One grey day of December I found my self by the river Dart in Devon who gifted me with an astonishing message of Love. The months that followed were hard with a depth of loneliness and fear being entrusted with such stream of words.
As Spring came I gathered the courage and fiery passion to share Water's message with others. A Series of Interviews came out of it.
It is a series of interviews with women and men engaging fully with our collapsing world, our dying systems, our grief, our deep love and longing to fully participate in our world in ways of soul and beauty.
These interviews have one thread in common. A message that was given to me by Water on the 2nd of Dec 2016. This message is read to each person in this 'Conversations with Grief' activating a unique response.
So far I have spoken with and recorded Jon Young, Francis Weller, Manda Scott, Pat McCabe, Megan Hollingsworth, Stephen Harding, Pablo Serviane and Stephan Jenkinson… each one bringing a thread for a cloth weaving in the past, present and future… I anticipate mystery and our bone memory to be awakened by it.
Here is the message from Water at the River Dart, Devon, England passed on to me on 2nd Dec 2016:
" My dear child do not worry about me, Water. I recover quickly with the song of our birds, the love of trees, with movement, moments of rest and the prayers moving around our Earth. I regain balance with your heartfelt tears, your remembered songs added to the ones of so many now. Do not focus your energy on 'Saving me'. Something way more profound is taking place right now, listen and observe!
All of us; Soil, Water, Plants, Air, Animals and all Ancestors are Calling YOU Humans, to Us so we can Save YOUR species. We know and have known for a while that you do not have much time left if you do not wake up to your birthright Belonging to Earth and come Home soon, real real soon. We keep dying, we keep Giving Away our Lives to shake you up from a deep and very long amnesia. Once you can allow the truth and quality of such Love to permeate through your traumatised being and desolate soul you will wake up from a life time of anesthesia to your immense grief and capacity for Love.
When you create containers of sacred beauty that opens your Heart to what Love truly is then you will realise with a massive Sob that you were loved all along, always have and for ever by all of Us who you think You are Saving!
You have five years as a species to Wake up, Mature and Remember in your bones that you belong to Life "
What would be your response?
To listen to the poignant interwiew series 'Conversations with Grief' visit www.souland.org/conversations-with-grief-and-water.html
Azul Valerie Thome
Azul-Valérie Thomé is an artist, an activator and tender of soulful visions, a sacred activist, a mentor, a circle holder & trainer whose creations are infused with rituals informed by Mother Earth for the thriving of all Life. She feels blessed to be the mother of a strong and dedicated young man.
I have had the privilege of leading or attending Mother-Blessing ceremonies for pregnant women for almost two decades now and in that time I have observed how much these occasions bond women together and increase the confidence of the mother to be. In fact, a midwife once commented to me that she had noticed how the women she attended who had a Mother-Blessing approached the birth with less fear, so I thought I would like to share with you what we have learnt over that time.
The Navajo Indians, are most associated with their Blessingway Ceremony for women before birth and we need to be sensitively aware that we are not misappropriating their sacred ways disrespectfully because seemingly we have lost our own traditions in our culture. However, I truly believe that somewhere deep in our memories, we women of these Isles remember when, we too, gathered to bless mothers and their unborn children. On so many occasions I have witnessed women deeply moved, often to the point of tears, as they experienced women gathering in ceremony for the first time, commenting that they “know” what to do, they “remembered” and it felt uncannily familiar to them. Nowadays in our culture most of the focus is on the physical health of the mother, but in a Mother-Blessing, the mother-to-be’s closest female friends and relatives gather in circle to attend to her emotional and spiritual needs, bringing small gifts and sharing maternal experience and wisdom with her.
One of the key themes of the Mother-Blessing is the symbolic show of solidarity for the mother in the giving of many parts that make a whole... For example, each woman in the circle offering a bead, along with a blessing, a story, maybe a poem or a song or some words of birth-wisdom. These individual beads are then strung to make a necklace that can be worn during labour, some mothers then hang them above their bed or baby’s crib after the birth. Over the years we have found that, having been inspired by the essence of this, many different ideas have emerged according to the whims and desires of the mother. Here are a few memorable ones:
Another way to create a more lasting memory of the Mother-Blessing, is to ask the women to write down their contributions so that the mother or another can put it all into a scrapbook to share with other family members, her children and the unborn baby when it is older. I found that women really put so much effort into this, creating beautiful and much treasured artworks, often handwritten, with delicate borders and illustrations, they became something of an heirloom to be passed on to future generations.
Why Women Only?
Traditionally Mother-Blessing ceremony was attended by women only but again, in taking the essence as being about offering solidarity and support, there is no reason , if the mother wishes it, why the circle should not embrace women and men together. I have led such ceremonies and they have been every bit as sensitive and meaningful as the women-only occasions. Of course, another option would be for the brothers to do it for themselves and call a men-only circle for the father-to-be! Another point worth mentioning is that a Mother-Blessing ceremony does not need to be “led” in a formal way, although it is a good idea to have someone holding it together, you do not need to have a celebrant in the way you would for, say, a naming ceremony or wedding. I believe that somewhere deep within our woman-source, we know how to do these ancient circle gatherings and there is most emphatically no right or wrong way to do them as long as it feels right for the mother. Often the ceremonies I have attended included a meal afterwards to which everyone attending has brought a dish (however the mama-to-be needs a few supportive friends to ensure she is not left with a pile of washing up afterwards!), some have been outdoors, with a fire, some indoors...one was in a (large!) bathroom and one was in a bedroom! The best time to hold a Mother-blessing is towards the end of the eighth month of the pregnancy.
One more vital and perhaps more sobering aspect that women are learning is the courage and commitment to be an available and supportive circle post-birth for the women who need it. We all know that not every woman experiences the birth of her dreams, sometimes the birthing pool goes cold whilst the reality is a 4am dash to the hospital in an ambulance. Can we then be available to witness grief, disappointment, sadness, anger and confusion? For in the same way that our mainstream culture often wishes only to focus on the physical condition of pregnancy so post-birth all too often the only acceptable public face is that of excitement and gratitude and advice to “put all that behind you now, you have a lovely baby”. Sometimes the need arises to sit and listen, to non-judgmentally witness the birth story as often as it needs to be told as a means of offering the mother a gentle healing. I wonder how much less post-natal depression there would be if a woman could be cared for in this way? On a less intense note, a promise from each Mother-Blessing friend of a nourishing meal on a certain day, perhaps with a rota drawn up, can do much to help the mother recover and establish breast feeding knowing that she and her family’s needs are being cared for by the community for a few days.
Sharing with our daughters!
In creating contemporary ceremonies like this, they become accessible to all women, whether they have religious convictions or none. Several women have commented to me how they are pleased that their daughter will grow up seeing the Mother-Blessing as a “normal” part of the pre-birth experience. I like to think that this is a small way that we can begin to be the change we want to see in the lives of women in the West.
Author: Kate Rose
Kate's life has changed so much in the past six years, through illness and a deep retreating into menopause... she is not who she was and not yet who she is becoming and peaceful with that.
Like for many Divine Feminine Warriors, my conscious journey began after experiencing trauma. It brought me so many questions and so much pain, it was a process of discovering how to grow. Since all that time ago, the wisdom and understanding of connecting with vibrational medicine, shamanism and ourselves has brought me to this space.
Sepia Officinalis is a remedy made from Common Cuttlefish - hugely sensory beings that squirt their famous sepia ink. Sepia is a medicine that grounds, fuels and supports me and, at times, holds my hand. I am so moved by the love this sister of the sea gives out - intelligent, ancient and wonderful - by how it interacts with the menstrual cycle and provides medicine as an adrenal tonic amongst many other things. I call her a sister as, at times, the nurturing qualities of Sepia have been invaluable.
Often real life consists of a lot of juggling between the many roles of empowered woman, urban earth mother of two boys, a partner/wife, performing rituals and ceremonies, writing, deadlines, helping other women and finding my way through life’s challenges and moments of pure beauty. Sepia is often the indicated remedy for when, as a Wild Woman, at times like many other Wild Women, I just want to run away.
When I have had total exhaustion (I recently helped both my children through whooping cough) Sepia, as an adrenal tonic, connected me to my body and allowed me to restore my energy. I am incredibly inspired by it because, as with all vibrational medicine, an understanding and respect for the right time to connect with it ignites my relationship to it and its individual qualities. Nature’s magic in a drop, my wonder tonic, my ally, her healing offerings are embodied in pure vibration and show me the wonder of relating.
Angie Litvinoff - I am a workshop facilitator, shamanic homoeopath, creative celebrant, feminist, Wild Woman, and founder of The Sacred Earth School. Through my rites of passage ceremonies, rituals and workshops I help other women to thrive and grow into themselves. I am inspired by nature and the elements, and feel the more I merge with them the more integrated I am as a whole being. It is through collective experiences that I feel we can connect with the soul and essence of life and so ritual and ceremony are essential for me day to day. I feel a strong calling to reach out more than ever to other women so that we together can create a strong, fearless and beautiful life full of hope and understanding. www.angielitvinoff.com
After reading Donna Moon’s article, 5 Steps To A Vibrant Life, in the Spring 2018 edition of She Who Knows, I knew it was time to take action for my body. I started with the third step, body brushing. Dry skin brushing is something that has been on my radar for almost 30 years. I have owned various soft brushes in that time but I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have actually entered into the practice. Living off-grid I don’t get to do full body immersion bathing very often and this Winter I have not been to the pool once. So, after I had purchased an absolutely super-duper new brush, complete with detachable handle for ease and comfort, I was ready to commit myself to new habits.
The first time I used the brush I can honestly say that, on certain parts of my body (namely, thighs), it was as if I was sanding a piece of wood! Small piles of dead skin built up just like sawdust as I went over and over these neglected areas and great clouds of “dust” filled the air, causing much perturbation to my husband as he worried for his lungs! That night I slept soundly and awoke feeling refreshed rather than still tired which is my usual disposition in Winter.
I have been brushing regularly now for almost three weeks and, last week, I had my bleed. Usually I really do suffer with period pain but this time I sailed right through with no pain or lengthy discomfort, and no clots or sickness, just a wonderful, healthy flow and beautiful, sensual feelings that all women should be able to experience at this time of the month. Of course I can’t be sure that this was due to the body brushing, but nothing else has changed in my life, and it makes sense that sweeping away toxins and greatly improving the circulation would benefit the womb.
Now, my body asks to be brushed. It cries out for the soft sweep of bristles on my skin, it is excited at the tingling feeling that each stroke creates as blood rises to just beneath the surface, and it delights in the soaking in of oils that are now massaged into its layers. How things have changed! No more living inside a crust! But rather in a body that delights in a new found freedom and lightness, and that wants to dance with the sweetness of Spring!
"In ancient times, in the time of the goddesses, long before periods gained a bad reputation, women used to gather when they were menstruating to help and support each other, sharing experiences and stories about their lives.." in The Goddess in You
The arrival of the first blood was once a reason for a great celebration: a proof of fertility, of life and of the continuation of the species. Today, however, menstruation is often seen as a nuisance...
The need to reframe menstruation to girls is mainly intended to allow them to learn about their bodies, acknowledging their “physiological mechanics” and the understanding of the natural cycles of life. As an ultimate goal, the acceptance of oneself, of one's emotional, physical, psychological and intellectual abilities as a result of a full process, arising from the respect for each other's identity.
Low self-esteem is at the centre of the main problems we face at a personal level, conditioning and (invariably) leading to an unequivocal need of external validation, acts of submission or harmful behaviours for the sake of group integration.
Recognizing the female body as a micro-cell of the Cosmos, as a tiny-scale mirror effect of what Nature creates and perpetuates, will allow recognition and validation of the Feminine as something legitimate and autonomous – instead of the usual “alternative to Masculine” – restoring a clear stand which will enable the needed dynamics to a balanced social evolution.
The goal of this book is to celebrate the body, its rhythms, Nature and Life, so that we can witness the birth of a new generation of women – healthier, more confident, socially more capable and intervening, conscious of their potential and power as individuals.
Menstrual and Fertility Educator
Patrícia Lemos, author of The Goddess in You, is a Fertility Coach and Menstrual Educator, holding a Master's Degree in Public Health, and a practicing Hypnotherapist, based in Lisbon, Portugal.
Passionate about education, she's the founder of Círculo Perfeito, an educational project based on a mind-body approach to help and support women throughout their fertile years.
Patricia is married and mother of a 12 year-old girl.
Contact for Patricia is email@example.com
Image credit for Patricia Lemos (credits vero-photoart).
Link and more info about my book here: http://www.womancraftpublishing.com/thegoddessinyou.html
Damiana Cavanha is from the Guarani tribe, who are thought to have been one of the first peoples to be contacted after Europeans arrived in South America.
“We decided to fight and die for our land,” she said
Once occupying a homeland of forest and plains in Brazil totaling some 350,000 square kilometers, the Guarani hunted freely for game on their homelands, and planted manioc and corn in their gardens. During the past 100 years, however, almost all their forest land has been stolen from them and turned into vast, dry networks of cattle ranches, soya fields and plantations of towering sugar cane.
A decade ago, cattle ranchers intimidated Damiana and her family, evicting her from her ancestral lands. She has since lived in squalid conditions by the highway; her husband and three of her sons have been run over and killed on the road.
In September 2013, however, she led a courageous and dangerous ‘retomada’ (re-occupation) of the sugar cane plantation that has taken over her ancestral land. A ‘retomada’ had long been Damiana’s hope and solace: the goal that sustained her through the brutal years of eviction, fear, humiliation, malnutrition, bereavement, illness and depression.
“We decided to fight and die for our land,” she said. Sadly, Damiana and her group were brutally evicted in 2016. It took around 100 armed police to remove them. The eviction was widely condemned by Survival International supporters around the world.
For tribal peoples, land is life. It fulfills all their material and spiritual needs. Land provides food, housing and clothing. It’s also the foundation of tribal peoples’ identity and sense of belonging. Activists like Damiana are standing up for their right to their ancestral land, and they need a platform to speak to the world.
On the other side of the Atlantic are the Bushmen, the original people of southern Africa.
Between 1997 and 2002 almost all Bushmen were taken from their homes in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and driven to eviction camps outside the reserve, where they were not only deprived of their ways of life, but humiliated by endemic racist attitudes.
“Let them call us primitive. Let them call us Stone Age people. Our way of life suits us. We have seen their development, and we don’t like it” said a Bushman woman, Xlarema Phuti.
Xlarema is a healer, and was forcibly evicted by the government to New Xade, a government eviction camp known as ‘the place of death’. Xlarema talked to Survival International about the healing powers of the Bushman’s traditional trance dance, and the sadness she has experienced since being evicted from her lands.
“When I’m dancing in the trance dance I talk with the ancestors to help me heal the sick person” she said.
In countries like Botswana, Governments and multinationals are trying to silence tribal peoples. They brutalize and murder them, and they steal their lands. They call them backward and primitive – but they’re not. They have perceptive things to say about almost every aspect of life today.
These are just two of the inspiring stories of women’s courage and heroism Survival International has witnessed in our work with tribal peoples. We’re doing everything we can to support them, and to give them a chance to determine their own futures.
Interested readers are encouraged to join Survival at https://www.survivalinternational.org/
So what is dirty? Other than your laundry, though you may feel shamefaced by that too. You must have examples jumping to your mind, I know you do, let them arrive. Perhaps dirty is that affair you had, or wish you’d had. Maybe it is the sexuality beyond the sexuality you profess to your partner, the things you would really like to do. Dirty could be your guilt. The thing you said, the way you said it. Your truest dirt may be found in a web of lies and misgivings that you tell the world, that you tell yourself. Maybe your dirt is the grit under your nails, the art you create, and the food you prepare, full fat and astonishing. Your dirty is your humanity. It may be discovered holed up with a host of emotions, lust, greed, passion, excitement, love, hunger, fear, hate, adoration, expectation, envy, empathy… Your dirt, your filth is not the excrement of life, but the enacting of it. The things you regret, the things you most certainly don’t. It is our dark. It is that which captures you even when you try, so hard, to turn from it. It is the dark night of the soul, the questions of existence that sneak up and choke you. It is the fireworks set off, on magical occasion, to enlighten your being.
Whilst divinity… That is allegedly something altogether other. It is the connection to a truer, higher, less than human self. Your divinity is purportedly unsullied, it is prayer, incense and magic. It is your connection to intuition. It is not all ‘the light’ though. That is a myth. It is the depth of feeling, the karma, the justice meted out against all you have felt and done. Divine is your feeling of ‘something more’, your inner knowing, the light at the corner of your eye, the shadow at the end of your bed. Divinity was birthing your children, or losing your mother, or finding a lost lover. It was what you learned, how it shook you, where it took you, emotionally, spiritually, transcendentally. It is the shimmer of enlightenment that raises you up and bounces off your well-intentioned words of comfort and love. Divine is unseen, harder to grasp, but you are a woman, you need not see it, you need simply feel it. Allow yourself to feel it.
Alice Grist is a bestselling spiritual author, artist, tarot professional and mother of two young girls. Her work (in all it’s forms) focuses on empowering real modern women to their intuitive spirit.
Find her at www.alicegrist.co.uk
Ideally, the bleed is a time for rest, for going inward, doing as little as possible and taking good care of ourselves. Many women really honour themselves in their Moontime, by having carved out space and time to truly rest and relax. The reality for some of us though is that life continues as usual, and there can be very little extra time, space or energy to give to our bleeds.
Just recently I’ve been so busy that, on numerous occasions, I lost track of when my blood was coming, so it often surprised me and I found myself completely unprepared for it. Not only had I not allowed myself time in my schedule for rest, but also I could not fully settle in my home as it was neither clean nor tidy and, probably worst of all, I had not shopped or cooked beforehand and, apart from a few sunflower seeds and the odd tin of plums, my cupboards were literally bare! This lack of preparation manifested as stress during the bleed and compounded unhelpful feelings of exhaustion and frustration.
It doesn’t have to be like that though. With forethought and a little planning it is possible to really nourish oneself at this time. Luckily many women have an urge to clean and tidy in the pre-menstrual stage and this is a natural readying for rest. Food is such an important element and it’s wise to stock the cupboards well beforehand. It’s worth making a soup and/or stew that will last a couple of days or have something available in the freezer. There are even some delicious ready meals around these days. The onus is on nourishment and ease.
It’s a good idea to plan and shop for all meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner - as well as any snacks and drinks you’ll need to see you through. Personally, I like things that are warming and easy to digest, so I go for smoothies made from fresh fruits, nuts, seeds and kefir, and then vegetable and soft pulse soups and stews with things like quinoa and tempeh. I don’t know about you, but I can eat like a lioness at this point in the month, so having plenty is good. Sugar-free, dark chocolate makes for a delicious, nutritious treat/snack and nettle tea (fresh is best) is a great drink for bleeding women, restoring the iron in our bodies, with some mint too perhaps, to ease the stomach and help to nourish us from the inside out.
Next month I’ll definitely be heeding my own advice and getting myself sorted for some seriously delicious, restful Moontime!
Cheryl Tipple-Trepat - is a writer, artist and Editor of She Who Knows Magazine.
Autumn arrives and she beckons us home to the hearth - after a Summer season of family holidays, festivals and weddings, I have arrived to the satisfying feeling of landing in the warmth and familiarity of home. It's a great time to begin afresh, with the beginning of the new school year and new courses, it’s a perfect moment to get everything in order - cleaning, making medicines that will see us through the Winter, stocking up cupboards with plums, blackberries and apples, tidying my desk and sorting my paperwork! It's a full and satisfying time.
Lighting the fire and welcoming in the spirit of Autumn, I ask her to hold my family and me in these quieter months that we may be nourished and restored, rested and renewed. It's a great time to commit oneself to a creative project and make your own personal intentions for the journey you intend to travel through the darker months, and where you wish to be when you emerge in the Spring.
Many other creatures are tending their homes too, and in Autumn the spider can be seen in her newly woven web waiting patiently for her Winter store of food. This morning as I walked through the wood, I noticed I had absent-mindedly destroyed quite a few of these meticulously woven webs as I trod my way down the path. Feeling somewhat regretful, I took to stepping over these carefully woven webs so that the spider can catch, not just her food, but also her Winter dreaming.
So, if you are inspired, when your nest is prepared, light the fire and/or candles, fill the air with sensual smells and make intentions, spoken from your heart to the flame, that you may dream through the Autumn months, catch nourishment in the web of your womb and come home to the hearth.
Isabella Lazlo - I am a Mother, a Performance Artist, Writer, Bodywork Practitioner and a Facilitator of the Deep Feminine. I sing and drum with the ancient call of the Earth, awakening and stirring the memory of our ancient, wild roots. I bring the depth of my journey as a woman, alongside a wealth of experience and knowledge in somatic movement, bodywork, creativity and feminine awakening. I am passionate about the intelligence of the moving body and through my performance practice I explore the capacity of my body to speak deeply and directly to women of their own lived experience.
Leia Yaniv is a Writer, Researcher, and Academic currently studying her Masters in Gender and International Relations at Bristol University. A background in Dance/Bodywork and Drama fuels her continuing interest in Social Science. An amalgamation of these fields provide the backdrop to her ongoing creative writing and journalism, which reflect her passionate interest in the history of/ and also current notions of Film, Gender and Capitalism. These remain her particular areas of study and expertise.