a woman of her own

I walked down the path past the last cottage and saw two smaller paths heading to right and left at the end of the road.
I had to return as my sisters waited for me on the little hill but my soul whispered: “Stay.
Follow that path into the Wild, into that unknown territory.”

I heard the invitation and I promised to come back next day.

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The next day I returned with few things in my backpack, my journal and my paints. I just needed to relate to Me, my body and my Soul, and to the Wild. The mountain towered over my tired and recovering body. That imminent presence eclipsed my being in such a powerful way that I could only say “yes, I am here”.
The pain had slowed me down and opened me, so I could listen and hear beyond the chatter of my mind.

I so longed for this encounter. I have been all over the place in the past year, from India to Iceland, from hot deserts to icy fjords, from Mesopotamia to the shores of Aegean, always in some kind of process in the company of others. I was tired and overloaded. And during one of my overseas travels last August, I had been instructed to stop moving so much and listen and receive; right there and then I had made my commitment to create a holy emptiness for myself in October.

A few days before October my body gave in and I experienced an unusual pain in my right arm and it was completely dysfunctional for a few days.  

“My body is alive and wants to be alive. It generously communicates how and where
I failed to take care of myself, where I forgot to practice compassion and where I crossed
my own boundaries and neglected my needs.
.
The pain is a messenger. The physical sensation of discomfort is an immediate invitation
to be here and now and to listen.
.
Listen. The aching body is a plea to slow down and drop in, a sweet calling to return
to the temple. How it softens my gaze, my breath, my voice...how tender my being becomes.
.
My longing to surrender is fulfilled in a brief moment as I witness and breathe into
the pain and give thanks to my body. I listen.”

The pain was too strong to ignore. It stopped me and this time, rather than freezing in fear, I gave myself the gift of presence.

By the time I arrived at the mountain, my arm was healing. But my descent had begun and I wanted to continue, I was hungry for meeting my Soul and surrendering to the Wild around me.

The mountain stood tall as I moved around slowly. I found myself a temple to dance in and slowly a rhythm emerged. I would dance in the witnessing of the towering presence of the mountain, let my body free and wild like the nature surrounding me. Once my body felt open, I would slowly go for a walk in the forest. The path was also one of descent, it winded down through the rocks and dense plantation towards the water whose song I could hear from afar.

“Always move towards the water”

The animal in me knew my destination. I tracked steadily downward, expecting to meet wild beasts any moment (many wild boars live in the area).  To move forward tasting the fear is an empowering thing. Finally the path unfolded around a curve into the landscape carved by the water in the bottom of the forest, sunlight descending through the leaves, gentle water flowing through massive rocks – I couldn’t believe my blessing. I continued descending until I found the Source and then I stood in awe. Here in the heart of the forest, I had found a natural pool of pristine spring water, small enough to feel contained, big enough to swim, deep enough to dive in. I was not prepared for this welcome, so I found a rock to sit on and admire this beauty from a distance. This sacred place was so precious that I felt the need to court it gently, slowly. I knew this was where my Soul had guided me, my inner-wild-feminine-womb-intuition. And I knew it was calling for a ritual.

Next day I returned for the ritual. Not before dancing and opening my body to the mountain. I still wasn’t sure what the ritual would look like even though I had a sense of what the ritual was for. I didn’t need more than that and on my way there I picked up four things that called my attention: a cut branch, a tiny feather, a blackberry and one arm of a crab. When I arrived, I created a small altar with my offerings on a rock and I sat to listen.

This listening is a marvelous thing. Listening so fine, so skillfully that inside and outside merge into wholeness and the anticipated information comes through as grace. The wind becomes an affirmation, the sound of water the murmuring of a prayer, the birdsong a kiss on the cheek.

Marion Woodman says:
“Rites of passage are accompanied
by preparation and purification:
a bath,
a garment,
a dance,
a sacrifice…”


What is my sacrifice I wondered, it is not a word I am fond of. Perhaps it was the pain I recently went through, in a way willingly, to recognize the deeper invitation of my body.

Here I was in my favorite dress from India, having danced and about to dive into this deep, cold water. So I waited. I turned to pages of “Coming Home to Myself” for guidance and slowly it was revealed to me what the prayer was. What aspects of Self needed redemption and what life experience needed a visitation. I followed course. I did the prayer. And then I stood tall, in the shade of the mountain, and dove into the deep blue water for a new life. This is how it ends and how it begins. Over and over again, in infinite cycles…

I immersed myself in the holy water as long as I could stand the cold penetrating my flesh. The dark, clear, life giving water, the prayers of gratitude filling the pond. I dove again and again, washing away what wants to be shed, clearing a few more layers and…

“Wake up to your body”

Everyday I wake up a little more to this body housing my Soul, a piece of the Great Spirit animating the whole. Uniting the animal self with the divine self. the matter, the flesh with spirit. the wild and the tamed. the courage and the fear. the safety and the unknown.

I am jolted awake with this life force coming from deep within, the deeper I dive, the higher I rise…

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The Black Madonna is larger than life itself.
Nature impregnated by spirit,
She presides over fertility, sexuality, childbirth.
She accepts her body as chalice for spirit,
Presides over the sacredness of matter,
The meeting of sex and spirit.
Rejected by the patriarchy,
Her energy has smoldered for generations.
Now she erupts in us and in the world,
Demands conscious recognition,
Demands redemption of matter.
— Marion Woodman, Coming Home to Myself
 

p.s. The Land that hosted me is called Geyikbayiri (means the land of the deer), near Antalya in Southern Turkey.