There is a magical thing that starts to happen in groups that meet together to do intentional work (women’s and men’s groups, workshops, etc). As we bond with each other, our group field becomes stronger and the ability to grow, heal and transform increases not by the sum of the individuals, but exponentially. Through our bond, whether it be for a concentrated weekend or repeated gatherings over time, we start to literally do our soul work together, so that when one of us speaks the truth in heart–when one of us surrenders to what actually is–when one of us acknowledges and integrates the shadow–that work is actually done for all of us.
I am blessed to be a part of two women’s groups that meet on a regular basis. The newer one began last fall, with the focus of making our way through the transformative Feminine Power material. We always do a check-in about how the last week is been, and it never fails to amaze me how rich each thread of living is that we bring to our circle. This Thursday, at the end of the meeting, I invited my sister-friends to pick a card from my Goddess Oracle deck. If you’ve ever played with divination decks you know that when the energy is right, you can pick a card or a whole reading that is just uncanny. I don’t know how to explain how it works, but my experience tells me it is not just chance. Thursday was one of those times. Each woman’s goddess–or archetype–card spoke so directly to her current state that we could only laugh in the crazy wonder of it. When we finished I lined all the cards up along the bottom of a goddess tapestry that hangs on one wall, and the next morning, as I was preparing to do a massage in the room, I still couldn’t put them away so I lined them up under the resident wooden Buddha statue.
That afternoon, while giving the massage, my eyes landed on the cards and I was struck by a pattern (I often see visuals as I think, both inside my head and out in the world). In the center was Kali/fear (each card is a goddess plus a key word):
Kali is the Hindu goddesss of creation and destruction; like a woman’s womb, she is fertile and nourishing to new life, but also like the womb she sheds what is not necessary so that we do not become stagnant. In a patriarchal world that fears women’s powers and women’s bodies, her fearsome aspects have been emphasized. And perhaps this is rightly so, for I believe she also symbolizes the power of the Earth, and the Earth is pretty pissed-off at the rampant disrespect of her body (I’m talking about what seems like an increase in natural disasters here–the Earth speaks, you just have to know how to listen). What I understood as my eyes fell upon Kali’s body, dancing wildly in the middle of the universe, was that we must start here. We must start with our fear. The shadow that we do not acknowledge wrecks havoc. But by embracing our fear, by listening to its voice and bringing into our arms that which we find ugly, shameful or inappropriate about ourselves, then we can begin to bring sunlight to the wounds.
To the left of Kali were Pele/awakening, Yemaya/surrender and Lilith/power:
Pele is a volcano goddess from Hawai’i. Like Kali, she embodies creative/destructive energy; however, her powers have not been so distorted by the patriarchal lens, and so her fierceness calls forth more of the fiery outpouring we feel when we wake up from being disconnected and disembodied. This waking up can be both ecstatic and overwhelming, exciting and disruptive. Our egos can’t control it, but must embrace the essence of Yemaya, Yoruban goddess of the ocean, motherhood and the protector of children: surrender. This is a good time to practice pronoia, to trust that something is unfolding within you and around you, and that to go with it, rather than against it, will serve to ease the way and optimize the outcome. This surrender carries us to Lilith, ancient feminine archetype of primal feminine power. Lilith was the original partner of Adam, created at the same time as him and from the same material, unlike Eve who was created from Adam’s rib. When she refused subservience (more graphic versions tell us that she refused to only have sex on her back) she left him, and her name became associated with demons who tempted men and killed children. Women have been taught to fear themselves and each other. Without honest self-examination and self-compassion, we perpetuate false beliefs about the gifts we bring to the world. It is time now to seat ourselves in the literal power of our bodies–creation and destruction, love and anger–so that we can stand on the forefront of the many changes needed to stem the tide of harm against the Earth and all her beings, including ourselves.
To the right of Kali were Maeve/responsibility, Freya/sexuality and Isis/mothering:
Maeve is a Celtic goddess, a queen and warrior who embodies the sovereignty of the land and the people. She calls upon us to stop pretending that everyone around us matters more than ourselves. Only by developing true self-love can we manifest the goodness that each of us was born to bring into the world–and no one can be responsible for that but ourselves. We must write, paint, sing, dance, heal–we must nourish our bellies, our hearts, our wombs, our minds–we must receive as deeply as we give. Maeve gives us the strength to blossom, to spread our wings and dance in the creative energies of life: Maeve gives us the power to bring in Freya.
Freya is the northern European goddess of sexuality. As a maiden goddess (not mother, not wife) she represents the woman as whole to herself, resplendent in her creative powers. These powers are magnetically attractive, and when we embody them we dance into creation that which we desire: lovers, children, gardens, work, vitality. Life does not exist without desire–think of the flower and the honeybee–and Freya helps us know that our deepest desires are part of the flow of existence. Recently I saw the documentary The Queen of the Sun, about honeybees, and I learned that the maiden queen, when she is ready to mate, flies out of the hive towards the light of the sun. She is followed by a multitude of drones (male bees), and is impregnated in flight with the sperm of these drones. I can’t help but see golden Freya, trailing her wings in the sunlight, as the half-complete desires in our hearts fly after her, hungry for union.
When the queen bee returns to the hive, she is no longer the maiden but the queen mother: Isis. Isis is the mother of all, including the sun itself, her son Horus. Her presence reminds us that we, too, require mothering, just as we mother so much that is around us. The queen bee who has returned to the nest will go on to lay up to 2,ooo eggs per day, for 2-7 years. She is the mother of the hive. However, this great mother is constantly fed and tended to by the worker (non-sexually mature female) bees. Motherhood, literal and metaphorical, calls on us to receive more deeply than we have been taught, as women, to allow. Can you imagine what we might accomplish for the good of all, if we nourished the queen bee that resides in our hearts and wombs, and the hearts and wombs of our sisters?
I begin where I am. I befriend the dark places in myself, I bring fire, water, earth and air to tend to the soul as it awakens in the body. I give thanks for the women and men who share their love with me.
Dedicated to my Thursday night ladies: Allyson, Analisa, Carmen, Jenna, Kay, Lakshmi, Lila, Sabrina, Shelly, Stacey and Stephanie.
Thanks to Amy Sophia Marashinsky and Hrana Janto for the creation of The Goddess Oracle.