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Belonging: Receiving the Self

Lucy Pierce and I (Lucy Pearce) discovered each other as people kept mistaking us for each other – we create art and words on the theme of the sacred feminine but on other sides of the world – she in Australia, me in Ireland.

Belonging - Lucy Pierce

Belonging – Lucy Pierce

This image is an offering to all those who have carried within themselves an experience of woundedness, who have harbored within a place where no sun can shine, where the shimmering of the stars cannot find its way, where the rain does not fall, nor the Earth nourish. To all of those of us who, because this woundedness is a hidden thing, a thing for which we might feel shame, because this hiddenness we do not even show to our own self, when we are with others, still we feel alone and even when there are eyes upon us, still we feel unseen, and even when a hand of love is extended, still we feel unloved, and even from within the raucous celebrations of our tribe, that deep hidden part of us remains untouched.

This is a picture for all those who have struggled to be seen for all that they are in this life, those who are timid and unsure of how to bring their love and their gifts to commune with the world. For all those who have hidden their light or felt they were alone within the midst of the many. For all the times we forget that we are the centre, however we find ourselves, and that this is the place to start to plant our seeds of love, carefully tending them with our presence, so that that which is still hidden within us may become a bountiful wellspring that feeds the hearts and souls of the all, so that we may find our own unique place in the circle of life.

As we deeply honor the grief of our perceived separateness, we find our connection to the whole, for the world needs us now. Our mother Gaia needs us all, to bring our gifts out from the dark corners of our own unworthiness, into the light of our collective becoming. You have never been alone dear heart. No longer believe the shame, it is a lie you whisper to yourself to keep yourself small and you are so far from small, you are a magnificent human being. We may need to endure the terror of exposing our own magnificence. It is true that to begin with it might feel deeply uncomfortable to be seen, but it is time, tender one, hiding in the shadows, to offer love to your own un-livedness, to become the safe place to land your heart in the world, with its vast medicine bundle of beauty.

As we each turn within, to offer our limitless capacity of love to our own true selves, no longer giving any other being the authority or responsibility of keeping us small or safe, or to give us permission to shine, knowing that what we carry within us is ours to give, no longer believing those that might once have told us our bigness was not wanted, was not welcome.

By loving ourselves, caring for and tending to the aliveness of our own interiority, we become strong and deep-rooted in our capacity to give of ourselves, the newborn nectar of our own true purpose.

I pray that we may each come to know a place of belonging completely to our own selves, surrounded by the tribe that would have us be all that we are. From the edge we become the centre, as the deep listening to the soft within becomes the rich, fertile compost which mobilizes our capacity to worship the divine creative essence of our own healing, of our own belonging, to self, to tribe, to Earth, to Cosmos. We receive ourselves and are home.

BELONGING

Such a tender crippling to the deep within

So young when the question arose

Around love and trust and the violence of absence

So that all that remained was to fly

or to trust this timid listening

at the dark edge of things

seeking the answer that might one day flower

on the inside of things,

longing for trust,

something without strings or bitter consequence.

So hungry for the bedrock of something true,

a love free from violence,

something whole and reciprocal.

Honing the impulse to fall inside

until one finds the love that should have come

but did not.

The hungry nose of instinct

always leading me in and away,

so mute and trembling the terror of not being loved

as mightily as a part of me longs for,

sifting through the self-loathing,

making piles of the not-known,

in search of something known,

that one smooth, warm river stone,

amongst the mountains of others.

That one stone that I can nestle in the palm of my hand,

passing it’s surface across my tear-stained cheek

and know it as belonging,

know it as something I have earnt,

know it as something that is my own to hold onto.

pure and clean,

warm and true.

Keening for the vision of self and other

and life that existed before the wound became the lens

through which the world was viewed.

To be born to such a blind grief,

that deflects our understanding

and evades our coarse penetrations,

that the world does not resemble flower petals,

that the world has lost its tribe and language,

that we have forgotten to fall with the rain through the sky,

fall with the rain across the golden mountain,

fall with the rain through the sun-drenched trees,

fall with the rain to the sweet and hungry mouth of Earth. Ourselves and the rain,

the mountain and the trees

and the Earth

golden in the last rays of the day’s ancient sun.

My heart has always been betrothed to this elusive bride,

always seeking her with my vow

that I would feel that which was given no name,

that I would ride into the dark night of my own interiority

and keep the silence company,

courting the tender embrace of the universe.

lphead

Lucy Pierce

Trained in Fine Art, majoring in Ceramics at RMIT, I now live in the beautiful Yarra Valley, not far from the river and overlooking the mountains, with my beloved partner and 3 beautiful children. I feel my creative work has led me on a journey deep into the psycho-spiritual realms of my being. Through my creative impulse I feel wooed into a deep engagement with the poetic interface of life.

For many years now my practice as an artist has flowed alongside my journey of being a mother and this experience has deeply imbued my body of work, as I have explored the profound embodiment and awesome expansion, the unfathomable challenge and gift that is pregnancy, birth and the raising of small humans. Alongside this and interwoven, there sits the profound journey of finding, keeping and loving a man, traversing the terrain of inhabiting a deep and real and connected love and transcending the illusions and projections that can sabotage that connection.

I am passionate about dance, poetry, song, dream, story, the blood mysteries, meditation, prayer, sexual expression, sweat lodge, women’s circling, all as avenues of exploration of the inner terrain of my being. These rich vehicles provide an ever-present compulsion to explore, create and express in physical form, that which I find in the unknown and sometimes unknowable places of the body and the beyond.

Always it seems for me at the heart of all my expression is the deep sense of love and reverence I feel for that great, deep, primordial feminine energy that I feel pulsing at the core of life, for the divine and majestic Mother Earth and her perpetual devotion to beauty, diversity and truth, her ever-present nurturance and astonishing capacity to reveal, delight, immerse and enlighten, and how we as her children are inextricably dependent on her for our well-being and our survival.

Since I can remember I have always made art and written poetry, and it feels like a wondrous thing to come to a place where I feel able to offer these ramblings and scribblings to the world. With my little people playing at my feet, sheltering beneath my skirts, I am slowly endeavoring to give back to the great river of creative energy from which I have fed from so delectably for all the days of my life. It is my hope that some of my work might find a tender place to land in the hearts of those who bare witness to my offerings and that a shared resonance of beauty, truth and goodness may come to sing in the collective soul of our kind.

You can find a selection of my paintings, sculptures and poetry on my website http://www.lucypierce.com

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.

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

The Female Brain

A friend said to me the other day: “You know the problem is that women think of men as incompetent women.”

Breathe that in for a second…

How true is that for you?

Any time you get mad at a man in your life, is it because his response was not what you, or your friend/ sister/ mother would do/ say? You are judging him by female standards…

I am reading a fascinating New York Times Bestseller called The Female Brain by Dr Louann Brizendine, founder of the Woman’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California. It makes fascinating reading. And makes me realise that in the above case, what we put down as callousness/ cold-heartedness/ lack of caring etc. is actually the difference in how our two brains are wired and respond differently.

female brain

Some factoids for you from it:

  • Men have two and a half times the brain space devoted to sexual drive.
  • Women perceive stress such as mounting bills as life threatening and respond accordingly, reacting as though their family has been endangered by impending catastrophe. The male brain will not have the same perception unless the threat is of immediate, physical danger.
  • As a foetus female brain circuits for communication, gut feelings, emotional memory and anger suppression grow unabated – whereas they are limited by high testosterone.
  • A woman’s neurological reality is not as constant as a man’s. The female brain is so deeply affected by her hormones that their influence can be said to create a woman’s reality.

As with all things there is much to be debated, I’m sure… but next time you think “why does he…? How could he…? Why doesn’t he…?” Consider that he is a he, and his reality, as structured by his male brain and upbringing is different. He is not an incompetent woman. He is a man.

Just like you are not an incompetent man … which is something we’ve been being told for centuries!

In my favourite Thai saying “same-same, but different”.

Womancraft

Being a woman is not an illness/ disease (though many doctors have acted as though it is)

Being a woman is not a crime/sin (though many cultures and religions have acted as though it is)

Being a woman is an art/ craft (though we often do not act as though it is)

Being a woman may not come easy…

You need support…information…love…initiation into the ways of womanhood

This education is rarely given to us formally by our mothers, our grandmothers, our sisters, our teachers…

Because they are yearning for it too.

Instead we pick it up, piece by piece along the way.

With much suffering, heartbreak, depression, illness, sadness, loss…

What if there could be a different way?

What if there were a place you could come to learn, to share in the wisdom of other women who have walked this path before you, a repository of information to support you in your learning and growth – scientific wisdom… spiritual wisdom

This site is dedicated to womancraft.

To teaching the ways of woman

Ways to keep you on a path of wholeness…happiness…health…creativity…fulfillment…joy

To support you in your swings between the darkness and the light

To help you to find your own rhythm, your own precious equilibrium

To be your own beautiful, natural self…

For years I tried to be someone else… and felt like a failure.
Then I decided to try being myself… and you know what? I’m a total success!