Enso Inspires Art

Inspiration comes from unexpected places when I am open to it.

 When I first saw an Enso, a circular image that holds special significance for Zen Buddhists, it resonated deeply with my soul.  I found that, among other things, it “represents the moment when the mind is free to let the body create”.  The traditional Enso is an open circle created with one or two brushstrokes –receptivity and potentiality, the infinite void where experiences and energy are free to flow in and out.  Space.  Not the space one associates with nothingness but the sacred space where all is possible.  Perfect symbol for me as I navigate the waters of a dynamic, change-filled year!

Enso IV

Enso IV: SOLD

Blue Enso

Blue Enso: SOLD

Enso II

Enso I: SOLD

Enso III

Enso II: SOLD

Enso I

Enso III: SOLD

Enso in Pink and Gray

Enso in Pink and Gray

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The Ultimate To-Do List

1.  Listen to my heart more & my brain less.

2.  Give myself unconditional love & acceptance.

3.  Say “Yes!” to the Universe.

Say Yes to the Universe

Say Yes to the Universe

Portrait of an Artist

This piece is dedicated to artists, songwriters, poets, & all others who create from a deep place within their soul.  

For, I believe, creation is a sacred act performed in collaboration with the Divine force that inspires & co-creates with us.  

I hope you see yourself in this portrait.

 

I enter the passageway, regal yet humble, confident yet scared- bare feet purposefully connecting to the cool rock beneath them.  Moss cushions one footstep while jagged rocks poke savagely at the next.  No right or wrong… just being.

There is drumming but no drummer.  The heartbeat of the earth itself.  The heartbeat of this cavernous temple.

Long skirt, bare arms- warm there, cool here.  I continue to be pulled in deeper & deeper.  The drumbeat-heartbeat echoes in my ears, pounding in my brain until thoughts are blessedly mute.  There’s just the pounding rhythm.

Small torches give life to shadows that dance on the walls.  Spirits are here.  I am the priestess, the High Priestess, of this temple, standing in the power of connecting and belonging.  A larger light beckons from deeper within.  I walk up to the shallow copper bowl on its pedestal, coals glowing inside.  Such heat blows the hair back from my face, drying my lips & eyes.  I shut them both & raise my hands to either side of the bowl, moving them first closer to the heat then into the coolness before settling comfortably in the warm middle space.

I peer down into the embers, where more spirits dance.  Such power- an energy that dances in me, too.  What is the message?  “This cannot be rushed.  Demands & impatience have no place here.  Look & listen.”

I genuflect, hands before my face, palms pressed together in prayer position.  I touch them to my core- a place of right action, my heart- right emotion, my throat- right communication, between my eyes- right thought, and the crown of my head- right connection.  This sets the intention for sacred work to take place.

Drumbeat-heartbeat no longer a sound, now a feeling.

One knee senses the small pebbles beneath, grounding me to this place and time.  When ready, I rise and bow to the fire- giver of life, destroyer, and transformer.  I proceed to the dark recess where torch and ember cannot reach.

Wetness… bare feet slip on rocks and hands slide along slick walls.  I smell the dampness that blankets my skin and fills my nostrils.  I drink with every breath.

I notice the small pots on the stony ledge and pick one up.  It’s half full of russet paint, the color of dried blood.  I push my finger into the warm thickness then streak the bridge of my nose and under each eye.  I hold space for a still moment before I take that pot to the place where dark meets light and magic takes place.  I dip a crude brush into the paint then hover above the place on the wall where I want to put the image.  Wait.  Keep waiting as long as I’m thinking “I want.  I want.”  When “I want” becomes “thy will”, place the brush on the rock and let it move.  It will be what it will be.

Back- long and strong, around the haunches- muscular and determined, shoulders- curved and coiled for action, neck- supporting the regal head, and face- alive and knowing.  What else?  I wait for it to come.  If nothing comes, I stop for stopping is all I can do.  This is a collaborative piece that I can never own or dare to take credit for.  My body, like my brush, is a channel.

I stand in the silence… feeling the blood course through my veins and pound in my ears.  All the pounding- my heartbeat, the drumbeat, and the animal spirits stampeding on the wall.  I know this is all for now and I am at peace.  I return the bowl to its place on the dark shelf and I return to the light beyond the embers and the torchlight to the fiery radiance of the sun.

Sensory overload as macaws scream, monkeys screech, insects rub legs and wings, birds chirp, and the waterfall roars.  I cover my ears with my hands.  Too much to take in.  Too many objects… too many sounds… too many scents vying for attention, rushing me all at once.  I long to return to the cave, that place far removed yet more deeply connected to all that is.

This, too, is my world.  Men feeding elephants.  Women feeding babies.  I take from the cave and bring to the village as a gift.  I take from the village and bring to the cave as a gift.  All of life committed to being an offering.  An expression of gratitude for the light and the darkness, the noise and the silence… gratitude for all that is.

Make Sacred Space

Earlier this month, I spoke on the subject of Making Sacred Space.  The transcript is below….

We’re going on a journey this morning to explore the concept of making sacred space, as far as the outer edges of the universe & as close as your own soul.  To me, making sacred space is the ability to create a holy connection between our highest selves, other beings, & all that is.  I’m offering the suggestion that this holiest of ideas begins & ends with you.  This is a deeply meaningful concept for me & by the end of this contemplative, participatory service- where you’ll have opportunities to meditate- I hope it will be for you, too.

Energy is all around us, going in all directions, but it’s the energy that you put out that you’ll receive back.  If you set the intention & make authentic connections, any space can be sacred.  Both intention & connection are equally important & completely in your power to manifest.  Sacredness is a choice.

We’re going to start with our intention & open our arms for a holy hug, embracing all that is.  Then, we’ll slowly close our arms to embrace the greater community… closer still to embrace our loved ones…. & closer still until we are embracing our Selves, with a capital “S”, creating the ultimate sacred space within.

I.  UNIVERSAL/GLOBAL/COLLECTIVE/ARCHETYPAL

On a grand scale, there are collective sacred spaces made such by the intention of those who created them AND their spiritual significance to others who experience them.  These places are highly charged for generations of people feel this concentration of energy.  It’s not just the physical aspect of place but the power felt there.  These places include burial mounds, temples, mosques, & cathedrals.

I grew up in the Catholic tradition so for my earliest years, churches, places that housed the relics of saints, & the Vatican were considered sacred.  I distinctly remember when I was 9 or 10, sitting in the pew with my family… physically present but mentally, spiritually, & emotionally cut off.  The space was no longer sacred to me for although the intention of those who designed it was there, my spiritual connection to it was not.  I could appreciate the stained glass, statuary, & intricate carvings… but they held no sacredness, no significance for me any longer.  I learned fairly early that it’s not the space alone.  It’s our emotional engagement… our relationship with it that makes it sacred.

An open mind & an open heart don’t allow for narrow views & soon, my view of the sacred expanded to include much, much more.  I’ve been very privileged to travel the world for most of my life, getting familiar with other cultures & opening myself to other points of view.  I’ve walked on paths around Walden pond, immersing myself in the spirituality of the transcendentalists.  I’ve descended into the tombs of the pharaohs, put my hands into the cool water of the Sea of Galilee, stood in the remains of a temple to Diana on Crete, & removed my shoes before entering Al-Aqsa mosque where beautifully ornate prayer rugs covered the floor.  “This mosque is sacred.  That temple is sacred.  And this pond is sacred, too.”  How can that be?  I believe it was my intention to be fully present & feel the holiness as well as my connection to each of these places-  no boundaries & no limiting labels.

At this level, sacred is archetypal & collective… we agree that this building or that burial mound, even this canyon or that mountain are sacred.  We join a “sacred” already established… Dome of the Rock, Stonehenge, Notre Dame.  There is magic in these places & I find it nourishes my soul to visit them whenever possible for the collective energy of so many people throughout the ages sanctifies the space…relationship building… place to person, person to place, & person to person.

Navarre Scott Momaday, a Southwest American Indian writer wrote, “To encounter the sacred is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence.  Sacred places are the truest definitions of the earth; they stand for the earth immediately and forever; they are its flags & shields.  If you would know the earth for what it really is, learn it through its sacred places.  At Devils’ Tower or Canyon de Chelly or the Cahokia Mounds, you touch the pulse of the living planet; you feel its breath upon you.  You become one with a spirit that pervades geologic time & space.”

I’ve opened my heart to the Universe & see all things natural as profoundly sacred.   Almost 30 years ago, I sat on a grassy mound near a field in central Pennsylvania, in silence & stillness, in that moment, learning (although it’s a lesson I need repeated periodically) that stillness & silence are a direct line to the holy.  Bucks & does emerged from the woods on the far side of the field & cautiously ate… pausing to sniff the air periodically…. Could they sense my presence?  Over a couple of hours, I was joined by butterflies, bees, rabbits, & birds.  I laughed inwardly with joy.  Eventually as the sky grew inky blue just before darkness covered us all… the bucks came leaping & playfully scuffling ever close, within just a few yards of me… We made eye contact.  Then my quiet laughter gave way to enormous teardrops streaming down my cheeks & splashing on my knees as I sat motionless, part of this sacred moment.  I was connected to the divine & for me, this place was… and is… divine. Each animal from deer to ant was divine, the ancient oak in the middle of that field was divine, & I felt my own Divinity in that moment.

Cathedrals, burial mounds, & temples can be agreed upon as sacred sites but how are places like Aushewitz, the 9/11 Flight 93 plane crash site in Shanksville, PA, & Pearl Harbor sacred?  Are they sacred?  The original intention without a doubt, was NOT sacred but have been made so…by collectively honoring those who suffered & died in these places, creating hallowed ground.  I see it as a reclaiming of sorts… empowerment.  There is a new 9/11 museum opening in NYC on Ground Zero.  The reporter on the Today show referred to it as sacred space.  Is it? Last summer, returning from a trip to Vermont, we stopped in a small town for lunch.  As soon as I parked the car & got out, my breath left my body for I saw a sign hanging on a storefront that read, “Welcome to Sandy Hook.  We choose love.”  After losing 20 children & 6 adults to a killer with a gun in Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, the townspeople reclaimed their power, set the intention to choose love, & made their town sacred.  Sacredness is a choice.

So yes, the city of Jerusalem is holy but so are the olive groves outside the old city walls.  And yes, Stonehenge is sacred but so are the rolling fields dotted with grazing sheep in the surrounding countryside.  And we’d probably agree that Notre Dame is sacred but I propose that sacredness can be found in a nearby café sharing a warm baguette & espresso with someone you love.  It doesn’t have to be grandiose.  The ordinary can be sacred if you let it be so.

Daniel Taylor wrote in In Search of Sacred Places: Looking for Wisdom on Celtic Holy Islands,“If you have been in the vicinity of the sacred—even brushed against the holy- you retain it more in your bones than in your head; & if you haven’t, no description of the experience will ever be satisfactory.”

I’ll pause for 1 minute to give you the opportunity to visualize some of your most sacred spaces-take this time to travel the world.  

II.  COMMUNITY

Let’s return to this place, this time & bring our embrace in a bit closer to consider the sacredness of community. Intention + connection = sacred space.  Creating sacred space for others in our community comes easily to some, not so easily to others, sporadic for others still.  It looks different for different people.  A drum circle, a book discussion group, men gathering to stain bookcases, families working together in a community garden, congregants on their knees laying pavers or mosaic stones in our labyrinth nestled in the sacred space between the memorial wall & the breathtakingly beautiful beech tree.  At this level, the sacredness is in our connections to those around us & in the relationships we build.  We honor what we need spiritually & consider what we can bring to others to create a sacred space that is inclusive.

A lifetime ago, I was led to facilitate Bible study groups in CA & when I first arrived here, I held sacred space for gardeners & our beautiful grounds when I chaired the Garden Committee.  I’ve also held space for little ones in RE over the years.  Now, I’m called to focus on creativity & women’s spirituality with those who want to study dreamwork, intuition, earth-based belief systems, & goddess-worshipping cultures… go figure!  I’ve taught Cakes for the Queen of Heaven & Rise Up & Call Her Name workshops, holding space for dozens of congregants & members of the community.  Years later, it’s transformed into the Women’s Spirit Circle, made up of amazing, intelligent women who share the intention & make the conscious effort to hold sacred space for one another through their presence, support, & shared experiences.

And this year, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone by holding sacred space in the form of Red Tent Events.  The intent is that this will be a welcoming, safe nurturing place for women to connect with other women & reconnect with their authentic Selves in significant ways.  With lots of love & support from dear friends, we created a magical space for 23 participants last March & I’m hoping we have an equally positive response to the Red Tent being held on June 21st, when we’ll explore Refilling the Well- Ways We Nourish & Nurture Our Selves.  Just a little plug for an event that I hope will be deeply moving for each woman.

Charles W. Chestnutt wrote “The workings of the human heart are the profoundest mystery of the universe.  One moment they make us despair of our kind, and the next we see in them the reflection of the divine image.”

I know from experience how hard it is sometimes to recognize the sacredness in others, especially the ones we are closest to.  I use the term “spiritual practice” to identify my spirituality because it has to be practice… practically every day.  I’m both a spiritual being having a human experience & a very flawed human being having a spiritual experience.  For some reason, we tolerate a lot from “them”- politicians, big business, our bosses, but we tend to take it out on the ones we are closest to- friends, family, & one another in a congregation.  Why is sacredness so hard to see in others sometimes?  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.”  Maybe that explains it.

I admit I cannot make the experience sacred for my Red Tent participants any more than the ministers, choir members, or greeters can make this sanctuary sacred for each of us on Sunday.  Remember what I said earlier, it’s intention AND CONNECTION that makes sacred space.  It’s not their responsibility, it’s just as much ours.  It’s our choice to set the intention or not… it’s our choice to connect or not… it’s our choice to make this space sacred… or not.  We each have to come with hearts wide open & participate fully in the making of sacred space.  It’s not a one way street, it’s an exchange of energy.  As someone reminded me a couple of nights ago, right when I needed a loving reminder, showing up physically is only the first step.  Before I blame someone else for what I may feel is a spiritual “lack”, I need to reflect on what I’m bringing to the experience.

“Without love & compassion, nothing is sacred”, Bryant McGill wrote in Voice of Reason.

Consider your connections to the greater York community, this UU community, & your friends.  Where are the sacred spaces for you?  What are you doing to make sacred spaces for your Self & others?  Let’s take one minute to reflect on this.

So let’s tighten that embrace, bringing the circle ever closer… holding onto those we love the most.

III. LOVED ONES Around 1998-1999, all hell broke loose in my life when I lost the extremes, the anchors of my existence, the person I could never please & the person I could never disappoint.  In the eulogy to the latter, I talked about losing my home with the loss of him… my roots seemed to wither & die with my grandfather’s passing.  It wasn’t about the land or the house where I spent the best days of my childhood with him & my grandmother, it was the loss of sacred space created by their unconditional love & our connection to one another.

Truth be told, I find sacred space just about anywhere & everywhere now… at a cookout laughing with a group of friends, watching the clouds from the hammock where I gently rock with napping dogs, & in the garden where my boyfriend & I pick fresh basil & tomatoes for homemade pesto before sitting at the picnic table, watching the sun blanket the barley field in a rosy glow.

When our friends silently step off the deck & walk barefoot among the gardens, I believe they have a sense of the holy & join me in feeling the sacredness of my back yard.  When my niece takes a little bag & fills it with silky soft lamb’s ear, fragrant rosemary, & refreshing mint so she can smell these things hours later when she goes home… she may not articulate it but she is connecting to the sacredness of that space, where sunflower seeds are offertories to the birds & a homemade blueberry cobbler sanctifies friendships.

Sacred space is where you make it.  Heart open… receive it… give it.  It’s all sacred when we choose to see the Divinity all around us.

How do you make your space sacred for your Self & those you love?  What makes it so?  What can you do to make it more sacred?  Thomas Moore wrote in Care of the Soul, “Care for our actual houses, then, however humble, is also care of the soul… Every home is a microcosm, the archetypal “world” embodied in a house or a plot of land or an apartment.”  Let’s meditate on this for one minute, envisioning your intimate space & considering the sacredness there.

IV.  SACRED WITHIN

So we started by radiating our holy intention to manifest the sacred out to the universe & now slowly return, back to our Selves.  The most sacred space of all is within each of us, the Divine Spark… the Light of Love… soul, whatever name you give that which identifies your highest self.

Do you feel that you are sacred?  This can be most difficult for some of us.  Yes, we believe the earth is sacred.  Yes, we see the divine in those around us.  But do we see the divine within ourselves?  Do you?  We are each sacred… despite ourselves… because of our Selves.

How do we make the sacred space within ourselves?  The good news is that you only have to recognize it– for it’s already there.  There is a divine spark in you, a life force energy, kundalini… we each have it.  It’s not about creating sacred space; it’s about acknowledging the divine spark & turning it into a flame.

How do we nurture that sacred space within & deepen our connection to it?  I’ve thought of 5 practices that I can consider when I need to nourish my own sense of sacredness.

  1. Connect to nature.  Find your sense of belonging by hiking in the woods, listening to the roar of the ocean, or lying flat in the grass, imagining roots securing your physical body to Mother Earth.

 

  1. Make energetic connections to rejuvenate your sense of the sacred.  Try reflexology, yoga, tai chi, or Reiki.

In my Reiki practice, for example, I hold sacred space for my client, myself, & the life force energy that connects us both.  If the client remains open to it & is fully invested in the experience, it goes beyond physical, and even the energetic, entering the realm of the spiritual.

  1. Pray and/or meditate.  For me, praying is more like talking & meditating is more like listening… both important aspects of effective communication & both equally important for connecting to a higher source & experiencing the sacredness of the moment.

 

  1. Creative expression, for me, is a great way to make sacred space & nourish the soul… both making art & appreciating art.

 

  1. Lastly, sacred space is best made when we simply remain still & silent.  Set the intention to be reverent for all life, respectful, & even celebratory about the beauty around & within you.  The divine in the everyday.  By setting the intention to focus on the positive, recognizing that all is holy, & connecting to it in a meaningful way, you can make sacred space anywhere.

Donna Davis wrote,  “Open your eyes to the beauty around you; open your mind to the wonders of life; open your heart to those who love you, & always be true to yourself.”

May it be so & blessed be.

The Divine Within collage

Every artist finds certain materials inspiring– a piece of wood with remarkable grain for a carver, a shimmering stone for a jeweler, a beautiful new glaze for a potter, or a fountain pen that feels like it was made for the writer’s hand.  I’ve experienced this many times in my career, finding inspiration in copper wire, pieces of slate, metallic inks, patterned fabrics, & most recently, an exotic sheet of handmade paper.

I fell in love when I walked into a small stationery store that displayed large sheets of handmade & printed papers by draping them over wooden dowels, cascading down the wall like a multicolored waterfall.  That’s when I saw it.  A gorgeous fuschia, red, orange, & gold piece spoke to me from among the polka dots, paisleys, stripes, & florals.  I didn’t know what I would do with it but I knew it had to come home with me.

In my studio, I ceremoniously unrolled the butcher paper that wrapped my sheet protectively.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I found myself talking to the paper as I revealed it.  “Why hello, there.  What would you like to be?  A painting?  A collage?”  My eager questions were met with silence.  This wasn’t going to be easy but most things worth doing and worth having aren’t.  This paper was exotic & mysterious, and would remain so for weeks.

Each day, sometimes twice a day, I’d gaze at the brightly colored sheet & listen.  Nothing.  Artists know that they can’t force creativity.  I would wait as long as I had to wait.  Then, one day, I said, “You are such a beautiful sheet of paper.  I don’t want to hide you under thick paint.  What about a collage that lets your beauty shine through?”

I heard it, “Yes, a collage… something divinely beautiful.”  That’s it.  Divine.  The Divine Within.  Once I had the title, I remembered a sketch I had drawn months ago & ran to find it among the many notebooks, journals, & sketchpads I have stacked around my home.  I found the small thumbnail sketch & knew for sure; that image belonged on this paper.  And so, The Divine Within was born.

Divine Within

The Divine Within: a collage on paper

I used a variety of papers with textures tempting to touch, metallic gold ink, & creamy smooth oil pastel.  The beauty of the paper is able to shine through, just like we are able to let our light shine when we choose.  The Divine Within is within each of us.

Restoring Balance

I need creation to balance destruction.  I need nurturing to balance power.  I need love to balance hatred & intolerance.  

How do I find balance when bombarded with information & technology every waking moment?  I quiet myself & dive ever deeper into my spiritual practice to bring to the surface valuable pearls of wisdom from wherever I can find them– native traditions, poetry, art, mainstream religions, & most importantly right now, goddess faiths– beliefs that enhances my spiritual life with the sole purpose of making my entire existence more spiritual.  I don’t cling to the past; I make it relevant in my present.

As I drove to Alexandria VA on Saturday for an art date with my sister, I listened to Sally Kempton’s audio CD titled Shakti Meditations.  On the first of 4 CDs, she explores such topics as the feminine face of spirit, the power of the goddesses, & experiencing goddess energies.  While Kempton’s CD focuses on Indian deities, I consider all those I’ve studied from around the world– Yemaya, Lakshmi, Arianrhod, Brighid, Diana, & Oshun, to name a few.  I’m not called to worship them, per se, but I feel called to honor them as symbols of the attributes women possess at various stages of life.  I study them to better understand myself.

For example, I’m going through a rather long period of “nesting”.  I’m tending my home as if preparing for something sensed but yet not seen on the horizon.  Like Hestia, I’m keeping the hearth fire burning as well as the flame within myself, as I’ve described in a previous post.

There are moments when I embody the compassion of Kuan Yin, the passion of Pele, the love of Aphrodite, & the intellect of Athena.  I’m a creator– painting canvases, experimenting with a new recipe for dinner, & designing flower beds that will bloom in the spring.  I’m a nurturing mother figure– caring for my dogs every minute of every day, nourishing Jim with a hearty Irish stew on a frigid winter evening, & supporting women through my sacred work.  I’m a warrior– standing up for myself in situations where I must, speaking up for those whose voice goes unheard, & protecting what matters most to me.

From all this study & meditation, I have come to believe with all my being that truth, beauty, & wisdom can be found anywhere, if we look with openness of heart, mind, & soul.  And when I say “everywhere”, I mean outside of ourselves & within ourselves.  Or, to put it another way, Rumi wrote, “I looked in temples, churches, & mosques.  But I found the divine within my heart.”

Recognizing the divine within myself restores much needed balance.  It’s not about the job, the possessions, & the little dramas playing out around me; my spiritual practice (yes, it’s always PRACTICE) acknowledges the divine spark in each of us & the sacredness of the world around me.  And it’s that understanding that brings peace, allows creation, & infuses my life with light & love.

New Painting: Divine Light

The up side to all of this snow & ice is plenty of time to stay inside where it’s warm & create new art.  This acrylic painting is symbolic of the Divine Light that is in each of us…. I deliberately kept her faceless so we could each see ourselves in her image.

Divine Light:  It flows through each of us & radiates from us.

Divine Light: It flows through each of us & radiates from us.

Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan to see this painting & my other work.

 

 

 

Red Tent World Summit

Back in November, I screened Things We Don’t Talk About: Women’s Stories from the Red Tent, a phenomenal documentary about the Red Tent movement sweeping the country… & indeed, the world.  According to Dr. Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, producer of this movie, “The Red Tent movement is changing the way that women interact & support each other by providing a place that honors & celebrates women, & by enabling open conversations about the things that women don’t want to talk about in other venues.”  As the credits appearing across the screen at the end of the movie, the very first comment a viewer said was “When are we going to have a Red Tent here?”  Everyone nodded their heads or spoke out in agreement, “We need a Red Tent in our community.”

I was very bold (on the surface) & said, “I hadn’t thought that far ahead but let me see what I can do.”  Now, keep in mind that I’ve never organized an event like this before.  Sure, I lead workshops, hold a monthly spirit circle, & teach classes on the Divine Feminine & other topics for women & preteen girls but this is something completely out of my comfort zone.  When I want something badly while fear whispers “Don’t do it!” in my ear, I have to ignore that shadow aspect of myself & do it anyway.  Close my eyes & leap.

So I did.  I booked the perfect space for the event to be held March 15th & started promoting it.  I’m giving my first tent event the theme of “Embracing Change”.  I don’t know if any other Red Tent organizer does that but the women in my community expressed a need to talk about major changes that they were going through so I thought setting that intention would attract the people who need that support & sharing the most.  I envision our tent having a large space for a Wisdom Circle to meet.  That’s my term for the gathering of any & every woman who wants to share her truth for we each are the keepers of our own wisdom.  I’ll also separate the space into a couple of smaller areas for rest, intimate conversations, writing, & creating art work.  A woman even offered to share her massage skills with the others who attend.  The space is circular, which is ideal for this gathering.  Circles are symbolic of nature, allow us to face one another without one being any greater or any less than the others, & allow us to go within at the same time.  For me, they symbolize creation as well as the void that manifests creation.

Since the November screening of the movie, women who hadn’t seen it asked me to show it again, which I did in January.  The room was full of women from various backgrounds & ages ranging from the 30s to the 70s.  Once more, I was asked, “When are we having a Red Tent?”  It validated what I was doing for the community & gave me the courage to continue moving forward with the idea of hosting the very first Red Tent in my city, despite the little voice of fear that still whispers, “Why you?  You’ve never done this before.”  There has to be a first time.  And since this speaks so strongly to my heart, I have to be the one.

I’m a strong believer in synchronicity so when a friend in CA shared an invitation from Deanna Lam to join the Red Tent in Every Neighbourhood World Summit, I jumped at the chance.  You can join it, too.  It’s an online summit where women leaders share brief video clips answering three questions.

1)  How would your life have been different if you had a Red Tent in Your Neighborhood when you were growing up?

2)  What nourishes your soul when you are in your blood or, if you are past that stage, when you were in your blood?

3)  What would feed your soul if there was a Red Tent in your neighborhood now?

The online summit started February 1 & continues to the end of the month with one video clip per day.  So far, Brooke Medicine Eagle, Susun Weed, Jane Hardwicke Collings, & Rachel Hertog have spoken.  One of the nice things about how Deanna organized this summit is that you can go back & listen to any messages you missed.  Registration is super-easy & free!!!!

Please join us!  It’s an amazing experience & reminds me daily that I’m not alone in my desire to help women & girls see the Divine within themselves & have the courage to live their authentic lives.

Deanna Lam’s Red Tent World Summit

Vesta & Me

Years ago, an amazing college professor introduced me to the world of Greek & Roman mythology.  While I’ve regrettable forgotten her name, I vividly recall the myths she brought to life every time she walked into class, hopped up onto her desk, & told us stories as if we were eager grandchildren crowded around her feet.  She brought them all to life– Zeus, Diana, Aphrodite, Apollo, & Persephone to name a few.  The goddess who comes to mind when I pull in my driveway, the porch light shining like a beacon in the dark is Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth (Hestia in Greek).  Romantically, I envision her lighting a fire in the fireplace & turning on a lamp beside the sofa… beckoning me to come home where I can rest, reflect, & rejuvenate when the windchill dips below zero & the ice lays thick on the dangerously slick roads.

Now I know I’m the one who left the porch light on for myself; yet, isn’t it lovely to picture a goddess tending the fire of the home, making it welcoming, warm, & safe for all who enter?  I embody the qualities of that goddess every time I light a candle at dinnertime or leave a small light on in the kitchen so my boyfriend can find his way to make coffee before sunrise.  These are all attempts to bring in light where there was none.  I’m the keeper of my own hearth.  I am Vesta.

I take the image of Vesta step further.  Home is often a symbol for our spirit or Soul so could Vesta also represent the flame within each of us?  Ovid is credited with calling her “the living flame”.  Could I embody this goddess’s attributes, living my life so the Divine spark within me turns into a living flame, illuminating my path & those whose lives I touch?

Yes, I am Vesta but I am also Aphrodite, Athena, Kali, & Kuan Yin.  As are you.

Sacred Smudge Sticks

Like people, each plant has a purpose.  Some provide nourishment, while others offer shelter or have healing properties.  In addition to its use as a culinary herb, Sage is known for protecting one’s environment & healing the energetic field (aura) of the person who uses it.  Some even call it the “Spirit Caller”.   For early Egyptians it promoted fertility & for the Celts, it represented immortality.  At 47, I have no desire for either of those!  Instead, I focus on this aromatic plant’s ability to banish evil & unwanted influences, create sacred space, heal, & inspire wisdom.

I use smudge sticks of Sage (sometimes combined with juniper or cedar) for a variety of reasons, most often, to bless my home.  I light the stick & use an owl feather to direct the scented smoke to the corners of each room.  As I walk in awareness, I say a special blessing for this space to be full of light, laughter, love, & warmth.  I also pray that my family & friends feel welcomed, nurtured, & loved when they enter my home.  Other times, I use sage to prepare for meditation or to dispel the negativity that can follow me home at the end of the day.  I imagine the day’s stress floating on the smoke & eventually disappearing.

Sage 2

As the chance of frost threatens my herb garden, I decided to harvest the varieties of sage to make smudge sticks for my friends. Before I cut the silver green leaves from their woody stems, I said a prayer of gratitude.  Once my basket was full, I brought the sage inside & selected 7 different colors of embroidery floss, representing the chakras, to wrap my sage into bundles.  I grasped a handful of sage, cut the stems evenly across the bottom, & secured them with the floss.   I set the intention that each smudge stick will bring healing & wisdom to the person who uses it.  There is exactly enough sage for the 7 major chakras.  Perfect!  I hope they enjoy the smudge sticks as much as I enjoyed making them.