Woodspriestess: Exploring the intersection between Nature, the Goddess, art, and poetry.

Listening to the woods, to the stones, to Gaia, and to women...

In the woods behind my house rest a collection of nine large flat rocks. Daily, I walk down to these “priestess rocks” for some sacred time alone to pray, meditate, consider, and be. Often, while in this space, I open my mouth and poetry comes out. I’ve come to see this experience as "theapoetics"—experiencing the Goddess through direct “revelation,” framed in language. As Stanley Hopper originally described in the 1970’s, it is possible to “…replace theology, the rationalistic interpretation of belief, with theopoetics, finding God[dess] through poetry and fiction, which neither wither before modern science nor conflict with the complexity of what we know now to be the self.” Theapoetics might also be described, “as a means of engaging language and perception in such a way that one enters into a radical relation with the divine, the other, and the creation in which all occurs.”

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The Sanctuary of Each Other

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

“Please prepare me b2ap3_thumbnail_53747485_2286272294918313_8837729538982019072_o.jpg
to be a sanctuary.
Pure and holy
tried and true.
With thanksgiving
I’ll be a living
sanctuary
for you.”

Beautiful Chorus (Hymns of Spirit)

Last week, my husband drove our daughter into town to work at her Girl Scout cookie booth and released me to prepare for an all-day Red Tent retreat for my local women's circle. After I packed my supplies for ritual, I set off on a walk in the deepening, rain-dark twilight. As I walked, I sang a song of sanctuary over and over, until I felt transported into a different type of consciousness, my feet steady on muddy gravel, the leafless branches stark against grey sky, moss and stones gleaming with sharp color against the roadside. A fallen tree absolutely carpeted with enchanting mushrooms caught my eye and invited me off the road and into its arms. As I stood there, feeling as if I had stepped out of ordinary reality and into a “backyard journey,” the spring peepers in the ephemeral pool in our field began their evening chorus. It has been so cold out with below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice for days since first hearing in early March that I actually wondered if they would survive to continue their song.

Mercifully, though, it is not a silent spring.

The next day, I gathered with a circle of powerful women in a log house on a hill, overlooking a deep b2ap3_thumbnail_53615577_2288301231382086_814130636007669760_o.jpgmeadow. The sky was heavy with rain, which tolled sorrowfully and heavily across the landscape. The landscape of being in our circle was also heavy and tearful. Pain and struggle was waiting below the surface of each woman in the circle, waiting, waiting, waiting for a safe space in which to be expressed. It had been three months since we last circled together and it was easy to see how we missed this outlet for expression and connection. After we sang our promise of sanctuary to one another, the tears began, the secrets of our lives were brought forward, and we learned that our shames and our sufferings are not solitary experiences after all. After each woman’s turn with the rattle, we noted that the sky reflected our mood, hanging gray and somber, heavy and full of emotion, wet with tears, overflowing our banks, flooding through us. After each person spoke and a silence of release and relief fell, a shaft of sunlight entered the skylight and gradually the whole room became illuminated as the rain clouds lifted. We scurried outside and turned our faces to the sun. The sky, and our hearts, had each shed a burden and now the light had room to shine.

Later in the afternoon, we received a womb rite transmission from an initiated member of the circle who is b2ap3_thumbnail_53604457_2287742494771293_2661218859666636800_o.jpgtraining with a Peruvian shaman. As we each spoke these words of healing, hands laid gently on the bellies of our sisters, the wind began to whirl and stir. The logs of the house creaked as if something was trying to enter and at time the whole house seemed to shake. As the last women received their rite, the power flickered and went out. We went outside to the deck, circled anew in the wind, leaves dancing around our heads and in our hair. We whispered affirmations to one another, the words twining in the air and around our faces like threads of floating magic. We then passed through a birth canal of our joined hands whispering, “I believe in you” to each woman as she passed through, re-entering the dimming light of the electricity-dark living room. After singing again, we gathered our belongings, exchanged hugs, and slipped out into the deepening dusk, humbled and awed by the visceral, direct, and responsive presence of the elements within this circle of hands, hearts, and bodies.

“Ritual  provides us with a way of taking responsibility for our lives through the use of a metaphoric process. At the time of a milestone or rite of  passage, we can shift our focus from the minutiae of the event to the  way the experience fits into the grand plan of life. The creativity,  drama, and perceptual shift connected with the ritual enable us to disidentify with the isolation, confusion, or fear associated with the passage and to know instead the power of creativity, action, and understanding.”
—from The Art of Ritual by Renee Beck and Sydney Metrick
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Molly has been “gathering the women” to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, Red Tents, seasonal retreats and rituals, Pink Tent mother-daughter circles, and family ceremonies from her tiny temple space in rural Missouri and teaches online courses in Red Tent facilitation and Practical Priestessing.

Molly is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees. She finished her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. She is the author of Womanrunes, Earthprayer, and The Red Tent Resource Kit. Molly and and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, mini goddesses, pendants, and ceremony kits at Brigid’s Grove (http://brigidsgrove.com), where they also publish Womanrunes book and deck sets.

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