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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Lizann Bassham

Lizann Bassham

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

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The Sacred Elements of Menopause

Hot flashes.  Somehow we got on the subject, standing there at the Farmers’ Market.  She had recently had her first one, and until she figured out what it was, thought she was coming down with the flu.  Her mother, she said, had died relatively young, so she had no one to check in with about it, about what to expect.  I shared that each body was different, but that I had found the experience of going through menopause fascinating and amazing as my body changed.  

 

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  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    Ah! Beautiful and so amazing...I love seeing the linkages between the elements and the way they correspond to the changes in my bo
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Elizabeth! Blessings on your body!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Thanks for the Song

It is the last week of the year in the Gregorian calendar.  There is something about this particular week that has always felt like time out of time to me or a conflation of all time.  I have in past years made a practice of diving into the flow of my own time stream.  I try to notice what little pieces of me I may have unintentionally left behind without tending and healing; notice what unhealthy patterns I am perpetuating in my life and the wider world that need to be addressed; notice what I can let go of with gratitude and compassion; notice what needs to be invited into my life. It is a magical working that collapses past and present and reminds me of my life's vast web of relationships.  This year I find myself keeping company with memories of old lovers and even some people who pulled me toward parts of myself better examined through the projection of a wild crush.

 

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Grief and Thanksgiving Etched into Our Bones

Even though I was born at the end of the baby boom, one of the ways I know I am an American boomer is that I remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The shock and grief of it is etched in my bones and still quivers in the sacred cells of my body.  I was barely four years old on that November day in 1963.  I was with my mother, who was attending a tupperware party at a friend’s trailer near where we lived in the mountains of Northern California.  While the women learned about saving leftovers, my father and my mother’s friend’s husband went out back for some target practice.  I can’t remember how the news arrived - but I do remember the deep shock and grief of the adults, and since I’d been hearing gun shots so close, in my four year old brain, I thought I’d heard the shot that killed him.  Grief and shock have a way of doing that, etching collective pain into our bones and jarring the very sacred cells of our bodies.  My country (and many around the world) continued in that state of grief and shock as we, as Americans, gathered with family and friends the following Thursday for my nation’s Thanksgiving.

 

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  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    This is the most powerful and beautiful personal Thanksgiving story I have ever read.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Annika!
  • Dorothy Scanlan
    Dorothy Scanlan says #
    Thank you for a lovely and thoughtful commentary. I have a brief memory of the day that Kennedy was assassinated but no memory of
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Dorothy. Yes indeed. Blessings on your family of choice.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Four Samhains Three Years

         Before 2012 I had been a solitary witch for years, but began to find myself drawn more and more into the public rituals planned by the local Northbay Reclaiming community (witches of all genders and generations).  I’d taken a class back in the 1980s with Starhawk, so knew Reclaiming’s mix of ecstatic ritual, activism, and broad LGBT inclusion was a comfortable fit for me.  At first I’d slip in and out of the public rituals, thanking the folks who planned and facilitated them, but never lingering long. Yet, by Lammas 2012 I’d been attending enough that I was asked to be a last minute fill in for someone who couldn’t be there to invoke “all the beings who swam in the waters” (a very ironic thing since I had an irrational fish phobia).

 

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  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    Beautiful. I was at the Samhain ritual in 2013 I think, and I loved it- loved the Grange Hall and the intimacy of the work. Thank
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Elizabeth.

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Invoking Fire

 “Fire, you animate every atom with the spark of life.  Fire, you regenerate the land and release seeds from their cones.  Fire, you heat our homes and inhabit our hearths.  Fire, you fill us with passion for ourselves, for our lovers, for activism and justice.   Fire, be with us now in this sacred circle.”

       

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  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    It strikes me that in the reference to the hearth, that the convening power of fire is acknowledged: we sit around the fire and in
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you so much Elizabeth. Yes, the community that can often form after disaster is amazing. It was interesting at the beginning
  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    Lizann. I have read those comments without thinking about what it was they were witnessing. Wow. Gotta sit with that. Thank you
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Lizann, thank you for this courageous confrontation of life's dichotomies - the same courage it takes to be a devotee of Kali or t
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thanks Ted! Yes indeed!

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What Poison Oak Teaches

It is cool this late June morning in the California Redwoods.  The path leading out of camp is lined with thigh high ferns and low patches of sorrel and wild ginger.  There are over a dozen of us, witches of all genders and generations, walking single file looking up the tall Redwood trunks through the green canopy of their branches, still wet with fog.  We stop periodically while our teachers speak of each plant and tree, and what these Greenbloods have to teach us.  Our teachers invite us to see and smell, and with permission from the plant itself, touch and taste.  I particularly love the taste of the tiny bit of Redwood I put in my mouth - it is sour and astringent on my tongue, then floods me with a deep sense of rootedness, vast amounts of time and history, and a promise of connection to what has come before, including  the possibility of deeply witnessing the lives of my own ancestors.

 

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  • Steve Archibald
    Steve Archibald says #
    Lizann -- Love the messages, the beautiful writing, the clear images. Thank you.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thanks Steve!
  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    Beautiful Lizann! Poison Oak has its purposes, indeed.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Elizabeth!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
All Our Ancestral Allies

It is twilight in the woods, neither dark nor bright, but that liminal time where moment by moment, vision shifts.  I am once again at California Witchcamp in the Mendocino Woodlands, surrounded by Reclaiming Witches of all genders and generations.  It is the second night of camp and we gather in a clearing to begin our evening ritual work.  I have agreed to hold the role of Anchor at this ritual.  Being Anchor means I will not participate as an individual, but instead will stand at the edge of the circle in a meditative state and deeply witness the energy patterns and flow being created and worked by the group.  I will witness and notice and see, but not move or direct or channel the energy myself.  At times, like a tent peg, I may help keep the energetic wall in which the work is being done secure, but my role is to witness and help hold stable the container for the work.

As the ritual begins, I place a thin scarf over my face, denoting my role, and I ground myself deeply into this place, this piece of Earth.  I feel my energetic roots go deep and touch the energetic roots of the Redwoods ringing the clearing.  I let my roots entwine with theirs, they have been anchoring this space for centuries, witnessing the comings and goings of generations of animals like us.  I feel the deep ancient connection with Earth and Redwoods holding me as I hold the edge of this night’s Circle which is being cast by one of the priestesses with the help of the whole group.  Connecting to Earth time, to Redwood time, helps me see a wider band of human time and space.

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  • Wendy J. Aucoin
    Wendy J. Aucoin says #
    As I was reading your post and I got to the part about accepting ancestors who you previously viewed as negative, I felt the stran
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Dear Wendy - thank you for taking the time to share some of your story. I am glad my experience and writing was helpful for you!
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    My dear Lizann - Thank you for holding this most important and often forgotten role of Anchor and Witness. And thank you for your
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thanks Gwion! It was quite an experience!
  • Dora Ford
    Dora Ford says #
    THANK YOU. I too have experienced ancestor healing and I welcome that energy today

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