No Longer Spitting in the Face of God

by Julie on April 17, 2014 · 8 comments

 

woman with a basket of mandarins

What is woman?

She is woman.
She is not an imitation of man.
She is not made from man.
She is unique unto herself.
She isn’t perfect, yet she is sacred.
She is the vessel from which life is born.
She isn’t superior to man, nor is she inferior.
She is the female human being.

::

To denigrate women is to spit in the face of God. ~ Desmond Tutu

We live in a culture that has, for centuries, maybe millennium, denigrated the Feminine…and as walking embodiments of the Feminine, women and girls are living, breathing targets of this fear and hatred of the Feminine – also known as misogyny.

Allan G. Johnson writes in The Gender Knot:

“Misogyny plays a complex role in patriarchy. It fuels men’s sense of superiority, justifies male aggression against women, and works to keep women on the defensive and in their place. Misogyny is especially powerful in encouraging women to hate their own femaleness, an example of internalized oppression. The more women internalize misogynist images and attitudes, the harder it is to challenge male privilege or patriarchy as a system. In fact, women won’t tend to see patriarchy as even problematic since the essence of self-hatred is to focus on the self as the sole cause of misery, including the self-hatred.”  (italics mine)

 

Allan Johnson also writes,

…patriarchy is not simply another way of saying “men.” Patriarchy is a kind of society, and a society is more than a collection of people. It also involves as one of its key aspects the oppression of women.”

 

Patriarchy is NOT men. It’s a system. It’s a system we are born into. It’s a system we all hold up, and continue to breath life into, when we don’t question the assumptions we hold about men, women, and power, and about how we are in the world with each other.

It’s a system we give power to when we don’t question how we value ourselves as women, and how we value womanhood.

It’s a system we help to keep in place when we ‘hate our own femaleness’.

It’s a system that continues to control how we view ourselves when we don’t question these internalized misogynist images.

 

This isn’t about men vs. women.

Not at all. We often think when one attempts to have a conversation about this subject matter that we are blaming men, but if you read further into Johnson’s book (which I hope you will!), you will see that attempts to subvert these discussions are ways to keep this kind of system alive and well.

And if we focus on the self-hate, we are doing exactly what Johnson mentions – not seeing the mechanism of patriarchy at work.

 

This post IS about…

…the images we, women and men, carry around within ourselves of the Feminine, women, and the value of women.

This post IS about…

…the places within us that are outside of the realm of patriarchy.

 

We are all, men and women, given images when we are young of what a woman is and what a man is. In a world (for the most part – some indigenous cultures do not do this) that has denigrated the Feminine for centuries, it would make sense that our images of the Feminine would be less than helpful at best, and downright misogynist at worst; and our images of men would be championed (although as we’ve explored coming to terms with equality for women over the past decades, there’s been a lot of mud slinging both ways.)

Of course, as I’ve been writing this over the past few days, the writing has been working on me. What initially began as a more cerebral exploration and post, soon became very personal and emotional for me. As I sat with, something I try to do when I am writing a post, these images that I hold of myself, these misogynistic images I’ve ingested over my lifetime, I began to truly grasp the depth of this programming by a system that is misogynistic to its core.

Some of the images I see in my own psyche about myself are deeply misogynistic. Of course they are. I’ve been swimming in this system my entire life. I’ve been ingesting these images from the time I began to be conscious of what was around me. We wonder why it is so hard for women to love themselves. We don’t have to look far. We just have to be willing to look inside, into the depths of what we’ve come to believe, and feel, about our womanhood, and about our female bodies.

And, men do not escape the pain of this culture. Not at all. The Feminine is within them. And, their mothers, sisters, daughters, friends are women. When they hold these misogynistic images within their psyches, they must deaden the pain of knowing that the women they love deeply are walking, breathing, embodiments of this Feminine that is so feared and so hated.

 

Instead, if we are willing…

What we can is come to know the images of what it is to be female that lay outside the realm of patriarchal conditioning. These images come to us as we honestly, and wholly, ask the question, “What is it to be female?”

We can question what we’ve believed to be true. We can look directly at the images we hold of ourselves as women, of other women, and of the Feminine itself.

Inquire into the images of the Feminine that YOU are carrying around within you. Look inside. What images are YOU holding of woman? What images do you believe to be true about you and your femaleness?

This is what matters, because when we hold images, and we all do, they are the images we offer to others about ourselves. They are the images we give to others, mostly unconsciously, that tell others about who we believe ourselves to be, how much worth we believe we have, and how the people in our lives should treat us.

The images of self and gender we hold that speak to self-hatred are not natural. They are not native to us.

Images of self-hatred are not native to us. Images of self-hatred are not native to that place within us that has never been under the control of patriarchal thought and conditioning. 

We are love.  And, we can be fierce love. When we begin to hold images of ourselves as women worthy of dignity, respect, and love, we begin to view ourselves differently. I’m not talking band-aid images – I’m talking a real and true transformation of the images we hold about ourselves, other women, and the Feminine. When we find these places of dignity, respect, and love within ourselves, we begin to know something new, something real, something sacredly creative.

Anne Baring writes,

“The recovery of the feminine principle is the key to the transformation of our world culture from decay and disintegration and progressive regression into uniformity, banality and brutality, into something longed for and extraordinary.

Woman’s own awakening to the realisation of her value is part of the recovery of the feminine principle. It is as if a momentous birth is taking place in the collective psyche of woman. This birth may be experienced as something that is deeply perplexing and difficult as well as something exciting and challenging. As woman gives birth to herself, to her unique individuality, to the emerging awareness of her value as woman (not an imitation of man), the feminine principle will also emerge in the consciousness of humanity which for so long has suffered from its repression and rejection.

Woman, whose essential nature is to respond to suffering and need, is now responding to life’s own need and is experiencing herself as the vessel of transformation in which a new consciousness is being born.”

 

A woman is reborn as she gives birth “to her unique individuality, to the emerging awareness of her value as woman (not an imitation of man).

We are reborn when we ask the question (with a longing to listen so we truly hear the answer), What is it to be female? We are reborn in the space from which we listen. This isn’t woman as imitation of man, or woman born from man’s rib. This is, as Rilke wrote, “the female human being.”

 

 As Woman

When I come to know myself as Woman,
as sacredly female outside of patriarchal control,
I am held in the lap of Love,
I am back in the garden of Earth,
I breathe in the fragrance of Life,
I eat of the fruit of Wisdom,
I am no longer a stranger in the holy land,
the only land in which I am truly alive,
the land of my own body,
the realm of my own Soul.

::

image from Flickr Commons: Woman with a basket of mandarins, 1920-1930,
Photographer: Unidentified, Location: Queensland, Australia; No known copyright restrictions

 

 

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Living the Magic and Wonder of Her

by Julie on April 13, 2014 · 6 comments

 

rubis

 
 
 

It was midday on Sunday…

We’d just arrived at Rubi’s restaurant in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Three of us sat down at a table in the back room where the welcome sunlight was streaming through the upper windows. We were to be joined by three other women we’d just spent three days with at the Red Bird Inn, the site of our retreat, Opening to Her. We’d been dancing in the Feminine for these three days. We’d opened to Her, and felt Her there, always there.

I’d co-led this retreat with Amy, and it was the first time we’d worked together. I felt light. I felt full. I felt a great love surrounding us.

At a table next to us, two women were deep in a conversation that was marked with quiet voices and intense feelings. I felt drawn to one woman in particular. In fact, I kept looking over in her direction, then would call myself back knowing it didn’t feel right to keep looking at her. But something in me felt drawn. I was to find out later that the other women I was with felt the same thing.

 

The other three women from our retreat arrived at Rubi’s, and…

We settled in and began to talk. Our conversation was light, filled with interesting things. We were talking about what we were returning home to, and shared stories about synchronicities, connections, and family. We laughed together. There was a sweetness to how we were with each other after three beautiful days together.

I hadn’t noticed that the women next to us had left their table until one of the women, the one I’d been so drawn to, approached our table from the direction of the front room of Rubi’s. She and her friend had begun to leave the restaurant, but she returned to speak to us. She approached the table looking at us, then at me, and asked,

“Are you teachers or something?”

We all looked at each other, and then I responded,

“Yes”.

She then shared with us that she could tell there was something ‘special’ about us, about how we were with each other – (connected and strong) – and that she was drawn to speaking with us because her friend was going through a very hard time and she felt we might be able to offer her friend something that she couldn’t.

Her words implied that she wanted her friend to feel held.

She then asked if she could bring her friend over for us to simply hug and be with. We answered, “Yes”, and then Amy and I stood up to greet them, together.

Amy hugged the friend, and I hugged the woman we’d spoken with. We exchanged names. Then I hugged the woman, and Amy hugged the woman we’d spoken with. As I hugged her, the woman having a difficult time told me her young-adult son had passed away just five weeks before. She said the words with a lot of presence and was clearly still in a great amount of pain. I was struck by her strength. I was struck by the strength of her friend, too.

The woman who’d initially come up to us to ask to connect with her friend hadn’t asked us for help, but rather had seen that there was something in us that could hold and be with her friend’s grief. She said she had been able to do that to a point, but she said she didn’t know what else to do and felt that her friend would benefit from being held by other women who were living something she couldn’t quite put into words.

At this point, the other four women at our table rose up, and one-by-one each hugged the other two women. They were slow, full-body hugs, not sideways hugs we many times offer in our world. The rest of the women at our table didn’t yet know what this woman was experiencing, but it didn’t matter. They didn’t ask. They simply put their loving arms around each woman and held her.

 

This moment was one of the most beautiful and amazing experiences of my life. There was longing and trust. There was connection and love. There was a lived and palpable presence of Love, of Her. It was a loving, nurturing, fully-accepting presence. It filled the room.

We then all said good-byes. The two women left the café, and we sat back down together. We all looked around our circle, a bit speechless at what had just happened. This loving, nurturing, fully-accepting presence lingered, fruitfully and spaciously.

 

One of the women at our table said she felt like she had just witnessed a miracle.

Another woman expressed something similar about our weekend together – that it was filled with magic and wonder.

The feminine is mystery. She is magic. She brings a sense of wonder.

At the end of our retreat, I offered the invitation to live Her, to live this expression of a presence that is life-affirming, real, and true, a presence that comes from being fully awake and alive in our female bodies. When we live this, we know it, and we know it and feel it in others. Even if others are not aware of it in terms of these words, they are still aware of it. We are all longing for it in our world. We hunger for Her. And She is here, holding us all.

The six of us didn’t have anything ‘special’. We were simply aware, in that moment, of this deep presence of Her. We had spent three days together remembering something we’d already known before…Her. And because of this remembering, we were embodying Her. We were living and breathing the dignity of Her.

One of the women at our table shared this as she reflected upon the experience:

 “…That we can be who we yearn for in the world. I cried at the memory of the experience, the privilege of being a part of it.”

She, the Feminine, wove us together, and then we left to go our own way. But now we know we are no longer going separate ways, but rather…

We move in the world woven together, always together, always connected.

 

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I am excited to introduce you to my good friend,

Megan McFeely, and…

to Premiere! a segment of her soon-to-be film, As She Is.

JesMegBehindScences


As She Is is a film about one woman’s journey (Megan’s) to discover what the Feminine is. It is her journey. And, it is our journey as women, our journey as human beings. 
Megan is a filmmaker who is making (what I consider to be) this very important film.

Megan and I have been friends for years. We dance together, and we travelled through India together. We’ve shared some interesting, challenging, and hilarious!, times on this journey to know and live the Feminine.


In Megan’s words,

“WHAT AM I DOING?

I am on a  journey towards the center of my being.  I travel inward to see if I can find myself as I am…not as others or the culture wants me to be.  In doing so I reconnect to the sacred, the inner or the feminine part of myself.

AleMeganRoad2It is the longing for wholeness or the deep question that draws me inward…and holds open a sacred space inside where something can be born.  This journey toward the unknown started with a question because I did not really know. What is the feminine?

It is my willingness to be with the most uncomfortable of places…the emptiness, the silence, devastation, grief and the longing that continuously forges this relationship, teaching me to act from a connected place with greater awareness and responsibility.

I feel this  journey is my responsibility so that I can participate in the future…and become a guardian of life on this planet.

This is a film project about a journey toward wholeness. I continue to learn how to live this connection to myself…a never ending process of becoming.”


I feel strongly that this film is of utmost importance.

To give you a sense of the beauty that is woven throughout this film, Megan has shared this interview with us. This is the premiere showing of a portion of her interview with Aleutian Elder, Illarion Merculieff, about the feminine way of teaching:

The Intelligence of Our Natural Way of  Being, from As She Is{A premiere!}

 

“The most important lessons in my life – from age 5 to age 13 – I got from experience, my own experience.”
~ Illarion Merculieff

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how often I speak to this – of trusting your own experience, unmediated – this rich unfolding of the greater intelligence that moves through you.

As you can see and sense, this film is bringing together wisdom much needed for our times from many different sources.

 

What you can do to help bring this film into being:

Over the years, many women have asked me where they might come to know the Feminine. They’ve wondered if there are role models, or archetypes, or images that might help guide them to understand what it is that is unfolding within them, and unfolding in our world.

To me, this is one of the reasons As She Is is important to support. We are longing for something, hungering to know something, yet what this is is not necessarily visible yet in our world. We can know it from experience, yet so much of what we’ve been taught and acculturated to believe clouds our eyes and covers our ears when it comes to knowing.

We want to know, yet where do we go to learn? Yes, from our own experience. Absolutely. And, we also are being guided from many different places, from many wise voices. As She Is gathers and weaves these wisdom voices into one film for us all.

We hunger to know, and for me this is one of the most important reasons to help fund this project. We can help ourselves find this way home.

If we value coming to know wisdom that will help guide us to a better world, we have a way to help make that happen.

If As She Is resonates with you, and you feel this matters to you, please donate – and please share. As of today, March 27th, she’s raised just over $11,000.00 of her $44,000.00 goal. 

It’s going to take some creative, generous gumption on our part to reach the goal in the next ten days. One thing I’ve learned is that how we make things happen now is different than it was in the past. No longer is it up to a few people to create change in the world. Now it’s up to networks of committed women and men, you and me and the people we are connected to, and the people they are connected to.

There are 10 days left  in Megan’s Indiegogo campaign.

$1, $5, $10, $20 – or more – whatever you can give - each and every dollar brings this As She Is closer to completion.

We can be part of helping to bring forth a world where the feminine is valued alongside the masculine, a world where the feminine is valued and lived. We really MUST be the change we wish to see in the world.


Donate and share this Indiegogo link!

Indiegogo Campaign and Film trailer - Watch the film trailer, donate, and help spread the word by sharing. 

As She Is Website: www.as-she-is.org

As She Is Facebook page - Join the conversation on Facebook.

And you can share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or by email to your friends and family.

Thank you, friends, for supporting Megan and As She Is.

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The idea behind Wise Woman Wednesday is this:

We live in a culture that is not designed for women to succeed with ease. Yet women, when we awaken to the feminine within us, and begin to live the feminine as She moves through us, embody something vital that must be lived in the world. In order to bring forth our wisdom and nature into the world, we must support and amplify each other’s voices and hearts, because our culture isn’t yet set up to really do this. We’ve been graced with the Internet as a way to bring forth our voices into the world. And it is my joy to share women on Wise Woman Wednesdays whose wisdom and voices I wish to amplify with great love.

Today, on Wise Woman Wednesday, we’re…

tanyageisler

Tanya is a wonderful friend and a colleague who does just that – she champions women. She is wise. She is generous.

Tanya steadfastly stands for women to step into their life’s work – whatever that work might be.

I first met Tanya in person at the World Domination Summit, the first year it was held in Portland, Oregon. Meeting Tanya in the flesh was something I’ll never forget. Her warmth and enthusiasm are contagious. And her ability to listen on so many levels is evident the moment you enter into a conversation with her. She listens with every cell of her body. That is an important skill for a coach.

We’ve come to share many experiences, one of which was speaking at the Isfeld TEDx Women event in Courtenay, British Columbia. Tanya spoke about the Imposter Complex, something she’s taken to a whole new level in how she helps women identify and move through it. I remember how we both woke up early that morning before we were to speak. We were staying in the same condo, and so we came out into the kitchen together to have coffee, and talk quietly so as not to awaken others sleeping. We ended up sitting on the kitchen floor laughing like crazy about something.

Tanya, and our rolling-on-the-floor laughter, were the medicine I needed to calm my pre-speech nerves.

A few days ago, I surprised Tanya by telling her I was to feature her here today. We recorded this audio because it seemed like the very best way to share and amplify Tanya’s voice in the world.

 

If you are looking for a coach to work with, I have personally experienced Tanya’s coaching. She is a superb coach. She coaches many coaches.

And, Tanya’s program Step Into Your Starring Role is currently open for registration. I am not an affiliate. I don’t receive any monies for sharing her work. I receive the joy of knowing you now know of Tanya. We offer similar programs for women. We both want women’s voices to be heard in the world. And I know that Tanya might be just the right woman for you to work with. When you choose a coach, or a coaching program, the most important thing is finding resonance with your coach.

Make Wednesday a Wise Woman day, and amplify a woman, or many women, you know. Let’s support each other and amplify women’s voices into this world, a world thirsty for women’s deep wisdom.

 

 

 

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hollowedouttruckwithtendershoots

Twelve years ago, Her invitation was strong. It was obvious, but it wasn’t clear. Not to my intellect. Only to my body.

She pulled me down into Her, or at the time what felt like being pulled down into the earth. And She came up to meet me.

I suppose there were times prior to this moment in 2002 when She called to me. I don’t know. Maybe She calls to us our whole lives, or perhaps She tries to reawaken us to Her after we’ve shut down our connection with Her.

I was sitting on a bench outside of a Peet’s coffee shop on the Berkeley/Oakland border, sitting in a little courtyard where I would spend time reading and writing. Really, I was searching. I was in my free fall period, or what some might call the dark night of the soul, where I had no idea where I was headed or what I would be doing with my life. I’d been in this place for some months, yet it felt like nothing was getting any clearer. I was trying to make sense of what felt like a path, but in reality was no path at all. She doesn’t lead you in a straight line. She offers only a bit, just a small bit that leads from where you are. She requires trust.

I didn’t yet have that trust.

I’d been through so much grief and change, and was looking for something solid to stand on. Seven years before, my husband had died suddenly. One year before, I graduated from Stanford University at the ripe age of 45. And, my first grandchild was just over a year old. His first year was harrowing to say the least. Twenty surgeries in that year alone caused it to be a truly trying, traumatic time.

So, on this day, as I was sitting, I began to feel something pulling me down into it. It sounds sort of odd as I write it here, but at the time the feeling was strong, very strong. It was an energy, but was more than that. It was a knowing, a pull, a feeling that something greater than me was calling to me and leading me down into it.

The feeling of down and in was incredibly visceral. It was as if something was wrapping around my legs, something alive and pulsing, something real yet completely unseen. And it was pulling down into the dark, a very dark place.

I feared the dark. I wanted no part of this. That’s the truth.

I remember, distinctly, saying inside to that which was calling me, “Leave me alone. Just leave me alone.” At the time, I felt as if I had been through so much and I simply didn’t want more growth or transformation. I just didn’t. I wanted to rest. I didn’t want what I had a sense it was asking of me. I notice I sensed it was asking something, but I didn’t have the energy to respond in the way I felt I should. No. I didn’t want to.

I feared it, this force. I feared the unknown of it. More than that, though, I feared the power of it.

I’ve found that we don’t get to choose when we are called, but we can choose to fight it…sometimes. At least, I chose to fight it. I didn’t trust this. And that was the crux of the whole damn thing. I didn’t trust this and I knew it was Her. I knew it was the feminine. I knew it was the dark. I knew it.

Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to awaken to the feminine. During this time, I’d felt the pull and the call. I’d been devouring books trying to understand what kept calling me. There weren’t as many books out then, back then. But, part of me still thought it was a romantic idea, an exciting thing. But, I wanted it to look like I wanted. I wanted to control how it all went down. I wanted to control.

Now, I know differently. She’s like a flame that I’m drawn to. She is this ripe and fertile void. She is my Soul. She is the Feminine. She is Goddess. I don’t even really know what She is. I just know I have a longing that is deep. When I acknowledge my longing, tears run like rivers. None of it is intellectually logical at all. But the Soul knows when it is time to come home, and it can be relentless as it pulls us back home.

This invitation. This pull. This relentlessness.

These are why Amy Oscar and I are holding a small, intimate retreat in just a few weeks in Western Massachusetts. This is why.

 

OpeningToHer

 

Because…

We can gather together as women as we are waking back up to Her.
We can come together to weave our wisdom, come to speak what we feel we cannot speak yet aloud, out in the world.
We can come together to share what it feels like to be drawn to Her, and to open to Her.

And in doing so, we learn from ourselves, we learn from each other, and we open more deeply to Her.

Ultimately, I don’t know there are answers…but we can come into a conscious experience of what it means to live and breathe the Feminine in real life.

If you feel called, please come.

If you have questions, please ask.

If you feel pulled and cannot come, or you feel pulled but not to this retreat, open to your heart, to your sisters, to life itself. She will guide you.

And, if you feel called to, please share of your experience of opening to the pull of the Feminine in the comments below. I’d love to know.

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From where does your Creativity flow?

by Julie on March 3, 2014 · 0 comments

 

I’ve been teaching and coaching around creativity for quite a while – twelve years, now. I’ve often asked my students and clients, “In your own experience, from where does your creativity flow?” It’s a question that often boggles the mind, but when we sit and pay attention to the moments when an idea or insight comes, we realize it comes as if from out of nowhere. (We explore this in depth in my course Becoming a Force of Nature).

How come this source of our creativity is so hard to trace? Because it comes out of the dark, out of the unseen, out of the mystery. It is a place we will never see nor understand. It cannot be understood by the mind.

When I’ve had my most profound insights, or my most powerful and creative ideas whether at work or home, they always appear ‘as if‘ out of nowhere; yet, nowhere is somewhere.

There is a there, or a here depending on your perspective, from where life (creativity) flows. It flows out of some ‘thing’, although thing isn’t the right word, either. No words can explain this, yet we know it.

This place is unseen. In this way, it is dark.

The dark is a place that is rich and vital.

The dark is the soil to the seed, the womb to the child, and the source to the expression.

The dark is also an attribute of Yin, or the feminine nature of life. If we are disconnected from the feminine, and fearful of the feminine, it is hard for us to trust in our creativity – all of us, regardless of gender.

We have been taught to distrust the dark, yet it is the wellspring from which Life flows. If we distrust the dark, we distrust Life, and we distrust our own Nature. The dark has also been confused with that which many people feel is ‘bad’. Many times the term darkness is used to describe things people feel are evil. But the dark itself is just the other half of life, and it is an important and vital part of life.

What is your relationship with the dark? With your nature that comes out of the dark?

What if you were to ‘Trust in your Nature’? Deeply listen to, trust, and express your Nature into the world? As a creative being? And, as a woman?

This is why trust is so important. Because, ultimately we cannot know this mystery. But, we can pay attention to it, to what comes forth from it, and to how it moves in our lives. We can come to know that this mystery is at the heart of our own nature as a human being.

I’d love to know what this brings up for you and how this shows up in your life…how you view the dark, and how either not trusting or trusting impacts you, your life, and your creativity. Please share with us in the comments.

openingtoherbadgeAn Intimate Retreat

This April 4, 5, and 6, I’m co-hosting (with Amy Oscar) a very intimate in-person retreat. The Feminine is the mystery, so many times we feel nervous and scared about opening to Her. That is precisely why we are co-hosting this retreat, Opening to Her as She Opens to You, because we get to explore together, to learn from each other, to weave our experiences together.

If you feel called, or even feel a nudge, please take a look, and if you have questions, please get in touch. This is a process of unfolding. We are listening, receiving, and will bring what we hear to this gathering.

I’d love to have you join us.

 

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The Force that compels us to Rise

by Julie on February 16, 2014 · 0 comments

forcethatcausesustorise

Rising for Justice

For many people around our planet, February 14th is becoming associated with One Billion Rising, a global campaign to demand an end to violence against women and girls. We rise as women, as men, as human beings who know another world is possible and who are willing to speak out to help bring about this new world.

onebillionrising2014This year, One Billion Rising was about rising for Justice.*** One Billion Rising is a tidal wave of change IF we understand it is not a fad to take part in and then move on to another, but rather a clear opportunity to verbalize and put into action our desire to end this violence.

For many of us in Western cultures, it’s Valentine’s Day, too. This past Friday night, Feb. 14th, 2014, I had the pleasure and joy of co-hosting a One Billion Rising women’s movement ritual with Stacey Butcher and Lakshmi Devi. Stacey, a 5Rhythms teacher, hosted a 5Rhythms wave; Lakshmi, a singer and songwriter, sang her songs, and invited us to sing as we moved into stillness at the end of the dance; and I shared writings and poetry, as well as recorded spoken-word poetry mixed with a beautiful instrumental song at the end of the dance wave.

Here I share with you what I shared on Friday evening. I hope it inspires you to listen for the deep wisdom inside of you, and feel for the force that will cause you to rise and stand for what you know in your heart to be true, and for a kinder, more tender world where all can live in dignity without fear of violence.

::

Love and Justice

Today we celebrate love. Today we rise for Justice. The two are inescapably linked.

When we love Life, Life itself that gives us this life, we cannot help but feel the call for justice in our bones – a justice that honors life itself.

Tonight we are sharing in a movement ritual. As I was preparing for tonight, I wondered what ritual is really about and I found this excerpt from an interview with Joseph Campbell.

“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life.”

Tonight we are here together to move in ritual, as women who desire to rise in service to justice. And, through this ritual, we are here to be reminded of the wisdom of our own lives, the wisdom that is within us, a wisdom that has been within us all along.

We are here to remember the mythology that is at the heart of our lives as women in a world that is so much more than what we sometimes see it to be.

 

So, What is it to rise?

What does that even mean? Rising is a movement upwards. If we are rising, what are we rising up from? And what is behind the rising?

What is the force that compels us to rise? 

The invitation tonight is to dance these questions, to dance yourself open enough to hear a response from within you, a response from your wise self, your Soul.

This wise self is instinctive and instinctual. She is visceral, animal, and primordial. She is feral. She is wide-eyed and sensual.

Your Soul knows how to rise.

Rising is in your blood and bones. It is in your cells. It is in your belly, because love desires to move through you, to rise you up into the world, way beyond what your mind thinks you are capable of. And love desires to move us all to live in accordance with what love desires, not what we desire.

“Love is not a matter of getting what you want. Quite the contrary. The insistence on always having what you want, on always being satisfied, on always being fulfilled, makes love impossible. To love you have to climb out of the cradle, where everything is ‘getting,’ and grow up into the maturity of giving, without concern for getting anything special in return. Love is not a deal, it is a sacrifice. It is not marketing, it is a form of worship.” ~Thomas Merton

 

Many years ago,

I danced in Mill Valley, on a Tuesday night with Kathy Altman. Leading the class, she did something truly extraordinary…at least it was for me. I remember that night like it is this night. I remember it because I was led to dance a dance where I was so awake, so alive, deep in the cells of my body, that every move was imprinted in my cells.

This dance was visceral. It was instinctive. My Soul danced this dance, and then we wrote this as a way to capture words about something beyond words.

 

Tonight I danced.

Tonight I danced and came alive.
Tonight I danced and cried and pulsed and throbbed.

She told us to make our presence known.
She asked us to step so strongly there was no question we had been there.

She reminded us to track ourselves,
to be so aware of where we had been and where we were going,
so much so that our path wrapped its way around and around us until we were tightly wound balls of Being.

My hands connected,
molasses-like energy stretching from mama earth to the tips of my fingers.
As I perched on my paws, I felt her kindred spirit suck me into her tendrils of love.

Tonight I danced and came alive.
I felt his pulse, absorbing it into my body.
I felt her love, letting it run down my arm and fill my heart.
I felt their joy, knowing it was mine, too.
I knew other as self.

Tonight I danced and came alive.

So, tonight…

Here, together, let us come alive.

Tonight, together, let us dance these questions.

Tonight, remember the wisdom within you, reveal your instincts, feel the desire in your body to dance into its wholeness. Our bodies are creatures, instinctual creatures with hearts, longings, and voices that must speak.

::

 

Later, at then end of the dance as we moved into stillness, Stacey played a song that was a compilation of my spoken words and a powerful instrumental piece by Max Richter, On the Nature of Daylight.

Whatever you’ve been through, whatever life has brought your way, whatever injustices, betrayals, or abuses you have experienced, you have survived.

You are here. Alive. Breathing. Dancing.

Whatever injustices, betrayals, or abuses you have perpetrated, you have survived.

You are here. Now. Alive. Whole.

Breathe this in, really take this knowing in. That you are here, alive, whole, and awake regardless of what happened in your past. Feel this aliveness in every cell of your body, a body that longs to know this aliveness, longs to live its fullness. Allow your heart to expand to the capacity that is its nature. Allow your arms to spread as wide and open as they long to be. Allow your belly to pulse and swell with the primordial creation that infuses your being with this precious life.

You are here, on this earth. You are alive on our beautiful planet. You are whole, a wholeness that is filled from the mother.

And, it is time to bring this aliveness to the world. To bring your wholeness to this world that is hungry for feeling, thirsty for truth, dying to be alive, wanting to be touched.

This is your gift to this world. Your aliveness. Your wholeness. Your breath. Your beauty. And to live this is to live what life is asking of you, what life is asking you to give. It is yours and yet it is not. It is given. It is given to you, through you, so that you can in turn give it forth.

It is this simple. Spend every breath completely, but not just for yourself. Spend it for Life, for others, for what is coming into being, for what is being born.

Be full. Be whole. Be love. Be truth.

 

There is already a mythology and an inherent wisdom within us that knows how to move mountains, and to birth something new.

riseupreclaimbadge275

Dance yourself open. Listen Deeply. Track yourself. Come back and tell us what you discover.

Allow it to show you where Justice lies, where Hope lives, where Love beckons.Open to this Force within. Dance, listen, and allow it to move you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed and have been inspired by these words.

If so, I ask you to share in the comments below how they’ve inspired you to rise.
I ask you to share with other women and men you know who are ready for similar inspiration.

If you’d like to read about last year’s rising, you can download this complimentary eBook, ‘rise up & reclaim’.

 

*** from OneBillionRising.Org:
ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice – courthouses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not.  It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.

Leading Image: LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by mikebaird

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Addressed, Not Discussed.

by Julie on February 11, 2014 · 2 comments

ravenpoem

 

Raven called to me.
I stood silent, listening.

Raven took flight, then circled in infinity loops.
I stood silent, watching from the center point.

Raven flew away.
I stood silent, remembering.

 

Bear Witness

The other day, I was walking home and Raven called to me. I knew it was Raven, not Crow, for Raven sings a different song than Crow. I knew Raven was speaking to me, because my body responded to the call. I hear Ravens call everyday. There are many who fly and call in the place where I live. And when I hear these calls, my body listens; yet, my body rarely responds in the way it did on this day.

When my body responded by opening to a conversation, it turned to look directly at Raven. Raven was sitting atop a four-story apartment building, and as my body turned and my eyes came into contact, Raven looked directly at me…then turned away, then turned back, then turned away, then turned back…and Raven’s glance then rested upon mine.

We stood there simply seeing each other without sound for about a minute. As I addressed Raven with my awareness, a beautiful light emanated from all around Raven. And then, Raven took flight and swooped down to just above me, and began to fly in figure eights, with the center point of this infinity sign directly above me. Raven flew these arcs multiple times as I looked open and up, watching with a kind of quiet amazement. I continued to listen, taking Raven in, as Raven spoke to me in song and flight. And as Raven flew away, I could feel the gift left in Raven’s wake. I could feel a remembering taking place in my soul.

I stood there for another few minutes just feeling this remembering taking root, a remembering that never became rational but rather laid itself out in layers, layers woven throughout my being.

I wrote this poem directly flowing this delightful conversation. It flowed from my heart. It flowed from Raven.


Addressed instead of discussed.

I just finished a book that opened a window wider into the reality of this world we live in, this world that includes Raven. I’ve remembered layers of this world, a world my body knows, but one I was not raised in. It’s the world as a vibrant, alive creation; a world where all of life is interrelated.

In Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, Martín Prechtel writes about how all of the adults in the Mayan village where he lived knew the ‘Respect Names’ for ‘deified forces’:

“The same was true for fire, lake, mountains, and many other natural forces. All these things were alive and had to be addressed as kin when in their presence, otherwise they would be insulted. The same etiquette used for humans extended to the world. Thus the things of the world were addressed instead of discussed.”

When I read these words, I stopped reading. I took them in…the difference between being addressed and discussed. I remembered back to childhood, how I felt discussed and not addressed – seen but not heard. I remembered how I felt many times as a woman when I was discussed and not addressed.

One time in particular, when I worked in an office as a department manager, a male co-worker from a different department came into our office, looked around and then said, “Where is everyone?” He meant the men. A few other women and I were very present, very there, but he did not address us.

How many times have I done that to others in my life? How many times have I looked toward a face, or faces, and not seen the soul(s) standing right in front of me?

But it is more than even this. With regard to life, there is a hierarchy of worth and value in our world. It is clear than certain human beings have more supposed value and worth, hence more rights and privilege, than others. And the rest of life? Raven? Crow? So far down on the scale.

Everything alive not only deserves, but is created, to be addressed with dignity and respect. We only discuss things when we are seeing them as things…not alive…simply objects…simply things that we don’t value, or that we feel separate from.

When we address we signal a desire to be in communion with, to learn from, to be affected by, and to affect. When we address another, we open the door to remembering the wholeness of our soul, the soul of the being we are addressing, and the soul of the earth as mother to all beings.

 

Remembering Wholeness

Wholeness knows these things. Wholeness addresses. Wholeness addresses woman with dignity and respect, with love and sisterhood, with a remembrance of connection that happens when we lead with wholeness, not with our wounding.

Like Raven, we can learn to walk in two worlds, the world that doesn’t acknowledge wholeness, and the world that only knows wholeness.

Like Raven, we can engage with life through our bodies, bodies that long to address and be addressed.

To do so means we must address our bodies, not discuss them.

To do so means we listen to our bodies, rather than pretend they are ignorant creatures with no wisdom to guide us.

To do so means we realize that everything has inherent value and that everything is sacred, including our bodies, including Raven, including other women, including all beings, including all of life.

Address life and you’ll see life has always been addressing you.

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poppysusannahconwaypost

 

Today is Susannah Conway’s 41st birthday. She’s a friend. She’s a creative soul. And she asked fellow friends and bloggers to help her celebrate growing older by writing on the truth about getting older. 

***
Update 2/20/14 – You can now download the collected posts that celebrate aging. It’s a beautiful eBook.

***

I’m a bit older than Susannah. I’ve been here on this earth for 57 eventful years…and they have been EVENTFUL. But life is, is it not? Life is full of events we have no idea will take place before they happen. It’s a mystery. The whole beautiful, frightening, glorious thing is a complete mystery.

I pondered what to write about since Susannah first asked. I realized I could write about how…

… grateful I am to be alive after my beloved husband died so young, never to walk his daughters down the aisle, and never to hold his grandchildren. I could because it is incredibly true for me. Each year as I turn a year older, the first thing that comes to mind is this – how grateful I am for another year.

… lovely it is to grow older, that beauty awaits at every turn. I could because it does. Growing older has helped me redefine beauty, because the traditional definition, glaringly short-sighted, would have us believe beauty makes a fast getaway as we age. It doesn’t. Rather, I’ve found that the ageless heart begins to make itself known and speaks of beauty in an eternal tongue.

… we are each so damn lucky to be here, to be walking on this earth, to be given life, not only once at birth, but with every breath. I could because we are.

… our bodies age into luminescence, into a kind of translucency that begins to reveal our true nature: Light, wisdom, agelessness from behind the veil. I don’t really know what it is about the aging process that brings translucency, but it does. I do know that I feel more revealed, more humbled, and less like I am pushing against and more like I am moving with. The body grows old and wrinkles.  The skin thins, as does the hair, but the eyes glow and the silence within grows. There’s less and less color and vibrancy on the outside – hair, skin, energy – yet more and more light on the inside and all around…if we let ourselves be revealed. 

All of these are true. As I grow older, more and more each day I feel a sense of deep gratitude for this experience. A full and rich sense of gratitude that I get to be here, to come to know the sacred by living in this female body, this beautiful, aging, wrinkling, joyful, erotic body.

This wild passionate sensual life is just that – erotic. Sprouting. Leafing. Blooming. Fruiting. We are tender tiny shoots who are growing into wise old beings with full blooms and fully-globed fruitflesh hanging from every branch.

Yes, there are days when the joints hurt. Yes, the hair turns gray (and we can choose whether or not to let the gray show without having to feel like it’s some moral dilemma). Yes, the closer we get to death the more we face our mortality. But none of these things have to take away from the opportunity we have to reclaim our erotic nature for the life-giving force that it is, to live life in the female body with passion and desire, with a fully blossomed sensuality and sexuality that opens to everything out of love.

We are erotic creatures, just like the rest of Nature. Every thing dies, but before life dies it is ALIVE without questioning what is happening to it. When we open to everything because the love within is SO alive and fragrant, we live the fullness of the seed from which we came.

THIS is the work we women, especially we who are so blessed, privileged, educated, and aware, get to, and must, do. As Anne Baring writes,

“Each woman who gives birth to herself and responds to what life is asking her to accomplish, contributes to the survival of our species and the diminishment of human suffering.”

I’ve found that while my mind has tried to figure out how I can ‘help’ the world, my body simply wants to love what it loves, and my soul longs to sing the song only she can sing. My body still loves what it loves, wrinkles and all. 

As women, living our erotic, sexual, wild nature brings something back into the world that has long been missing. How could we women live our joy when we believed there was something deeply wrong, flawed, and perhaps even ‘sinful’ about our nature? What has it cost us as a species to forget that life itself is an erotic, joyful, sensual mystery?

Joy, eros, fragrance, passion bring forth life in ourselves and in the world. At the core of our female bodies is a deep seated love of pleasure. I’ve found when my body is joyful and knows pleasure, my creativity shoots out of me like sprouts out of the soil, reaching for the light, impulsed by the erotic goddess.

So what if not nearly as many find me ‘attractive’? So what? It’s damn freeing, I’ve found. Damn freeing to not try to be living up to that attractiveness scale. I can’t possibly live up to it – not using that scale. But when I sense myself as a fully alive, sensual, sexual creature? I feel the attraction impulses firing within my own being, protons and neutrons held together by the strong force, neurons firing away.

How much more alive might you be? Might we be? Can we women be?

Happy Birthday, Susannah!

May we give birth to our sacred, alive, erotic nature and live what life is asking of us.

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Inevitable Alchemy

by Julie on January 31, 2014 · 4 comments

wintersmagicondeviantart 

 

She bangs the bars.
She screams out to be set free.
She’s found her voice after years of submission.

I feel her, past stirring, now demanding.
I see her hands, withered, but coming back to life.
I know her – she’s the banished one.

She’s demanding to be heard.
She’s demanding to know who keeps her jailed.
She’s no longer willing to submit.

Barely out of the shadows, the jailer just stands, keys jangling.
Tantalizing her with the taste of freedom.
Taunting her with her own power, stolen long ago.

I feel the jailer’s tyrannical nature.
I see the jailer’s smirk.
I know the jailer fears what it does not know or trust.

The jailer is a heady mix of misogynistic power and the false sense of security that comes from being able to control something, anything.
Just like her, the jailer is welcome.
Just like her, the jailer is me.

They stare at each other, sizing each other up, taking each other in.
She knows her desire is too potent to be contained.
The jailer sees the inevitability of alchemy.

Image: Twelve Drummers Drumming by Winter’s Magic on DeviantArt.com

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