Tag Archive | empower

Artemis in Crete

[The following is an excerpt from Minoan Messages On The Gaia Path.]

balconyIS IT COINCIDENCE THAT I AM STAYING at a hotel named after Artemis? Artemis who has long been another resonant Goddess for me? Artemis who exemplifies the independent stage of life I went through after my divorce and before I met Ron? Artemis in her Maidenhood, her independence and empowerment, her strength and intimate relationship to the wilds, the woods, nature, her pack of hounds called the Alani? The Alani of which I became one?

I’ve read books and articles about Artemis, and relate to much of what’s written, yet I also know Her differently in some ways.

Goddess of the Hunt is one of Her appellations. However, as a devotee of Artemis, my sense is that as “the huntress” Artemis did/does not advocate killing. Rather, Hers is the power of dispensation and for stepping in as intermediary between hunted and hunter for a swift and painless death. In other words, if it is necessary to take a life for survival, invoke and invite her guidance and She may grant absolution to the one who deals death to a precious wild creature and/or an innocent of any species. Her bestowing of prowess with the bow—in her association with that tool—was for protection of the wild creatures, and to prevent suffering. Ultimately, Artemis is a Huntress of Souls, not hunting to kill in our mundane perceptions but to renew, protect, guide, save and inspire the wild and innocent beings.

In her other guises and energies, and at other points in time, Artemis is also known by a variety of names. For instance, on Crete, She is associated with Britomartis, Goddess of Mountains, and Eileithyia, Goddess of Birth and thus also of Death.

My own energy is connected to Artemis in some interesting ways. A zodiac sign associated with Artemis is Taurus, which is my birth sign. I have a strong attachment to not only the wild and untamed Rocky Mountains, but also to trees and especially pine trees; Artemis, Goddess of the Wilderness, has been known to hold a “pine cone tipped wand,” and is a tree goddess. My middle name is Diane, a form of Diana which is the Roman name for Artemis. She is Moon Goddess and Lady of the Beasts; I am most content at night or in caves, and have always lived with multiple dogs and/or cats. The moment I ‘met’ Artemis, we were in resonance.

She has, however, been tainted by aggression, enslaved by the will of the oppressors, and made into an image of death-wielder or hunter of those She actually protects. There is a deep chasm stretching between Artemis-primordial and what they—the violent ones—seek to make Her. Her archetype has not the desire to kill or to destroy. She is the waxing moon of growth, the crescent moon is Her silver bow and Her discerning, protective gaze flies sure and true as an arrow from that bow. She is the Great Mother Bear, marking the trees to show all who come into the forest that this is sacred space. Who were the Amazons when Artemis led them into healing groves and fields of herbs where the animals showed ignorant human hands how to know blessed plants that could turn fear into peace, hate into love, and still the pains of birth and death?

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 4.24.41 PMHow can we see Artemis clearly if we look through the eyes of patriarchy and those who dominated even themselves, restraining any semblance of kindness? Harsh times rode in on horses disregarded except as vehicles, long forgotten as the wings upon earthly rhythms pounding freedom across the land. Can we close our eyes and feel the origin? Imagine one of the first faces of She Who Runs With the Wolves for they are Her friends, her kin.

I am stricken and saddened by how easily we forget to look before the onslaught of oppression, look into the forest mists of the times when harmony reigned and all of Great Mother’s creature beings were honored, each life taken a great sacrifice for which we gave thanks, asking beforehand for a volunteer … the wounded, the weak, the old. Grace is given for their life to be taken quickly, offered as sustenance in the cycle. The vibrational patterns of life, the energetic threads of relationality became snarled and were tangled, so that we forgot Her truth, Her Divine gift of interconnected honoring into harmony.

Under the light of the waxing moon, She cast shadows to protect the wild beings, to create equality—challenge and illusion—so they would not be taken too easily, would not be slaughtered without asking forgiveness, without prayer and invocation of Divine guidance to lead them to balance of sacrifice and nurturance.

There is tremendous strength in standing firm, in holding fast, in celebrating birth and death as equally vital in our human forms walking the manifest world. Artemis is the exhilaration, the growing light in the sacred dark, glorying in the soft shadows of night and the cool recesses of the cave, and the womb of renewal and joy of youthful vigor.

She has been tarnished and stained, contorted by aggressors who cannot possibly understand Her complexities, for taking a life is a mighty honor and the life taken is then to be honored in a way that reveres all life be it plants, animals or the unknown mysteries of the unseen realms that guide and direct us into opportunities for greater inter-relationship.

Her stories were told and written down by men who could not comprehend Her. Artemis is one who guides us to look within, in the dark, to discover whether we need to take a life or sacrifice our own or even to simply allow a flow of compassion into the relating of all life. She guides us into the paths of our souls, pointing with her arrows to that which needs to be removed or transformed.

The Amazon legends, like the stories of Artemis, were recorded by men; we must seek within our own hearts to find the truth between the lines of the self-reflected, ego-dictated aggression of patriarchy to locate pure source. Maybe the Amazons were indeed wild women of the forests who supplemented their gatherer diets with the occasional meat sacrifice. But I sense that whenever a kill was necessary, it would have been a grave undertaking, not a revelry of joy and laughter with fierce cries of jubilation and pounding upon the chest in dominance. There would have been no joy in the kill.

Artemis vibrates with protection, defense when necessary, and survival with a distinctive grace and reverence for all life. Humans have the will and the intellect to choose how we live, and Artemis will guide us through the dark if we open to Her power.balconyatdusk

Thinness of Self

handleafveilbwI had lain in bed at dawn, savoring the taste of silence, appreciating the moment of dark quiet with Widget snuggled against my side and Phoenix curled at my feet. This was a moment of sweet peace, relaxing, breathing in the silence that would sustain me during the rest of the day. A short while later, when I took the dogs outside and we stepped into the dove-gray softness of liminal light, a small bat was flitting back and forth above my head quite near but silent. Gaia’s Grace was tangible.

There is a line that I love in A Book of Silence: “the thinness of my sense of self” (p.17). When I read this, I felt I became intimate with the book’s author, Sara Maitland. I’ve never met her and probably never will, but with this comment, I felt we were kindred spirits. She is writing of how difficult it is for her to sit in silent meditation with others because she is so aware of them it intrudes upon her own sense of silence.

I nearly squealed in recognition of this sensation of “thinness of self” because I experience this when even one other person is in the house with me. I usually considered this due to my personal insecurity, or perhaps embarrassment or discomfiture that I was somehow being “judged” and could feel the judgment oozing through even a closed door. However, I also usually experienced this at Kripalu — though to a milder degree — in group meditation, where it was highly unlikely that others were judging me since they, too, were meditators. Nevertheless, I was often feeling a disturbance of energy in the room rather than my own peaceful silence or the group silence. I simply am not at ease in group meditation. And this went against (which added to my feeling of being an “outsider”) the teachings of all the benefits of meditating in groups to assist with maintaining and encouraging spiritual focus and energy. Occasionally, the meditation was long enough I could reach my own silent center and personal sacred space of nothingness, my core of being. But not often.

When I think it is my insecurity creating this inability to feel the silence in a group, I feel negative overtones. But what if this is a “thinness of self” that is naturally spiritual? What if it is the natural thinness that comes directly from one’s soul? Sara Maitland seems to worry, as do I, that this is some kind of “fault” in our character. But is it? Why would it necessarily be so? Why would we assume it is? Is it not simply a trait that is natural? Perhaps our discomfort or inability to rest in group silence is a judgment of our society, even a spiritual one like at Kripalu or a retreat center? A judgment that is more comfortable grouping everyone together and not comfortable with those who are solitaries in their silence? The only advantage I personally could see to a group meditation was that it provided a structure for the ritual, something that says it is to be done now, not put off, not shortened or skipped — group practice can create a sort of discipline if one has a hard time doing this alone. And yet, even if that aspect is helpful in the beginning, it is still adherence to someone else’s control of our path. At some point, will our spiritual path be important enough that we are disciplined by self?

Is it possible that this “thinness” of self goes further than imagined? That it is a gift allowing a permeability of spirit to more easily flow in and out of soul, and that solitude is needed for some of us to lower the barriers we maintain in any group? Is it this “thinness” that can sometimes be perceived by others as a “madness” or a form of dysfunction because it doesn’t adhere to the group mind? Or is it a source of creativity in some sense? At least for some of us? Clearly not for all of us because many people go deeply into meditation in groups or create marvelous works of art in the company of like-minded individuals or even strangers. But, for some of us, why do we automatically assume that this thinness is a fault, a flaw in our constitutional construction?

Some contrasts I feel here with Maitland are, for instance, that I’ve avoided groups my entire life; preferring one or two people at a time to crowds; even being uncomfortable at my own family’s dinner table at times. Whereas Maitland speaks of her joy in the bantering noise of discussions in family and other groups … that she didn’t begin to yearn for silence and/or solitude until later in life. Which shows her to be following a somewhat normal basic inclination — a healthy one — as described by Ayurveda, i.e., the Vata phase of life. Further, Maitland divorced — she began her journey into seeking silence while on her own, without a life-partner to consider, and this allowed her more freedom to fully engage with the Call of Spirit, to deepen her relationship with silence and solitude. I, however, have a beloved husband. Yet we, in our partnership, continue creating ways for my “thinness of self” to be nourished and encouraged.

Our partnership has been built, in part, upon early recognition of my need for solitude and silence. We didn’t call it “thinness of sense of self” though; an easier and more common term, though one just as socially unacceptable, is introversion. Confessedly, moving to Arizona has been a trial in this area, due to some confusion, loss, misunderstanding, and stumbling.

GatesPassHowever, come winter and cooler weather, I will be able to drive fifteen minutes into the desert, walk a short distance, and experience vast silence and that will, hopefully, induce a greater sense of solitude … one where my thinness can breathe more easily — if I can release my fear of the desert. As Maitland puts it, “the silence of the desert has a horror to it, as well as, born of the horror, a deep and joyful beauty. The desert is vast, cruel and very silent” (p. 128). Perhaps there is a way for me to replace my fear of the desert with love for the opportunity it provides in its unique manifestation of silence and solitude? To balance the environmental overwhelm I feel in this harsh landscape with a freedom of expansive space once the extreme heat recedes for the winter? In that silence, what will happen out of the thinness that is my self and the prominent desert elements of fire and air?

I seek a greater spiritual appreciation of the desert. I seek this so that even though my preference is cave and forest, where I feel safe (and, interestingly, another contrast is that Maitland does not feel safe in the forest), I can move into a state of gratitude for this opportunity of spiritual exploration through desert presence. After all, Maitland who lives in the United Kingdom had to travel to the Sinai Desert whereas my desert is all around me. Maybe my “thinness of self” will facilitate my becoming one with the desert silence, and, through that grace, find a deeper peace here?

May Bast guide our journeys to self through silence and solitude.

Endunamoo ~ to empower

ἐνδυναμόω

(en-doo-nam-AWH)

From the Greek ~ to empower, strengthen, enable; to have power from within

Image

free photo © Marc Dietrich | Dreamstime.com

Endunamoo was the title of a former blog. Its inspiration and content came from my autumn 2008 plans to join a small group of women on the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete with Carol Christ. As it happened, that journey was not meant to be; not only did the Ariadne Institute cancel the trip, but within a few days after learning about the cancellation my dad died and home was where I was needed. Then, I was once more considering the possibility of going in Spring 2011, only to find myself in the midst of a move across the country from Maine to Arizona. However, these repeated forks in my path (and upset of plans) led to further reflection upon the Divine Feminine in my life … how She supports and encourages change and growth. And I couldn’t help but wonder how much preconception we bring into our lives, how much we idealize this or that part of our journey by thinking that it has to be a particular way. When we open and allow more flexibility, and offer ourselves into the possibility of the unknown, isn’t that amazing? We step into the ability to empower ourselves and to be equally empowered by Gaia.

So, even though I have yet to participate in the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, the Minoan culture, the Goddess Path, and Feminist Spirituality are still prominent energies in my daily life. These spiritual vibrations have expanded to include many other spiritual and cosmological concepts … those I’ve read about and those I’ve experienced/imagined.

“To have power from within” … well, really, I already ‘have’ power within, it only remains to unearth, realize and embrace the power within … and thus my journey on the Gaia path continues to evolve.

Blessings!