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.

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

    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

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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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        The Medial Woman…is a representation of the strong-sighted and deep-hearted self who lives simultaneously in the world of light (our conventional, daytime domain) and the world of dark (the hidden realm of potential, the depths of the Soul and its making of things to bear, balance, unleash in goodness in the topside world). The medial woman in mythos since time out of mind remains rooted in both worlds, and listening to her ways and means in stories, we can hear, see, and feel the guidance this vital and soulful sense grants: “to live so strong, so wide, and so very deeply…as we promised to do before we ever came to earth.” (From Walking in Two Worlds: The Archetype of the Medial Woman. A SoundsTrue Audio Program by Clarissa Pinkola Estes)

        These words offer me explanation for my seemingly-endless held breath. I hear my profoundly grateful and redemptive exhale deep, deep within my soul. A “yes” that resounds throughout all time and in this very moment. An acknowledgement and naming of what I feel, where I live, what I know, how I be.

        These words offer me explanation for why I feel out-of-sorts. I see, name, experience, and feel the problem(s) with the world of light; the over-culture in which I live and move, but which often harms and increasingly does not feel like home. And I dwell increasingly, more often, way underneath, in the world of dark; the part of me that senses, intuitively and powerfully, that more exists and will not be suppressed…at least for long. My dark world is not easily understood (or accepted) in the light one. And vice versa.

        These words offer me explanation for why I feel more tension than rest, more angst than acceptance; why there has been a lump in my throat for weeks; why the continual stirring within me will not be silenced. Thankfully.

        And these words offer me explanation for my work, my calling, my raison d’être. I am a carrier of messages back and forth between the worlds. I trust the dark world – my knowing, my intuition, my creative Feminine force. I speak all of that magic and holiness into the light world. And I take what I experience in the light back into the dark – to mull it over; to throw it into my cauldron and let it cook down and burn away; to hear and hold the voices of other dark, sacred souls as they cackle with me in the brilliant gleam of our cimmerian fire.

        These words offer me explanation for my very self: I am a medial woman.

        And just maybe, these words offer you explanation as well.

        May it be so.

        *

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          Listen to this post by clicking here:

          Go into the darkness. I’ll meet you there.

          *

          Gazing into the mirror, I saw myself as I was - 
          a black silhouette in the room, 
          a woman whose darkness had completely leaked through.
          ~ Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair

          *
          It is into the darkness that we are being called – those of us who are wise and lovely. Underwater. Into the woods. Further down. Deeper in.

          As I talk to other women about this, they intuitively understand exactly what I mean. They nod their heads, smile slightly, and sigh. We *clink* our glasses (virtually or real) and wonder where it will lead, what we will yet discover, how we will emerge – if we do at all.

          We do not fear. This is no scary unknown that threatens to overwhelm. No, this is a provocative darkness of swirling power and endless potential – a return to some earlier knowing, primal experience, and ancient home. This is a darkness of beauty, seduction, and irresistible pull. This is a darkness in which we gather up all our force, all our wisdom, and every ounce of volume we’ve neglected to express (or which we’ve been taught to suppress). This is a darkness that holds, that nurtures, that restores. This is a womb, a safe haven, a coven-like embrace of the Feminine. It’s sacred. Witch cauldrons boiling. Secret formulas whispered. Dark magic practiced. It’s exactly what we’ve longed for longer than we can remember. It tugs at a part of us we’ve forgotten…but…we are remembering at an increasingly exponential pace.

          In this darkness we speak a language that does not yet make sense on the surface, in our day-to-day life. It’s guttural, before time, and cryptic. Still, we recognize and respond to this native, mother tongue. And we know that once we’ve re-mastered it, we will never speak the same way (or of the same things) ever again.

          The longer we are here, the more our eyes adjust, the more our throats loosen their too-familar constriction, the slower our hearts beat. At first, just shapes and long-neglected senses, now faces, voices, parts of the self that have been in hiding – waiting to be found. And so many other women. Those who have been here all along, holding our place in the circle. They immediately welcome us – faces aglow in the sacred fire that crackles, beckons, and burns. Eve. Lilith. Hagar. Mary Magdalene. The Woman at the Well. Pandora. Psyche. Demeter. Medusa. Sophia. Here, in the darkness, our eyes can see all, our voices speak unfettered, and our pulse throbs in a rhythm that comforts and heals. We have no intention of leaving.

          You know of what I speak. The undertow that precariously upsets your footing, but thrills you somehow. The branches that scratch at your arms as you enter the forest – willing and wondering. Keep walking. Listen to the trees. Let go. Trust the tides, the waves, the water, your tears. Take a deep breath, dive, and then exhale – certain that when needed, you can and will inhale. All that you need, all that sustains, all that supports, encourages, and empowers awaits you. It has always been here.

          Go into the darkness. I’ll meet you there.

          *
          As I have written this post, I have wanted for more articulate language; for some way of making sense of all that I am feeling and sensing within – this darkness that calls and willingly consumes. Then I realize: that’s the way of it, the way of the darkness – at least for now. No translation required. No justification. No argument. No reasoning. No reasons. Just dark and beautiful and home. If we will go there, if we will gather there, if we will stay there, we will find one another. And then, together and grateful, we will dance and sing. We will toast with endless, delicious elixir. We will speak in a thousand tongues. We will look into each other’s eyes. We will be seen and known.  

          One last thing – at least for now: this can and does happen at any moment and at any time, all the time. Because deep calls to deep and like knows like. So look for the darkness and trust that it is looking for you. Once found, once seen, once experienced, once felt, even in the slightest and most surreptitious of ways, you’ll know exactly what I mean. You’ll nod your head, smile slightly, sigh, and then *clink* your glass with the rest of us. Welcome home. 

          Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
          ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

          *
          May it be so.

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