Sacred Cells: Embodying the Feminine Divine

Every cell in our beautiful and amazing bodies contains the whirling wisdom of the universe. This is the journey of one witch remembering that, and celebrating the Feminine Divine in beings of all genders.

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Lizann Bassham

Lizann Bassham

Lizann Bassham is both an active Reclaiming Witch and an Ordained Christian Minister.  She is the founder and director of Front Porch Spirit, a collective of writers, musicians, artists, and performers using their creative gifts to craft and create community and educate around various social justice and cycle of life issues.  She is a retreat and workshop facilitator, author, playwright, songwriter and musician, and currently working on a poetry series and women’s journal entitled “In Praise of Aging.”  She lives in West Sonoma County in Northern California.  Once, quite by accident, she won a salsa dance contest in East L.A.  

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In the chorus of one of the sillier songs on my “Out of the Broom Closet” CD I gleefully sing:

 

“Well I’m a libertarian socialist, Christian Witch,

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is wonderful, Lizann - and a timely reminder to all of us, that just because we may not be able to reconcile opposing notions
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you so much Ted for your kind words about my odd but wonderful life. Yes, I get to hang out in Berkeley - still an interest

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In my Reclaiming Witch tradition, before we do any type of magical work (environmental or social justice activism, personal or community healing, solitary or public ritual), we ground.  It's the act of drawing on the connection between The Earth and The Stars.  It can be done  through a long and elaborate liturgy, or with these four simple words.

 

Roots down, branches up*.

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  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers says #
    Sorry, I also meant to say that I liked "roots down, branches up" as a way to remember and foster that connection and groundedness
  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers says #
    I'm curious about how you blend Christianity with your faith in the Divine Feminine. I was a progressive Christian exploring godde
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Hi Jeanine - My journey of experience with, and understanding of, the various aspects of the Christian trinity has been a wonderfu

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            As a Reclaiming Witch, I marked the previous year’s passing at Samhain (October 31st) by honoring who and what had crossed from life to death during the turning of the Wheel of the Year, and who and what came into this life during that same time.  As a Christian Minister, I marked the previous year’s passing as the liturgical year reached its end (late November) by reflecting on the places I experienced the presence of Christ (some expected, like in the denominational work I do with adolescents and children, some unexpected,  like dancing next to me at Witchcamp).  Now as a cultural Westerner who follows the Gregorian Calendar, I am marking the passing of Two Thousand Thirteen.

 

        They are not so different, these three rituals for the turning of time.  Each calls for remembering and giving thanks for the events and experiences of the previous year.  Each calls for reflecting on, and interpreting those events and experiences.  Each calls for becoming aware of how those events and experiences are now a part of our cellular structure.  As I remember, reflect, and become aware, for me it was a year of death, integration, and unexpected opportunities.

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All morning, and through the afternoon, our Reclaiming Planning Cell readied the local Grange Hall for one of our biggest annual public rituals, Samhain.  It is the Witches’ New Year, the time when the veil between the worlds is thinest and we spiral in step with our dead (some beloved, some not so much), and welcome all the new babies onto this side.

 

The Samhain before, during a lovely trance meditation piece, I’d had a surprise encounter with a very young version of my maternal great-grandmother.  In life, she was a woman I experienced as old and rather unpleasant, and someone who my grandmother experienced as horribly abusive.  The bright essence that joined me that night gave me a new perspective and accelerated the healing of multi-generational family wounds.  It was, in some ways, the final piece in years of ancestor work I’d done with my mother’s family.

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         I’m not sure when I first began to divert all my precious breath into the colorful hot air balloon I had sewn together with remnants of mangled religious myths, and yards of unrealistic and projected expectations.  But, somewhere between college and grad school, I filled it with enough of my own hot air to launch it into the stratosphere.  By the time I was 40, the balloon was so voluminous, so huge, so heavy, even my frantic hyperventilation could no longer keep it aloft.  I did not have enough breath in my body, and it crashed to the earth.  

        Dazed and disoriented, I untangled myself from the yards and yards of brightly stitched stories, and crawled out from under the wreckage.  Slowly I began to breathe easier, in and out, no longer winded, no longer light headed. With my precious breath no longer diverted to an untenable cause, I began to examine the pieces of fabric I had sewn together. 

        The huge swath of purple cloth was the mangled myth of an ancient faith I had adopted as a nine-year-old.  The story told of a wise and loving god/man sacrificed by his father god for the redemption of the world.  In the corrupt version of that faith, violence was not only allowed, but required somehow by the elder god.  In the corrupt version of that faith, we were supposed to also sacrifice our very selves to follow him.  Even though I had rejected that interpretation of the story through my studies in seminary, it still permeated the institutions through which I did my work as a minister.  

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  • Julie Landa
    Julie Landa says #
    A beautiful reminder of the lifelong process of remembering yourself and finding balance. Thank you!
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Julie - blessings on your process and balance.
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Loved this very much. Thank you.

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At 53 I am still amazed and delighted to wake up embodied each morning.  Those first few minutes, as my cognitive mind comes back online, I marvel at my fingers, the line of my arm, the rotation of my wrist.  I throw back the covers and smile at the mounds of breast and belly, the bending of my knee, the wriggle of my toes.  Each stage and age of embodied life for me so far, has had its own beauty, delight, challenges, and gifts. In 2011 I began writing a series of poems about that, which I called "In Praise of Aging."  Over a two year period I wrote 15 poems and one song for the series.  It is my intention to create a journal that includes not only the poems, but writing prompts for others to reflect on their own aging process.  Below are three of the poems with a link at the end to the rest.  Blessings on all our aging embodiments!

 

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for your kind wordsTed, glad you enjoyed them!
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    These are lovely, Lizann. Thank you so much for sharing them.

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      They started showing up in my mid-twenties, little patches of rash here and there on the landscape of my body: under my breasts, on the side of my neck, on the swell of my belly.  At first, I bought creams, with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce, to get rid of them.  By the time I was in my early thirties, I found myself going from doctor to doctor, dermatologist to dermatologist, naturopath to acupuncturist, and even my gynecologist.  More creams, pills, a variety of tinctures and teas, but no explanation.

       By my mid-thirties, however, I realized my body was trying to communicate something. The patch on the tender inside of my left elbow only showed up in the spring as I fretted over an annual trip I led for a large group of high school kids to do volunteer work around the United States.  I tried to read the rash, like my grandmother read tea leaves.

       The wide strip on the small of my back appeared as the ministry I ran shifted from working directly with adolescents and children, which I loved, to spending more time recruiting, training, and managing adult volunteers.  As the program grew, the rash also grew in size, helping me know it was time to change my work.  Then there was the patch that showed up as my husband and I began dealing with his abuse as a child and adolescent and how that affected our relationship as adults.  That rash invited me to look at my own relationship choices and patterns.  Reading my skin had become a spiritual practice.

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  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Thank you for being so courageous and speaking up about Herpes! There are so many misconceptions about it especially associating i
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Paola, blessings on your body! I have learned to avoid nuts (the food with the most arginine), and am weaning myself of
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    ...and here's helpful PDF about arginine and lysine http://www.sandiegohomeopathy.com/downloads/Lysine_Arginine_Foods.pdf

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Through Our Soles, Our Souls

A light rain falls in these California redwoods. I am walking back to my nest, the VW camper van that is my home for the next week at Witchcamp where I have come to be with witches of all genders from all over the world. It is dark: no Moon is visible, though Her fullness above the clouds makes Her presence felt, tugging on every cell of my body’s oceans. It is not a cold night, damp but surprisingly mild. There is a small footbridge crossing the shallow stream before I get to where I am parked. I am alone in the sweet darkness. Walking to the edge of camp after the opening ritual. I am still barefoot, shoes in hand, and, instead of taking the bridge, I wade into the creek. It flows around my ankles and halfway up my calves. It is also surprisingly warm and so I stop and turn off my flashlight and let my skin do what it does best: feel. There are no more shoes for me at Witchcamp, this is too powerful a place, too powerful an experience to miss anything through the soles of my soul.

The next day someone asks, “Don’t those rocks at the stream’s edge hurt to walk on?” I reply, “I go barefoot a lot. I have Hobbit feet.” But the truth is that if I walked on those rocks the way I do in shoes, it would hurt. The faster pace and heavier trod would bruise me. Yet, because I am barefoot, I walk slower, lighter, with greater intention. And, because I am barefoot, I don’t have to avoid the mud puddles in those first few days of camp before the sun finally dries out the ground mid-week. I can, with glee and full abandon, splash right in and feel the mud squish between my toes.

As the week progresses we dive into the myth of the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Together we descend into the underworld realm of her sister, the goddess Ereskigal. I walk Her descent barefoot. In the story, Ereskigal strips her sister of something at each of the seven gates to the underworld until Inanna finally arrives naked. As we wade deeply in the story, I too relive a time thirteen years ago when my life was stripped away. The memory is vivid as if it were seeping up from the forest floor through the cells of my soles.

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  • Kalyca Schultz
    Kalyca Schultz says #
    This reminds me of nature defiicit disorder, which I've been meaning to read more about. Communing in/with Nature is certainly the
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for your blessings to me, and blessings on your barefoot experiments Kalyca. I do hope Witchcamp may be in your future,
  • Tammy
    Tammy says #
    This post resonated with me on a very personal level. I have been travelling the path of not-knowing the past few years. I am slow

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