If anyone follows me on my tumblr or my facebook you might have already heard me talk of VDay or 1 Billion Rising. It’s a movement against violence; specifically against violence towards women. The website for 1 Billion Rising inspired me to create my own event where the people I know and love can come together and communicate.
My goal for this is to see the elephant in the room and get women and men talking about the issues of marital rape, casual sexism, spousal abuse, etc which are more common in our society. Other issues such as forced female circumcision, rape and other horrible things experienced more overseas will also be on our minds and tongues.
After creating this event I got quite a positive reaction from those closest to me which then inspired me to create this altar. The jewellery box was given to me by my great grandmother, the incense holder by my mother-in-law, the oil burner is from my mum, the necklace is from my sister and mum (I wear it during my period), the jar is filled with coins and draped with fabric from my mother-in-law, a silver bangle from my nan surrounds the goddess statue I made from clay, the daffodil pin is from my other great grandmother, there are gold earrings worn by my aunty at my parents wedding, a book mark from one of my sister-in-laws and a key ring from my other aunty. Basically I made it as a dedication to the women in my life.
In the couple of days following the ritual I saw more people getting involved – even my grandmothers friends were excited and shared with me their stories. My relationships with women seem to be blossoming into something beautiful. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with other women for reasons I can’t quite pin point and I’m starting to believe that being comfortable with my sex is probably a step in the right direction to true equality.
This weekend was the Dark of the Moon and lucky for me I got the weekend off work. My fiance and I went camping in the middle of the Australian bush next to a beautiful river that flowed down from the mountains. I saw this as the opposite of the first full moon of 2013 as it marks the end or beginning of the first moon cycle of the year (depending on how you look at it I guess).
Not much conscious decision making or planning went into this trip. I’d only gotten the weekend off maybe two days beforehand, we started packing at 10.30pm the night before which led to us forgetting a bunch of stuff and we hadn’t even really decided where we were going until we started unpacking the car. I must say though, it was one of the best holidays I’ve had.
The purpose of the get away, for me, was to celebrate the new moon but I didn’t take any of my ritual items a part from my diary and some herbs. In hindsight though everything I needed was there – Brian and I, nature, a fire, some paper and a pen. This year is a big one for us as individuals and us as a couple. Big changes are coming, our personalities will be tested and we’ll be pushed to our limits. Lots of decisions need to be made, responsibilities need fulfilling and experiencing life needs to be made a priority. We talked, contemplated, laughed, made love, feared and comforted each other. We learnt about each other as we always do whilst camping – it always leaves us closer together than when we start unpacking the tent on the first day (a clear sign is how much we fight when we’re putting it up vs. taking it down).
Before we were about to leave we washed ourselves in the river and both wrote down our wishes and hopes for the coming year. We read them to each other and they both contained the same basic elements – then we sent them down the river.
Firstly I’d like to say a big thank you to Moira from Ariom Designs for creating such a beautiful piece of work and allowing me to set up a payment plan.
Purpose and Goals
I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with stationery and I’ve always had diaries and journals that I keep my thoughts and feelings in. When I decided that I was going to be more serious about making my dreams of creating a culture a reality I thought it was only right that I obtain a journal that will reflect the important work I was doing – I also wanted it to last long enough to pass down to my children and maybe even my children’s children.
Welcoming Nwyfre Raven-Seer
I wanted to choose a name – I don’t like any of the words for books such as ‘Book of Shadow’ or ‘Grimoire’. I was adament on finding a name that perfectly describes the use of the book to me – I hope that when it’s passed on that it be given a new name and purpose.
*Nwyfre: (pronounced NOO-ev-ruh) is the Druidic concept of the ‘life force’ (or ‘neart’ in Scots Gaelic). The word nwyfre is a Middle Welsh word meaning ‘sky’ or ‘vigor.’ It was usually used to refer to a windy sky.
*Raven-Seer: I’ve seen the same pair of Ravens around a lot recently and Ravens have always been thought of messengers between the realms.
I wanted something full of power that was also humble – I wanted it to be truthful to me and to my roots. I looked up Indigenous Aboriginal names for things but I was never sure of the authenticity of the source and, quite obviously, don’t speak any of the languages of the First Australians (I don’t speak Welsh either but ya know). I feel this name gives a respectful nod to my ancestors whilst also being a true and modern representation of the work I’m doing.
“No challenge given is more than we can handle… Some things we just have never done before!” xoxo Moi
The beginning of the ritual began during the day. When night time came I relit the incense and candles then set out my newly welcomed Raven to create an introductory page. I rolled a smoke consisting of cannabis, mugwort, lion’s tail and damiana to make the creative process flow more easily then I watched Judith Lucy’s documentary about her spiritual journey and also read a comic by Carl Sagan on ZenPencils.com. Both these pieces inspired me to use my idea for a tattoo as my front title page. I listened to my Australia Day playlist which my fiance created for our Australia Day party that we had yesterday – it consists of only Australian artists (and I must admit that it’s gotten a lot better over the last 5 or so years). I got in touch with my breathing and floated down into the music – I let it carry me until the process became easy and gentle.
Moon Cycle for Raven
I still need to fix up the background a little more and the sizes of the different moons are a little out of proportion but I thought I’d share with you anyway.
Even though I still celebrate New Years on the 31st of December like all the other people I’ve grown up with, the first full moon in January is where I really get down to business. Thankfully it also fell on the long weekend – so I actually got time to plan and conduct a decent ritual (and document it!).
Even since this post I’ve been feeling pretty good about the things I’ve accomplished over the last few months. At the risk of sounding completely cliche I felt like it was the beginning of the rest of my life. I’ve been really getting my butt into gear with documenting this stuff – even finally going so far as to buy a decent journal to write it in so I may pass it on. This ritual was basically about saying thanks and a celebration of allowing these things to happen – I also cleansed and blessed a few of my new tools and projects for the near future.
I had the house to myself today so I got to use the living room – I felt like I needed a bigger table and a more communal place to work from as this is magic that will potentially effect all areas of my life; not just my spiritual side. I set up the space as I usually would (click here to view a basic structure of a ritual) and then used my besom to sweep around the outside to banish any negative energy that may effect the outcome of the spell/ritual. I then spoke to the God and Goddess and thanked them for giving me the opportunity to be creative again (I cast a spell a little while back asking for them to ‘Reawaken the passion, reawaken the creativity”). I then cleansed and blessed all the objects I have recently collected to turn into ritual and divination tools. I also cleansed and dedicated my new tools to the God and Goddess. I named my new Journal – Nwyfre Raven-seer (click here to view the rest of the ritual for Raven).
After this was done I had something to eat, put some music on and celebrated the new year. I remembered where I’ve been over the last year and reflected on my accomplishments – I thought about what I wanted to achieve this year and beyond.
It rained all day – literally I was woken up just before dawn and it was already raining. It wasn’t a drizzle or downpour but it was raining steadily. Generally this is an unusual thing for the 27th of January – my sisters birthday is on the 25th and we pretty much always had a pool party because it was so hot. It’s been a nice change though since Sydney has had the most days over 40C in 100 years this summer.
Haven’t heard much from any birds or other animals today. The corn is about ready to harvest, the peas are dead from heat and the beetroot has big leaves but not so big roots.
I have a lot of free time because I’ve taken a break from study to organise our wedding however at the end of last year it was just an excuse for me to be lazy. I’ve since picked up my act – and some Bach Flowers (Clematis and Wild Rose). But there is just so many things I want to accomplish during my spare time that I feel like I need to manage it a little better – kind of like working from home.
I’m usually pretty big on timetables as I create a new one what seems like every few months or so – the only problem being that I never stick to them. So, I had this idea that maybe instead of drawing up a timetable that goes over a weekly basis I could do one on a monthly basis and fit it in to my cycle. The week just before my period is always the deal breaker when I’m studying or being at all productive in any way so I thought that if I could budget my time wisely in the first 3 weeks that it wouldn’t be such a big deal if all I felt like doing during that fourth week was drink tea and watch movies – I mean we all should be honouring that part of ourselves and it’s just unfortunate that in this day and age it’s seen as weakness.
My reasoning behind it is that I’ve been fighting with this part of myself for well, since as long as I can remember (obviously since I began puberty). There always feels like a battle going on inside my head, inside my heart between more than one woman. And you know what? I’m tired of it. I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life – she is also a part of me and I’m a part of her. I’m essentially fighting against myself. So, I’m choosing to work with her – she needs some time during that week to cry and to do art and to stare at the sky for 2 hours and I will let her no matter how much time I think I’m wasting. I will not feel guilty and I will not feel weak and I will not feel stupid.
As it is, I usually have my most profound moments during this time – but I always shove them away because I should be doing this or that. NO MORE I SAY!
I encourage other people to do this – even people who don’t experience a menstrual cycle. Everyone has a flow of energy and there are always highs and lows, I think I’m just lucky to experience them physically so it’s easier to keep track. For example; my fiance Brian experiences the same energies as I just in a shorter amount of time – so mine is over one turning of the moon whilst his may be over 2 weeks.
I’ll keep track of my feelings during the first month and then base my timetable on that – I’m kind of excited because that means I can do whatever I want, whenever I want and not feel guilty about it!
I will also post my final timetable if you are interested.
This week was different from other weeks. I think the others might have gotten confused about whether or not it was on (it was a public holiday – also a full moon so it wouldn’t surprise me if everyone were a little busy). Either way it was only Me, Takashi* and MaYanya. I think I was quite excited of the prospect of it being a smaller class and how fast we could move through the herbs (less people = less chatting). As soon as I got there I strolled right over to the tea that they always have sitting on their counter. I took a sip before MaYanya could say anything – once she realised she told me that it was actually the first herb (she had run out of plunges). I had to laugh; the universe works in mysterious ways.
Our initial ‘drop in’ brought lethargy and exhaustion. This was not surprising seeing as I just spent the week helping my Aunty and her family and had only gotten back an hour before hand (it takes 5 hours driving to get back). I could immediately feel all of the tights spot in my body (right hip, diaphragm, both sides of right and lower back). Other than that all I felt were my need for sleep and to see Brian.
1. Mistletoe (heart herb – emotional and physical)
Ate a little of the plant material; spongey in texture. “Take scent back into glands behind ears”. We imagined a universe captured in our skull. Filling every corner of our being. We flew through the universe – black holes, blue planets and comets. We were told to imagine an eye; mine was made from a nebula (inspired by this image that I saw a few years back). Then we were told to imagine the pupil being like a door spinning on its axis which we then went through; to the dimension of the being in the herb.
I saw myself and then I saw a big desert, the sand/dirt was a dark orangey-red. There was a dark blue sky; as if the sun had just set. Before me I saw big rocks that reminded me of the stones in the Stonehenge. These represented the being’s hands (I guess that could mean how it received and took things). By the right ‘hand’ we were instructed to see a gift; from the base of the right one I saw a plant growing. It reminded me of a vine but stood upright on its own.
After that she danced with me; I couldn’t see any features, I could only feel her touch guiding me. When it was time to leave I drew a heart in the sand at the base of the spinning door, then knelt and kissed the Earth. I came back through the portal and flew home.
Yellow flower, which smelt like sweat (lol). The smell was completely different to the taste. Taste wasn’t noteworthy. At this point I’ve written “Want to close our eyes” – I’m not sure who I was referring to when I said ‘our’ but I gathered it meant the group. We were told to imagine a pyramid in our head, consisting of a central pyramid as the base. It spun on it’s axis in time with the breath. I imagined myself upside down. We were told to image a colour for the pyramid. At first I saw white (not transparent) – then it changed to yellow then green. The pineal gland then started glowing and pulsating green. MaYanya then went on to explain that Green and Pink are the colours of the heart centre and it was the colour of healing.
3. Borage (powerful balancing herb)
As soon as MaYanya poured the tea I felt a shiver all through my body. I got another shiver on picking up and then on drinking the tea. We were told to think of the colour of the flower – then MaYanya made clear that it doesn’t matter if we got the colour wrong (I had to giggle at that because that’s precisely what I was worrying about haha). I saw an orange flower with deep green foliage. I could smell wattle which enveloped my entire being (the smell of wattle is my absolute favourite). We were told to imagine being a bee, we buzzed and gathered nectar and pollen – accepting the pure joy this plant was giving to us (described as an “orgasm”). We were then taught to put this pollen anywhere we needed it – I chose my brain which then overflowed to my eyes. MaYanya then explained that this will allow us to interpret signals from the organs and that this particular herb will be working for a couple of days (food/sound/action/etc). I massaged my head (temples, forehead, back of head) and a feeling of cold on my eyes.
NOTE: We don’t find out what herbs they are until the very end.
NOTE: Everything written in “quotation marks” is a direct quote from MaYanya, Nikki or one of the other people of the group.
* name changed for privacy.
So, I was just cruising around the internet when I ended up on the Australian Doula College website and the Shamanic Midwifery website (I was browsing longingly through all their courses and intensives). In my travels I found a free download section which led me to this wonderful drum journey. To be completely honest I wasn’t entirely sure what traveling into my womb would actually accomplish but I enjoy people playing drums so I thought ‘Why not?’
Here’s the link if you wanted to give it a go yourself.
I sat on my balcony that has a great view of the lake and where the wind has some fantastic access (I wanted to be in the middle of all this). I set up a little mini altar, basically just for protection – a ‘safe space’ so to speak. The ‘altar’ consisted of my statues of the god and goddess and a daffodil pin that my late great grandmother found a way to give to me. I then did the usual clearing my mind, deep breaths, a drink of water and took some meditation flower essences. I then got comfortable and played the track.
At first, while the lady was explaining what to do, I saw waves of energy (on opening my eyes at the end of the vision I related this to the waves on the lake that the wind was making). I journeyed to my womb to the beat of the drum where I met my inner Goddess. I’d dreamt about her before but never realised who she was – all I knew were the feelings of awe that I had for her. She held out her hand and gave me a gift – it was a fertilised egg. I cried as soon as I realised what it was – I have had the urge to conceive on many occasions but both my partner and I have decided to wait until we’re married however the longer I wait the harder it becomes and the more upset I become at not being able to fulfill what’s in my heart.
At this point I asked “Are you for my highest good?” She was surprised, maybe a little hurt and withdrew a little bit. I told her I was afraid – I confided my fears in her. She told me that my destiny won’t begin until I accept this responsibility.
We danced then; we spun through the wind and tiptoed over the lake. It seemed she was trying to comfort me. She explained to me that the gift is there if I choose to receive it. I finally understood and appreciated that she was me; an older and wiser version. I told her that I would love to accept such a gift especially if it came from her.
Then my vision filled with red – a bright red. Then it slowly changed into the most brilliant blue. I thanked her and said farewell. On returning to my body I opened my eyes to see the sky – I realised how beautiful that hue of blue was and that it was the same blue that was in my vision.
After Thoughts I had this dream a few years back about this lady (I will try and find my journal entry of it and write it down more accurately) – at the time I saw her as a witch. I was in love with this person but she cruelly kept us a part by way of our age meaning we would be at different ages in each life so we couldn’t be together (eg. I would be a teenager, he would be baby etc). Towards the end of the dream we were finally the same age and able to be together – we were so happy but quickly realised the responsibilities involved. I believe this dream was about my current situation with my partner and I – even though I feel ready for a child I probably am not and my partner is far from ready.
I accepted the gift but I believe I’ll get to choose when to use it – possibly she finally saw that I am ready for the responsibility of choosing my own fate in that area as opposed to her keeping control over it.
Either way I’m very pleasantly surprised by the results this drum journey gave me. I’d been struggling with this issue quite a bit recently and this gave me exactly what I needed.
I’m studying to be a Naturopath and have always been really interested in Women’s Health – in the future I hope to specialise in that area and focus on preconception care, homebirth and new mum and baby care. Somewhat recently in my study of this subject I’ve come across a number of websites, books and people who have spoken about the Women’s Mysteries.
What are the Women’s Mysteries?
“The shamanic journeys of our rites of passage of menarche, childbirth, and menopause; the spiritual practice of menstruation; the inner, spiritual and shamanic journey of pregnancy, birth and mothering; and menopause as rebirth.” – Moonsong
A lot of my sources talk about the oppression of women and how misogyny, sexism and discrimination in the past (and I daresay the present) have led to the disconnection of women from the mysteries.
I have just begun to connect and work with the mysteries so I hope to document my working with them here. At the moment I’ve mostly been working with spiritual menstruation as I have not experienced pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause. I have also begun to work with the menstrual cycle in my craft – using the different energies of my cycle in rituals, spells, prayer, etc and I’ve found that it really does give a bit of edge to whatever it is I’m doing.
Doula and Shamanic Midwife
I hope to one day have a successful home-birth practice. I would love to be a doula and shamanic midwife – the only thing stopping me doing the course is the financial aspect. So expect to see talk of these things there too.
Note: I hope not to offend anyone who does identify as a woman but who may not have a menstrual cycle as such (or vice versa). I will try my hardest to include everyone but I must admit I’m a little ignorant in that area – if I overstep the line please say something (nicely!). In saying that I hope that everyone learns something from my writing about menstruation as everyone experiences this energy whether or not you actually experience the physical bleeding and/or ovulation.
My stock bottles of flower essences from the field of Derrian Turner.
“Dr. Edward Bach was highly regarded within the orthodox medical world for he was deeply involved in study and worked as a bacteriologist – specialising in devising and preparing vaccines for diseases.”
“In the 1930’s he gave up his lucrative practice to devote himself entirely to research work; to seek plant remedies that would help individuals gain control over their emotions.”
Dr. Bach believed that everyone should have the ability to heal themselves and that the method be easy and the treatment, gentle. His philosophy was to treat the patient, not the disease.
Today flower essences are used to bring out the positive states of mind that lay beneath a problem – to help a fearful person set aside their fear and rise in courage and confidence, the intolerant and impatient to become more understanding to compassionate, etc. Increasing amounts of evidence is showing that emotional stress can be a cause of physical illness. “If emotions can cause serious physical disorders, then it becomes apparent that we must strive to balance and correct this aspect of our nature in order to maintain a level of health and happiness.”
– References: Bach Flowers Introduction (D, Turner), The Essential Writings of Edward Bach (E, Bach) and The Medical Discoveries of Edward Bach, Physician (N, Weeks)