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SageWoman Blogs

At SageWoman magazine, we believe that you are the Goddess, and we're devoted to celebrating your journey. We invite you to subscribe today and join our circle...

Here in the SageWoman section of PaganSquare, our bloggers represent the multi-faceted expressions of the Goddess, feminist, and women's spirituality movements.

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Ancestral Trauma

Before you were even conceived, the burning times had terrorized your soul. But you can reclaim your Pagan power. 

During the European persecutions, thousands of women were killed as witches. Accusers would sometimes wipe out almost all the women of a village, along with some of the men.

I believe the burning times traumatized our DNA. This following shows how I picture it happening. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_grateful-car-sm.pngYou know how action movies usually include some kind of chase? Usually it's one car chasing another through tight alleys or the turns of a parking garage. Depending on the period, the chase might launch itself on foot, on horseback, or through interstellar space by starship.

One of my yet-to-be-finished screenplays lays out a skateboard-and-bicycle chase.

Yesterday, my spiritual journey (and my career as Belly Queen) took on the flavor of an action film: Driving my red Honda Element, I chased a white Ford Explorer through the streets of Asheville.

I was on my way home when I noticed, and deciphered, the license plate on this vehicle in front of me. I so wanted to get a picture of it. One hand on the wheel, one hand rummaging in my purse for my smart phone, I more or less kept my eyes on the road. The Explorer kept pulling ahead and out of camera range. I passed the turn off that would have taken me home and kept going, praying the traffic light at the top of the hill would be red.

The light was red, but the Explorer was turning right on the green arrow. I followed, hoping the next traffic light would be red. It was. I whipped out my camera and clicked just as the light turned green and the Explorer veered left onto the interstate. I followed, not sure that the snapshot I'd taken through my windshield had captured the plate.

Once on the interstate, the Explorer pulled out of sight. I took the next exit and went home.

b2ap3_thumbnail_grateful-car-inset.pngChecking the photo on my phone, there it was: IMGR8FLL

Thank you, synchronicity. Thank you, bestower of grace. Thank you, personalized alert system that messages me however it can.

Yes, gratitude. Yes, I'm grateful.

I'm currently in love with Barbara Fredrickson's book Positivity (Random House, 2009). Gratitude is one of ten positive emotions she champions. Along with joy, hope, interest, pride, serenity, amusement, awe, inspiration and love, the felt sense of gratitude leads to human flourishing — feeling "more alive, creative, and resilient" as she says.

The key to flourishing is embodying these positive emotions three times more frequently than negative emotions, which she identifies as various shades of anger, fear, contempt, and shame.

What do positive and negative emotions have to do with belly wisdom? How do positive emotions such as gratitude relate to deepening breath and awareness into our body's center and energizing our hara?

My friend and Integral Bodywork originator Everett Ogawa says that, for him, lowering the breath into his body's center leads him into a bigger circle of understanding. He recognizes how life is so much larger than any human can comprehend. In the presence of such enormity he's thankful for whatever may be the span of his life, his tiny place in the great scheme of things. And he's moved by compassion to devote his time to helping others. Deepening his breath, gratitude becomes a whole-being experience, a felt sense of the precious gift that is the body, that is life itself.

Witness Everett's expression not only of gratitude but also of awe, inspiration, interest, serenity, and hope.

These and the other positive emotions that Fredrickson names are forces of attraction, connection, and bonding, linking us with others and with our essential selves.

In contrast, her roster of negative emotions are forces of separation, distancing us from others and from our essential selves. (James Joyce describes one of his characters: "Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.")

My hunch: If we need to get all bioscience about it (and I'm not sure we do), the negative, separating emotions follow from the cranial brain's capacity for analytical thinking — a.k.a. sequential sorting and ranking and judging. The positive, unifying emotions follow from the gut brain's capacity for simultaneous synthesizing and encompassing.

With all of psychology's current fascination with neuroscience, the goings-on between the cranial brain and the rest of the body, I'm waiting for the day when these investigations expand to include the gut brain, the enteric nervous system.

[Be forewarned, this paragraph gets technical.] Cranial brain and gut brain communicate with each other through the tenth cranial nerve, the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve also connects cranial brain and heart. Current fascination with neuroscience includes detailing the vagus nerve's role in, for example, heart health and social engagement. Fredrickson's research suggests that positive emotions increase a person's perception of social connection, which in turn increases vagal tone, an indicator of physical health.

Energetically, emotions such as joy, serenity, and love reflect a state of being in which a person's life force (prana, chi, ki) is flowing fully and freely. Emotions such as anger and fear reflect a situation in which life energy is stuck and unbalanced — too much in one place, not enough in another.

Deepening awareness into the belly, energizing the body's center with movement and breath, activates the hara as our central powerhouse. Our body's center serves us as a dynamo, generously pulsing vitality through our whole body and being.

With our hara-powered life force flowing fully and freely, we're susceptible to feeling all kinds of positive emotions. Chances are that we and our lives will flourish.

For that, for the dynamo of life energy centered in our bellies, I'm grateful.

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Aspiring Naturalist

Someone told me today that someone else had mentioned to them that I don't just say, "oh look, a bird," but name them, "oh look, a kestrel," and I tell them about the plants... "this is echinacea, it's good for immune system stimulation."

Hearing this made me rather happy, since it has always been my dream to be someone who can identify flora, fauna, and other parts of nature. I haven't formally studied naturalism, botany (beyond a plant biology class in college), ornithology (birds), herbal medicine, or other such things, but I have picked up a fair bit in a broad sampling kind of way. I probably wouldn't measure up to most foragers, herbalists, or naturalists, but I'm on my way. It was gratifying to hear that I give that impression.

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Forgiveness

Ksama in Sanskrit means forgiveness. An indispensible word on the spiritual path at practical and cosmic levels, ksama is a virtue that, perhaps more strongly than any other, binds us to a tantric life. Its practice requires that we move beyond our ego and take sanctuary in the naked truth of reality. It is a gateway to Her through relationality (one of the five-fold qualities of the Dark Goddess), a way of creating connection across divides of difference on inner, outer and causal levels.

At times, forgiveness means making a choice to be present with another. It can also mean holding a space of respectful distance in order to let truth unfold. In its many manifestations, the path of forgiveness is a tall order in a world filled with insecurities and vitriol. So many of us harbor terrifying yearnings to be loved—terrifying because we fear we are unworthy of another’s love or worse, somehow unlovable. But as a mechanism for unleashing the power of unfettered love—the antidote to much of our struggle—forgiveness is worth taking the time to understand and practice.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_June-2015-138.JPG

Interdependence. This topic is often on my mind as we approach U.S. Independence Day. There is so much strength in interdependence or being in-dependence together.

According to one of my favorite Goddess scholars, Carol Christ, the central ethical vision of Goddess religion is that all beings are embedded in a web of interconnected relatedness. All beings are part of the web of life. Everything is in relation—indeed it is possible to have relationships with the sun, sky, wind, and rainbow, as well as to other people, animals, plants, and the Divine. Everything is interconnected and does not exist without connection, relationship. Connection is strength, not weakness, and it is central.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2015-05-13-at-5.12.16-PM.pngDo you have creative offerings that you would like to share? We'Moon is now accepting submissions of art and writing for We'Moon 2017: StarDust. We would love to see your work! 

 

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Celebrating the sun

Solar festivals are definite fixed points in the wheel of the year. Shortest day and longest day, and the two days when light and dark are equal. It all seems very straightforward, until you start trying to make sense of the details or work out what you, personally, want to do in response to all of this.

When do we celebrate? Is it the dawn, or the setting sun, or the sun at the height of its power at midday? When is the midpoint of true balance at an equinox? And in practice, Pagan groups are only sometimes able to gather and celebrate the day. Normal work patterns mean that we’re more likely celebrating the nearest weekend to a solar event. At which point it’s more about celebrating the idea than an immediate experience of connecting with the occurring solar festival.

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