This month in the Embracing Shakti Temple our featured embodiment of the Divine Feminine is the Black Madonna – a representation of the Great Mother archetype. The Black Madonna has been one of the most mysterious and controversial religious icons for centuries. Dating to mostly the medieval period, she usually appears in the form of paintings or carvings. While some say she is just another Virgin Mary carved from black wood, others think it is soot on her skin from the smoke of a thousand candles. However, there is speculation that goes much deeper than that.
While there are hundreds of Black Madonnas in churches and museums throughout Europe and Latin America, some scholars say she is linked to religions that existed long before Christianity. Her shrines are often in locations that were once pagan holy grounds for Diana, Artemis, Cybele and Isis. Even further back, she may represent the archetypal Earth Mother, Gaia, the ancient, eternal power of the feminine force, creator of all life, who gives birth, nourishes and feeds us all, and to whom we shall return to when we die. However depicted, or where she came from, there is no doubt that she conveys a sense of depth and mystery.
If you would like to evoke the energy of the Black Madonna to connect to power of transformation, here are a few suggestions:
- To honour new birth that comes with Spring, plant a favourite flower in Black Madonna’s name. If you’d like to take this one step further, decorate the pot and create a shrine to her around it.
- Black Madonna reminds us that we cannot rule over nature and constantly recycles all things. What can you recycle to do your part to help our environment? Bottles, paper, electronics … go through your home to see what you can purge and reprocess.
- The Great Mother embraces all things creative! How do you see the Black Madonna? Why not paint, carve or create your own depiction of her?
Have you ever come across a word that really lights you up? A word that gives you a full body, visceral experience? That happened to me the other day when I learned about the word: Meraki.
Meraki is Greek and it means:
1. To put piece of yourself (your soul, creativity, or love) into something.
2. To love doing something so much that you put a part of yourself into it.
When you do something with Meraki, it means you are doing that something with passion, with absolute devotion, totally in the moment, with undivided attention.
Whether that is singing, dancing, painting, lovemaking or being expressive in any way, Meraki allows your unique soulful, loving and creative spirit to be manifested into form.
To me, this is what it feels like to be turned on by life. And what an extraordinary, expansive and connected feeling that is.
So, today I ask you – when do you experience Meraki? Send me a note and let me know what lights you up.
I was recently at a workshop where the participants were asked to write down the predominant negative/self defeating thought that shows up every day. After writing this thought down on a piece of paper, we were instructed to make it into a paper airplane, close our eyes and send it sailing somewhere into the room. Then we picked up a plane that landed nearby and read what had been written inside.
When the facilitator asked how many people had a paper that had a variation of “I’m not enough”, over half the hands went up in the room. In that moment I experienced so much sadness at the thought that this is the reality for so many of us.
Why is that? Why is it so difficult for us to know and to feel that we are good enough exactly as we are?
Maybe it would be helpful to break the concept down a bit. Being good enough doesn’t mean that you are flawless and never make mistakes. It doesn’t mean you are totally self-sufficient and that you never need help. It doesn’t mean that you have it all figured out. Does anyone?
What being enough really means that there is nothing you need to be or do to be deemed as valuable and worthwhile. You existing as you, in your human-ness, are a unique expression of life and completely one of a kind through all of time and creation.
When you were born, the people around you saw you as a perfect being. No one really argues whether a baby is enough. They just are.
So what happens? When does the shift occur and we begin to question ourselves?
While we all have our own individual story, many of us experience the cracks in our enoughness early in life – maybe from your upbringing, school, sports, relationships. We experience comparison, judgement and insecurity. Slowly, bit by bit, our sense of self becomes eroded. All the ‘shoulds’ in our life reinforce a sense of self is extrinsic, relying on all the things we have or don’t have.
And I don’t know about you, but growing up, no one ever taught me any differently.
So as an adult I am now consciously reprogramming. Anchoring a new belief in my being that comes from a place of truth and compassion. Living a life that is less about trying to be what others expect and more about what feels authentically alive inside. It isn’t easy, and I relapse all the time, but here are a few ideas that have really helped me:
- Although you are already perfect, the idea of achieving perfection is a myth. Let yourself be human and embracing all the amazing experiences of human-ness (the comfortable parts and the uncomfortable ones).
- There is no goal that will suddenly make you feel good enough. This is a state of being, not a result of doing.
Let “I am good enough” be a mantra. Repeat it in your low moments. Repeat it in your high moments. Breathe it in. Create new synaptic connections that raise your vibration!
- Remember that you are a one-of-a-kind being of the Universe that has never existed before and never will again.
- Be yourself.
Do you sometimes feel disconnected from your body? Me too. Even though I have been teaching embodiment practices for more than 25 years, I still become dissociated from being in my physical form, especially when I am overscheduled and experiencing lots of stress.
But what I do know is that being connected in my body allows me to experience pleasure, and that pleasure is a key essential essence of the feminine. And while most of us understand in our minds what pleasure is, so many of us are lacking pleasure in our everyday lives.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, a pioneer in the field of women’s health says that the deliberate pursuit of pleasure requires great courage. Why? Because it is so easy to follow the well worn path of being armoured, self-sacrifice and shutting down.
Bringing more pleasure into your life asks that you move a little more out of your zone of comfort, to make yourself a priority and to give yourself permission to say YES to yourself and your deepest desires.
So today I want to give you an easy (and totally doable!) opportunity to tap into the pleasure that is waiting to be discovered in your body. In fact, this experience is always available to us, we just have to pay attention.
I’ve created a 10 minute Open to Pleasure Meditation just for you. You can do it sitting or lying down, all that is important is that you actually do it!
To access the meditation, just click HERE.
One of the gifts of this human body is to delight in the many exquisite sensations available to us. I believe connecting to pleasure is one of our birthrights. I invite you to take a few moments in your day today to reconnect with your pleasure potential and notice what happens.
This month in the Embracing Shakti Temple our featured embodiment of the Divine Feminine is Coventina, the Celtic Goddess of purification, wells and new beginnings. Although it seems much knowledge has been lost about this goddess, what we do know is that it is said she protected sacred water sources and enriched water with clarity, virtue and the capacity to answer our heart’s desires. There is a water temple dedicated to Coventina at Carrawburgh on the Northumbrian Moors near Hadrian’s Wall, dated at around CE 130. More than 13,000 coins were discovered in this well when it was excavated a century ago.
Because of her relationship to water, Coventina can swim into the layers of consciousness and help with inspiration, psychic abilities, dreams, and intentions. She helps us wash away what no longer serves us and helps provide a spiritual baptism to purify and cleanse and relieve us of worries and judgments. From this place, we are able to step into new beginnings.
If you would like to evoke the energy of Coventina to connect to her magic and power, here are a few suggestions:
- Ever made a wish by throwing a coin in a fountain? This may have come from worshiping Coventina. Most of us don’t have a fountain nearby to wish on, so if you don’t, create a water space on your altar, and before you make an offering of coin or jewelry, silently ask Coventina to grant your desire.
- Start your year off right with a purification bath! Fill your tub, add your favourite flowers and herbs and light some candles and incense. Invoke Coventina to purify your body to start 2020 off fresh. Repeat whenever you feel you need a new start!
- Lots of people begin the new year with detoxing diets … but something often overlooked is detoxing of the mind. Can you make it an entire month with positive thoughts and speech? If a month seems too daunting, start with a day (or even an hour!), then try a week and build your way up.
Saturday is the Winter Solstice, also known as Yule. On this day the tilt of the Earth’s semi-axis is furthest away from the Sun, creating the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This is a sacred day that predates Christmas by thousands of years, and is the day where we welcome the merging of the darkest time of the year and the emergence into the newborn light. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium, meaning “point at which the sun stands still.”
So often we forget the pause, the empty space between tasks, or even the empty space between thoughts. But on Saturday, when the sun stands still, we are reminded to not overlook the pause, but to savour it.
Deep in your consciousness may be an ancestral memory, a part of your spiritual DNA, that still senses the cosmic significance of this day.
And I’d love to share a Winter Solstice ritual that you will help you connect with that memory.
- Gather with your family in your home. Everyone should have a flashlight and a smaller candle. Light a large, central candle that everyone can stand around.
- Go through your house and turn off all the lights, so that there is darkness everywhere except for your candle.
- Gather back to your central candle and then blow it out.
- Pause in the darkness and reflect on the stillness and the celestial pause happening today. Allow yourself to feel how darkness is important for our growth, our evolution. You may wish to share what has been in the shadows for you over this last 6 month period. True consciousness comes from embracing both the darkness and the light.
- When complete, re-light your central candle. Sense into the spark of illumination that is expanding around you.
- Everyone, one at a time, should light their smaller candle from the central candle. Share an intention or desire that you wish to manifest over this next 6 month period.
- Celebrate with some food and music!
On the Solstice the mystical forces of transformation are deeply present. Taking time for ritual, however simple or short can be a powerful way to receive the gifts this sacred day offers.
Today’s newsletter is short. The truth is, I’m pretty exhausted. It’s been a challenging few days – late last week my mother tripped and fell, cracking her pelvis in two places. She is in the hospital recovering and my dad has been home alone and not able to drive. So I’m visiting for a few days to help figure out next steps and support them wherever I can. So many lessons about patience, change, compassion and letting go.
I’m so grateful that I have my practice to support me through the waves of difficulty. Remembering to breathe consciously. Meditating each morning. Being sure to move my body, especially when I sense contraction and armouring creeping in. Visualizing and inviting the healing that is needed right now for everyone.
So on this last full moon of 2019, I invite you to pause and reflect on all the ways your practice supports you during challenges. Can you intentionally call in more of what you need and at the same time, release the habits that keep you stuck? You can keep it super simple: light a candle, center yourself with a few breaths and speak words that both call in and release. And then finally, trust you will receive exactly what you need.
This morning during my morning practice by the river, I was sensing into the power of my energy field as I was connecting to everything around me. In that moment I felt so joyful, grateful and centred. I felt deep within me that this was my natural state of being. It was a moment of true bliss.
And I would like to share this practice with you so that you can also drop into the presence of your heart today.
Begin by giving yourself space from all distractions. Stand up and shake your body for a minute letting of any tension or holding patterns accumulated in your day. Take a few deep breaths in and sighs out.
Connect with your heart centre. In Sanskrit, this is called Hridayakash, the space of heart consciousness. From this space send down your energy into the Earth Star Chakra below your feet , and then send it right into the heart of the Earth, into the centre of Mama Gaia.
When this connection feels present, come back to Hridayakash and send your energy upwards into your Soul Star Chakra above your head, and then continue upwards into the sky and cosmos above. Right to the heart of the Sun.
Allow yourself to feel completely aligned and anchored between Earth and Sky/Sun. And sense that you are a pillar of light between these points. Your energy body strengthening and building like a broadband cable, so that you can receive the energy transmissions from above and below with more ease and grace.
Inhale Spirit. Exhale Matter. Inhale Light. Exhale Earth. Inhale Shiva (the masculine). Exhale Shakti (the feminine). Inhale Vision. Exhale Manifestation. Inhale Sun/Sky. Exhale Earth.
And then just pause, as the pillar of light, the Divine incarnation of you, and simply allow yourself to be.
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? A labyrinth is a walking meditation or spiritual practice that can be traced to many different ancient traditions. The earliest labyrinth designs are more than 5,000 years old. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends or wrong turns, rather its path meanders in and out, eventually bringing you into its centre.
The experience is often likened to walking towards one own core, the centre of one’s soul. As we embark on the journey to connect with our inner being, we take slow, intentional steps. Sometimes we find ourselves closer to our centre – with a sense of ease, embodiment and connection. Other times we find ourselves more in the outer path – distracted, disassociated and busy.
The weaving of the labyrinth mimics and symbolizes the life experience of the practitioner and the inner movements of the psyche. The fusion and flow of dynamic opposites (ease/agitation, contentment/unhappiness, trust/worry, etc), and the ultimate connection and resonance with our inner being, the Divine within.
So the next time you find yourself struggling, pause, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths into your belly and picture a labyrinth in your mind’s eye. See how you, in that moment, may be in the outer spiral – fully experiencing your human-ness and whatever life is throwing at you. Know that this is just temporary. And then see yourself taking a step, and then another, and another…all bringing you closer to your centre.
This month in the Embracing Shakti Temple our featured embodiment of the Divine Feminine is Sedna, the Inuit Goddess of the sea and shadow. She represents thankfulness, providence, nature and abundance. The mother of the sea, Sedna origin story is quite tragic and she became a very important figure in Inuit mythology as the provider of nourishment for both the body and soul.
Sedna also represents our capacity to discover what is in the unconscious. When we dive down into the depths of our inner ocean, we often find a hidden treasure, beneath the debris that we have accumulated inside. By exploring our own inner shadow land, we can discover and reintegrate precious aspects of ourselves. We can become Sedna’s of our own inner ocean.
If you would like to evoke the energy of Sedna to connect to her magic and power, here are a few suggestions:
- The next time you are experiencing deep, big, uncomfortable emotions, instead of dissociating from them or chastising yourself for having them, can you pause and take a few deep breaths? Then allow yourself to feel everything exactly as it is and notice what is below the surface of the emotion. Go into the depths of your experience and just witness what is there. Something powerful might be waiting to be discovered.
- Take a walk beside a body of water and think about everything you are thankful for, as this is one of Sedna’s themes. Bonus points if you can help pick up trash along this walk to show your gratitude for all the gifts that Sedna and wild, flowing water provides.
- Create an altar to Sedna using dark blue to represent the ocean, decorate it with sea shells and Lapis Lazuli, burn Jasmine incense (this scent corresponds to water) and even place a bowl of salt water upon it. As an offering of comfort, you may also want to bring a comb for Sedna’s hair. Meditate at your altar during the full moon, as the water element flows from this lunar division. Be open to her messages, as she may challenge you to embrace your inner self and aspects from within that you normally might ignore.