Time for Some Different Energy

The days are lengthening. The coldest part of winter is over (at least where I live). The huckleberries are starting to sprout colorful buds, and I expect to see snowdrops any day. It’s time for a shift in energy.

I realized the other day that the three Goddesses I have worked with so far have been Underworld goddesses, Dark Mothers and Crones.  I’m ready for a shift in energy – something lighter, or at least more vibrant.

So I am turning to you once again for input. Who would you like to learn more about next?

 

Honoring Wise Women

Some have argued that the “wicked witch” stereotype of fairy tales is a construct of patriarchal cultures efforts to oppress women, specifically older women who were the wisdom-holders in the past. I’ve been thinking about this with regard to Baba Yaga. Is she a vilified wise-woman? Or is she an evil old woman to be feared?

Wise WomanI think there is a little bit of truth in both versions. Once upon a time, those who survived into old age were honored. They had contributed their part to society, and they had experiences that younger men and women could turn to for advice.

Now our society no longer holds the same regard for the wisdom that only age can bring. We despise the loss of beauty and virility; we become angry that we have to take care of those who were once able to care for themselves; we shut the old away where we don’t have to see them or think about them except on the rare occasions that we go to visit them. (Please do not take this personally; I am speaking in generalities about our society).

Baba Yaga’s nasty reputation precedes our modern abhorrence to old age, however. Her stories were told to little children as moral guidance and to scare them away from the deep woods, or into following instructions.

During the Inquisition, many women and men were accused of witchcraft for knowing the healing properties of herbs, or being midwifes, or looking at the wrong person the wrong way.  I definitely think that this was an effort to suppress women of knowledge.  And yet, how does this affect Baba Yaga.

I mentioned in my last post that she has been elusive. Boldly seeking her to ask her wisdom was not the right way to approach her.  So I tried again, with awe and reverence, and yes, even a bit of fear. How do I KNOW she is not going to eat me?

She told me that if I want to be honored as a wise woman when I am older, I need to remember and honor and care for the wise women in my own life. I need to seek them out with awe and reverence, and yes, even a bit of fear. For they may react in anger at first, for being so long ignored, and I may be in danger of being eaten up by their hunger to share their wisdom and experiences.

Wise WomanIt is time once again to honor the transitions women go through. To celebrate each one: the passage into life, from maiden to mother, from mother to crone, from crone into death, and from death back into life. It is here, at the end of the cycle that Baba Yaga dwells. She has long been the crone, passing the wise and the foolish into death so that they may be reborn once again.

Our culture is starting to remember to honor ourselves as we age. As the population grows ever older, we are no longer satisfied to be put aside in the golden years. Many women, like Marianne Williamson Jean Shinoda Bolen, are starting to write about reclaiming the power of growing older, the power of the Crone.

Though I am still quite young, I honor the wise woman. I intend to grow gray gracefully, and claim the wisdom and power that only comes with experience. And I look to those women ahead of me in age that surround me and I see bright examples of how I want to be when I grow up.

Blessings,

Mary

Back to Baba Yaga

Its been several weeks since I last wrote about Baba Yaga. A lot has happened since then in my personal life, as well as in my research.

baba_yaga_by_ravenari-d249zoe

Baba Yaga by Ravenari

Baba Yaga is not easy to track down. She is remarkably hard to find, even in my meditation time. There are some folktales and stories about her. It seems, though, that few have delved into her mysteries, and shared what they have learned. Perhaps they were shown to be unworthy and were eaten up?

But she was not always easy to find in the folktales either. She lived deep in the dark forest, in a kingdom far beyond this one. The young hero or heroine had to travel long and far to find her hut that turned on its chicken legs.

One must have courage to go looking for Baba Yaga. For she is the “Dark Mother”, the “Devouring Mother” (as opposed to the “Good Mother” or “Abundant Mother”). The Good Mother feeds us and clothes us and wraps us in her arms to protect us from the things that lurk in the night. She speaks soothing, loving words to us. The Dark Mother eats us instead of feeding us, makes us work to earn the right to continue living instead of nurturing, and speaks harsh words, if she speaks to us at all.

And yet, she prepares us for the next round of life. Like a plant that must wither and die, only to sprout fresh in the spring, we must die to who we were to be reborn to who we are becoming. There is no life without death, and no death without life.

Baba Yaga knows the power of fire – its heat, light, and animating force for life, as well as its destructive nature. She is also the guardian of the waters of life and death. These waters, like fire, have the power to harm or to heal.

To seek Baba Yaga is to seek death to some part of yourself, knowing that this death will create space for something new to flourish.  To destroy that which no longer serves you to allow that which does to enter in. To kill ignorance and denial in search of wisdom and understanding.

Perhaps I have had a hard time finding Baba Yaga because I am not yet ready to let go of the old. Or WAS not ready. I am ready now. And so I pick up my journey once more where I left of before. Time to embrace endings and new beginnings!

Blessings,

Mary

Baba Yaga – Witch or Wise Woman?

Last week I shared the story of Vasalisa and Baba Yaga. This week, I’ll share a little more about Baba Yaga herself.

Baba YagaBaba Yaga is a popular hag-like figure from Russian folklore. She was said to have teeth of iron, and a nose that reached down to her chin. In spite of eating enough food every day to feed an army, she was little more than skin and bones. She was often used to scare children – off to bed or Baba Yaga will eat you!

As I mentioned last week, she flew through the air in a mortar and steered with a pestle (a mortar and pestle are used for grinding herbs to a fine powder), and she swept away her tracks with a broom made of silver birch. When she approaches, a wild wind makes the trees groan and leaves swirl through the air.

Three riders are her servants: a white rider on a white horse is her Dawn, a red rider on a red horse is her Day, and a black rider on a black horse is her Night. She also has three pairs of hands that appear out of nowhere to do her bidding.

Her house is said to dance around on chicken legs. The windows of her house are like giant eyes, and the hinges on her door are made of finger bones. Her fence is made of arm and leg bones, and there are skulls around the top of the fence whose empty eye sockets glow in the night.

Despite all of this, she is also revered as a wise woman. “Baba” means “grandmother”, a term of respect. For those who are brave (or foolish) enough to face her, she grants wisdom, or helps them on their quest, as in the story of Finist the Bright Falcon. Though she was said to eat over those with a pure heart, or with a blessing.

Often that which is not understood is feared. I have a lot of stories to read, and I will meditate to see what wisdom Baba Yaga has to offer me.

Blessings,

Mary

Vasalisa and Baba Yaga

As the year turns toward Halloween, stories of Baba Yaga have come more and more to my awareness.

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

It started with my son bringing me a short story about Baba Yaga a couple of weeks ago. Since I have read several versions of her folktale, I wasn’t happy with this one, and offered to read him another, much longer version. The story is really about Vasalisa, a young girls whose mother gives her a magic doll as her dying blessing.

When Vasalisa’s father remarries, the wicked stepmother and stepsisters join the story. They don’t like Vasalisa very much, because she is so pretty and pure of heart. (Sounds similar to Cinderella, huh?) They contrive to let the fire go out, a very bad thing back then. They send Vasalisa to go get fire from the Baba Yaga, a horrible witch who flies around in a mortar, steers with a pestle, and sweeps away her tracks with a broom.

The journey through the woods is long, and Vasalisa finally arrives at the home of Baba Yaga, only to find it dancing around on chicken legs. Baba Yaga comes home, and before she will grant Vasalisa’s request, gives the young girl three impossible tasks over three nights. If she succeeds, Baba Yaga will give her fire. If she fails, Baba Yaga will eat her up. Each night, the magic doll helps Vasalisa complete the tasks before the Baba Yaga returns to eat her.

After the third night, Baba Yaga gives Vasalisa the opportunity to ask questions of her, thereby imparting Vasalisa with wisdom. Baba Yaga then asks Vasalisa how she managed to accomplish the tasks. Vasalisa replies that she did it with her mother’s blessing (the doll). When Baba Yaga hears that Vasalisa carries her mother’s blessing, she quickly gives her a burning coal (in a skull from her fencepost) and orders her to leave.

Vasalisa returns home. Depending on which version you read, either her stepmother and stepsisters run away in fear of the skull with glowing eyes, or her father sends them away when he learns what they did to his daughter. Vasalisa has proven herself as a courageous woman, and her beauty and pure heart win her a husband. She lives happily ever after, as is the way with folk tales.

Since Baba Yaga seems to be calling for my attention, I will share more about her next week, and keep your eyes out for the Baba Yaga guided meditation.

Blessings,

Mary

Dancing with Kali

It’s a new month, and a New Moon, and a new Goddess. (Happy Canada Day and Happy Independence Day, by the way!) It’s been interesting as I begin to work with Kali’s energy.  She began whispering to me the moment I made the decision, even though I said I would wait until the 1st of July to begin working with her.

I have several books that touch on Kali, so I’ve been reading up on her, little bits at a time.  What calls to me most is the story of her dancing the world to destruction. I’ll share a passage from my one of my favorite Goddess authors, Patricia Monaghan:

Kali YantraSeveral famous myths tell just how uncontrollable Kali’s energy is.  Once, it was said, she dare to dance with Shiva, the Lord of the Dance. They grew wilder and wilder, more competitive in their dancing, until it seemed the world would shake itself to pieces – and so it will, for beneath all appearances that dance continues.  Another time, it is said, Kali fought and killed two demons and celebrated her victory by draining their bodies of blood.  Then, drunk with slaughter, she began to dance.  Thrilling to the feel of lifeless flesh beneath her naked feet, Kali danced more ad more wildly – until she realized that Shiva himself was underneath her and that she was dancing him to death.  The god’s tactic slowed Kali’s wildness, but only for the moment, and eventually she will resume the dance that ends the world. 

from The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines

Kali has been calling me to dance with her, in quiet whispers and loud music. She’s even used one of my online courses to give me dancing as homework! I’m looking at trying Zumba next week as well, a fitness class that offers Latin style movement with aerobic benefits.

While most of Western culture focuses on Kali’s destructive aspect, I am consciously searching for the beautiful side of this beloved Goddess, the Mahakali, or Great Kali. This Kali is the creator, who blesses all those who come to her with a pure heart.

To dance with Kali is to be outside of time (another meaning for her name, kali, is time). When I am dancing, I can forget all of the stresses and responsibilities of daily life.  I can dance away my troubles, allowing the movement to release all the negative holding patterns in my body. In release, I create space for the positive to flow in.

I’m not sure yet where this dance will take me. And yet I seek with open heart and open mind, and I enjoy the journey of the dance.

Blessings,

Mary

And the Winner Is…

A couple of weeks ago I asked you to vote on the next Goddess I would spend some time exploring and working with.  Thank you to everyone who voted. There was a very clear winner.

Starting on Friday, July 1st, I will begin my time with Kali. I chose this date because not only is the beginning of the month, it is a New Moon as well.

KaliI’m a little nervous to tell you the truth.  I’ve studied Kali a tiny bit, many years ago, and I barely scratched the surface.  She is known as Mother Kali, and Kali the Destroyer.  She is considered by many as a Dark Goddess, much like Ereshkigal, and yet Ramprasad often wrote about her beauty.

Over the next month, I’ll be researching her, and meditating on her, and observing how she shows up in my life. I’ll also be reviewing the guided meditation I wrote last time I worked with her, and recording it to make it available for you. I’m sure I have much to learn from her!

What do you know about Kali? What intrigues you about her, and makes you want to know more?

I’ll leave you with this poem by Ramprasad:

How I love that dark beauty,
seducing the world
with her black hair,
how I love her!

How I love my black darling,
who lives in the heart of the world,
in the heart of our hearts,
in the heart of the gods,
how I love her!

Because she is black,
I love black.
Because she dances,
I love dancing.
Because she is beautiful
and black with dancing
hair, I cannot help
myself, I adore her!

I look forward to hearing more about why you love Kali!

Blessings,

Mary

Which Goddess is Next?

It’s been a while since I recorded a guided meditation.  I have several Walks With the Goddess written, and it is on my list to get them up and available here for you. Two Goddesses are almost ready to go up: Inanna and Sile na Gig. Final touches are being done on the artwork (thank you Katana!), and I still have to create the write up about each of them. Keep your eyes out!

Given my recent decision to write a book about these Goddesses (thank you all so much for your feedback, by the way!), it’s time to record another meditation, and explore the mythology of another Goddess. Having spent so much time with Inanna lately, I’m not sure which Goddess to work with next.

So I’m turning to you once again for help.

I look forward to learning and sharing with you!

Blessings,

Mary

Is It Time to Write a Book?

A dozen or so years ago, I went to a channeling session organized by a friend of mine.  After sharing a lot of general information for the whole group, we were each invited to ask a question. One of the things she shared with me when it was my turn was that I have at least three books in me.

Writing my BookOn and off over the years, I’ve thought about that session. The big question that always comes to my mind is, “What would I write about?” In the last couple of weeks, several people have asked me when I am going to write a book.  None of the people who have asked me recently knew me twelve years ago. So, I think the Universe is trying to let me know its time to start working on my first book.

Yesterday mornign after yoga, I lay on my mat meditating, and I asked myself again, “What can I write about that is different than other books that have already been written?”

This time, I received an answer. It’s a project I’ve already been working on for the last eleven years. It’s called “Walks With the Goddess”. Each chapter will be about a different Goddess. I’ll write about Her background and mythology, share my personal experiences from working with Her and how she has influenced my life, and include the guided meditation I’ve written to integrate Her lessons.

You’re my market research. What do you think of this idea? Do you think it will be a best seller? 🙂 I look forward to hearing your comments below.

Blessings,

Mary

The Goddess Treatment

This weekend I received the Goddess treatment, and I have to say, I could learn to like it! In fact, I enjoyed myself very much, and it’s something I definitely recommend to every woman.

I spent the last three days at the Divine Feminine Diamond Retreat, with Lourdes Elardo-Gant. I met Lourdes through my husband, and we have played Cash Flow with her and her husband several times.  She told me about the retreat she was planning, and invited me to come and present.  I was thrilled!

Then, a friend of mine signed up for the retreat as well, so we were able to attend together.  We both had a wonderful weekend, and I am so grateful.

The retreat began Friday morning, when my girlfriend picked me up.  When we arrived at the hotel, we were escorted to a beautiful room down by the ocean, where the gas fireplace was merrily heating the room.  We were served tea, and the first thing we did was choose a Goddess card for the weekend.  My card was Hathor, and the message was “Receptivity”.  I had to laugh because just before drawing the card, the intention I set for myself was to practice receiving!

Right away, we headed up to the spa for a glorious relaxation massage.  It was blissful, and a very good opportunity for me to practice receiving!  After the massage, we enjoyed a gourmet lunch at the restaurant upstairs.  Now that is a relaxing and luxurious way to begin a retreat! I definitely felt like a Goddess!

Friday afternoon, after a guided meditation on Ho’oponopono, we got to work.  We played some more Friday night, exchanging Goddess gifts and watching a movie from Spiritual Cinema. Saturday was more working with partners, doing some self exploration.  We had another long gourmet lunch to break up the day, and Saturday afternoon I was on!  I am pleased to say my presentation and guided meditation about Ideal Relationships went beautifully, and I was happy with the feedback.

Sunday morning, we did some more work, before being treated to a limo ride to lunch at another gourmet restaurant.  After lunch, we toured the Comox Valley in the limo, before returning to the hotel for another afternoon of meditation (Seeds of Enlightenment) work and play.

All in all, I had a wonderful time, learned about myself not only as a coach and presenter, but also as a participant.  Thank you so much Lourdes!  I’m going to be treating myself like a Goddess much more often! 🙂

Blessings,

Mary