Follow Your Bliss November New Moon News

New Moon in Scorpio

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

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

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

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

Thanks and love


Upcoming Events

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

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


Making a Medicine Drum….

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

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

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

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


Journeying with the Drum

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

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

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

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

*Feel nourished and connected to a circle of sisters

*Listen deeply to yourself and your sisters

*Remember feminine wisdom through understanding women’s mysteries

*Reclaim the sacred intelligence of your body.

*Understand why you feel the way you do

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


Finding the Rhythms

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

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

 

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

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

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


Lost and Found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A poem for you

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

 

That’s all for now,
Be well, Blessings

Sarah x

 

Winter Dreaming

Dark Moon Musings

 

 

 

 

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

What’s On?

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

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


Dance for the Reef-
A virtual boogie…

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

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

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

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

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

Planetary Dance for Peace

 

 

 

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

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

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

Drum Dreaming

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

 

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

Maga Dreaming

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Anwnn The Deep

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

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

A Poem for You

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

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

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

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

until then

Blessings
Sarah xx

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 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

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/

 

Celebrating Darkness- June ’16

Reclaiming the Dark

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is time, women are reawakening…

learn about

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

Saturday 22 October 2016
9.00 – 5.00 pm 

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

Winter Solstice

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

The Rhythm of Life

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

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

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

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

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

Body Rhythms

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

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

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

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

Love Sarah xxx

Full Moon Nourishment- May 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings Sarah

Sarah xx x

Feminine Embodiment- Full Moon Nourishment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


(Sealers Cove hike,)


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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay in touch
Deep bow
Sarah xx x