A GATHERING OF WOMEN CONNECTING WITH THEIR SOUL'S PURPOSE THROUGH CEREMONY AND ELDER TEACHINGS
Joyful Reflections from Woman Soul Gathering 2018
In joy of reflection, I give thanks for Woman Soul Gathering For this and more…
The women who walk the Path
I give thanks . . .
To the trees, the stones, the wind
The dampness, the Lake. Reflections.
Songs still circling in my brain Carried by the Love of My Sisters
Oh My God, the Drums
Sticks, fur, feathers
Our creative soul
Courage. Dive deep. 4 times.
For the words of love and kindness
For the edgy place I am so angry
Bone, branch of dried leaves, empty basket, stone
Degwane – how to spell?
Voice of power
Peace I hear you
Loraine Bow, Therese, June, Uncle Debbie
Mary, Lynette, Mattie, myself and Bobbie
Bees wax candles, altar of beauty
Denise’s clay art, Grandmother’s on a journey
Lorraine’s wing blessing I hear the Voice of my Grandmother calling me
Food, prepared by someone else
Prayers again and again.
Art supplies, I am so grateful the help I was given packing up
Chaos and shifting
I don’t know why i had to be there
By Prem Bodhi
Circle is set and waiting for the women to arrive.
I have dedicated the last 10 years of my life to dive into a deep spiritual journey, where I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people: from healers to priests, shamans, gurus, and seekers, that were on the same journey as me. In these last years I have also collected many certifications, countless hours in workshops, classes, and hours of meditations. I was really desperate to find the truth.
I can say that everything has been very helpful. Whatever brings us closer to our essence, whatever can light up the connection with our being, is very helpful. But I truly believe that whenever we start walking, the path opens up and the object we’ve been seeking, finds us. Either through a person, a place, or a situation. That’s how I ended up living for almost 2 years in India. And I believe that this same force, has led me to find this beautiful group of women that has forever changed my life.
By now, I am pretty intuitive to know if I should be heading to the right or left, but sometimes we allow our human emotions, like fear, laziness, or doubt to speak louder than the voice of the Creator. When I first saw the banner for the Woman Soul Gathering 2018, I immediately felt that I had to be there, but I hesitated. A few weeks later, it showed up to me again in a very unusual way, I again made up excuses as to why I couldn’t go. On the third time, which was only a few days before the gathering, I realized I could no longer escape.
I didn’t know why I had to be there, why would I drive alone to a place I didn’t know, when I could be at home and deal with my pain? The voice wouldn’t tell me, and I was in so much pain that I didn’t think I would be able to drive. I didn’t have to worry about that, because Chalice immediately provided a ride to take me there. These powerful and kind women will take care of you before you even leave your house, by providing rides, reading materials, accommodating your meal preference. Every single detail is taken care of. They are so connected to you that they can foresee your needs and offer solutions. And that made me feel embraced and wanted.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into, so I brought a book in case I got bored, snacks in case I got hungry, and a huge and heavy load of fear and grief on my back. I never got to even think about my book, the food was great and abundant, and even though every single woman there was also carrying their grief and their fear, they opened up a safe and sacred space for me to lay it all out off my back, my heart, and my soul. I have never been in such a loving, open, and inviting environment before. The elders are a mixture of fairies, goddesses and witches disguised as women like us, who will support you at any time, in a very kind way, but yet strong enough to lift you up, help you to stand from wherever you fell, wherever you are, until you can walk on your own feet.
I am still not sure how it happened, as I have had profound healing experiences which led me to where I am today. But with all of those experiences, when I moved into “real” life and my daily routine, the same pain and problems would come back to haunt me. The courage, the confidence, the self-love I have taken away from the gathering, after shedding layers of pain, is still very present in my life, and it has given me what I needed to finally start moving in order to fulfill my dreams and my life purpose.
I am forever grateful to the elders, to my sisters who were there creating an energetic healing space, to Woman’s Way Red Lodge, whose ongoing support has made these gatherings possible throughout the years, and to everyone who is involved on this beautiful mission. When I think of Woman Soul Gathering, my heart is filled with compassion and gratitude. It is not just a gathering, it is a beautiful opportunity for you to look at the real needs of your soul without the heavy clouds of judgment and conditioning that blocks us to seeing the truth. The Woman Soul Gathering is an opportunity to heal and to meet other beautiful souls that will change your life forever.
Embracing the Crone
By June BlueSpruce
Elder and Author, June BlueSpruce, at Sliabh na Cailli, sitting on An Cailleach’s chair.
In the Celtic tradition, October 31-November 1, the days right after the WomanSoul gathering, mark the time of Samhain, the start of the New Year. This is celebrated in the United States as Halloween.Samhain is the time to call on the Crone, the Hag, the fearsome one who, in the old tale, blocks the way to the life-giving spring and demands a kiss from those who, in desperate thirst, seek access. She rewards those brave enough to fully embrace her with beauty, power, sovereignty. Wild, generous, nurturing, wise, this ancient Earth Goddess belongs to the stone mountains in the west of Ireland. SliabhnaCaillí (Hill of the Hag), a high hill in the east of Ireland, is also dedicated to her. She is called An Cailleach.I first met her seven years ago during a shamanic journey as I lay near the ancient stone cairn (mound) on top of that hill. She terrified me. Over time, her wise, kind grandmother aspect emerged. She embodies strength and determination. I draw on her for backbone and connection with the Earth.Last autumn equinox, I again stood on Sliabhna Caillí, this time at dawn, waiting my turn to enter the cairn. The rising sun’s light shot through the passageway and illuminated the beautiful Neolithic carvings in the stone at the back of the cairn. Those of us crouched in the darkness inside gasped in awe.
An Cailleach is strongly connected to the North, direction of overcoming challenges, confronting one’s shadow, undergoing transformation. She whips up gale-force winds, torrential rains, deep snow, bone-chilling cold. Her love is fierce, and she asks us to call forth our own fierceness to meet her in the North, so that we can receive her gift, the gift of sovereignty. In a political sense, sovereignty means the ability of a state to govern itself. It also refers to the ability to stand in our power and use the full range of our gifts in our own lives. It is inextricably linked with the responsibility to recognize and honor the sovereignty of others and to serve the common good.Our country now faces the extreme consequences that follow centuries of violating the sovereignty of its people, particularly indigenous people, people of color, and women. In the old days in Ireland, to become king a man had to marry the goddess of the land in sacred ceremony and vow to protect and honor her sovereignty. He was required to rule in a way that allowed all to share in the land’s abundance. If he failed to do so, he was ousted as king. How far we have come from those days!An Cailleach can help us through the challenges we face at this time. Most of our leaders have not served the land and her people well. We suffer from rampant racism, ongoing war against the indigenous peoples from whom the land was stolen, oppression of and violence against women,economic inequality, environmental destruction, and on and on. To access the life-giving spring and regain our sovereignty, to fully embody our wild, lusty, powerful selves, to honor the stones, the Earth’s backbone, we can call on and embrace the old one, the Crone, An Cailleach. Whatever name you have for her in your culture or tradition, it’s her time.
Dreaming as a Gateway to Change
by June BlueSpruce
An earlier version of this article was originally published in New Spirit Journal.
Have you ever been excited about a possible new direction for your life and then told yourself – or had someone else tell you – “You’re only dreaming, that will never happen”? As recently as a few centuries ago, people all over the world knew that dreaming was one of the best sources of new ideas and life paths. Some indigenous cultures believe that everything originates in the dreamworld: we have to dream it to make it so.
You may be thinking, “But I don’t dream!” Everyone dreams; we may simply not remember. As Marion Woodman once said, “A dream is like a deer at the edge of the forest: If it’s welcomed, it will come out. If you feed it, it will develop a relationship with you. But if you don’t care about it, it will disappear.” To welcome your dreams, to feed and care for them, first set your intention to have and to remember more dreams. Ask the spirits for help. Then put a journal by your bedside, open to the next page you want to write on, with a pen clipped to it. When you wake up after a dream, try to turn on only a dim light (you might even use a flashlight) and move as little as possible. Write down every detail you remember without judging or interpretation; this is very important. Sometimes the seemingly insignificant details give you the best clues. As soon as we start interpreting, the details fade.
You may find yourself having dream after dream about situations in your life that are stressful or dissatisfying. These dreams may not be pleasant, but they are very useful. The dreaming spirits are pointing a big arrow at something that needs to change. These kinds of dreams about issues in the past or present are called mirror dreams; they reflect back to us an area that needs attention. If you feel stuck in a “bad dream,” awake and asleep, don’t worry – as you address the needed changes, the dreams will change as well.
Another type of dream that is extremely helpful at a time of transition is a map dream – a dream that shows you a possible or probable future. Often this type of dream will have a map or path in it, literally, to tip you off. The dream might show you doing something you’ve always wanted to do, or even something you’ve never imagined. You might see what the outcome would be if you made a particular choice that you’ve been considering. Map dreams can also show us what will happen if we don’t change – that’s often not a pretty sight.
A third kind of dream is a medicine dream. This is a magical dream in which a spirit or ancestor comes to give you love, wisdom, healing or power – and possibly all of these at once. Medicine dreams are the ones in which you meet spirit allies who can help you identify and walk your heart’s true path. Sometimes they can be frightening. Most of us have had dreams in which a wild animal tried to bite us. Usually this means the animal is coming to initiate you, to give you its medicine. I once had a dream in which a lion started to eat me alive! I woke up terrified, and then realized he was coming to help me in a difficult situation at my job. I went back into the dream in a shamanic journey to speak to the lion, thank him and accept his beautiful and powerful gift. I found myself more able to manage the situation I was facing. The lion gave me strength, leadership and courage.
As you start to pay more attention to your dreams and to record them regularly, patterns will emerge. Begin to ask questions such as: “What in my life needs to change? What can I do to resolve the problems I’m facing? What do I want? What are my gifts and strengths? What life path makes my heart sing? What allies and resources are available to help me?” You may not have realized it before, but many of the answers to these questions will come through in your dreams. Learning to understand your dreams is like learning a new language: it can be confusing at first, but soon you will become more familiar with the ways the spirits speak to you while you’re sleeping.
Sharing dreams with your loved ones and friends, with a dream circle, or with a trusted dream teacher or mentor can help you validate their importance and understand them more clearly. You may find that often your dreams are meaningful to others. Dreaming is meant to be a collective activity.
Another way to honor your dreams is to bring them into waking life in a tangible way. If you dreamed of an animal, find out more about that animal, how and where it lives, what its gifts are. You might create a dream altar with photos of or special objects related to places, creatures, and ancestors that come to you in dreams. If a dream shows you doing something positive for yourself or others, consider how you might begin to follow through in waking life.
After you have practiced inviting, listening to, tracking, sharing, and honoring your dreams for a while, you may notice that some interesting changes have begun to happen in your life. You may find your feet walking step by step in that new direction that you were “only dreaming” about.
The dreaming paradigm on which this article is based comes from the teachings of Valerie Wolf/Grandmother Turtle, a gifted shaman, teacher, writer, and healer.
 Kullander, J. (August, 2006) Men are from earth, and so are women: Marion Woodman on the inner marriage of the true masculine and the true feminine. The Sun, Issue 368, pp. 5-7.
Poetry of Woman Soul Gathering
Words & Music by Lorraine Bayes
c 1999 LorraineBow Music
We shall dance beneath the Moon in all Her faces
Sing to Grandmother Moon in all Her graces
At the New Moon’s dark’s dawning
Crescent quickens to the light
There’s a First Quarter balance
Building darkness and light
So when Gibbous Moon is budding
To a dominance of light
Then the Full Moon shall peak in all Her brightness
Flowering, illuminating brightness
Carry on Disseminating
For the fruit must be fulfilled
In the stirring of the darkness
The last Quarter Moon She will
Break it down to let it go
As the darkness takes Her fill
So Balsamic Moon Her wisdom can distill
That the seeds of future visions be instilled
We shall dance beneath the Moon in all Her faces
Sing to Grandmother Moon in all Her graces
Dream again through Winter’s darkness
Birthing seeds of futures past
Healing serpent sheds an old skin
The new struggles free at last
With the warming of the Spring time
Growth is coming full and fast
While the truth of the Light keeps advancing
Towards the Summer dawn so full of life and dancing
Consummation clearly shining
Now a sharing must begin
Reap the wisdom of the season
Feel the changing Autumn wind
Turn around to wane and whither
As the Blood Moon pulls within
Crone shall feed the soul of future generations
Release the truth and trust the dark’s creation
We shall dance beneath the Moon in all Her faces
Sing to Grandmother Moon in all Her graces
As the last stars fade.
Joining the autumn fog
Strolling down damp dirt lanes.
Lanterns in hand signaling the way
Where Tenders wait and feed the fire.
Flames cackle and dance in excitement
For sisters break through tree lines.
Robes and nightgowns fall away
Exposing Soul to Spirit.
Steady drum and song rise
Greeting mornings sun.
Suspense of shock soothed
By the touch of another.
Catch your breath before plunging under.
Unfurled voices turn
from East to South to North to West.
Releasing, letting go
Emerging from the water.
Placidity shattered and naked
Cleansed by the tingling warmth of cold.
Elders embrace, swaddled with shawl.
Returned to the fire, turned in smoke.
Purified and protected.
Marvel in the beauty
of the ripples created.
Reflections of my First Woman Soul Gathering
By deJoly LaBrier,
When I first received the email from Bobbie Snyder that there was going to be a women’s gathering outside of Seattle, and that she was bringing the Grandmother Moon Bundle, I knew I had to be there. I had assisted Bobbie with opening the bundle at the Tennessee Naraya, Dance for All People, and I knew the honor of being in its presence.
So that was what drew me to the gathering. But there was more. The idea of igniting the spark of Source within me to follow my purpose was powerful for me. I wanted to hear the teachings being offered by the elders who were to be there. There was a paragraph in the material I received from Chalice Bailey about Listening and Speaking in Circle, that said it all to me. “Collaborative creation. Willingness to lean in and engage. Plunge deep. Step into the fullness of who we are.”
And so, I made arrangements. Coming from Alabama to Tacoma to get on a ferry was like something out of a dream.
I was greeted at Pilgrim Firs Retreat with warm smiles and a “Dark Moon” stone pendant that symbolized our connection.
After taking my bags to my cabin, I went straight to the Lodge. As I approached, I heard singing and the grandmother drum. Uncle Debbie Geurrero and Mary Shackelford and a few other women were welcoming me to join them on the drum. I was home.
As more women gathered, I could feel anticipation rising in my heart. MattieDavis and Chalice called us together and I was stricken by their clarity, wit and desire to make all of us feel safe and welcomed. I was intrigued by Mattie’s talk about gathering power through the phases of a woman’s life. It brought back so many memories and stirred thoughts in me as I stand in my elder years.
Thursday afternoon and evening we introduced ourselves, and opened the Grandmother Moon Bundle, for which I was an honored assistant. Then we went outside and created the beautiful moon circle of our crystals and sacred items we each brought.
Then Lynette Edge introduced us to the sunrise ritual of many of the tribes of the Northwest – Spirit Bathing – where the women of the tribe go into the lake (or river), greet the four directions and cleanse themselves inside and out through a scream. As we stepped out of the chilly lake water, we each were gathered into the arms of an elder, and received a shawl they had for each of us. Mine hangs in a place of honor next to my Sundance shawl.
At Saturday night’s lamenting circle, a ritual to help us understand that our soul’s gifts can be found next to our wounds, I circled the room with cedar to help balance and cleanse us, I felt how deeply we were moved to express our sorrows, anger, and losses. And I was equally moved by the transitions we made to forgiveness and joy.
I didn’t want to leave on Sunday and was glad that I’d made arrangements to stay in the Seattle area a few days. The mix of women’s spirituality and Native American Spirituality was nurturing and beautiful. I invite you to experience this transformational weekend in October.