Eternity is in love with the productions of time. William Blake

Nobody answers the call in a beautiful, fabulous, saintly fashion.  We all kinda get bent out of shape . . . But the fact is [that] everything goes away when you get to the YES.  And as you get more experienced at answering the call, the YES comes sooner and the arguing gets lesser.  But nobody but nobody does it perfectly and beautifully.  That’s only for the books.

August Gold, www.augustgold.net,  “Life Is Talking, Are You Listening?”, available on the free archives @ Women On The Edge of Evolution www.womenontheedgeofevolution.com

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Prince Wen Hui’s cook

Was cutting up an ox.

Out went a hand,

Down went a shoulder,

He planted a foot,

He pressed with a knee,

The ox fell apart

With a whisper,

The bright cleaver murmured

Like a gentle wind.

Rhythm!  Timing!

Like a sacred dance,

Like “The Mulberry Grove,”

Like ancient harmonies!

“Good work!” the Prince exclaimed,

“Your method is faultless!”

“Method?” said the cook

Laying aside his cleaver,

“What I follow is Tao

Beyond all methods!”

“When I first began

To cut up an oxen

I would see before me

The whole ox

All in one mass.

“After three years

I no longer saw this mass.

I saw the distinctions.

“But now, I see nothing

With the eye.  My whole being

Apprehends.

My senses are idle.  The spirit

Free to work without plan

Follows its own instinct

Guided by natural line,

By the secret opening, the hidden space,

My cleaver finds its own way.

I cut through no joint, chop no bone.

“A good cook needs a new chopper

Once a year–he cuts.

A poor cook needs a new one

Every month–he hacks!

“I have used this same cleaver

Nineteen years.

It has cut up

A thousand oxen.

Its edge is as keen

As if newly sharpened.

“There are spaces in the joints;

The blade is thin and keen:

When this thinness

Finds that space

There is all the room you need!

It goes like a breeze!

Hence I have this cleaver nineteen years

As if newly sharpened!

“True, there are sometimes

Tough joints.  I feel them coming,

I slow down, I watch closely,

Hold back, barely move the blade,

And whump! the part falls away

Landing like a clod of earth.

“Then I withdraw the blade,

I stand still

And let the joy of the work

Sink in.

I clean the blade

And put it away.”

Prince Wan Hui said,

“This is it! My cook has shown me

How I ought to live

My own life!”

Chuang Tzu, The Way of Chuang Tzu, translated by Thomas Merton

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: fear (The Goddess Oracle)

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: awakening (The Goddess Oracle)

Yemaya: surrender (The Goddess Oracle)

Lilith: power (The Goddess Oracle)

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: responsibility (The Goddess Oracle)

Freya: sexuality (The Goddess Oracle)

Isis: mothering (The Goddess Oracle)

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.

Suncatcher: 2/1/2000

What is most difficult for me, right now, is the feeling of not having my individual self, of not  having simple alone time, self time–to read, to wander, to write.  To someone who is not a voracious reader, I think  that it does not occur him or her how necessary, how sacred, quiet reading time is–and in the bustle of traveling, and  now arriving and exploring, even I had put it on the backburner.  But I am remembering, and I need it fiercely.  I need all these words I am writing.  I need to call my friends and vent and laugh my angst out.

Suncatcher: 12/29/1999

As I lean more forward into this change, like the hard knob of a cane or the handle of a spade splitting the earth, all the breaths of [the] lives that surround [me] pressurize into a knot, confusing to take apart although the fine, multi-colored strands are apparent.

Recently I have made a new commitment to bring my writing to the forefront.  The most practical aspect of that commitment is to write every day, from 9-10 AM, for the next month.  In addition to generating new writing, I also realized that there is a lot of goodness squirreled away in my journals from the last 20 years.  What I have spoken in my heart is not fully communicated because it has not been received by others. Furthermore, I sense that whatever is new that I long to bring forth simply won’t come unless I can remember/re-visit/re-learn that which has been.  I am calling this part of the blog ‘suncatchers’ because they are  pieces of crystal, imperfect and small, but capable of reflecting the larger light of the sun.

from The Walls Do Not Fall by H.D.

Amen,

only just now,

my heart-shell

breaks open,

though long ago, the phoenix,

your bennu bird

dropped a grain,

as of scalding wax;

there was fragrance, burnt incense,

myrtle, aloes cedar;

the kingdom is a Tree

whose roots bind the heart-husk

to earth,

after the ultimate grain,

lodged in the heart-core,

has taken its nourishment.

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