersing ourselves back into the rhythm and cycles of nature. We are coming home.


 
women gathering around fire, Vic Otways 4SJ 2019
So come and join Nymh Fox and I for our introductory circle on Shamanic Womancraft- this Sunday at Laneway Learning in the heart of the city. We would love to see you there.  Deepest gratitude to all our teachers- the human and more than human .
 
A poem for you- actually a quote!

I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. 
And at the end of my prayers they teach me how to listen.
Terry Tempest Williams


References
1. Another beautiful quote by TreeSister Founder Clare Dubois, this from an interview as part of the Fearless, Female Entrepreneurs series hosted by Jocely Mercado.
2. Ninshubar is the “faithful servant”, ‘warrior, and sukkal to the Goddess Inanna. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth., Wolkstein & Kramer
3. Bill Plotkin, author of Soulcraft Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche


That is all for now folks,
Blessings and Love, 

Sarah 
xxxxxx

Full Moon Love- Vulva’s and Vagina’s

Graphics Provided by Vecteezy.com
Full Moon News…

 Hello Dear Hearts  

Once again the moon passed before I sent this out to you! I seem to be full of energy but also of activity as I ride the the moon cycles…and its not
until the descent begins that I get to share my writings….So here we are
again meeting under a disseminating moon…

And the theme for this month is….drum roll please… Vulva’s and Vagina’s. How my family love it when I post on all things vaginal! Well things are
just going to keep on ramping up because as I said in my last newsletter,
it’s “About Bloody Time,” we changed the story of shame and disgust to
celebration and sacredness. We are reclaiming and re imagining She. We are celebrating Life. But before I launch into that here is an update on
Whats On.  I hope you can feel the revolutionary impulse and will join us for some of these She celebrations, activities and ways.  
 
What’s On
 Sacred Women’s Circle – September 19, Carnegie
Spring Equinox Dance  Sunday 22nd September, Carnegie
MoonSong – Menstrual & Cyclical Wisdom Workshop, 19 October
Sacred Women’s Circle – 24 October, Carnegie 
One Day Drum Making Workshop – Saturday 26th October, Carnegie
Two Day Drum Making Workshop – 9 & 10 November, Peace Farm, YJ
Sacred Women’s Circle – 21 November, Carnegie
Connecting with your Medicine Drum Circle, Friday 22 November,
Carnegie
Opening Gathering- 4 Seasons Journey Vic Otways, 6-8 December 
 (bookings and more information are embedded in the links. so click
away!)
Here’s me with a ceramic yoni gifted to me by Deborah Kantor
So I’ve launched my very own you tube channel…whoo ooo, where I will talk on many things relating to HER, to She, the the Feminine in all her
Diversity but I begin with the Vagina Talks! And as you will hear, I’m
particularly interested in the language we use for our sex, for our
reproductive organs and how this shapes our relationship to our bodies.  So go and have a listen! 

I want to reflect on the word vagina – and some other names we give our pussies! I like pussy. Why , because Its sounds soft and yet
undomesticated, a bit like the cat!

So let’s look at some of the names we give our vagina… fanny, front
bottom, noonie, vag, yah yah, la la, cunt, private parts, genitals, sex
organs, yoni, and my thing down there! Just to name a few. And some of
these may feel derogatory and/ or empowering depending upon whose
saying them. How do you feel about these words? What do you call your vulva? your vagina, your womb? Are you comfortable with your names, and your body?

For a long time cunt has been the worst possible swear word. Call
someone that and its seen to be about as low as you can go.  But I have
come to love this word. Cunt. Why? Partly because we are reclaiming it
from the derogatory swear bin, lifting it up to its rightful place as the
Sacred Source of Life. And I can do this because I have learnt a bit about where the word comes from…Uma Dinsmore Tulli shares her knowing
on cunt.  In this video, On the History of the Word Cunt, she shares a
couple of really important points about the word cunt.

Firstly unlike the word vagina, cunt refers to the whole genital region in women, it is our vulva, our vagina, our clitoris, our cervix, and our
womb….So it is one of the only words to actually be complete in that
sense. Secondly it comes from the root word of Ken, which is to know,
related to connen, or cunnen,  so a cunt is related to that deep bodily
wisdom….And it also has relationship to words like kindness. So lets start reclaiming this beautiful powerful word, and our beautiful powerful
cunts!  Check out the Video and let me know what you think. 

It’s hard to talk about the Vagina Talks without reference to Eve  Ensler’s amazing body of work, The Vagina Monologues. So here’s a snippet from her.
Sacred Sex

And it comes with a warning because you will cry, you will be triggered,
you will be remembering the countless ways in which women, our bodies and our vaginas are harmed & tortured on a daily basis. Let the tears
come, let the grief come, feel your feelings, so that the river of you can
continue to flow freely, so that the sacred source of life that is you, can
flow freely.

Our cultures are not kind to our cunts, our sacred sex. And yet as I share kindness is related to the root word Ken, also the root word for cunt….So I’m calling for Kindness, for Kindness to Cunts everyday in everyway….Here’s to celebrating our cunts….

And that requires each of us, to be gentle and compassionate to
ourselves, to rally against the dominant discourse, those voices that
would have us shame ourselves, those voices that we internalize….which keep us small, and stop us from stepping into our true power.

A beautiful recent film documents artist Laura Dodsworth as she
photographs and interviews  18 British women (across culture, age, and
gender identity) about their relationship to their cunts.  I was really
inspired  by this film.  It shows the complex, often joyful and painful
relationships we have with our bodies, It’s well worth a look.  Check it out on SBS on Demand.
 
A still from the movei, 100 Vagina’s available on SBS On Demand
Interestingly,the word Vagina is used in the title of the film, when really
the vagina is a specific part of the body…Vagina has become “synonymous with all things down there”. Its seems to be a bit more acceptable than
cunt! and even than vulva. But vulva rolls around in the mouth in a more sensuous way, and perhaps that its problem! And when you look at its
history, the word vulva actually refers to the womb (latin volva & maybe earlier volvere, to wrap, revolve) so there is even some confusion here. Which for writer and activist H Learner is problematic. She says,  The
persistent misuse of the word “vagina” for everything “down there”
impairs the girl’s capacity to develop an accurate and differentiated
representation or “map” of her internal and external genitals. The fact
that the girl’s own exploration of her genitals is not corroborated by
accurate language also creates body shame and anxiety about sexuality.”*

So another challenge is to be a bit more specific about the parts of our
bodies that we are referring too, whilst also looking for new words, words that are empowering. Cunt is a special word, because it is one of the few words that refers to all aspects of our reproductive/sexual anatomy
( i even find it hard to generalize the area in language that feels useful) .

So to go back to basics, the vulva is the outer part we can actually see,
with the labia majora, minora, clitoris, hair, pubic mound and the
entrance to the vagina. Whereas the vagina is that beautiful muscular
tubular organ that connects the vulva to the entrance of the womb. 
Vulvas, are the part we most often see…..Although having said that, many women have not seen their own vulvas. The authors of About Bloody
Time highly recommend that we all do,  they say

“We can’t overstate how important it is to do this if you can! Sit in front of a large mirror, or hold a small one, to get to know the important and
powerful part of your body, your sex life, your sexual health, your
childbirth experience, and es your menstruation and menopause could
all be seriously improved as a result.”

 

So go get those mirrors ladies.!  And while you do remember just how
different each woman’s vulva, vagina, cunt is! The film 100 vagina
depicts this, as does some of the amazing #vulvaart on instagram. Check out the hashtag and see some really beautiful  images.There are some
great sites celebrating the diversity and beauty of vulvas…

It is really important for us to recognise just how unique each vulva is. Too often women feel that their vulva is somehow wrong, doesn’t fit the
model…and while there is a general shaping they are vastly different, so please go and have a look at some of the amazing resources out there
remembering that diversity is key here…just as in nature, diversity rocks! There are so many varieties- they are all actually quite different, and so it is important as always to really recognize and celebrate this difference.  


 
Max Dashu- Sacred Vulva Poster
Numinous Females

And if you want to see difference you need look no further than the
sacred art of the ancients- those peoples across the globe who knew  the
vulva was a sacred portal. Max Dashu’s beautiful poster depicts sacred
ancient vulvas, across cultures and time. When we research these times, we find that not only we our bodies sacred, but sex was too.  Priestesses of the temples were involved in ritual sex, and it is really hard to fathom that in this culture, its hard to understand just how sacred sex was, but
its worth reconsidering, and reflecting on what has been lost with the
loss of sacred sexuality.

Not surprisingly the drum, and female drummers were an important
part of these sexual rites. But with the rise of the patriarchal religions
including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, women, and our bodies were
denigrated.  Our sacredness denied. We were silenced and shamed.
Layne Redmond’s book is an excellent resource for understanding the
ways in which the oppression came, and importantly what came before, When the Drummers Were Women.  She traces the history of the drum
its beginnings its flourishing and its demise, when women were banned from playing the drum. And with the loss of the drum , came a deeper
loss. Redmond says, 

“by banning the drum, the patriarchal religions that suppressed the
Goddess cut off our access to significant parts of our own psyche. They
destroyed psychological and spiritual techniques that had been used for many thousands of years.”

We are still reeling from this loss from our deep connection to sacred
rhythms. But we are remembering, and we are reclaiming these ancient techniques and tools. We are being moved by this deep swelling of
feminine energy. She is descending into Her power, and she is rising
anew. Do you feel her call, the thrumming and drumming of her rhythms in you?


 
Planetary Dance- Elwood 2018
Birthing A Drum and Her Ancient Rhythms
I feel the call. I feel and know the deep excitement of connecting with the earth, the feminine, and the more than human world each time i pick up and play my drum, or as s/he plays me!  Women are returning to the drum. This sacred instrument is calling to women all across the globe. Women are remembering their ancestral stories, the cosmic rhythms that were played in honour of the earth, and our sacred cycles.

If you are feeling the call please join us in one of our upcoming Drum Making Workshops, or the year long women’s mysteries Four Seasons Journey. Two spaces in the Two Day Workshop have recently become available,and there are a couple more places in our One Day Drum Making Workshop.  Birthing a drum is birthing another drummer- yourself back into the world, a world desperate for the renewal of sacred rhythms of She. 

 
One Day Drum Making Workshop with Priestess your Life & Embodiments Dance
Carnegie
Testimonials

A testimonial from a woman who birthed her drum with us at Peace
Farm,

“My first drumming took place two weeks after the workshop.  I walked until I found the spot, kicked off my shoes and drummed. It was the most amazing and profound experience and yes, I had a primordial knowing which resonated back through time and space each time I struck my drum. The whole experience was not alien to me, in fact it made perfect sense.  Since, I have continued to understand why my birth story and its place in my continued journey of healing at this time.  Sara S

And from a woman at the One Day….

The day was beautifully guided and facilitated by Sarah and Viv, deeply wise and nurturing women . The creation of my medicine drum was intimate and powerful. I am in awe of this beautiful instrument and the tone.   Vicky K


 
Altar, Otways Four Seasons Journey Vic 2019
Shamanic Womancraft

And if you want to experience a drum journey, come along to a workshop by  Nymh Fox and me, Shamanic Womancraft: An Introduction. In this
two hour workshop we share some of the ways of Shamanic Womancraftwoman, of how we live as best as we can with the rhythms and cycles of
this blessed earth our home, of how we are drumming, and singing and
sistering ourselves back home to this world….This 2 hour workshop
involves:

*An introduction to the women’s mysteries, to cyclical living with the seasons, the moon and your own cycling body.

*The deep nourishment and magic of being part of a sacred women’s
circle

*A drum journey to meet your power animal- the medicine you need
now.

The session will be led by Nymh Fox and Sarah Bird Miller- (that’s me!)
Co teachers of the Vic Otways, Four Seasons Journey in 2020. This is a
year long earth based spiritual journey creating and maintaining deep
connection with our bodies, our sisters, the earth and the Divine
Feminine.   
Reminder to contact Sequoia for more information on the Four Seasons
Journey.. 
 
Beautiful image by Holly Sierra. I love this woman’s work and her Tarot Deck!
Dancing Ourselves Home
And when the drums play, the women begin to dance again.

 I am delighted to announce I will be holding another Dance. A Spring
Equinox Dance- a dance of restoration, or balance, with the re-emegence
of the Feminine from the depths of the darkness. 

In this dance we soften and open to what wants to arise in us.  We soften and open to what movements and expression is emerging in and
through us. There are no steps to follow, rather it is the wisdom of your
moving body, of your womb/heart, that leads us on and in the dance.

Through dance we can awaken the spirit, and connect to self. We can
honour the divine aspect of consciousness within us all.  Join us in  some
joyous heartfelt dance -the promise and potentiality of spring is all
around and within. 

Sunday 22 September
10.00 to 11.30 am
El Camino Wellness Centre
102 Grange Rd,
Carnegie 3163 
Bookings


 
TreeSisters Image
A Poem For YouThis is a poem to listen to. Listen to Clare DuBois and her poem,
What if I said Yes to the Moon

Clare is the founder of TreeSisters…If you read my newsletter you will know about this organisation to reforest the world, and to help us become a restorer species. Blessings on this work and way.

To become a TreeSister, CLICK HERE.Register (FREE) for the TreeSisters Full Moon Online Retreats with Clare Dubois. Something becomes
possible when women gather consciously in deep presence with each
other. Our moon calls are an invitation to embody all that you are as a
woman of the Earth. Gather with our global circle of sisterhood each full moon to relax into nurturing Nature connection together. Journey to a
Billion Trees: http://billiontrees.me/So that’s all for me for this month
Many Blessings on you!

love
Sarah  xxx

References:
* Lerner, H. (Jul. 2, 2003) Practicing `psychic genital mutilation.’ Chicago Tribune, Sect., WomanNews, Chicago, Ill.
Pickering K & Bennet J, About Bloody Time, Vic Women’s Trust
Redmond, L, When The Drummers Were Women, 

In the Flow-

View from a long boat towards Koh Phi Phi

Scorpio Full Moon Energy

Scorpio is an intense sign, of depth, transformation and taboo. It has been an intense and deeply troubling 24 hours. We see in these election results how few of us here in this Country know of our deep interconnection. We are not as a nation standing for the trees, the waters, the oceans or life. We are not standing for our children and their children. We have turned away again. I am deeply saddened by this.

And so after much tears and rage I drummed for the earth, for myself and for all my relations. I will drum each day again for the healing of our disconnection from our mother. This is my commitment to myself, and our Great Mother, the Provider, the Nourisher, She who Renews All. If you feel too you are welcome to join me. For drumming is prayer, it is how our ancestors prayed, millennia ago. It is how we can pray again. When we drum we connect to the frequency of the earth and her energy. It is calming and restorative for us and for the earth. I hope to feel you on the drum waves.

Drumming here with sisters in the Otways during the Four Seasons Journey 2018

Of course that is not all I will be doing. I will continue to be with women, in circle, in drum making and in the deep enchantment that comes from being on land with women. Read on to see some exciting news, for in this Taurean New Moon cycle (5th May ) some beautiful things have come to fruition while others have fallen away.   I am glad for the opportunity of winter to bed down some new growth, to let it rest in fertile soil before flowering later in the year.

What’s Coming up?

With my beautiful co-teacher of the Vic Otways Four Seasons Journey 2020, Nymh Fox

Exciting News- Teaching the Four Seasons Journey 

I am delighted to announce that I will be co teaching the School of Shamanic Womancraft Four Seasons Journey with Nymh Fox in the Otways in 2020.  I am very grateful for this opportunity to share this beauty way, this embodied ecological way of being with ourselves, each other and the land.  A way the world is calling for ever more loudly.

This is a sacred journey, a sacred re- imagining of the gentle wild feminine in all her diversity. We gather 6 times over the year to deepen our connection, to remember our interconnection to the cycles, the seasons of our lives, to our bodies and to the earth. It is weaving of story, myth, land and self, a re-enchantment with the All that Is.

It has been beautiful to walk this sacred way with Nymh as part of my apprenticeship and I am so happy to now co- teach with her. Please get in touch if you feel the call to journey with us, to dive deeply into the gentle wild within you, and within this blessed land. Her Song may be calling to you. Listen, rest back into the arms of our Mother Earth, and listen to that sacred call, that tremor of a Yes.  We welcome you all. 

The beautiful women who birthed their drums at our recent two day drum making workshop at Peace Farm in the Yarra Valley.

Drumming Ourselves Home

 The first creative act each of us does, is our birth.  We are co-creators in the birth process, and how we are birthed into this world leaves an indelible imprint on our creativity, on how we do creativity.  It is important to bring consciousness and awareness to this process, to see the ways in which this story of our birth continues to play out in our lives.

At the School of Shamanic Womancraft we birth a drum into the world as a mirror of our story.  It is a powerful and deeply sacred act, for not only do we get to see and feel this imprint in action, we get to create a personal tool of transformation. A lifelong tool to serve our highest purpose. This is a powerful initiation into this work and way.

My drum has held me in magical awe since I first birthed my drum into the world in December 2012. I have developed such a beautiful relationship with my drum and continue to learn and grow through playing him. He is definitely a “he” and that is tied up with my birth story which you can read more about here.

Emiie Alcato and I are also offering another Two Day Drum Making Workshop at the beautiful Peace Farm in the Yarra Valley. It is a deep privilege to work with women, showing up in all their vulnerability and beauty to be with their stories, to reclaim and remember the medicine inherent in them. In doing so they reclaim and remember these parts of themselves, for their own healing and for the healing of generations that come before and after.

 As with all the women who come to our workshops- including to the Four Seasons Journey I am always in awe of the women and the process. I have learnt to really trust the process. To know that whatever happens is the very thing that needs to happen.  And I watch the women laugh, cry, groan and delight in their own creative process. I watch the ah ha moments when they see the stories and imprints that are at play in their lives. They begin to see how these stories shows up in their lives, and how they can untangle the parts of the story that no longer serve.  So much love for all the women who come to birth their drums in the world. 

When you birth a drum, you birth yourself as a drummer into the world. This is a pan cultural lineage that goes across time and place.  Women have long been the keepers of the sacred rhythms. We see them in the ancient records, on cave paintings, on vases, in stone tablets, and in ancient carvings, with their drums. Whatever your culture your female ancestors will have at one time or another played the drum for sacred and holy ceremonies. This is your heritage too. 

We are indebted to the work of Layne Redmond, and her recently republished book When the Drummers were Women. It is definitely worth a look.

Enchanting Times

And these troubling times call for more enchantment, for a re imagining of our gentle wild selves cohabiting this planet with all of her creatures, of which we are only one. We are called to remember the delight and wonder of our inner child who looks on this world with love, awe and deepest curiosity.

Stay curious, follow the scents of delight wherever they take you. And listen to the ancient stories, to the voices of long ago, for they are rooted in the depths of our imagination, which is  a way into deep conversation with the land and sea herself. Let yourself dive into the mystery.

Fish in a cavern

And before I leave you all, here is another beautiful picture from my recent trip to Thailand, where i literally dived into the Mystery. I was so enchanted by the avian world and the underwater world especially on Koh Phi Phi and Phuket.  It had been over 30 years since I ventured to Thailand, and though much had changed, much had stayed the same.  This is a truly beautiful country and we were delighted to spend hours each day swimming and delighting in her beautiful seas….

Water is sacred. Life emerged out of her depths, and we continue to honour her, when we dive in and enjoy her beauty. I am sad to say that we are not proceeding with the Global Water Dance as we just did not have enough people willing to commit to the rehearsals. But I will dance for the living waters within and without, always.

And to help us get through this and whatever turmoil arises for you, here is a beautiful poem shared by one of my continuum teachers, Rebecca Lawson


A poem for you

Flow by Noel McInnis
Be
as water is,
without friction.

Flow around the edges
of those within your path.
Surround within your ever-moving depths
those who come to rest there—
enfold them, while never for a moment holding on.

Accept whatever distance
others are moved within your flow.
Be with them gently
as far as they allow your strength to take them,
and fill with your own being
the remaining space when they are left behind.

When dropping down life’s rapids,
froth and bubble into fragments if you must,
knowing that the one of you now many
will just as many times be one again.

And when you’ve gone as far as you can go,
quietly await your next beginning.

Thanks for reading
with love and blessings


Sarah xxx

The Ocean Bliss of You- March News

This lunar cycle began with a Pisces New Moon. On Thursday 7th March we dived into the watery world of Pisces, where intuition, imagination and feelings are very present. In her Lunar Journal Grace Funk says this new moon highlights, “my need to feel interwoven, to trust life and be guided by my intuitive wisdom.” For me this has been a time of big emotions, of crying, of tuning into sadness and being with my feelings. And yet through this I am coming into a sense of spaciousness and intuition that was not as present last month. And I am being offered a chance to show up trusting this life.

So this newsletter shares some insights on the watery realm, on the possibilities that arise in fluid movement, and of the generosity of our tears and heart. I hope you enjoy reading it.

How is this month for you? Are you tracking what is arising? Does watching the moon, and noticing her phases and signs resonate with you? Id love to hear from you on this or anything that arises in reading my material. Blessings on this cycle

Sarah xxx

The beautiful waters of Croajingalong National Park- A national treasure for us all.

What’s On?

MoonSong Workshop- One Day Workshop for Women
Global Water DanceFirst rehearsal of the Movement Choir
– 25/03/19 in Clifton Hill-
Melbourne Women’s Circle – Thursday 28th March
Two Day Drum Making Workshop– 30/31 March is Sold Out
November Two Day Drum Making Workshop
9 – 10 November, Peace Farm, Yarra Junction, Vic
Global Water Dance -Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
June 15th 2019 3.00 pm- 4.30 pm

Resting in our heart space

Only this morning I was participating in a “virtual” continuum dive, where a group of us meet with continuum teacher, Rebecca Lawson, via Zoom, and practice sounding into our bodies. I have written on continuum before but for those who want to know more about this movement practice, you can read more about it here.

Rebecca provides the details of the dive, what tissue and what sounds we will be exploring, and helps ground us in the movement practice via references to anatomy, embryology, or evolutionary ancestry etc that are relevant to the dive (the movement/sounding recipe so to speak).

Embryo at 7.5 weeks from the Endowment for human developmnet website.

This morning we were playing with the heart and arms.  And we learnt that during our embryological development our little fingers and palms rest on the heart, as do the lips. For seven days the rhythm of our own heart is the most palpable movement that resonates through the tissue of our hands and mouth, and from there to the rest of our body.  After those 7 days, the arm buds begin to grow, stretching out, as does the head, before returning to this place of deep connection. 

This connection between hands, arms, heart, and lips remains throughout our lives. We touch lovingly with our hands, and our lips- we reach out with our hands and arms to embrace, to give and to receive love.  

A scene from Franco Zeferelli’s Romeo and Juliet. Juliets love is manifest in her arms, hands and eyes!

And what a beautiful blessing this is, this giving and receiving of love. One of our tasks in this life, seems to be to remain connected to our open heart, to let the love flow from heart throughout our bodies to others, and to stay open to receive this love, to drink it back into our bodies.  And yet this can be such a challenge.

Tears of the Heart

I noticed how much tension was in my body this morning. The fascia of my left arm is taut, and tight. My scapula, my shoulder was holding tension too, and my arm struggled to open. ( I only worked with my left side- not even getting to the right). So as is the way of continuum I stayed where I was, I noticed this tension, and sent shimmers ( a shhh sound) down my arms, and the tears came too. The tears from my heart, from my womb, because I am not fully open. Because I have closed my tissue off from so much.  This tension is a protective layer, an old deep pattern, and has become a barrier to love, and to life itself.  But tears are a balm for the weary heart and body, and so I let the tears flow. I let the judgement of myself come, and then offered tears to that too.

This beautiful image of fluid movement in the scapula came from the website of continuum Teacher, Bonnie Gintis

Our scapular develops through various creeks and rivers of flowing fluid, so it seemed apt to allow my tears to flow to the scapula, to my shoulder, to the tissue in my arms. I was hoping and trusting that these tears would find flow not only down my face but down my body, that my tears and my attention would enable new fluid pathways to emerge.  Tears seem to be a way of unblocking stagnant energy, they are after all the flow of living waters. (Read more on tears here!)

 And then I allowed myself to meet the ground, to play with my arm stroking the ground, or really to  have the ground stroke me. The ground came to meet my tissue, to hold my tissue, to tend to my tissue.  And there is a meeting here, if we allow it. A simple and profound way to be met by the ground, by the earth.  And so this morning I yielded to this earth- which has been somewhat of a challenge for me. I go at life, I push at life, I make it happen. This Yang energy is the energy our culture exalts- at such a cost. A cost to each of us and to all Life. And so I am learning, slowly, slowly learning how to yield into the earth, to be met and held with love. Like the embryo in the womb, I lay myself against the heart of this earth body, and am soothed by her rhythm, her attention, her heart song.

It feels kind of vulnerable to share like this. To show up as a beginner in this living. To show up with all the ways I resist love and life, and yet in my work as workshop facilitator I am exploring, teaching, showing how love is the current on which we ride.  But I will trust that this is OK. For we have to be authentic with ourselves, and each other. And I know this continuum practice, this being where I am in my body, helps locate and ground me, so that I can meet whoever shows up from a more grounded and authentic place.

Menstrual Awareness

Media Poster, for the Oscar winning film Period. End of Sentence. Available on Netflix

Another really profound way of connecting to our authenticity, or as Alexander Pope calls it, Our Wild Power, is through connection with our menstrual cycle. And for those of us, who have ceased their cycling years we do this through the rite of passage that is menopause, and beyond.

There is so much to learn about ourselves through our cycles, and not all of it is comfortable, but the more we tune into the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of our cycle, the more we come to know ourselves.

seeds and cone from a Giant Magnolia in my local park.

I have been enjoying chatting to young women about fertility awareness and the necessity of getting to know your cycle to be fully fertility aware! And it is topical at the moment, thanks in part to the move. Period End of Sentence, which just won an Oscar at the Academy Awards. Shifts are definitely happening, and in the words of the director & producer, Rayka Zehtabchi, “I cant believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” But it did!

We also had an article in The Age, announcing that all girls at primary and secondary schools would be given access to free tampons and pads, and  a new program Period Talk, aimed at “removing the stigma of periods” is being launched in Victoria. While this is great, many girls and women still experience body shame around their menstrual cycle, and beyond. But of course we want to go further than that. We want girls and women to understand the power of this initiatory rite of passage, and the blood mysteries as a whole.  But this is a great start. Let’s keep the conversations happening, lets keep learning and sharing all we can about menarche, the menstrual cycle and menopause! For we know that a “girls experience of their first menstruation had an effect on the rest of their lives” .

So know that when I am promoting my MoonSong Workshop- or those of my co teachers- we are promoting this work, this remembering of how important our menstrual cycle is for empowering us. So please learn about your menstrual cycle, your rites of passage- understand them as the natural, initiatory powerful processes they are, and teach your daughters, your nieces, your friends, your students….It is time.!

Embodying Water- Global Water Dance

Dancers from Global Water Dance

From tears and blood to the rivers of  life.  Charlotte Young and I are hosting  Global Water Dance, Melbourne at the Royal Botanic Gardens on June 15th. We would love you to be a part of this amazing event.

Global Water Dances “aims to use the international languages of dance and film to promote awareness and a behavioral shift toward solutions for water preservation and conservation through community engagement”

We need movers and dancers willing to learn the Global Dance – The same dance will happen on the same day all around the world, so we will be having rehearsals to learn that. There will also be a dance co-created by whoever joins with us. This will be an opportunity to choreograph a dance in which we become water, river, stream, ocean, puddle. To round off the event there will be a water ritual and an invitation to the audience to move with us.  An all ages all abilities dance is offerred for all. While the event is free, it would be very helpful if you would  register for the rehearsals- and the main event and please share with your friends too.  We are dancing for safe water for everyone. 

There will be presentations and talks by RBG staff and aquatic ecologists too on ways we can all celebrate and save this precious resource, this life giving water. We hope to see you there.

A Poem for You

When by oneself, flooded with delight
Simply in the memory of that kiss…
Here is the inner ritual.

That lick, that taste of nectar,
That caress, embrace, particular pressure…
Your subtle body replays the dance,
Inundated by divine sensations.
Melting, merging, swelling…

Surrender to the deluge.
know it as your own.
This ocean bliss is you.

from The Radiance Sutras, no.47, Lorin Roche

Go well dear hearts,
Blessings
Sarah xxx

On Tears

Tears have the capacity to change us. Crying can be at once an acknowledgement of pain and sorrow, and the release of it.  For when we give our loving attention to whatever is arising in us, we are also, allowing it to shift and move.  Tears flow, as does the energy of whatever it is we are crying about. This is not to say that it will be the end of the grief, or pain, but it will allow for the possibility of movement, of change, rather than of stagnation.

I am working with Skeleton Woman. She came to me several years ago in a drum journey and has journeyed with me ever since. Those of you who read my newsletters regularly will know her powerful story and its impact upon my life. You can read some of my earlier reflections on her here. And I will mention a small part of the story now, for She is walking with my Spider Sisters in this year’s Otways Four Seasons Journey.   

Image still from Skeleton Woman film by Edith Pieperhoff : http://redkite-animation.com/_redkite/projects/skeleton-woman/

Skeleton Woman comes to us from the Inuit peoples of Northern Canada. Though for me, and many others it was Clarissa Pinkola Estes who introduced us to Skeleton Woman through her much celebrated book, Women who Run with the Wolves.  

The tale of Skeleton Woman, like all myths is multilayered, and so too are the meanings, messages and truths that can be gleaned from her Story. And for now, I am only referring to one aspect of the myth, the giving of tears.  For in this tale, When the Fisherman has finally stopped running from Her, “a feeling of some kindness” has arisen within him. And he begins “like a mother to child” to gently untangle her.  Long into the night he works, “until Skeleton Woman’s bones were all in the order a human’s should be”.  And when finished, he “lights a little more fire” and he sits with her. And she sits in silence with him. No longer afraid, he is at last able to sleep. And while sleeping a single tear escapes from his eye. And Skeleton Woman, “put her mouth to his tear” and drinks “for this single tear was like a river and she drank and drank and drank until her many years long thirst was slaked.”

We see in this myth what a nourishment tears are. We see how the man has gifted Skeleton Woman his tears. And this tear is a deep well of nourishment, for it comes from a place of compassion, of his “deepest feeling”.  This is his gift, to be true, and kind and generous with his whole self. And in return Skeleton Woman is willing to meet himself and herself there. For she drinks from his well. She drinks and drinks and drinks. We must be willing to receive this nourishment when offered. We must listen to our deeper knowing, and be present to the extraordinary capacity of tears to transform. And Skeleton Woman is a tale of deep transformation. And if you haven’t read it, please do. There is so much to learn. And if you haven’t cried much lately, perhaps it is time for that too. Perhaps there is some deep nourishment for you in the flow of tears, in the movement that arises when we surrender fully to whatever needs expression in our being.

The dam at Hedgehogs Garden, Barkers Creek

Love your Menstrual Cycle

Do you know how to recognise your signs of increasing fertility? Are you aware of when you are ovulating? Is the rhythm of your own cycle familiar to you? What about your daughters, your nieces, do they know?

Today many women know very little about their own menstrual cycle, and yet this knowing is vital for our own well being, and is recognised as a barometer of our overall health.1 Getting to know your own cycle is a way to deepen your understanding of yourself, your connection with the earth, and is a safe and highly effective way to assess your own fertility.

Ï want our daughters to know there are safe and healthy ways to avoid or achieve conception. I want our daughters to know about the power and pleasure of their cycles because this will help them become empowered and to make choices which enhance their connection to their body and their sexuality. 

Womb Altar card illustrating metaphorical and real womb changes during ovulation

But the cult of the expert is alive and well. We use technologies to suppress our cycle, to interfere with and alter a normal healthy function of our body- our menstrual cycle. It’s a drug that many of us encourage our children to use!

What are the alternatives? Are they safe and reliable?  Incredibly, Yes. 2 Your body has a cycle and very clear signs to show you when you are fertile and when you are not!  As Francesca Naish says, “You can learn to distinguish these marvellous and unmistakable signs that your body gives you an use this information to avoid or achieve conception, depending on your choice for the whole of your fertile life.” 3 Yes, for the whole of your life!

Our MoonSong Workshop is a day to discover the ‘secrets’ of your cycle….And they are only secret because our culture doesn’t really get the wisdom inherent in the cycle. It doesn’t get that women learning about and loving our cycles and our bodies is empowering women…or maybe it does, and that is why we are not taught about it! But you can change that old story. Join us as we explore the deep embodied wisdom that is our menstrual cycle.  We show you a treasure map- that is inside you. What if you’ve finished menstruating? No problem, the moon and the menstrual cycle are intimately linked and you can learn how to flow with the moon!

The moon and her phases are mirrored in our menstrual phases.

Come sit with your sisters and learn about your rites of passage, your life seasons, your womb, and the moon! This is a beautiful day of remembering – we share what women have shared for thousands of years. Our next MoonSong One Day Workshop for Women is on Sunday 24th March in Carnegie. We would love you to join us. Book here.

Paired share reflecting on your menarche rite of passage at a recent MoonSong Wrokshop
  1. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  2. Bennett & Pope, The Pill Are You Sure its for You?
  3. Francesca Naish, Natural Fertility

Follow Your Bliss November New Moon News

New Moon in Scorpio

Welcome to this New Moon in Scorpio. A time to dive deep, to heed the call for intimacy and to uncover shadows in our psyche, those aspects of ourselves we often hide away. It is time to get real with your emotions and feelings. If you are anything like me, your dreams will have been nudging you in the right direction, showing you what needs to be seen.

Notice what is stirring from within, what wants to be born out of these mysterious depths right now. And celebrate this with a New Moon Ritual, a giving thanks for what is arising – or what you want to arise with the New Moon cycle.

Coincidentally, It was also Diwali, the Indian Festival of lights and Beltane last night, that “celebration of Holy Lust, Allurement, Aphrodite.”(Livingstone)  This is a time when the insects are buzzing in our gardens, nests are being built, there is new green growth and flowers and fruits emerging. This moment is a celebration of life begetting life, of love, or as Glenys Livingstone says, when ” the promise of early Springs exalts in Passion.” So passion, love and lust are certainly being activated at the moment. Its a great time to celebrate your passions, to follow your bliss and the impulses of your heart!

There is much birthing happening in my life right now, after a long deep rest.  I can certainly feel the deep stirrings of life and love. Thanks for stopping by, you might like to grab a cuppa and sit down and have a read. Feel free to pass this newsletters on to others who may be interested. And if you just want to see what’s coming up check out the events below.

Thanks and love


Upcoming Events

2018
Sacred Women’s Circle Co Hosting with Grace Funk, Wednesday 14th November
Summer Solstice Dance- Thursday 20 December,

2019
Medicine Drum Making Workshop- Saturday 9th February 2019
MoonSong Workshop– Sunday 24th March 2019
Medicine Drum Making Two Day Workshop- Weekend of March 30/31 2019


Making a Medicine Drum….

After a fair hiatus the Medicine Drum Making Workshops are back. I am delighted to be hosting two drum making workshops early next year. The first is the  Shamanic Drum Making One Day Workshop, that I have been holding with the beautiful Grace Funk. Grace has moved to Canada, so she won’t be holding this space with me. Instead I am working with Viv Thomas, a beautiful and wise woman. Viv has held space for me many times. She is a wise Bear Woman, a Midwife, Mother, Grandmother, and a Maternal and Child Health Care Worker- so you are in safe hands as you birth your Medicine Drum into the World, and birth yourself as drummer.  I am delighted to be working with Viv, co -creating the magical space with you all to create your own Medicine Drum. Details and Bookings for this One Day Workshop to be held on  9th Feb 2019 in Carnegie.

In March I will be working with Emilie Alciato for a deeper immersion into the drum making process.   Emilie offers regular circles in the Yarra Valley (monthly Moon circles, and Chant de Lune, Medicine songs for women). Her relationship with her drum deepened through her diverse pregnancy journeys as it helped her connect with her babies, to prepare for a freebirth, and to integrate her experience of miscarriage. She is passionate about supporting women to connect with their inner wisdom, to guide mothers to prepare for a conscious birth and to help healing after unexpected birth outcome. 

This two – day workshop provides more time to reflect on your own birth process- how you do creativity, what are your blocks, and where are your flows. We will be in ceremony for two days, and you will be fully immersed in the drum making process from cutting your own hides through to lacing the hide and birthing your drum into the world. This workshop will be held in the Yarra Valley at Peace Farm. We welcome you to join us for this magical transformative weekend. Details and Bookings.

It is such a joy to see women dive deeply into the creative process, and make a medicine drum. And then to hear how they are drumming out in the world is always wonderful. Please keep sharing your stories of how you are working with the Medicine Drum in your life.


Journeying with the Drum

Most of my work with the frame drum is using the drum as a shamanic instrument, for ritual, journeying and ceremony.  In this photo from my recent MoonSong Workshop, the women are journeying to the beat of the drum to access a healing ritual for their menarche.

The women are resting, dropping into the Alpha and even Theta brainwaves by focusing on the beat of the drum.  Alpha waves are calming and relaxing. They are the bridge between our conscious (beta) and subconscious (theta) states. Theta is our most intuitive state, its trance like, and deeply restorative. Journeying with the drum is a way to access these states, to journey into our deeper wisdom, and the consciousness of the web of life.

As the MoonSong workshop is centered around our menstruality, and the deep embodied relationship between our cycling bodies and and the moon and her phases and the earth and her seasons, this drum journey was to the womb (or womb space- for women like me who no longer have a physical womb). The women “traveled” via the drum beat to connect with their Inner Goddess, their inner knowing  to heal their menarche experiences.

In our culture today, most, but not all women experience menarche as a difficult transition. Often enough it is shameful, hidden, or at best, just something to get on with.  But this rite of passage is a spiritual experience, and one that teaches us what it is to be a woman, so healing this rite of passage can have a profound effect on our relationship with ourselves, our cycles (if we are still cycling) and our sense of being a woman. This is important for women at all stages of life. As someone who is journeying through menopause- it is really important that we heal these earlier transitions- that we learn the medicine of each of these rites of passage and continue on our journey of wholeness. Drum Journeys like this one can be an important component of this healing. And then we can embody this healed way, and slowly but surely we ripple out the healing of the feminine. Get in touch with me, if you would like a one on one drum journey, or join us for a full day of reclaiming feminine wisdom in a MoonSong Workshop. I am delighted to be hosting two MoonSong Workshops next year . The MoonSong Workshop is for you if you want to:

*Feel nourished and connected to a circle of sisters

*Listen deeply to yourself and your sisters

*Remember feminine wisdom through understanding women’s mysteries

*Reclaim the sacred intelligence of your body.

*Understand why you feel the way you do

It is important to book early as I am only hosting two workshops in the year. More information and Bookings can be made here.  Of course the birth story in our drum workshop is the first rite of passage, and learning the medicine and healing in this is essential too! So much to remember! I am so glad for the teachings of Jane Hardwicke Collings, who birthed MoonSong into the world, and who was there when i birthed my first drum in the world!


Finding the Rhythms

A long time ago, when I was travelling in France, a French African asked me, “how many rhythms do you know?” I was stunned by the question and I giggled in response but it was earnest, and it has reverberated through me ever since. How many rhythms do I know? Honestly, not many. But I am keen to learn more. I am keen for our culture to celebrate rhythm in its myriad forms. So I decided to explore the musical heritage of the frame drum, exploring the rich histories of rhythm. My first rhythmic teacher was Jane Elworthy, and her teaching was wonderful, though we could only touch upon this heritage as she only offered a couple of weekend workshops here in Melbourne.

I wanted to dive deeper,  and so I enrolled in Marla Leighs Frame Drum Academy.  This has been a really fun way to connect to the rhythmic side of the frame drum, exploring different rhythms and musical histories. Marla is a beautiful teacher, and as its an online course, when and how your learn and practice is up to you. Though it does require discipline, and as a number 5 that can be a challenge for moi!

 

Marla has this to say of the Frame Drum, “In the ancient world, women predominantly played the frame drum.  Shamans and High Priestesses drummed during rituals, sacred rites of passages and for healing.  Today, such formal rituals and rites are no longer a recognizable part of modern living, but we can incorporate these ancient practices into our daily lives to help heal our communities and ourselves.”

You can see this history in this Vase of the Bacchantes from 450 BCE. There are so many examples like this one, showing women from all over the ancient world drumming their drums. And each of you who births a drum, attends a drumming circles, or dances to the beat of one are part of this revolution, bringing the drums and the feminine home!

Interestingly since I began this course, I have by chance (Ha!)  seen several female drummers performing live. These included the awesome Terri Lyne Carrington (pictured below) and her social science project, Lucianna f Padmore with the Rakiem Walker project, ( so funky!) and an amazing frame drummer who performed at Layla and Majnun, but whose name I cannot locate! It is always fantastic to hear and see female drummers. The women are returning to this ancient instrument. Perhaps you feel the call too.


Lost and Found

As with the ancient art of drumming, so much feminine wisdom has been lost, but we are remembering. The call of the divine feminine is growing across the globe. I see it in so many ways, I feel it in my body, or as Arundhati Roy says,

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

Can you hear the earth breathing? Do you listen with the ears of your heart to her soft sighs? The rustle of leaves, the whisper of breath upon grass? Do you know her language, her songs? her stories?  I don’t. I long too, but I am not there yet. Sometimes when i’m dancing outside, or simply sitting and observing, I feel the stirrings of language, or at least a deep embodied connection.

I was recently gifted a beautiful book, which conveys the longing and  love of land and the challenge of finding its language. the author Inga Simpson says,

“But I do not speak Brush Box. My imagination is wrong-rooted in woodlands, populated by elves and dragons, the store of words and images from a lifetime of reading English Literature, and a genetic memory of brooks, glens and munros. I strain to hear the voice of this place, the land itself. Sometimes, when sitting on a log, straining up a slope, or hopping from rock to rock along the creek, I catch its echo. Perhaps in time, if  I listen careful enough, all of the stories will align.”  Inga Simpson, Under Story

And this book is a gentle nudge to keep listening, to stay open to the world around me, here, wherever I am.To continue this quest to belong with all that this entails, with a sense of responsibility to the First Peoples and their Knowing, and to the Country herself.

And so I am heartened to have signed up to my third and final year as Apprentice to the Four Seasons Journey under the teaching of Nymh Fox. For she is one who has immersed herself in the Forest, who has opened herself to the language of trees, of shrubs, of soil, of air. “Nymh is a shamanic ecologist, Mother and lifelong Journeyer of the Wild. Her work is deeply rooted in the rewilding of the Feminine. She lives a gentle untamed life with her family in a little cottage on the ridgeline above the wild valley where we gather and journey together. “

Watching Nymh, observing her ways you get a deep sense of how she weaves rituals and the crafting of sacredness into everyday life. I can observe her gentle wild ways her openness to learning, to listening, to wide-eyed wondrous watching. And now she shares what she knows, with deep respect for the land, for the First Peoples, the Gadubanud people of the land on which we gather, and for all the women who come to circle together in the Four Seasons Journey. It is such a Way, such a potent sacred path we walk together.  This work is a reclaiming of our birthright as women, underpinned by the knowing that we are all interconnected, that our healing is Natures healing. We do this work for ourselves and so that “ a renewed sense of balance and wellbeing can be restored to Earth and her people.”  (Hardwicke Collings )

And it is here on Nymh’s land that I have felt my bodied listening open again. In ceremony with the land, we walked the sites that had opened themselves to the women undertaking Wilderness Solo. My work was to tie a red ribbon around each stake identifying the site. It was simple and yet so sacred.  I felt my whole self-held as I prayed to the land, acknowledged the opening and welcoming of the women who would come. I prayed my thanks and gratitude for their offering.

And when the women returned from their 3 night solo with the land, and their voices swelled around the campfire I drummed a simple beat, a gentle reminder to stay close, to hold their stories a while yet.  I checked in with one of the eucalypts that encircled the space, was this the right thing, to quieten them now? She sighed a yes in response.   Three times she sighed when I asked a question of my drumming. Each time I asked a question I heard her sigh yes in response. It may sound obnoxious or trite but it was none of this, it was a call and response, a tiny window into the art of listening to land. And for that brief encounter I heard her language.

So, I return to immerse myself in this process of listening. I return more able this coming year as for this past year I was shielded much of the time. With two major surgeries I was often protecting myself from too much energy, from too much activity and though at times this made me more open to the language of my body and the earth body, at times I closed myself off in protection of my core, my stomach, my womb, my kidney. I protected my centre from any unwanted energy, and at times from that which might have been wanted but felt too powerful, too exposing in my weakened state. So as my energy rises I am delighted to be able to Journey again, to walk this way full bodied, with the School of Shamanic Womancraft open and listening to the women who came and the land who hold us.

We all belong here to this earth, to this place.  And for a white woman in Australia this can be complicated but all of us do belong to, and are part of this earth. I have long heard Aboriginal people say we all belong here, they invite us again and again to understand this within the context of what has occurred here. So we need to remember and celebrate the First Peoples, to listen and learn from the wisdom of a people who have lived on Country since the Dreaming, or as our science would say 70 000 years….

We can do this as individuals, as our leaders often fail too. If you haven’t already, have a read of the Uluru Statement of the Heart and show your support for Indigenous Voices, for real empowerment, and constitutional reform so that (Aboriginal)  “children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.” This Statement calls for the “establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.” And it calls for truth, a  “fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination. “It truly is a statement from the Heart, seeking justice, recognition and offering  to walk together with all Australians. I’m all for it what about you? It feels like a healing balm for us all, a much needed doorway into our sacred source. This is the week to get behind this statement by sharing the image above wherever you can!


A poem for you

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
~Rumi

 

That’s all for now,
Be well, Blessings

Sarah x

 

Creative Collaborations- October Newsletter 18

New Moon Blessings

Hello Dear Friends,
It has been so long since I have felt able to write a newsletter but this New Moon sees me return. I am grateful for your eyes and ears and hearts opening to what is arising. Thank you for reading.

I am conscious that this is a New Moon in Libra (my sun sign) and that the scales are our symbol, so this is a moon cycle about balance. How can we bring balance into our lives? How can we have equanimity with all that arises? As a Libran this is part of my life’s work.  I sense it is a deep calling for so many of us as we live in a world that is out of balance. We live in a culture out of balance.

So here now we can reflect on what we can call in to bring in more balance in our lives. What do we want to sing up? What do we want to let go of? And how do we make the space to reflect, to feel into what is right for us?

Before diving deeper into these reflections have a look at these offerings and follow your hearts call to some embodied remembering, to the sacredness of this life.

Sacred Women’s Circle, Thursday 11 October, Carnegie
MoonSong Workshop Saturday 27 October, Raw Gardens, East Brighton
Sacred Women’s Circle, Wednesday 14 November, Carnegie

Prayers and Neuroscience

These celestial events offer us a space, a portal to open up to what is arising in us. We can use the New Moon energy, to tune into what is being called forth (having used the Dark Moon, to let go of that which no longer serves). Of course it’s not that simple- these things, these aspects of self  don’t just disappear with a prayer but a repeated prayer, an intention followed through with repeated action can change the way we are.

Neuroscience is a way of articulating this “magic” of demonstrating how our prayers take effect in the world.  We can change our states of being and doing. With our prayers, with our meditation and mindfulness- with our will, we can visualize and practice how we want to be. And if  we repeatedly call this up, then we can change. There are so many evidences of this in the world. So use this portal of the New Moon to call in what you want in your life, truly and deeply.  Create rituals, and practices which embody how you want to be. And check out the readings and resources on Neuroscience to help you navigate and embed these practices in your life.

This image above is of  “Biocytin labelling of two synaptically coupled pyramidal cells in medial entorhinal cortex” by Julian Bartram. I love the way it reminds me of that amazing electrical storm that flooded the sky last night.  I love the way patterns repeat themselves in nature, reminding us of our interconnection. And despite the big words, to me this picture is of a meeting place of opportunity. It is the communication of that which we have repeatedly, bodily called up, and then sparks into action.

Creative Collaborations


And the spark for me right now is writing. I am calling in this creative flow as it is bringing me much joy. I am writing a play and one of the wonderful aspects of theatre is that it is not only about words. Theatre invites all our senses to the party. My writing of this play is a calling up of sound, of music, of drumming, of dancing and of words!  It is so cool to work with a platform that encourages me to bring these sometimes-disparate aspects of my life together.  So this is where my writing focus has been. And of course, the content of my play also draws on my passions.

Now I am at the stage of translating this written document into its physical form. It is another birthing, so I call this birthing in under this loving Libran Moon, knowing how much Libra is also about partnerships! I am calling in collaboration with actors, dancers, drummers, lighting and sound technicians, with musicians, directors. I am calling in creative collaboration.  As a Libran, this way of working makes so much sense to me. And my work with Sonia Stocco and Rebecca Grace Funk has shown me how lovingly and joyously I can work with others.

Is there some collaboration that is calling you? Are there opportunities to use this Libran energy to invite others into your work, your way in the world? How can you cooperate with others to bring about the changes you want to see in yourself and for this Planet?

This image above is from Rhiannon Newton’s recent work, We Make Each Other Up performed at Dancehouse.  Of her work, she says,

“A tendril of dance has grown across the dance-floor. The body and the dance are finding new ways to live and flourish together well. Mutual thriving has never felt so good.” – Rhiannon Newton

And this creative collaboration was so beautiful and so inspiring.  There were so many layers to this creative process. Not only was this a collaborative dance work performed at Dancehouse, which was amazing and beautiful, there was also a public program which invited people (like me) to participate in. I was blessed to attend (to be in) Textures– which was a reading by Rhiannon at the Carlton Library. It was a one on one storytelling session. We sat together, and she read to me, from a text I had selected from a set library of texts.  Each of these informed her final production, and were chosen by collaborators from Dance House. And what a selection it was. I could have dipped into them all (Le Guin, Abram, Bird Rose to name but a few) A poem from the writing I chose is here for you at the end of this newsletter. And the poet is only 21!!!!!

I was also blessed to participate in Fortunes of the Forest  which was a meeting with two others, (Caitlin Franzmann @caitlinfranzmann and Amaara Raheem, @amaararaheem ) and included a divination reading from the tarot deck Fortunes of the Forest, created by Franzmann and the gift of a collaborative dance with (in my case) the three of us and a Moreton Bay Fig Tree, and her seeds. It was so beautiful to be part of this co-creation, to be invited into this creative space in this way. And this helped cement my focus on collaboration with the human and more than human world.  Deep bow!

And for those wanting a deeper dive into relationship with the more than human world, then join the Victorian Four Seasons Journey, with Nymh Fox @waysofthewild on Otways land, King Parrot Country of the Yan Yan Gurt people.

“The 4SJ is a year-long educational program, open to women of all ages and circumstance. It offers students an in-depth opportunity to learn the philosophy and practice of Shamanic Womancraft, whilst cultivating a deep personal and spiritual connection with the Earth and the Divine Feminine.

“Focused on the shamanic perspective of cycles – of the Earth, Life, Moon and the menstrual cycle of Woman – the 4SJ prepares its students to become Shamanic Craftswomen – teachers and practitioners of the women’s mysteries, for their community and beyond, in the worthy mission of healing the wounded feminine, healing birth and healing the Earth.”

Contact Sequoia Krop  <admin@schoolofshamanicwomancraft.com> for more information and to grab a prospectus.

Arising and Dissolving


The Libran Glyph (pictured above) “depicts the setting sun about to sink below the line of the horizon, symbolic of the withdrawal of vital day forces after the intense activity of spring and summer. It also reminds one of the beam of a pair of scales, which suggests the weighing of the self against the not-self in the hopes of achieving some kind of balance and equilibrium between subjective and objective consciousness.” From Genevieve Vierling and her Blue Light Lady blog

And so while Spring is dancing her bodied self into our lives, we are also asked to pay attention to the setting sun. We are asked to remember that birth and death are aspects of the one continuum. We arise out of her Dark Cosmic Womb and we return to her Dark Cosmic Womb. For someone who has journeyed with Cancer this dance with death is a beautiful reminder of the preciousness of life. It is a reminder of the need to continually reflect upon my own capacity, and to give myself time to arise and to dissolve whatever the earth season. My tendency has been to stretch myself beyond my capacity not only physically but mentally, my mind (I am an air sign!) is very active and so I am learning how to calm my mind, how to drop into the portal of Darkness, this balm of Dark Energy…I am learning how to let myself go with grace and ease.  This is the balance at the heart of Libra, a need to continually readjust to ensure that there is balance in my life. And to me the whole world is calling for this balance between growth and decay, between action and rest, between light and dark, between all things.

And this is the wisdom also of the Life season of Maga- to be in full recognition of the power and blessings of the descent phase of our life. To have moved in the upswing of maiden and mother, and to be fully present to the pull of the maga and crone energy.  We don’t have the “high” of ovulation, we don’t have the same hormones stimulating us in that way, but we have a steadier energy- once we get through the initiation of our peri/menopause dance.  And what a dance it is! I am still dancing though this initiation and despite the challenges (hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness to name a few ) I am relishing this opportunity to step more fully into myself. I see the Magas out there and I celebrate their wisdom, their way.  I honour their commitment to themselves and to the world. They know themselves, they meet themselves and other from this wellspring of knowing. There is no one else to do this journey work for me, there is no other me, and there is no other you. So we celebrate our unique diverse journeys. We celebrate this dance with descent, welcoming the wisdom that comes.

And so once again I am offering  the MoonSong Workshop for Women, this beautiful day of remembering our life seasons, our bodily wisdom and knowing and our deep interconnection with the moon and the earth. This is for all women- no matter what life stage you are at. There is so much to re learn, to remember, and we do it in the safety and sacredness of a women’s circle. Please join us. Bookings and more information here.

A Poem for You

Yesterday I was the Moon

Yesterday – I was
The Moon
Today – Just an
Eclipse
Something in Me
Travels; Some Days its
to the Dark
Some Days its To
the Light

by Noor Unnahar,  follow her @noor_unnahar  on instagram.

Whats On:

Sacred Women’s Circle;Co Hosting with Grace Funk, Thursday 11 October
MoonSong Workshop-   Saturday 27 October, 2018. RAW Gardens Brighton
Sacred Women’s Circle Co Hosting with Grace Funk, Wednesday 14th November
Summer Solstice Dance- Thursday 20 December,
Medicine Drum Making Workshop- Date TBC 2018

References

The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge

Thanks for reading,

Blessings
Sarah xxx

Creativity and Collaboration

New Moon Blessings

Hello Dear Friends,
It has been so long since I have felt able to write a newsletter but this New Moon sees me return. I am grateful for your eyes and ears and hearts opening to what is arising. Thank you for reading.

I am conscious that this is a New Moon in Libra (my sun sign) and that the scales are our symbol, so this is a moon cycle about balance. How can we bring balance into our lives? How can we have equanimity with all that arises? As a Libran this is part of my life’s work.  I sense it is a deep calling for so many of us as we live in a world that is out of balance. We live in a culture out of balance.

So here now we can reflect on what we can call in to bring in more balance in our lives. What do we want to sing up? What do we want to let go of? And how do we make the space to reflect, to feel into what is right for us?

Before diving deeper into these reflections have a look at these offerings and follow your hearts call to some embodied remembering, to the sacredness of this life.

Sacred Women’s Circle, Thursday 11 October, Carnegie
MoonSong Workshop Saturday 27 October, Raw Gardens, East Brighton
Sacred Women’s Circle, Wednesday 14 November, Carnegie

 

 

Prayers and Neuroscience

These celestial events offer us a space, a portal to open up to what is arising in us. We can use the New Moon energy, to tune into what is being called forth (having used the Dark Moon, to let go of that which no longer serves). Of course it’s not that simple- these things, these aspects of self  don’t just disappear with a prayer but a repeated prayer, an intention followed through with repeated action can change the way we are.

Neuroscience is a way of articulating this “magic” of demonstrating how our prayers take effect in the world.  We can change our states of being and doing. With our prayers, with our meditation and mindfulness- with our will, we can visualize and practice how we want to be. And if  we repeatedly call this up, then we can change. There are so many evidences of this in the world. So use this portal of the New Moon to call in what you want in your life, truly and deeply.  Create rituals, and practices which embody how you want to be. And check out the readings and resources on Neuroscience to help you navigate and embed these practices in your life.

This image above is of  “Biocytin labelling of two synaptically coupled pyramidal cells in medial entorhinal cortex” by Julian Bartram. I love the way it reminds me of that amazing electrical storm that flooded the sky last night.  I love the way patterns repeat themselves in nature, reminding us of our interconnection. And despite the big words, to me this picture is of a meeting place of opportunity. It is the communication of that which we have repeatedly, bodily called up, and then sparks into action.

Creative Collaborations

And the spark for me right now is writing. I am calling in this creative flow as it is bringing me much joy. I am writing a play and one of the wonderful aspects of theatre is that it is not only about words. Theatre invites all our senses to the party. My writing of this play is a calling up of sound, of music, of drumming, of dancing and of words!  It is so cool to work with a platform that encourages me to bring these sometimes-disparate aspects of my life together.  So this is where my writing focus has been. And of course, the content of my play also draws on my passions.

Now I am at the stage of translating this written document into its physical form. It is another birthing, so I call this birthing in under this loving Libran Moon, knowing how much Libra is also about partnerships! I am calling in collaboration with actors, dancers, drummers, lighting and sound technicians, with musicians, directors. I am calling in creative collaboration.  As a Libran, this way of working makes so much sense to me. And my work with Sonia Stocco and Rebecca Grace Funk has shown me how lovingly and joyously I can work with others.

Is there some collaboration that is calling you? Are there opportunities to use this Libran energy to invite others into your work, your way in the world? How can you cooperate with others to bring about the changes you want to see in yourself and for this Planet?

This image above is from Rhiannon Newton’s recent work, We Make Each Other Up performed at Dancehouse.  Of her work, she says,

“A tendril of dance has grown across the dance-floor. The body and the dance are finding new ways to live and flourish together well. Mutual thriving has never felt so good.” – Rhiannon Newton

And this creative collaboration was so beautiful and so inspiring.  There were so many layers to this creative process. Not only was this a collaborative dance work performed at Dancehouse, which was amazing and beautiful, there was also a public program which invited people (like me) to participate in. I was blessed to attend (to be in) Textures– which was a reading by Rhiannon at the Carlton Library. It was a one on one storytelling session. We sat together, and she read to me, from a text I had selected from a set library of texts.  Each of these informed her final production, and were chosen by collaborators from Dance House. And what a selection it was. I could have dipped into them all (Le Guin, Abram, Bird Rose to name but a few) A poem from the writing I chose is here for you at the end of this newsletter. And the poet is only 21!!!!!

I was also blessed to participate in Fortunes of the Forest  which was a meeting with two others, (Caitlin Franzmann @caitlinfranzmann and Amaara Raheem, @amaararaheem ) and included a divination reading from the tarot deck Fortunes of the Forest, created by Franzmann and the gift of a collaborative dance with (in my case) the three of us and a Moreton Bay Fig Tree, and her seeds. It was so beautiful to be part of this co-creation, to be invited into this creative space in this way. And this helped cement my focus on collaboration with the human and more than human world.  Deep bow!

And for those wanting a deeper dive into relationship with the more than human world, then join the Victorian Four Seasons Journey, with Nymh Fox @waysofthewild on Otways land, King Parrot Country of the Yan Yan Gurt people.

“The 4SJ is a year-long educational program, open to women of all ages and circumstance. It offers students an in-depth opportunity to learn the philosophy and practice of Shamanic Womancraft, whilst cultivating a deep personal and spiritual connection with the Earth and the Divine Feminine.

“Focused on the shamanic perspective of cycles – of the Earth, Life, Moon and the menstrual cycle of Woman – the 4SJ prepares its students to become Shamanic Craftswomen – teachers and practitioners of the women’s mysteries, for their community and beyond, in the worthy mission of healing the wounded feminine, healing birth and healing the Earth.”

Contact Sequoia Krop  <admin@schoolofshamanicwomancraft.com> for more information and to grab a prospectus

Arising and Dissolving

The Libran Glyph (pictured above) “depicts the setting sun about to sink below the line of the horizon, symbolic of the withdrawal of vital day forces after the intense activity of spring and summer. It also reminds one of the beam of a pair of scales, which suggests the weighing of the self against the not-self in the hopes of achieving some kind of balance and equilibrium between subjective and objective consciousness.” From Genevieve Vierling and her Blue Light Lady blog

And so while Spring is dancing her bodied self into our lives, we are also asked to pay attention to the setting sun. We are asked to remember that birth and death are aspects of the one continuum. We arise out of her Dark Cosmic Womb and we return to her Dark Cosmic Womb. For someone who has journeyed with Cancer this dance with death is a beautiful reminder of the preciousness of life. It is a reminder of the need to continually reflect upon my own capacity, and to give myself time to arise and to dissolve whatever the earth season. My tendency has been to stretch myself beyond my capacity not only physically but mentally, my mind (I am an air sign!) is very active and so I am learning how to calm my mind, how to drop into the portal of Darkness, this balm of Dark Energy…I am learning how to let myself go with grace and ease.  This is the balance at the heart of Libra, a need to continually readjust to ensure that there is balance in my life. And to me the whole world is calling for this balance between growth and decay, between action and rest, between light and dark, between all things.

And this is the wisdom also of the Life season of Maga- to be in full recognition of the power and blessings of the descent phase of our life. To have moved in the upswing of maiden and mother, and to be fully present to the pull of the maga and crone energy.  We don’t have the “high” of ovulation, we don’t have the same hormones stimulating us in that way, but we have a steadier energy- once we get through the initiation of our peri/menopause dance.  And what a dance it is! I am still dancing though this initiation and despite the challenges (hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness to name a few ) I am relishing this opportunity to step more fully into myself. I see the Magas out there and I celebrate their wisdom, their way.  I honour their commitment to themselves and to the world. They know themselves, they meet themselves and other from this wellspring of knowing. There is no one else to do this journey work for me, there is no other me, and there is no other you. So we celebrate our unique diverse journeys. We celebrate this dance with descent, welcoming the wisdom that comes.

And so once again I am offering  the MoonSong Workshop for Women, this beautiful day of remembering our life seasons, our bodily wisdom and knowing and our deep interconnection with the moon and the earth. This is for all women- no matter what life stage you are at. There is so much to re learn, to remember, and we do it in the safety and sacredness of a women’s circle. Please join us. Bookings and more information here.

A Poem for You

Yesterday I was the Moon

Yesterday – I was
The Moon
Today – Just an
Eclipse
Something in Me
Travels; Some Days its
to the Dark
Some Days its To
the Light

by Noor Unnahar,  follow her @noor_unnahar  on instagram.

 Whats On:

Sacred Women’s Circle;Co Hosting with Grace Funk, Thursday 11 October
MoonSong Workshop-   Saturday 27 October, 2018. RAW Gardens Brighton
Sacred Women’s Circle Co Hosting with Grace Funk, Wednesday 14th November
Summer Solstice Dance- Thursday 20 December,
Medicine Drum Making Workshop- Date TBC 2018

References

The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge

Thanks for reading,

Blessings
Sarah xx

 

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