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The Goddess and the #Metoo Movement: Mythic Tales for these Modern Times

Posted on:  Apr 20, 2018 @ 20:17 Posted in:  Featured, Goddess

The Rape of Persephone

From the long ago of Greek civilization, comes the #metoo tale of The Rape of Persephone.

It’s time for a new myth and reality, inspired by ancient Goddess tales, and our modern #metoo stories, in service of women’s beauty, sovereignty and power.

Demeter’s trim-ankled daughter whom Hades rapt away, given to him by all-seeing Zeus. Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, she was playing with the deep-bosomed daughters of Okeanos and gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the narcissus, which Gaia made to grow at the will of Zeus and to be a snare for the bloom-like girl–a marvelous, radiant flower. And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take the lovely toy: but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the plain of Nysa, and the lord, Hades, with his immortal horses sprang out upon her. He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bore her away lamenting. (Source: Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter (abridged) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.); http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/HaidesPersephone1.html)

Let this piece of Persephone’s story sink in. Persephone is a Goddess. Her Mother Demeter is a Goddess. These are big, powerful, feminine beings that bring life, abundance and beauty to the Earth. Yet the God Hades, with the help of the almighty Zeus, can do want He wants to Persephone.

Hades desires Persephone so He abducts and rapes Her, and makes Her his bride. Persephone is taken against Her will, and Demeter can’t protect Her beloved daughter. Later in the tale, Persephone is returned to Demeter, but the damage has been done. She’s eaten the fruit of the Underworld, and is forced to be with Hades, Her abductor and abuser, part of every year.

Here we are, some 2500-plus years later, and Persephone’s tale still speaks truth to women’s experiences of male power and sexual violence. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and the pervasive sexism of everyday life find their deep roots in this ancestral, mythic negation of our feminine divinity and sovereignty. As the Gods do to the Goddesses, so men do to women.

Our #metoo stories are this old, and older still. We modern women are the latest manifestation of the suffering of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and the long, long female line that went before us. And the Goddess stands with us in our suffering, and our awakening.

Persephone’s story is our story. We didn’t write or choose this story. It was written by men in power with the intention of usurping and subduing the sovereignty and powers of the Goddess, and we, Her earth-bound daughters. The purpose of this story was, and still is, to make us forget and fear our vast, mysterious feminine nature, and to make divine and normal our powerlessness in a male-defined reality.

As ancient as Persephone’s story may be, and as entrenched as sexism and misogyny may appear in our current, status-quo reality — this is just one story and one version of reality. It’s not truth, not inevitable, and not even original. The Rape of Persephone is an abomination that debases and distorts a much older tale of the Goddess and Her descent to the Underworld.
The Descent of Inanna

Dial back another 3000 years to ancient Sumeria and the tale of The Descent of Inanna:

From the Great Above She opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above the Goddess opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above Inanna opened Her ear to the Great Below.
My Lady abandoned Heaven and Earth to descend to the Underworld.
Inanna abandoned Heaven and Earth to descend to the Underworld.

When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the Underworld, She knocked loudly.
She cried out in a fierce voice: ‘Open the door, gatekeeper! Open the door, Neti!
I alone would enter!’

Neti, the chief gate keeper of the kur, asked: ‘Who are you?’
She answered: ‘I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on my way to the East.’
Neti said: ‘If you are truly Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on your way to the East,
why has your heart led you on the road from which no traveler returns?’
Inanna answered: ‘Because of my older sister Ereshkigal, Her husband, Gugalanna,
the Bull of Heaven, has died. I have come to witness the funeral rites.’

(Source: Wolkstein, Diane; Kramer, Samuel Noah (1983), Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer)

Let this fragment of Inanna’s story sink in. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Ereshkigal is the Goddess of the Underworld. This is a story and reality where Goddesses, not Gods, reign in the Great Above and Great Below, and hold between them the primal mysteries of life, death and rebirth.

Later in the tale, we discover that Inanna, like Persephone, suffers the trials of the Underworld. But She does so by Her own choice and great courage. Through Her descent, She submits to the transformative mysteries of the Dark Goddess Ereshkigal. She is stripped bare, and dies to Her old self in order to be reborn into Her full powers and beauty. When She emerges from Her journey in the Great Below, Inanna is whole, holy in the full spectrum of Her Goddess powers and wisdom – Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Great Below.

Inanna’s story is also our story in these #metoo times. By our own choice and great courage, we are turning our ear to the Great Below, and embarking on a journey into the Underworld that underlies our everyday reality. Here, in the dark, shadowy places in our inner psyche and shared society, we are seeking out the lost and repressed stories of sexual violation and gender discrimination that have scarred our lives.

The Great Below isn’t the realm of Hades and male power. The dark isn’t a place of rape, violence and domination. These are lies and distortions that block us from the wild, raw depths of our women’s power and mysteries, and from the very things that can mend our lives and our world: our pain, grief and rage, and our truth, beauty and sovereignty. And, like Inanna before us, when we emerge from this journey, we can become whole, holy in the full spectrum of our feminine powers and wisdom, transforming not only our personal lives but also our shared society.

Our Modern #MeToo Tales

Something profound and essential is shifting in the foundations of our world as we witness others tell their long-hidden, #metoo stories, and tell our own stories in turn. We may not have words to capture this shift. Yet it’s there – blazing through the eyes and voices of women aligned with the #metoo movement – stirring up the secret, restless places inside of us.

We’re speaking truth, and being heard. We’re saying: you’re time is up, and holding male perpetrators accountable. We’ve woken up, en masse, and we’re not going back to sleep. And we’re not alone.

Persephone’s story is our story. Together we share a #metoo legacy of sexual violation and descent into a hell of male dominion that speaks to the everyday reality of sexism, misogyny and violence that’s endemic to our society.

Inanna’s story is our story. Together we share a heritage of the feminine mysteries of life, death and rebirth, and their pathway of descent into the Underworld as a journey of transformation into our full beauty and powers.

Feel the weight and power of this legacy and heritage. Your #metoo story is a part of these ancient Goddess tales, and the lived experiences of the long, long line of women ancestors that have gone before you. Your voice is part of a world-changing movement of women speaking truth that can unravel the past, and reweave a collective reality that returns women to their rightful place in our shared society.

We’re in this together — Persephone, Inanna, you, me and the countless others braving their #metoo tales. Our lives, truth and stories matter. Safety, respect and honoring our feminine nature are our birthrights. It’s time for a new myth and collective reality, guided by the tales of Persephone and Inanna, and yet fresh and inspired by our personal stories and lived experiences.

Hades, Zeus, the male ancestors who wrote these mythic tales, and the men who continue to abuse and dominate women: their time is up. Whatever comes next will be of our writing and choosing, in service of our greater womanhood and sovereignty, and beauty, love and justice for all.

Image Credit: Rupert Bunny, Rape of Persephone, via Wikimedia Commons

Pagan Dreamer: Breathe. Love. Listen. Change the World.

Posted on:  Apr 7, 2018 @ 20:34 Posted in:  Featured, Pagan Dreamer

The Dream

I’m at a pagan spiritual retreat, helping to lead ritual. I guide our group in a breath exercise that’s a mirror of the process of deep change. We breathe and move in the space together, turning our awareness inward on the inhale, and outward on the exhale, shifting from self focus to other focus.

Breath. Love. Listen. Offer up your best presence and support to yourself and others. This is how we can heal and transform ourselves and world together.

On the inhale, I ask the question: how do you want/need to change; and on the exhale: how do others need you to change? We continue this breath and attention process, over and over again: inward to outward, self to other, personal change versus change in others, seeking our individual place and purpose in this time of collective transformation.

The dream ends leaving me with an insight into my relationship with my aging parents. What they need from me and my siblings is not only our well-intended support, but also more asking and listening on our part: what do you want? need? how can we best support you in this time of transition and endings?

Dream Teaching

Although this dream ends on a personal note, it’s really a big picture dream that addresses the pressing question: how do we find our place and purpose in these edgy, transformative times we live in?  Do we focus on personal change that arises from our life story and circumstances? Or do we dedicate ourselves to outer change?  What drives deep transformation: our individual narrative and journey, or societal, outward-focused action?

In this era of the #metoo and #neveragain movements, people are showing up to their personal pain and translating it into a collective force for deep-rooted, desperately needed social change.  A raw, authentic, irrepressible power is released in this fusion of inner and outer, and self and other that is challenging the very foundations of our status quo reality with its battle cry: enough is enough, and the time of change is now.

These courageous, inspiring movements teach us that there’s no separation between our inner, personal lives and the outer, greater world. Our individual wounding arises from the ills of our shared society, and the ills of society arise out of our individual wounding. Both are in need of our loving focus, and our commitment to healing and transformation.

You don’t need to be marching in the streets to participate in this epic, global movement. Instead you can keep things simple and close to home, beginning with wherever you are right now in your life. Just follow the practice offered by my dream.

Breathe, deep and slow, turning your awareness inward and then outward, from self to other, over and over again: how do you want/need to change? how do others need you to change?

Listen deeply to yourself. Listen deeply to those around you. Listen deeply to the sorrows of the world that call to you. How can you best support yourself and others in this time of transition and endings?  What is your place and purpose in the making of a saner, kinder and more loving world? Whatever you discover can guide your journey of healing and transformation, both personally and in your greater environment, at whatever depth and pace are right for you at this time.

Lesson in Pagan Dreaming

Dreams are not just about powerful ideas and insights. They’re also emotional experiences.  Often dreamwork focuses primarily on the images and content of the dream. Just as important is how the dream makes you feel, and this too is part of the dream teaching.

My dream begins with a group, collective experience, and shares a breath and awareness practice for deep inner and outer change. This is the primary content of the dream. Yet the dream isn’t done with its offerings; it finishes with an intensely tender, emotional part of my life: my love and support of my aging parents.

This is raw and real for me.  In the dream, I connect with the visceral, vital power of my love and compassion for my parents, and my desire to do my very best to listen and support them in this last part of their lives.

And I get, from this emotive, heart-wrenching part of the dream, that this same quality of love, compassion, presence and commitment is what is being asked of me, you, and every one of us as we take this bumpy, terrifying, glorious ride of healing and transforming our lives and world together.

This dream tells us to breathe, to love, and to listen from our deepest, most tender heart and best self, not just to those close and dear to us, but also to ourselves, and the many others in our lives, even those that we may see as our enemy. Death is a messy, emotional business, as is the birthing of new life, and that’s where we’re collectively at: a death-rebirth moment that’s being driven not just by our pain and wounding, but more importantly by our love and best presence.

So breathe. Love. Listen. Offer up your best presence and support to yourself and others.  Start simple, small and close to home. Trust that you’ll find your place, purpose, and kin that walk your same path. The time of change is now.  And this is how we can heal and transform ourselves and world together.

Photo Credit: Elvis Ma on Unsplash

Spring Journey: The Goddess, Nature and Your Spiritual Evolution

Posted on:  Mar 18, 2018 @ 22:39 Posted in:  Sabbats

Spring heralds the return of the seasons of light, a threshold time when Nature reaches its green arms upward from the dark, death-like places in the belly of the Earth to embrace the strengthening sun. The Spring Equinox marks a moment of equal night and day, before the resurgence of the powers of light.

In Spring, the Goddess waits for you at the threshold place where your inner darkness opens into the soulful new beginning that’s emerging for you at this time.

The natural realm delights us with the miracle of tender, new beginnings as life returns to the sleepy, barren landscape. From the tight buds that unfurl into purple crocuses, pink blossoms and the chartreuse canopy of trees — to the nighttime croaking of mating frogs, the quick flash of hummingbirds and the noisy honks of returning geese — it’s as if Mother Nature has turned back on the fresh, bright colors, sounds and smells of the living world outside our doorstep.

Less apparent in this wondrous springtime display are the death from which this new life arises, and the continuing presence of darkness alongside the resurgence of light. Green-growing things bridge and balance these elemental forces, extending both downward into the dark, composting soil, made rich by decay and death, and upward to the enervating potency of daylight, and the restful influence of the dark of night.

Nature offers a vision of a living equanimity through its ever-shifting state of balance and harmony in the face of the immense, opposing forces of light and life, and darkness and death that govern the turning of the seasons. In Spring, this living equanimity seeks a new balance and wholeness, woven of these primal powers, that give rise to and nourish the rebirth and new growth of the natural realm. These are the ways of Nature that direct your journey of soul in the spring season.

You’re part of the living world. The quickening pulse of Spring tugs on your body and soul, inciting you to cultivate new growth that takes your life in a fresh, positive direction. This new growth emerges from your inner darkness — made rich by the lost and forgotten parts of your life story and dormant potential that reach upward to take their place in the sunlit world of your conscious engagement and everyday existence.

Like Nature, something deep inside of you seeks a new balance and wholeness —woven of the light and shadow, beauty and wounding, and other vital, opposing parts of your inner darkness and life experiences — that give rise to your springtime rebirth and new growth. And like Nature, you need to cultivate equanimity to achieve this potent state of balance and wholeness in the face of these challenging, divergent aspects of your Self and life story.

This kind of soul-sourced, transformative change doesn’t come easy. It calls you to step past the death-like stagnation and stuckness of your old story and patterns, and step into the soulful, new beginning and personal growth that are ready to root and blossom in your life at this time.

Light and shadow, beauty and wounding, old and new — all these essential parts of you and your life story co-inform your spiritual pathwork on your Spring Journey. Everything you are and everything you’ve experienced have brought you to this transformative moment of embracing the full range of your Self and your life story as the wellspring of your personal growth and spiritual evolution.

In this profound spiritual pathwork, you’re following the hera’s path that illuminates the Goddess’s mysteries of spiritual evolution as a journey of descent and return from the Underworld. The hera’s path comes to us through ancient Goddess myths, the best known being the Greek, Mother-Daughter tale of Demeter and Persephone. It’s Demeter’s and Persephone’s evolutionary teachings that guide your Spring Journey pathwork.

In Spring, Persephone returns from Her Underworld travels in the realm of darkness and death. Demeter waits for Persephone at the threshold place where the Underworld opens into the sunlit realm, welcoming Her beloved daughter back to Her powers of light and life. Persephone has been transformed by Her travels and trials in the Underworld. She emerges as a Goddess reborn into a more mature, evolved version of Her Self: Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Spring Growth, with a wholeness and bigness of being that is wise, loving and powerful enough to bridge and balance the immense, opposing energies of the death-centered Underworld and the life-centered realm of Her Mother Demeter.

Persephone shows you what spiritual evolution looks like from a Goddess perspective. You’re not trying to achieve some rarified, perfected state of being, or to emulate someone or something outside of your Self. Instead, like Persephone, your journey of soul can help you become a more evolved, mature version of your Self, with a wholeness and bigness of being that can bridge and balance the potent, opposing energies of darkness, death and wounding, and light, life and beauty within you and your life story.

As you embark on your Spring Journey, Demeter waits for you, Her beloved child, at the threshold place where your inner darkness opens into the soulful new beginning that’s emerging for you at this time. After your trials and travels, She welcomes you back to the sunlit realm of Her Mother Goddess love and life-centered ways where your springtime rebirth and new growth await you.

With Demeter, Persephone and Nature as your inspirations and guides, here begins a new season of light on your journey of soul that can embrace your life story, in all its complexities and polarities, as you seek the equanimity, wholeness and bigness of being that are the markers of your personal growth and spiritual evolution.

Open to Nature’s living equanimity of balance and wholeness. Embrace the evolutionary teachings of the Mother-Daughter Goddesses, Demeter and Persephone. Become big, wise, loving and powerful enough to bridge and balance the complexities and polarities of your Self and life story. Be ready to step past your old story and cultivate a soulful, new beginning as you start your Spring Journey.

Further explore these transformative teachings through the Spring Journey: Your Spiritual Evolution. The Spring Journey guides you through seven, integrated lessons that take you into the depths of your springtime personal growth and spiritual evolution. Each lesson is complimented with an awareness practice and journaling task to help you experience the teaching for yourself, and apply it to your journey of soul and everyday life.

Your Spring Journey includes: two pdf ebooks: the Spring Journey Guidebook and Spring Journey Journal, and the Spring Journey Guided Meditation (mp3 audio). The cost of this integrated Spring Journey package is $16.99.

Spring Journey – Your Spiritual Evolution: Embracing Your Life Story

Seek Out New Beginnings ~ Embrace Your Wholeness
~ Evolve Into Your Deep, Beautiful Self

Your Spring Journey awaits you!

An Imbolc Teaching: The Shadow Dance

Posted on:  Jan 29, 2018 @ 22:22 Posted in:  Sabbats

At Imbolc, Winter is waning and the season turns toward Spring. The groundhog is said to be a predictor of the arrival of Spring. If the groundhog sees its shadow, off it goes back into its hole, informing us that Winter won’t be letting go soon. If it doesn’t see its shadow, Spring is on its way.

Leave behind the dark of Winter, and step into Spring’s light of new beginnings. Where there’s light, there’s shadow. Together they can transform your life.

This shadow dance is familiar to us humans. As the shifting light and warming days coax the groundhog from its den in search of the quickening signs of Spring, so does our hunger for the spring of new beginnings coax us to leave behind the refuge of what we know and sniff the air for signs of shifting possibilities. What we seek draws us into the light of greater consciousness, and where there is light there is shadow.

Shadow in our human psyche is the depository of the repressed, denied and vilified parts of our personal lives and human society: our pain, dysfunction and unpalatable, uncontrollable instincts and emotions. When we encounter our personal or collective shadow, our first impulse, like the groundhog, is to retreat into the blinders and comforts of our old ways and their winter-like grip of stagnation and stasis.

What we forget in this retreat impulse is that light and shadow dance together. There cannot be one without the other. We humans are woven of light and shadow, of good and bad qualities and instincts, and of things known and mysteries yet to be discovered.

We forget, in our fear and projections, that the shadow realm also holds the raw materials of our deeper potential. And that the things we repress, deny and vilify just might be exactly what we need — secret truths, hidden gifts and latent powers — to heal, grow and flourish.

In our forgetting, we act out from our repressed and denied places, and doom ourselves and our world to be ruled by that which we refuse to face and claim as a part of our human experience.

In our forgetting, we become half-human, shut off from essential parts of our nature and selfhood, and truncated in our self-knowing, expression and evolution.

Imbolc is a between time, of Winter thawing into Spring, and of the dark giving way to the light. We are not separate from these natural energies and their life-seeking drives. Nor can we leave our shadow behind as we reach out to the springtime call of new possibilities, personal growth and societal change. Rather than giving into our instinct to retreat from our shadow, transformative change comes when we have the courage and compassion to reach out our hand and heart to our shadow, and to step together into the returning powers of light and life.

Excerpt from: A Path of She Book of Sabbats: A Journey of Soul Across the Seasons. Available in ebook and paperback--visit the Path Store.

Photo Credit: Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

What’s In a Name: Good Girl – Feminist – Witch – Woman

Posted on:  Jan 7, 2018 @ 16:15 Posted in:  Goddess

Words are a fundamental part of our humanity. The physiology of our brains is designed to make sense of ourselves and our world through language. We name things with words, and then load value and meaning onto these names. Every aspect of our shared society, interpersonal relationships and inner self-talk are dictated by these word-names.

How we name ourselves and each other matters deeply. These names can either trap and diminish us, or heal and free us to become more fully, deeply our Selves.

There’s immense power in names. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the names people give to us, and the ones we give to ourselves. This naming can either narrow or expand who we are, and how we engage others and our greater environment.

Oppressors, those who conquer, dominate and control others, have used this power in names throughout history. Take away the names people give to themselves —  taint and distort them, make these names a weapon — replace them with other, socially acceptable, domesticating names — and you’ve set up a system of control that becomes a normal, entrenched part of our social fabric. And not just names are taken away, but also language, story, dance, art, and other forms of culture, self-identity and expression.

All marginalized groups — on the outside of the white, male, heteronormative, Judeo-Christian ethos that dominates our Western society — have been impacted by this system of control through names.

My Story of Names

I’m a white woman of British descent, born into a working class family of moderate means, and raised in a middle-of-the-road city in the eastern part of Canada.  My upbringing was mainstream, banal and seemingly innocuous. And this is my story of names.

If I had the conscious awareness to name myself in my youth, I would have called myself a good girl.

I was a domesticated creature — nice, sweet, pretty, and well behaved.  I did what I was supposed to do: work hard at school, follow the rules, hang out with other nice girls, date boys that my parents approved of, and keep a smile on my face, even when boys and men said and did not nice things to me.

No one in particular, and everything around me, gave me this name and the very narrow band of personhood that went with it.

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