Full Moon Love- Vulva’s and Vagina’s

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Full Moon News…

 Hello Dear Hearts  

Once again the moon passed before I sent this out to you! I seem to be full of energy but also of activity as I ride the the moon cycles…and its not
until the descent begins that I get to share my writings….So here we are
again meeting under a disseminating moon…

And the theme for this month is….drum roll please… Vulva’s and Vagina’s. How my family love it when I post on all things vaginal! Well things are
just going to keep on ramping up because as I said in my last newsletter,
it’s “About Bloody Time,” we changed the story of shame and disgust to
celebration and sacredness. We are reclaiming and re imagining She. We are celebrating Life. But before I launch into that here is an update on
Whats On.  I hope you can feel the revolutionary impulse and will join us for some of these She celebrations, activities and ways.  
 
What’s On
 Sacred Women’s Circle – September 19, Carnegie
Spring Equinox Dance  Sunday 22nd September, Carnegie
MoonSong – Menstrual & Cyclical Wisdom Workshop, 19 October
Sacred Women’s Circle – 24 October, Carnegie 
One Day Drum Making Workshop – Saturday 26th October, Carnegie
Two Day Drum Making Workshop – 9 & 10 November, Peace Farm, YJ
Sacred Women’s Circle – 21 November, Carnegie
Connecting with your Medicine Drum Circle, Friday 22 November,
Carnegie
Opening Gathering- 4 Seasons Journey Vic Otways, 6-8 December 
 (bookings and more information are embedded in the links. so click
away!)
Here’s me with a ceramic yoni gifted to me by Deborah Kantor
So I’ve launched my very own you tube channel…whoo ooo, where I will talk on many things relating to HER, to She, the the Feminine in all her
Diversity but I begin with the Vagina Talks! And as you will hear, I’m
particularly interested in the language we use for our sex, for our
reproductive organs and how this shapes our relationship to our bodies.  So go and have a listen! 

I want to reflect on the word vagina – and some other names we give our pussies! I like pussy. Why , because Its sounds soft and yet
undomesticated, a bit like the cat!

So let’s look at some of the names we give our vagina… fanny, front
bottom, noonie, vag, yah yah, la la, cunt, private parts, genitals, sex
organs, yoni, and my thing down there! Just to name a few. And some of
these may feel derogatory and/ or empowering depending upon whose
saying them. How do you feel about these words? What do you call your vulva? your vagina, your womb? Are you comfortable with your names, and your body?

For a long time cunt has been the worst possible swear word. Call
someone that and its seen to be about as low as you can go.  But I have
come to love this word. Cunt. Why? Partly because we are reclaiming it
from the derogatory swear bin, lifting it up to its rightful place as the
Sacred Source of Life. And I can do this because I have learnt a bit about where the word comes from…Uma Dinsmore Tulli shares her knowing
on cunt.  In this video, On the History of the Word Cunt, she shares a
couple of really important points about the word cunt.

Firstly unlike the word vagina, cunt refers to the whole genital region in women, it is our vulva, our vagina, our clitoris, our cervix, and our
womb….So it is one of the only words to actually be complete in that
sense. Secondly it comes from the root word of Ken, which is to know,
related to connen, or cunnen,  so a cunt is related to that deep bodily
wisdom….And it also has relationship to words like kindness. So lets start reclaiming this beautiful powerful word, and our beautiful powerful
cunts!  Check out the Video and let me know what you think. 

It’s hard to talk about the Vagina Talks without reference to Eve  Ensler’s amazing body of work, The Vagina Monologues. So here’s a snippet from her.
Sacred Sex

And it comes with a warning because you will cry, you will be triggered,
you will be remembering the countless ways in which women, our bodies and our vaginas are harmed & tortured on a daily basis. Let the tears
come, let the grief come, feel your feelings, so that the river of you can
continue to flow freely, so that the sacred source of life that is you, can
flow freely.

Our cultures are not kind to our cunts, our sacred sex. And yet as I share kindness is related to the root word Ken, also the root word for cunt….So I’m calling for Kindness, for Kindness to Cunts everyday in everyway….Here’s to celebrating our cunts….

And that requires each of us, to be gentle and compassionate to
ourselves, to rally against the dominant discourse, those voices that
would have us shame ourselves, those voices that we internalize….which keep us small, and stop us from stepping into our true power.

A beautiful recent film documents artist Laura Dodsworth as she
photographs and interviews  18 British women (across culture, age, and
gender identity) about their relationship to their cunts.  I was really
inspired  by this film.  It shows the complex, often joyful and painful
relationships we have with our bodies, It’s well worth a look.  Check it out on SBS on Demand.
 
A still from the movei, 100 Vagina’s available on SBS On Demand
Interestingly,the word Vagina is used in the title of the film, when really
the vagina is a specific part of the body…Vagina has become “synonymous with all things down there”. Its seems to be a bit more acceptable than
cunt! and even than vulva. But vulva rolls around in the mouth in a more sensuous way, and perhaps that its problem! And when you look at its
history, the word vulva actually refers to the womb (latin volva & maybe earlier volvere, to wrap, revolve) so there is even some confusion here. Which for writer and activist H Learner is problematic. She says,  The
persistent misuse of the word “vagina” for everything “down there”
impairs the girl’s capacity to develop an accurate and differentiated
representation or “map” of her internal and external genitals. The fact
that the girl’s own exploration of her genitals is not corroborated by
accurate language also creates body shame and anxiety about sexuality.”*

So another challenge is to be a bit more specific about the parts of our
bodies that we are referring too, whilst also looking for new words, words that are empowering. Cunt is a special word, because it is one of the few words that refers to all aspects of our reproductive/sexual anatomy
( i even find it hard to generalize the area in language that feels useful) .

So to go back to basics, the vulva is the outer part we can actually see,
with the labia majora, minora, clitoris, hair, pubic mound and the
entrance to the vagina. Whereas the vagina is that beautiful muscular
tubular organ that connects the vulva to the entrance of the womb. 
Vulvas, are the part we most often see…..Although having said that, many women have not seen their own vulvas. The authors of About Bloody
Time highly recommend that we all do,  they say

“We can’t overstate how important it is to do this if you can! Sit in front of a large mirror, or hold a small one, to get to know the important and
powerful part of your body, your sex life, your sexual health, your
childbirth experience, and es your menstruation and menopause could
all be seriously improved as a result.”

 

So go get those mirrors ladies.!  And while you do remember just how
different each woman’s vulva, vagina, cunt is! The film 100 vagina
depicts this, as does some of the amazing #vulvaart on instagram. Check out the hashtag and see some really beautiful  images.There are some
great sites celebrating the diversity and beauty of vulvas…

It is really important for us to recognise just how unique each vulva is. Too often women feel that their vulva is somehow wrong, doesn’t fit the
model…and while there is a general shaping they are vastly different, so please go and have a look at some of the amazing resources out there
remembering that diversity is key here…just as in nature, diversity rocks! There are so many varieties- they are all actually quite different, and so it is important as always to really recognize and celebrate this difference.  


 
Max Dashu- Sacred Vulva Poster
Numinous Females

And if you want to see difference you need look no further than the
sacred art of the ancients- those peoples across the globe who knew  the
vulva was a sacred portal. Max Dashu’s beautiful poster depicts sacred
ancient vulvas, across cultures and time. When we research these times, we find that not only we our bodies sacred, but sex was too.  Priestesses of the temples were involved in ritual sex, and it is really hard to fathom that in this culture, its hard to understand just how sacred sex was, but
its worth reconsidering, and reflecting on what has been lost with the
loss of sacred sexuality.

Not surprisingly the drum, and female drummers were an important
part of these sexual rites. But with the rise of the patriarchal religions
including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, women, and our bodies were
denigrated.  Our sacredness denied. We were silenced and shamed.
Layne Redmond’s book is an excellent resource for understanding the
ways in which the oppression came, and importantly what came before, When the Drummers Were Women.  She traces the history of the drum
its beginnings its flourishing and its demise, when women were banned from playing the drum. And with the loss of the drum , came a deeper
loss. Redmond says, 

“by banning the drum, the patriarchal religions that suppressed the
Goddess cut off our access to significant parts of our own psyche. They
destroyed psychological and spiritual techniques that had been used for many thousands of years.”

We are still reeling from this loss from our deep connection to sacred
rhythms. But we are remembering, and we are reclaiming these ancient techniques and tools. We are being moved by this deep swelling of
feminine energy. She is descending into Her power, and she is rising
anew. Do you feel her call, the thrumming and drumming of her rhythms in you?


 
Planetary Dance- Elwood 2018
Birthing A Drum and Her Ancient Rhythms
I feel the call. I feel and know the deep excitement of connecting with the earth, the feminine, and the more than human world each time i pick up and play my drum, or as s/he plays me!  Women are returning to the drum. This sacred instrument is calling to women all across the globe. Women are remembering their ancestral stories, the cosmic rhythms that were played in honour of the earth, and our sacred cycles.

If you are feeling the call please join us in one of our upcoming Drum Making Workshops, or the year long women’s mysteries Four Seasons Journey. Two spaces in the Two Day Workshop have recently become available,and there are a couple more places in our One Day Drum Making Workshop.  Birthing a drum is birthing another drummer- yourself back into the world, a world desperate for the renewal of sacred rhythms of She. 

 
One Day Drum Making Workshop with Priestess your Life & Embodiments Dance
Carnegie
Testimonials

A testimonial from a woman who birthed her drum with us at Peace
Farm,

“My first drumming took place two weeks after the workshop.  I walked until I found the spot, kicked off my shoes and drummed. It was the most amazing and profound experience and yes, I had a primordial knowing which resonated back through time and space each time I struck my drum. The whole experience was not alien to me, in fact it made perfect sense.  Since, I have continued to understand why my birth story and its place in my continued journey of healing at this time.  Sara S

And from a woman at the One Day….

The day was beautifully guided and facilitated by Sarah and Viv, deeply wise and nurturing women . The creation of my medicine drum was intimate and powerful. I am in awe of this beautiful instrument and the tone.   Vicky K


 
Altar, Otways Four Seasons Journey Vic 2019
Shamanic Womancraft

And if you want to experience a drum journey, come along to a workshop by  Nymh Fox and me, Shamanic Womancraft: An Introduction. In this
two hour workshop we share some of the ways of Shamanic Womancraftwoman, of how we live as best as we can with the rhythms and cycles of
this blessed earth our home, of how we are drumming, and singing and
sistering ourselves back home to this world….This 2 hour workshop
involves:

*An introduction to the women’s mysteries, to cyclical living with the seasons, the moon and your own cycling body.

*The deep nourishment and magic of being part of a sacred women’s
circle

*A drum journey to meet your power animal- the medicine you need
now.

The session will be led by Nymh Fox and Sarah Bird Miller- (that’s me!)
Co teachers of the Vic Otways, Four Seasons Journey in 2020. This is a
year long earth based spiritual journey creating and maintaining deep
connection with our bodies, our sisters, the earth and the Divine
Feminine.   
Reminder to contact Sequoia for more information on the Four Seasons
Journey.. 
 
Beautiful image by Holly Sierra. I love this woman’s work and her Tarot Deck!
Dancing Ourselves Home
And when the drums play, the women begin to dance again.

 I am delighted to announce I will be holding another Dance. A Spring
Equinox Dance- a dance of restoration, or balance, with the re-emegence
of the Feminine from the depths of the darkness. 

In this dance we soften and open to what wants to arise in us.  We soften and open to what movements and expression is emerging in and
through us. There are no steps to follow, rather it is the wisdom of your
moving body, of your womb/heart, that leads us on and in the dance.

Through dance we can awaken the spirit, and connect to self. We can
honour the divine aspect of consciousness within us all.  Join us in  some
joyous heartfelt dance -the promise and potentiality of spring is all
around and within. 

Sunday 22 September
10.00 to 11.30 am
El Camino Wellness Centre
102 Grange Rd,
Carnegie 3163 
Bookings


 
TreeSisters Image
A Poem For YouThis is a poem to listen to. Listen to Clare DuBois and her poem,
What if I said Yes to the Moon

Clare is the founder of TreeSisters…If you read my newsletter you will know about this organisation to reforest the world, and to help us become a restorer species. Blessings on this work and way.

To become a TreeSister, CLICK HERE.Register (FREE) for the TreeSisters Full Moon Online Retreats with Clare Dubois. Something becomes
possible when women gather consciously in deep presence with each
other. Our moon calls are an invitation to embody all that you are as a
woman of the Earth. Gather with our global circle of sisterhood each full moon to relax into nurturing Nature connection together. Journey to a
Billion Trees: http://billiontrees.me/So that’s all for me for this month
Many Blessings on you!

love
Sarah  xxx

References:
* Lerner, H. (Jul. 2, 2003) Practicing `psychic genital mutilation.’ Chicago Tribune, Sect., WomanNews, Chicago, Ill.
Pickering K & Bennet J, About Bloody Time, Vic Women’s Trust
Redmond, L, When The Drummers Were Women, 

Follow Your Bliss November New Moon News

New Moon in Scorpio

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

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

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

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

Thanks and love


Upcoming Events

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

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


Making a Medicine Drum….

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

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

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

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


Journeying with the Drum

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

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

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

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

*Feel nourished and connected to a circle of sisters

*Listen deeply to yourself and your sisters

*Remember feminine wisdom through understanding women’s mysteries

*Reclaim the sacred intelligence of your body.

*Understand why you feel the way you do

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


Finding the Rhythms

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

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

 

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

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

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


Lost and Found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A poem for you

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

 

That’s all for now,
Be well, Blessings

Sarah x

 

Winter Dreaming

Dark Moon Musings

 

 

 

 

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

What’s On?

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

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


Dance for the Reef-
A virtual boogie…

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

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

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

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

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

Planetary Dance for Peace

 

 

 

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

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

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

Drum Dreaming

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

 

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

Maga Dreaming

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Anwnn The Deep

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

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

A Poem for You

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

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

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

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

until then

Blessings
Sarah xx

On Sacred Ground

On Sacred Ground

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

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

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

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

Seven Sisters Dance

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

Autumn Equinox Dance

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

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

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

Making a Medicine Drum

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

Cultivating Community

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,
See you next month….

Many Blessings
Sarah xxx

References:

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

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

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

To Thine Own Self Be True

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

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

Lalita Devi and Janis Joplin

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A full moon ritual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feminine Embodiment- July ’16

Ecstatic Dance

Tonight,  is the full moon eve. This night was once a celebration of Artemis. It was the culmination of an ecstatic dance festival held each month in her name. On this night we would have gathered around her sacred tree. We would have gathered to dance around her as the sacred tree. We would have danced full bodied and free. It is said that the animals danced too. This certainly is worth remembering and reclaiming. Look out for such an opportunity in the coming months. Maybe we can birth a new ritual dance.

Birthing a Drum

Speaking of birthing I am feeling rather tired having birthed a Medicine Drum today. As part of my preparations for our upcoming Drum Making Workshop, I made a drum. This one had a long gestation but was finally created in two stages. The cutting last night and the lacing today. The drum is such a gentle and wise teacher. No matter how many times I work with the drum, always the lessons come. This time I learnt about allowing others in to my process. And so my husband Michael helped cut the hide for me. Ah that was a welcome intervention and what was most welcome was that I was more than OK to have his assistance….which I can tell you has not always been the case. And then this morning I realised that I had left the inner rim out of the bath, and so had to delay the lacing for several hours while it was softened in the water! Again I remained calm, and pleased for any learning that I can offer others when mistakes happen. How good it is to truly see the learning in our mistakes.

The lacing went smoothly but the tightening was tough on my arthritic finger. And like so many things it is a whole body process and after several hours of drum making i was getting tired.  My hands were aching and I was running out of energy. “How much longer? I have had enough.” Those thoughts did go through my mind, and then I knew I was close. Any thoughts of abandonment generally mean, the end is nigh. And so it was. Now my beautiful baby lies on my bathroom floor, slowly drying. It will be seven days before I can play her. And I too soon will be lying for a good rest.

Rest and Surrender

One of my favourite postures now is a variation of the corpse pose. I lie on the floor with my knees up and do nothing. Yes nothing. A wise man (Shiatsu practitioner, Glenn Polley) who has only worked with me once but could easily tell I had overworked adrenals gave me some sage advice, do nothing. Don’t think about breathing this way, or meditating, or having to do anything. Just lie in this position and allow the psoas muscle to soften. Don’t  try and make it relax, don’t force, just allow. Ah sounds simple, and it is. And yet when you have spent a fair part of your life armouring, then surrender takes some courage. So this is part of my new practice.. and.all part of my greater practice to surrender.

Surrender is not a giving up at all, but a giving into. It is a practice of human becomingness, of becoming more human. And then becoming one with the more than human world.

We spent two weeks in Tasmania. One full week in The Tarkine, the Old Growth forests where rest is part of every day. We rested our heads against Huon pines that have been on this earth for over 3000 years. We wandered over decaying logs, soft ground alive with moss, lichen and funghi. Oh the colours of the funghi! We wondered at the mystery of this interplay, this good green life, and this good brown death. Life and death, rising and falling and rising and falling, cycling with the nutrients, as the nutrients. And it rained on and on.This was rainforest after all. There is such wisdom in these forests, in watching and listening and being in these forests. We can learn to surrender in these forests.

Suprabha Seshan who lives in a rainforest in India says, “Ende koottare, mimikree cheyyam.” (Pretend you are the rain.) You are these raindrops that hammer so hard, your sounds can be heard from afar, a million leaves thrashing the drums of your descent. You are the trees receiving this rain, breaking the flow, harnessing its tide, guiding it down to the leaf litter below. You are the twigs, the branches and boles, the soaring buttresses of trees where epiphytes grow. You are the lichen, the orchid, the fern cloaking the trees, soaking the rain, absorbing its fall.”

This is her practice to help her ” survive the painful and unceasing awareness that the planet is going down,” We all need such practices that can sustain us, energise us, and allow us to rest in the deep interconnection of the all that is.  I hope you find your ways of deep connection.

And so now I bid you good night and sweet dreams.

Blessings
Sarah xxx

P.S contact me if you are interested in making a drum!

Notes:

Charlene Spretnak, author of the Lost Goddesses of Early Greece gives us a collection of pre- hellenic myths. She gives us the myths before the Olympians were ensconced in the mythology, before the patriarchy derided the Goddess and diminished her powers,

SUPRABHA SESHAN  author of People of the Rain
Suprabha Seshan lives at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary and works as an educator and restoration ecologist. She was winner of the 2006 Whitley Award and is an Ashoka Fellow. She occasionally travels to give a talk titled “Rainforest Etiquette in a World Gone Mad”. 

Celebrating Darkness- June ’16

Reclaiming the Dark

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is time, women are reawakening…

learn about

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

Saturday 22 October 2016
9.00 – 5.00 pm 

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

Winter Solstice

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

The Rhythm of Life

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

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

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

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

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

Body Rhythms

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

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

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

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

Love Sarah xxx