Category Archives: Empowerment

Strong Like the Water

Today’s post from Jackie Singer sent shivers of soul recognition down my spine… I hope it does for you too.

What is an empowered woman like?

I keep returning to this question and wondering. What is the nature of feminine power? Is it different from masculine power? Do we have any models?

A year and a half ago I went to a Women and Earth Retreat, at Pistyll Rhaeadr in Powys. The long weekend was run by Annie Davey and Hilary Kneale at a campsite next to a magnificent waterfall.

waterfallPhoto by Zane Licite

At that time, as a mother of two small children, trying to keep my creative practices alive, and keep some money coming into the family coffers, I was feeling more than a wee bit weary, and yet I felt such a strong drive to make waves in the world. I travelled with this question: how can I step more fully into my power? It was the element of water that spoke to me in reply.

On the first bright, clear morning, we walked up the river valley to a mountain lake, and spent time sitting quietly by its shore. After a while, I bent low to the water, and noticed a tiny sound. Droplets of water were rolling from the soft moss into the lake. As I listened to their delicate music, I marvelled at how these sweet droplets were made of the same stuff that filled the great lake, and which had, over millennia, carved the entire valley. I was put in mind of the daily tasks of mothering, which in themselves are so small, yet which add up to something great. ‘Take heart’, the droplets seemed to say. ‘Each sandwich made, each sock hung up to dry, each goodnight kiss is a droplet that partakes of the great lake of love, which has huge power.’ This put me in mind of Mother Theresa’s advice that we should not pursue “great deeds” but rather “small deeds with great love.”

Later on that day, we chose the spots on the land where we would be alone for the next twenty-four hours. My place was sheltered by a sycamore tree, right by a stream. All day and night, the stream sang to me. I couldn’t see where the source of this flow was, it just endlessly poured by. I often sang along, and a little ditty emerged:

“From deep within, your blessings flow. You are the spring, you are the flow.”

In a world where I am regularly looking for affirmation from outside (a good pay packet, an award for achievement, preferably both), this was a beautiful reminder to look within for both affirmation and inspiration.

Within the last hour of our solo time, the sky grew overcast, and it started to rain. I was glad to pack up my sleeping bag, and head for shelter, warmth, food and company.

By the time I woke up early the next morning, it had been raining for 15 hours. As I wandered from the tent towards the shower block in my anorack, I became aware of a roaring sound. Looking up, I was stunned by the sight of the waterfall in full flow. What had been a graceful, white, maidenly fall of water when we had arrived, was now a thunderous, red Mumma in full power. I abandoned any thoughts of showering or breakfast, and headed straight for the waterfall. “YOU WANT TO SEE POWER?” she yelled, “I’LL SHOW YOU POWER!”

waterfall2Photo by Zane Licite

Here was charge enough to pound rock, and carry away trees: a vivid demonstration of what happens when millions of those little drops of rain from upstream run together. I kept a wary distance, but got soaked anyway. And a new song started forming in me . . .

Mother you call us home,

And all our journeys are as one,

And when we flow together,

Then we are strong.

We are strong like the water,

And our power is the flow.

Every sister, mother, daughter,

Come on and let your passion grow.

For the water knows no stopping,

And the water knows no pain,

So bring your burden to the water,

And be free again.

I’ve spent more than a year pondering the teachings from this retreat. I went with a question about power, and came home with an answer that was all about nourishment upstream. As a woman, especially a mother, it’s easy to run dry. Yet those little drops of love – a sandwich here, a kind word there – fill us up again, ready to flow, effortlessly. To be really powerful, we need really good nourishment upstream. And we are even more powerful, when individual tributaries meet.

Starting a monthly women’s circle last January has given me a tangible sense of what magic can be unlocked when women make a commitment to collaborate, celebrate and nourish each other. This is far from the Patriarchal idea of power, in which for me to be lifted up, someone else has to be subjugated. No, this is what the American activist / author / ritual-worker Starhawk defined as “power with” rather than “power over”. Individually, we each have our cycles of giving and needing to receive. If we carry on giving, we burn out. But by leading collectively, we take our turns to serve, and be served, as the need arises. In this way we flow together. We are strong like the water. And, as the water has been showing us abundantly over the past three months in the UK, that is very powerful indeed.

***

If you want to explore more about women and power check out Lucy’s series

1A power-full series for women who are ready to stop playing small and step into their power.

Written from the heart – these posts address:

  • why women struggle with power,
  • the dark side of women’s power,
  • how women keep other women down,
  • how to step into your own authentic power.

Read the series here…

 Today’s guest post author…

DSC00466

Jackie Singer  is a writer, workshop leader, and independent celebrant, living in Oxford with her husband and two young girls.  She increasingly works with women and girls, exploring rites of passage and the archetypes of the Deep Feminine.  Jackie is author of Birthrites: Rituals and Celebrations for the Childbearing Years, and a regular contributor to Juno magazine.  Visit her blog at http://jackiesinger.wordpress.com.

She Who Dares… Gets Destroyed… By Other Women

It seems like I have been a BAD GIRL again. And deserve fifty lashes of a woman’s tongue. To punish me as someone who DARES to speak for “women” and not do it in exactly the way that this particular woman would do it. Who DARES to speak up… and not be perfect. She who DARES it seems, is cut off at the knees, is to be shamed and name called for daring. Because speaking up and speaking out makes you complicit with the patriarchal forces. Makes you guilty of thousands of years of rape, pillage, and domination…

For more visit my personal blog

Your Receptive Time: what it is…and why it is valuable

This is a guestpost by Barbara Hanneloré, founder of Women’s Way Moon Cycles.

Recently I was asked why I referred to the menstrual time of the month as being “receptive,” when it is, physically, a release of a flow outward. The woman said she would not think of that time as being receptive, and of course I could understand her point.

Why is menstruation considered a “receptive” time?

A receptive time of month is when we are more sensitive to impressions and more inwardly focused, which is what happens around the time of menstruation for most women. This is an energetic quality, more than a physical one. Menstruation is our “inner time,” energetically, when we turn toward ourselves and focus on our own feelings and needs.

This offers us a necessary and healing balance to all those other times of the month when we are most likely to be extending ourselves outward and focusing on other people!

When we think of our cycle as having “phases” throughout the month, like the moon or seasons, we can begin to appreciate these different qualities, and use them to our advantage.

“My cycle makes so much more sense, now that I understand what is happening all month long!” Renee, Realtor, TX

Generally, the time around ovulation is considered to be a “radiant” time of the month for a woman, like full moon or summer; our energy expands outward into social activity, projects and conversations. We are fully engaged with our community.

The balance to this outer focus is that the “light” then wanes as menstruation approaches – we enter a different phase, just as the moonlight and sunlight wane at certain times. Our quality becomes one of Being, more than Doing; we sit within ourselves, like dark moon or winter; our energy is drawing inward.

We are letting go of what no longer serves us, physically and on other levels as well. As we release the old, we absorb the beginnings of the new. Boundaries are more fluid at this time, and that means two we want to be open to new guidance and inspiration,while guarding ourselves from disturbing or exhausting input that has no value for us.

One of the reasons this time of month is so challenging for us is that we try to continue on with our lives as if nothing is happening, when we actually are being gifted with a highly sensitive time that can be a powerful tool for change! We are more affected by our surroundings, easily impacted, and need to take care of ourselves so as not to become overwhelmed or

“When I didn’t have enough energy, I just kept pushing, and really as I look back over the last couple decades, that
hasn’t served anyone!” Eva, Health Coach, OR

This is the time to step back and take a break – to gain wisdom by evaluating and making sense of the month that has just gone by. To receive guidance for the coming month. To absorb the subtle messages we may need in order to stay healthy and inspired.

We want to refresh and renew ourselves with yummy and comforting impressions – not deplete and exhaust ourselves with the overwhelm that we may deal with on a daily basis. The true gift of the menstrual time is that the sensitivity allows us to attain exquisite and transformative “inner” states of being – if we are not continually distracted by the “outer” concerns of

So – try to create a space for some “time out,” and guard this time as you would any other important appointment – free from unnecessary interruptions and disturbing images or drama. Take a break from the media! Save complex activities for a later time! Don’t engage in conversations that don’t feel good.

You can do it! This will be different for each woman, of course, but these personal “seasons” can become predictable, and used to your advantage. Not only for productivity, but for fulfillment as well…and when you’re happy, others are happy too!

Once you begin with small steps, more ideas will occur to you, and you will begin to transform your month into one that serves you, as it was meant to.
*********************************************************************************
Barbara HannDisplaying Image.jpgeloré is founder of Women’s Way Moon Cycles, a creative program that embraces the natural beauty of women’s cycles in a holistic and healing way. She has helped women re-discover the power of their inner rhythms through the gifts of Nature, Sacred Space and the Healing Arts for over 20 years. She is author of the award-winning book, The Moon and You: a Woman’s Guide to an Easier Monthly Cycle, and host of the virtual workshop, Welcome Your Rhythm.

Learn more at WomensWayMoonCycles.com.

Encouragement For Women’s Workers Everywhere: When You Are Feeling Downhearted, Alone and Misunderstood

Untitled design

I was blown away by the response to yesterday’s post: Why Aren’t Women Interested in Women’s Work? It received over ten times the usual daily views. And elicited an outpouring of support and empathy from readers and fellow women’s workers from around the world. What a circle of women we have gathered here!

It showed me that a lot of us are dealing with the same sort of feelings and responses… are nursing the same worries and concerns. We are showing up wholehearted… and finding few out there who are yearning to engage wholeheartedly with us. Or finding that people are expressing interest… but not showing up. And it can be disheartening. Leading us to question: ” am I on the right path, am I doing the right thing?” If my passion is helping women, how can I become more accessible, how can I be more of service, whilst staying true to my values and supporting myself?

I believe our work really matters, and so it seems to hundreds of others who registered their support yesterday –  on Facebook pages, message chats, over a kitchen table with a steaming hot cup of lemon balm tea, and in the lounge after dinner. I wanted to condense the insights that I garnered here to share the immense collective insight.

“All around me I see suppressed people, crying out for SOMETHING, but they don’t even know what that is, because they’ve been kept in the dark so long.

 I used to think if a lot of the stuff I now hold as my core belief system, as claptrap, hooey… I suppressed everything and was a total mental and physical wreck as a result!

Look around you. These women NEED you. They just don’t know it yet!”

Zoe from Raw Yoga

Continue reading

Why Aren’t Women Interested?

This is the thought that struck me between the eyes.

I had just done a book reading of my #1 Amazon Best Selling book, The Rainbow Way… to an audience of one.

I had just led a red tent circle with 14 women… most of whom had travelled 40 minutes or more to be there.

I am about to lead a workshop… a free women’s workshop… and am aware that numbers may well be small.

Where are all the women? If this truly is women’s work… then why are they at One Direction in their tens of thousands… and not here? Why are they reading 50 Shades… and not Moon Time?

 

1-02_08_2012 Unfurling 7

Why aren’t women interested in women’s work… if it’s about women… and if there is no price barrier? Why is if off-putting? Why are creative mothers not interested in learning more about how to support their creative selves? Why women aren’t interested in learning more about how their bodies work if they are struggling with fertility or PMS? Why women don’t feel a need for women’s space? Why many women would rather run a mile than engage in stuff which could directly benefit and support them…

I often apologise to people that my work is niche…

But how can something which is accessible to 50% of the population be “niche”?

But it is. It truly is.

I know that most of the women I know personally, who I meet in the course of our daily lives have zero interest in what I do. They would not come along to a red tent, or read a book on womancraft, even if they were paid.

Partly because of preconceptions about what might be said or done at such a thing. But mainly because they do not feel a need.

My mind boggles at this… how can women NOT feel a need to find a way to live at ease in their bodies, in our patriarchal culture? Are they not chaffed by it every day? Are they not shut down by it in all the ways I was, and am, and do they not long for a little space to breathe freely, to speak freely? A few ideas which, like oxygen, can keep them alive, which speak to how they see and feel the world?

Apparently not.

And that confuses me hugely. For if my work is not attractive to the women in my local area, if it is not desirable… but rather avoidable, awkward, embarrassing… then surely it is not women’s work… if women don’t want to do it…

For every woman who finds it and cries tears of relief for finding a space which feels like home. For finding words which speak to her soul and shift her life. There are hundreds of others left cold by it.

I feel an edge-walker in my community. I realise there are women in the world who would walk over hot coals to work with me, who eagerly await my next book. But here I am a weird anomally. My work almost incomprehensible. What is it? Why would we want to do that?

Two clues for me emerged: one at church over the weekend. I was there for the funeral of a much-loved woman in our community. The church was standing room only, the crowds spilling out into the sunshine, to pay their respects to this beautiful loving soul. But instead of focusing on her tremendous hearts and gifts, the priest, one of 5 there officiating, spent 20 minutes telling us about the male god and how he created the world, and how the son of god saves us from it, and how it was humans who brought suffering into the world, how we were unworthy sinners… my bile rose. I bit my tongue. it has been a long time since I was in a church. But most of my community would go every week. And if you listened to this every week, as well as mascerating in our culture of male agendas, you have to have some way of justifying it, of squaring it and making it bearable… as to why your gender, and therefore you, were irrelevant, second-class… and have been for centuries.

The second clue is dropped by  Sue Monk Kidd in her superb book on feminine spiritual awakening which I am reading for a second time:

“Like the Sandman from the nursery story, who stole into children’s rooms and put them to sleep by sprinkling sleep dust over them, our culture, even the culture of our faith, has helped anesthetize the feminine spirit.

“I like the way that Clarissa Pinkola Estes puts it:

“When a woman is exhorted to be compliant, cooperative and quiet, to not make upset or go against the old guard, she is pressed into living a most unnatural life – a life that is self-binding… without innovation. The world-wide issue for women is that under such conditions they are not only silence, but put to sleep. Their concerns, their viewpoints,  their own truths are vapourised.”

Women don’t see the need for this work, don’t feel the need for it… because they don’t see or feel that there’s anything particular wrong…in their lives, or their culture.

But there comes a time, when a woman feels herself chaffed  too hard. When she finds herself going mad in the ordinary world. When traumatised by a birth, depressed post partum, angry at having no support whilst working and caring for a home and family, navigating menopause and she finds herself alone, abandoned and uncared for by the culture to which she had given her allegiance in return for her silence… in that moment she feels her longing rise, a longing for a culture which supports her, in which she does not have to hide her full self, or apologize for herself. Which can help her to navigate this inner world to which she has been numb her whole life.

Then, and only then, she will run towards womancraft like a thirsty woman towards a desert oasis. So grateful that it is there.

And I am there, for that moment. Waiting quietly in the dark… calling you home. An anomally, a holding space. With no agenda but to hold and hear you, and offer you a bag of tools.

*********

I was deeply touched and honoured that this post was UBER popular amongst women workers around the world. For a compilation of their wise and insightful responses see this post, as well as the comments below and on the Facebook page.

Confident Carry – Overcoming Shame Around Menstrual Products

Today’s guest post is from Period Wise, and touches on a really important issue: shame and menstrual products which was sparked by a recent event in a school in the US.

A teenage girl who was suspended for concealed carry of menstrual supplies [in a school system which requires that everything be brought into school in a clear plastic bag to facilitate security checks] sheds light on a problem that sadly still plagues us – a lack of confidence among those who menstruate and a lack of understanding among those who do not.

Apparently the Principal’s position is that teenage girls should feel confident enough to place their feminine hygiene needs in a clear bag for all the world to see and carry it with them to class throughout the days they are menstruating, or expect to become menstrual.

Social taboos and menstrual myths abound and affect all.

Rules are established – and followed – without real consideration to the needs of half (and perhaps over half) of the population of a school…group…gathering…attendees of functions….

And, perhaps that’s what these girls should do until this rule is struck down. Perhaps the girls should band together and bring feminine hygiene products in a clear confident carry bag every day whether they are menstruating or not.

I wish all girls and women were so confident in themselves and with menstruation that they were comfortable doing just that.  It would go a long way in ending the embarrassment that so often (and unnecessarily) accompanies things period wise.

And, it would also put an end to the idiotic assumption that menstruation requires a doctor’s permission slip because it’s a medical issue.

A medical issue?  Um…the last time I checked the definition of “medical” it said the word related to the treatment of illness and/or injury.

Menstruation is NEITHER.

So what does confident carry look like?

You tell me.

When you confidently carry menstrual products, what do you carry and how?

If you’ve never confidently carried menstrual products openly in public, what do you think it would look like?  And, how would you confident carry?

Who me? Confident carry?

YES! You!

Confident Carry day TODAY is an opportunity for all to embrace menstruation as normal and natural – NOT something to hide or be ashamed of.  It’s an opportunity to raise awareness to the plight of girls and women all over the world who are shamed into secrecy about all things period wise.

Who would benefit from seeing you confidently and openly carrying feminine hygiene products? Your daughter?  Granddaughter? Your mother? A niece? Your BFF? A student? A girl new to menstruation? A woman with years of experience?  Your partner?

Who could you / would you impact by participating in Confident Carry Day?

At the very least, Confident Carry Day (if you choose to participate) will impact YOU.)

Before you say, “This is not for me because I…” let me say this: male or female, not currently menstruating / never have / or never will again – all are role models for the girl or the boy in your life.

Yes.  Confident Carry is not just about girls and women.  It’s about men and boys, too.

#ConfidentCarry on #May9 is for all.

https://i1.wp.com/www.periodwise.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/HS.jpg

 

Guestpost from Suzan from Period Wise: Empowering girls and women to embrace a too long taboo topic – menstruation.

Currently my work as a menstrual activist and educator includes many roles: mentor, friend, writer, speaker, teacher, and perpetual student.  I also serve as the Director of Connectivity for You ARE Loved (a non-profit that raises awareness about TSS) and as the Manager of North American Operations for Lunette (makers of an amazing reusable menstrual cup).

 

Women are Humans Too.

A couple of days ago I got this tremendous boost. The community I hang out in of world-changing, paradigm-shifting women was gathered for a teleconference. Day in day out I see women doing inspiring, world-changing personal work, creating health-making businesses… and I feel full. Excited. We are on the brink. We are doing it. Women are helping to shift this world with more power and energy than any time in the past few thousand years. I can almost FEEL a tangible shift in being – for us as individuals, for our daughters, sons, communities…

And then I hear news like that of the hundreds of missing school girls in Nigeria. And I feel despair, dark, sad, sickness. That anyone, whatever their moral compass can believe that they have the right to steal hundreds of human beings, and decide their fates for them forcibly.

The leader boasted that all girls should be wives at 12… or even 6. SIX!  I have a 6 year old girl. How depraved must any man be to want a child of that age to wait on their every need… including sexual… is beyond belief.

That there are still, not just one or two, but thousands, hundreds of thousands of men (and perhaps women) in this world who still believe that the only purpose of another human being is to serve their domestic and sexual needs, without question, as their entire reason for being. And that for any fault in this service, the “contract” can be extinguished through death or permanent disability….

I find it extraordinary that STILL we need to reiterate the basic fact: women are humans too.

And then I think back… that in another life time this could have been me. I think how 25 years ago I would still have been excluded from some Oxbridge colleges. Less than 100 years ago my education would have been curtailed and I would have been married by 18. To have unknown numbers of children, and my fate tied to that of my husband. 150 years ago I would have been refused education all together and would have had my husband decided for me.

I know that many men in the West are a bit like, pipe down now, you’ve got everything you wanted. And more. Look schools are more focused on girl-friendly methods, you get loads of paid maternity leave. Shut up already.

But whilst there are still women in the world whose lives are in danger, are tradeable, are not their own, simply by virtue of having been born with a vagina, then I will continue to shout:

Women are humans too.

These girls are our daughters. Our sisters. Ourselves.

Whatever your religion. Whatever your nationality.

Women are humans too.

The news coverage of this horrific kidnapping of high school students in Nigeria has been shoddy at best. If you don't yet, you need to know the story. And then you need to share it. #bringbackourgirls

 

Cunt Love

 

Today’s guest post from Colette aka Lady Cunt Love is powerful stuff…

To really love your cunt is to take back what belongs to you.

It is to reconcile with the patriarchal bullshit we have had to put up with for the last thousand years and gain back all the wisdom that we had in a time when our cunts were revered with love and awe. It is to accept that the fear that men felt of our power and capacity for sexual pleasure and to also see that somewhere along the line, we have internalised that fear.

To reclaim the word ‘cunt’ and say with a smile on your lips is so fucking liberating. It is to strip yourself of the chastity belts and straight jackets once and for all.

It’s time for us to move on to a new place.

A place where we are no longer silent or shamed. A place where we see the beauty in ourselves and others.

It is time for us to stop comparing and competing with each other as women but to join together in a circle of sisters. It’s so much easier and liberating this way. It is the only way.

I learned all of this through talking to people on the streets. I decided one day that I had enough of the secrecy and silence. So I created an alter ego for myself named Lady Cunt Love. I wore a silk cunt headpiece on my head and a velvet, glittery cunt around my waist. I had a clipboard and a lots of handrawn cunts and colouring pencils. I had my two friends with me – Queen Clit and The Cuntess. We approached people on the street and in pubs and cafes and clubs. We learned so much about how people view the world, cunts, cocks, sex, porn, gender and language.

cuntlove

I then began to share my story in the form of a poetry collection called ‘The Healing Journey of my Cunt’. We created Cuntcraft, a craft where we sit in circle and use velvet, satin, silk, glitter to create our own beautifully crafted cunts. I facilitate these circles and perform and exhibit from my studio in Brighton, The Cuntquarters and all over the UK and Ireland.

I have witnessed so many beautiful moments where a sweet kind of magic takes over and women find the courage to share their stories with me. Sad stories are told about painful periods, rape, traumatic abortions, miscarriage, abuse and shame (lots of shame). Liberating stories are told too – about sexual pleasure, joyous births and pregnancies, premenstrual insights and happy bleeds. Once the stories are expressed, they are out in the world and can take on a new meaning. They are released and we can come to a place of love, forgiveness and acceptance.

cunt

I have now decided it is time to take this even further and am inviting women to join me on a four week online Cunt Loving Quest beginning on the 1st April. This is to give women the opportunity to explore their relationships with the cunts in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

You can see a video of me describing the course here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGEyvx6dYrY and join the quest on my website here. http://cherishthecunt.com/2014/03/06/introducing-the-28-day-cunt-loving-quest

Lost in Living – Film on Creative Mothers… free to view this Women’s Day

Creativity is so much more than just a “job”. It is a calling, an urge, a fight for freedom, a path to sanity. And it can be a very lonely, dispiriting business as a mother when you are driven by this compulsion, and those around you don’t understand it. Or think you should be doing something that pays better. Or is more reliable. Or that you should just give yourself fully to your children.
This is the life of the artist-mother. Pulled in two directions by two equal passions. Floundering to form her own identity.
This is what my best-selling book, The Rainbow Way: cultivating creativity in the midst of motherhood  focuses on – every aspect of this conundrum, and how to solve it in your own life.
In the book I reference a very special film, which also focuses on this topic.
lost-in-living-movie-poster
Lost in Living is a documentary film by Mary Trunk, filmed over 8 years, which follows the lives of four creative mothers: an author, visual artist, painter and film maker, as they navigate and reflect on the challenges of making art as they mother. It is a very powerful film.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet… now’s your opportunity… and for FREE!

Lost In Living will be available to stream for free on-line for 24 hours on March 8, 2014 to coincide with International Women’s Day at this link
https://vimeo.com/67761940 (active for 24 hours from 8:00 am PST time.)

So watch it yourself… get a group of friends, your women’s group or red tent and watch it together… Let it reassure you… start conversations… inspire you…

As film maker Mary Trunk says: “Women’s stories need to be accessible and this will be a unique and exciting moment for everyone to take part in the conversation about balancing family, work and creative passion.”

lost in living

Wise Women Found!

This guest post is from one of my favourite women’s authors, Jackie Singer.

In answer to Lucy’s recent blog post, Where are all the wise women? I would like to report that I have found two, at least, alive and well, and working in Dorset.spirit It all started last May, when I was coordinating a women’s lodge for the Sacred Arts Camp in Oxfordshire.  Our beautiful Mongolian yurt stood ready, and in morning meeting, my colleague Kesty Jakes and I stood up and invited women to come and help dedicate the space to the Divine Feminine.  It was the first time we had led this space together, and we didn’t know who would come, if anyone.

A few women gathered, and then through the small door squeezed the impressive figure of a large-boned woman, probably in her fifties, with long raven hair.  Her power and authority was palpable, and when she called in spirit to bless the space, it was clear she knew exactly what she was doing.  From that moment on, I knew the women’s lodge would be just fine.  And it was: an astonishing flow of healing and beauty, which needed only minimal coordination.

This woman, I discovered later, was Seersha O’ Sullivan, one of the teachers at Shamanka, a school of traditional women’s shamanism, based in rural Dorset.  I knew instinctively that she had something I wanted to learn.  I had a look at the Shamanka website, but hesitated.  Partly, I felt like a kid in a sweet shop; the programmes all looked so delicious.   On the other hand, the rational part of myself baulked at spending more money and time on this off-beat path.  Didn’t I have a young family to look after? Shouldn’t I be maximising my income?  After months of indecision, and working on some of these issues, I couldn’t resist any longer.  I jumped in with both feet, and signed up for the start of the two-year course in shamanic healing, which started this month.

Before going, we were encouraged to dream into the spirit of Shamanka, and record any images that occurred to us.  Shamanka, I learned, is the female version of the Shaman: a woman of power, vision, and healing.  Why had I not known that before?  When I visualised her, I saw Russian dolls, with small heads and wide bellies, one inside another.  I saw bright colours.  I saw the wild woman, with snakes for hair.  And then I dreamed of a team of animals, ready to pull some kind of carriage.  They had the bottom half of shire horses, with great, feathered hooves, and the top half of reindeer, with fabulous antlers reaching for the heavens.  I am greatly comforted by this image of a creature deeply grounded and capable of work on the earth, also fully plugged into a magical sky-realm.

So, I am fresh back from my first weekend, and full of wonder for what I have experienced.  The school was founded by Eliana Harvey, and here we meet another true Wise Woman.  Eliana described herself as ‘very antique’ and she is, indeed, 82 years old. In her long life, she has studied with all manner of uncompromising shamanic teachers, and carries a natural authority as soon as she walks into a room.  Still she was quick to point out that we were her teachers too.  I don’t know whether she matches Lucy’s image of a Wise Woman.  She probably doesn’t live in a shack in the woods, with row upon row of herbs in bottles.  She is short and neat in stature, and speaks with a refined English accent.  She could be a headmistress of a girls’ school, until she encourages us to “eff and blind as much as we like”.  The only swear words at Shamanka, she tells us, are “I’m terribly sorry” and “I’m awfully afraid . . .”  Hooray!

In her company, things that have unnerved me in the past, come to seem normal: tuning into stones, speaking with trees, just knowing things about people.  With Eliana, casting a mantle of luminous energy over someone is as matter of fact as buttering toast. I can heartily recommend all Shamanka’s courses, and there is one coming up just this weekend, which feels particularly relevant to The Happy Womb:  Cauldron of Mysteries :A powerful journey of re-discovery and potency of the Deep Feminine.(Click through link for flyer.)

The further I go in my journey towards the Divine Feminine, the more I come to understand how important the womb and the belly are to our power and intelligence as women. Trying to operate in the world without knowing this part of our body, is like trying to walk with only one leg.  I imagine that after this course, a woman would come home with not just a ‘happy womb’ but one awakened to the magic of creativity and access to deep wisdom.  A transformation of this kind is not just for the individual, but for the world.  I really believe this is the medicine we need right now, collectively.  I am so grateful to have found my teachers, and honoured to be an ambassador for their beautiful work.

Cauldron of Mysteries runs from 6th – 9th March at Star House, Middle Piccadilly – the home of Shamanka Healing.  

Contact 01963 23468 or info@shamanka.com For the full list of workshops and courses, visit http://www.shamanka.com. DSC00466

 

Jackie Singer  is a writer, workshop leader, and independent celebrant, living in Oxford with her husband and two young girls.  She increasingly works with women and girls, exploring rites of passage and the archetypes of the Deep Feminine.  Jackie is author of Birthrites: Rituals and Celebrations for the Childbearing Years, and a regular contributor to Juno magazine.  Visit her blog at http://jackiesinger.wordpress.com.