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

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