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 sacred and divine in beings of all genders and manifestations.

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May You Be As Resilient As Fleas!

I’d like to blame it all on human caused climate change.  The ongoing drought in California, and the slightly higher temperatures, mean they never really had an interruption in their natural reproductive cycles.  But the truth is I’d also been pretty lax in vacuuming the carpets through the winter and spring.  One of the consequences of depression (part of the wiring of my brain) and other health issues I deal with, is that when I’m tired, simple tasks become overwhelming.  Adding a new, albeit wonderful, commitment to my work in November of 2013, put me just at the edge of tired more often than not.  So the new breeding cycles (now our regional norm) were happening inside my home ecosystem as well as outside.


In June, right about the time I began adding the situation in the Ukraine to my daily prayers and meditations around global pain, I noticed my cat, Mickey, began to get a bald spot down near his right rear haunch, and thought several times, “Oh, if I’m not going to use that neurotoxin on him this year to control the fleas, I’d better figure out some less toxic but effective alternatives.”  Yet, as summer wore on I never got around to it.


In July as generations of both Palestinian and Israeli societal PTSD erupted in rockets flying and children being killed in the name of righteous security, half a world away, my cat hid in my closet trying to escape getting bitten, possibly not understanding that he carried the cause of the suffering with him.  I finally broke down and dosed him with the neurotoxin.


A week into August word was getting out about possible genocide in Iraq and an ebola outbreak in West Africa , and in my house it became clear I had waited too long and had a full blown infestation.  My obsession with it all escalated as well.  I read the paper, scanned the Internet, prayed, meditated, and worked seven pounds of baking soda into my carpets.  Baking soda crystals scratch their tiny flea exoskeletons and they dehydrate and die.  Then I vacuumed.  I worked in another seven pounds of baking soda.  By the second go round my vacuum died.  We got a new one, the kind without a bag but instead has a clear canister so that I could tell after vacuuming each room if they were dead or still alive.  Some were dead, but most were still alive.  I dosed my cat again and began compulsively picking them off him with a flea comb.  I picked a dozen off my own clothes every time I moved across the floor vacuuming.  I washed every article of clothing in my closet, and all of the bedding repeatedly.  I apologized to their species for letting it get so out of balance, letting it get to this horrible place where I felt justified killing thousands of them and using neurotoxins that might shorten the life of my beloved cat.


I struggled with using poison in the house, and after days of vacuuming more live than dead ones, finally began the poison process, followed by more rounds of vacuuming.  I read about another unarmed black teenager killed by police in my country, and the anguished cries for justice and angry protests that ensued.  I washed and rewashed my hair, not ever actually seeing evidence of them on my scalp, but unable to shake the pervasive feeling of agitation.


Then the brilliant Robin Williams was found dead of suicide.  A dear friend of mine who periodically also struggles with depression and suicidal episodes said, “If someone like him, someone who had access to all the resources could kill himself, what chance do I have.”  We cried and talked about mental health in our culture not being taken seriously, and hoped this death would further conversations on the issue, and bring about necessary changes in our health systems.  


I had bites all over my ankles, around my waist, and on my lower back.    They felt like braille when I ran my fingers over them.  I began applying basil juice to take away the itch and allow me to get some sleep.  In my dreams I knew that if I could only learn to read the braille on my skin, I would understand something that had eluded me about depression, about societal PTSD, about generational struggles of fear and racism and intolerance, about how it was all interrelated.  


If I could read the braille on my skin I might learn how to be as resilient as the fleas.  If I could read the braille on my skin I might learn how to help children break the cycle of societal PTSD and teach them to be as resilient as fleas.  If I could read the braille on my skin I might understand how to work with systems and societies and nations to end the struggles of fear, racism, and intolerance, and help us all be as resilient as fleas.


So my hope, my prayer, is that The Divine Wisdom in every sacred cell of our bodies might help us to read our own “bite made braille,” so we can all learn to be as resilient as fleas.

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Lizann Bassham was both an active Reclaiming Witch and an Ordained Christian Minister in the United Church of Christ. She served as Campus Pastor at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley working with a multi-faith student community. She was a columnist for SageWoman magazine, a novelist, playwright, and musician. Once, quite by accident, she won a salsa dance contest in East L.A. Lizann died on May 27, 2018.


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