Stimulus

A coolness has swept over the spring desert leaving traces of mountain currents dwelling in the corners of wall and eave. Open windows welcome with wide smiles the laughter of zephyrs taking a spin around the dusty edges of books stirring them to fling themselves open and reveal new worlds. The fan overhead twirls gently, encouraging the exchange of breath…in, out, in, out…

In the courtyard, even the morning sun has a less fiery breath upon shoulders and feet when it is dancing among the heights of feathered clouds on a journey to make nostrils quiver and eyes blink rapidly from unfamiliar scents and sensational stimulus. Morning is hours ago though I saw it peek into my room from the tall pane that, arching, had also framed the moon in her growing fullness, her fecundity spreading upon the ground like tendrils of silver roots unseen by daytime vision.

Canine eyes squint facing the sun, while I in my crumpled hat face away from its intensity, my eyes in broad-brimmed droopy-straw shadow while bare arms and legs pinken ever so slightly. Oranges bob, being harvested by birds then gnats and ants that journey far from home for the pale inner flesh.

I randomly select a poem by Emily Dickinson through which to continue my reflection …

The stimulus, beyond the grave

His countenance to see,

Supports me like imperial drams

Afforded royally.

Memorial Area in Maine

Through the portal emerges:

From the shadows and the light, they support my journey, these spirits of animals who were always near, moving me forward in good community. They always led and nudged me, helping me find or keep my footing. When lost, they curl around me like invisible quilt of patchwork lives, each piece out of time and space now able to weave itself anywhere so that I can catch my own falling star and put it back where sit needs to be. Their energy ever near, ever clear, transparent yet stronger than any top bridge built across a ravine daunting and scary; they hold my heart and hand, wrapped around me like a band of shadow’s indigo. I know. They are here. Companions, ancestors, lovers and opponents who would support or toss away my dreams in a long line of effort so that I could find my inner design, the pattern of soul frequency that is uniquely me.

We all have those who go before we do, known by touch or just by essence; they support us and we treasure them, their precious gifts. Sometimes unrealized in life, only fully becoming in the space that is shimmering around us. I cannot see them twinkle in the bright glare of day, but, ahhhh…when when shadow falls I see them all for they are the shades of reflection and wisdom, of the young womb or wonder that plays in the dark chasing lightening-bugs and receiving bits of powder-fine dirt into every crevice of barefoot play. Seems only yesterday, they and I were one among earth and stars, one dust, one expanse of ocean depth giggling on the surface in foamy waves teasing each other to see who could reach the grotto first and fill the tidal pool with new life.

The face of encouragement is both smooth and wrinkled, bearded and furred, feathered and twining around rough trunks stable and serene. Whose face do you see? Whose countenance fills you up and stimulates your presence into grace?

______________________

Thus far, I could go in myriad directions with every single poem of Emily Dickinson—they are touching on all levels, through metaphor or reality events. No one will ever decipher her essence of meaning in them, not for sure, because we cannot ask her for her truth within them. We can only impose our own perceptions upon them. Can we know her heart depths in them? Is it necessary to? No. She left a legacy of portals through which we can step to explore ourselves, and, yes, play with her explorations of self … though without confirmation. Maybe this is part of why her poems sing to me—they are open-ended, open-souled mystery. Did she ever dream that she might be “the stimulus beyond the grave”?

A Feminine Way Forward

I will be spending the year immersed in the work of Marion Woodman and Emily Dickinson. They are calling me to them as I continue my journey On the Gaia Path. So they will share space with my contemplative and creative writing, and, I’m sure, infuse all my writing adventures with distinctive feminine energy. And an awareness of how the feminine has been subsumed by the masculine in ways I had never even realized.

With that in mind, below is an essay I wrote for an assignment on rhetorical analysis in my University of Arizona English class. The piece is, of course, an academic paper constructed within the masculine formatting that drives a college education in today’s world. My intent in sharing it is, however, a way of sharing–and showing–how I am doing my best to retain the feminine principle even within the patriarchal constructs and overwhelming masculine precepts around me.

Before reading, please watch the three-minute video clip of the hour-long speech being analyzed: HERE. You won’t regret making the time to do so! Ms. Woodman is fabulous! A transcript of the entire speech is available HERE.

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The Way of the Feminine Principle

Governments and corporations continue using a masculine, domination model to control people. However, there is a growing movement in various cultural circles toward the realization that we need a conscious re-emergence of the feminine principle if our world is to survive. Marion Woodman, an author and “groundbreaking [Jungian] analyst with a rare understanding of the role of the feminine in bringing about personal and cultural transformation,” spoke with a passionate grace about this very shift in ideology at the 3rd Annual Women & Power Conference in 2004 (Feminist.com). Through the use of personal representation, shared cultural experiences, terminology perception, and the flow of her presentation, Ms. Woodman both defines the feminine principle and points out how it is absent in our culture. Ms. Woodman’s speech makes it clear that fixing the imbalance in our societies using masculine energy as the primary force—the same energy that has created most of our problems—is not going to be possible; feminine energy must be an equal partner for a healing transformation to occur.

While most conference attendees are already aligned with feminism—generically defined as equality of the sexes—this morphing cultural concept is quite varied in its adherents’ interpretation of what the terms feminine and masculine mean. Quite simply, feminism is not the same as the psychological feminine to which Ms. Woodman refers, and the feminine is not the same as female or woman. Therefore, Ms. Woodman exposits upon her own interpretation of the feminine (receptive, heart-centered) and the masculine (active, mind-focused). She invites the audience to view these terms, not as gender or external issues, but as energies or principles that are found within both women and men. Ms. Woodman gives cultural examples and says that “the feminine principle would attempt to relate. Instead of breaking things off into parts, it would say, where are we alike? How can we connect? Where is the love?” She points out in how, in these situations, there is little, if any, attempt to relate to one another. Thus, Ms. Woodman seeks to persuade her listeners into a realization that the feminine principle within both genders has been deeply submerged in our culture and further clarifies her definition when she says that, “when we’re talking about that feminine that’s missing, we’re talking about the heart energy.” Throughout her speech, Ms. Woodman remains steady in her referral to the feminine as she understands it to be, and uses that energy often in order to connect with her audience.

Ms. Woodman relates to the conference attendees through her words and manner to draw them closer to her circle of perception so that they will identify with what she is saying. She does this to establish common ground and create a felt sense of communal belonging to be shared between speaker and listeners. Ms. Woodman connects with her audience through several means. First, she acknowledges the personal significance of the day when she says:

I come to you this time, also, as I was sitting in my room this morning and looking out over the towers of New York, I was so glad to be here on this day. And to think, you know, of the innocence with which those towers were standing in the sunlight, as it turned golden on them and then thinking what happened within minutes three years ago today. (Woodman)

Because the conference was held in New York City on the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center towers, Ms. Woodman’s statement above brilliantly juxtaposes “innocence” with the violence that followed, showing a tragic yet memorable example of what happens when the feminine principle is absent from world culture. The towers represented the innocence of the average American in a similar way to how children and teenagers feel immortal, as if nothing could touch them. And yet, without a strong feminine presence in the world, without a receptive and interrelated global community, masculine aggression takes over because it has nothing create a counter-balance. The way in which she relates to the audience through this shared experiences is through poignancy, through the feminine. To then ensure an ethical connection with her audience, which is a masculine approach, she relies upon her reputation when she reminds the audience that, “many of you have heard me over the years” (Woodman). She is a respected elder who has been open about her views and experiences for decades, sharing her own journey to reconnect with her inner feminine principle. Her brief prompt, while probably unnecessary, solidifies the connection between her and the conference attendees.

Ms. Woodman seems confident that she can maintain the state of consubstantiality she attained through her introductory comments. When watching the video clip of her speech, we also see that she personally and visually depicts the union of masculine and feminine (Omega). Ms. Woodman speaks with intense focus and determination, and she leans toward her audience. These are characteristics usually associated with the masculine principle and likely derive in part from decades of teaching. However, she also flows gracefully from citing facts to expressing insights to showing what she feels through the constantly changing expressions upon her face. This ease she has with transition is like the ocean tide, which is an elemental process intimately related to the feminine principle. Ms. Woodman emanates power through her regal bearing, her hair drawn up on top of her head whereupon one could almost imagine a crown. She is both queen and king presiding over court. Further, Ms. Woodman wears clothing of a deep wine-red color—a color that balances the red of passion and masculine vigor with the purple of royalty and feminine sensuality—set off by a richly sparkling scarf. She is a captivating speaker who is comfortable with revealing both sides of her psyche, and is, therefore, presenting a tangible example of what feminine and masculine principles working together can be like.

The feminine principle is rooted in the emotions and Ms. Woodman uses real life examples to relate to her listeners through sadness, grief, and frustration. She speaks of despair and suffering individually as well as culturally, and says in relation to the loss of farming communities that, “I’m trying not to be too dark about it. But I am really alarmed” (Woodman). Her sincere concern is palpable. Specifically, Ms. Woodman creates a rapport through the lens of compassion when she talks of the disconnection experienced by Canadian and American farmers, and that, “the farmer never gets to know his pigs”—thus, the natural cycle of relationship is lost (Woodman). This lack of relationship and community creates a situation where there is “no recognition of soul or heart” (Woodman). She cites watching on TV the angry citizens in Bolivia who have had their water rights taken away and asks: “How can you take the heart out of people? Just exactly that way. Don’t recognize them” (Woodman). She makes clear here the pain of being unseen and the repercussions of that invisibility. She comments on the “horrific” Chechnyan rebellion situated in a theater where hundreds of people died and those causing the deaths showed “no feeling at all” (Woodman). This lack of feeling occurs when humans separate themselves from other people and from the natural world that sustains us. Ultimately, we need to feel—we need the feminine principle. Therefore, Ms. Woodman isn’t inflaming the audience to act out of anger, aggression, or violence. Rather, she is reaching deeply to use the despair and poignancy elicited by these situations to motivate her audience toward retrieving the love, the heart, the soul that is the feminine principle.

It isn’t until after Ms. Woodman has firmly connected with her audience through related experiences and emotions that she gets to the heart of her message:

So what I would like to focus on this morning is the loss of the feminine where the heart is no longer recognized. The individuality is no longer realized. The soul is not even thought about. And how that reverberates right through our culture. (Woodman)

These comments directly call attention to the purpose of the conference in that “it is not enough for women to merely develop self-empowerment … we must lead from our core female values and deepest wisdom” (Feminist.com). Ms. Woodman refers to the loss of the feminine principle, that which women experience as “core female values,” throughout her speech using many examples as if they are tributaries that all flow into the great ocean of heart and soul.

Ms. Woodman continues to elucidate her understanding of the feminine and masculine principles. She says that, “I don’t think patriarchy has anything to do with masculinity. It is a power principle that becomes a parody of itself” (Woodman). Her goal is to help the audience see the feminine in a new way, to see that it’s not about gender or men. Ms. Woodman wants her listeners to understand that our ideology is based upon a domination model we call patriarchy that is damaging to all genders, all species, and our very planet because it devalues, minimizes, and even negates the feminine principle. She goes on to say:

I’m talking about the masculine as a creative energy, that fire, that air, that is just so powerful when it comes in … the feminine is the receptive side of that. The loving, the heart side, the soul side.That is balancing the — the feminine being the water and the earth. (Woodman)

Here, Ms. Woodman beautifully differentiates between the feminine principle and gender, and is thereby allowing the audience to understand her more clearly and to envision how the feminine is missing in society.

The entire flow of Ms. Woodman’s speech—its arrangement—is itself an example of the feminine principle. She portrays the embodiment of that which she speaks: “I’ve given up trying to use logic … I think with my heart. And so [my speech] goes in spirals” (Woodman). With less linear structure and more spiraling creativity, Ms. Woodman easily moves between personal, communal, and cultural experiences to reveal how the feminine principle is missing in those situations. As a further example of how she uses heart instead of logic, we also see Ms. Woodman’s opening and closing references to a poem. She references T.S. Elliot’s Four Quartets in the beginning of her speech and at the end to point out the futility of all the “fire” in our culture without the soft touch of the “rose” (Woodman). She directs us to see that these energies—the rose (heart, feminine, soul) and the fire (spiritual suffering)—need to be balanced. Metaphor and poetry with their imagery arise from the feminine principle, and Ms. Woodman uses them to touch our hearts in a subtle, heart-felt manner.

Ms. Woodman is quite persuasive when watching the video of her speech. While there is strength within her written words via the transcript, Ms. Woodman’s real motivational power lies in her ability to capture the attention of her audience with not only incisive meter, but through each pregnant pause and swelling lilt in her voice that exposes her emotional conviction. The greatest strength of Ms. Woodman’s speech is in her personal advocacy and representation of the mingling of masculine and feminine. She walks her talk, showing how “the suffering of the loss brings through the transformation” in her own life compares to the examples she mentions that support her dedication to this perspective (Woodman). Sharing these many cultural situations is beneficial, but, ultimately, they are made truly empowering and energizing because of Ms. Woodman’s personal journey and how she weaves them together. One slight weakness in an otherwise glorious speech is that Ms. Woodman doesn’t clearly define her use of the word “feminine” until half-way through her presentation. While the reason for this is probably because she knows her primary audience, for the benefit of any secondary audience later on, defining the term earlier might have been better. Nevertheless, by show-casing relatively current world events Ms. Woodman unites her audience and brings archetypal theory into the realm of realism.

Ms. Woodman is successful in convincing her audience that the feminine principle is missing from men as well as from women, and that it is desperately needed in today’s culture because “the feminine principle would attempt to relate” rather than fight and compete (Woodman). Thus, she leads her listeners to conclude that it will only be through the rebirth of the feminine, and subsequently through the union of masculine and feminine principles in every person, that the world’s cultures can emerge into global healing.

 

Works Cited

Omega Institute. “Marion Woodman ‘Can you see me?’” Vimeo, LLC. 12 Jun. 2009. Web Video. 12 Feb. 2014. <http://vimeo.com/5127493>.

Feminist.com. “Women & Power: Speeches from the 2004 Women & Power Conference.” Feminist.com. n.p. n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/womenandpower.html>

Woodman, Marion. “Conscious Femininity.” Feminist.com. n.p. n.d. n. pag. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/genwom/conscious.html>.

Falling

{ You can listen to my recitation of this piece at Podbean – Falling }

Writing flow from down below that rises to the top like cream from the heart of life as dream, and into the flow we tend to go yet try to swim instead of float, allow ourselves to be the boat that is the bobbing star of splendor on the gentle waters and we wonder: here we go, up like a geyser then fall like rain, up and out, then down again.

BougainvilleaClose032814The sleep of heavy tired lids on a pot that’s full and overcooked—skim the burn off the top and let the cream of sweetness dream into the moment stillness calling, then we are once more falling into the space of a moment’s grace that holds us all … to pause. Read the tea leaves of the morning and their message is a warning to go among the rocks and breathe their ancient calm … receive.

Hear the sighs of plants around, from high above us into the ground telling of their wisdom reaching far into the heart of what we’re seeking. The listening is what comes mysterious unto the pause. Gifts of healing from the plants and stones and all the energetic tomes unwritten in the human hand but held like dreams within the land as closing our eyes we hear and see the healing of our own mystery that we mistook for penitence is really the whole gift of innocence strung along with beads and feathers, a shaman’s touch, a priestess calls, a heart no more alone … falls.

Among my vision without sight is balance of the dark and light into the chants of ancient voice I hear the gift of truth and choice. We think so much we drown the sound of whispered magic earth caves lush along the squishy forest path where roots abound and fairies laugh.

We think they’re false because we’re blind when all we have to do is find the strength to pull the cloth from off our eyes and there! See! A great surprise! Within the space is twinkling light vibrating on the sacred night, entwined like lovers ever true, the gift of you! Play the flute and call the wind, for here we are upon a land that blesses us with heaven’s gate and all we are is in our own fated ways of journey, travel, hear and see the beauty, love and majesty of all diversity.

Falling off the edge of sleeping where the hawk soars and the bear snores and the cougar stealthy creeps along the very edge of the shores and woods at timberline between reality and the world divine unseen except by those who fly between so easily with their colored skins of rainbow trout and acorn hats that dance about and bring the rain and tumbled stones that soothe the pain of those alone who cannot see or hear.

Rivers flow all around and we can see them, where they’re bound to send us dancing to and fro, a journey where we cannot know. Upon the land is my heart beating, thumping, pause and pound, here is where I’m happily bound, not to go some other place, or transcend away from Gaia’s Grace.

Here, now, present, free, the land is you and me … Unity.

Elemental Tapestry

Image

Dreamstime Free Image

Elemental tapestry …

As the images of Divine Feminine on my altar sway their hips and hearts and minds in alternating prismic patterns of rainbow energy to support me during each moment of the day, so do the lands of Mother Earth weave a blanket upon which to lay and a rug upon which to play into Her love.

Opening, I welcome the threads familiar and also unseen for all create the tapestry of me…and all of us.

Sweeping crumbs from the corners of the rooms, dusting off the old relics and donating them to the cauldron of creativity.

The threads of my tapestry are naked limbs in winter and deep roots in the spring, and the eggs of all that will be designed and decorated with a green twig of neem and mesquite and pine.

Giddy! Giggly, wiggly, water sloshing in the air from rainfall!

What I perceived as a single experience of pilgrimage to Crete was in reality a precious thread that is the ethereal blue story of my opalescent life exhibited specifically within the entire transition to the southwestern desert where heat is transforming me; I am being fired until I bubble inside a kiln made in a marriage of opposites where I was shown that the masculine within me can be kind and generous while also protective and stalwart.

Shown that I can clean the house and also create new worlds of dreams and imagination where we all can venture forth to discover ourselves among the hills and valleys of multiple dimensions falling into someone else’s world as it becomes temporarily our reality to learn, grow, stretch our wings, and sink our roots.

A journey has no beginning or ending though we may at times perceive the garnet stepping stones as life’s blood dripping away as we climb the emerald tower or descend into the diamond cave of ancestors who died before the dinosaurs were born.

We limit ourselves when we isolate the journey, and try to follow what might have been true as a child but has become as false as a wounded soldier upon the ravaged fields coming home to sweep away the debris from the corners where they, the pesky particulates of what once was, have been hiding themselves building ant hills and tunnels for termites undermining our foundations.

We sweep them into the center of the floor and, look, there’s the button missing for years that held me carefully together, and the back of an earring that let me hear the song of great-great-aunt Dora’s jewelry box overflowing with remnant memories of a wild heyday in the roaring twenties of flappers and booze and slinky dresses.

My journey of Being began long before Becoming, long before the rolling wheels of wagons led bare, bone-tired feet along tattered and torn trails of tears … and yet I taste tears in my mouth and feel the ache in the arch of my foot when I pause to sink into the well-spring of diverse paths, pause to hold the healing waters of ocean pilgrimage that left itself inside me, that seeped into my body through skin and nose and ears ringing with priestess song.

The loops of this tapestry bind and release, breaking then mending, and started long before I breathed my first gasp in emergence. Was that yesterday?

The intricate pattern is rolled up in the rug and stood on end so that I can sweep up the bits of colored thread fallen away, fallen into the cracks or blown into the corners now swept clean.

My life in an imaginary room that is the very image of the world I’ve lived and breathed and journeyed a million times carrying within me the stardust that is all of us.

We are the tapestry and the very unseen of existence that tickles and swims through the air invisible to the eye yet felt in our souls as the union of opposites never to be separate except in our personal limitations of mind.

Vibrant hues and pastel winkings fan themselves across my skin from tongues of dog kisses, and the freedom of place, and the love everywhere that is a handsome man’s face, the broad-spreading canopy of thirsty trees, the eternal blossoms of life.

We are the journey, all of us are the journey.

We are the movement and the stillness.

We are One within billions and billions of expressions in multi-colored threads of liminal, infinite tapestry.

Leaf on the Wind

The dry leaf scrapes across the sandstone reflecting the approaching death that frees us to fly more easily in the air. We release the weight of excess earth and water, and we are lifted by the slightest breeze or thought to soar and gain a different perspective from that which we knew much earlier.photo

Dangers faced by the dry leaf are going too high so that it disconnects forever, or alternatively, catching fire from the tiniest spark and being incinerated instantly to the ash of invisibility without leaving a trace behind except cellular memory to feed the next life, which is fine if that was the purpose—there is no shame in being the nutrients for another life’s expression. Just know and be aware of what is happening; don’t be asleep to possibility and who you are ensouled to be.

Fly and land, fly and land, sometimes skipping across the surface of where others have walked or grown; sometimes flying above for the broad perspective and distant travel to a land in a forest where none of the other leaves look like you and they are heavy, wet, as they contentedly decay into the thick humus of the forest floor and invite you to join them, all glumpied together until it becomes impossible to see where one ends and another begins in the “communion of subjects”*—is this your purpose? To be one with them? Look at all the good that they do! All the nourishment they provide for community diversity! Or will you thank them and lift a brittle edge to fling yourself upon the next zephyr and fly out of the forest to see the next land and spread the word of the previous community? Off you go…wheeeeee!

What’s that vast expanse of blue below? A mirror of the sky and your slender soaring form? A fish leaps out of the smooth surface and as soon as it disappears a bird dives after it to emerge an instant later swallowing the fish. The bird calls out to you a warning not to land on the liquid mirror unless you are ready to stop traveling, for the water will quickly saturate you, and you will sink to the muddy bottom to become food for the lake creatures. Are you ready? Or is there more to see and share?

Your edges are getting ragged and torn; you even have a few holes in your cloak punching through the veins of your fragile skeleton. But, no, not quite ready and so you call to the wind for a ride and climb once more…high, higher.

timberline

There is a snow-capped peak of a mauve mountain that beckons with its swirling mist of white flakes and its song serenades you like the sirens of old on oceans of past lives. There!That’s it. That’s where your purpose lies. To fall apart in bits and scatter yourself upon the edge between forest and alpine tundra, there at the timberline edge where you can see both sides and rest in the unknowing of self, at peace. Your bits will continue to scatter themselves over the entire mountain and beyond so that you are disbursed invisibly, only the most minuscule bit disintegrating and then integrating here and there.

Your essence scattered, nothing intact, gone from sight yet everywhere, back to mingle with the stardust of your origin that wasn’t one at all for there is no beginning or end, only transformation.

________________

*Thomas Berry

Not Broken

I am not brokenImage

sitting

still

within the cave.

I am not broken

treading

slow

upon the dusky path.

I am not broken

pausing

silent

among forest spires.

I am whole…enough…awake.

soul vignettes

toes orange tree skyUnder the orange tree … globes … worlds unknown in sweet juicy center …. thorns to keep distractions at bay … open sky to inspire and hold all possibility … upside down … swim in the calm without wave or wake … bare foot upon smooth flow of bark … fruit doesn’t fall on its own … must reach … but not far and the reward is within my grasp.

A house without memory is my childhood … its wallpaper is a patchwork of photos I view into someone else’s life … no emotion swells … no connection dwells in those scattered prints … the past disappears … leaving me settled peacefully in the present moment … writing bits of flotsam to attach to images … re-vision.

Sitting in circle among women who speak … swallowing my words … unable to talk because within my pauses someone else has already spoken … my words become obsolete … rejoicing in their comments, listening … resonating with their measure … yet my voice is out of tempo … at home once more, I write.