This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
ARIAN A. SARRIS, LMFT
Golden Rose Publishing Co.
© Arian A. Sarris, 2008 ISBN: 978-1-60530-423-6 Golden Rose Publishing Company PO Box 810 Mt. Shasta, CA 96065
For all of the many Wise Women I have had the fortune to know and love− and the ones who have gladly and openheartedly shared their visions, their wisdom and their beingness: Among them: Lotte Bowen, Patricia Burke, Mikaelah Cordeo, Claire-Elizabeth de Sophia, Lori MacNaughton, Linda Phelan, Sabina Ubell, and Intz Walker.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1 Embracing the New You...................................................1 the Wise Woman 5 3 Judgment of the Soul.......................................................15 4 Spiritual Preparation........................................................21 5 Finding Your Group........................................................25 6 Claiming Your Space......................................................31 7 Chocolate ......................................................................35 THE CEREMONIES 8 Menopause—Passing From Mother to Crone.................45 9 Cleaning Your House......................................................55 10 What’s My Higher Purpose?...........................................65 11 Claiming Your Divine Name..........................................75 12 Embracing your Goddess................................................85 13 Empty Nest......................................................................95 14 Dancing Your Myth.......................................................101 15 Fun & Joy ....................................................................110 16 Unmasking....................................................................115 17 Mourning Your Losses..................................................125 18 Celebrating the New Child............................................135 19 Merging Your Parts.......................................................145 20 Walking the Labyrinth...................................................155 21 Braid of Love.................................................................155 22 Forgiveness....................................................................165 23 Honoring the Earth........................................................175 24 Your Spiritual Place......................................................185 25 The End.........................................................................190 Appendix: Some Goddesses...............................................201
EMBRACING THE NEW YOU
I would like to invite you on a journeya journey of transformation, of higher love, of wonder, of joy–of spirit. With our transition into and past menopause, we have moved into a new age. As our bodies perform their inevitable changes, our worlds are shifting, our priorities are realigning, and our desires are evolving. We can mourn these changes or take the opportunity to “let go and live”, by letting go of the patterns and constrictions that have governed our life choices. Then we can embrace something that has tremendous joy and meaning for our heart and soul–expressing our higher purpose. Think of it as examining yourself and your life, taking all the wisdom you have accumulated throughout the years, and applying it to your own transformation. I know for myself that as I get older, I want to do more than just “grow old gracefully”– which to me has always meant sliding into passive acceptance of the safe and comfortable role of “senior citizen. And as I talk to other women of my age group (baby boomers), and older, I hear them expressing the same reservations and concerns–most particularly, do they have to repeat the same patterns that have controlled them for so much of their life, or can they do something different to change themselves? The answer most emphatically is YES! And it will continue to be “Yes” if, once you reach menopause and beyond, you make a conscious decision to make those changes. That’s what prompted me to write this book–to give older women tools for change and to fulfill their spirit. What do you need to do to fulfill your spirit? I have walked with spirit probably every day of my life–whether I knew it or not. That has been the guiding beacon in my life. When I walk with spirit, I am changed, and transformed. F or me, one part of being able to fulfill my spirit is leaving this planet a lot lighter (as in enlightened) when I die, than when I came in. Part of my life journey is to learn my life lessons, create healing, and transform myself, and others around me, if they’re interested. This is my journey. And I suspect that for many of you who are reading this book, it is your journey as well. For some of you, it takes the shape of healing from childhood traumas; for others, it’s the inevitable impulse toward self-change, self growth, and self-acceptance. For all of us, the ultimate journey is toward enlightenment, “light” being the operative word. What do I mean by that? Think of Santa Claus. He starts out his Christmas journey with a huge bag of toys. By the end of the night, after distributing all of those toys, and he has a pretty empty sack, I guarantee you, he feels a whole lot lighter and more relaxed, not toting that weight around. He may be exhausted,
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but he is also exhilarated because he knows that all of those children are going to open those presents and be delighted. Okay, there is no Santa Claus. But we all have our own bag that we carry, full of rocks (our past). These rocks are labeled responsibility, duty, shame, guilt, trauma, anger, bitterness, and so on. They are what you have carried with you over the years and they can last as long as you live or as long as you want to hold onto them. Yet you too can give your rocks away (though usually not overnight), so you lighten your sack gradually, by one pound, two pounds, ten pounds. When you do that, you will be like a butterfly, spreading her gauzy wings and opening to the glory and the majesty of the unfolding You. You might describe the unfolding You as the magnificence of your being, the potential realized, the spiritual expression of your Truth, the sum total of your being. Why would you want to do that now? When else? How much longer do you want to wait? Isn’t it time to give yourself the best gift of all–your potential realized? Why not refocus on yourself, and your own true needs and desires. Then you can feel the joy that comes from being and acting in inner balance and harmony. That describes the purpose of this book–to help women embrace a new understanding of themselves and honor their ongoing process of self evolution, through ceremonies that will enrich the life of the wise woman in all of us. There are ceremonies of release (to let go of rocks) and celebration (to feed and nourish your enlightened spirit). Some of these ceremonies address normal and expected issues for this age; others have relevance to us as older women now in this particular time period; and still other ceremonies bring us back to our ancient roots and rhythms. There are both personal and group ceremonies. They can be done once or many times. Moreover, they can be adapted to a particular situation or group. In a formal ceremony, you actually create an atmosphere in which every element focuses you on a particular goal. An informal ceremony may be something simple as meditation or healing or quiet time. In every case, the ceremonies invite you to look inside yourself, whether alone or with other like-minded women in a group, and re-image, re-form, and transform your inner world, your thinking, your attitudes, your past, and your future–to let go and to embrace. Please read these chapters with a sense of inquiry and curiosity, understanding and love–for yourself. You can reclaim lost parts of your self, eject or discard unwanted and repressive behaviors and attitudes, integrate and weave joy and light into your life, and come to peace in your older age. In our next 40+(!) years, we have the opportunity to choose a new way to experience profound Self Love, Other Love, Higher Purpose, and Higher Wisdom. Guided by the light of our Higher Self and higher transcendent beings, we can walk our spiritual path in balance and harmony, and “re-member” ourselves. By the time we finally leave our bodies, we have the potential to be free of the hooks that have kept us anchored in the pettiness and limitation of old patterns, behaviors, attitudes, and fears. Or we can remain stuck in them–in which case, you aren’t reading this book.
EMBRACING THE NEW YOU
What would you like to accomplish from now on? What do you want to become? Even if you don’t know yet, just the fact that you’re reading this book means you’re interested. Just consider what you want as your legacy. Perhaps you think it is too soon to be thinking of legacies. After all, you’re only in your middle years. But that does not mean you can’t contemplate the arc of your life. By this time, you have amassed a lot of life experience and had an impact of some sort in the world. What have you given to the world, to your friends, to your family, to yourself? It’s important at this time to catalog your achievements, to get a fuller picture of where you are and what you’ve given out, and to whom. I wish to use this book as a way to let you rethink your legacy toward yourself as a gift of spirit–coming into alignment with your spirit, and manifesting your Higher Purpose. This need becomes particularly acute as you pass into the third age.
MEETING THE WISE WOMAN
Let me describe the normal progression of a woman’s life through the symbolism of the Triple Goddess. (I’ll use the familiar lens of Greek mythology to describe the three phases.) This most ancient goddess has been represented all over the world in her three aspects, the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. First, there is the Maiden, the young girl first budding into womanhood. The Greek goddess is Persephone, the virgin who was kidnapped by Hades and carried into the underworld to be his consort. She has the quality of helplessness, innocence, nubility, naiveté, and freshness, as young girls do. Next is the Mother, who conceives and births her children (whether in physical or spiritual form). Demeter, the goddess of fertility, expresses nature at its most fecund, fertile, and prosperous–whether as the parent of a human child, a business, a vision, a product, a book (for example, my first book took exactly nine months). Then we come to the Crone, Hecate, who is wise in the rhythms of life and death. Hence the image of the wrinkled, toothless old hag. In the old days, when a woman reached menopause, she recognized that it was not only the end of her childbearing years, but the beginning of a swift devolution into agedness and death. Yet her role was crucial for the tribal ethos. As an elder, she passed the ancient wisdom on to the young. In a world where are life spans were much shorter, when children matured fast and adults died early, her most important role was to preserve the ancient lore of the people and provide continuity so that the society could survive and thrive. In the traditional cycle of life, the Maiden phase lasted until motherhood–probably not much later than age 18 (whatever the reality). Then, if the woman didn’t die in childbirth, she could have a fertility span of up to 20 years (if her body lasted that long). By the time she reached menopause (a fairly rare occurrence), her body was worn out. Then the Crone might scrape out maybe 5 years of life as an elder. How times and images have changed! We used to think that middle aged meant from the late 30’s to 50’s, and that old age nipped at our heels by age 60. Retirement at age 65 was a welcome relief; it allowed our grandparents to experience a few years of leisure at the end of their life. Not any longer! In our modern world, we are sexually active much earlier; we may or may not choose to be married, or start a family much later in life. We’re already out in the workplace, and have been for many years–juggling family, work, and love; and we will continue for many more years with little diminution in our prowess and perspicacity.
MEETING THE WISE WOMAN
We are no longer saddled or shackled by age–or by the limitations of aging (except physically, and that has changed, with things like knee replacements). Once we hit our 40’s, it is understood that we still have at least 30-50 more years to live. In other words, we are not sliding quickly downhill into the valley of helpless old age. Quite the opposite! With drugs, exercise, good living, and balance, we can remain vital and active long into our elder years. For example I finally conceded that I was in middle age (the 50’s) because I realized that I truly was in the middle of my life. I’m not young, and I’m not old; and the way things are going, I’m probably going to remain in middle age for quite awhile. Let’s start by examining the issues of each age and the ceremonies that go with them. The medical model of aging divides the older population into early, middle, and frail elderly. Of course, they are looking at a disease and morbidity model, which we don’t have to accept or buy into. Young: From menopause to retirement: The young crone age stretches from 50 (menopause) through 65. (Of course now, with the retirement age rising to 67, that can become the beginning of the middle crone age.) The only reason to designate menopause as the beginning of cronedom is that it truly is the “traditional” end of the childbearing years. We might as well choose retirement, which has much more impact because it really defines an emphatic end to a life cycle. For most of us, menopause is merely an inconvenience that can be handled with estrogen (natural or synthetic), while continuing to live our lives. On the other hand, retirement is our life totally changing. Yet during this period your sense of self does undergo a marked though gradual transformation. The first change is physical. You no longer recognize the person looking back at you from the mirror anymore. She doesn’t match your inner image of yourself. You have to come to terms with a whole new person, someone you don’t even know, and accept the new reality of your changing body–which has a lot more aches and pains and extra weight–and the arrival of that old nemesis, arthritis. Then there are our parents. For a huge number of women in their 50's, parents are going to become central to your life. Many of us will end up taking care of them for some period of time–in their home or in yours. That is going to stir up the childhood insecurities, fears and patterns that you hoped you had left behind when you moved out. How will you handle them? Hopefully, from an adult perspective. Your task–one of the most important of this age–is to release your childhood patterns, find acceptance of yourself and your parents, and help your parents find inner peace before they die. Ceremonies specific to this phase: Menopause. Empty Nest. Celebrating the New Child. Middle: From Retirement to age 75+ The second or middle crone years stretch from retirement all the way until a serious disease sets in. That period is usually from 65 to 75. During this time you are likely to feel worthless and useless. Actually, I should say, you feel useless, and that triggers a sense of worthlessness.
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I recall a Star Trek: Next Generation episode when Scotty (from the original series) was rescued from stasis by the new Enterprise crew. Although he was eager to return to engineering, his skills were 90 years out of date; and it had a deleterious effect on his sense of self worth. Naturally, being Star Trek, a feel-good solution was devised: Scotty would stay at a newlydiscovered planet and help those people evolve. That situation describes the middle crone years– being “out of date”. We need to forge a new identity by finding activities that fit our skills, and, more important, our desires. These ceremonies revolve around retirement–letting go of your job and your dreams, cleaning out your home (physical and spiritual), mourning your losses–of your identity, job, relationships, and then your parents; assessing your own personal needs; doing your soul’s work (such as finding a new role for yourself); and mentoring (passing on your skills to the next generation). Specific Ceremonies: Cleaning Your House, Braid of Love, Mourning Your Losses. Old: From 75 to Death The old crone age runs from 75 to death. It is a time of frailty, often associated with the loss of freedom, of independence. As we lose more and more of our faculties, we end up living in somebody else’s world–whether it takes the form of living in our child’s home, in a cohousing situation, or ultimately, in a nursing home. During that time, we need to come to terms with the frailty of our body, resolve family issues, cede decision-making as the matriarch of the family to the children, and our death. As a keeper of wisdom, the older woman faces two major issues: imparting her wisdom, and preparing for death. Imparting wisdom is very difficult these days because anything from old people is disregarded, dismissed, and denigrated by our youth-obsessed society. That is truly unfortunate because the wisdom of the ancients holds the fabric of the society together. How many of us remember being taught–even by example–by our grandparents? That was their job–giving you loving models for you to hold onto (especially if we were at odds with our parents). Finally, there is death, the ultimate result of the old crone years–no matter how long into your 80’s and 90’s that you live. For some people it is a most painful process; for others, it is an embrace. How you going to die? How are you going to greet the passage from one life experience to another? The deathing process has all sorts of components. One of them includes healing the breaches with your family and anyone else you deem necessary. Even if your children choose to remain separated from you, you can still give them your love and blessing without their physical presence. Another task includes the parceling out of property, by which I mean divesting yourself of the “things” that control you and giving your gifts of wisdom and love to those who deserve and desire them. It doesn’t mean that you should get rid of everything, just whatever is no longer necessary, no longer gives you joy, and holds you back.
MEETING THE WISE WOMAN
As you read this book, you may think, “I have a long time before I have to make that choice.” You’re correct; you won’t be facing those issues–but your parents will. And that will happen sooner than you think. All of these tasks will be part of your parents’ departure. By helping them go through these deathing processes in a loving, compassionate and healing manner, you make it easer for you to do it when the time comes later on. Ceremonies: Forgiveness, Mourning Your Losses (again) Many of these ceremonies are for specific purposes or a specific phase of your life, like menopause. Others are nonspecific, but directed at releasing and celebrating your life. If you want to do the menopause ceremony, you may find that many of the women in your group will have already long since passed through that phase. Yet they can participate as mentors, guides, and support persons, giving their love and compassion and life force energy to their fellow crone as she goes through the experience. Other ceremonies will bring up your own issues, even though you don’t have a direct connection to the issue at hand–like leaving a job, or empty nest, or retirement. We all have resonances with these issues, whether it happened yesterday, will happen tomorrow, or happened years ago. Each opportunity we get to work on ourselves just allows more “stuff” to be released. These ceremonies are designed to be in natural rhythm with yourself and your spirit. What is more natural than breathing? And what is breathing? It is inhaling and exhaling, breathing in and breathing out. When you breathe in, you take in life-giving oxygen into your lungs, and breathe out carbon dioxide, the residue of breathing. Another description of the process is “inspiration” and “expiration”. There have been many books written with the idea of “inspiration” (taking in new ideas) and “expiration” (ending old ideas and behaviors). You can’t bring in new things until you clear out the old. You can keep breathing in–but your lungs only have so much space. You have to let go at some point–and breathe out. Of course, with each breath out, there is a breath in. You can’t survive without both parts of respiration. If you don’t breathe in, you’re dead. If you don’t breathe out, same thing. Breathing in and out reminds us that we are made up of rhythms. Even though we see it most clearly in the breathing process, in fact, it exists throughout our body, in the inflow and outflow of blood from the heart, in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs, in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves. Everything in our bodies has a flow, a rhythm. Most of the time we ignore it because it is easier to forget about it, or it’s inconvenient, or in the way. But this book is a celebration of who we are now–and that means getting in touch with ourselves in the deepest way. We cannot move forward in our lives successfully with all our baggage. That is breathing out. So it is with Ceremonies: breathing in expansion, breathing out release. Ceremonies of Celebration (inspiration) and Release (expiration) As you proceed through this book, you will realize that the various exercises are arranged so that you can let something go, and then let something in–like getting rid of the old couch and
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bringing in a new one. Sometimes that happens almost immediately in the same exercise. Other times, there needs to be some time between the inspiration and expiration. Of course, at all times, remember that when you let go, you are not only letting go of physical or emotional items, you are giving yourself space to let in the spiritual as well. For that is the purpose of Ceremonies–spiritual transformation.
JUDGMENT OF THE SOUL
In the ancient Egyptian religion, death was the prelude to a soul’s most important journey–into judgment and/or transformation before the god of the underworld, Osiris. This process has been described in some detail in the Book of the Dead, but only poorly understood by modern people, especially, and ironically, the Egyptologists. The judgment of the soul has enormous relevance to the process of getting older and preparing for dying. 0Use the accompanying diagram to follow along with the events. To get to the Hall of Judgment, you need a guide. In Egyptian times, that would be Anubis, the jackal-headed god. Don’t be afraid of him. He is your guide. He takes your hand and leads you down a corridor into the judgment hall of Osiris. Our modern counterparts of Anubis are the angels or light beings who greet the soul and escort it through the light tunnel after death to the other side. And he is equally careful to get you there.
When you arrive in the judgment hall (you’re the person on the far left), you are facing Ma’at, the goddess of Truth, who will weight your heart with the ostrich feather on her head. At the far end is Osiris, sitting on his throne. Near Osiris is an ugly beast with a long ugly snout that looks like a cross between a crocodile and a hippopotamus called the Apep monster. Among all the other cast of characters (whom we will ignore) is a scale for the weighing of the soul. At the top of the picture are the 42 Assessors. Anubis presents you to each Assessor who asks you one question. Your soul must answer each question, hopefully with the truth. Here is a sampling of them (in modernized language): Have you been upright in your dealings in the marketplace? Have you fed the weary and hungry? Have you kept from lying? Have you been a steadfast friend? Have you avoided hating others? Have you listened to wise counsel? Have you kept from being envious or jealous? Have you taken care of the plants and animals of the earth?
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Have you treated your body well? Have you kept your body and soul clean? Have you only slept with a man/woman your spirit loved? Have you deliberately hurt others? Have you let money overwhelm your heart? Have you taken food out of the mouths of women and children? It’s a pretty complete moral inventory, which addresses all of the Seven Deadly Sins, and more–and demands that you consider how upright a life you have lived, and the decisions you have made for yourself and the people around you. For example, if you were the wife of a corporate raider (women are usually not corporate raiders) whose tactics shut down factories and threw people out of work for increased profits, you have taken food out of the mouths of women and children, despoiled the environment, cheated and lied in the marketplace–you will face judgment here if you have enjoyed those benefits without giving back to the community. Next, Anubis leads your soul to the real trial, the Scales of Ma’at. Ma’at means truth in Egyptian, and indeed, she is responsible for weighing the trueness of your soul. In one of the pans is an ostrich feather, Ma’at’s symbol. In the other pan, has been laid your heart. She is conducting the most important ceremony in your life–the weighing of your heart. Ironically, many Egyptologists have dismissed the judgment as a charming fantasy. How can a heart be as light as a feather? Obviously, they interpret the weighing on an external level, not on a spiritual level. As a spiritual being, however, you can recognize that Ma’at is not weighing your physical heart, but your (hopefully light) spiritual heart against her feather of truth. No matter what you said to the 42 Assessors–no matter if you told the truth or you lied, even to yourself, here on the scales of Ma’at, the truth is revealed. If your heart is indeed clear, and you lived your truth, it will be balanced by the feather. When that happens, Osiris will greet you joyously and let you pass beyond the hall of judgment into the starry skies–AKA heaven or the Elysian Fields. If, however, the scales do not balance because your heart still has impurities–you are not totally in truth–then your soul is eaten by Apep, the destroyers of souls. Don’t panic! You don’t die. Instead your soul is sent back to experience a new life (commonly called “reincarnation”) for another go-round in learning life’s lessons. (If you don’t believe in reincarnation, consider it as purgatory, where you have to hang out until you expiate your sins.) Now, let’s interpret the ritual of weighing the heart from a modern-day spiritual perspective. Once your soul leaves your body and moves into the interlife, your Higher Self, who is your personal Ma’at, assesses your life. It’s a sort of debriefing of how you did good, and how you didn’t do so good, what karma got paid, what karma got created, what lessons you learned, and which ones need to be taught next time. During this period, not only your Higher Self, but angels or other higher light beings help you confront your mistakes and provide you with tools for your next life. When you are reborn onto the planet in that next life, hopefully, you will use this information to grow and evolve. Suppose, however, that the scales balance. You have completed your karma, and you're ready to move on. Your Higher Self says, “You are clear; you have nothing else to learn. We can make
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choose to come back to this earth as what the Buddhists call Bodhisattvas, pure beings who choose to be a shining example of joy to those around them, or you can move on to another plane of existence or another learning environment off planet–which is analogous to passing into heaven. The judgment of Osiris is our own assessment of ourselves, and the willingness and determination we have had to do our work. We have had our adult lives to focus on releasing and healing our wounds, from childhood and beyond. And as older women, we need to ask ourselves, How am I progressing toward my judgment? How am I fostering my heart so that it will balance the feather in truth? How can I manifest my higher purpose in the last third of my life so that I feel in alignment on all levels of my soul and spirit, that I walk in harmony and joy with myself, and that I express the will of Mother/Father God. These are questions that underlie the spiritual passage of the third age–and the ceremonies of this book.
Most of the ceremonies I describe in this book ask you to create an ambience and a commitment, not just your presence, for successful spiritual work, using particular resources and energies. Hence, I would like to explain them in some depth so you can understand my definitions and learn why they have such importance for your work. Spirit Guides: In these ceremonies, you may call on three kinds of spirit guides–your Higher Self, angel guides, and goddesses. Higher Self: Your Higher Self is not mind, but your immortal soul. Your Higher Self has your best and highest interests at heart all the time. Whenever you achieve that link with her, you are in tune with limitless potential, unconditional love, and divine wisdom. All too often you have a great difficulty or inability to hear your Higher Self because outer authority figures (like your mother, father, religious leaders) have blocked it by telling you what to do and think. That effectively cuts you off from your own Higher Self’s wisdom. Removing that interference allows you to receive your own wisdom and love from your Higher Self. Your Higher Self may appear like you, or an unknown woman, or just simply a blob of energy. Or you might not see her at all, but sense her tangible presence, in the way you live your life, the decisions you make, the joy you feel, and the wisdom you display. One of those pieces of wisdom she holds is your Higher Purpose, your personal path of selfenlightenment. Most of us aren’t aware of our Higher Purpose. The only clue that we are doing it is immense deep satisfaction and joy that we feel when we do our work. That’s what your Higher Self would like you to experience all the time–not the sadness and misery that is often your lot. Guides. Guides are divine beings that help you whenever they are called on; some people call them guardian angels. Your guide is an invisible companion who provides help and guidance. You have a choice of guides to come and help you. Like your Higher Self, guides do care about you, but unlike your Higher Self, they are separate from you. Such angels act as guiding lights, providing their own help and wisdom when called upon (for example, you’re out on a deserted road in a broken-down car, and you call on angelic help, and a good Samaritan suddenly shows up and handles the problem; your angel guide got them there). You often get new angel/spirit guides as you evolve. While guardian angels tend to remain with you, spirit guides, and archangels step in whenever you need to clear out blocks or get unstuck, and to bathe you with a sense of higher love and joy, and to move you forward. Think of Touched by an Angel.
SPIRITUAL PREPARATION 11
The Goddess: A goddess is a divine energy that is expressed through a particular quality. In ancient times (and in India today), the gods and goddesses were tangible presences in people’s lives. In western societies, they have now been relegated to the status of archetypes—the goddesses who represented all aspects of life—like the Maiden, Mother, Crone, Sexuality, Wisdom, Love, etc.), and/or supplanted by Christian angels who express similar archetypal qualities. We will be exploring goddess energies in much greater detail in Chapter 12. Do goddesses really exist? You might ask if angels exist. People call on them every day. Suffice it to say that if you can call on angels for help, you should be able to call on goddesses, as well. Sacred Space: This is your private quiet, meditative space, somewhere in or around your home, where you can set up your altar. This sacred space, after all is a very private holy place, indicative of your own personal journey, where you can invite the Divine to enter. Such areas can range from a whole room or building (like a gazebo or meditation room) to a corner of your bedroom. When you are in this space, you feel calmer, more relaxed, centered, and open to your higher wisdom; and its vibration changes your whole energy field. What’s it like? When you walk outside after a rain storm, you can tell how different the earth smells; it's often cooler because the rain lowers the temperature of the air and may smell of ozone from lightning. In that same way, when you meditate in your sacred space, you also create a special healing vibration around you. This vibration level is not just simply an intent to do a sacred ceremony, but an actual energy change. Altar: Your altar serves as a focus for your spiritual work, and its presence provides a constant blessing to you. It can be as simple as a single shelf or as elaborate as a table in the center of the room, a huge cabinet or shelving unit filled with sacred objects, or even small shelves with altars on all the walls of the room to symbolize the four directions. Since the work you do at your altar is special, and transformative, you do not want your altar in an area where anyone can put their grubby energies on it, whether physically or otherwise (e.g., no beer cans on the altar), or no children running through. Many of these ceremonies will ask you to work at your altar, or provide you with items that belong somewhere in your sacred space. Sacred Objects: On your altar you should place those spiritual objects that resonate with your soul, and help you with your inner process. Objects that enhance your spiritual journey include a wide variety of crystals (most commonly, but hardly limited to, quartz in its many forms), divination tools, e.g., tarot, goddess, soul, angel cards, runes, I Ching, incenses, bell, images of goddesses/gurus/ teachers (like Mother Mary, Dalai Lama, Guru Mai, Sai Baba, Jesus, et al.), candles, flowers, and anything else that you feel has sacred meaning to you. When you meditate or pray at your altar, you are signaling to your Higher Self and your mind that you are ready to do your spiritual work.
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FINDING YOUR GROUP
Now that you’ve opted to work on yourself, do you want to do it alone, or would you like to have some like-minded souls to share the journey with? I’m not talking about your partner or husband; I’m talking about a group of women who share with you the same desire to grow that you have. More than any other time in your life, women need to come together and support each other in our growing. That’s best done in a group because it provides something unique–shared experience, acceptance, and a willingness to support each other that is usually unavailable between a man and woman. That’s not to denigrate the mate bond; it’s just different. Men do not live in women’s skin; their thought processes and feelings are different. Until recently, we had, to a large extent, a social structure in which a woman’s life revolved around her family, his job, and some religious institution. Though that dynamic still exists in some areas of industrial countries and within certain age groups, I have found many women in their 50’s and up who have no husband or lover and either do not have children, or do not want to be living with them, and not involved in any organized religion. Among my acquaintances, I can count on one hand the number of women over 50 still married. In large cities it is hardly rare or unique. Quite the contrary. In fact, it’s all too common. Even though many older women are looking for relationships, they have little sense of hope that they’ll find the right person. (One sex survey found 30% of men over 70 live alone, but 70% of women live alone). There are several reasons for that–one being, of course, the shorter life span of a man; a second is that many men want to be with younger women (to make them feel younger); and a third is that women themselves are making distinctions about their partners. Many are no longer willing to put up with the kind of relationship they tolerated before. They’ve raised their sights much higher–looking for someone who will accommodate their much expanded sense of self− show little inclination to coddle men’s egos without getting tenderness, and attention, love, and support in return. Women’s groups serve as a place where we women can share with each other our experiences, our support, and our growth. As this generation of women ages, the importance of being in a women’s group becomes more important. I cannot really stress enough how much a group provides the kind of connection and support that we’re craving--or least a sympathetic ear, and an excuse to get out of the house every two weeks, or so. It becomes a kind of refuge from the rest of your world. There are many kinds of women’s groups. An example is the Red Hat Society for women over 50, to get together for fun activities. In this book, I’m talking about a spiritual group. A successful women’s group requires–demands even–that you celebrate yourself as a vital older woman, who has a great deal to offer–not only you others, but to yourself. That’s why most of the ceremonies that I describe can be done by yourself and/or in your group, and enhance all those qualities.
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Attributes: What are the attributes of your group? Think of what any group requires: a core of people, a shared sense of purpose, a desire to work together, and the kind of support that we’d like to have in our lives. A women’s group in which you feel restricted some way–for example, if you don’t feel particularly supported if you bring up a particular issue, or you feel unable or unwilling to express yourself–indicates limitation. Your group needs to embrace and acknowledge all parts of you–the good as well as the less pleasant–because all kinds of issues are going to arise during the ceremonies. You need to trust that these other women can and will support you–and vice versa. Creating a Group: If there are no women’s groups in your area, you may elect to start one. Make up a flyer describing your desired group: “Let’s start an over 50 women’s group to explore spiritual, emotional, and support issues.” If you wish to have a specific denominational flavor to it, make it clear. It’s very important for the women who come together to work on spiritual self-evolution to know what kind of journey they are undertaking, who they are “traveling” with–and be willing to go the distance. Spread the word through the particular organizations that would encourage it–New Age or alternative stores, alternative healers, massage therapists, and churches like Unity, Church of Religious Science, or other New Thought organizations. Web sites like Meetup.com or Zaadz.com help you form local groups with the same interests. Members: Who needs to be in this group? Well, you can ask your friends and relatives who are of the right age group. Or you can invite strangers. I personally prefer strangers rather than family for two reasons: • Friends or family members may drop out, creating some awkwardness between you and them. • (This is more significant:) Issues may come up that pertain to particular family members. If that person is in the group (or you both know the person in question), you’re likely to feel less than willing to express yourself openly. You may not ever run into the other group members in your outer world because they may not fit in your personal circle of friends, but in this group they can provide exactly what you need. These are the people that you go on spiritual journeys with, or personal treks. It helps for a group to have women in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s because they provide a good range of experiential understanding; it also gives everyone insight into how they might become, or how they were, and what you all need to do to help each other now. Goals: What kinds of goals do you have–do you want to just get together for a social gettogether, like the Red Hat Society? Or do you want more? A spiritual group is not a social group. There is a purpose to it–celebrating and supporting each other’s personal growth. There is a purpose, a goal, a direction, and tools to move toward it. If you want to go shopping or have a “girls’ night out”, or other social events–do them outside the regular group time. Its real focus and thrust is to provide you with spiritual nourishment. Nor are these groups intended to be
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gripe sessions; they are a place to share your baggage, your pain, your insights, your desires, your dreams–only if they have relevance to the particular purpose. In one group I was involved with, we talked about our spiritual journey and experiences during the week, and any difficulties or insights that arose, and got feedback from others. Then we did our particular ceremony. Afterward came the munchies and pure socialization. I encourage you to do the same thing when you create your group. If your group turns into a social get-together, that is perfectly fine, but you’re not doing crone work. Leadership: Some groups have a leader or a facilitator; others are free-form. Which do you want? If your group has a leader, you need to define their level of control. When I created a group with a particular purpose, I was the moderator and facilitator. I created the processes, and I was the one who helped the group members work on their issues. They came, knowing that I was going to teach them certain skills. A facilitator may be no more than the person who takes care of the refreshments or the one who acts as the moderator during the meeting–or who steps in during a crisis. This role may evolve as the group does. You may want a group in which everybody contributes equally, and all share responsibility for refreshments, the agenda and the ceremony. For example, you can designate that a person who’s playing host is in charge of food, and someone else in charge of the ceremony, with a third person as the moderator of the discussion. I’ve found that having a particular agenda for each session really makes a difference in the success of the group. That may be decided during the initial meeting, or meeting by meeting. Frequency: How often will you meet? Every week, two weeks, monthly? Structure: How do you structure your meeting? Of course, that again is up to you. These are the elements that I find contribute to a successful session: 1. Opening the meeting: you need quiet time, meditation, grounding and cleanout to let everyone transit out of the outer world and into the group consciousness. 2. Advising on issues that women bring to the group for help. Decide on the length of time you want to allot to this process for each person, so the group will not spend the entire meeting on one issue to the detriment of the ceremony. 3. Ceremonial time. 4. Relaxation/munchies/chocolate. 5. Final hug with everyone before departure. 6. The meeting should last about two hours. If all these criteria sound a little bit picky, they are. I’ve learned from my mistakes and from experience. I want you to create a group that is really vibrant with spiritual possibility and joy. This book is designed for that kind of group–for people who want to remove personal limitations and embrace spiritual change.
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CLAIMING YOUR SPACE
Imagine a circle of about 18 inches around you (arm’s length); that is your “space”. Another term for it is “personal space”, where you end and the world starts. We all need to have our space. The idea of creating a space for yourself is very important if you are to BE yourself. However, for women, there is an issue of claiming our right to have our own space. We have become accustomed to having other people meddling in our psyche and our spirit and in our soul since we were children—first our parents, and relatives, and as we get older, other people who mattered to us–whether it was a husband/lover, a boss, a religious leader, children, friends, etc. All of these people have something they want from us, whether it is help, energy, attention, love, etc., and their energy collects in our space as hooks. It’s easy to tell—if you feel guilty about something, that’s a hook from somebody else in you. You can choose to toss them out—not out of your life–just out of your personal space. You aren’t getting rid of your relationships, just putting them where they belong—out of your space. You can still love and care for those people, but just like you don’t want friends just dropping into your house without permission, you don’t want friends and family dropping into your space. Just as we collect dirt and grime onto our physical body through our daily living, so do we collect energy grime as well. It’s like a very thick stiff blanket that rubs up against other people’s blankets, and absorbs some of their energy. Every time we run into someone, we pick up some of their energy–and they pick up some of ours. If we don’t get rid of their energy, it stays in our own energy field. Imagine how much we have collected over the years! Also, emotions that are directed at us will stay in our energy field or aura unless we get rid of them. Anger, for example, lasts a long time and can be very disruptive to you, long after the event, unless you remove it. As your energy field gets filled with all of these alien energies, it becomes stiff and rigid, because of everything that is in there, and becomes a kind of rigid body armor, forcing you to fit into its contours, restricting your ability to connect with your Higher Purpose—and with your own sense of Self. The cleanout techniques will help remove a lot of those foreign energies and allow you to reclaim your space. One byproduct of these techniques is allowing you to focus on yourself and your own thoughts, beliefs, desires—and your Higher Self. Part of this means making your own decisions, instead of allowing someone else to make them for you. Another part is drawing a line and doing what feels “right” to you, not what others want you to do. This is very important because when you claim your own space, you will be ready to find your sacred space. Once you start the process of removing other people’s energy from your space, it’s amazing to watch their reactions—often angry, hurt, upset and subversive. They don’t want you to be free of
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them, so they’ll do everything they can, up to and including guilt and anger, to hold onto their hooks inside you—and also drain off your energy for their use, not yours. You, yourself, may find that it feels scary, overwhelming, and not a little nerve-wracking being all alone in your space—probably for the first time in many years. And that’s not a bad thing. The benefits may not be noticeable right away, but they include things like having more energy, clarity, and the ability to express what you really feel and believe. If you feel “guilty” about doing this work, just remind yourself that until you do the cleanout, you don’t have access to all of your abilities and reservoir of strength. By clearing out your space, you will have many more resources to help the people you love, and the strength to do it from the highest level of Divine Purpose. After cleaning out your space, you don’t want to feel exposed and vulnerable. You need protection that is flexible enough to let in spiritual and emotional changes. When the astronauts went to the moon, they needed lightweight but incredibly durable, heat-protecting garments to walk around. That’s how mylar got created. I suggest something like that—a kind of mylar force field, that is strong, yet flexible, that is protective without being rigid, that adapts to each situation and lets you respond appropriately. GROUNDING Grounding is designed to keep your spiritual, emotional and mental parts of you in your physical body. When you're not in your body, you aren’t around to partake of what’s going on— for example, being able to receive all the benefits you would like, and deserve. If you have ever had the experience of stumbling around in a daze (such as when the alarm wakes you up, and you're not quite awake and you bump into things), that’s an example of not being in your physical body. Another way to tell if you're not in your body is if you find yourself thinking about what’s going on tomorrow or next week, or last week, or you're brooding over something that is about to happen or go on. It’s like talking on your cell phone when you're driving; you’re not paying full attention to the road. You aren’t present, you aren’t “here”. You are ungrounded. Grounding simply anchors you to the earth so you can be in your body, so that you can make decisions that are “right” for you, and your highest purpose. If you aren’t grounded, you can’t hear what your Higher Self is saying. We’re going to spend a lot of time in this book on finding what’s right for you. It’s easier to discern that if you are grounded into your physical body. GROUNDING TECHNIQUES I. The Tree 1. Sit down in a chair, and close your eyes. 2. Imagine a tree root going from the base of your spine, all the way to the center of the earth. Then, expand it wider han your physical body so that you are inside a cylinder. 3. Imagine that root passing up through your body, like a tree trunk, and then through the top of your head and into the sun, so that you are grounded to both earth and spirit.
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II. Laser Another image you can use is a laser beam. 1. Send the laser beam down from the base of your spine into the center of the earth. 2. Then beam it up through your body and up into the sun. 3. Then imagine it expanding as wide as your body, so you are again inside a cylinder. CLEANING YOURSELF OUT: It’s best to do any spiritual work from a state of cleanliness. I don’t mean clean hands or body, but clean energy field. Once you have anchored yourself to the ground, you need to dump all the baggage you can. That means cleaning out your energy body. I have provided several useful techniques to clean out your energy field. Do any and all of these techniques, not just when you want to do these ceremonies, but as part of your daily routine of spiritual grounding. Not only will you feel better, but you will get rid of all the energies that you collected throughout the day from people. In doing so, you will find that your energy “blanket” will become more flexible, more adaptable to you, and, in turn, you will have more room inside yourself. It’s essential to do this cleanout before you do any of your ceremonies. If you have grime and grunge from other people, it will be hard to get the full benefit of the ceremony because their energies are in the way. I. The Comb 1. Stand up, close your eyes, and imagine a very thick blanket about 18 inches deep all around you. This energy field touches other people’s blankets and picks up their “cooties” every day. Ask your Higher Self to contract this blanket to about twelve inches around you. 2. Imagine now a large gold comb (about three feet long) with close-set teeth that are 15 inches long. Pick up the comb, and hold its ends. Starting above the top of your head, physically comb down the front of your body, like you were combing through your hair (like Rapunzel). What this gold comb is doing is pulling out any energy that doesn’t belong to you. 3. When you reach the floor, let all the energies that the comb has collected be absorbed into the earth to be recycled. Then do the same on each side and back. (I know that your arms don’t reach 6back; just make the motions. The comb will clean out the back of your aura.) 4. Then drop the comb onto the earth to be recycled. You can get another comb tomorrow. That is a very simple way of releasing energies out of your space and cleaning yourself out, and you can do it every day. II. Removing the Strings: Another technique helps you discard the hooks from other people in your energy field. Every time someone wants to talk to you, or manipulate you or argue with you or send you love, they have stuck a string into your field. After awhile, you begin to resemble an irregular ball of string,
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with man strands, all around you. Being in your aura, they are in your way, and being that they are attached to other people, they are taking your energy. In the same way, you have done the same thing to other people, and your strings are stuck in them. The thicker the ball, the more constricted you are. You need to periodically clean out all the strings from your space (or at least a substantial number of them). However, if you took a chain saw and sliced through all those strands, and peeled off the whole ball, you would freak! That’s because you would have just peeled away all of your associations, your connections, and that’s just as bad as being encased in the twine. You have to do it slowly, unwind a few strands at a time, which allows you to adjust to their loss and adapt to new behaviors and attitudes inside yourself. 1. Close your eyes. Stand up. Call in your Higher Self. 2. Do the Comb and Grounding exercises. 3. Imagine that you have pieces of string stuck to every part of your body. To remove them, start grabbing them from all around your body. Actually, use your hands to grab at pieces and toss them away. Do this for about five minutes. 4. Swing your arms around. Shake your shoulders; move your legs. See if you can sense some space around you. (Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything. Your energy senses are still dulled out by having been blanketed by all that twine over the years.) 5. Sit down. Now, call down a beam of sunlight into the top of your head, which has the consistence and weight of water. 6. Imagine this water flowing down through your head, down your arms, down your spine, to your pelvis, down your legs, and out your pores into your energy field; as the light moves outward, your energy field expands as well. You’re like a bucket filling with water, body and energy field. 7. Ask your Higher Self to turn off the “tap”. Actually use your hand to make that movement at the top of your head. At this point, a lot of the strings (attachments) should be gone. How does that feel? What kind of sensations do you have? Is it comfortable? Scary? Weird? Isolated? 8. Stand up and slowly walk around the room, taking slow, deep breaths. This allows your body to get used to being with just you and nobody else in your space. CEREMONY: REMOVING THE COAT This is a ceremony that allows you to get rid of your old protective field, and provide yourself with another, more flexible, more up-to-date protective field. I’d like to use the image of a coat that goes from feet to head being taken off. Removing your coat demands consciousness, and intent because you are taking off your familiar protection against the world. In its place you will get a brand new, clean, supple, lovely coat that reflects your plan to embrace the new You. 1. Get into a quiet space. Put on some soft music. Breathe in all the way down to your toes to relax. Then exhale slowly. Repeat five times. 2. Imagine you’re wearing a very thick coat (of whatever material–cloth, wool, fur, metal, etc.).
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You may get a sense of this coat; or you may not–but your body certainly knows it well. It’s hard to move around in it. Unbutton or unzip the coat. Don’t take it off yet! Now stand up and take the coat off. Drop it onto the ground and imagine it being sucked into the earth where Mother Earth can recycle it. Now you’re “naked as a jay bird”, metaphorically. You no longer are frozen in the old way of thinking and being. Breathe four more times–from deep in your belly, with each breath expelling even more of your body armor and rigidity. Ask your Higher Self to bring you a brand new, up-to-date flexible garment. Whether you see or sense the coat is not important; trust that the right coat is being draped around you. Put it on (pantomime slipping on a coat). Imagine how it feels being wrapped in this lighter but incredibly strong material. Shake your shoulders. Breathe deeply again four times, to release the rigidity from the bottom of your pelvis.
GROUP CEREMONY: The coat ceremony works very well in a group, and it’s fun. Instead of your taking off your coat, you get to take off and put on someone else’s coat. 1. Stand in a circle and turn to the left. 2. Ask that person to unbutton her head-to-toe coat. 3. Take off the coat of the person to your left (you release energy counterclockwise), one by one. 4. Imagine a hole in the center of the circle that goes into the earth. Toss her coat into the hole, where it’s recycled. 5. Once all the coats are dumped, you’re all “defenseless”, vulnerable, open for something new.
6. Breathe deep four times (from the bottom of your pelvis, expelling old rigid thoughts and
beliefs. 7. As a group, call on your Higher Selves, or any other higher beings or angels to come into your circle and hand you a coat that fits your energy now–that is flexible, protective, loving, and safe. Take your new coat. 8. Turn and hand your coat to the person on your right so she can put it on you. You’re going clockwise this time. This can be really wonderful because as she wraps it around you, I suggest that she hug you from behind. It makes the whole process very much more loving and tender–and tactile.
As you progress through this book, you’re hopefully going to be coming to some realizations, experiencing new connections, cleaning out blocks, and reaching inner acceptance. These emotional shifts are more easily handled by your body and soul when chocolate is liberally applied at the same time. No, I’m not being facetious! It’s true! Chocolate has the gift of soothing the soul, and smoothing the way for emotional release, for spiritual transformation, for deep inner psychic satisfaction. I can already hear some people pooh-poohing my claims (and others cheering). Never underestimate the importance of chocolate–the finest tasting comfort food in the world. There are so many reasons why chocolate is fantastic–not the least of which is that it tastes terrific! First, let’s consider some of the physical healing properties of chocolate (and more seem to be discovered every month–mainly for dark chocolate, not milk chocolate because of all the sugar): • Chocolate is loaded with higher antioxidant polyphenols (also found in red wine, fruits and vegetables) than any other food. Cocoa contained the most, followed by dark chocolate and then milk chocolate. • Chocolate is better for your teeth. It is easily rinsed from the mouth by saliva, unlike sugar, which stays to rot your teeth. Chocolate also contains tannins, which inhibit cavity-causing bacteria. • The predominant type of fat in chocolate, stearic acid, does not affect cholesterol the way other types of saturated fats do. • Eating chocolate per se doesn’t actually add weight; it’s sugar that’s the culprit. • And it has more bioflavinoids than broccoli, which are very important for good health. Second, it makes you feel good. Chocolate has an uncanny ability to make you feel better. Its chemical compounds stick to the same pleasure receptors in the brain as marijuana does. Hence, feeling satisfied and mellower. And legal. It’s not by accident that when you are depressed, you go right for chocolate ice cream and candy. Chocolate has phenylalanine–the precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is what makes us feel good, (hence Prozac, Zoloft and their ilk, which keep serotonin circulating through your brain). You take antidepressants, you feel better. You take chocolate–you also feel better. (But which tastes better? And has fewer side effects?) Third, chocolate has tremendous mouth appeal. It tastes decadent, soothing, relaxing. Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. It soothes your stomach, your nerves, your very cells. Fourth, chocolate brings you back into awareness. Psychics often use chocolate to “get back” into their body after a session or whenever they feel overwhelmed. I can tell when I’m “ungrounded” when I’m stumbling around my mind is unclear, or I’m forgetting things. Another signal to me that it’s “chocolate time” is when I suddenly have the urge to eat chocolate! And so I inhale chocolate.
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It grounds my body, reminding it that it’s on the earth, and that brings me back into awareness of my surroundings—and clears up the fog in my brain. Finally, and most important, its ability to soothe the body allows you to make emotional shifts with less trauma. Normally, when you have an emotional experience, catharsis or deep illumination, you undergo a realignment in your whole psyche. One byproduct often is a sudden illness or cold, which is your body’s way of adapting to the shift in energy. Chocolate can bypass the illness by easing the integration of mind, spirit and body. That is the reason I have included it in this book, for its ability to integrate. As you’re eating the chocolate, it helps your body realign itself. (A secondary reason, of course, is just that it tastes so damn good!) So now you have my permission to luxuriate in this most wonderful and perfect of indulgences, regardless of what the weight watchers say–especially now.
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CLEANING YOUR HOUSE
I was sitting at a café once when a couple came in. The woman started to give the man a tarot reading. We then struck up a conversation. At some point, I made a comment about the man’s psychic blocks, and offered to do an energy healing on him–an offer he eagerly accepted. By the time I finished, his friend gave him another tarot reading, and it was remarkably different because his energy level had been literally transformed. That’s what happens when you make inner changes: even though you may still live in the same body and the same house, and drive the same car, afterwards, your surroundings no longer represent your new perspective. Whereas before they reflected who you were, now, if you don’t make changes in your environment, it will restrict your own self-evolution. (Have you heard about possessions owning you? This is what I mean.) You can’t let in anything new until you provide room for it. You can’t put a new dress into a full closet where there is no space. You’re immobilized (see Mourning Your Loss, Chapter 17). On the other hand, once you have created the space, you can invite in new possibilities, new potential–and you can step back and see who you are. This is what you are doing here–opening up to new experiences. Cleaning out is absolutely essential for this work. Interesting, a rash of housecleaning shows (Neat, Operation Organization, Clean Sweep, etc.), have exposed not only how much stuff people accumulate, but how it controls their lives. After the organizer empties the rooms, the homeowner has to sort through the piles and make decisions about what to keep or toss. That’s where some of the most agonizing decisions are made because “things” aren’t just “things”; they have emotions and stories attached to them, which define their owners’ lives. Until those emotions and stories get resolved, people won’t let go of their “stuff”. Our rooms may be messy like those people on TV–or we may have messy lives (often defined as crazy or dysfunctional relationships) or problems with our children or parents or friends. Some people are addicted to chaotic lives: as soon as one problem gets resolved, they do everything possible to create more chaos. That’s because they haven’t cleaned out their emotional attachments. Of course, it’s the same for all of us. We all have possessions that hold us back. When you look at your pictures, your possessions, your clothes, your books, your mementos, your furniture–ask yourself, what reflects who you are now–and who you want to be? Though you may want to surround yourself with the treasures of the past, there is a difference between “mementos” (memories of past experiences) and “dead wood”–possessions that no longer serve you, or nurture you, or support your growth. What tangible objects and memories are essential for you? And which ones do you no longer need, or make you feel bad, sad, angry or ashamed? We have to make decisions about what to get rid of. We have to lay out all of our possessions and examine our relationships with them, so we can decide whether to let them go–or hold on to them until we discover that we no longer need them.
On a metaphysical level, it’s called pulling all your energy out of old “things” and then realigning your inner space. Letting go is absolutely what’s required here. This is breathing out. Otherwise, you cannot let something new in (inhale). Cleaning out your space is the easiest way to begin to remove the adhesions of the past that restrict your thinking, feeling and being. By giving you physical, tangible space, it also creates internal space. And it will bring up all kinds of emotions. “Spring cleaning” is another word for this kind of process–but this time it’s “soul cleaning”. Doing it signals to the Universe that your priorities are shifting. What was once important has now changed. You are open to new values, new ideas, new alignments. Where do you start? The best place is with whatever makes you flinch when you think about it. You can tell the significance of certain items because you don’t want to even consider whether you should keep them or not. But in fact, that is exactly where the emotional energy is trapped. That’s where you need to start, but if you can’t face that project yet, pick something less charged. It’s one thing to clean out the garage if you have no real “charge” on what’s in there. It’s something else to clean out your clothes closet if clothes mean a lot to you. Euphrosyne has a wall-ful of books and papers that periodically come tumbling down; yet she’s incapable of sorting them out because it’s such a huge task–despite the potential hazard. It has become the proverbial mountain that started out as (if not a molehill) at least a gopher hill. By tackling one shelf on the wall, she could begin to handle the seemingly overwhelming problem. That’s why it’s good to start small. You don’t have to complete the whole project in one fell swoop! Break down the project into smaller, more manageable bites–like one shelf or one linear foot of your closet. If you have three closets full of clothes, just do one, or just focus on your 300 pairs of shoes. The key here is not how fast you do it, but with what kind of thought you do it. Choosing what stays and what goes–that’s where the emotion comes up. Then allot about two hours for the task. When you finish, you will feel different inside, lighter, satisfied and relieved– for you have created space in your physical realm–and in your spiritual realm. When you perform your cleanout, think of it as a holy ceremony, with the attendance of your Higher Self–and with decisions based on your highest purpose. Your Higher Self can lend you wisdom and aid in discarding whatever items no longer serve your highest need. What I mean by “serve” is that it no longer supports or feeds your soul. This is important. One or many parts of you is going to cling to certain items for one reason or another. This is why you need to call on help from your Higher Self. Let’s imagine you start with your clothes closet. Start by tossing clothes that are out of fashion. Clothes that you haven’t worn in a year or two–out they go. Clothes that are dingy, fraying, torn, have no pizzazz, aren’t your color, just don’t work–dump them. Bag those rejects and drop them off at the local women’s shelter. Then move on to the clothes that you’ve outgrown–whether in age or size (in other words, if you’re larger or thinner than you used to be, or they’re just not appropriate for you, age-wise or temperament-wise–let them go. Women tend to hold onto clothes with the hope that one day we’ll diet ourselves down to our ideal weight, or because we know that we will unfortunately end up back at our old weight.
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Holding on to clothes in hope or fear keeps us stuck in that mind set–and besides, they’re out of style. Clothes that have sentimental value (like your mother’s wedding dress) have meaning–so keep those. We’re focusing primarily on your everyday clothes. Keep sorting and tossing clothes until you get rid of at least one third of your closet. That sounds pretty radical. But remember, all those old clothes represent trapped energy, and a frozenmind set; by removing them from your space, you allow new possibilities into your life. And that’s what this is all about–releasing your old way being. Sort your items into three piles. The First pile is “Absolutely, I’m going to keep it!” The second pile is “I might like to keep it or I’m not sure.” The Third pile is “No way, Jose. This stuff should have gone a long time ago.” Once you have sorted through all the items, fill up cartons/bags with whatever is going away. Return everything that you’re going to keep to the closet. Put the “I don’t know” stuff into a box or bag. Then, with your hand on that box, take a moment to center yourself and breathe in your Higher Self. Let her decide what needs to stay and what goes. Now, re-sort the objects in that box. This time make your selections: Yes or No. If you vacillate, toss a coin: Heads it stays, tails, it goes. Imagine that it’s your Higher Self guiding the fall of the coin. Once you have cleaned out your clothes closet, your first instinct will be to go out and buy more clothes, following the scientific maxim, that nature abhors a vacuum. It’s like the impulse to jump into a new relationship immediately when you break up with your old partner, but it does not allow you to reflect on what happened between you two–and how you can avoid those mistakes in your next relationship–nor give you room for inner change. Being with spirit is what is required at this time, not fulfilment of transitory desires–hard as it may be. So what’s the solution? Very simple. Don’t go out and buy clothes to immediately fill your closet. Don’t get the latest, greatest, newest, and best. Don’t jump into a new relationship. Wait. You have breathed something out of your space–something emotional or tangible (or both). Now it’s time to see what shows up to fill it–and how you’ll feel about it. That’s when you can decide whether you really truly need the item, whether you truly want it, whether it really truly satisfies your spirit or your needs. Once you have completed your cleanout, it’s time to release those physical objects in your body and spirit. GROUP CEREMONY: One of the best ways to get past your resistance or your inertia is to invite a friend to assist you–or, seeing that we are focusing on inner release, your spiritual group. Never underestimate the power of your companions’ moral support; even if all they do is just sit there and talk to you, just their presence will galvanize you to do your task. I am heartily in favor of doing such clean-outs in groups, when like-minded people can get together and share the experience. When all of you are supporting one of your members in their
journey work, it becomes both a holy ceremony and a party. (Who says that sanctity has to be solemn!) When the group descends on your closet, they can make the whole process fun–providing refreshments, laughter, and hilarious commentary–which will make the cleanout go much faster and more joyously. They are also more likely to stimulate you to toss items you might cling to if you were alone. They have no inhibitions about your shelves and closet, for they have no emotional attachment to your possessions. As they just pull out items for your Yes or No, it becomes easier to discard (admittedly, sometimes too easy). Also, when your friends leave, don’t be surprised if a significant number of your rejects go with them as welcome or desired gifts. Objects that are old and tiresome for us are perfect for other people. Moreover, giving away items like that is like moving energy. Hoarded, stored and hidden energy is stuck; when it’s passed around in the form of gifts, it benefits everybody. Hence the fun of a clean-out party! Moreover, your friends will help you make your decisions. POST CLEANOUT REALIGNMENT 1. Sit down in a quiet place. Comb out yourself and ground yourself. 2. Ask your Higher Self to locate that primary place in your body which was attached to the possessions you threw out. 3. With a magnetic gold sponge, let your Higher Self wipe away all of the energy that is attached to those items which you have just tossed. 4. As the sponge gets full, your Higher Self can get another sponge. Sponges are limitless. Keep breathing as long as your Higher Self is cleaning (about 2-3 minutes). You might notice some tingling sensations or body sensations as the old possession energy leaves your body. 5. Let your Higher Self take the dirty sponges and throw them into the sun, where they can be recycled. 6. Then ask your Higher Self to fill up the spaces inside you (the newly-created vacuum) with gold neutral light. CHAPTER 10
WHAT’S MY HIGHER PURPOSE?
Do you know someone who seems deliriously happy doing the one thing that satisfies them so much that they are a joy to be around (or a pain to you because you can’t stand them being so happy)? If you are doing what you love, you are filled with such joy and satisfaction that you can’t help but radiate that energy around you–and attract back the same kind of energy, most generally in the form of money or other benefits that let you know you are doing the right thing or right action. That is another way to say manifesting your Higher Purpose. If you feel invigorated or uplifted at the end of your workday, instead of drained and exhausted, you have found your higher calling. If your work (whatever it is) feels overwhelming,
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unpleasant, draining, exhausting–you are not doing your soul work; you’re merely enduring your job. Higher Purpose is like turning the right key into a lock and seeing the door swing open to reveal a treasure trove of joy. That’s your birth right as an evolving being. Higher Purpose is that impetus toward joy that gives us soul satisfaction. Think of Catholic priests who get their calling from God; that’s their Higher Purpose manifest. We all have a Higher Purpose, the task we came on this planet to perform, but we rarely know what it is, and even more rarely do we express it. It has been buried under the pressures of raising a family, earning a living, trying to survive or succeed. Yet doing our Higher Purpose is one of the strongest human desires. Let’s look at two examples: My client, Gaea, worked as a salesclerk and hated it. What she really wanted to do was create beauty, and the store only provided her with human contact. Because of her finances and her skill level, she recognized that she was limited to sales. We worked on her sense of self-worth and on her need for self-expression. Perhaps she could find something outside the store that would help her work with artistry, I suggested. Instead, she became the manager of a store where she could choose many of the products that would be sold, and create the displays; she could exercise her sense of what was aesthetically pleasing, and still have that human contact. She immediately noticed an enormous difference inside her–the tension was gone, and her self esteem soared. This was her sense of soul satisfaction. Electra also worked as a salesclerk, as well, but beauty wasn’t her driving passion. She loved greeting the customers, helping them without being pushy, letting them browse. Her joy was creating an atmosphere of invitation. Such energy was palpable in the store itself. She often said that she loved doing this work because it gave her such pleasure to help a customer find just the right gift–if not in her store, then somewhere else. Moreover, in the discussions she had with the customers, she often exchanged ideas about personal growth. Interestingly, when she was in the store, business boomed; when the owner was there, business suffered. The need to find your Higher Purpose becomes more acute with each passing year, especially when your Higher Self nudges you to claim your true purpose and not live according to other people’s expectations. In my psychic practice, I have found that the third most frequent question (after money and relationships) is, “What am I supposed to be doing here (on the earth/in my life)?” Many of us are wrestling with that existential issue–how can we do or find what gives us soul satisfaction? Life-and-death crises help us tune to our Higher Purpose. That’s when we clearly perceive our priorities. Hence the often amazing transformation of people who have near death experiences; they know they have been given another chance to make a difference in their lives–and quite often, they take it. If you knowingly choose to not manifest your Higher Purpose, it affects your whole life. It’s like a slow poison; you never feel quite happy or content–something is missing, and the effect on your spirit is ultimately devastating. Here’s a common example: All too often, you may stay at a job you know is not good for you just because of the benefits. Even though that’s economically prudent, it is toxic to your spirit.
Penelope has a very high level corporate position, which impacts many departments and employees. Unfortunately, her attitude is so negative and hostile that it makes every situation much worse, and business suffers; her employees dread her hatchet style, and the turnover is tremendous. The result is that she is inflicting enormous psychic and emotional damage on her clients, herself, her staff and her private life, with no other outlets for her soul. Don’t be like that! Why is it that middle-aged men get the “sudden” urge to totally change their living arrangements–to divorce their wives of 25 years and get involved with some 23-year-old bimbette? Until that time, they did what they were supposed to do–earn a living, raise a family, be a model adult. At some point, the ache in their heart becomes too strong to ignore, so they start looking for something to ease their inner pain. They are searching for that soul satisfaction, and the only way to find it is by acting on their discontent. Not surprisingly, one of the first things they do is trade in the old model for something younger. This is called the “mid-life crisis”. Now women too are doing it as well. You no longer need to “endure” and “take it”, but rather reassess your situation. Feelings that have been suppressed all these years often explode into your consciousness and force you to examine all the elements in your life, so you can decide whether to stop making the compromises you have lived with, and search for something different, something better, something that gives you joy. That’s why you may suddenly look at your husband and say, “enough”! Why remain in a static relationship that no longer nourishes you emotionally or spiritually, just because “it’s not done”, or “divorce isn’t good”, or “what will people think”, or “we need to stay together for the kids”? If you choose to stay in your situation, let it be because you have reshaped your world to provide you with the nourishment and growth your soul requires. Manifesting your Higher Purpose always provides you with incredible spiritual nourishment. Everything is focused on the movement forward; everything flows, so smooth, so effortless, so joyful. That’s why it permeates many of the ceremonies of this book. How do you tune into or discern your Higher Purpose? Recognize: First, recognize that you have a Higher Purpose. Yes, you do! Everyone comes to this earth with a higher purpose; though few take the opportunity to manifest it–whether by personal choice or by outside influences (doing what your family expects you to do rather than what you want to do, etc.) Acknowledge: Second, acknowledge that your conscious mind has no clue about your Higher Purpose. That’s because it is not the repository of your Higher Purpose–your Higher Self is. No amount of “thinking” will clarify your Higher Purpose; it’s strictly a spiritual “understanding”. The Buddhists talk about quieting the chattering mind in order to hear your soul. When you do that, you can hear your Higher Self. It’s often an unconscious impetus to manifest your spiritual need that becomes so strong that it cannot be ignored. And when it’s time to do so, it happens fast! For example, between the moment that I finally realized that I wanted to be a therapist and the time I was accepted into a master’s psychology program was less than 10 days. Later, talking to other students, I realized how extraordinarily unusual my acceptance into graduate school really was.
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Assess: Third, assess how happy you are with your life. Are you doing whatever nourishes you emotionally and spiritually? How can you tell? Is there a gnawing sense of dis-ease or discomfort somewhere under your sternum that you have to keep pushing down or dulling (with drugs/alcohol, feverish activity, self-denial) so as not to confront feelings of disappointment, emptiness, lack, inadequacy, or incompletion? Do you feel like life is a prison sentence that you endure every day? Do you sigh when you go to work? Or do you greet the day with joy at the opportunities it provides–even the “setbacks”? As you go along your personal path, remember to ask that everything you do be in alignment with your Higher Purpose, whether you know what it is, or not, that will become obvious as the work progresses. First, you need to get in touch with your Higher Self by clearing away obstacles in the way. CEREMONY: SEEKING YOUR HIGHER PURPOSE This ceremony can be done alone or in a group. The first part is the same in both cases. 1. Sit back in your chair and breathe comfortably. Be aware of yourself. Now, ask your Higher Self, “What is my Higher Purpose?” Immediately, you will probably hear your mind rattling off a litany of comments. Remember, it has no clue about your Higher Self or your Higher Purpose. 2. Imagine that there’s a drain running from the center of your head down into the center of the earth. Now gently nudge your mind’s constant chatter and complaints down the drain. 3. Repeat “What is my Higher Purpose?” Breathe in and out slowly to a count of four; hold two beats; and repeat the whole process again. Continue until you feel that your mind is becoming quiet, about 5-10 minutes. And at all times, repeat, “What is my Higher Purpose?” And continue dumping the chatter. 4. Invite your Higher Self to give you some sign or sense of your Higher Purpose. Sometimes you’ll get a clear image; other times you’ll get a feeling. Even if you sense nothing, just doing this meditation opens you up to the possibility, to the desire, to find out what is. You haven’t any time to waste anymore. You need to know what you have to do! And that means now! 5. Thank your Higher Self, open your eyes and come back into the room. You have primed yourself for receiving your Higher Purpose. You can repeat this meditation any time you have a quiet few moments. Keep it as a part of your meditation or prayer practice. Make sure you don’t forget. Until you actually 1) realize what your Higher Purpose is, and 2) begin to manifest it, you need to keep your focus on it. GROUP CEREMONY: 1. Once you have done steps 1-5 above, stand up and form a circle. Put your right hand on your neighbor’s head and your left on her back, and ask to serve as a conduit of wisdom from her Higher Self to her heart, so she can manifest her Higher Purpose in the way that is right for her.
2. As the receiver of this energy: Imagine this energy flowing from her through your arms and into your heart as a silver and indigo current. This is higher wisdom coming to you. Accept whatever amount you’re willing to take in. 3. As a group, chant in unison, “I am open to my Higher Purpose.” Continue that for several minutes. Notice what impressions you get–for yourself and for others. 4. At this point, I like to use some kind of tool like angel or goddess or tarot cards. Draw three cards–which will give you the qualities you need, whether it is for the moment or for your Higher Purpose. I suggest you do this ceremony twice–once right now, and then again after you’ve read the book and done other ceremonies. It’s like a Before and After snapshot. You’ll be quite different after all this self-transformation work.
CLAIMING YOUR DIVINE NAME
One of the more interesting trends over the last few years has been that of people changing their names–first, last or both. Some of the names have been strange or inane–others quite lovely. What is their motivation? Change, obviously–but why? As we raise our personal vibration, we want to reflect it in the most personal vibration we have which is our name. Do you want to remain at the level of your name’s vibration, or move forward? You may feel perfectly content with your name–after all, it’s been yours forever. You may have had no desire or idea that you could change it–or even want to. It’s your identity–the one you’ve had all your life. But if you’re reading this book, you’re considering inner change–and one of the most personal and most profound changes you can make is to take on a new identity–or, in fact, your true identity. In ancient times wise women/midwives who attended a birth would examine the soul of the newborn and tell the mother its karma, life purpose and true name. Sometimes that name was given to the child; other times, after consultation, the parents chose to bestow a name that would have the power to help the child in the lessons that it would need to learn. The idea was that the child would attune to that energy and use it in their life. That ancient custom has long since disappeared (along with the respect toward wise women). Now, being given your true name is sheer chance. If you were lucky, your parents were enough in tune with your soul that they blessed you with your true name for your earthly incarnation. It’s a huge IF, and usually highly improbable. Children are rarely given the name that is right for them. (You might find out by consulting a psychic or a highly spiritual guru. I do that in my Baby Readings.) Rather, we get saddled with names that have been given to us by parents who had their own reasons for choosing it, such as family obligation, memorials for a relative, parent, grandparent, etc. (Oscar), trendy names (like Shane or Tiffany or Mallory), making a statement (like naming a kid Lake), or in honor of somebody famous (Roosevelt, Elvis). Moreover, many of our names have meaning, though we hardly have any awareness of it today: noble’ Ethel; beauty: Ada; bitter: Mary, Molly; bright: Berta, Clare; etc. Before you’ve even started to live, you’ve been loaded with all sorts of expectations, beliefs and qualities. By giving you such a name, your parents hang those characteristics on you; as a result, you cut yourself off from the essential qualities that vibrate in your own true name, which expresses who you really are. These associations affect you each time someone says your name, since sound has a vibration, and names have a resonance. The more energy you give to the image, the more life it has. Whenever you or others say your name, you take on its qualities. In turn, its sound, vibrations and
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feelings limit the kind of self-manifestation (physical and emotional) you will have. In effect, you grow into the name you have been given. Here’s a priceless example: A man was introduced to me as Lars Whiteside. Yet I was struck by the incongruity between this man’s vigorous name and his weedy, Ichabod Crane appearance. They just didn’t match. Then his wife confided that he had recently changed his name from Orrin Ziegendorfer. That fit! He still looked and acted like Orrin Ziegendorfer. To truly become a Lars Whiteside, this man needed to shed his Ziegendorfer energy–and alter his physical appearance, his tastes, and his diet (which is pretty hard by the time you’re an adult!). To his credit, he was making that effort because he knew he no longer wanted to retain the energy of the old name–and its limitations for him. Here’s another example. Lists come out every year of the ten most popular male and female names (like Michael and Hannah). There’s a certain positive association with those names. On the other hand, names like Elmer or Humphrey or Matilda have a much more negative association– and the people who carry those names have measurably lower self-esteem than the Michaels and Hannahs. If you feel ashamed or uncomfortable saying your name, there’s no reason to hold on to it, except for family obligation or expectation; you can change it at any time. If that’s so, why not find the name that really fits you–your essence name? As you take on the new name, others will react–positively, negatively, or in confusion. Let them. Who’s most important here? The higher vibration your name has, the greater the change within you. When Thalia changed her name from Gertrude, her whole demeanor shifted. You may not be aware of the underlying reasons for changing your name. The ostensible ones are that perhaps you can’t stand it (like Orrin), and you want one that sounds “nice”; or you just feel attracted to a particular name. That may be your Higher Self nudging you in that direction. Whether you can ever decide to take the step of changing your name or not, going through the process is very useful, for it crystallizes all of the issues you may have around self-worth and selflove. Divorce is an excellent time to shed not only the last name, but your first as well–a true breaking with the past (regardless of the objections of others). As you evolve, you may want to reclaim the name that reflects your path, your journey, or your divinity–not one that hold you back or imposes its own baggage or straitjacket of preconceptions on you. That’s what your essence name does. After all, it expresses your soul. Take a good, searching look at your given name. What does it “mean” to you? Write it down on a piece of paper. Why were you given that name? If it’s to honor someone else, what qualities of theirs were you asked to take on? If you are always being compared to your namesake, that’s another burden you’re carrying. If you are a Junior that adds an even greater burden of responsibility–to measure up to Senior, no matter who or what you are. What message (subtle or obvious) does your name convey? For example, a woman with the nickname “Les” was also giving the signal that she wanted “less”.
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If you have a trendy name, or a very untrendy name, what do those feelings, attitudes and qualities evoke in you. Do you like being the center of attention? Or does your name make you want to crawl away? How do you think those attitudes embody themselves in you? What kind of energy does it hold? Now, let your mind drift into a kind of free association and “feel” your name. What qualities does it have–color, shape, sound, feelings, tones, emotions, negatives or positives? $ Is it heavy like a rock, or light as a feather? Does it have heft or strength or weight? $ What does it feel like–is it soft, or hard, or scratchy, or abrasive, or smooth, or silky, or prickly, or pillowy? $ What color is it (yes, names have color)? Is it gray or gold or green or red or multicolored, or spotted or checked? Multicolored? Or various shades? $ What sound does it make? Is it mellifluous, tinkly, tinny, sharp, clear, muddy, high-pitched, dull, low, screaming, gurgling, etc.? $ What sensations come up when you say the name? Where do you feel it in your body? $ What positives or negatives do you associate with the name? $ What animal do you sense when you say the name? $ How large or small is the name? Does it take up space, or is it meek and shy? For example, I associate the following names: $ Alexandra: power, strength, overwhelming at times, intense, martial, impelling, dark red, and pulsing. $ Laura: willows, watery movement, sliding through rather than pushing through, blue/yellow, light spots. $ Marla: firm, a big black spot, sometimes shot with red, determined, sometimes headstrong or opinionated, rhino $ Joanna: light blue, flowery, thinnish, giraffe These are MY impressions of names–which are not necessarily borne out by reality, or the same as others, but it will give you an idea of how to contemplate the qualities of your name. What are yours? Make your list, using the questions above. By doing it, you will find out what you have taken on before you can become something else. It’s another kind of old family pattern you have been working to release. Ultimately, these energies need to be removed before you can become yourself. After you’ve set down your impressions, it’s time to ask your Higher Self for some guidance. If anyone knows your true name, it’s your Higher Self. She wants you to evolve, and if a name change will further that effort, and you are open to accepting it, it will manifest. You may receive it immediately. Much more likely, though, is that it will appear after the ceremony. It may come to you in a dream, through imagery, or a spiritual journey or meditation, from a guru or a channeled reading, or something as simple as seeing it in a book or magazine and feeling a kinship to it.
CLAIMING YOUR DIVINE NAME
One woman heard her name being screamed at her just as she was drifting off to sleep; another was awakened from a dream with it on her lips; another received it from her Higher Self in a dream. If you set your intent, it will come to you. Even after you’ve learned your true name, you may still decide to keep your given name. Why? You may feel reluctant to make the name change public because of a fear about the reaction from their children, family, friends, etc. Perhaps it’s too much of a hassle to legally change it; or you have to contend with public ridicule and embarrassment. Or you can simply keep your true name as a private, secret name to be shared with a few trusted souls, like close friends, or your spiritual group. You don’t have to proclaim it publicly. I would suggest you decide what’s important. If proclaiming your true essence to the world is important, then “damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead.” The guru Rajneesh bestowed on his followers their own unique East Indian names. After he left America, many of the devotees kept those names for non-legal, social purposes. One of them was a friend of mine, who was afraid that “straight” people might think her name was “strange” (a foolish assumption in California). Yet she felt compartmentalized by the name split–one name for the “outer world”, one for friends and devotees. I suggested that she put both her given and her Indian names on her checks and license, to ease her acquaintances into the transition. Gradually, she took on the Indian name full time and found most everyone could accept it easily–even her parents. The following ceremony will help. CEREMONY: FINDING YOUR NAME Self: 1. Ground yourself. 2. Invite your Higher Self to send in a sparkly ball of light through your whole body. As the ball spins, speak your name slowly in your mind. Let the qualities of that name be prominent in your mind during the attunement. This is the first step in removing the inculcations that have accreted to that name. 3. Say 2-3 times, “I release [say your given name], the name I was given, and all its associations.” 4. Call in your parents’ energy. Ask them to take back from you all of the reasons for giving you that name. (They gave you that name for a reason. Give back the energy of that reason.) 5. Stand up and step away from your seat, leaving your name’s energy in the chair. Ask your parents to pick it up and take it away with them. Imagine them leaving with a suitcase full of their intentions for your name. 6. Repeat #3. 7. Still standing, imagine your given name as a film pressed against the front of your body. Let your Higher Self peel this film away from your body, and step back. Let the film remain, wavering in front of you like a mist.
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8. Pay attention to this energy. Do you like it? What do you sense/see from it? Does it feel
9. 10. 11.
comfortable being away from you? Or do you miss it? Do you feel relief not having it there because it fits badly or twists you out of shape? These questions will give you a sense of how you fit your name, and what happens when you have the space to contemplate what it really is like. Then let it get sucked into the earth to be recycled. Imagine yourself now as a light body, a divine being, nameless as yet, who must separate from the energy of the name you’ve been given. Say, “I invite my true name into myself.” Chant it 10 times. Say, “I accept my true name.” Chant it 10 times. Call on your Higher Self to send you your essence name–your true self. Let it fly toward you like a bird. Reach out your hands to embrace your Self–this part of you that has been lost for so many years, and is now being reclaimed. Let it fly into your mind, like the bird coming home to roost. Imagine its vibration filling all of the space that was opened up when your parents took away their intentions. Feel yourself coming into attunement with who you really are. Ask that you be given a hint or a picture or sense of that name. Remember, whether you sense it or not, it is coming! Be quiet now, letting your body attune to those new energies coming to you. Visualize your name growing inside you, expanding and filling your cells, and becoming you. It’s during this period that you might find yourself getting an impression of your true name. Whisper (10 times) that you will accept the name in any way that’s appropriate.
GROUP CEREMONY: When you do this ceremony as a group, you have the opportunity to invoke the higher powers to assist you in this search. You can repeat the steps in the Self ceremony, but each of you will no longer be acting alone; as a group, you can clean out the energies of your given names. Even if you’ve found your true name, doing this process with others just helps remove, release, scrub out any residual energies that have lingered in your psyche. 1. Present your impressions and associations of your name to the group. Let the other members give their impressions of your name. Notice if they coincide. Lots of times their impressions are quite different from your own. 2. Go around the room and let everyone have this opportunity to present their own names and impressions. 3. As a group: Invoke your goddesses and your Higher Selves to assist you in your quest to find your true names. 4. Call in your parents and ask them to remove from you all the reasons for giving you that name. 5. At this point, stand up and move away from your seat, leaving the energy of your name in the chair. Invite your parents to take that name away with them. (Everyone does this in the group with their own chair.)
CLAIMING YOUR DIVINE NAME
6. Then invoke the cleansing sparkling energies to run through your bodies. Hold hands as a group, and let the energy come into your head and down to your heart, where it makes a right turn into the next person’s heart. Then this current moves from heart to heart until you’re all in a circle of flowing energy. 7. Say, “I invite my true name into myself.” Chant it ten times. 8. Call in your parents’ energy. Return to them all of the reasons for giving you that name. (They gave you that name for a reason. Give back the energy of that reason.) 9. Stand up and step away from your seat, leaving your name’s energy in the chair. Ask your parents to pick it up and take it away with them. Imagine them leaving with a suitcase full of their intentions for your name. 10. Say, “I accept my true name.” Chant it as a group, ten times. 11. Invite your Higher Self to send your true name into your mind, and speak your name. Imagine its vibration filling all of the space that was opened up when your parents took away their name. Feel yourself coming into attunement with who you really are. Ask that you be given a hint or picture or sense of that name. 12. Be quiet now, holding hands as a group, to attune yourself to the new energies inside you all. Visualize that name growing inside you, growing and enlarging and becoming you. It’s during this time that you might find that you get impressions of your true name. Let it be understood that it can manifest in any way that’s appropriate. 13. Thank the divine beings for their assistance. One by one, members of the group can speak about what they sensed about themselves, or anyone else in the group. (I find that often another person can give you the information you need because their mind isn’t chattering or obstructive about you. Remember your mind is scared of change.) If you have learned your true name, whether from yourself or from someone else, have the group come around you, holding hands, with you in the center, and chant your name. (Ex: “Starbright, Starbright, Starbright”). With each pronunciation of your name, feel the energy of that name moving through you and claiming you as its own. This is YOU. Embrace it, feel it, become it! Try on the name; say it aloud; write it down. How do you resonate to it? Finally, thank everyone for sharing this moment–especially if you have learned your name. If not, you still have shared that moment of celebration together. Have some chocolate–the ultimate comfort food–to celebrate your coming out into the light of true essence. Also, chocolate eases the energy of the new name into your body–whether you are aware of it or not.
EMBRACING YOUR GODDESS
In many of these ceremonies, you are going to be asked to invoke the goddess. Which goddess? Who is she? It’s you! You! Just as each of us has a name, a personality, an ego, and a Higher Self, each of us has a goddess’s energy. We may have forgotten that we are goddesses, but it’s time to remember that, to claim our strength, our wisdom, our power, our presence. Being a goddess means that we stand strong and tall. Taking on a goddess stance is very empowering and also very threatening, especially to men. No surprise. For many men, who are used to having the power in and out of the home, having a goddess stand up and say, “No,” is very unnerving. This is claiming your goddess power– becoming the “uppity female.” It is drawing a line in the sand and saying, “I’m feeling tremendous about myself!” People all around you can sense your strength, power, presence, and groundedness. You radiate it everywhere! Not only do you feel it, but so does everyone around you. If you want to see this in action, watch the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. At the beginning, the Kathy Bates character is fairly mouse-like; as her friendship with Jessica Tandy deepens, she becomes much more feisty, such as when she tells her bewildered husband to handle his own dinner, or when she knocks the teenagers out of their parking space. You become a model for younger women, for older women, and for men. You know your place, and your place is in the center of your Universe. Everybody needs to be the center of their own Universe. Not orbiting someone else’s. If you aren’t at the center of your Universe, why not? If you defer to your husband or to your children or to your parents, why? Claiming your goddess self energizes you. It helps you activate those dormant powers that you may have denied, or put away, or haven’t been sure that belong to you or that you deserve. When you invoke your goddess, when you allow yourself to be raised to that level of divinity, it lifts all the parts of you out of the past. This is one benefit from calling on your goddess energy. What kind of goddess are you? I’ve already mentioned that as a group we represent the crone goddess, Hecate (Greek), Cerridwen (Celtic), and so on, as the representatives of the life phase that we’re going through. But beyond that, we all have our own goddess that defines our essential Self. This is not meant to be the worship of goddesses or gods, but the awakening of the Divine within each of us. This is very important because if you follow a particular religion, you still have that religion; that has not changed. What we’re really talking about here is touching the divine in us. When we are feeling depression, sadness, anger, and hurt, we are trapped by the past, most particularly, through our Inner Child. This is the very young part of us, who is still trapped by the traumas of childhood. As adults, we try to mitigate its control by adult thinking and actions, but
CLEANING OUT THE EMPTY NEST
when we’re feeling scared or unhappy, it simply overwhelms us with its fear or need. Want proof? Just think of visiting your parents–how quickly we lose our adult veneer! I want to be very clear here that this is not possession. You are simply claiming your highest divine self. And your highest divine self is your goddess. You’re not out of control or lose control, or lose consciousness, or trance out when you invoke your goddess. In fact you feel more alive, more expansive, and more joyful. Those are the qualities of invoking your goddess. In Goddesses in Every Woman, Jean Shineda Bolen described the seven Greek goddesses as archetypes. Hera is the queen, Demeter, the Mother, Persephone, the daughter or maiden, Artemis, the independent one, Athena, the wise woman, Hestia, the homebody, and Aphrodite, who is both passionate and in control of all situations. It’s easy to identify ourselves with one of those archetypal goddess forms. Archetypes express certain types of personal experience. They give you insight into the kind of behaviors and beliefs you have, but they are only symbols. We may have an affinity for a particular archetype, but that may not be who we really are. My goddess archetype, according to Bolen’s book, is Artemis, the huntress. But my Goddess is Arianrhod, the Celtic Mother goddess. So if I were invoking the goddess, according to my archetype it should be Artemis. I don’t because the Goddess in me is not the archetype; my Goddess is a unique being–me. You can say, “I’m an Athena,” and that may be your behavior in the world, but your underlying being is really Sige (the Norse goddess of depth, silence and hidden meanings). If you limit yourself to what is described in your goddess’s archetype, you will not touch the essence of your relationship with her. There will be some part of you missing (Chapter 11, Claiming Your Divine Name). We define our Selves–and we don’t let other people tell us who we are, and what we deserve. We don’t have to answer to anyone else for our right to be whom we are, to do what we want, and to declare ourselves, our preferences, our desires. That’s not to say we are going to run roughshod over other people, but that we all are our own self-contained Universes. GODDESS CEREMONIES: This ceremony actually has several parts. First, we have a group ceremony, then a private ceremony, and finally, another group ceremony. The first group ceremony activates the quest for the goddess. The second ceremony focuses on your own work with her. And the third ceremony welcomes your goddess into your group. PART I: MEETING YOUR GODDESS The first ceremony is a shamanic inner journey, using a native drum or drumming tape. (You can buy a drumming CD from any metaphysical store or amazon.com.) One person acts as the facilitator, to guide the journey. Hopefully, she has already found her goddess (and if she hasn’t, the ceremony can be repeated for her later. Besides, there may be a number of people who don’t meet their goddess this time or who would benefit from another visit.
CELEBRATION & RELEASE
The whole journey should take 30 minutes. The guide may even be the drummer, if she wishes to do so. Here is one script that you can use for your group as the guided journey. Read it slowly and calmly.
“Get comfortable on the floor or the couch, lying down or sitting. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. [Give them time to do that.] “You’re going to be taking a journey into the upper world. This is a shamanic journey, in which you will be leaving your body in a symbolic way to find your goddess. As the drumming starts, listen to the sound of the steady rhythmic drumbeat, and let the rhythm move through you. [Turn on the CD or start drumming.] “As you sit or lie with your eyes closed, breathe rhythmically and evenly, feeling your body letting go, just relaxing, and ready to take a journey to find your goddess. There is no right or wrong here, just whatever you see or feel. And fact, you may notice or sense nothing this time, but this is a declaration that you are ready to meet and accept your goddess. “Now allow yourself to follow the beating of the drum like your heartbeat, leading you up into the realm of your goddess. You are here to invite your goddess to be with you. As the sound of the drumbeats resonate through your mind and your body, let the sound also resonate out into the upper world, into the ether, where your goddess is waiting to embrace you. Imagine that this drumbeat is a messenger, calling your goddess to be with you, to join with her as you were meant to be. You may or may not have ever met your goddess before, but it is a wonderful and powerful experience. “Just imagine now that there’s a path that is forming in front of you, and you begin to walk along this path, drifting very easily and gently up a grassy hill, until you have reached the top and you can comfortably rest for a moment. It’s easy and relaxing. You’re completely relaxed and rested. [pause 15 seconds] “At the top of this hill is a large golden balloon with a golden basket that you can climb into, that will take you up, up to the place where the Goddess awaits you. So when you’re ready, step into this basket and sit down. [pause 15 seconds] “In a moment, this golden balloon is going to float off from the hill, light as a cloud, and flow away, following its own direction, its own movement, toward the place where your goddess is waiting to greet you. As it moves through the air, you may feel the sun gently warming your face, and the wind riffling in your hair and your clothes. You may feel and sense the gentle movement as the balloon drifts along. Or you may just want to close your eyes and relax until you arrive. And then, very gradually, your balloon comes down onto the earth up where the goddess lives. [pause 15 seconds] “Get out and look around. This is where your goddess is. She may be there to greet you, or she may have sent some messenger or sign to lead you forward. Let yourself move forward until you reach your goddess. [[pause 15 seconds] You will know her because she will greet you. Unlike you, she knows who you are. And she is waiting to manifest her energies inside you. “This goddess is the one who expresses all the highest potential for you. That’s why embracing your goddess is so important because when you do that, you claim all of you. If you
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aren’t sure, ask her, “Are you from the Light?” The only answer is Yes. You are from the light, so is your goddess. [pause 10 seconds] “The easiest thing to do is to come as close to the goddess as you feel comfortable or dare and clasp hands. If you feel comfortable with that, allow her to embrace you. [pause 15 seconds] “And then ask your goddess what her name is. What name do you hear? You may get something right away, or it may take some time. Ask her, what are her qualities. You may sense or hear her qualities–the goddess of love, the goddess of healing, the goddess of peace, the goddess of understanding. And then later on you’ll realize the goddess of love is Mary or Aphrodite or Isis. [pause 15 seconds] ”Now that you know the goddess’s name, you can call on her whenever you wish to use divine energy, divine beingness, divine will. “Once you have made contact your goddess, you first bond has been forged, and you can do this work again privately. Remain with your goddess for a time, learning, if you can, what parts of you she holds that you do not acknowledge. [pause 10 seconds] “Let your goddess bring her qualities into you, if you are ready. As you take them, you will realize how much you have been missing. Accept as much of your gifts as you can from her. [Long pause–one minute.] “When you come back to this waking world, some part of her will come back with you, to let you get used to her presence, to gradually become the avatar of your own goddess. “Now it’s time to come home.” [You will know because the drumming will suddenly change to five repetitions of a short sharp drumbeat, ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, pause, ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, pause, not the regular thudding drumbeat. That is the warning to return.] “Embrace your goddess. Even though you are leaving, you can bring back a part of her to bring into your heart, a small image of herself, which will accompany you back to your world. Then go back to the balloon, but not alone; your goddess is with you, in your heart. [pause 15 seconds] “Get into the basket, and let the balloon sail back to that hill. You can hear the beating of the drum as a beacon to draw you back home. It’s easy and effortless, and you’re coming back very gently, back to where you embarked. You can hear the drumming getting louder and louder, as you and your goddess arrive. [speak faster and louder] “Now get out of the balloon and go down the hill, coming closer to the room, closer to your body, closer to the outer reality. You can hear the drumbeat getting louder, summoning back your energy, into your body; and this time, as you breathe deeply, you also breath your goddess into your body as well. And when the drumming stops, at your own speed, come back into waking consciousness.”
Sit up slowly. It may take a while, especially if you have been bathed in the magnificence of your goddess, to adjust to the waking world. You may want to talk about what went on, or you may simply want to mull it over for a while before saying anything. It’s totally up to you. If women in your group do choose to describe their journeys, remember to be respectful and supportive of each person’s experience. Each woman has her own journey and her own learning to do.
CELEBRATION & RELEASE
The most obvious concern that many people have is that you saw/felt/sensed nothing. You may feel lost, unaware and a failure, but that’s not so. Getting nothing is not unusual, especially the first time. Don’t consider it a wasted trip. It was very important that you took the journey anyway. Why? This journey is like shining a flashlight into the darkness, a declaration that you’re looking for your Goddess. It is the first step on your path. And soon, you will discover that you have a divine companion to be with you. This is just one ceremony to create a journey to find your goddess. You can create your own. When the group does it, it becomes much more powerful because the group energy becomes synergistic; with so many women focusing on finding their goddess, the energy helps everyone. PART II: HOMEWORK Between this time and the next ceremony, you have homework to do. It’s very simple: Find out the traits of your particular goddess. How do you know who she is–especially if you didn’t hear her name? I have found that many women find nothing in their first journey, but over the next week they get clues to their goddess’s identity. Be alert to the signs. Synchronicity is active here. Consult a book on goddesses, like The Shining Ancient Ones. It will give you a framework to understand the kinds of goddesses have existed in history and in cultures. As you thumb through the descriptions, reading the attributes of each goddess, note what name jumps out at you. (I have provided a short list of goddesses and their attributes in the Appendix.) Meditate on your journey (whether you met anyone or not), asking for clarity from your Higher Self. The answer may come in dreams or meditation. Or you open up a magazine, and a name pops out at you, and then it is reinforced in two or three other different ways (like meeting someone with that last name, or finding yourself on a street with that name. Your goddess wants you to know her! It’s for all of your best benefit. It will be hard not to find a particular name for your goddess, and the qualities your goddess manifests. By the time you participate in the goddess naming ceremony, you will hopefully have been able to at least define the qualities of the goddess within you. What if two people find they have connected with the same goddess? Well, there are over six billion people, and only a few hundred goddesses. Obviously, not every person has their own private goddess. Regardless of her “expected traits”, whatever goddess comes to you is the one who is right for you. Let me be clear. This is not a divine name, but an archetype that you are working with–that will help you reach your inner divinity. Arianrhod came to me during a meditation, and introduced herself as the Star Maiden–even though in Celtic tradition she is a Mother goddess. She never emphasized the mother aspect with me. The work that I have done with her is different from her qualities as a Mother goddess; yet that is unquestionably the goddess’s qualities that resonate with my higher being. When I subsequently told my friend Euphrosyne that I was working with Arianrhod, she got quite indignant because that was her goddess (which I didn’t know until then). But she works with
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a different aspect of Arianrhod. There’s no reason that we both can’t be working with the same goddess energy because our goddess’s energy is unique to us. There may be a million Arianrhods or Aphrodites out there, but each one of us will have a different flavor because we are all different beings. My Arianrhod expresses my own goddess nature; Euphrosyne’s Arianrhod expresses her own goddess nature. So if there are three Aphrodites, that’s the way it is. PART III: GROUP CEREMONY: ANNOUNCING YOUR GODDESS NAME In the group you are going to introduce your goddess, and let that be acknowledged by the group. 1. Smudge everybody beforehand. 2. Open the ceremony with an invitation to all light beings to come and work with you. 3. Call upon your goddess self to come. 4. Let your goddess stand before you. Then stand up and slowly and consciously step forward into your goddess. Feel her come inside you and fill you up with her presence–the majesty, the strength, the surety, and the entitlement of your goddess nature. This is very powerful, as you embrace your goddess energy. 5. Straighten up, breathe deeply, and introduce your goddess, and explain what she represents to you:
Ex: “My goddess is Arianrhod, and she is the star maiden, the guide, the director.”
6. Let everyone greet your goddess and welcome her into your life. 7. Present to each member of the group, a symbol of the goddess. Hand them a symbolic gift, such as a shell, a kernel of corn, a grain, a bead, or stone–something that bestows your goddess’s radiance onto each member of the group. Each of you is blessing the other members with your goddess presents. You’re going to have quite a collection of items afterwards. Put them in a medicine pouch, or some sacred bundle, and put it on your altar, because this expresses your group’s essence. 8. Everyone who has found their goddess can go through this process. 9. Once the introductions are done, run a rainbow energy through your whole being and spread that throughout whole room, filling up everyone with its magnificence and power. Imagine your goddess energy being shared with the group, so that each of you can taste and sense the essence of who you really are. 10. If you haven’t found your goddess, you can only be a participant. However, when you do find your goddess, you can have your own ceremony at another time. Since the ceremony is not very long wit only one person, it can be at the beginning of another ceremony. Every time you work with your goddess, you strengthen your bond and your goddess’s wisdom becomes more anchored in you.
CELEBRATION & RELEASE
CLEANING OUT THE EMPTY NEST
By the time we move into our third age, many women have begun to confront a new phenomenon–an empty home. Your children have gone away to college, or they get their own apartments, or they get married and start their own home. At that moment, you and your spouse are left staring at each other with nobody else around to distract you; you are all alone together. The house is too large, too silent–and too lonely. And then you panic. Now that there are no children to fill up your life, you and your spouse have the opportunity to see just exactly who you’re married to for the first time in many, many years. I’ve had all too many couples say to me, after the children move out, “Who is the stranger I’m living with?” That’s because you’ve been parents for so long, and not partners. When children come into your life, they demand all of your time and energy. A child fills up your whole space, and pushes your adult relationship into the fringes. That’s why most relationship books and marriage counselors stress the need for the adults to keep working on their own partnership. The fact that so many marriages end in divorce indicates how unsuccessful it is to keep those adult bonds of love strong. But even if your marriage lasts while your children are growing up, by the time they fly the coop, and there is nobody else around except your partner, is that person a stranger to you? Or are the two of you really and truly glad to be with each other? Suppose you have done your work to strengthen the relationship between you and your husband. When the children leave, you both feel delighted to have peace and quiet. You are not strangers to each other, but partners; now you can enjoy all those wonderful things you had to postpone while the children were growing up. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But it’s not that common. Instead, an empty nest really exposes the gaping flaws in a relationship. The first impulse is to fill up that gap with something, and for a lot of women, it’s a sudden desire to have another child: they get pregnant, they adopt, or they become foster parents. Having another child simply means that you get to do over again what’s familiar and safe. Part of this empty nest cleanout is to help you finish that phase and move onto the next one by refocusing–on yourself, on your needs, your desires. What you need at this time is clarity–about yourself, your feelings and your partner. The Empty Nest ritual helps you get some clarity by cleaning out some physical and spiritual debris. This ceremony is also excellent for removing other people from your house—roommates or lovers who have lingered too long—or, in particular, parents who lived with you until they died or went into a nursing home or hospice. Even though you still love them, their energy in your home keeps you stuck. Releasing that energy will help you stay focused on the present, rather than in the
CLEANING OUT THE EMPTY NEST
past, when you were swallowed up by their demands and needs. (Remember, it has nothing to do with how much you love them, just the energy of their illness.) What is the ceremony of the Empty Nest? It is literally sweeping out of your nest, your home, outdated family energies–cleaning out the psychic cobwebs out of the corners and the emotional dust bunnies under the bed. In the movie, Practical Magic, the women in the “coven” all get together with brooms in hand to sweep the evil energy out of their house. You’re doing the same thing, although you’re not sweeping “evil” energy away. You’re sweeping out the “child” energy NOT your children’s energy, but the energy that has been wrapped up for so many years in childrearing. That phase is over. Your children can still come home to visit–and some may even move back in. But you will no longer need to be in the “responsible parent” role. Your children are now responsible for themselves. You may still be called on to help them out, but as adult to adult, not adult to child. To do this, you need a real broom–not one of those little brooms made with polyester bristles, but a good old-fashioned straw broom, or besom. That kind of broom has an ancient and powerful history of removing “dirt” of all kinds–physical, spiritual and emotional–from a home. In this case, it’s your family’s energy, like cobwebs getting thicker, dustier and older. As you sweep the ceiling and walls and floors, you are pushing out the old, outdated, trapped energy of your family, your dreams, your emotions, your passions, your family life, your child rearing, in other words, your past. Why is this so important? When you have an opportunity to release energy, you clean out the restrictions of old patterns and attitudes, old fears, needs, and worries about your family. It gives both you and your partner the opportunity to look at each other and evaluate each other in a clearer way. For example, your fears about your eighteen-year-old child are likely to be different than at eight or four or two. However, those old fears still linger in the house–until you remove them. CEREMONY: CLEAN OUT YOUR HOUSE. 1. Stand in the center of your living room, broom in hand, and declare, “I’m removing all of the outdated energies from my house. I am cleaning out my empty nest.” 2. Start with the ceiling. Run the broom across it. You don’t have to actually touch the ceiling, just make long sweeping motions upward. Nor do you have to cover the whole ceiling, just a large enough area to be symbolic. 3. Then turn your attention to the walls, brushing in a downward motion, and then the floor. Again, you don’t actually need to touch the walls, floor and ceiling as you move the broom through the air. It’s the intent that counts–whisking the energy out of your space. 4. Brush the psychic pile of “dirt” (old energy) down on to ground and into the hallway. 5. Go to your children’s rooms, and, one by one, do the same thing–brushing the ceiling, the walls, the floor. Push that energy into the hallway. 6. Continue through your whole house until you have swept every room in the house. You will have quite a pile of energy in your hallway.
CELEBRATION & RELEASE
7. Push all this energy down the hall, down the stairs. Then open your front door and sweep it all
out into the ground where it sinks into the earth (and can be recycled as neutral energy)– although your neighbors might think you’re a bit odd. 8. Don’t forget about the garage, the basement, any place where your kids and your husband spent timelike a vacation cabin. 9. Include your yard as well, too. You don’t have to go and dust every little tree and plant; rather, just walk around your yard, making the sweeping motions, dislodging the energy and letting it fall into the earth. When you’ve finished cleaning the energy out, you will have a symbolically empty house, ready for new energy, new relationships, new you.
DANCING YOUR MYTH
A myth is a belief system that unites a tribe or group. It has a particular purpose–to explain some natural phenomenon. Myths persist across all cultures, even though they may take different forms. Not surprisingly, the most common myth is Creation. Every culture expresses the human need to explain how we got here, and how we got our abilities and gifts. Myths have a deep-seated resonance in the human spirit and psyche because they are filled with archetypes, which represent particular qualities or aspects. Fairy tales are filled with archetypes–the hero, the princess, the king, the quest, the villain, etc. We all know what an archetype represents, without explanation. The Triple Goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone) expresses the three female aspects of Youth, Mother, Old Age. It’s simple to imagine these larger archetypes and admire their qualities. But what about you? What is your archetype–the defining theme of your life? How did you get here? What were your lessons? Your journey? Your joys and your fears? Are you a wanderer? A stay-at-home? A mother? A worker? A helper? A protector? An eternal child? A sexpot? A rebel? When you look back over your life, what theme do you notice? Every single person has certain beliefs, patterns, and desires that have colored and shaped who we are. Defining your archetype leads you to your myth. Until now you have been evolving your myth throughout your adulthood. It is made up of the patterns of the past, beliefs about yourself, your reactions to and desires for the world around you. Just as all of these other ceremonies are designed to expand your spirituality as a wise woman, so this one allows you to dance who you were and where you came from–and then, dance another myth, the new myth, the New You! Often, we limit ourselves; we believe that we are only “okay”. We forget to express the bounty and the glory of our humanity; that is what we do when we dance. The movie Footloose with Kevin Bacon was about a town in Texas that had banned dancing as immoral (unfortunately, a true story). The Bacon character, an outside, refused to accept that limitation and led a breakout of dancing. That’s what dancing your myth does! We forget that we express the bounty and the glory of humanity and no more so that when we dance. We can move ourselves out of our old patterns and express our myth, our purpose, and our beingness, which hasn’t been felt or done in a long time. It is the same as if you are taking a shamanic journey. Sometimes the journey is very powerful and you have all kinds of visions. Other times, the drumming just reverberates through your body; its rhythm shakes out the old patterns so you still have experienced a change, though on a more subtle level. For example, Hebe is a Hestia archetype (stay-at-home, very domestic). She is also connected to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and abundance. Over the years she has gradually come
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out of her retiring stance and come into the world, and her own power. Her dance reflects that unfolding, that evolution. Eithne has always been a flamboyant soul. Her dance reflected her over-the-top expression; she needed a huge yard to dance her very vigorous story. At this point you are probably debating 1) whether you can dance, 2) whether you want to dance, 3) how you can get past the embarrassment, 4) what kind of dance would you do, and 5) whether this whole thing is crazy. Maybe so. But think of this: Dancing is the purest form of inner self-expression because it requires no thinking, no analyzing, just moving. There is no right or wrong, no special steps to perform. Myth dancing is free dancing–not structured. If you choose to incorporate some formal steps, that’s because it’s part of your myth. If your dance is stylized or precise, or freeform, what does that say about your life journey? Dancing your myth, however, does not mean that you just wave your arms and shuffle your feet. Instead, you’re dancing how your archetype has played out in your life, and also your inner truth. Dancing takes the archetype to another level–into the cells of your body because it takes you away from the normal, the every day. You dance your Self, your purpose, and your joy–as a spiritual being. It has everything to with moving energy. When you dance your myth, not only do you express yourself, but it’s like shaking a jar of beans; it rearranges your energy in a way that allows the new you to glow. By short circuiting the mind and its judgments, and the cares, worries and problems you may be burdened with, dancing provides you joy, which is the true birth right of every person on this planet. It gets the endorphins pumping. As you dance, you spin away all those constructions you have put upon yourself. What goes away is depression, anxiety, stress, unhappiness. You feel great, whether you want to or not! At the end, you come out of it feeling aligned with yourself. By dancing your myth, you feel uplifted and joyful, closer to oneness, to the Universe, to Mother/Father God. You express You. That’s why sacred dance was so important in ancient religions. When you have finished your dance, joy has spread joy throughout your whole body; you no longer are sitting there with your energy coagulating inside you. No, your energy has been churned up, messed around with, turned upside down, fluffed up, and rearranged. The three main elements of your myth dance are your Inner Child, the very young part of you, your adult woman and your Higher Self. No part of you is as joyful as your Child. She’ll get you moving. When you invite your joyous little Child part to come out of hiding in your heart, she can spin and play and jump and dance, as only little children can. Then there is the adult you–who is inhibited, and also the one who needs to integrate the myth in body and soul. Finally, there is the divine element, your Higher Self and your goddess (if you know her, see Chapter 12). All of you must join together for a successful experience; for all of these parts of you have gone on your journey, and lived your myth.
DANCING YOUR MYTH
That’s the paradox when you dance your myth; it changes, and of course, so do you! By expressing who you have been and where you’ve gone, you also accept it, and move beyond your past. That is why your myth must be danced. You claim and own it; and free yourself to create a new you. How is that done? Think back on the music you have heard. What sets your feet tapping and your body shifting? Dance music of all kinds–rock, Motown, salsa, samba, disco–anything with a beat. It insinuates itself into your soul and your body, flows up your legs into your pelvis and churns through your body, and pretty soon, you’re out of your seat. Imagine this energy as the color orange. Feel it zinging through you. Let your body respond. Take a few dance steps or start moving your body, twisting and moving. That’s the first step. Dance transforms your attitude and your demeanor and outlook. Ask your Higher Self now to express the joy of your journey on this planet at this time. Now what does this all mean? How on earth can you dance your purpose? Do you stomp on the ground? Do you spin and whirl? Go with whatever your body wants. If that means swooping and whirling and jumping and spinning and stamping–that’s what you need to do. Once you’ve finished your dance–which can last no more than a few minutes the first time (because you might be embarrassed or worn out, depending on your stamina), you may notice that your movements have changed. That’s because your experience deepens with each dance. What were perhaps a few simple steps at the beginning may become quite a panoply of balletic choreography. I have found that women who dance their myth the first time tend to express their past, unless they have done so much spiritual work on themselves that they have totally freed themselves from their patterns and beliefs. But as they continue to dance their myth, their dance changes, as they internalize new energies, new understanding, new awakening. For more intensity, you may want to put your soul mask (Unmasking, Chapter 16) over your face. Let its power seep into you; then dance your myth, holding on to the mask. You may also wish to accompany your dance with a rattle or drum, or other props, or a particular costume. Just give yourself permission to use whatever will enhance your experience. Dancing can be very tricky in a group. It’s one thing to dance your myth alone, maybe in front of your mirror; it’s entirely something else to do it in front of others, whether they are friends or strangers. Sometimes it’s worse doing it in front of friends because you’ll see them again; with strangers, it’s infrequent. Therefore, the process with the group is to put everyone on the spot. Everyone dances her myth. No one is singled out. Everyone is so busy focusing on their own experience they won’t be critiquing yours. That takes care of the embarrassment factor. As for music, try several different cuts–some Motown, some samba, some salsa, one right after another, so that the whole group can get into the movement, and if your particular myth requires salsa, that cut will be coming up pretty soon.
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Each woman needs to dance her own myth. There are three ways to do it: 1) individually, alone, 2) as an individual in front of your group, with explanation afterward, if you so choose, and/or 3) as a group where you all participate at the same time doing your own self-expression. Suppose you decide to do this ceremony in your women’s group. In ancient times sacred dance was a way for the whole community–whether it was the priesthood or the full community all together–to unify their energies. In this case, what you are doing is calling on your energy as a group to focus each of you on your spiritual purpose. Some people get a great deal of pleasure from putting on an exhibition for others, and dancing their myth for an audience might be very satisfying. Other people have great difficulty expressing themselves in front of a group. For them, their journey is private. Often, though, having an audience lends enormous power to your mythic journey. Xanthe was very shy; she had an internal judge that criticized her mercilessly. She was sure she could never perform before her group. Yet, to everyone’s surprise, she announced that her dance had to be in front of the whole group–even though it still was strongly “repressed” (i.e., few and limited movements of arms and legs and body). At its end, though, she felt entirely different– stronger, more integrated, more powerful, and less self-judgmental. She sensed her higher wisdom being absorbed in a way she had never imagined–and her later dances reflected that inner shift. As you continue to dance your myth, you will touch the goddess within, just as Unmasking exposed the face of that inner you. And as your Unmasking evolves, so does your dance, so does your Being, so does your spiritual evolution. Before you do your personal ceremony, you need to identify which kinds of music reverberate deep in your soul. Which ones evoke some emotion? What do you feel when those pieces of music play? The music that you dance your myth to must have some resonance to your soul’s journey. Choosing your music becomes an exercise in self-discovery, paying attention to the unconscious impulses that run your life. That’s why each piece needs to be something that builds upon the one before it, as you dance. You can record them on a tape or CD, or if you have a multi-disk CD, you can program your player to play each selection in the order you want. PERSONAL CEREMONY: 1. Stand in the center of the room. Call forth your Inner Child and your Higher Self. 2. Spread your arms, and turn very slowly around, rotating in a circle to define your dance space. Keep your eyes open; I don’t want you to fall on the floor. Then put on a your special music. 3. Imagine that your Higher Self and you are reaching down to take your Child’s hands. 4. Do a few dance steps if you wish, or start moving your body, twisting and moving. 5. Feel your orange energy flowing up your legs into your pelvis and beginning to move through your body. This energy has a lot of pleasure and joy attached to it. Feel it rippling through you. If you have a condition that keeps you from moving much, use your arms and hands and as much of your body as is comfortable to move. It's not a matter of doing it right–just doing it!
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6. As the three of you dance, let this current of orange energy flow between Child and adult and
Higher Self. This is a group effort. You are dancing as a unity. 7. Ask your Higher Self to call in your goddess, if she is known to you. Add her to your circle. Let this circle collapse so it is all inside you–four beings in one body. 8. Now let your Higher Self summon your Higher Purpose. Let that be woven into your myth. 9. Dance in whatever way gives you joy until you feel it’s time to stop. GROUP CEREMONY: Give yourselves about twenty minutes to dance–and a lot of space. Preferably, being outside, barefoot, on the earth, makes it much more meaningful, and you get out of each other’s way while you dance. As always, clean yourselves out. Call in your goddess. And then let rip.
FUN AND JOY
Since you’re doing all this good work, it’s time to reward yourself by having fun. And the best way to have fun is to breathe out. How is breathing out fun? Simple–letting go is laughing. You can’t laugh on your in-breath. You can only laugh breathing out. And laughing releases stuck energies and breaks you out of old patterns, and en-lightens you. Laughing is part of joy. Joy is our natural birthright. Babies are bundles of joy. So are puppies and kittens. They don’t understand or even notice worry and fear. If they do, something bad is happening in their world. Babies only deserve joy in their world. And so do we. We deserve to have and live and bathe in nothing but joy. That we prevent ourselves from doing so is less a tribute to our upbringing than it is to our unwillingness or inability to recognize that it’s not necessary! Norman Cousins, the publisher of the Saturday Review, found during a debilitating, life threatening illness, that he healed himself by laughing. Seeing the most foolish stupid and inane films filled his body with endorphins and help him heal, in spite of the skepticism of the medical establishment. Mind does heal body. Whether it is the humor that makes you see things in a funny or relaxed way, or the joy which suffuses you, these are what allow you to create change– meaningful change inside you. How do we create and strengthen our joy? The easy answer is that we surround ourselves with the things that give us joy–in our home, our relationships, our work. Now that’s a simplistic answer. Some of you are saying, “That’s impossible.” Yes, that’s true, especially if you are going through a pretty horrendous situation. We need all of our faculties and strength to survive. But does feeling miserable and distraught help you cope any better than laughter and joy? Is it any wonder that Hollywood is making films that have happy endings–whether or not that’s the reality? I know personally that I’m not interested in seeing a downer film. As a psychotherapist, I hear human misery every day in my therapy office. I don’t need it outside my work. I need something that takes me away from that. And that’s what Hollywood creates–happy endings for our lives. Not misery, not unhappiness, not sadness. We want happiness. After all, these United States guaranteed the “pursuit of happiness”. Why is there so little happiness? Why is there so little joy? There are so many reasons. Listing all of them is a kind of useless exercise. Instead, why not list all the reasons you have for joy. That’s much more difficult because there’s something in your head that feeds off misery. You’ll hear it negating any positive thoughts as you express your joys. When you say them, listen to that voice in your head counter them, with its own negative comments. “I’m alive,” vs. “So what.” “I’m healthy,” vs. “For how long?” I’ve got a roof over my head,” vs. “Until you lose your job.” And so on. With such a voice in your head, it’s very difficult to ever find joy. Until you focus on making changes.
FUN AND JOY
Our recommended daily allowance of joy is usually way higher than what we get. It’s as though we have starved ourselves for so long that we need extra vitamins to bring us up to speed– and now is a natural time to examine your life and see where the joy is, and isn’t. I would like to encourage you to recognize and to imagine joy being in every part of your life at all times. Ask yourself at every single moment of your life, “Does what I’m doing now give me joy?” If the answer is “No”, think seriously about how you can change the situation. What makes you laugh? What fills your heart with delight? What makes you glad to be alive? In other words, what gives you joy. Write up a list. You’re likely to find that many of those items on your list aren’t huge or monumental, but rather small and precious: A flower gives you joy. A funny movie gives you joy. A puppy or a kitty gives you joy. Seeing your grandchildren. Going on a trip to a distant land. For instance, I get joy out of collecting humorous comic strips (mainly about relationships, cats, chocolate, and the human condition). Chocolate gives me joy. Mmmmmm. We don’t allow ourselves enough joy. Is there any single thing that gives you joy in a day? Do it–and continue to do it until it doesn’t give you joy or until you feel better. That doesn’t mean your whole life will be joyous and wonderful. There are going to many moments when you’re going to feel despair and sadness. Yet what will keep your sanity is your own personal sense of humor. That will allow you to retain your sense of perspective and allow you to confront painful or sad situations, like dealing with your parents’ aging. The key is that you don’t opt out of life. But you can opt out of misery. I find if I meditate before I start my day, and I actively invite joy and love into my body, it allows me to face the problems of the day in a more loving and open manner. In your own way, give yourself an opportunity to have and express your joy, even if it’s only for a moment, if that’s all you can afford. Even if it’s just staring at a bouquet of daffodils, or indulging in a bite of chocolate, that is what allows you to make a shift inside yourself–a shift that will do everything to enhance your own well-being. This book, being about self-transformation, gives you many tools to make changes that will guide you through your later years. And yet all of these tools have only limited impact if you do not also give yourself the opportunity for joy. Please do not ignore this! If there’s one chapter that I ask you to read over and over again, it is this one. Remember your joy! Now here at the end of this chapter, I ask you list 10 things that give you joy that cost less than two dollars, that take 10 minutes or less to do, and that fill your heart. When you have a list of at least ten things that give you joy, start by doing at least two of them every day. What? Two? Yes! Let your body, let your mind, let your spirit have its daily dose of vitamin Joy. Your whole outlook will shift remarkably.
Your face is the window of your soul. It reflects your life experience in the glint in your eyes, the tenseness of the jaw, the expressiveness of the mouth, the crow’s feet around your eyes. That face is just a mask that you will present to the world. We wear masks of many kinds–which are necessary for our lives. We talk about them as “roles”, or “personas”, or “pretenses”. We often become so comfortable with some of those masks that we forget who’s underneath them–our True Self. What kind of roles do you play? Well, you have your work persona (executive, manager, worker, professional), and your family persona (mother, wife, single). The face or “mask” you wear for your spouse, or your children, or your parents is different from the one you wear for your friends, or your coworkers, or your boss. I can tell my level of comfort with a person or group by the kind of mask I wear. It’s as though my psychic sense can tell who is safe for me to reveal my soul (and by how much) vs. whom I need to hide from, and in what way (becoming quiet, or laughing, or professorial or relaxed and happy, or angry). In the 60’s, many self-help groups talked about finding the “true you”–getting rid of the fake self and get past the “games” so they could be “real”. That was one purpose for using mindbending hallucinogens–to reach that essential self. Unfortunately, being “real” isn’t necessarily the same as being “functional”; it tends not to work in the course of living your life. Telling your boss exactly how you feel about them or their ideas may be “real”, but it is not “wise”. Wearing masks is fine–so far as it goes. But wouldn’t you like to find out who you are under those masks? If you want to “be” your true spirit, you have both the ability–and the duty to yourself–to find out what’s really under your masks, to let go of the mechanisms that hide you from your glorious self–and revel in who you really are. Unmasking invites you to disconnect yourself from the inculcations and the calcifications that have built up like armor over the years on your “face”–and, thereby, not only discovering the You underneath the facial armor, but even, in some cases, allowing the calcifications to dissolve and reveal the true face to the mirror. Ironically, one of the most expansive and pleasing ways that it can be done is to create a mask, not of your outer face, but your Inner Self, unmasking your highest essence, in order to discover who you really are. You might find yourself having difficulty touching that part of you because it has been unsafe to unmask, or perhaps you have feared to look at your innermost Self because of what you’ve been told about yourself by people around you who do not know the true You–who tend to see what
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they want to see and not necessarily the true you. Or you are afraid the true you is not very nice (not true!) Your Inner Self expresses the most glorious manifestion of your goddess being. Moreover, you get more beautiful as you go through the years–especially if you choose not to restrict yourself to artificial standards of “beauty” and “acceptability”. That’s why a number of women create masks every few years–each of them more gorgeous and spectacular–like Bartholomew Cubbins and his 500 hats; by the end of the book, each successive hat was more beautiful, ornate, and gorgeous than the previous ones. That’s what Unmasking is all about–letting you see yourself in all your glory. And cheering yourself! Doing the unmasking ceremony requires intent and preparation. It’s essential that you start with your actual face, because that is a pivotal part of you. But it is just the launching point for unmasking your essential Self. The first and most important step is to make the mask at least several days prior to the ceremony itself because it has to be dry before you adorn it. Making the Mask: You need two items: plaster and Vaseline (very important!). Buy the plaster in one-inch widths from a medical supply house (or order it off the Internet). Two rolls are more than adequate, even for more elaborate designs. You can’t create your mask alone (except with difficulty); you need a partner to lay the plaster strips on your face and give it form, and then pry it off when it has set. If You’re the Helper: Before you start, coat your partner’s face with the Vaseline. Don’t forget this very crucial step. Without the Vaseline, when the mask comes off, your partner may be missing some skin! Cut the strips in 6-8 inch pieces and wet them according to the instructions. Then lay them on your friend’s face. Starting around the edges, create a framework, on which you will build the lattice of strips: 1. across the brow at the hairline 2. across the face under the nose and at the lips 3. across the chin 4. down the sides of the cheek 5. along the jaw line 6. over the nose Fill in the strips across and down the face so that it is fully covered. You probably will cover the lips and eyes but be sure to leave the nostrils clear. If you want eyeholes, you may form the strips around your eyes or cut out holes after the mask has semi-dried. You can give the mask several layers, so it has more strength, but it also takes longer to fully dry.
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Let the mask set. Just sit and relax for at least a half hour! Don’t move. Moving around will affect the way the mask sets. Once it is hard, your partner can gently peel it off your face. That’s where the amount of Vaseline (or lack thereof) will become noticeable. Once you have created the basic life mask, you have to determine whether the simple face is sufficient, or whether your Self is much more expansive than that. To do that requires a Mask Meditation. One of the first steps in tuning in to your true Self’s mask is to sense its dimension. Your true Self may be larger, smaller or a different shape from the mask in your hand. A few days after the mask has dried, ask your Higher Self for a vision or sense of your true Self. As you study your mask, holding it in your hands, or laying it against your face, or staring at yourself in the mirror, or with your eyes closed, you may sense some of the qualities of your true Self that you wish to express. Or you might feel nothing–at this time. Since this is the first time that many of you have experienced an “unmasking”, you might not get any kind of “sense” of your Self. Or your true Self may be so delighted at actually having this opportunity to “shine out”, that its image just leaps into your mind or your heart. Or it may take awhile to let your Self adjust to the idea of being invited to expose itself. Put the mask up to your face, as if this is the true You. Even though there is nothing in front of your face but a white form, it is the first step, the beginning of something special. You might get an image or sense of its shape or size. Or nothing. You may not receive a vision or sense it in the ceremony itself, or it may come to you in the days preceding the ceremony in a dream, or a vision, or meditation, or a “knowing”. If you get nothing, assume that the mask shape is fine as is. If you do realize that your mask has a different shape than what’s in your hand, you can take time before the ceremony to shape it into a specific design. You can add more plaster strips, extending them out beyond your face and shaping them with a scissors or sharp knife, or cut away parts of the mask that aren’t required. For example, if you want to be a sun, with your face in the middle, you would lay strips that go at least 4-6 inches beyond the mask itself. Then when it’s dried, you can use shears to cut the mask in the shape you desire. You make the decision how big your eye holes are going to be. GROUP CEREMONY: I will describe the group ceremony, although you can do the same thing on your own. Preparing for the Ceremony: One benefit with a group experience is that everybody can pool resources by bringing one or two items to share with everyone. It is highly desirable to have some of the following: Jewelry, beads or other trinkets you can buy at a bead store, feathers, flowers (dried), paper, silk, colored string or yarn, fabrics, colored paper, glitter, paints–all of these should be included as part of the
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shared items. Paints should span a full palette, including day-glo and bright colors, plus paintbrushes, and glue. And lots of newspaper. 1. Prepare your work area in advance. Lay down the newspapers and put the trinkets and paints in separate containers in the center of your circle–whether it’s on the floor or on a table. If you have any personal items you wish to incorporate in your own mask, such as pictures or jewelry, keep them separate. 2. Lay out the masks on the table or floor around the work area. 3. Stand in a circle. Smudge each other with sage to release any energies. Also smudge the decorative items that have been brought, as well as the mask/forms themselves. It is important to do this for the mask because you want its energy to match yours. 4. Invocations: There are two invocations. Both work. By doing either invocation, your work area has become full of spiritual resonance. 5. Invocation #1: a. One person rings a bell or chime. Ringing the bell changes the energy in the room from the mundane outer world to the inner spiritual world. b. Burn copal or Nag Champa incense because they open your consciousness. You’re reaching deep inside yourself to touch your spirit and bring it forth in all its glory. c. Close your eyes and join hands. Have one of the group read an Invocation of Purpose. Here is one that you may use:
“As we close our eyes, let us turn our attention inside; let us breathe into our hearts. Let us acknowledge ourselves in our potential and reality. Let us call down our Higher Self to come into us and fill us with our greatest love, glory, and joy. Let us feel ourselves expanding to accept the vibration of total beingness. This is who we are. Our Highest Self. As our Higher Self comes into us, let us feel our whole being opening to her love and joy.”
That invocation is always useful to guide everybody to feel the divine energy. 1. Invocation #2: a. Do a drumming ceremony, drumming for 5-10 minutes. Keep your focus on the “unmasking” of your Self. As you breathe in and out, imagine that all of your energies and thoughts are aligned to this higher purpose. b. You may play a drum CD during the whole ceremony to keep you at that vibration level. 1. If you have a chosen sacred/divine name that you call yourself in private, in meditation, or in this group, repeat it a number of times (aloud or silently) so that energy floods through you. (If you’ve done the Name or Goddess ceremonies, you’ll have your sacred name that you can invoke.) 2. Close your eyes. Take a few moments to tune into the rhythms of your being, the rhythms of your spirit. How would you express the being that is in this mask? a. Perhaps you can feel it on your face. b. Imagine you are looking into a spirit mirror which reveals the true You. Who do you see looking back? Or who do you sense looking back?
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c. Allow yourself to feel or sense it, and accept that being who is You. It’s not necessary to
see it, but to “sense” or “know”. That is what is important here. d. Note the details, whether you actually “see” them or not. Now you can portray them in this mask. If you have been able to sense the shape of the mask beforehand, you have already done half of the work. 1. Open your eyes and began to relax into creating your special mask. The atmosphere is up to the group. It can be hushed, with some appropriate music playing in the background; or you can make it a party. Or have both–the quiet time and the laugh time— woven throughout the process. Frankly, in this kind of situation, sharing in the experience is part of expressing your glory. The ceremony certainly goes a lot faster and more pleasantly with laughter and talking, but mundane chatter will ruin the mood and the focus of your work. It really depends on your group how you wish to conduct yourselves. When you decorate your mask to the point where you feel you are done, stop! I recommend that you spend no more than one hour for the whole process. After that, the process becomes draggy, not effortless and joyful. The watchword here is “joy”. Even if you’d like to continue, I suggest doing so at another time. (Of course, there are always exceptions; if you are still in the throes of your incredible vision and you still feel uplifted by your creation, then for goodness sake, continue! After all, it’s YOUR experience.) After you finish, leave the work area without disturbing any women who are still working on their masks. Respect each other’s space by not intruding on other people doing their sacred work. Only when everyone has completed their masks–then it’s time to relax after that spiritual journey and party with chocolate, coffee, tea and other goodies. Show and Tell comes after the break. Most people don’t have the opportunity to reveal their essential Self. This group is probably the safest place where you can show off your essential self– probably for the first time in your life. You are giving each other an enormous gift–the gift of trust–and they are giving you the blessing of loving acceptance. Put on your mask and let the other women in your group bask in the glory that is your highest self. What do you do with your mask afterward? If you have a private space, like your altar, you may want to hang your mask there. Or you may feel that it is too sacred to be seen (and commented on and criticized) by family and friends. In that case, keep it in a safe place–where you can go and look at it at your leisure, and remind yourself of exactly the glorious soul you are. This ceremony can be done regularly, such as yearly. CHAPTER 17
MOURNING YOUR LOSSES
One day a friend told me that she had just tossed out half of her life. She had retired a year earlier, but it took her that long to decide that it was time to throw away all the papers and books and reports in her library and files. Over two days, she filled up four trash cans with her discards.
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The very next day she fell ill. She felt utterly miserable. That illness was her first reaction to the loss of something that had been part of her life for such a long time. After that she went directly into sadness, grief, crying, and lethargy. She was mourning her lost work–which was part of her self definition. This is a situation we will find ourselves in, come official retirement at 66 or 67 (or later). Whether you retire gratefully, or retire because you have no choice–once you leave your job, you’ll discover that same big hole inside yourself. Who are you now? What value do you have now? I know university professors who refused to step down from their positions because they loved teaching so much–until forced to by law; and the result for many of them was severe depression. The loss of what defined them, of what gave them joy, of what was expansive to them was a real soul loss. For a vast number of women over the next 10 or 20 years, the job that filled the bulk of our working life is going to disappear, whether we want to retire or not. That’s because retirement is not just simply the end of a job but, as my friend said, the end of half of her life. In other words, she had defined herself according to that part of her that she no longer had. That’s a crucial point. We define ourselves according to criteria such as who we are, what we do, how we act in the world. Not only do we use gender (as in this book is being written for one gender), age (as this book is being written for one age), sexual orientation, religion, belief system, political party, the region we live in or state or country, as well as size and shape and all those other factors. But most of all we have an image of ourselves as a certain kind of person doing a certain kind of work. You are going to be going through some painful losses. They will continue from now until death–some obvious, others less so. One of those losses is your job. Another is the end of your dreams–whatever they are. By the time you hit menopause, for all of you women who have been hearing their biological time clock bonging away, the family dream is over. If you haven’t had your child, it can’t happen, unless you pay for certain in vitro fertilization techniques. I have counseled a number of women who have had to face the end of their childbearing dream. They, in many cases, gone on to adopt or foster children, but first they had to come to grips with the loss of their dream. When you lose your job, when you retire, or when you lose your dream, because of retirement, a death or menopause, you are going to have a period of mourning–and if you don’t, you need to! Your body and soul need to process the pain, the sadness, the loss. You will recover, sooner or later, but you can use this time to create some important shifts inside you. The loss of one part of our identity often feels as though we have lost the entire package; we often forget that we have what made us successful in that job in the first place. If you were a secretary, for example, and hated it, you may not have defined yourself according to that job, but you still would have the qualities that made you a good worker: reliability, responsibility, organizing skills, support. If, on the other hand, you were an executive, you have another set of organizing skills, including analysis, organization, creativity, management.
CELEBRATION & RELEASE
Regardless of the job, what is important is what you brought to it. And those qualities have not gone away when you leave your work situation. It’s just time to apply your skills somewhere else. At the beginning of this book, I said Higher Purpose has everything to do with joy. For many of us–perhaps a majority of people–Higher Purpose is something we rarely have an opportunity to experience. That is because other needs get in the way–family, children, debts–so we get a job, any job, to pay the bills. Yet some people do manage to express their joy through their job, getting soul satisfaction from it THE CEREMONIES OF MOURNING: As usual, there are two ceremonies–personal and group. Mourning ceremonies are really excellent for a group because as people share their feelings, others of the group may realize they were feeling the same thing; or they will recognize that they went through something similar that they haven’t resolved; or they will learn what to expect for themselves when they are ready to mourn– and for this age group, there WILL be many “next times”. Below is a chart of the kinds of issues that will come up—and what you will need for your ceremonies. CEREMONY I: HONORING YOUR LOSS When doing your mourning, whether privately or in a group, your purpose is to honor what or who has gone. Here’s one way to do that. I am going to describe the ceremony as it relates to the loss of a job; but it might be for anything–a friend, a family member, a dream. You need two items–a symbol of the item/person/job itself, and your personal symbol or token in regard to it. For a person, it might be something they gave you, or a picture of the two of you together. For a dream, it may be your image of what it would have looked like; for a baby, perhaps an empty nursery, or a Issue Representation of Your Personal Symbol Issue picture of a Business Picture of business, Badge, business card, attaché baby. coworkers, case, etc.
Person, e.g., someone who died, or the end of a relationship) Dream (like a child, a job, a desire) brochure, annual report Picture of them Item you got from them or gave to them, picture you made of them Your desire written down, a picture you have of it
PERSONAL Symbol of dream CEREMONY: (I’ll describe the loss of a job) Supplies: A white candle, sage incense, and a metal bowl where you can burn something. Bring to your altar two items: • A picture that represents your business. This might be a photo of the building, a picture of your coworkers, or your office. One person used a picture of her family that she kept on her desk. • Your business card or some symbol of your position or your job identity. Use whatever symbolizes your loss.
MOURNING YOUR LOSSES
1. Put on some quiet music. Do your cleanout exercises, and sit down in front of your altar. 2. Light both the candle and the sage incense (sage is necessary because it removes blocks and releases energy). Smudge yourself with the smoke. 3. Call in your guides and Higher Self to participate. 4. Take the picture symbolizing your business into your hands. As you look at it, invite all the images, feelings, thoughts, or memories associated with your job to fill your mind and heart. Thank yourself for doing your job and for having the opportunity to do it. 5. If you think of particular people that were associated with your work, like your boss and coworkers, thank them for helping you do your job. Maybe you’ll never see them again; or maybe they’re your best friends. For this ceremony, you are simply thanking them for having been part of your business life. 6. Continue these thanks for as long as these thoughts or feelings arise. 7. If you think of anyone who was unpleasant to work with or for, use this ceremony to release some of the emotion (anger, disappointment, rage, hurt) that you felt for or about those people. Thank them for having provided you to with that experience. If you can release your dislike, do so. 8. Breathe your feelings out from the bottom of your abdomen as a yucky gray color; or yell it away, or stomp it out–or acknowledge that you still have feelings to deal with later around these people. 9. Pass the picture through the incense to cleanse it of its memories. As you do that, imagine the feelings and thoughts that you have around your job being freed by this smoke. You may, by the way, be crying or feeling anger, or a whole gamut of emotions. Take deep breaths and say, “I let go of my job,” (aloud or silently). 10. When you finish, pick up the business card or other symbol of your job. Consider all of the people that you have helped, and all of the good work that you have done.1 11. While holding the card in your hand, invite all of those people who have received the benefit of your work to put their hands on yours as a kind of thanks (obviously they are not visible— it’s all done in your mind). You may not know any of them. Or you may know every one of them. It doesn’t matter. And then imagine them placing their “hands” on your hands, sharing this moment of union and blessing. You yourself can give thanks to them for giving you the opportunity to do this work. Now smudge that card with the sage incense. 12. If you wish, you can burn the card or picture or both, in the metal bowl, as a way of releasing their hold on you. Some people want to preserve that link; others do not. Even if you do burn the papers, your memories will still remain. The choice is yours.
1 If you are one of those people who have done work that is immoral, who have raped the earth for greed, who have lied and cheated and stolen, and you are feeling satisfied with yourself, you will have to deal with that at a later time. Don’t assume that if you are one of those that you will die without payback. Your “sins” do catch up with you, sooner or later.
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13. Finally, smudge yourself once again back, front, and sides. Then thank your spirit guides, your
Higher Self, your angels, and whatever higher being you work with, for being here and assisting in this work with you. GROUP CEREMONY: With a group, the ceremony is somewhat different, but the idea is still the same–experiencing gratitude about the work that you did, acknowledging your pain and loss, and saying goodbye. Each member of the group is going to be participating in this process, to honor you and your loss. By having this ceremony, and reminding you of the qualities that you have, even though you may no longer be a teacher or sales rep or an executive, the qualities that made you that are still inside. Supplies: sage, white candles for everyone, and the two items that represent your job. 1. Let everyone be smudged with the sage incense. After you smudge the person in front of you, she will smudge the person in front of her, and so on, until the person behind you smudges you. It creates movement and energy in the group. 2. Gather in a circle. Holding hands, invoke whatever goddess or higher being that your group would like to work with for this ceremony. For compassion, Mother Mary or Quan Yin is quite excellent. If you are working with particular goddesses, invite them into the room. 3. Pick up the business photo, and describe your feelings about your job, about your loss, and what it means to you. 4. Pass it around the group, letting them attune to your loss. 5. If they would like to contribute something to support you or reminisce, this is the time to do it: • “I appreciated your computer knowledge because it was so helpful.” • “I appreciated your work as a therapist because it helped just having a friend like you understand what I was going through when I talked.” • “I loved hearing your stories about the antics at your job; they were funny and instructive.” • “I appreciate how important being a teacher was for your students and you.” • “I acknowledge your pain around this loss.” • “I don’t know your job, but I felt the same thing when I lost my job, or I retired.” The last two are good comments to make when you have no clue about their job. Or you can say nothing. 1. Put the picture in the center of the circle and call all of your energy back to you from that job. Let the picture be a magnet for your returning energy. Let the whole group call your job energy home to your picture. 2. When you feel like the energy is back (or as much as wants to come back), let one member of the group pick up the picture and smudge it to cleanse the energy. Then she can shake it over your head, so your energy can pour back into your body like raindrops.
MOURNING YOUR LOSSES
3. Pick up the symbol and pass it around. This time, instead of asking your group to call your
energy home, ask for each person to give you a blessing, a gift of themselves, to support who you are now. For example: • “Even though you say you’re no longer a teacher, you have taught me a great deal, and I thank you for that gift.” • “I honor your wisdom as a botanist and plant lover.” 1. Then, if you wish, and only if you wish, burn the picture and/or business card in the brazier. And feel the energies of love coming to you from your friends. Remember, this is an honoring ceremony–honoring your loss, and your grief. It doesn’t take away the pain, but allows you remember good and the important and worthy.
CELEBRATING THE NEW CHILD
Once upon a time a king and queen wanted to celebrate the birth of their newborn daughter. They invited all the fairies in the kingdom, except one, whom they forgot. The fairies who came to the banquet gave the baby many different blessings–beauty, love, charm, happiness, grace, intelligence, and so on. Just before the last fairy was to deliver her gift, the forgotten fairy showed up in a towering rage. She strode to the front of the room and said, “Because of your discourtesy to me, I curse this girl to die at the age of 16.” Then she departed in a roll of thunder. The last fairy then said, “I will do what I can to mitigate this curse. She will not die, but sleep for 100 years.” This, of course, is the beginning of Sleeping Beauty, which described the ancient ceremony of blessing a newborn child (of course, minus curse). It is the coming together of generations to celebrate continuity, the joy of birth, and the passing on of gifts. We have forgotten that ancient blessing by the tribal wise women, not “exactly” fairy godmothers, who knew the wiles and ways of the world. Not only did they preside at a birth as midwives, but they also used their psychic powers to tune into the soul of the child and tell the mother and her kin of the child’s life lessons, and life purpose. Their blessing ceremony then helped buffer the child’s progress through life and mitigate any bad karma, if possible. A version of this ceremony has mutated into the “christening”, which raises the umbrella of Christian protection over the child. When those functions were taken over by the church, the wisdom and blessing for the child were lost. Now as older women are reawakening their intuitive senses, reclaiming their power, and reactivating this ancient role of wise woman, it’s time to step forward and perform this honoring ceremony again–to reclaim that older rhythm, and bestow on the child real meaningful blessings for its future. There are so many temptations, so many distractions pulling at our children these days. More than ever before, they need all the help they can get–from the “git-go”. It’s best to do this ceremony during the first few months of life–when the baby is still fairly immobile, and willing to tolerate remaining in one spot for a period of time–preferably while being asleep. In attendance are the women, and the mother and child (sorry, no father). It’s important for the mother to participate in the ceremony. Not only does she see her child being blessed, but she has an experience of the power of the wise women, and witnesses the rhythm of wisdom being passed on from one generation to another. There are two parts to the ceremony–the blessings and the gift.
CELEBRATING THE NEW CHILD
Blessings: The blessings are the granting of certain qualities that will help the child in her/his life. Now, some people may imagine that blessing a child with “grace” or “humor” is just a prayer. In fact, it’s more than that. Blessings at this level are like spiritual vitamins; there is an actual tangible impact in the physical body that can linger for many years–and even mitigate “curses” like a bad childhood environment, or abuse or karma. Blessings and curses utilize the same focused energy–except one is benevolent and the other malevolent. We all know from all the voodoo movies what happens when a person is cursed. They can’t outrun their doom. Well, the identical thing happens when a person is blessed. Once you focus your intent on giving this child a particular blessing, it sets up a vibration in the child’s energy field to accept that quality. She/he takes in that “gift” of energy, which also becomes a kind of “destiny” or influence. A blessing is made more powerful if you call in a higher being that’s associated with the quality, like the Angel of Grace or a Goddess of Wisdom. That way, you not only are giving your focused intent to the child, but when coupled with the energy of a divine being, the child gets a double blessing. Gift: Gifts resonate throughout the child’s essence–just like the blessing–and continue to do so because they are a focal point for energy to be transmitted to the child. That means you want to give her/him something that can support the child throughout her/his lifetime. Whether or not the child then chooses to hold onto the gift is up to her or him. These days, the most common sacred gift is a cross, which is often given to the child at its christening. The kind of gift you want is similar–a sacred object that has a spiritual meaning and reflects your intent for the child. It could be something simple like a stone or gem or beads or fairy dust–or some small object that you have created or found that represents your spiritual intent, and has been charged with your blessing. It helps if your gift reflects your blessing. For example, if you are giving a compassion or love blessing, the picture of Quan Yin or Mother Mary is a perfect analog. If you are blessing the child with strength, a superhero figurine or an acorn which symbolizes the strength of the oak are good. Or if you are wishing joy on the child, something like a bell with a beautiful sound which may symbolize joy to you or something that makes the child laugh. Use your imagination and your intuitive wisdom. Very small gifts can be placed into a little medicine bag. Or a picture may be put on the wall to protect and watch over the child and remind her/him of the blessing connected with it. What always matters is your intent. Remember, you don’t want to give the child just any old generic gift. How does the group give gifts? There are three options. • The easiest for every single crone to provide her own gift, which can be taken home by the mother and (hopefully) kept in a sacred place for the child, but be sure the individual gifts don’t overlap.
CELEBRATION & RELEASE
Another way is to combine gifts into one object. That means, for example, taking paper or wood and adorning it with the individual gifts provided by each woman. The downside is that the object might look rather strange. • Or the group can decide to give one or two items, symbolizing their combined blessings for the child. You might decide to do one option for one child and something different for another child. You need to make that decision before the blessing ceremony. I recommend that you have a discussion or a meditation at a prior meeting, to discern the proper course of action. The ceremony has a lot of energy because of the number of people involved. This is where the group can shine–because the women are giving their spiritual gifts to this baby. GROUP CEREMONY: Supplies: Gifts, sage incense, tray or bowl. The ceremony opens with all the women sitting in a circle on the floor. 1. Each woman smudges the woman on her right, so that it is done in a circle. (If the baby is disturbed by the smell, leave her/him in another room until the smudging is complete). 2. Place the baby in the center of the circle. 3. Invite all benign maternal spirits or goddesses to join you in the room (Hera, Isis, Mother Mary, Oshun, etc.). Ask them to put their divine hands on the baby’s head in blessing, to acknowledge his/her presence. One of you does the same, as the spirits’ representative. 4. Go around the room. Let each “fairy godmother” (which is what you all are) speak her blessing. Summon the being (angel, goddess) who exemplifies the qualities that you want to give the baby–(goddess of compassion, angel of gentleness, god of light, etc. Even if you simply choose to say only, “I call on these qualities to be manifested in this child,” that is powerful enough. You have put out the intent for “health” or “love” or “power”, etc., to manifest the blessing. 5. After each blessing, the whole group in unison says, “Let this blessing of _____ be given to this child.” That reinforces the particular energy. 6. Now present your physical gift. Explain to the mother any symbolism behind it, so she can tell the child when she/he is older. (See #8 below for the group gift.) 7. Put it on the tray beside the child. If it’s an item that belongs in a medicine bag, each woman can place it into the medicine bag herself when it’s her turn to gift. The last woman then presents the medicine bag to the mother. 8. If you choose a group gift, only one person need present it, after all the blessings are complete. 9. If you have anything else you wish to say before ending the ceremony, do so. 10. Thank the spirits for attending, and send them home. Thank the mother for coming as well. 11. Then party.
MERGING YOUR PARTS
We all know very well parts like our Critic or Judge, our Child or Rebel, our Pleaser or Appeaser, our Victim, our Rescuer or Persecutor (whether we are consciously aware of them). We may also have parts like the Clown or the Teacher or the Professional, or the Lover or the Angry One. All these parts, or personae, are just parts of us. They’re not the sum of who we are. If we removed one, it would crumble because it can’t sustain itself without you. It’s time to gather all of these parts of you and bring them into alignment with your Divine Purpose. Believe it or not, every part of you (unless you are possessed by evil or alien spirits), belongs to you, and each of them is trying to do their very best for you, but their programs are out of date. They’re doing what your mother or father or your teacher or your religious leader wanted. For example, the Critic. When you ask the Critic what its purpose for you is, you are apt to hear a voice say something like, “I just don’t want you to screw up. I don’t want you to do things badly.” Often, its critical voice sounds like your parents because it’s your parents’ surrogates. When you hear that voice, say, “Thank you for all you have done.” Then ask it to help you in a different way, such as easing up on the criticism. Personally, I would prefer to start with a less “critical” part, but usually the Critic is front and center with this kind of work. So you have to deal with the Critic pretty early on. I’m going to describe a ceremony to help you acknowledge and integrate the different parts of you. You're going to invite several parts of you into your consciousness and integrate them, one by one. They’re easy to find—all you have to do is just listen to their voices inside your head (yes, we all have voices in our heads–and we’re not crazy). When you say “I welcome you into my life,” one voice may say, “Yay!” Others might pipe up, “Who sez?” or “Oh, yeah? You never liked me before.” Notice how each voice sounds. Maybe you can recognize the voice. If you were asked to give these parts names, you’re apt to identify them as the Judge or the Rebel or the Critic. Once you’ve met a few of your parts, it’s time to bring them into the present. After all, their programs were put in when you were very young—and those parts are still following those out-ofdate programs. By acknowledging that part and bringing its programming into the present time, you can welcome that part into your heart (as much as you are able—even those parts of you who have been sneaky or abusive or subversive). Some parts you will gladly welcome; for others, you will only be able to accept only a small aspect of them (like the Critic). Yet with each part you invite in, your heart will open more and more. You are likely to find yourself in tears with the third part. It can become be a very emotional experience.
CELEBRATION & RELEASE
As you repeat this exercise, you may discover the same parts coming up. Well, you don’t trust your Critic; why should you let her in? Your Inner Child doesn’t trust you; she’s been betrayed a lot. These parts need to be welcomed in over and over until they believe and accept you. Once that happens, you will feel a huge shift in your inner world. Moreover, if you invite your Higher Self into your heart so that she can embrace each of these parts, it will become even more powerful because they will recognize that they do belong with you and they have been acknowledged for trying to do their very best for you. I have found that merging your parts creates enormous and abiding positive personal change. CEREMONY: Supplies: Pieces of paper, pencil/pen, sage, metal bowl, matches. 1. Prepare yourself with a cleanout and meditation to calm your mind. This is not a ceremony you want to do with noise around you. Smudge yourself with the smoke from the sage. Call on your Higher Self to join you. 2. Say out loud, “All of my parts are acceptable to me. I embrace everything that I am. I welcome all of my parts into my heart.” 3. Now, listen to the voices you hear in your head. Take a piece of paper and write down what one voice says. Use other pieces of paper for different voices. Then look at those papers and see if you can recognize who says those words. Give each voice a name. 4. Keep saying those sentences until you have heard at least four distinct voices. If you hear more than four, you can write down their names, but you can deal with them another time. 5. If you can’t hear more than two or three voices, all you have to say is, “I welcome you into my heart,” and I guarantee you, that those voices in your head will start jabbering. 6. Say, “I know that you are trying your very best to help me. Even though it might hurt me, I know that you have my best interests at heart.” Then listen to what that voice says. 7. Ask your Higher Self to bring that part of you into the present. That means it will be functioning with present-day programming, not following the old programming from the past. 8. Say, “I welcome you into my heart.” 9. Repeat with the other three parts. 10. When you have finished with each one of them, put your hand on your heart, and thank each of them: “I thank you, Critic, I thank you, Child, I thank you, Lover, I thank you, Healer; I thank you, Rebel.” And so on. “I thank you all for trying to take care of me all these years, and I welcome you here.” 11. Take the pieces of paper and burn them in the bowl, to let go of the old patterns.
WALKING THE LABYRINTH
A labyrinth, to me, is a perfect symbol. The most famous ancient one, of course, is at the Palace of Knossos on Crete from 3500 BCE–the one Daedalus supposedly designed and escaped from (and where the Minotaur was trapped). In reality, the labyrinth is older than Crete; it is found at many ancient temples throughout the Mediterranean area. It figured in all major religious ceremonies of the Goddess worship. Walking the labyrinth was a very powerful and sacred rite. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized the end of the “journey to Jerusalem” for pilgrims; at Chartres Cathedral, where the labyrinth still remains, the supplicants would come through the south door and on their knees, shuffle around the loops of the labyrinth on the nave floor until they reached the center–which was “Jerusalem”.2 Labyrinths have enjoyed a major resurgence in the last few years, featured in many books and on television programs. It’s as though we have finally recognized the power of the labyrinth to realign with the ancient earth rhythms of Mother Earth that once flowed naturally through our spirit. Because of their growing popularity, labyrinths are appearing in all sorts of places: churches, spiritual centers, even private yards. They are walked during ceremonies like solstice/equinox/full moon, or for special spiritual get-togethers. In all cases, the celebrants want to re-attune to the ancient earth energies. Personally, I believe it reorders minds and psyches that are completely disordered by the disruptive energies of this more technologically frenetic era. Younger generations do not have a good–or even any–connection to the earth. They’re floating around in cyberspace, which prevents them from grounding. Some of us are in the same situation, but for other reasons. Walking the labyrinth allows us to regain that footing--to get back to the earth and tune into the sense of oneness with it and with ourselves. We become unified. When I walk a labyrinth, I feel more balanced. It resets and rebalances our brain’s hemispheres–as we pass back and forth from one hemisphere to the other in an ordered and measured way–whether it is the 12-loop Chartres labyrinth or the 7-loop goddess labyrinth. That’s how I sense it whenever I work with either labyrinth. (On Glastonbury Tor, the ancients created a labyrinth that twisted and spiraled up to the top of the Tor, which I walked the first time I visited Glastonbury. Then the British National Trust
2 People who live in the San Francisco Bay Area can walk a replica of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. The rest of us don’t have that option. Of course, you have to fight the traffic and find parking around the Cathedral; or if you choose to take public transportation, you still have to climb up Nob Hill. Getting there has some of the hardship of a pilgrimage.
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decided to make it easy for the tourists to climb the tor; they built a paved walkway straight up the hill that cuts right across the labyrinth’s lines–and not surprisingly–negating its benefit.) Most of us don’t have the opportunity to create a labyrinth in our backyard, especially if we live in a city. But we can go to a place where there is room to walk, like a park, a meadow or the beach. Or we can fall back on our own abilities and our own imagination, by walking our labyrinth in our mind. This may sound confusing, but it’s very simple. This is one of those ceremonies that can be incredibly joyous and wonderful. It’s easy enough to get a copy of a seven-loop labyrinth from the internet—or Xerox one from a book on labyrinths. Make the copy large enough so that you can trace the diagram with a finger of your nondom-inant hand. To add to the balance you experience, invite your Higher Self to stand on one side of you and your angelic guide or goddess to be on the other side; as you wind through the labyrinth, whether traced or walked. The three of you will attune energies. By the time you get to the center of the labyrinth, you will have rearranged your energies so you are connected to your own Godhood, to your Higher Self, to the Universe. When you reach the center, focus on joining with the earth and cosmos. Then repeat the same process unwinding yourself from the labyrinth, going back out. GROUP CEREMONY: A group can do the same kind of labyrinth walk–but not on a diagram. You can actually lay down guidelines for each person to follow. It would be best if someone has a yard where you can lay down rock markers that can act as guides for the spiral, especially when you’re doing it as a group. (Don’t forget to pick them up afterward.) As a group, invite your guides, Higher Selves, and goddesses, to bless the journey, so that you get their attunement as well. Although each person can walk it alone, proceeding as a group. Depending on the size of the group, as you all go through the labyrinth together, energy ripples down the whole line, from the first person to the last. The energy the first person feels flows to the second; the second and first pass their energy on to the third; and so on. It’s a cumulative effect, until you get to last person who gets the benefit of everyone’s energy. That's why doing it as a group, linked together can be enormously powerful. I find that walking the labyrinth in silence or with new age music enhances the atmosphere. After all, the labyrinth is a metaphor for what goes on inside your being; you want to appreciate it and experience it in full measure, not in
WALKING THE LABYRINTH
little pieces. That's why chatting or talking or just hanging out can ruin the mood. Remember all of this is designed to balance your brain and soul, which opens your spirit potential–and links it to your god potential.
CHAPTER 21 BRAID OF LOVE When I was much younger and feeling depressed I had a morbid fantasy: I wondered who would come to my funeral–and then I’d feel awful because I “knew” no one would attend–even though I had several extremely close and loving friends. I hope I’m wiser now, and a lot less depressed. I have as many friends now as I did then–wonderful, loving friends–whether I see them often or infrequently. They’re still around me, in spirit and thought. But the difference is that now I can acknowledge them and their love. Hopefully, we all have special relationships with certain people in our lives that we can count on–not only for help, but for unconditional love. Love is eternal, crossing all boundaries of time and space. Just because someone is no longer near you, whether they are far away physically or no longer on this earth, does not mean that their love has vanished. We can all recall hearing stories of people who can feel their loved ones around them, even after death, watching out for them, sending comfort and love through dreams, messages from strangers, or providing help at appropriate times. Or, you suddenly think of someone, and then you receive a tangible connection to them, whether it is a letter or phone call, or some spirit message (if they’ve passed on). One woman started singing an unfamiliar song while on the bus, and a stranger sitting beside her said that was her dead husband’s favorite song–a confirmation to her that he was watching out for her. This braid includes pets–from now or in the past. Our animal companions are total love beings, and their love is unconditional. (That’s why it’s so devastating when they die; we’ve lost that unconditional love.) And they too watch over us as well after death. All too often we forget about the love being there–especially if the people we love pass on. Hence this ceremony, It describes what you do–taking all of the love strands from all those people who love you–and who you love– wherever they are now–and weaving them together into a conscious (if intangible) braid. Every so often we need to be reminded of all those people woven into our braids who see us with joy and love. This braid of love can become a way to
BRAID OF LOVE
sustain and nourish us in the dark times of sadness, depression, loneliness– and gets strengthened in the good times of joy and happiness. On the other hand, if you are doing this ceremony without pure intention, but simply as an ego booster or to manipulate others, you will not get the full benefit. You need to use pure love energy. In other words, your intent is to share love with yourself and others. That’s all. Suppose there are people who you used to love, like an ex-lover, but who you actively despise or hate now. Or there are people you may not feel comfortable about now because they and you had a falling out–or they parted badly from you, or as in the case of ex-lovers or parents, there may be a certain level of conflict that makes it difficult for you to call them in. In those cases, you can do two things: 1) Ask your Higher Self if you want to invite their energy into the ceremony. If you get a Yes, ask your Higher Self to invite their Higher Self, so you can receive that person’s pure love energy without all the emotional baggage attached. Or 2) Don’t invite them this time. Let yourself feel loved first from those people who you can count on absolutely. Maybe someday you will reach a point of forgiveness and acceptance. Then you can invite them to share their love with you. Right now, just invite in only those people who you feel warmth toward, people who wish to love you. The point of this ceremony is to remind us of those people who love us, or who we love. There are usually more out there than we even imagine–whether they are human, animal or spirit. What if you think that nobody will come to your party? Or you believe you have no one who loves you, or feel cut yourself off from love because it is too hurtful, too scary, or too painful? There is ALWAYS someone who loves you–your Higher Self. And you can also invite Mother Mary or Quan Yin or angels or Mother/Father God, or your goddess. They also like to participate in this braid of love. More importantly, they remind you that you don’t need to deprive yourself of love–and they soften your fear. While doing this ceremony you might find yourself feeling sadness, grief at loved ones who have been lost to you (through death or disagreement or distance (physical or emotional), nostalgia, melancholy, or even fear. Just breathe and remember that they loved you in life, and still do in death.
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As with every other ceremony you have done in this book, there is a certain amount of preparation you need to do in advance. If you have them, collect the pictures of those people who are important to you, who you care for, who you have a warm spot in your heart for. If you don’t have their pictures, write their names down on individual pieces of paper. Include anyone as far back as you can remember who has been both loving and kind to you, and whom you cared about. During the ceremony, you will be asked to send your love energy to them. Since love energy is of the highest vibration, you are actually sending them a wonderful gift. However, if you are concerned about sending people your energy without their permission, remember, if it is pure love energy, it is the highest healing energy; if they don’t wish to accept it, so be it, but you give them the opportunity to do so. CEREMONY: Supplies: Pink (love) candles, 4-5
1. Do the Grounding exercise. Spend a few minutes in meditation, to clear
your mind of those apprehensions, concerns and fears about what you might experience–or not. 2. Light the pink (love) candles. As you do, announce aloud that you are going to weave a Braid of Love with all those people who share love with 3.
you. This sets your intention and sends it into the Universe. Invite in your Higher Self and any spirit beings (guides, masters, angels, goddesses) you work with to participate as well. Arrange your pictures and names around your altar, , saying each name aloud with your intention: For example, say, “I invite my sister Phaedra to join me in my sacred space.” There may be souls who wish to join you as well, people who you do not know, who would send you love. (This is very common for famous figures who are loved from afar like Jackie Kennedy or Princess Di, less so for us normal folk.) I might call in, for example, everyone who has received support and solace through my books. Imagine yourself now as a receptacle of this love. Bring your Higher Self into your heart, and imagine a flower opening as your Higher Self’s love energy flows into it. Call on your guides or goddess to channel their vibrant pink love into your heart as well. Put your right hand on each picture or paper and say that person’s name aloud. Recall their face in your mind. Feel your love vibrating down your arm and out your hand to infuse the paper. Then extend your left hand to them to come into your space. Let yourself feel that your friend or relative is with you.
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9. Send a ribbon of love light into their heart so that you two are connected. 10. Repeat this with the next person and the next person, until you are like a tree with many branches interlacing with all of the people that you love. 11. During this process, you might discover that certain people that you love may not wish to participate, for example, if they’re angry at you, even though you love them (as is often the case with parents and estranged children). You can still send them your love, but not a ribbon. Maybe later on they will wish to be woven into your braid. 12. Take all of these strands of love light, from you to your friends and relationships, from higher beings to you; and let your Higher Self weave them into a Braid of Love that you can wrap around your heart and around your whole body, so you are aglow with the warmth of love. Actually move your hand in a braiding motion, so you can get the full body kinesthetic experience, moving from the heart out around your body, up to your head, and down to your hips. Wrapping this energy around you lets you be infused with that love. 13. As that happens, say to yourself how much you love all of these people, how much they mean you, and anything else of tenderness that you would like to say. Remember, love is being offered to you from your Higher Self and Mother/Father God sharing this love with You and them as well. This is quite a holy moment, and incredibly powerful.
Who do I need to forgive? Huh? As you say these words to yourself, or read them on the page, I’m sure a number of thoughts came into your head–and perhaps some emotion. You may suddenly remember all those people over the years whom you need to forgive–or you want to forgive, or you’ll never forgive. Did you include yourself in that group? Working on forgiveness is essential, now that you are getting older. It is the act of letting go, of breathing out as many of your hurts and feelings as you can get rid of over the rest of your life. You have collected a lot of emotions, anger, resentment, hurts, just by the nature of living. They can–and do–weigh you down. Working on forgiveness can remove a lot of those emotional and spiritual burdens that you have held on to for so many years. Forgiveness has two components–forgiving others for what they did to you; and forgiving yourself for what you did to others. It’s often easier to forgive others than ourselves of our “sins”. But it needs to be done as well–to put our own heart’s anguish to rest, even though others may not choose to forgive us. It has been the fashion these days to forgive our accusers/abusers, etc. That is the “christian” thing to do, and it helps relieve some of the pain. That is certainly a goal to strive for, BUT it is not helpful for you to go directly to forgiveness without working through any churning rage that you often feel toward your transgressor. Forgiveness has to be real, heart-felt, and true. There are several self-help books which deal with this issue; this chapter will only focus on one aspect. Forgiveness requires a commitment to letting go of a burden–whether of guilt or rage, hurt, disappointment, or any other emotions associated with a particular person. If you want to put it on a religious level, it’s like going to confession and being absolved of your sins by a priest. You need to find a way to absolve yourself and/or the other person, so you can relieve yourself of as much psychic and spiritual and emotional weight as possible in this lifetime. Look at forgiveness for what it really is–the ability to lay down burdens. If you are holding onto the rage and hurt, you must make a choice at some point to reduce those burdens–or not. In doing so, be careful not to fall into one of three traps: 1) you “forgive” all your pain “immediately”; 2) assume that just because, you say, “Mother Mary just pulled it all out of me,” that it has all gone; or 3) say something inane like, “I don’t need to forgive “X”; I’ve already done that.” Unless you’re perfect, you have still have a lot of forgiveness to do. When you utterly and totally forgive, you have a full body reaction. You cry, you let go, you feel exhausted. Forgiveness does not just happen in your mind because you decide it will happen. It is a mode, a purpose. It takes work. You can’t think your way to forgiveness; you can only feel it. Sometimes you say, “I forgive somebody,” but it’s only words; it’s not in your heart.
That means in almost all cases involving the past, forgiveness cannot come from the adult, but from your Inner Child. She is the one who feels the sense of betrayal, hurt, or deep rage–that need to be resolved for true forgiveness. Whenever you say to yourself, “I forgive so-and-so,” that’s usually your mind talking. You have to check with your Inner Child, who lives in your heart. The difference between your mind and your heart may be quite startling. Only when your Child says, “I forgive them,” then you can trust that forgiveness is complete. Let me give you an example from one of my clients. Hermione said she forgave her father for being an alcoholic years ago. When she asked her Inner Child, however, she was stunned by her Child’s virulent rage. Though Hermione had convinced herself that she had resolved her father’s alcoholism, it was like a cancer inside of her, affecting her ability to have good relationships with men. It wasn’t until we started working with her Inner Child that we learned of her fear that lovers would lose control like her father did, so she never trusted them enough to become intimate with her. When we resolved her Child’s rage issues, she found herself more open to a good relationship, and more open to forgiving her father. Then there is forgiveness of your sins. If you are the one who has hurt others, you must do what you can to refocus yourself toward atonement in some way or another. In the 12 Step Program (which is an excellent spiritual program for anyone to follow, not only for those people who are using alcohol or drugs), Step 9 asks you to make amends to those you’ve hurt. These don’t necessarily have to be major sins; they just have to be something you feel enough shame or disappointment or imbalance over that it affects you–and has a hold on you. It’s often very difficult to make those amends–especially to people who are likely to not forgive us. But that’s their choice. Just acknowledging the hurt creates change in yourself and in others around you. Let’s say that Althaea stole some money from the school, but you got blamed. Later on, let’s imagine that she understands that what she had done was hurtful, and she apologizes to you—because what she did was out of alignment with her spirit that it kept eating at her. If you were Althaea, the guilty party, acknowledging your debt and your desire to atone is important. Before you begin the actual ceremony, call upon higher levels of help, like your Higher Self and some other higher being, to hold you in love. Mother Mary or Quan Yin is excellent here because they provide compassionate loving energy for you. That’s really an essential ingredient here. If you feel compassion for yourself, you are more likely to allow forgiveness for yourself or someone else. The most important word here is “compassion”. If you cannot feel compassion for yourself or the other person, you cannot fully let go. That may be difficult at first. As with other ceremonies, let your Higher Self and other spirits send out the forgiveness–until you are able to consciously summon it up–for yourself as well as for others.
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Never do this ceremony without an angelic friend or your Higher Self, the goddess, or your spiritual group. Your Inner Critic will try to make you feel small and ashamed. It’s your Higher Self who will lift you above those shame and guilt feelings that trap you in your body. Moreover, do not feel that you must do it all at once either. You’re liable not to forgive some of these people very much. Others, you will forgive a lot because you are ready to do so. Do not expect miracles, nor assume that you cannot forgive (or be forgiven). ALL IS POSSIBLE! There may be very little action today, but another time—a great deal happens. Another important point–don’t mix forgivenesses in the same ceremony; i.e., forgive yourself in one ceremony, and forgive others in the next. In this ceremony, decide whether you are going to be asking for forgiveness for hurting others, or expressing forgiveness for those who hurt you. Some people may feel that have nothing to forgive or nothing to be forgiven for. If you can’t think of anything (because you’re perfect), simply ask, on your piece of paper, for forgiveness for all of your past mistakes and errors. PERSONAL CEREMONY: Supplies: Pieces of paper, pencil, metal bowl for burning, incense, matches 1. Cense the room. Make sure that incense is continually burning. First smudge your with sage. Then burn another incense like copal or sweetgrass for openness and release. 2. Invite your spirit helpers to stand beside you. If you are in a group, all of you call upon your spiritual helpers. 3. Put the bowl in the center of the room. Light a candle. 4. Invite Mother Mary or Quan Yin to cradle or embrace you as you do this process. 5. Take several pieces of paper and a pencil. On each piece, write down one transgression. Don’t be very elaborate. Putting the sins or your feelings of being hurt down on paper unsticks them from your psyche and releases them into the world. It’s quite powerful. 6. Hurting others: a. Take a piece of paper and write down the transgression you did to one person (one piece of paper for each transgression): “I was nasty to Sally (twenty years ago).” “I lied so that I got James’s job (ten years ago).” b. Holding the paper, say the name of the person aloud and the transgression. Notice where you feel it inside your body. Sometimes you will find that just identifying where you’re holding the emotion can be quite healing. c. Ask your guides or Mother Mary to pull out from that area, usually your heart, or your stomach, the hurt, pain, shame or guilt that you hold because of your “sin” toward that person. d. Ask your Higher Self or goddess to remove as much of the pain from you as would benefit you.
e. Ask if there is any kind of penance you need to do on a cosmic or even physical level–if not to the person you hurt, perhaps to others. Listen to what your Higher Self says. You may get it as a “knowing” or picture. For example, a person who had been miserly “knew” that she had to atone by donating money to a homeless shelter. f. Do only 3-4 forgivenesses at a session. Don’t push yourself. If you do it right because it’s going to take some time to pull all that energy out of your body. g. Then tear the pieces of paper into bits, and, one by one, throw them into the bowl to be burned. As you toss the paper into the bowl, say something like, “I release this transgression in all dimensions, realities and lifetimes.” Being hurt: a. Take your first piece of paper and write down the transgression they did to you: “James betrayed my trust.” “Sally stole my boyfriend (thirty years ago).” b. Ask your angels or Mary to pull out from inside your body, usually your heart, or your stomach, the hurt, pain, or the anger, that has caused you to feel the rage or upset or nonforgiveness of this person. Sometimes you will find that just identifying where you’re holding the emotion can be quite healing. c. Ask your Higher Self or deity to remove as much of the pain from you as would benefit you. d. Take another piece of paper and on it write down, “I forgive _______ [person’s name] and the reason for being upset at them. “I forgive Lauren for abusing me.” “I forgive James for lying to me.” “I forgive Marcia for sleeping with my husband. (Okay, so that may take a lot of forgiveness over a period of years–but this starts the process of release.) e. Once you’ve written these words on the paper, tear up the paper, and burn it in the bowl. With each paper that you send into the bowl, say, “I release my rage and hurt in all dimensions, realities and lifetimes.” Crush all the ashes so that what remains is very fine powder. Dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet. Once the paper has burned, you need to clean yourself and free yourself from the energies that have been stirred up by this work. Comb out your aura. Smudge yourself. At this point allow the divine light of forgiveness which is an ice blue color, to flow down through the top of your head, into your heart, through your body, into each cell.
GROUP CEREMONY: You need to figure out as a group what kind of ceremony you wish to do. Since this is a group, and what you are confessing may be embarrassing, shameful or guilt-worthy, you do NOT want to make yourself feel worse. Hence any expression should be done in a private whisper, audible only to yourself. 1. Follow the Individual ceremony, except that you will take time for everyone to do their transgressions.
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2. When each person has done at least one transgression, that person should then tear the pieces of paper into bits, and toss them into the bowl to be burned. As each person goes tosses the paper into the bowl, she says something like, “I release this transgression.” (That is the only audible comment that should be made to the group.) 3. Watch the papers being burned. Crush all the ashes so that what remains is very fine powder. If it hasn’t burned down to fine powder, keep burning it until it all is. Dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet, or dumping onto the earth. 4. Holding hands, call upon divine forgiveness to be within you. 5. At this point allow the divine light of forgiveness which is an ice blue color, to flow down through the top of your head, into your heart, through your body into the ground, and to your right arm and into your hand, and passing into the next person, and into their heart, and then into the next person, until everybody is embraced in a circle of forgiveness and everybody is getting it flowing up and down and back and around. Let this forgiveness filled and change their beingness.
HONORING THE EARTH
Any good women’s group needs not only to do ceremonies for themselves and their friends and family; they also need to do a ceremony for their ultimate Mother–Mother Earth. Wise women are the natural custodians of the Earth and its rhythms–a task that has been mostly ignored in the western world, but not in most native traditions. It is time for us all to take up that task, especially now. Mother Earth needs our help. She is under attack in every place and every way by greedy developers and shortsighted people; we all know that. We can do our part to counteract that by recycling, reusing and preserving—and more than that, by becoming earth activists, helping our elected officials make the “highest’ decisions, i.e., what’s best for healing the Earth, and blocking any activities that would rape and destroy the land. There are other ways to heal Mother Earth, as well–by healing the planet energetically. That’s the focus of this ceremony. It’s essential to do this kind of ceremony often because the earth hasn’t the strength to do it anymore. We have so damaged the earth that it is impossible for it to regenerate easily. And every time we do an honoring ceremony, we heal one more piece of it. It’s very simple to focus our energies on places like the rainforest or the Arctic. These places can always use (and desperately need) our help. On the other hand, there are many other places which also deserve our attention, which are just as important for the health of this planet–and they are often not far away from us–for example, trying to prevent some sort of ecological disaster in your own neighborhood—like a new development that will destroy wetlands or forest, or pollute groundwater. In doing planetary healings for many years, I have found that group ceremonies truly work the best for this kind of work. The group creates a synergy with its combined focus as it tunes into a particular area that needs to be healed. When you are honoring the earth, it’s important for the health and well-being of the planet to remove any human or nonhuman obstructions. These may include people who are being stubborn or wrong-headed, who take profit ahead of the larger good. By doing this work, you open up a window in their heart so that they can see the larger better picture. CEREMONY: Supplies: saltwater (sea salt plus water works fine), good clean rich dirt (loam), not clayey or sandy; frankincense or copal or sweetgrass (a natural incense), one beeswax candle per person, sage and a metal cauldron/bowl, and a table to put them on. 1. Decide beforehand where you want to concentrate your energies. In that case, write down its name on a piece of paper and place it in the bowl. Invite the local spirit of that area to stand above the cauldron
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2. Create a circle around a table. On it are the four elements that make up the planet (earth, air, fire and water symbolized by dirt, sea water, incense and candle), and a bowl or cauldron, which serves as the focal point. 3. Smudge each other with the sage before you start the actual ceremony. You want to bring in no extraneous energies. 4. Focus your mind on your breathing. a. Breathe in gold light from the sun, down through the top of your head into your heart. b. Add your pink love light for the planet; and breathe this blessing down through your feet into the earth. c. Breathe as a group, in and out, in a very quiet and measured way. d. Breathe in light from the sun (four beats), mixing in your heart with love (two beats), and then the out breath down into the earth (four beats). This will give you a sense of a rhythmic flow of blessing. Once you have done this for several minutes, bring your focus back into the room. 5. Now that you have been able to get in tune and in focus, it’s time to do a spiral dance to raise the energy of the earth. Find an area, where you can all move. It would be best if you are actually walking on the earth (instead on the floor); after all, if you want to be connected to the earth, it’s best to touch it with the soles of your bare feet. (Of course, that depends on the time of year). 6. Gather around the table, and put your hands out over the items. Call on Mother Earth and Father Sky to send their blessing into the four elements. Imagine their energies infusing the water, the earth, the air, and the fire. 7. Call upon the nature gods and all earth guardians to come and add their blessing too. After all, they’re the ones who most feel at risk these days. Imagine the dryads and the naiads and the oreads coming there to help you. Ask them to infuse your elements with their essence as well. 8. Call upon the animal spirits to lend their blessing to this enterprise. They have felt under attack as well. No place is safe for them anymore. The animals that cannot survive will become extinct; the ones who can survive will have to adapt to humans. 9. Call on the water spirits (for the fish, dolphins and whales); call upon the spirits of fire (the lizards and the snakes), the air spirits (the birds). Call on the greenery, the plants and trees to lend their support. 10. Call on the devas or spirits of the area of focus to participate, and imagine them in the center sending out streams or ribbons of connection to you so that each of you is touching the vibration of this place. The more outside support you have, the more of a difference you can make. Their energy is added to yours in a more powerful mix. 11. Clasp hands and begin to move around the circle to your right. Take two steps forward, then one step back. As you step forward and back, chant, “I honor my mother the earth.” Take the three steps to say this chant.
HONORING THE EARTH
12. Let each person take a bit of earth out of the bowl. As you start moving toward the right, chant the following: “I love my mother the earth, I honor my mother the earth. I give back holiness and healing to my mother the earth.” Drop the dirt onto the ground (if indoors; put the dirt into another basin). 13. Once you have set up this energy field, it’s time to begin to focus on the particular area where you want work. For example, call the energies of the rainforest to be in the center of your circle. 14. Take your beeswax candles. One person lights hers from the candle on the table. The rest of you light yours, one from another. All of you come forward and, thrusting the lit wicks of the candles together over the cauldron, say, “All that is not of the highest good be burned out of [name the area]. All that do not belong in [name the area], who are not working for the earth’s highest good, be removed from this area. All that is hurtful and harmful in [name] be healed.” Just let any beeswax drip into the bowl. 15. One person takes incense bowl and passes it around the table. The rest of the group chants, “All that is not of the highest good be blown away from [name the area]. All that do not belong in [name], who are not working for the earth’s highest good, be removed from this area. All that is hurtful and harmful in [name] be healed.” 16. Then everyone take another pinch of dirt and, one by one, throw it in the cauldron. As you do so, chant, “All that is not of the highest good for [name the area] be sucked into the earth and recycled. All that do not belong in [name], who are not working for the earth’s highest good, leave this area. All that is hurtful and harmful in [name] be healed.” 17. Finally, everyone toss droplets of water into the bowl, and chant, “All that is not of the highest good for [name the area] be washed away. All that do not belong in [name the area], who are not working for the earth’s highest good, be removed from this area. All that is hurtful and harmful in [name] be healed.” 18. Hold the image of the area where you are focusing your healing energy. Then as you move around the circle swaying and singing, chant the following:
“I call on the Earth to be healed. I call on the earth to be put back into alignment. I call upon higher spirits to heal all in [this place]. I call upon higher powers to come to [name].”
19. As you do that, imagine the celestial and earth energies pouring through you into the cauldron, funneling the energy directly to the place in the world where the healing needs to be given. 20. Burn the paper in the cauldron. This helps to dissipate or release negative or stuck energies from that area. 21. At this point imagine, as the smoke of the incense rises into the air, that it is carrying your combined wishes for healing to wreath around and be absorbed by whatever area is being healed by this ceremony. 22. Ask the devas to take that energy back with them and let them disappear, closing the vortex. 23. Say once more, “I honor my mother the earth,” chanting and moving in and out as you step to the left.
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24. Call on the earth spirits to bring the healing and light to whatever is out of balance and out of alignment. At this point, bring your hands up, high over your head and call down the cosmic, universal, divine energies, to spill out into this place and be absorbed by everybody in the area. This is a divine healing for everyone. And not only does it heal them, but in doing it, it heals you. 25. Thank the higher beings and the spirits of all kinds for their presence and send them back to their homes. Douse the candles. Now dump out the bowl into a shallow hole in the earth (perhaps even a flower pot)–hopefully, somewhere which is unobtrusive and out of the way. When you finish such an earth-focused ceremony, there is usually quite different in your perspective, for you have done something not only beyond you, but for the larger good of the whole planet. And then go do your part against Global Warming.
YOUR SPIRITUAL PLACE
I believe it is very important to find your spiritual space. I don’t mean your home space, but a place in the world where you feel the highest vibrations of spirit. A number of people who follow Indian gurus find India is a place to be. Other people who are Christian or Jewish or Muslim consider Jerusalem as their home. Many people drift from spiritual place to spiritual place, from Brazil to Australia, to India or China or Japan, to Peru or England or France, to Egypt or the Middle East. Every one of those places has great spiritual centers. A few years ago people starting doing the pilgrimage through France to St James of Compostela–a journey to a specific destination with a certain spiritual vibration. Do you want to make the journey to Compostela? To Jerusalem? Or an Indian ashram? Or Ayers Rock? Or Mt. Shasta? People who drive from France to Compostela along the Milky Way experience a kind of spiritual vibration, which is far different from the people who walk the path. (I personally would like to do the pilgrimage by foot–but I do not have the physical capacity to do it.) When you go to those places, you are absorbing the spiritual energies of those sites. If you find that you have the wherewithal to live in such a place, where you feel spiritually fulfilled, be sure to visit such places as often as possible. Most older women have many ties to our homes, so that it is rarely possible for us to pull up our roots and plant ourselves somewhere else—unless we do it as a group with other people. It’s enough simply to make pilgrimages to those spiritual places that enhance our spirits. If you practice one religion, one site might be more important than another. But if you’re spiritual, it doesn’t matter what religion you follow. It just matters that you are open to whatever spiritual energies feed your soul. It’s all part of the journey of our soul. It also is important to say that this journey becomes much deeper when we have opened ourselves up to letting it in–when we have breathed out our attachments, our needs and fears, all the things that hold on to us and we can breathe in what these places have and hold on to that same faith that the journey will help us in our work. If you can’t visit all these places around the world, find a special sacred spot for yourself, preferably in nature. Even a retreat center is good. They are often situated on ley lines or energy centers. Those places allow you to bring balance into your life. This is why spiritual centering is very important. It allows you to get the benefits of the energies that the particular area holds. And when you come back home, you will bring that energy with you, whether or not you realize it consciously. And it will impact your spiritual work. Here’s what I mean. In one visit to a stone circle in Cornwall, I encountered a deva who wanted to visit Mt. Shasta. So after getting my permission to accompany me, it came back with me to California. After I came home, I took a trip to Mt. Shasta, with the deva alongside. It was a
CELEBRATION & RELEASE
rather odd experience, having this spirit being around me. When I returned to the Bay Area, however, the deva was not with me. It was partaking of the energies of Mt. Shasta. During a visit to Egypt, I had the opportunity to visit some special out-of-the-way spiritual sites, and they materially affected my meditation work. If you go somewhere sacred with an open heart and soul, you will get answers to questions you didn’t even know you were asking, directions and higher wisdom—and most importantly, the understanding that you are furthering your Divine Purpose. Since each experience is unique, the ceremony below just helps you tune into the spiritual center. CEREMONY: 1. Find a quiet place in your spiritual center. 2. Put your grounding cord down, so you can connect to the energies here. 3. Invite your Higher Self to absorb all the lessons and energies you need to receive from this place. 4. Invite the devas of this place to bring all the lessons and energies you need to receive from this place. 5. Reach out with your hands and let the spirits embrace you with their energies. Be open to any images, feelings, impressions you get. 6. Ask that you receive whatever you came here for. 7. Thank the devas.
You have come to the end of this book. I have tried to cover as many aspects of your evolvement in middle age, in cronedom, as I could possibly do. I know there is always more work, more change, more evolution. I have created many of these ceremonies, and I have adapted others to fit this work. I know that what’s most important is that we are able to transform, that we can breathe in to a new level of being and breathe out what’s in our way. That is the gift I want to convey to you, that it’s all right to give and receive, to breathe in your new life, and to breathe out expectations, fears and demands. It’s all right to choose to be who you are, even in the face of family disapproval. It’s better when you have their support, but even if you don’t, it’s still all right to be who you are. I ask you to simply remember that. You are a being of light, you are a being of vibrant joy and love. Let yourself reclaim that, and be able to radiate that love to yourself, to your family and friends and to everyone who comes in contact with you. By doing so, you can remind them that they too can be the being that they would like to be. There is no right or wrong experience to have, just be yourself, and acknowledge that whatever you learn and sense is part of your journey of discovery, of transformation and wisdom. That is the real reminder of these ceremonies–that you are a wise being, and that you can acknowledge in yourself the wisdom, the balance, and your harmony. There is no more here. But there is always more in your life. You may never feel that your journey is done; it isn’t. But go dance. As the saying goes, “When I get older, I shall wear purple.” There are many groups for older women. Join one. Have fun. Embrace your spirit.
Some Goddesses & Their Attributes Anath Middle East Birth, death, mother goddess Aphrodite Greek Passion, femininity, love, beauty, birth/life/ death, art, grace Ariadne Cretan Transformation, birth, death Arianrhod Celtic Karma, mother, sky and stars Artemis Greek Huntress, independence, sisterhood Asherah ME Lawgiver, queen of gods Astarte Babylon Spirit, love, queen Athena Greek Warrior, weaving, virgin, courage Blodeuwedd Celtic Virgin Brigid Irish Wise woman, mother, childbirth, fertility, guardian of children/ animals Ceriddwen Celtic Crone, darkness, Ch’ang-O China Moon goddess, immortality Chicomecoatl Mexico Fertility, mother goddess Coatlicue Aztec Mother goddess Cybele Asia Minor Celebration, rebirth, joy Cybele Cretan Mother Demeter Greek Mother, fertility, harvest Epona Celtic Horse goddess, mother Freya Norse Love, sex, marriage, right living, peace, passion Gaia Greek Earth, time, life Hathor Egyptian Beauty Hecate Greek Witchcraft, endings, darkness, crone Hel Norse Underworld, crone Hera Greek Queen, matrimony, air, moon, mother, envy Hestia Greek Home, conception, family, self Inanna Sumeria Queen of gods, source of life Ishtar ME Sex, power, love, strength Isis Egyptian Foundation, mother, magic, protection Kali India Creation, destruction, mother Lakshmi India Health, wealth, fertility Lilith Semitic Independence, strength, self-will Ma’at Egyptian Truth, justice, balance Mari ME Mother, sea Morgan Celtic Crone, death, curse (Morrigan) Neith Egyptian Warrior, weaving, mother Parvati India Mother, wife, marital felicity
Pele Persephone Quan Yin Rati Rhea Sarasvati Shin-Mu Sophia Tara (White) Tlalteutli Xochiquetzal
Hawaii Greek China Bali Cretan India China Greek Tibetan Aztec Aztec
Fire goddess Virgin, daughter, regeneration Mercy, compassion, peace Erotic delight, passion, eternal feminine Earth, mother goddess Arts of civilization, music, magic, mother, healing Holy virgin Wisdom, female aspect of God Mysticism, playfulness, self-mastery Creation, sacrifice Love goddess, dance, songs, weaving, marriage, magic, art
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