When you grow up steeped in religion, attending church every Sunday, knowing Bible stories better than fairytales and hymns better than pop songs, it is difficult to extract yourself from such. I find it nearly impossible to hear words like Sacred, Spiritual, even God (let alone the concept, recognition, and experience of such) in any ways other than how they’ve been taught. I find it nearly impossible to not feel twisted, pulled, and confused; so deep the current of doctrine and dogma that flows within my mind and heart.

More times than not I want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

*
Though this example is probably too strong, it’s like having been a member of Jim Jones’ congregation, drinking the Kool-Aid, and surviving. From that point forward your radar is off the charts around beverages. You have a hard time trusting that any liquid poured is safe, not a trick, and holds no ulterior motive whatsoever. You know that was a particular period of time, a particular set of circumstances, a particular world from which you walked away; but still, it haunts you – so inherent the lessons learned, the beliefs swallowed.

It’s made even more complicated by the fact that there is such goodness within. (I’m not talking about Jim Jones anymore.) Relationships. Community. Tenets and beliefs that actually do make a difference. And stories. So many stories. A sea of them in which to float, be supported and strengthened by, to trust. I dare not throw it all out.

But what is the baby and what is the bathwater? How do I sift through years and years of belief that feel as though they’re part of my genetic coding, keep what I love and let go of the rest?  

Here’s just one tiny example. God. It is difficult to hear that word, no matter how much intellectual and academic work I’ve done, in any ways other than my earliest understandings. You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? The white bearded man in the sky who is able to create the world, destroy the world, plague a nation, part the seas, walk on water, bring the dead back to life, and an infinite host of other things. You don’t want to mess with him. You want to keep him happy. You want to make sure that you are following all of his rules, keeping all of his commands, and staying ever in his favor because when you do you can be assured goodness in the here and now and the sweet by-and-by. When you don’t? Well, that isn’t what you want to talk about, is it?

Though this paragraph sounds caustic, I don’t mean it that way. These are centuries-old understandings that have served generations. This God – believed in, known, and completely committed to – has offered and provided profound respite, perseverance, and strength. Miracles have occurred. People have changed. Worlds have changed. Truth-be-told, have known miracles. have been changed. My world has changed. You see? Baby and bathwater…

This is why I wrestle – endlessly and always. This is the tension. This is not merely my writing, my passion, my work; but my life’s journey. And there is no easy way out. Because even if I could let go of the God, I cannot let go of the women…

*
Or maybe it’s that they will not let go of me.

  • Eve. I become enraged, yet again, by shame’s hold. And I become profoundly determined, yet again, to pursue my desire no matter the risk or consequence.
  • Hagar. I become aware, yet again, of just want it costs to be a woman in a patriarchal world. And I am reminded, yet again, of what courage looks like, how the divine shows up, and that I will yet find water in my deserts.
  • The Woman at the Well. I become conscious, yet again, of how powerful shame’s hold can be. (Have  I mentioned this?) And I am given carte blanche permission, even mandate, yet again, to honor my intellect, my wit, and the man (even god) who loves and honors this about me above all else.
  • The Woman in Revelation 12. I acknowledge, yet again, just how scary it is to create, to birth something/anything precious into this world, and to face the dragons (within and without) that threaten to consume and destroy. And I am reminded, yet again, of who I most truly am – even in the midst of my fear: powerful, regal, and magnificent – crowned with the sun, the moon at my feet.
  • And so many, many more…

These women, part of a text that is umbilically tied to (and tangled up with) religion, are the baby. I dare not throw them out. If it means I have to survive a little bathwater, I will.

More, the idea that these women and their stories do get thrown out (disregarded, ignored, misunderstood, misaligned), breaks my heart. I cannot bear it. I’ll drink the damn bathwater (and the Kool-Aid) if I must in order to help them remain alive, known, heard, valued.

*
It’s possible you’ve already thrown out the bathwater and the baby. You’ve deliberately, even defiantly walked away from the religion of your youth – or even adulthood. Or you’ve always sensed that the Kool-Aid was a ruse and have avoided it at all costs. I get this, believe me. And I respect you, deeply. So, it’s with great awareness of the dissonance created that I still and always invite you, even ask you to get wet. To trust that in even the most brackish of stuff there are stories worth saving. To believe that through the most unlikely of ways and the most unlikely of women that your story might be saved. And if nothing else, to believe me when I tell you that you are not alone. Understand and experience it as you will, the fact remains that you are intimately companioned by the most amazing of women. Their blood flows in yours, their heart beats in yours, their voice is the one you hear within – that know-that-you-know-that-you-know wisdom you dare not doubt, that sometimes whispers and often shouts. They are that real, that alive, and yes, that Sacred, that Spiritual, that Holy.

When you grow up steeped in religion, attending church every Sunday, knowing Bible stories better than fairytales and hymns better than pop songs, it is difficult to extract yourself from such. I find it nearly impossible to hear words like Sacred, Spiritual, even God (let alone the concept, recognition, and experience of such) in any ways other than how they’ve been taught. I find it nearly impossible to not feel twisted, pulled, and confused; so deep the current of doctrine and dogma that flows within my mind and heart. 

Exactly. This is hardly easy, simple, or clear. It sometimes feels more like you’ve been thrown a brick than a life-preserver; like you’re drowning instead of being buoyed up. It’s hard work. Which is why it’s worth it.

It is only when we reimagine and redeem the stories of women that we can reimagine and redeem our own. More, it’s the only way in which we can reimagine and redeem our world.

*
May it be so.

And come on in, the (bath)water’s fine. I promise.

*
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*

Click here to listen to my voice, these words, my heart. The audio version.

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*

Blessings - A gift from me to youI tell of these women every week – and totally free – through Blessings. A quick email each Sunday that speaks of one of them; that offers her “voice” to you. And opportunity to join a private Facebook group where even more of their story is revealed and discussed. And all because you deserve to hear and know the most beautiful truth(s) about yourself. Sign up now.

For a deeper dive, consider a SacredReading. Tell me your story, your concern, your hope, your heart and I’ll draw a card from the deck I’ve created (yes, lots like Tarot) and then tell you the story of the woman who has chosen you! Learn more.

Or take the plunge. I’m testing the water, even now, with a new client and ooooh is it good! Twice a month I draw a card on her behalf. Twice a month we talk for an hour via phone – exploring the ancient sacred story and hers – gleaning all the wisdom there is to offer, acknowledging the powerful relevance their shared-story brings, and witnessing the Sacred that can’t help but show up.  Email me for details: (ronna@ronnadetrick.com)

 

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    I’ll admit that I have been known to doubt the efficacy and relevance of my own words and work. The endless call to somehow birth and bring forth all that stirs within me often torments. And I sometimes wonder if the ideas that illuminate my mind and the emotions that tug at my deepest soul are more like synapses misfiring or the last leg of a nerve that twinges in pain right before it gives up the ghost; demons that tempt me to just give up.

    But on better days, I consider that maybe my thoughts are like stars long since extinguished, having traveled for millions of light years, and just now coming into view – shining, burning, sparkling, breathtaking. Concepts, sentences, paragraphs, and pages that are not mine alone, but part of a long and streaming trail of women’s voices that are making their way into visible focus and recognizable form.

    *
    *

    “When looking at stars, you’re actually looking into the past.” (Source)

    As I read this, the torment ceases and the demons flee. This speaks. This resonates. This gleams. This is true. All that I see and all that I know – the thoughts, the ideas, the emotions – are generated from the past. All that I see and all that I know is a wisdom that has been traveling toward me for generation upon generation. Yes, sometimes covered by clouds or blocked by sun, but ever and endlessly on its way and in my midst. And never, ever extinguished.

    What I see and what I know is what you see and what you know, as well: the impossible-to-hide radiance of women’s wisdom. It’s star-shine.

    *
    Held, carried, protected, and nurtured within the minds, hearts, and DNA of every woman who has walked on this planet (and a few who have soared above it on planes we only dream to traverse). It accumulates, accelerates, and races toward us – waiting to be seen, waiting to be captured, waiting to be beheld. All the wisdom of all the women who have ever lived – seen, felt, known, and experienced within the universe of us.

    Were we to recognize, acknowledge, and honor this – individually and collectively – oh, what a galaxy would burst forth. Together, gaining ever-more strength, speed, and power, we would stream through both heavens and hells, trailing fire and light behind us. Unbridled in our beauty. Unstoppable. Impossible to hold back. Nothing but space and time within which to glisten and gleam, shine and speak, sing and dance and glow.

    Star-shine: the cumulative wisdom of all women throughout all time. It surrounds us. It’s within us. It is us.

    *
    No torment can withstand or demon dwell in the midst of such white, hot beauty and strength. So then, our birthright is to speak, write, muse, love, and live in the most brilliant way we can, the most bold way we can, being the most radiant selves we can. We are to race through the skies of our universe flinging grace, hope, and endless capacity and courage wherever we go, shimmering with the diamond-like reflection of every woman who has gone before, and making visible the legacy we carry within.

    “When looking at stars, you’re actually looking into the past.” Yes. And because this is true, it means that our wisdom will shine endlessly through millions of light years ahead. Our present will create the past that will yet brighten the galaxy that other women – our daughters, our granddaughters, and generations to come – will yet see, yet capture, and ever behold within themselves.

    Women’s wisdom. It cannot be extinguished. It’s star-shine.

    *
    ***************************
    *
    Click here to listen to the audio version of this post. My voice sans torment and demons…

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      Every once in a while, out of the corner of my eye, I glimpse the other woman. She looks so much like me, but wilder and darker. She’s who I imagine myself to be in my dreams, on my walks, when I feel especially free. She laughs boldy. She dances in the dark. And she slips stealthily through the shadows of my day. She never really leaves; but sometimes inches even closer. Or maybe it’s me that moves toward her…

      Always I look for her, the other woman, so hungry for more of her presence. I spend time doing all that calls her forth. More present when I take tender care of myself; when I bathe in warm, womb-like waters; when I sip dark and blood-red wine; when I light a candle and stare into its flame; when I soak in the beauty of sea and song; when I nurture my love of words and mystery; when I gather with other women who have seen glimpses of her, too.

      Always she comes, the other woman, when I listen – increasingly, trustingly, even brazenly to the voices – the ones that swirl and seduce, that beckon and call, that cackle and crackle and know; the ones within me that speak deep, before-the-dawn-of-time truth. A mother tongue. I write down what they say, certain that when I do, it is She who swirls across the page, comes into my line of sight, and takes up ever-more permanent residence in my soul.

      One day, not long ago, I know I saw her reach out and pull a piece of fruit right off the tree in my back yard. She took a bite. Her head leaned back, her eyes closed, its juice dripping down her chin. And time stopped. Everything beautiful and trustworthy and safe and exhilarating and holy sang and shone. The sky was more blue, the sun more bright, the birds more rapturous than ever. And then time moved on. Nothing bad happened. No Voice spoke from on high. No lightning fell from the sky. Nothing and no one fell apart. There was no Fall at all.

      Hardly banished, this other woman always stays. A visceral embodiment of the wild and true woman I really am. Now, blessedly, I see her more and more, this dark goddess of my dreams and companion of my days. Not just in the shadows, or only in the Eve, but every-once-in-a-while in the mirror. She winks, as if to remind me that fruit is for eating, that desire is good, and, most of all, that I am.

      I’ve heard it said that to be the other woman, this other woman, is about the worst thing one could do. I beg to differ.

      *

      Listen to my voice. This post in audio form. Click here.

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        I’ve been holding my breath lately. It’s a trying season as a mom. I feel heartache over a relationship’s end. And, not surprisingly, simultaneously, I struggle with my writing – with my very voice. (Isn’t that always the way of it?) Other voices do not, however, seem to struggle at all. Instead, they seem to breed, proliferate, and increase in both intensity and volume. The ones who tell me I’m crazy for ever wanting or expecting anything else, any more, anything better, any goodness, grace, or love… I know they are ridiculous, of course, and I work to silence them. But they are persistent. Always attempting to pull me under.

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        If you swim effortlessly in the deep oceans, ride the waves to and from the shore, if you can breathe under water and dine on the deep treasures of the seas; mark my words, those who dwell on the rocks carrying nets will try to reel you into their catch. The last thing they want is for you to thrive in your habitat because they stand in their atmosphere where they beg and gasp for some air.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

        ****************

        I remember reading one time that if you were ever caught in dangerous rapids and could not get yourself to shore, the best thing to do was to take yourself completely underwater. Apparently, underneath the surface, the water is smooth and calm. And once not being tossed about, you can swim more easily to a place of safety. 

        ****************

        I take a deep, deep breath: I’m going farther down, into the darkness.

        *
        Dropping into the very things that attempt to hurt, frighten, threaten, overwhelm. Going way under the surface. Letting blessed darkness surround. Diving. Floating. Trusting the unknown. Trusting myself. And hanging out with mermaids.

        This is where the Sacred Feminine abides, where the Sacred Feminine shows up, where the Sacred Feminine resuscitates and restores. This is where I willingly, and yes, often counterintuitively descend. This is where I find what I have needed and longed for. This is where I can stop holding my breath. For this is where I can breathe.

        Inhale…Exhale…

        ****************

        Maybe you can relate to this whole holding-your-breath thing. Maybe you feel stuck creatively, vocationally, or relationally. And/or maybe, just maybe, like me, even in the midst of all this, you feel pulled, lured and enticed even, to the darkness; under the surface; into deep seas; where the water is warm, still, and safe; where the mermaids play. Here’s why:  You and I are not merely human. We are far, far more; able to breathe underwater. Let’s go there together. You’ll see. It’s home. I’m sure of it.

        “Human?’ The girl cocked her head the other way. I caught a glimpse of pink gills under her chin. ‘My sisters told me stories of humans. They said they sometimes sing to them to lure them underwater.’ She grinned, showing off her sharp needle-teeth. ‘I’ve been practicing. Want to hear?” ~ Julie Kagawa

        Click here to listen to the audio version of this post.

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          If I found Her again at the center of my map
          could my life be treasured once more?
          But first can you tell me:
          If Her long ago dismembered parts
          were lovingly reassembled anew,
          could I heal and release this fresh aching
          along with the ancient sorrow?
          And if I cried quietly alone in my room at night
          could I loudly hear Her ceremonies resounding once more,
          processing and singing in full view of a warm sunlit sky?
          Then, if I found Her stones and shells on my altar
          could I track my path back following rock and feather?
          If I walk past Her oak trees and ghost of orange grove,
          could I chart song footprints embedded in mud,
          detect sandalprints whispered along tops of sand dunes?
          If I picked white sage, marjoram, and rosemary from my garden,
          could I find Her basket filled with woodland acorns, amanita,
          but also red-orange blossoms of Mexican tithonia?
          If I heard Her laughter coming from that sparkle place,
          could I navigate through the glints of facets of deep delight?
          If I let Her roiling waters spill over neatly placed sandbags,
          could I ride this rush of emotion returning to Her core?
          Oh, now can you please tell me this:
          If I found Her statue cupped in her beautiful hands,
          would I discover even more revealed across the map,
          fashioned of terracotta, limestone, granite and bone
          adorned with red ocher, inspired by black carbon
          incised, chevroned, and engraved?
          If I found Her priestess placing statues along the perimeter,
          would I be able to beacon my way back to Her precious land?
          And by then could I at last declare myself:
          In love with such heritage, smitten by this legacy,
          devoted to a future search of knowing my way home?
          Oh, then could I find Her undenied at the center of my map?
          Well maybe,
          perhaps maybe
          but not
          quite just
          Yet …

          – © Summer, 2003 Willow LaMonte

          (Full attribution and all rights belong to She Is Everywhere, Volume 2)

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