On Illness- part 1

On illness part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Sensuality Pathways to Presence and Pleasure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are 100 percent sexually alive beings.

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

Sexuality is a whole body/whole spirit way.

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our sexuality is integral to who we are.

* * *

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

The circle is integral to our work.

Bookings here:

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

FAQs

What are the principles that inform this work?

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

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

Details coming soon.

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

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

What’s the refund policy?

Refunds

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

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

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

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

No, we will have your name on a list.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferrable?

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

Welcome to this Pisceas Full Moon Musings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll leave you with a quote from Minmia

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

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

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

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

 

To Thine Own Self Be True

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

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

Lalita Devi and Janis Joplin

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A full moon ritual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feminine Embodiment- July ’16

Ecstatic Dance

Tonight,  is the full moon eve. This night was once a celebration of Artemis. It was the culmination of an ecstatic dance festival held each month in her name. On this night we would have gathered around her sacred tree. We would have gathered to dance around her as the sacred tree. We would have danced full bodied and free. It is said that the animals danced too. This certainly is worth remembering and reclaiming. Look out for such an opportunity in the coming months. Maybe we can birth a new ritual dance.

Birthing a Drum

Speaking of birthing I am feeling rather tired having birthed a Medicine Drum today. As part of my preparations for our upcoming Drum Making Workshop, I made a drum. This one had a long gestation but was finally created in two stages. The cutting last night and the lacing today. The drum is such a gentle and wise teacher. No matter how many times I work with the drum, always the lessons come. This time I learnt about allowing others in to my process. And so my husband Michael helped cut the hide for me. Ah that was a welcome intervention and what was most welcome was that I was more than OK to have his assistance….which I can tell you has not always been the case. And then this morning I realised that I had left the inner rim out of the bath, and so had to delay the lacing for several hours while it was softened in the water! Again I remained calm, and pleased for any learning that I can offer others when mistakes happen. How good it is to truly see the learning in our mistakes.

The lacing went smoothly but the tightening was tough on my arthritic finger. And like so many things it is a whole body process and after several hours of drum making i was getting tired.  My hands were aching and I was running out of energy. “How much longer? I have had enough.” Those thoughts did go through my mind, and then I knew I was close. Any thoughts of abandonment generally mean, the end is nigh. And so it was. Now my beautiful baby lies on my bathroom floor, slowly drying. It will be seven days before I can play her. And I too soon will be lying for a good rest.

Rest and Surrender

One of my favourite postures now is a variation of the corpse pose. I lie on the floor with my knees up and do nothing. Yes nothing. A wise man (Shiatsu practitioner, Glenn Polley) who has only worked with me once but could easily tell I had overworked adrenals gave me some sage advice, do nothing. Don’t think about breathing this way, or meditating, or having to do anything. Just lie in this position and allow the psoas muscle to soften. Don’t  try and make it relax, don’t force, just allow. Ah sounds simple, and it is. And yet when you have spent a fair part of your life armouring, then surrender takes some courage. So this is part of my new practice.. and.all part of my greater practice to surrender.

Surrender is not a giving up at all, but a giving into. It is a practice of human becomingness, of becoming more human. And then becoming one with the more than human world.

We spent two weeks in Tasmania. One full week in The Tarkine, the Old Growth forests where rest is part of every day. We rested our heads against Huon pines that have been on this earth for over 3000 years. We wandered over decaying logs, soft ground alive with moss, lichen and funghi. Oh the colours of the funghi! We wondered at the mystery of this interplay, this good green life, and this good brown death. Life and death, rising and falling and rising and falling, cycling with the nutrients, as the nutrients. And it rained on and on.This was rainforest after all. There is such wisdom in these forests, in watching and listening and being in these forests. We can learn to surrender in these forests.

Suprabha Seshan who lives in a rainforest in India says, “Ende koottare, mimikree cheyyam.” (Pretend you are the rain.) You are these raindrops that hammer so hard, your sounds can be heard from afar, a million leaves thrashing the drums of your descent. You are the trees receiving this rain, breaking the flow, harnessing its tide, guiding it down to the leaf litter below. You are the twigs, the branches and boles, the soaring buttresses of trees where epiphytes grow. You are the lichen, the orchid, the fern cloaking the trees, soaking the rain, absorbing its fall.”

This is her practice to help her ” survive the painful and unceasing awareness that the planet is going down,” We all need such practices that can sustain us, energise us, and allow us to rest in the deep interconnection of the all that is.  I hope you find your ways of deep connection.

And so now I bid you good night and sweet dreams.

Blessings
Sarah xxx

P.S contact me if you are interested in making a drum!

Notes:

Charlene Spretnak, author of the Lost Goddesses of Early Greece gives us a collection of pre- hellenic myths. She gives us the myths before the Olympians were ensconced in the mythology, before the patriarchy derided the Goddess and diminished her powers,

SUPRABHA SESHAN  author of People of the Rain
Suprabha Seshan lives at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary and works as an educator and restoration ecologist. She was winner of the 2006 Whitley Award and is an Ashoka Fellow. She occasionally travels to give a talk titled “Rainforest Etiquette in a World Gone Mad”. 

Celebrating Darkness- June ’16

Reclaiming the Dark

Here under the gaze of a full moon I reflect on the value of her sister, Dark Moon. Darkness is a place of sanctuary, of healing and rejuvenation and yet many of us fear the dark. Do you? Each of us falls asleep at night because it is a biological imperative, we must sleep and during sleep we restore, heal and nourish ourselves. And we understand the value of sleep, despite not really knowing what goes on. We trust this unknown, but mostly we fear the unknown. Is this why we fear the dark so much?  Is this why we light up our world, distancing ourselves more and more from the dark.  Are we fearful of what we may find in the dark, or what may find us?

I want more darkness in the world but even as I write that sentence I am aware that this could be interpreted as more evil, as chaos and destruction, because we understand darkness as a metaphor for all this. And yet I am simply stating I want more darkness. I want to know night as night, to see the glory of stars above my head, to feel into the shifting light of the moon, knowing both its full illumination and its full darkness.

But darkness is diminishing from our world. Light pollution scars us all. Not only is it linked to increasing health and immune problems, it denies us the possibility of gazing with wonder into the night sky.  (darkskiesawareness.org) The sky which inspires us all, which makes us ponder our connection to the vast and dazzling worlds above us and within us. We diminish ourselves when we dim our view of the night sky.

 Imagine if we revalued the darkness as a place of nourishment and healing. Imagine if we could come to the indwelling place with a sense of wonder and mystery instead of fear. Darkness is natural, is essential. Dark Skies Awareness is promoting the importance of the dark, and the cover image is of the Milky Way above the Grand Canyon as it has been recently proclaimed a Dark Sky Park. Here’s to many more dark sky places, and our celebration of the dark. The moon reminds us of the importance of each phase of the cycle, of the need for light and dark, birth and death. “The story the moon tells us is of birth, growth, fullness, decay, disappearance with rebirth and growth again. ” (Demetra George)

The wisdom of the cycles is a core part of the SSW teachings and something I am passionate about, particularly a remembering of the dark, a yes to the mystery, to the good and fertile ground of mother earth, of winter, of night, of our menstrual blood, of deep rest. Through this work we are reclaiming and remembering for all of humanity. We have got so lost in the techno centric, industrialised world that we have forgotten our roots in the natural world.  We have forgotten we are part of nature, and that our own bodies cycle in tune with the great wheel of the year, with the cycles of the moon, the stars, with life/death/life.  And this forgetting is a great sadness, a great undoing of our being.  So we weave ourselves back into her, back into the mystery of all life, and the great cosmic cycles.

If you are interested in reweaving the threads of our interconnection together, come and join me for MoonSong in October in Castlemaine.

It is time, women are reawakening…

learn about

*the wisdom of the cycles and our life seasons
* the influence of the lunar cycle and the earth’s seasons
* the spiritual practice of menstruation and the transformative power of our rites of passage
* understand why you feel the way you do!

Saturday 22 October 2016
9.00 – 5.00 pm 

Castlemaine, Victoria
(1 Halford Street )
Morning and afternoon tea provided
$150

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is here tomorrow night. The longest night is almost upon us, and at this time we give thanks for the darkness and then welcome the return of the light. For though winter will continue over the next few months and it will be cold and dark, the light will increase very slowly from this time forward. The darkest point (where the South Pole is farthest from the sun) is the birthplace of the light. So let’s look to the mystery of our earths dance around the sun, let us bow to the mystery of the dark. We all grow in the dark watery womb of our mothers- we are all birthed and made in the dark and arrive often startled by the light, and yet this cultural fear of the dark is so persistent. I hope, imagine, dream of a time soon when we celebrate the magnificence of the dark, and where we recognise it as a part of the wheel of our days, our seasons, our bodies and our lives.  For me dancing at the winter solstice is a ritual “ a way to acknowledge our active participation in the cosmos”, enlarging our sense of self to include the all that is.  Come dance and celebrate your own your participation in the cosmos. Find and follow the rhythms within you.

The Rhythm of Life

Michael Drake author of the Shamanic Drum says, “All things are born of rhythm and it is rhythm that hold them in form. Rhythm is the heartbeat of life.” (Michael Drake) The drum is an ancient and sacred tool used to connect us to the cosmos, to the rhythms of creation. When we drum we resonate with these vibrations and we can feel again at one with creation.

The frame drum is in the shape of a circle- a round container that vibrates life.  As a round vibrating container it was recognised as a symbol of (or simply as) the creative force, the container of life which held the life/death/life cycles in its continuous stream.  And as life is understood by many peoples to have come from sound, it was also recognised as an instrument of creation, attuning us to the sacred sounds, the sacred rhythms in the wheel of life.

My own drum has been a great teacher and connector for me, and my learning continues with this beautiful teacher. I wrote of the birth of my own drum here if you want to read more ¦https://www.embodimentsdance.com.au/2014/02/18/journeys-with-my-medicine-drum/  The process of building a relationship with my drum has been a beautiful initiation into trust. Trusting what we cannot see but that which we can feel so deeply in our core. I found the writings of Gail Wood, and her book The Shamanic Witch, to be a powerful recipe for relating to my drum. She acknowledges that it takes time to build a relationship with a drum, just like it does with anyone and so the more time I spent with my drum, the deeper the relationship. At first I was just feeling him, smelling him, touching and relating to him and then after a few weeks I allowed myself to truly drum him.

While many people associate the frame drum with American Indian cultures, it is also part of my ancestral lineage from the early cultures of the British Isles, and is part of many ancient cultures world wide. Layne Redmond explores the sacred history of the frame drum in her wise book, When the Drummers were Women, and yes in many ancient cultures the drummers were women. As Layne Redmond says, “The drum was the means our ancestors used to summon the goddess and also the instrument through which she spoke. The drumming priestess was the intermediary between divine and human realms. Aligning herself with sacred rhythms, she acted as summoner and transformer, invoking divine energy and transmitting it to the community.”

If you want to explore your connection with this ancient instrument come and join Bec Funk, Melody Bee and me in our Medicine Drum Making Workshop. It’s so cool to be working with Bec and Melody in this project. Bec is doing her final year of apprenticing with the Four Seasons Journey, is a circle facilitator and a Priestess of Life. Melody is also an apprentice with the SSW and is a Shamanic Craftswoman and Pollinator for the Sacred Feminine.

Body Rhythms

I just spent 5 days exploring the effects of vibrations and sounds on our bodies. I participated in Amber Grey’s Stirring the Stars, Continuum Depths Retreat.  This was an immersion into the fluid body and our relationship to the social cultural body, the primordial body and the cosmic body. It was indeed a cosmic experience. We are mostly fluid, around 70 percent and yet we so often forget this, and do not attend to the fluid body. So through this continuum depths retreat I was able to dive deep into the depths of my own fluidity, into my tissue, my fascia, my blood, my bones, my cells. By attuning to the fluid body through breath, through specific sounds and vibrations we are supported to move, to be, to rest in and from the deep nourishment of the fluid body.

I found myself feeling into my own tides, to the swells and recessions within my being and to allow what arises from such deep attention. This was a place of learning, learning to trust the movements which come from these places, and learning to trust the stillness. This was a place of waiting to see what is born out of the darkness, the stillness. Sometimes a small shift in movement somewhere else in the body led to a cascade of movement along my entire limb and more. Sometimes stuckness emerged and I waited to see what would arise.sometimes tears, sometimes movements, always something arose, old patterns and new ones.  Without judging either, we notice the opportunities that arise in these places. For this is a self -referential practice, a process of listening to the intelligence of the body, to its stirrings and impulses.

Tuning into the fluid body is to me a part of tuning into the dark, of trusting ourselves, our bodies  as fertile ground for dissolution, for growth, for rest and rejuvenation. There was much rest, much time allowing my body to show me how to move, and after rest comes something new, some birth, and the cycles continue.  We truly are part of the greater rhythms of life/death/life, part of the cosmos. Amber has two workshops in Melbourne this week, so be quick to join her for an exploration of the fluid body, of the cycles swirling within you. https://www.facebook.com/continuumaustralia/

Thanks for reading! And now it is time for me to attend to other things, so blessings on this full moon, and the receding light, blessings on the Winter Solstice and on the dark.

Love Sarah xxx

Full Moon Nourishment- May 16

A Sagittarius full moon is on the horizon, rising with the setting sun. With the full moon we give thanks for that which has shown up since the dark moon, for that which is being illuminated right now. I give great thanks for the sense of unease I have experienced and for the revealing of wounds and shadows. It has prompted me to look both outward and inward. Outwardly I  have spent time with, and listening to, so many wise people. Inwardly I have seen that I can choose gratitude or not! While it is easy to focus on what is not working, there is also opportunity to view the places of discomfort tenderly, to go deep into these places and be with. From this place there is more flow and ease. And pilgrimage, stories, and water have been prominent for me, this month. And flowing through it all an ever present rhythm.
Rhythm
There is rhythm beating and flowing through us, connecting us to the earth and her ways, her seasons, her cycles. We live within her rhythms, and the rhythms of the moon and the sun. Sounds strange? Esoteric? And yet you look to the calendar each day, the calendar is a mapping of the  rhythms of the earth’s dance around the sun.  There are rhythms within us too, which can be supported by flowing with the greater cosmic rhythms of light and dark, rest and activity, being and doing, expansion and contraction, inhale and exhale.  Pause now and then to feel into your bodily rhythms and find yourself connecting to earth and sky and the spaces in between.

Such attention helps me to connect  to body and to earth.  I seek to deepen my relationship to both.

Cultivating wildness
Cultivating our own wildness takes time and patience and practice. We look to the ground of our being and nourish the soil, plant the seeds, water them, bathe them in sunlight and trust the magic that is life on earth.

At a recent workshop with Claire Dunn, author of My Year Without Matches, she shared some of the ways to reconnect with wildness. (http://www.naturesapprentice.com.au/) There was much good learning here, new skills to expand and sharpen our senses, which are so underutilised in our screen based, consumer orientated, urban culture.  For this journey to wildness is a sensuous, embodied  one.  I have been practising my fox walking, wide eyed vision and regularly sitting in my sit spot. This last activity, was something I had been doing anyway, without knowing a name or way. It is the simple act of regularly being in the same place for a period of time, and observing what is going on. These observations can lead to questions, investigations and to moments of grace.

Just this morning I was blessed to feel the invocation of dawn, to be a participant in the greeting of this day by the urban wildlife. It was dark when I arrived, a small patch of light from the not yet risen sun hung low in the east. Pre – dawn birds were still sitting, perched, and yet calling themselves awake. The predominant energy was of stillness and yet vibration of song had begun. There was a stirring of movement and after some time as the light pitched across the expanse there was an eruption of song and flight. The birds wheeled overhead, noisily greeting this day. Shivers of delight waved through me, lucky enough to be a participant in this creative act. Joyously feeling into the birth of a day. Such magic, such beauty which happens every day, if only we pay attention.

I have been sitting in my sit spot, (which is on the deck in my back yard ) most mornings for a few months now.  I have watched the clouds move east each day, so yes the prevailing winds do come from the west. I have felt the winds caress and throttle both me and plants. The banana leaves shred in response. I have noticed the darkening of the morning, and the beginnings of dew. For we are in the descent, in the time of year of increased and lengthening dark. But to know something intellectually is quite different from being an active participant engaged in the changing light, the shift in mood and place. This morning was ecstatic, a real shudder of delight moved through me, with the flaring forth of this day. I encourage you all to find a sit spot, to visit the world around and within you. Through this regular sitting I am feeling into my interconnection, new shoots are forming in the ground of my being, so that I become more rooted here to this place, to this earth.

Rooting ourselves in our bodies,
A beautiful teacher of mine, Chameli Ardagh, (awakeningwomen.com) often speaks of rooting ourselves back into our body, and into the body of the earth. This is both literal and metaphoric. We can shift our attention back into the embodied sphere and begin to experience life from this place, rather than from the place of a mind cut off from bodily experiences, which is what our culture teaches us.  This rooting back can be as simple (and simple is often the most difficult) as paying attention. Taking our mind into the body, so that we experience the body/mind. And in this experiencing we allow the sensations, the feelings, and the rhythms within us to arise. It is quite humbling and sometimes scary but mostly beautiful to be this way. To consciously be in the bodymind. Chameli reminds us that we “don’t have to go anywhere or do anything, we just have to be.” For “Your truth is not something you need to reach, find or create. It is already vibrating fiercely in the depths of that which truly matters to your soul.”  So we pay attention to that inner call, to that truth already present within us. It is less of a striving and more of an allowing. Dancing and walking are two important ways for me to remember my truth, to come home to the rhythms within my body and the world around me.

Dancing myself home 
One of the most direct routes to embodiment has been through dance. Not necessarily the disco dancing of the 80’s (think Inflation, Chasers and Barbarella’s nighclubs) but even then, in those very disembodied, almost out of the body teenage years, dancing was sometimes the only time I felt at home in my body. The rest of the time I was split off, fragmented. I was cut off from feelings, sensations and much more.  But when I was dancing I was present to myself in ways that I usually wouldn’t or couldn’t allow. More than this, dancing was a joy, I felt comfortable dancing, moving, sometimes losing myself in the rhythm, sometimes fully letting myself go, letting myself be in my body. I knew that it was part of my healing. And it was and continues to be. I dance now to find my way in the dark, to express my joy in the light, and to connect with body and earth. Barefoot dancing is the only way for me, sole on soil, feet on boards, on once were trees, body fully on ground, grounding myself into the place, into my being in this world. Despite knowing dance was part of my healing, I came to facilitating dance classes quite by accident . My then teacher moved to NSW and suggested I run her classes (thanks Mel from Heart Dance) and have not been able to stop. I love sharing the magic, the power, the freedom of dance.  I want others to experience this too, to know just how much of ourselves we can reclaim and remember in the dance. We find our wildness, our wilderness, we find and know our deep interconnection with all life. Its all here in the body, we just have to tune in and trust the impulses of the moving body. Let your body show you the way home. Ah big sigh.

So I am pretty excited to host my first MoonDance on Sunday. We will be dancing ourselves home to and with and through our bodies. We will playfully explore the ways in which we are the earth. This is not an intellectual idea, it is a lived experience of knowing that we are made of earth, of stars, of air. We are earth and we are the cosmos. We are all the spaces in between. When we allow ourselves to really drop into the dance, to drop into that body consciousness we find that we are so supported by life. We remember how held we are by grace, by God/Goddess, by Spirit. Whatever name you call this deep web weaving, celebrate it, investigate it, honour it . My head often struggles with this, but my body knows. When I dance I feel spirit in me, I feel earth in me. I have to trust this. For this truth keeps revealing itself to me, arising from within and from without, We are interconnected, and the body is a glorious, sensuous way-shower.  Better be quick if you want to join as we dance our interconnected and interconnecting rhythms, life seasons, the earth seasons, the menstrual cycle, and the lunar cycles. A big day of dance, movement, meditation and nourishment. Sunday May 22, 9.00 – 5.00, Carnegie. $100 Yes that’s tomorrow!

Walking in this world
On the first new moon of 2016 I walked 10 kilometres along a stretch of beach from Barwon Heads to Point Lonsdale through  Wadawurrung Country. It was intention setting for the year, embodying my intention to walk this land, to walk this country and to strengthen the bones of my being through regular intentional walks (and it was a Capricorn new moon associated with bones, stones, structure) .  Since then I have continued to walk, to deepen my connection to certain places, and explore new territory, both within my inner landscape and the world around me. And joyously I have found myself listening to many others who have walked themselves home to body, to country, to ways of being in this world which are connective.

Walk the path
And journey to the source
These are not metaphors
They are instructions (Maya Ward)

Maya wards beautiful, evocative and open reflection of her 21 day pilgrimage from the mouth of the Birrarung/Yarra to the source is a tale for our times. (http://www.comfortofwater.com.au/)  She invites us into her story, her radical experience of fully being in the world. Walking is an experience through which she opens to the world, as she says, “There is so much more time when you walk. It is counter to external appearances, but inner experience has its own truth. We do less, but we are more.” Maya opens herself to the world around and within and finds the connective tissue that weaves us to place and to each other. She found the river itself winding through her, reminding her that, “Most of me is water. Most of me is a substance cycled through all living things yet unchanged for billions of years. I am, it appears very, very old. The mind bows to the body. Together they rise.”

And it is this bowing to the body that calls me each and every day. It is the wisdom of the feminine, and the wisdom of the ancients who bowed before the earth, before womb like structures, and carvings of breasts, of wombs, of body. It is the wisdom of Indigenous peoples who bow to the earth in ritual, in dance, in song, in everyday living. Many of whom, despite 200 years of colonization and language loss, and intergenerational trauma, still show up to share their wisdom, a wisdom imbued with earth time, with deep listening (dadirri/nyernila) with being in this world. And of course it is the wisdom of earth itself.

But this wisdom is not easy to digest.  A mind distorted by western paradigms, struggles to embrace its vastness. In a recent talk, Maya reflected that her mind has taken much longer to begin to understand what her body knew then in the walking, there in the river. I was taken with this struggle because it is at the heart of my own struggle between body and mind, and the seeking of an integrated bodymind. So I keep walking, dancing, cycling (in many different ways) being, findings tools to support me, ways to grow into a more embodied experience of the world.

Barefoot walking is for me a simple way to reconnect and be with and in the world. On my walks I notice what a different experience it is to walk in shoes pounding the pavement, even with the beauty of the beach beside me, to that direct experience of sole on sand. How the grains of sand massage and talk to my feet, how that opens lines of communication to and through my whole body. It is a quickening of the neural networks between bodymind, a more direct and active participation in the world here and now. It is mindfulness at work.  So kick off your shoes, and let yourself awake to the moment by moment presence of the world.

“To walk permeating and permeable, open, thin at the edges. To fall forward, letting my foot catch my fall, again and again, a slow fall always saved by the momentum of body rhythm. Falling, into the open arms of the world. ” (Maya Ward, The Comfort of Water)

The open arms of the world
Don’t you love that line and all that it says? Yes the world is open to us, it is inviting us to participate in our co-creation, and yet it is we who have closed ourselves to the world. And this closing has led to the current crisis, and our response to it, is to close again We pretend that we can continue living as we are, while all around us as Deep ecologist, Joanna Macy says, “Your tracks are grown fainter. We cannot bare, a world we have wrecked” and yet bear it we must, we must stay open to the arms of the world, lest we close ourselves off forever.

Only this morning my 16 year old son tells me, mum we are about to reach 400 ppm (of carbon in the atmosphere) and there is no going back. He showed me the article in the paper..This is devastating!  What does it mean to be a young child growing up in a world where future generations may not exist, where millions of species will become extinct? Where life may become too inhospitable for us, because after all we are often inhospitable to her? We have closed our bodies, our being to the world. We are not taking care of our land, we are not taking care of our country,and therefore we are not taking care of ourselves or each other. And the results of such ways of being are all around us. So what do you do when you son tells you this. What can you say or do? I think I groaned, and my heart broke open a little more. I am trying to be like the sun and the earth, ever present, ever loving, ever generous and I have to steel myself to stay open, and to show him my faith. So I remembered the birds rising with such faith this morning and each and every day. I remind him that in times like this it’s good to go outside and be in the world, and be reminded of her vastness and her goodness. And  I did. I went out to greet the morning with the tears in my being stretching down towards the dew, and up towards the sky and I sang,  “When I rise, let me rise up , like a bird, faithfully, and when I fall,  let me fall down, like a leaf, gracefully.” Singing myself to sanity in a world gone mad! (This song first sung with the 2015 Nourishing Early Childhood Class! Bless you all (http://steinerseminar.net.au/our-courses/part-time-certificate-courses/early-childhood/)

I feel like much I do as a parent is incomplete, or inconsistent. We are learning us parents, learning how to parent children, and ourselves through the greatest ecological crisis, through global epidemic of violence against women, through a culture that lives in a narrative of economic greed. Where are the stories of our times that help us reclaim a way of living with this world? They are there! So many poets, dancers, dreamers, weavers, shamans, wise ones sharing their knowing, baring their souls, and of course there is the earth. She is asking us to listen.  In the words of Miriam – Rose Ungunmerr- Baumann, a woman of the NGANGIKURUNGKURR tribe ( Ngangikurungkurr means ‘Deep Water Sounds’.)  the earth is talking to us but we need to listen. This is an excerpt from a talk by Miriam about listening to the earth and tapping into that deep spring that is within us.

“What I want to talk about is another special quality of my people. I believe it is the most important. It is our most unique gift. It is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our fellow Australians. In our language this quality is called dadirri. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call “contemplation”. When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening. Through the years, we have listened to our stories. They are told and sung, over and over, as the seasons go by. Today we still gather around the campfires and together we hear the sacred stories.”  (http://nextwave.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Dadirri-Inner-Deep-Listening-M-R-Ungunmerr-Bauman-Refl.pdf)

My body is telling me that I am tired now, that its time to cease. I’lll have to tell you about the Making a Medicine Drum  Workshop (August 21, Carnegie) next time and more about belonging, longing to be too.  Until then, be in your body, be in your nature. You are all this and more xx

Blessings Sarah

Sarah xx x

Feminine Embodiment- Full Moon Nourishment

A Scorpio moon will rise full bodied at Sunset tonight. Welcome teacher of mystery, of depth, of diving deep and drinking from the source of dark and light. She can illuminate all that is hidden in the realms of your own psyche, and our collective psyche. On this full moon, I birth this medium to share Feminine Embodiment with you!

At the full moon I give great thanks for all that has arisen in this cycle. It has been an intense one of tending to others, to remembering myself in the process, to journaling, praying with song and dance and of walking more attentively in this world. Lots of juicy sharing for you….dive in sisters

Singing over our bones
Recently I heard two sisters singing to the land, one was singing her blood back to the earth, the other singing the plants up. I was so moved by these small daily gestures of connection and creativity. In their singing they demonstrate the power of our voice as expression and prayer. To me, they are singing over our bones, singing themselves and us back into creation. For the creation stories we, as non -Aboriginal women in Australia (and in most parts of the world) have inherited largely omit women. They omit the land, and the connective tissue between our bodies, our being and this earth. But it is time to find our way home to the all that is, to the great source, ‘the flaring forth’ out of which we all arise.

Song, like dance, like story is a powerful medium for this.This singing is, as Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, the fairy tale knock at the door of the deep female psyche (the llamar o tocar a la puerta). We are singing ourselves home to our deep inter-connection. We are returning to the wilderness within and without. And when we participate in these creative acts (and our whole lives are creative acts!) we are finding that there is no separation, that the notion of land, of earth as something other, is a lie, a mistake, a huge omission in our life long education. Of course many of us carry on with the lies that our culture teaches us, and many of us buy into it. But there comes a time, when the deep ache within demands to be felt. This ache is the body ache of the lie of separation. And we must attend to it, feel it, and then find the creative paths, and the rituals which realign our ways of being with the earth. These acts, these are our medicine, and our way home.

Song is now a part of my daily ritual. Although I have always loved singing, I have been tone deaf all my life, and so am known to sing out of tune and out of time. And this stopped me from participating in so many things, but no longer. Singing is part of my medicine too and I sing as best as I am able with my heart and belly. I sing in my circles, in my playgroup, at kinder and when I do my prayers. And I find singing in groups improves my voice and attunes my ear. (thanks to Carol Liknaitzky of Nourishing Childhood for the weekly singing) . Song is part of my pray to the earth. I sing as I dance, barefoot on the grass each day. I sing to the great creator spirit, that I name as Goddess, as Gaia, as Mother Earth. This naming is important to me, for it relocates spirit in the body and in the earth, and in a tradition that goes back thousands and thousands of years. It reminds me that in my own ancestry the body was and is, both a gateway to and a part of the sacred creative flow. My body is a fully embodied living aspect of Mother Earth. My body is sacred, is source.

These songs of blood (by ways of the wild) and growth (by midwife of the soul) sung by my mermaid sisters, are imbued with this wisdom. There singing reminds me (and hopefully you) that each of us is sacred. And that we can become active co-creators of a new story (or actually a new version of a very old story!) in which we are recognised and recognise ourselves as sacred creatives, as human be-comings. Such active participation in the world is a way out of the crisis of separation that is putting so much of life at risk. We offer ourselves and our song to the earth, trusting that she is listening. We offer ourselves to the wild woman archetype, she who ‘carries the bundles for healing, she carries the medicine for all things. She carries, stories and dreams and words and song and signs and symbols’. And when we call her into our being, we attune into the rich tapestry of our creative cosmology.

I live on Bunnerong Land, where for tens of thousands of years people have sung to country. For Aboriginal people singing to country is an important way of connecting. Inherent in their use of the word country is a multilayered, multi-dimensional connection. “Country is a word for all the values, places, resources, stories and cultural obligations associated with that area and its features. It describes the entirety of our ancestral domains.”  Listening to Aboriginal people speak about their connection, their song lines, shapes the depth of their experience and interconnection. It reminds us that there are other ways of knowing and being. It can help us find our way home too, encouraging us to listen to the land (Dadirri). It can also open us up to seeking out more about our own ancestral spiritual lineage.

My roots are mainly Celtic, so pagan rituals have a deep resonance, and I have a connection to the wheel of the year and the sacred cycles imbued in this. But much of this tradition has been lost, and sometimes distorted. And part of my journey is to sift through and find the resonances, the remembering that fits for me living in this urban city in this world today. For me the School of Shamanic Womancraft was another profound doorway into cycles of life, and deeper intimacy with the world. I continue to learn from my teachers, and sisters on this journey, continuing to dive deep into an exploration of the sacred feminine, of our body/earth connection.

I seek to find ways to connect to mother earth, to embody what I know sometimes only intellectually and sometimes only bodily. The distortion and distinction between the two is still a part of my life. It is incredibly difficult to loosen oneself from a weaving of cultural stories and a way of being. But I am loosening those threads, unravelling those stories so that there is space for the renewal of earth time, so that I can become more fully human, more fully engaged and intimate with this life/death/life.

And so I have much gratitude to my mermaid sisters for their songs and their singing. They embody this deep feminine earth connection. In their own gentle ways they invite us into in intimate moment between daughter and mother, between the human and more than human world. I am blessed for the singing, for their examples of how we can sing over our bones, and allow the wild woman within to truly know her place, to truly come home to the all that is. Deep bow

Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women who Run with the Wolves, Rider.
www.CreativeSpirits.info, Aboriginal culture – Spirituality – Welcome to Country & Acknowledgement of Country,
Source: http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/spirituality/welcome-to-country-acknowledgement-of-country#ixzz46WGueUIG
www.waysofthewild.com  & www.midwifeofthesoul.com.au/


Flowing 
“What Could I learn from the tiny river rising beside me, to help soothe me?  Flowing.  Ever New.  Each Moment Alive.  Gently. persuasively. moving around obstacles.  Precious lessons.”  – Maya Ward

I am so looking forward to hearing Maya, author of the Comfort of Water speak at the Oases breakfast on May 7. She will speak of her journey trekking the Wurundjeri Songline, following the Yarra River from sea to source. I am sure our hearts and cells will be opened by the resonance of her words,  by her willingness to open herself to the presence of nature, to the solace and power of water. We are mostly water, mostly fluid, living lives often so divorced from source. So I am always seeking inspiration and nourishment, seeking the gentle reminders about the way home.

Booking through the OASES website: http://www.oases.edu.au/breakfast/

Walking in the world is a way of connecting to this world in all her magnificence. I take time out each week to stroll, to notice, to pay attention to what is arising within me, and what the world is showing me about herself, and our deep interconnection. This is a storied world, and I am seeking out her stories. Learning how to listen.  Finding solace in the pockets of regeneration, in the resilience of people and place who generate intimacy with her richness.


(Sealers Cove hike,)


Dancing our way home
Dance is a daily practice for me, a tactile embodied exploration of what it is to be human in this more than human world. I am inspired by the bodies capacity to extend our limited sense of self, and to move as part of the larger reality as an earthling. In the words of one of my teachers, the founder of continuum dance emilie conrad, “I am part of the swirl of bio-morphic unfolding.I am not bound by culture or language. The deepening of sensation allows me to be without category. I transfer the moisture of my cells,join the wet of the grass, the pour of the ocean, the stars that watch over the night. The plants breathe, my skin is wet, we are here. ”

While I am dancing more at home, I am dancing less in public- and holding space less. Partly because I lost my beautiful space and partly because I am trying to juggle family and work with my passion for sharing dance. It is a delicate balance, but I am hosting a MoonDance workshop in May.

MoonDance: Feminine Embodiment
My next offering will be MoonDance, an embodied connection to the women’s mysteries, to the cyclical knowing within your being. In this session, we will follow the impulses of our moving bodies to explore the lived experience of the cycles and seasons within us. We will dance, move, touch and soften into our experience of Being. We will nourish and nurture ourselves and each other to explore the embodied reality of the women’s mysteries within us.  Please get in touch with me if you want to know more:

Sunday May 22
9.00 – 5.00
Carnegie. $100
byo lunch, delicious morning and afternoon tea provided

This workshop  arose out of my MoonSong apprenticeship with the School of Shamanic Womancraft. These workshops reconnect women to their feminine power through reconnection with the women’s mysteries. If you haven’t done one yet, Jane Hardewick Collings has one coming up in Shoreham in June and I will host one in November.

Thanks for reading, its been big to produce this for me. Big to move through my tensions, frustrations, limitations with technology and get this out to you!.I’m now feeling the lure of a bath under this beautiful moon.

Stay in touch
Deep bow
Sarah xx x

What lies beneath?

What lies beneath?

This is a question I have been feeling into for many moons now. What lies beneath? What lies beneath oubluelaker feet, beneath our paved roads and footpaths, and beneath the layers of protection, scaffolding, and armour that we wear around ourselves? And while feeling into this question, I heard a tale of a beautiful lost lake that once crowned parts of west Melbourne. It triggered in me a sense of deep loss, and an affirmation to continue searching for the places of forgotten beauty, and of those places not considered beautiful; the watery wastelands of our psyche and our landscapes.

In response to this tale and song, I created a painting in two parts. The first is an image of the blue lake that once covered parts of west Melbourne. It was said to be, “a real lake, blue, nearly oval and full of the clearest salt water…Fringed gaily all round with the purple mesembryantheum (pigface) in full bloom, it seemed in the broad sunshine to be girdled by a belt of magenta fire.”   But this beautiful lake, although clearly appreciated by some, was undervalued by those with power. And by the 1860’s it was completely lost as it was covered over with bitumen and tar. The second part of the picture depicts the built world, whatliesbeneathand it is entitled What lies Beneath, or Only the Sky Remembers.  The lake is there but hidden underneath. Upon hearing The Orbweavers sing of this lake, I was moved to reflect again on this question of what lies beneath all of us, and how can we reclaim those parts of ourselves and of the earth that need to be reclaimed. I link these two questions as part of the same one as I feel  that whatever we do to her, we do to us, and whatever we do to us, we do to her.

So I am finding my way home to myself, and to the land I live on. I am finding my way home to a wholeness that connects us all by looking at what lies above and what lies beneath. But the journey is not easy nor the path defined. But my questions guide me, as Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen said to a teacher of mine, Your questions are your quest. And I am questing this year to reconnect myself to land, to country and to myself as healed and whole. Part of this involves learning the art of Dadirri, or Molla Wariga, of deep listening. This requires the giving of time and attention, of pausing, and reflecting. I feel the blue lake is a symbol of all this because water gifts us these ways of being. We pause at a lake, we listen to the birdsong, to the flow of water and we see our reflection. We trust in the flow of water, in her way of being. The Blue Lake was a salt lake and was linked to the tides, to the moon, to the cycles, the seasons. And this is another clue, to remember our own cycles as part of the larger whole. This is another part of the journey.

redtent3Although questing is often seen as a solo journey and part of it is done alone, we are also guided with signposts, and messages. We find timely reminders that we are not alone. We are gifted with others who will walk with us at least some of the way.  For me, women’s circles and Red Tents help us to remember our deep connection to each other, to the land and to the spirits. It is part of my journeying home, and may be part of yours too.

And today I watched a beautiful video Dissonant Bundles and the Power of the Circle by Bec Funk,  and Jacqui Grace of Beautiful Wasteland, and even that name conjures up so much of  what I am trying to express….what is a wasteland? What is beauty? What aspects of our own beauty have we denied, repressed, estranged, paved over because it was not valued by ourselves or others?  They explore these questions too. And while watching the video I am reminded of the story, Skeleton Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This story is worth exploring, for it also dwells with the need to accept and love the not beautiful aspects of self.  Again this requires time, attending, and a willingness to really look beneath the surface and to allow others to do this too. Part of this is to risk showing ourselves to ourselves and to others. We are often surprised by what we find, for beauty is so much more than that visual aspect that we place so much importance on in this culture. Life in all her curiosity, wonder, wildness is beautiful.

The skeleton woman story may come to visit you, or maybe another is calling you. I believe the stories come to us when we are ready, and sometimes even when we are not. Another story that has been working its magic on me, is the tale of Persephone, and her descent into the underworld. I am dreaming up a workshop in which we use this tale as the starting point for exploring our own descent into what lies beneath. The descent is a necessary part of our journey, it is the heroines own healing. So this story presents a highpmythicpowerful reminder of the tools and resources we have at hand to be our own heroine, to journey down, and to descend into our power.   The workshop will look at the tools can we use in order that we can be with, what it is that we find. And then having reclaimed these aspects of self, we will be guided in ways to ascend again while staying on the path of renewal.

Renewal requires a death and a letting go. Let us spend some time in renewal, regeneration and remembering. Let us see what happens if we walk the country of our inner landscape and the outer landscape. Let us see what happens if we dig below the surface to reclaim those places that we thought were not beautiful, that we through were wasteland, and see if we can be surprised by what we find…

As that beautiful poet ee cummins once wrote

For what ever we lose, (Like a you and a me)
It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.

Blessings on the descent, on this day before the dark moon.

Sarah  xxx

Words for deep listening:
Dadirri is from the Daly River language group
Molla Wariga is from the Gurnai Language group

For more information on the blue lake, go to
http://www.robynannear.com/docs/mrs-bradleys-melbourne.pdf
and scroll to blue lake. The quote is from George, Gordon McCrae…taken from this site.

Moonsong- Listening to the Feminine

So blessed to sit in circle today with 20 women at RAW Gardens, to celebrate International Red Tent Day. Such gratitude to feel the magic of the circle, the healing that comes with showing up, with sharing and with listening with the ears of our heart to our sisters speak… It is time to find our voices, our truths, and to listen willingly and openly…it is time for our families, communities and the world to hear the voices of women, to let the feminine speak in her myriad voices of her truth. Not the truth of a world/cultures which denigrates women, the body, the earth, life/death/life but the truth that comes from deep within, a truth that is rooted in the earth, in her and our bodies. Our lived experience.

The redtent3time is now, so find your way to love yourself enough, to honour yourself enough to reach out to support other women, and to hear their stories, their songs, their poems, their tongues, their carvings, engravings, weaving….find women, listen and be listened too. Such healing arises when we feel we can be really heard. When we listen to ourselves, and give ourselves the space to acknowledge, to heal, to be.

I am blessed to have such a group of dear women around me, my family, my friends, my mermaid sisters, my teachers…and all those who came today, and who come to the call of the feminine….If you feel a desire to go deeper in this work, then i encourage you to find a red tent near you. There is a revolution and they are springing up everywhere..You might also consider a year long dive into the feminine mysteries with the School of Shamanic Womancraft.This was and still is such a profound journey or healing for me, and those who i have journeyed with. It is MAGIC!!! And if you want a taster of this work, I am also hosting a day, to explore the treasure map of our blood mysteries, our feminine mysteries, with Moonsong.

In this workshop you will:

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  • learn about the wisdom of the cycles and our life seasons
    • the influence of the lunar cycle and the earth’s seasons
    • the spiritual practice of menstruation and the transformative power of our rites of passage
    • understand why you feel the way you do!
    Sunday 17 January 2016
    9.00- 5.00

    • Carnegie, Victoria  (address provided on booking)
      Morning and afternoon tea provided…$80
    • bookings essential

Many thanks again to all those who showed up today. Gratitude for the feminine flow!

Blessings sarah zxx