Follow Your Bliss November New Moon News

New Moon in Scorpio

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

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

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

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

Thanks and love


Upcoming Events

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

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


Making a Medicine Drum….

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

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

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

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


Journeying with the Drum

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

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

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

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

*Feel nourished and connected to a circle of sisters

*Listen deeply to yourself and your sisters

*Remember feminine wisdom through understanding women’s mysteries

*Reclaim the sacred intelligence of your body.

*Understand why you feel the way you do

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


Finding the Rhythms

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

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

 

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

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

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


Lost and Found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A poem for you

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

 

That’s all for now,
Be well, Blessings

Sarah x

 

Creative Collaborations- October Newsletter 18

New Moon Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers and Neuroscience

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

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

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

Creative Collaborations


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arising and Dissolving


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

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

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

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

A Poem for You

Yesterday I was the Moon

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

by Noor Unnahar,  follow her @noor_unnahar  on instagram.

Whats On:

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

References

The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge

Thanks for reading,

Blessings
Sarah xxx

Dance for the Reef

#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

  1. Video yourself doing a couple of really simple dance moves. My video shows these moves which represent our love for the oceans, our love for the coral, our love for the fish and our love for the waters. Use these or make up your own.
  2. share it @dance_for_the_Reef , #danceforthereef, #stopadani and on facebook…
  3. Tag a friend so they have to dance next!

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? My video  or @dance_for_the_reef (instagram) can show you just how easy the steps are. Remember to share to @dance_for_the_Reef and tag us too #DancefortheReef and #SavetheGreatBarrierReef, #stopadani. 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.  

Enchanted Living

Sacred Wound

Hello and Welcome! It has been a while. I have been deep in my healing, deep in recovery from my radical hysterectomy and cancer. What a journey!

At the moment I am rewriting my sacred wound story…this is a really powerful process to transform our old stories- with the associated habitual and often painful pathways, into more healthful ones. In this newsletter I share some of this process with you, and some of the ending I am crafting for my story- of becoming more enchanted with this world. Scroll past the upcoming events to find out more..

Drum-making Workshop for Women: Sat 21st April, Melbourne, VIC
Planetary Dance for Peace, Sun 22nd April, Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne Women’s Circle: Thurs 10th May, Melbourne, VIC
MoonSong Workshop for Women, Sat 12th May, Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne Women’s Circle: Thurs 7th June, Melbourne, VIC


Our sacred wounding- is a deeply painful childhood (or in utereo) experience that shapes our story of self. And from this experience we create, habits, postures, and ways of being that were right for the time of the wounding. But then when the danger is over we remain stuck in that way of being. We unconsciously behave in ways which protect us from a threat no longer real. These patterns were helpful then, but  now limit our capacity to grow.

Rewriting your sacred wound story is about claiming your story, your wound and your ways, and finding the healing in it. It takes courage to show up to these parts of ourselves, our lives and our stories, to hold them with tenderness and forgiveness. But by doing so, by claiming your story as sacred, as part a bigger Life story we can harness opportunities for growth and transformation. As Jean Houston says, “Our woundings tell us that old forms are ready to die, however reluctant the local self may be to allow this to occur, and that hitherto unsuspected new forms are ready to flower.”

And its must be said that flowering requires roots in the earth, the spray of sunshine and rain. It requires right timing and right conditions.  And maybe now is a right time for you. It seems to me a potent time to be rewriting this sacred wound story, with Chiron, the wounded healer in Aries. Aries is the first sign, the sign of self, of ego, of moving forward, making change with courage and fire in the belly.  If you are interested in working on your own sacred wound story, see Jean Houston’s, The Search for the Beloved, in which she creates a process for reframing our sacred wound.

Having said that, it is a deeply moving, and often challenging process. To be with that small self who was deeply wounded, and tend to her, meet her, and then show her that times have changed, and that we are safe takes stamina and courage. So, it is wise to have a sister, a loved one, someone who will be present when you need to be heard or held.  I am re-writing this in the safety of the container of the Four Seasons Journey, with a glad of mermaids about me. This is of course an option for you too, come join us!

Having someone you can call on when you need feels important and worthy.  Inanna had Ninshubar, a dear sister drumming at the gates of the underworld as she descended…You might want to call on your own Ninshubar to hold and drum for you.

And as part of our work as womancrafters, we are crafting our wounds, our words, our stories to heal ourselves, and in doing so to heal the feminine. For how we are, ripples out into the world.  And our words are spells. And so I am crafting an ending to my sacred wound story that sings up the enchanted life I want to live.

An Enchanted Life

I do live an enchanted life.  Part of me has always known that we are deeply woven into the web of life.  And this web includes the unseen and the seen. I marvel at this world…Her beauty and her mystery, but part of me, like the Mushroom Mother in this beautiful painting (Mushroom Mother and Her Children, by Edward Okun, 1900) lost her way.

I stumbled in my wrongness, in the deeply embodied shame that was etched in my bones. Part of me became skeptical – easy in a culture which denies our inherent embodiment. But working on my sacred wound, (and this recent surgery, this womb sacrifice) has helped me remember what I always knew, that life is enchanting and enchanted. And I as a part of this life am too.

This life is so full of Life. Yes, a capital L because “it” is so incredibly beautiful and mysterious. It is of course full of beings, not things. See how our language and our thinking separates us right there! This Life is full of creatures living their lives to the best of their capacity within their ecosystems, of which they are a part.  And we dear sisters are a part of this weaving. We are deeply embedded in Life.

But sometimes we fail to pay attention to all this….in our thermally controlled houses, in our thermally controlled cars, in our thinking of ourselves as separate we don’t notice what is all around and within.

Life deserves our attention. More than ever, Life needs our attention. So much is lost to this world when we do not pay attention.  On a recent Instagram post I mentioned that several bird species were threatened with extinction – and many of the comments indicated that people had no idea that birds like the Red Tailed Cockatoo, and the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo (pictured above)  were under threat of extinction.  Bird Life Australia has a current campaign to end, “Extinction by Neglect”because so few people recognise the level of extinction going on all around.  We are in fact in what is commonly known as the sixth great extinction with a devastating loss of species which has not occurred since the Cretaceous period  (think Dinasours).  And Extinction is forever.

Maybe, if we knew to watch for birds, for when they came and went, if we knew to watch for their food sources, and noticed how diminished these sources (and this Life) were, we might realise the devastation all around us- and then hopefully we might help restore(y) the earth. But ours is not a culture of paying attention to Country.

This loss is in our language too. Words vanish, when they are rarely uttered, when they are left on shelves like dusty unread books. And when these words represent aspects of life, such life itself can vanish too.

Words like :acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, conker- gone, fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow wren”, were recently taken out of the English Junior Dictionary and so these words (and the very beings they represent) are, as Robert Macfarlane says,  ” becoming lost. No longer vivid in children’s voices, no longer alive in their stories.”  His book Lost Words, is an attempt to re engage children with the natural world, with the wisdom, power and sentience inherent in this Life.

But have we as adults, as a culture, forgotten how to pay attention, to tune in, to listen, and to remember the gentle- wild ways of this world, and our place in it?  Have you forgotten? If so, what helps you remember? What helps you reconnect to this deeply embodied, loving Life?

Trusting our Visions

Reclaiming wonder in this world is an antidote to extinction, and to the alienated lives many lead. This can be as simple as sitting in nature, having a daily sit spot, taking a walk, reading a beautiful fairy story or being inspired by words and art.

There are so many wonderful creators out there reminding us of the mystery of Life.  Lucy Campbell, creator of this beautiful painting, Bring the Night,  (above) creates art “to foster the reintegration of this childlike self with instinct and intuition, as well as to portray a celebration of the wild, both within us and in the natural world.”

Like many of us she feels the disconnection between the human and the more than human world and creates art  ” to wordlessly speak of the connection we hope for and dream of; to offer an answer to the human need for wildness, magic and mystery, and above all, trust and healing.”

It is always so inspiring to find  artists and creators, poets and dreamers living their life in enchanting ways. They provide us with magical pathways to wonder and enchantment. Which artists and creators inspire you? What stories do you share with your children, with young people in your life?

Re-storying our World

And let us remember that the whole world is listening and noticing us too. So let’s sing her back, lets craft our spells by speaking her names, calling her parts up and out. As Robert Macfarlane so beautifully says in his book, The Lost Words, (beautifully illustrated by Jackie Morris)  “There is an old kind of magic for finding what is missing, and for summoning what has vanished. If the right spells are spoken, the lost words might return.” And this is the magic of naming that which is in the world- we hold on to the various forms of Life, we care for Life.

Lets speak these words. Lets walk in this world noticing, paying attention,  delighting in the gifts of nature all around us. Children will show you how, they will stop and drop deep into the now, into the puddle, the leaf, the ant, the blue banded bee!!!…whatever is taking their fancy.

This is part of caring for Country, or singing up country, as many Aboriginal people describe it. There is a knowing that the Country is alive, and that singing to Country is an integral process of holding Country safe. And the Songlines are an integral way to do this, an enchanted way of living.

Songlines

I was so happy to go visit the Songlines:Tracking the Seven Sisters Exhibition in Canberra earlier this year- it felt important to try and understand the beauty, breadth and depth of these Seven Sisters Songlines which track right across the centre of this country, and which the elders across those participating communities were willing to share with us. It was an Aboriginal led exhibition.

It was an amazing experience- demonstrating the ways in which people are woven into and weave the land. We are all shaped by land and land is shaped by people.  That is their Knowing, their Knowledge system. And their knowledge of Country- was amazing- Wow…That’s what you get when you have 65 000 + years of living on country, of paying attention, of being aware of relationship in everything.

Even with the 200 + years of colonization, post colonization and its devastating effects on language, and on living…the sense of connection, of care and responsibility was palpable. For Aboriginal people to live on Country is to care for it. And that’s why it is so important to listen to Aboriginal people, to support their endeavors to return to, and to Care for Country.  As they say Country needs people!  And Country needs people who know her, who care for her.

“Country enlivened and empowered people, and people took care of country. Responsibility was the point of life – to raise new generations who could take care of the country, protect the Dreamings, and keep the generations going.”  ( Deborah Bird Rose ) Supporting Land Rights seems a powerful act of wonder, enchantment and responsibility.

I wonder, can we begin to generate a way of being where responsibility is the point of life? Where we know we belong, and in belonging are responsible for caring for our home, this earth and for all creatures, all Life? This Country, all of us need healing, to heal the wounds of dispossession, trauma and intergenerational trauma. And to acknowledge the ways we have benefited from this, and to heal our wounds of separation. Big wounds need big healing, but I trust we can do it together. The more we can listen to and learn from Aboriginal perspectives the better. The more we can heal our internal wounds, and listen to the voices of our own ancestors, and of this land the better.

This kind of relational thinking, of caring for Country is in our old stories too. I know it’s in the stories of my Celtic culture as Sharon Blackie has so beautifully expressed in her book, If Women Rose Rooted. And part of our work is working with the myths and stories that reconnect us to country- that help us belong where we live, that help us “rise rooted” out of this earth.

Working with stories is such a powerful way to find meaning in our lives, which is why the sacred wound process is so profound. I am weaving in some stories form my culture, and other cultures that speak to me, that resonate with me, and help me shape my own sacred wound story.

It is so important that we find, and remember the Old stories in our cultures, when the land was Sovereign. Cloutier says, “For anyone involved in a journey, finding a tale that touches you is like finding a soul companion; it is telling you: you are not alone and “your journey has meaning.”  She writes this in her review of Skeleton Woman, such a personally meaningful story for me, linking back to my own sacred wound, and my pathways to healing, as noted in my December News! This is big work, lifelong work but I feel some seismic shifts occurring deep in my bones, in my cells.

A Poem for You – The Radiance Sutras

And to finish, here is a beautiful poem, a reminder from Kashmir, India, that the earth is alive in you too. We are made of this earth as is so beautifully depicted in this translation of the Vijñāna Bhairava sutras by Lorin Roche, PhD.

The body is made of earth and gold,
Sky and stars, rivers and oceans,
Masquerading as muscle and bone.
Every substance is here:
Diamonds and silver, magical elixirs,
Ambrosia that gives visions,
Herbs that nourish and heal.
The foundation of the planet,
Immortal magnetic iron,
Circulating in the blood.
Every element in you loves the others:
Earth loves rain, sky loves sun,
Sun Loves the space it shines through,
Space loves everyone equally.
In meditation, luxuriate in knowing
This deep and simple truth.
Every cell is an organ of sense
Infused with majesty.

The Radiance Sutras, Lorin Roche, Ph.D.

 

Upcoming Events: 2018

Lots of beautiful offerings coming up, each a way of coming home to your body, to this earth and our place within her. Get in touch if you want to know more.

Drum-making Workshop for Women: Sat 21st April, Melbourne, VIC
Planetary Dance for Peace, Sun 22nd April, Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne Women’s Circle: Thurs 10th May, Melbourne, VIC
MoonSong Workshop for Women, Sat 12th May, Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne Women’s Circle: Thurs 7th June, Melbourne, VIC

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

Weaving the Strands- April Newsletter 17

 

Full Moon in Libra

This full moon I drummed and danced with a beautiful glad of women connecting deeply with the medicine of the earth, the animals, and the moon. It was a place of remembering our ancestry, remembering that we are woven into this beautiful web of life. And the more that we remember this, the more that we can live in ways which support and enhance ourselves and life on earth. Deepest gratitude to the School of Shamanic Womancraft and to Nymh and Grace as the Victorian Teachers of this way, of this way showing.

Weaving the Strands

I was so blessed to attend a saori weaving workshop at ArtWeaver Studio in Box Hill recently. This is a simple hand weaving process, and  I mean simple. I am not someone who likes instruction manuals, or processes to follow. I have huge blocks with all that and so this way was so gentle and easy.  Saori is a hand weaving process that encourages each weaver to play, to create and trust in their way. It is a very simple process and one which supports individuality and free expression. It is underpinned by the belief that “everything has its own dignity and beauty” with the “sa” in saori coming from the Zen word sai which means just this. It is a very meditative and absorbing process. I sat with 5 other women listening to the swish, beat and thump of the looms as strands of cloth and of ourselves were woven into our pieces. And each of us truly enjoyed the process and what we created. I was very mindful of holding the intention of saori, “that everything has its own beauty and dignity” into the weaving, and into full moon gathering I just attended, and beyond this into my life. It is a sacred message of inclusion and diversity. We are all beautiful threads on the loom of this life.

We are the Woven Ones

This way of weaving with freedom, playfulness, curiosity and beauty is the way of my dancing too.  I want my dance sessions to be a safe place to move, explore, feel and dance. I invite each person to find their way, knowing that there is no right way, other than the way they are in this moment.  Everything is possible, everything is revelation. I move with life flowing through me and sometimes with the stuckness, the stiffness that is within me to.

On the full moon gathering weekend as I drummed for the women and danced Raven, I really felt my frozen shoulder aching, and calling for my attention. And this pain was a call to tend my heart, to allow my heart to feel deeply, rather than be protected by the armour of my ways and my ribs, shoulders etc..And my tears the next morning were a gentle tending to the pain in my heart, and that too was and is part of the dance…The dance itself being an inquiry into and expression of my life. We truly are the weavers and the woven ones. My next dance will be the Winter Solstice Celebration on Friday 16th June. Put the date in your diary now!

As always these dances are intended to celebrate our deep interconnection with the earth and the all that is. It is a way of weaving us back together. I am longing for the time when our culture celebrates this too.  And this is one of the ways I seek to change the story of our disconnection. That deep feeling of loss which arises from our separatist thinking is so evident ….And then I stumbled upon this reminder that the connection is already here, always within us.

Lost : A poem for you

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree of a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest know
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner

So here’s to standing in the forest, to being here when we arrive,  to allowing ourselves to be found.

Recently I found this gem of a book in the new release section of the library. It is a beautiful tale of finding one’s way home.  Home here is to oneself and to the Sapmi lands, of the Sami people, Northern Europe’s Indigenous people. The Sami had sacred drums, sacred drummers and deep interwoven lives with the land and her creatures, especially the reindeer. It is a beautiful read.  I hope and trust that we all find our way home.

Coming Up

As well as the Make Your Own Medicine Drum Workshop  and the MoonSong Workshop in June… I am once again hosting the following two workshops…

Connecting With Your Medicine Drum 
This is a beautiful workshop to deepen your relationship with your drum, to sense the sacred life force emanating from your drum, and work with it for your own and for collective healing. I am continually surprised and in awe of the teachings that my drum delivers. He keeps showing up, reminding me of the lessons I need to learn.

You will learn simple heartfelt rituals for connecting with your own drum  and we also drum together in sacred space attuning to the heartbeat of the drum and of the earth.  Michael Drake author of the Shamanic Drum describes, “There is power in drumming alone, but that power recombines and multiplies on many simultaneous levels in a group of drummers”. Get in touch if you are interested in this workshop.

Sunday 16th July
2.00 – 5.00 pm
Carnegie, Vic
$55

MoonDance: Feminine Embodiment Workshop
In this day we explore and embody feminine archetypes. We play with the deep interconnection between these archetypes and the earth and her seasons, the lunar phases and our own bodily wisdom.

MoonDance: Embodying the Feminine
One Day Workshop for Women
Saturday 2nd September
9.00 – 5.00 p.m
Carnegie, VIC
$150

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

Feminine Embodiment- July ’16

Ecstatic Dance

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

Birthing a Drum

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

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

Rest and Surrender

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings
Sarah xxx

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

Notes:

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

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

Celebrating Darkness- June ’16

Reclaiming the Dark

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is time, women are reawakening…

learn about

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

Saturday 22 October 2016
9.00 – 5.00 pm 

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

Winter Solstice

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

The Rhythm of Life

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

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

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

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

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

Body Rhythms

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

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

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

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

Love Sarah xxx

Full Moon Nourishment- May 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings Sarah

Sarah xx x