Enchanted Living

Sacred Wound

Hello and Welcome! It has been a while. I have been deep in my healing, deep in recovery from my radical hysterectomy and cancer. What a journey!

At the moment I am rewriting my sacred wound story…this is a really powerful process to transform our old stories- with the associated habitual and often painful pathways, into more healthful ones. In this newsletter I share some of this process with you, and some of the ending I am crafting for my story- of becoming more enchanted with this world. Scroll past the upcoming events to find out more..

Drum-making Workshop for Women: Sat 21st April, Melbourne, VIC
Planetary Dance for Peace, Sun 22nd April, Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne Women’s Circle: Thurs 10th May, Melbourne, VIC
MoonSong Workshop for Women, Sat 12th May, Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne Women’s Circle: Thurs 7th June, Melbourne, VIC


Our sacred wounding- is a deeply painful childhood (or in utereo) experience that shapes our story of self. And from this experience we create, habits, postures, and ways of being that were right for the time of the wounding. But then when the danger is over we remain stuck in that way of being. We unconsciously behave in ways which protect us from a threat no longer real. These patterns were helpful then, but  now limit our capacity to grow.

Rewriting your sacred wound story is about claiming your story, your wound and your ways, and finding the healing in it. It takes courage to show up to these parts of ourselves, our lives and our stories, to hold them with tenderness and forgiveness. But by doing so, by claiming your story as sacred, as part a bigger Life story we can harness opportunities for growth and transformation. As Jean Houston says, “Our woundings tell us that old forms are ready to die, however reluctant the local self may be to allow this to occur, and that hitherto unsuspected new forms are ready to flower.”

And its must be said that flowering requires roots in the earth, the spray of sunshine and rain. It requires right timing and right conditions.  And maybe now is a right time for you. It seems to me a potent time to be rewriting this sacred wound story, with Chiron, the wounded healer in Aries. Aries is the first sign, the sign of self, of ego, of moving forward, making change with courage and fire in the belly.  If you are interested in working on your own sacred wound story, see Jean Houston’s, The Search for the Beloved, in which she creates a process for reframing our sacred wound.

Having said that, it is a deeply moving, and often challenging process. To be with that small self who was deeply wounded, and tend to her, meet her, and then show her that times have changed, and that we are safe takes stamina and courage. So, it is wise to have a sister, a loved one, someone who will be present when you need to be heard or held.  I am re-writing this in the safety of the container of the Four Seasons Journey, with a glad of mermaids about me. This is of course an option for you too, come join us!

Having someone you can call on when you need feels important and worthy.  Inanna had Ninshubar, a dear sister drumming at the gates of the underworld as she descended…You might want to call on your own Ninshubar to hold and drum for you.

And as part of our work as womancrafters, we are crafting our wounds, our words, our stories to heal ourselves, and in doing so to heal the feminine. For how we are, ripples out into the world.  And our words are spells. And so I am crafting an ending to my sacred wound story that sings up the enchanted life I want to live.

An Enchanted Life

I do live an enchanted life.  Part of me has always known that we are deeply woven into the web of life.  And this web includes the unseen and the seen. I marvel at this world…Her beauty and her mystery, but part of me, like the Mushroom Mother in this beautiful painting (Mushroom Mother and Her Children, by Edward Okun, 1900) lost her way.

I stumbled in my wrongness, in the deeply embodied shame that was etched in my bones. Part of me became skeptical – easy in a culture which denies our inherent embodiment. But working on my sacred wound, (and this recent surgery, this womb sacrifice) has helped me remember what I always knew, that life is enchanting and enchanted. And I as a part of this life am too.

This life is so full of Life. Yes, a capital L because “it” is so incredibly beautiful and mysterious. It is of course full of beings, not things. See how our language and our thinking separates us right there! This Life is full of creatures living their lives to the best of their capacity within their ecosystems, of which they are a part.  And we dear sisters are a part of this weaving. We are deeply embedded in Life.

But sometimes we fail to pay attention to all this….in our thermally controlled houses, in our thermally controlled cars, in our thinking of ourselves as separate we don’t notice what is all around and within.

Life deserves our attention. More than ever, Life needs our attention. So much is lost to this world when we do not pay attention.  On a recent Instagram post I mentioned that several bird species were threatened with extinction – and many of the comments indicated that people had no idea that birds like the Red Tailed Cockatoo, and the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo (pictured above)  were under threat of extinction.  Bird Life Australia has a current campaign to end, “Extinction by Neglect”because so few people recognise the level of extinction going on all around.  We are in fact in what is commonly known as the sixth great extinction with a devastating loss of species which has not occurred since the Cretaceous period  (think Dinasours).  And Extinction is forever.

Maybe, if we knew to watch for birds, for when they came and went, if we knew to watch for their food sources, and noticed how diminished these sources (and this Life) were, we might realise the devastation all around us- and then hopefully we might help restore(y) the earth. But ours is not a culture of paying attention to Country.

This loss is in our language too. Words vanish, when they are rarely uttered, when they are left on shelves like dusty unread books. And when these words represent aspects of life, such life itself can vanish too.

Words like :acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, conker- gone, fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow wren”, were recently taken out of the English Junior Dictionary and so these words (and the very beings they represent) are, as Robert Macfarlane says,  ” becoming lost. No longer vivid in children’s voices, no longer alive in their stories.”  His book Lost Words, is an attempt to re engage children with the natural world, with the wisdom, power and sentience inherent in this Life.

But have we as adults, as a culture, forgotten how to pay attention, to tune in, to listen, and to remember the gentle- wild ways of this world, and our place in it?  Have you forgotten? If so, what helps you remember? What helps you reconnect to this deeply embodied, loving Life?

Trusting our Visions

Reclaiming wonder in this world is an antidote to extinction, and to the alienated lives many lead. This can be as simple as sitting in nature, having a daily sit spot, taking a walk, reading a beautiful fairy story or being inspired by words and art.

There are so many wonderful creators out there reminding us of the mystery of Life.  Lucy Campbell, creator of this beautiful painting, Bring the Night,  (above) creates art “to foster the reintegration of this childlike self with instinct and intuition, as well as to portray a celebration of the wild, both within us and in the natural world.”

Like many of us she feels the disconnection between the human and the more than human world and creates art  ” to wordlessly speak of the connection we hope for and dream of; to offer an answer to the human need for wildness, magic and mystery, and above all, trust and healing.”

It is always so inspiring to find  artists and creators, poets and dreamers living their life in enchanting ways. They provide us with magical pathways to wonder and enchantment. Which artists and creators inspire you? What stories do you share with your children, with young people in your life?

Re-storying our World

And let us remember that the whole world is listening and noticing us too. So let’s sing her back, lets craft our spells by speaking her names, calling her parts up and out. As Robert Macfarlane so beautifully says in his book, The Lost Words, (beautifully illustrated by Jackie Morris)  “There is an old kind of magic for finding what is missing, and for summoning what has vanished. If the right spells are spoken, the lost words might return.” And this is the magic of naming that which is in the world- we hold on to the various forms of Life, we care for Life.

Lets speak these words. Lets walk in this world noticing, paying attention,  delighting in the gifts of nature all around us. Children will show you how, they will stop and drop deep into the now, into the puddle, the leaf, the ant, the blue banded bee!!!…whatever is taking their fancy.

This is part of caring for Country, or singing up country, as many Aboriginal people describe it. There is a knowing that the Country is alive, and that singing to Country is an integral process of holding Country safe. And the Songlines are an integral way to do this, an enchanted way of living.

Songlines

I was so happy to go visit the Songlines:Tracking the Seven Sisters Exhibition in Canberra earlier this year- it felt important to try and understand the beauty, breadth and depth of these Seven Sisters Songlines which track right across the centre of this country, and which the elders across those participating communities were willing to share with us. It was an Aboriginal led exhibition.

It was an amazing experience- demonstrating the ways in which people are woven into and weave the land. We are all shaped by land and land is shaped by people.  That is their Knowing, their Knowledge system. And their knowledge of Country- was amazing- Wow…That’s what you get when you have 65 000 + years of living on country, of paying attention, of being aware of relationship in everything.

Even with the 200 + years of colonization, post colonization and its devastating effects on language, and on living…the sense of connection, of care and responsibility was palpable. For Aboriginal people to live on Country is to care for it. And that’s why it is so important to listen to Aboriginal people, to support their endeavors to return to, and to Care for Country.  As they say Country needs people!  And Country needs people who know her, who care for her.

“Country enlivened and empowered people, and people took care of country. Responsibility was the point of life – to raise new generations who could take care of the country, protect the Dreamings, and keep the generations going.”  ( Deborah Bird Rose ) Supporting Land Rights seems a powerful act of wonder, enchantment and responsibility.

I wonder, can we begin to generate a way of being where responsibility is the point of life? Where we know we belong, and in belonging are responsible for caring for our home, this earth and for all creatures, all Life? This Country, all of us need healing, to heal the wounds of dispossession, trauma and intergenerational trauma. And to acknowledge the ways we have benefited from this, and to heal our wounds of separation. Big wounds need big healing, but I trust we can do it together. The more we can listen to and learn from Aboriginal perspectives the better. The more we can heal our internal wounds, and listen to the voices of our own ancestors, and of this land the better.

This kind of relational thinking, of caring for Country is in our old stories too. I know it’s in the stories of my Celtic culture as Sharon Blackie has so beautifully expressed in her book, If Women Rose Rooted. And part of our work is working with the myths and stories that reconnect us to country- that help us belong where we live, that help us “rise rooted” out of this earth.

Working with stories is such a powerful way to find meaning in our lives, which is why the sacred wound process is so profound. I am weaving in some stories form my culture, and other cultures that speak to me, that resonate with me, and help me shape my own sacred wound story.

It is so important that we find, and remember the Old stories in our cultures, when the land was Sovereign. Cloutier says, “For anyone involved in a journey, finding a tale that touches you is like finding a soul companion; it is telling you: you are not alone and “your journey has meaning.”  She writes this in her review of Skeleton Woman, such a personally meaningful story for me, linking back to my own sacred wound, and my pathways to healing, as noted in my December News! This is big work, lifelong work but I feel some seismic shifts occurring deep in my bones, in my cells.

A Poem for You – The Radiance Sutras

And to finish, here is a beautiful poem, a reminder from Kashmir, India, that the earth is alive in you too. We are made of this earth as is so beautifully depicted in this translation of the Vijñāna Bhairava sutras by Lorin Roche, PhD.

The body is made of earth and gold,
Sky and stars, rivers and oceans,
Masquerading as muscle and bone.
Every substance is here:
Diamonds and silver, magical elixirs,
Ambrosia that gives visions,
Herbs that nourish and heal.
The foundation of the planet,
Immortal magnetic iron,
Circulating in the blood.
Every element in you loves the others:
Earth loves rain, sky loves sun,
Sun Loves the space it shines through,
Space loves everyone equally.
In meditation, luxuriate in knowing
This deep and simple truth.
Every cell is an organ of sense
Infused with majesty.

The Radiance Sutras, Lorin Roche, Ph.D.

 

Upcoming Events: 2018

Lots of beautiful offerings coming up, each a way of coming home to your body, to this earth and our place within her. Get in touch if you want to know more.

Drum-making Workshop for Women: Sat 21st April, Melbourne, VIC
Planetary Dance for Peace, Sun 22nd April, Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne Women’s Circle: Thurs 10th May, Melbourne, VIC
MoonSong Workshop for Women, Sat 12th May, Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne Women’s Circle: Thurs 7th June, Melbourne, VIC

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

Radical Self Care- Choosing Love: Newsletter May 17

Scorpio Full Moon Love

Dear Hearts,
Thanks for tuning in and turning up.

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

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

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

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

Choosing to Walk With Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radical Self Care

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

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

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

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

Rhythms of Life and Love

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

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

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

On Love

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

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

Love is  remembering that,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A poem for you

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

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

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

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

For all my latest news and events check out my webpage 

See you next month….
Blessings Sarah xxxx

Weaving the Strands- April Newsletter 17

 

Full Moon in Libra

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

Weaving the Strands

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

We are the Woven Ones

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

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

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

Lost : A poem for you

Lost

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

-David Wagoner

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

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

Coming Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Sacred Ground

On Sacred Ground

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

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

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

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

Seven Sisters Dance

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

Autumn Equinox Dance

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

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

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

Making a Medicine Drum

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

Cultivating Community

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,
See you next month….

Many Blessings
Sarah xxx

References:

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

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

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

On Illness- part 1

On illness part 1

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

leaf

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

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

oakwlak

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

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

DSC_5489

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

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

Sacred Sensuality Pathways to Presence and Pleasure

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

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

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

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

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

* * *
flowerinhands

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

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

We are 100 percent sexually alive beings.

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

Sexuality is a whole body/whole spirit way.

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our sexuality is integral to who we are.

* * *

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

The circle is integral to our work.

Bookings here:

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

FAQs

What are the principles that inform this work?

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

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

Details coming soon.

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

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

What’s the refund policy?

Refunds

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

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

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

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

No, we will have your name on a list.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferrable?

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

Welcome to this Pisceas Full Moon Musings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll leave you with a quote from Minmia

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

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

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

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

 

To Thine Own Self Be True

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

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

Lalita Devi and Janis Joplin

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A full moon ritual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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