Friday, 8 March 2013

International Women's Day

This day, 8th March, has been set as International Women's Day since in the early 1900's. We have seen so many changes since that time and many advances made in gaining back some of the rights for women. Sadly though there is till so much to do. Today though all over Mother Earth many events will be taking place to "inspire women and celebrate achievements".

So especially today, I'm thinking of all the women of the world, my sisters, my mothers, my grandmothers and daughters, I will stand heart to heart, hand in hand and womb to womb with you, Happy International Women's Day. This is for you, written today ...

My Prayer For The Women Of The World

The wise women, the wild women,
The meek women, the mild women,
The brain the size of a planet women,
The heart the size of a cosmic ocean women,
The hurt women, the free women,
The I AM women, the I just wanna be women,
The jiggle hips women, and the barefoot women,
The high heels and cleavage to boot women,
The in the dark woods women, the suited city women,
The gloriously hairy women, the sleek silky women,
The svelte skinny women, the luscious curvaceous women,
The utterly rebellious, out there and audacious women,
The loud mouth shout their stuff women,
The quiet truly think their stuff women,
The A cup women, the A grades women,
The just trying to get properly paid women,
The walk for water women, the bought a bottle of water women,
The I think I really shouldn't have ought to women,
The under the sun women, the in the snow women,
The minimal apartment always on the go women,
The cluttered cottage women, the dancing women,
The I eat chocolate whilst prancing women,
The house full of kids women, the sad empty arms women,
The it'll be okay and totally calms women,
The battered women, the bruised women,
The trying to live my life abused women,
The I am Goddess women, the I love God women,
The I'm following in the path they trod women,
The every country, the all, the each and the every women,
The all those remembered and all those forgotten women

Please, just please, may we live the life we deservedly dream of, a life in which love and respect surrounds us.

Heidi x

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Goddess Gifts Of The Menstrual Cycle

"Menstruation is is still viewed today as a biological disadvantage to women, making them emotional, unreasoning and unreliable workers" ... this is one of the lines in the introduction to Miranda Gray's Red Moon. One of the most life changing and empowering books I have ever read.

The thing is, we do often see the menstrual cycle as being frustrating to live with. We can find ourselves unpredictable, our energy levels fluctuating and our abilities changing throughout the month ... hardly a gift we are told.

There is another way though ... to understand the energetic flow of the menstrual cycle is to read the waves so that you can surf the seeming highs and lows. Once you realise that each part of the cycle is a "time of the month", each with its own gifts and strengths, then you begin to live your life in a different way. You can benefit from those changes. You can maximise your potential. You can make the most of this most amazing of Goddess gifts.

I really recommend Miranda's book as a great read to understanding and living practically with the wax and wane of the menstrual cycle ... or come along to my workshop next month if you are in the Hampshire area.

The Dreadess xx

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Women's Creed

Sometimes you just need to reaffirm why you do what you do. Sometimes you just need question whether the old garb still fits. Sometimes you just need to strengthen those parameters. At times like this I read things like this. Does this still fit who I am? Is it still my thinking? And I'm glad to affirm that yes it is still my belief, my aspiration, my hope ...

Women's Creed:
We Are the Women

We are female human beings poised on the edge of the new millennium. We are the majority of our species, yet we have dwelt in the shadows. We are the invisible, the illiterate, the laborers, the refugees, the poor.
And we vow: No more.

We are the women who hunger — for rice, home, freedom, each other, ourselves.
We are the women who thirst — for clean water and laughter, literacy, love.
We have existed at all times, in every society. We have survived femicide. We have rebelled — and left clues.
We are continuity, weaving future from past, logic with lyric.
We are the women who stand in our sense, and shout Yes.

We are the women who wear broken bones, voices, minds, hearts — but we are the women who dare whisper No.
We are the women whose souls no fundamentalist cage can contain.
We are the women who refuse to permit the sowing of death in our gardens, air, rivers, seas.
We are each precious, unique, necessary. We are strengthened and blessed and relieved at not having to be all the same. We are the daughters of longing. We are the mothers in labor to birth the politics of the 21st century.

We are the women men warned us about.

We are the women who know that all issues are ours, who will reclaim our wisdom, reinvent our tomorrow, question and redefine everything, including power.

We have worked now for decades to name the details of our need, rage, hope, vision. We have broken our silence, exhausted our patience. We are weary of listing refrains on our suffering — to entertain or be simply ignored. We are done with vague words and real waiting; famishing for action, dignity, joy. We intend to do more than merely endure and survive.

They have tried to deny us, define us, defuse us, denounce us; to jail, enslave, exile, gas, rape, beat, burn, bury — and bore us. Yet nothing, not even the offer to save their failed system, can grasp us.

For thousands of years, women have had responsibility without power — while men have had power without responsibility. We offer those men who risk being brothers a balance, a future, a hand. But with or without them, we will go on.

For we are the Old Ones, the New Breed, the Natives who came first but lasted, indigenous to an utterly different dimension. We are the girlchild in Zambia, the grandmother in Burma, the woman in El Salvador and Afghanistan, Finland and Fiji. We are whale-song and rainforest; the depth-wave rising huge to shatter glass power on the shore; the lost and despised who, weeping, stagger into the light.

All this we are. We are intensity, energy, the people speaking — who no longer will wait and who cannot be stopped.

We are poised on the edge of the millennium — ruin behind us, no map before us, the taste of fear sharp on our tongues.

Yet we will leap.

The exercise of imagining is an act of creation
The act of creation is an exercise of will.
All this is political. And possible.

Bread. A clean sky. Active peace. A woman's voice singing somewhere, melody drifting like smoke from the cookfires. The army disbanded, the harvest abundant. The wound healed, the child wanted, the prisoner freed, the body's integrity honored, the lover returned. The magical skill that reads marks into meaning. The labor equal, fair, and valued. Delight in the challenge for consensus to solve problems. No hand raised in any gesture but greeting. Secure interiors — of heart, home, land — so firm as to make secure borders irrelevant at last. And everywhere laughter, care, celebration, dancing, contentment. A humble, early paradise, in the now.

We will make it real, make it our own, make policy, history, peace, make it available, make mischief, a difference, love, the connection, the miracle, ready.

Believe it.

We are the women who will transform the world.

The Declaration of the Women's Global Strategies Meeting written by Robin Morgan, in collaboration with Perdita Huston, Sunetra Puri, Mahnaz Afkhami, Diane Faulkner, Corrine Kumar, Simla Wali, Paola Melchiari, at the 1994 Women's Environment & Development Organization Global Strategies Meeting.

The Dreadess xx

Monday, 4 March 2013

Wishing It Wasn't Such A Battle

Right now I'm feeling very sad ... it's been a long tough week and a few things have made me rather flat by the end of it. I'm trying not to be so affected, but in truth it's all making me question it all.

After the fire meditation with Brighid's Spear I was flung headlong into a fiery situation of my own. As I often do I posted, via my Facebook page, an article written by someone else not me. I echoed the sentiments that I too find it hard to speak up when I feel some one close to me or an acquaintance is acting in a way I personally feel to be sexist or demeaning to women. Then, proving my point as to why it's so hard to do this, a male friend made a rather daft, but insulting comment. He had completely and deliberately ignored the point of my post and the article. Because he was a friend and someone who I respect I queried his comment privately and gained his response before adding my reply in public view. I then reiterated strongly why I felt that his comment (and incidentally the pictures he was fond of posting, you know the ones, naked women draped over car bonnets with stupid comments attached) were inappropriate in my view and contributing to the ongoing difficulties that women have in this world.

I got the highly unoriginal, patronising and discrediting "calm down, dear" as a response, the one used frequently by gaslighters. I replied to that also and got the hissy fit, rattle out of pram, baby out with bathwater reaction, so I obviously touched a nerve with a tiny element of home truth. I then also got the text message telling me to "drown in your own self satisfying superior smugness of moral high ground", then got baited on his Facebook page with posts such as "Don't be sexist, bitches hate that" and then defriended.

I am shocked and stunned ... this is one of the good guys. I had chosen not to comment on his naked pictures of women, but he brought his "sense of humour" to my page and I said why I though it wasn't funny. This was a general post, with a genuine enquiry at heart, since over the years I do find it hard to have personal disagreement, his reaction being one case in point as to why.

I pondered for a long while on the fire I had found my self burning in, that fire of being disagreed with and disapproved of ... the fire that Brighid brought to me. Owning my own voice has been a long journey for me. Growing up with having your personal opinions and questions overridden by a family whose life is run by a patriarchal religions leaves very little room for self confidence. The voice becomes quieter, only having the strength to burst forth in "back against the wall" anger. So over the years I've worked hard to regain my confidence and speak my truth. When that truth is in disagreement to others I have found it much easier if those others are strangers. So I worked on that too, eventually finding my voice with female friends. Until this last week I have still found it hard to have that personal confrontation or even mild differing of opinion with male friends. I bite my tongue and internally back down. It's not that I couldn't say my stuff, it was the guilt, worry and fear of disapproval that used to sit inside me like an angry, anxious stone afterwards.

So I sat in the fire, the uncomfortable fire of knowing someone who could have a knock on affect to my world and social circle was this angry with me. The fire of transformation. And for once I have no guilt ... not a shred of it about my words. Just an overwhelming sense of sadness. I had broken through a personal barrier, there was to be no back tracking, but it doesn't feel like a victory though. It feels as though I have shed a skin and am feeling rather raw.

I feel also as though I have lost a friend, due to his over reaction. I would have happily disagreed, said my bit and then shared a cuppa. But sadly it's not to be. This man, a gentle, loving man, is probably just conditioned by "the norm" to see certain images as harmless or funny, and no matter how much I pointed out that a painting of a headless female body being taken from behind was sending damaging messages to young girls about themselves and of women, and to young boys and men, like my son, he couldn't see it. I still believe that one persons view of humour is just the tip of the iceberg in a whole gender's ongoing battle against the sexualisation of girls and pornification of women. He now believes I'm a crazy who needs to calm down.

So that was last weekend. I don't know what happened on the inner planes when I let go of something in myself, by being okay in that fire of disapproval. What did that spearhead unleash ... a warrior woman's weapon, not to be held in the hand, but to sit around my neck, my throat, my words, my voice.

This week has seen yet more happenings ... As one situation unfolded into another my sadness has become overwhelming. I have been messed around several times by a vague male acquaintance who obviously feels I have nothing better to do than sit on the other end of the phone for days at his beck and call, he's happy to cancel appointments after they are supposed to happen then remake and repeat, that kind of thing. Then another friend of a friend saw fit to tell me a sick paedophile joke whilst trying to prove that the kind of "juvenile titty humour" displayed at the Oscars, (in which actresses were humiliated by "we saw your boobs" including some of the boobs we did see we saw because the actresses were portraying scenes of rape or violence), is okay and actually cleverly funny. Then I had my email account hacked and dodgy emails sent to friends, then I received, completely unrelated to the email hacking, two stupid sexual harassment phone calls and finally been told I'm probably a Satanist and definitely a feminist by the father of my son.

Last night I felt so tired and weary of it all, felt like this barrage of masculine fuelled crap was just flying my way through the ether to me. I'm even sad now because thinking about it, some of my male friends who, one on one, will say they disagree with sexism, see how hard it is for women sometimes, but will never say a thing about it when it's right in front of them and even look the other way, beyond an opinion, when it goes on, leaving women to battle it on their own. I can't lie ... I feel let down, baffled, frustrated, betrayed and just so sad. This morning I've wept. I don't mean a little tear out the corner of my eye ... I mean wept. I don't want men to be an endless disappointment to me. I want to love them, laugh with them, ask their advice, lean on their strength, be inspired by them, be vulnerable around them, let them be vulnerable around me and I want to be able to respect their wisdom and their values. But right now I get why some women retreat into a women's only commune. The world is harsh, and if you stick your head above the parapet it get's a whole lot nastier.

And yes I know this is only some men ... I'm not having a go at the truly wonderful men in the world, I'm not even having ago at the men who are just as confused or moulded by the ingrained patriarchal culture as I am, I'm not even having a go at the men who are out and out misogynists, too tired for that this morning, but why are voices like Yashir Ali's so rare? Right now I'm just done in, okay. Forgive me.

As I sit here with my beautiful son, who is a little wise warrior at thirteen, is a bundle of raucous masculinity and has a growing awareness of the wonders of woman, I am saddened by the media role models he has and the unfair world he has to be in. I want him to have honest and balanced relationships. I don't want women like me to misjudge and mistrust him. I don't want him to have to man up to be in with the crowd. I want him to be free to be who he is in all his love, all his creativity, all his strengths and all his weaknesses. I want him to be able to have friendships with women where there is not a single part of him that feels guilt or shame for being male.

For the last week I've also questioned the place of feminism in my life. Does it have a place on my path as it begins to unfold into that of a priestess and shamanka? Should I just delve deeper into my role in women's spirituality and health, and stop voicing my thoughts about the injustices in the world? Women's rights after all seems to get peoples backs up in way that children's rights or saving the planet doesn't. I could bang on all day about fairtrade and other things and not have people take me to task. Don't get me wrong I'm not even going on and on about women's rights, just the odd comment or odd post, but women's rights and feminism seems to trigger a reaction in some men and in some women as well. You can almost hear their minds invoking images of male hating harridans. I for one do not hate men. I love the men in my life. I love the men of the world. I birthed one and I love him, love him, love him with all my heart. What a joy and gift. He has taught me so much. I love his energy and vigour, his raw masculinity and strength, his different perspective and radiant confidence.

I have pondered and prayed about this dilemma looking for an answer. I've sat and contemplated some male archetypes and aspects of male divinity in my search for some guidance. Eventually it was the figure of Jesus, and his love and respect for the Magdalen that came through. I was shown his treatment of her as an equal, his admiration for her as priestess and teacher and his pure, protective love for her as a man to woman. A beautiful soul and a wonderful, wise man.

Then this morning the postman brought me a book ... Merlin Stone's "When God Was A Woman" ... it was the subtitle that caught my eye ... "the landmark exploration of the ancient worship of the Great Goddess and the eventual suppression of women's rites"

There it is. That's how I feel. It's what I know in my bones. It is what the Goddess has shown me too. There is no feisty feminism on one hand and the "never the twain shall meet" Goddess love in the other. It is is part of the same. For the Divine Feminine to rise there has to be actual reclamation of women's rights. There has to be an active voice. When the Goddess became suppressed, women became demeaned and degraded and the Earth became abused and uncared for. All the same thing. No separation. The force of the feminine is rising and it will rise in spirituality, in looking after our planetary home and in the fair and just treatment of women in the world. For that to happen we have to be active in all three. We see the reflection of one in the other.

So as much as I'm sad and I'm so exhausted, gone is the moment of self doubt. I will gather again and rally forth in service to the sacred feminine. I humbly hope I learn to use my words well, with care, caution and compassion. I'm sure I could wield them better with more wisdom, I readily admit that. I have to say though, I'm kind of wishing Brighid had seen fit to give a me a bloomin' suit of armour as well as a spearhead.

The Dreadess xx