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

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

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

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.