Follow Your Bliss November New Moon News

New Moon in Scorpio

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

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

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

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

Thanks and love


Upcoming Events

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

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


Making a Medicine Drum….

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

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

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

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


Journeying with the Drum

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

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

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

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

*Feel nourished and connected to a circle of sisters

*Listen deeply to yourself and your sisters

*Remember feminine wisdom through understanding women’s mysteries

*Reclaim the sacred intelligence of your body.

*Understand why you feel the way you do

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


Finding the Rhythms

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

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

 

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

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

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


Lost and Found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A poem for you

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

 

That’s all for now,
Be well, Blessings

Sarah x

 

Creative Collaborations- October Newsletter 18

New Moon Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers and Neuroscience

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

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

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

Creative Collaborations


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arising and Dissolving


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

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

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

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

A Poem for You

Yesterday I was the Moon

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

by Noor Unnahar,  follow her @noor_unnahar  on instagram.

Whats On:

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

References

The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge

Thanks for reading,

Blessings
Sarah xxx

Creativity and Collaboration

New Moon Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Prayers and Neuroscience

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

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

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

Creative Collaborations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arising and Dissolving

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

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

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

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

A Poem for You

Yesterday I was the Moon

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

by Noor Unnahar,  follow her @noor_unnahar  on instagram.

 Whats On:

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

References

The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge

Thanks for reading,

Blessings
Sarah xx

 

Womb Altar Cards- the Back Story

Three days before Christmas, 2016, I was diagnosed with andeno-carcinoma in situ (ACIS). I didn’t know anything about this disease- but I knew the word carcinoma and I was scared. My GP referred me to a specialist- whom she had already spoken to and made an appointment for me as it was, she said, urgent that I saw him.  This idea of urgency continued when I did see the specialist- he performed a colposcopy to determine if I had cervical cancer or ACIS only. ACIS is considered a “premalignant glandular condition” in the lining of the cervix- and is the precursor to cervical andenocarcinoma- in other words, cervical cancer. So regardless of the outcome of the biopsy he recommended that the safest and best option was to have a hysterectomy immediately.

A hysterectomy is removal of the womb and would mark the end of my menstruating years. I wanted more information before I went down that route. I wanted to know what the likelihood of getting cancer was, what other alternatives were, and I wanted to share with him my belief that the womb was sacred. I told him that although I was passed my child bearing years I wanted to keep this part of me.  Throughout this journey I was told by the medical profession that as I no longer wanted to birth more children then my womb was unnecessary.  The idea that menstruation might have an important function and meaning for me, really was not considered and the idea that my womb was the birthplace of creativity was also not acknowledged.  Though I did point this out whenever I could.

This diagnosis was the start of an ongoing healing journey. And I mean ongoing, I am still deep in process.   While I waited to find out if I had Cancer or not- I spent two weeks in Croagingalong National Park, Gurnai/Kurnai country. A truly beautiful spot on the east coast of Victoria- and it is full of birds. I spent a lot of time listening to and looking out for birds. I spent much time drawing on the energy of this place, to create as much calm and nourishment as I could.  Nature has long provided me with a sense of connection and belonging. And though I hadn’t been to Wingen Inlet before I felt welcomed to this land, and a deep sense of peace here.

Upon return to Melbourne I learnt I didn’t have Cancer- yet. That was the framing though, that this disease will likely lead to cancer.  I decided to have surgery -but not a hysterectomy. I had a cone biopsy which involves a cutting a wedge out of the cervix and testing for the disease.  This was supposed to be minor surgery- but was a huge and challenging journey for me.  Mainly because I caught an infection- which impaired me for 6 weeks.  This recuperation was however, a deeply transformative time as I travelled on the portals of illness to new understandings about myself, my body and life.

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

And around this time I began to explore my relationship with my cervix.  I realised my understanding of my cervix was limited and at times, simply wrong.  I had always pictured my cervix as a flat circular muscle which opened during birth.  It is in fact more like the throat, a tubular organ linking the vagina to the womb.  It has two openings, the internal and external OS. And it is the external OS that opens when giving birth.  For much of my life all that I knew of my cervix was limited to the information given around birth, that it was the opening to the womb and during birth was able to open to 10 cm to allow the baby through. And for a long time that was all I knew.  Then during my Four Seasons Journey with the School of Shamanic Womancraft and later my MoonSong Apprenticeship I learnt more. I learnt that the cervix produces much of the changing mucus that we experience during our cycles, and that the cervix also changes position during our cycles, opening to blood, to sperm, and closing also. And yet there was still much I didn’t know.  But all that was about to change.

So, began a journey of getting to know my cervix.  I re-read two of the books essential to teaching MoonSong Workshops, Becoming A Woman by Jane Hardwicke Collings, and A Blessing Not a Curse (Jane Bennett)– it’s amazing what you pick up when your focus has shifted.  I really digested the information on the cervix, especially around her opening and closing in time with the cycle, and the softening and hardening of her entrances.  I began looking at pictures too…though there were not many I found the most amazing photographs from My Beautiful Cervix project which, when I looked in 2017, was just one woman’s account of her cervix throughout one cycle.  The site has grown since then and now has photographs from several different women’s cervixes throughout their cycle- and importantly has images of a cone biopsy and radical hysterectomy! I wish that had been there earlier!

Using these images, the information I had, and the feelings within my own body I began to draw my cervix, and her changes. Initially I drew her as a donut, a fleshy deep pink organ with a hole in the centre. And yet I wanted to draw my cervix in relationship to the whole of the yoni- connecting her to my vulva, vagina, and womb…. To show her as the throat, or neck like structure that she is.  I also wanted to show how I now saw the cervix – as a sacred gateway, a portal to the temple of our womb- our creative centre. I began to draw the changing  dynamics within the whole yoni region of the body. And so, began my drawings for my Womb Altar Cards

As a teacher of MoonSong I regularly used the Altar Cards produced by Jane Hardwicke Collings as a teaching aide. These cards include a set of the moon phases, the earth seasons- depicted both within the context of a rose, and through the seasonal celebrations in the pagan wheel of life, and the life cycle of woman, (drawings by Lucy Pierce and photographs of JHC and her family ).  We didn’t have cards specifically for the menstrual cycle.  So I used all these cards as inspiration- drawing on the wisdom contained within each set and the correspondences between them to create my Womb Altar Cards. For we cycle- that is our nature during our menstrual years, and these cycles correlate to and with the moon and her phases, and the earth and her seasons.

I wanted to capture these relationships in my cards. I wanted to show how dynamic and alive our cervix and yoni is. How our bodily changes reflect inner and outer changes within us too. All the while being mindful that everybody is different. As we say in the MoonSong workshops this is the map, your body is the territory. These cards are a guide for you to get to know your own body, your emotions, your feelings and how you change within your own cycling ways. And my learning went deeper too.

Susan Weed writes of the cervix, “take you’re your power. Claim your cervix and your genitals as your own. Possess your cervix, your uterus, your vagina. Look at your cervix, accept it, love it, cherish it. When we reject a part of ourselves, we can find ourselves “losing” that part to surgery!”  So, I took to looking at my own cervix, the My Beautiful Cervix project has kits you can buy to help you do this too. You just need a scapula and mirror! Though they provide some guidance too.  I was also drumming to journey to meet my cervix- my womb, my inner Goddess, and to listen to the inner wisdom and words of my body and guides. This was a time of deepening connection and love. Love for the parts of myself that still held shame, and fear, and pain.

And someone I knew pointed my in the direction of the online Self Cervix course, which is “A journey of pleasure and awakening.” For the cervix is also an integral part of our sexual anatomy and expression.  But it is often blocked and armoured, and a lot of the course was focused on de-armouring our cervixes. For it is only when they and we feel safe enough that we can really access the eroticism and pleasure that is our birthright. And I really came to know this through the course. But this information is not widely known, and when I told one of my specialists- a Gyny- oncologist Doctor, he dismissed this idea, and, when I told him that I knew from my own experience that my cervix was and is part of my pleasure zone, he wanted medical proof!!!!  How far we have to go.

I wanted to share the sexiness and juiciness of our yoni’s and the ways this shifts during our cycle too. Clearly ovulation is the peak of our overtly aroused state and yet our menstrual time has its own juicy magic. And of course, all of this is entirely personal. When you feel most alive and aroused etc is not necessarily when I do, and it’s not necessarily when you are most fertile. Arousal and pleasure are very personal and individual, and yet there are biological times when our bodies are “ripe” and ready for possible fertilization of the egg. And of course, many of us do not have male partners, and yet our bodies continue with the magical cycle of preparing for, releasing and letting go of the egg…. with all that this entails- and it’s a lot!  I must skip over so much information- but have a look at the cards, much of it is in them!

And of course, the creativity that is arising at the time of ovulation is more often than not about creative projects, ideas, thoughts and ways of being, rather than the creation of new life.…. During my ovulatory period, I used to feel a lot of love for everyone. I was also more talkative, and full of ideas…. A few days later on, a sense of perspective would arise, and it was time to let go of the many stimulating ideas.  And now I find this second half of the cycle, a time of quiet creative energy. I am more inwardly focused and so I am often writing stories, poetry and editing during this phase.

And as someone who no longer has a womb I still love to use my cards, and I hope these cards can be of use to other women who don’t have a womb- for whatever reason.  The cards are illustrative of the energy of the moon phase I am flowing with, and of the seasons.  I like to look at my day 21 card as the Maga card, this is the stage I have entered, and there is lots I can gather from meditating on the image here.

So, having produced a set of cards that I was pretty happy with I put them out to my School of Shamanic Womancraft community to gauge responses and feedback and I am pleased to say that the response was really positive.  I then set about producing more cards and releasing them to the wider community. I also produced a brief guide for using them, which you get when you purchase the cards, but they are your cards and how, where and when you use them is up to you. I hope you enjoy playing with them.

And despite all that I did to heal myself, I did get andeno carcinoma. I found out after my second cone biopsy- many months later. I kept my womb for a year longer than was originally proposed and I am so grateful for the gifts of this journey.  Which I can some up as love and trust instead of fear, and embodiment. I have connected to my body in ways I had not. Ironic that illness and disease have been portals to a greater aliveness in my body.  Before sacrificing my womb, I had a womb loss circle with dear friends- several actually, to share my grief and love of my womb, and to celebrate wombs everywhere…My husband and I also had a gentle and intimate goodbye ceremony. These ceremonies were all very healing, not only for my womb, but for the collective understanding of our cervixes and wombs- which still suffer from ignorance, shame, and fear.  This journey to love our cervixes, and our wombs is a profoundly healing process- for ourselves, all our relations, and for the womb of the earth.

In February 2018 I had a radical hysterectomy, the removal of my womb, my ovaries, some lymph nodes and extra tissue. The surgery was huge, and the recovery long and slow. But my womb, and my cervix live on in these Womb Altar Cards, and in the energy within me, a loving space where the creative energy of these cards came from. That energy remains. I bow to the womb energy within you too, whether or not you have a womb.

love and blessings

Sarah xx

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

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

Dark Words

Last session in the Temple of She! we dived into the murky depths of the dark. We visited with the crone, the hag, the Dark Goddess. And as the temple dancers lay cushioned on the ground, i read them some words. I let the words woo them into the mystery and divinity of the dark…I let the words out to weave their magic….So it is with much gratitude that i share the words of three amazing women with you…these are just snippets, fragments from the richness of their worlds, go and get the books and read the rest yourself….

excerpts From La Loba, in Women who run with the Wolves,  Clarissa Pinkola Estes, 

“The sole work of la loba is the collection of bones. She is known to collect and preserve especially that which is in danger of being lost to the wordl. Her cave is filled with the bones of all manner of desert creatures, the deer, the rattlesnake, the crow. But her specialty is said to be wolves….

wildwomenShe creeps and crawls and sifts thought the montanas, mountains and arroyos, dry river beds, looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled an entire skeleton, when the last bone is in place and the beautiful while sculpture of the creature is laid out before her, she sits by the fire and thinks about what song she will sing.

And when she is sure, she stands over the criatura, raises her arms over it and sings out…That is when the rib bones and leg bones of the the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred.”

Excerpt from Kissing the Hag, Emma Restall Orr 

“Hag is not a nice word.

Yet there comes a time in every woman’s life when nice is tedious, when nice is insipid, seeping into the soul like souring milk, warping the mind. Indeed nice can at times, be all that is offensive.

kissingthehagHag, its a fascinating word. As I speak it aloud the sound as smooth as an out breath, Aspirated its vowel is extended and then clipped as if with a warning kick of death. It is a primal work, formed with barely any effort required. It whispers of cold wind, of thick fog and the stench of stagnant water. It is word robed in spider’s webs, dusty and worn, unsure where to place itself on the shiny veneers of today. Lingering st the edges of life, it waits to tun a broken nail down some blackboard of the soul.

No hag is not a nice word. Like princess or pole dancer the word quietly slips us a picture, and though for each of the image may differ slightly , it invariably embodies all that is declared to be simply and irrefutably not nice in a woman.”

From Jane Meredith, Diving Deep Listening to the Dark Goddess

Do you hear that faint voice calling to you from within, from your dreams, or from underneath your daily life….do you sense something almost beyond the range of your sensing. Do you dare to leave your safety and set out to investigate?

There are many ways the Dark Goddess calls to us. When we sense something missing form our lives, though we have no idea what that might be.. When we have everything that should make us happy, but we are not happy. When we are struck by depression ir inexplicable illness or doubt; when we sense ourselves becoming more and more isolated or fragmented or pressured…. When we long for death, or change, or oblivion. When we meet that same, familiar set of problems yet again but have no idea what we could do to change it. When we fee; we are yearning for the impossible, or we wont let ourselves yearn, when we long for change but fear it.

lilithShe will be there, calling to you. The question is, will you listen…

Our next gathering will also invite the Dark Goddess. We will journey together in the week of the Winter Solstice and we welcome the Hag/the Crone/The Wierd Sister/  Do yo welcome her too?

Blessings Sarah

image above of Lilith from Mesopotamia.