Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Trance of Unworthiness by Monica Rodgers

Painting by Leticia Banegas

One of my first revelations was the shock of learning that I was a girl. Ok, let me rephrase that. It wasn’t about my anatomical understanding of my gender, but about what that meant for me as a female species in the world. It meant that I had a different set of rules.

My brother and I loved to play dress-up when we were little. I have a hysterical photo of the both of us standing side-by-side in front of the fireplace. I am dressed smartly in my father’s oversized suit-coat and tie, and my brother is standing to my right looking his most alluring in my mother’s gauzy, dusty-blue negligee.


It was shortly after this photo was taken that I recall an event in which I re-enacted the power-suit as a means of impressing the cocktail wielding guests my parents had over one celebratory Sunday afternoon, and I’m guessing I was around six. I have no idea what they were celebrating, I only remember that I had everyone’s attention when I proudly marched down the stairs using the last step as my stage to announce dramatically to the crowd that I would be The President of the United States when I grew up!  Ironically, I recall that my brother donned a jaunty yellow construction hat and was playing with trucks on the floor and was right about mid-crash when the room suddenly seemed very quiet and small.  I remember some murmured remarks, and a few smirks and perhaps an exclamation or two from one of the ladies, “isn’t she precious?” -- but it was actually my brother who ultimately and innocently broke the devastating news.

“You can’t be President silly! You’re a girl!”

Although I was still very young, this moment is etched in time. It had a significant impact on my personal perception. For whatever reason, my little girl essence didn’t scoff in response to this or reveal my developing resolve to show them all how wrong they were. Instead, I recall that it quieted me, and I felt deeply betrayed in that moment, and as if my obvious error, made me a silly little fool. It was one of my first experiences of disassociating with an uncomfortable reality in which I felt I had no power. As soon as this fact settled within me, it grew, and I became enraged at the sheer injustice of it. I remember the hot sting of realizing that the world was different for me as a girl, and at some point, even associating my anger with the taste of copper in my mouth, like the time my brother dared me to suck a penny. The most shocking thing of all, however, was that no one around me seemed the least bit fazed by the news. They reminded me of a cartoon I’d seen on one of my favorite TV series at the time, Tom and Jerry. Tom is a cat who is sleep-walking and Jerry the mouse is putting things in his path to bridge the gap between one place and another and nothing seems to wake Tom, no matter what.  

No matter what my experiences were from that point forward, I could see how different things were for my people. Boys had one set of rules and girls had another, and just like in the cartoon, it was as if everything was positioned in just such a way so that none of the girls would wake up to this fact. The invisible fence showed up everywhere in my life whether I was at work, at school, at home, and especially in church.

With my new eyes and ears, I remember sitting beside my mother at church on Sundays and literally feeling my skin crawl as my immediate surroundings suddenly seemed a complete void of any hint of anything feminine. There were no soft pillows, rounded edges, magical looks or swaying hips. Instead there were straight-backed seats with hard edges, stern faces and disapproving glances that seemed to intimate that I was dirty and wrong, even though I had arrived freshly bathed!

“Cross your legs, sit up straight, say your prayers, kneel, ask for forgiveness, confess your sins."

The scripture passages depicted the holy, and the most sacred book of GOD. It was read aloud to the congregation, repeatedly confirming my place in the world in more than 200 verses stating again and again the lowly station of my Self and my Sisters:

Wives must obey their husbands.
Women are unclean.
The creation story of original sin began with the wickedness of Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Men only are made in the image of GOD.
Women are whores, mothers or nuns.
No female deities, priests or disciples in sight.

As the second sex, fashioned from the rib of Adam, my people represented the descendants of decisions made by the queen-mother of all bad choices.
"Eve -- you dirty whore, look what you’ve done to us!!”
My despair was palpable and I could see that when I glanced toward reason, that all of the women in church, including my Mother, were fast asleep in the pews surrounding me.

Genesis begins by crediting men for the creation of Woman from Adam's rib. 
And reminds us that Woman are cursed -- maternity is a sin, and marriage a bondage.

Exodus
• Intimates that female servants may be sex slaves.
• And casts women who seem witchy to death.
• Women may not enter tabernacle as we are unclean, unholy.

Leviticus
• Women who have sons are unclean 7 days.
• Women who have daughters are unclean 14 days (clearly to birth a girl is even more unclean?)
• Menstrual periods are unclean (read: dirty, nasty).
• If master has sex with engaged woman, she shall be scourged (WTF?).

Numbers: The Polling and survey of people only includes men -- What?  Women literally don’t even count?
• "Virgins" are listed as war booty.

Deuteronomy
• Abomination for women to wear men's garments, vice-versa.
• Woman raped in city, she and her rapist both stoned to death (because she must have tempted him?)
• Woman must marry her rapist (what in the holiest of Fucks exactly is this bullshit?)
• Men can divorce woman for "uncleanness" not vice-versa.
• If woman touches foe's penis, her hand shall be cut off (I can’t even stop laughing at this one).

Judges
• Jephthah's nameless daughter sacrificed.
• Concubine sacrificed to rapist crowd to save man.
• King Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines.

Job
• Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one . . ."

Proverbs
• Evil women seduce men, send them to hell.

Isaiah
• God scourges, rapes haughty women (Jesus take the wheel).

Ezekiel  
• One of numerous obscene denunciations.

Matthew
• [woe] to them that are with child."

Luke
• Mary unclean after the birth of Jesus.

I Corinthians
• Man is head of woman; only man in God's image.
• Women keep silent, learn only from husbands.
• "Wives, submit . . ."

Colossians
• More "wives submit…"

Timothy  
• Women adorn themselves in shamefacedness.
• Women learn in silence in all subjection; Eve was sinful, Adam blameless.



Monica Rodgers is a unfatigable advocate for the full actualization of Women. She is a champion for advancing consciousness and personal accountability while dismantling the patriarchy and healing both the wounded masculine and feminine in our culture. 
With over 25+ years of experience in healing modalities, leadership and Co-Active Coaching, she also has a wealth of experience as a writer, blogger, entrepreneur, and consultant. 
She is also the founder of Little Bits by Monica Rodgers and The Earth Savers Gang Story Book Series and has been featured in InStyle Magazine, The New York Times, and on The Today Show. 


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Invest in Yourself by Trista Hendren

Paiting by Leticia Isabel Banegas Gomez

I have watched a lot of women spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of jeans or makeup to look better for a certain guy—but then hesitate to spend money on something that would actually make their lives better.

Needless to say, this frustrates me immensely.

Even if you don't have a dime to spend on anything, your time and energy are also assets. When women stop giving so much of themselves away to men, they will have more time, energy and money to spend on themselves. Daphne Rose Kingma wrote that, “Everything worth having costs something, and the price of true love is self-knowledge. Becoming acquainted with yourself is a price well worth paying.”

Some of us are not even aware of how we spend our time and our money, which is why I think calendars and budgeting are important. Make sure to schedule time for yourself into your calendar too—and time to be with other women.

We can reinvest how we spend our time. Instead of doing laundry, cooking and cleaning house for the men in our lives, we can support single mothers and elderly women in our communities. Don't you worry—I guarantee you there is not an able-bodied  man alive who can't figure out how to do these things himself, especially when it involves food. Moses Seenarine wrote that: “Women are responsible for household food preparation in 85-90 percent in a wide range of countries. Neoliberal cyborg capitalism is profitable only due to their exploitation of unpaid female labor in household production and in their reproduction of workers. Unpaid care work would constitute between 10 and 50 per cent of GDP if it was assigned a monetary value.”(93)

I love my husband and my son, but they both do their own laundry, dishes and vacuuming. I expect them to do their fair share around the house—without being asked. That is what living in a community—as a family—means.

We have subverted the idea of family to where the wife/mother/women/daughters do all the work in the home—and the men control all the money from their higher paid employment.

Females are bred to be slaves around the world—both at home and in our so-called paid positions. It can be rewarding to be a caregiver, but there are tremendous costs to consider that will likely never be recouped. I cared for 3 of my grandparents while they were dying. I wouldn't trade that for anything. That said, when my money ran out and I needed help, there was little to be found.

The same goes for taking care of children. I will likely never recover from my years as a single mother. And not only does the pay gap widen with each child you have, you also have significantly less available in retirement, where women are also extremely vulnerable.(94)

Contrary to what they told us, women cannot have it all. Life is quite often not for the faint of heart. It requires tough choices and sacrifices. You must actively decide how you want to spend your time and money going forward. Whatever time you invest now in deciding what sort of life you want will pay off ten-fold later. The investments you make in yourself will change the entire world.

An excerpt from How to Live Well Despite Capitalist Patriarchy


Notes:

93 Seenarine, Moses. Cyborgs Versus the Earth Goddess: Men's Domestication of Women and Animals and Female Resistance. Xpyr Pres; 2017.

94 Miller, Claire Cain. “The 10-Year Baby Window That Is the Key to the Women’s Pay Gap”  The New York Times; April 9, 2018.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Support Other Women by Trista Hendren

Painting by Leticia Banegas


We will always be considered inferior to men if we don't bind together and re-discover our power. Since we are behind in nearly every way economically, we must carefully consider the money we do have—and use it to support each other whenever possible.

Terry Tempest Williams wrote that, “The sin we commit against each other as women is lack of support.”(95) It is critically important that we support each other spiritually, emotionally and economically. Just the simple task of buying a feminist book penned by a woman—or a piece of artwork created by a female— is an investment in yourself, your children and your grandchildren. It also supports a project that empowers other women and enables the dreamer to continue her work.

It also gives women more ability to break away from the systems that support the gender pay gap. When women open their own businesses, they have more flexibility and opportunities for growth and income.

I believe women must radically reconsider every single dollar they spend. The fact is that woman-owned businesses, writers and artists need money to survive. We have to reallocate the limited funds we have if we truly want to see changes in women’s lives globally.

This is what it comes down to for me whenever I think about making a purchase: who is benefiting? Will this item or service make my life better—or my children's lives easier—now or in the near future? Am I supporting a person or business that is in alignment with my values? Will this purchase destroy Mother Earth or harm Her inhabitants?

I don't have all the answers. I still have not found a way around Amazon or a woman-centered approach to Facebook. Both solutions need to be found as soon as possible. I would also love to see a global emergency fund put into place for women. We can all help each  other when the inevitable emergency pops up. I can't think of a single woman I have ever known who has not been stuck at some point in her life.

We must also ensure that no woman, anywhere in the world, enters her crone years in poverty. The crone should be relaxing and reflecting on her glorious life—not slaving away at McDonalds or living in her car. When we accept that a crone should live like this, we also lose her immense wisdom.

We cannot accomplish any of our goals for liberation if we do not understand how money functions (96)—and most importantly, if we don’t work together. Our individualistic lives are killing us. We need to work together and fight back—hard. We can’t change everything today, but we can find creative solutions to make our individual and collective lives easier. We can live communally, share resources and refuse to spend one-penny on anything that does not empower us as females.

Until we have economic equality, I urge you to consider how you spend your money—and do it in a way that honors yourself, Mother Earth and your sisters around the globe. 

For example, if you go out to eat, patronize a woman-owned restaurant. When you need a gift, search on Etsy first. Begin to prioritize books, CDs and art created by women. Every-singleplace we spend our money has the potential to change our world. As Kathleen Dean Moore said, “Deciding we won’t drive to that chain grocery store and buy that imported pineapple is a path of liberation. Deciding to walk to the farmers’ market and buy those fresh, local peas is like spitting in the eye of the industries that would control us. Every act of refusal is also an act of assent. Every time we say no to consumer culture, we say yes to something more beautiful and sustaining. Life is not something that we go through or what happens to us; it’s something we create by our decisions. We can drift through our lives, or we can use our time, our money and our strength to model behaviors we believe in, to say, “This is who I am.”(97)

Even if you are limited financially, you can still support other women by sharing their work on social media. A few other ideas:
• Ask your local library to carry books by independent publishers and self-published women authors.
• Go to museum and art exhibits by women. Buy their art whenever possible.
• Offer to baby-sit for a new or single mother. 
I spent years not being able to do anything social. When you are truly broke, there is no funding for a social life. If it were not for my mother, I would never had done anything fun for many, many years. It can be painful to be left out in this way, so if you see a sister who seems to be struggling, you might offer to help. If you have money to attend an event comfortably, pay another woman's way as well.

We can refuse to participate in our own economic subordination. If we work collectively, we can also reallocate money and other resources in a way that works for everyone.

Excerpt from How to Live Well Despite Capitalist Patriarchy



Notes:
95 Tempest Williams, Terry. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice. Sarah Crichton Books; 2012.

96 Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms by Amanda Steinberg is an excellent read.
See also, “Sri Sraddhalu Ranade on Money: How it works and why it doesn't” on Youtube. 

97 Democker, Mary. “If Your House Is On Fire: Kathleen Dean Moore On The Moral Urgency Of Climate Change.” The Sun; December 2012.


Friday, January 17, 2020

Demand Equal Pay Now by Trista Hendren

Painting by Cheryl Braganza


I am so tired of the having this discussion so many years later. Equal pay should be a reality, everywhere—right now. 

While it is probably impracticable, I would love to see women everywhere walk off their jobs and create their own economies. Capitalist Patriarchy is fueled off the cheap (and often free) labor of females. The men who benefit need us far more than we need them. We must begin toward a shift in consciousness around this before we can even attempt to change it. We have been beating a dead horse for decades around this issue because we continue to provide free and cheap labor despite knowing how unfair and immoral it is.

I believe we can look to our Icelandic sisters for guidance here, as they still have one of the smallest pay gaps in the world. On October 24th 1975, Icelandic women went on strike for the day to “demonstrate the indispensable work of women for Iceland’s economy and society”(126) and to “protest wage discrepancy and unfair employment practices.”(127) Ninety percent of Iceland’s female population participated in the strike, refusing to go to their jobs or do any housework. The parliament passed a law guaranteeing equal pay the following year. Iceland has now made it illegal to pay men more than women, and the nation has pledged to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.(128) 

Photo via Women's History Archives Iceland

In the meantime, here are some practical suggestions: Refuse to work one minute more than you are being paid for. Ask for a raise regularly. Require that your partner or son does his share around the house. If you have children, pay them equal allowances.(128)

And while we are at it, let's really get to the heart of something that has been bugging me for a while within feminism itself.

While finishing this book and writing about the importance of equal pay and not giving away our time for free—it hit me pretty hard that I have been doing this in the name of feminism for the last 7 years. As Kate Northrup wrote, “If you can't see your value, the world doesn't give value back.”(130)

We don't expect teachers and nurses to work without a salary. Why is this so often the expectation with feminist work? 

I have lost track of the number of outstanding women who have given their lives to the cause—who still struggle every month. Barbara Mor and Monica Sjöö are particularly painful examples to me because of how many women have told me over and over again how much The Great Cosmic Mother changed their lives. The question that begs to be asks is, what might these women have accomplished—for all of us—if they were not constricted by the realities of being poor?

How can we possibly look at ourselves as anything other than exploiters if we expect these women to work their entire lives on our behalves only to grow old in poverty—while we reap the benefits? This seems like the ultimate hypocrisy to me.

Surely, we could do better for our sisters and foremothers—at least going forward. We must begin to truly support feminist work.





Notes:
126 “Icelandic women strike for economic and social equality, 1975 | Global Nonviolent Action Database.” Global Nonviolent Action Database. Swarthmore College. 

127 “The day the women went on strike.” The Guardian. October 18, 2005. 

128 Osborne, Samuel. Iceland makes it illegal to pay men more than women. Independent; 3 January 2018.

129 Chemaly, Soraya. “Even Little Kids Have a Wage Gap.” Salon; August 15, 2013.

130 Northrup, Kate. Money, A Love Story: Untangling Your Finances, Creating the Life You Really Want, and Living Your Purpose. Hay House Inc.; 2013.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Medusa: terrible, terrifying—and, terrified - by Laura Shannon

Medusa on BigTree, MoonCourt, Blue Mountains - Photo by Glenys Livingstone


Medusa is familiar to many as a symbol of women’s rage. Many feminists see their own rage reflected in the image of Medusa, ‘female fury personified.’1 With her fearsome countenance framed with snakes, able to paralyse with a glance, it is true that Medusa is terrible, terrifying—but she is also terrified. Her face, frozen in an openmouthed scream, eyes wide, teeth bared, is the primal, primate mask of fear.2 This gut-wrenching image is an eloquent expression of women’s rage, but also, I suggest, of women’s trauma. In this short essay, I suggest that Medusa, Athena and Metis—goddesses of wisdom, healing, and protection—can offer valuable support to those on the journey of healing from trauma, but first we must look beyond patriarchal stereotypes which denigrate these powerful goddesses. Ultimately we are invited to hold our fear, rage and trauma in a place of love and compassion, for ourselves and others, so that we can be protected, instead of paralyzed.

Hillman states that ‘myths live vividly in our symptoms,’ and Keller responds, ‘symptoms live vividly in our myths.’3 Paralysis, rage and disembodiment, three main elements of the Medusa story, are classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to trauma healing expert Bessel van der Kolk, numbing, freezing, and immobilization are common responses to trauma, particularly sexual trauma. As well as causing a sense of being emotionally shut down, long-term trauma held in the body can result in ‘stiff,’ ‘rigid,’ or ‘stilted’ movement, posture, and expression, resembling paralysis. Trauma can also erode key social skills of self-control and self-regulation, causing the uncontrollable rage characteristic of PTSD. The brutal separation of head from body, a third element of Medusa’s story, may reflect the dissociation, fragmentation, and disconnection from the body also typical of the post-traumatic state.4

For people with PTSD, trauma can seem to ‘go on forever,’5 as flashbacks may occur at any time in which the trauma is re-experienced as if it were actually happening. In this way the original trauma becomes eternal, an inner silent scream held in the body, an agony which perhaps to the sufferer feels not unlike Medusa’s countenance of rage and pain. (Perhaps Medusa’s head illustrates this state, the hissing, writhing snakes like neural pathways out of control.)

Freud famously saw the ‘horror’ of Medusa’s head as a symbol of male castration, but the original trauma in the Medusa story is not castration but rape. Most scholars and historians dismiss Poseidon’s rape of Medusa as an insignificant detail, merely one among so many rapes of mortal, immortal and semi-divine women committed by male gods. However, myths which glorify rape as a strategy ‘to enact the principle of domination by means of sex’ are comparatively recent, becoming widespread in Attica around the 5th century BCE.6

It is likely that myths celebrating rape reflect a devastating historical shift in cultural values, the change from a society based on equality and partnership to a hierarchical structure based on unequal distribution of resources and the need to control women’s sexuality.7 Joseph Campbell describes the myth of Perseus and Medusa as reflecting ‘an actual historic rupture, a sort of sociological trauma’ which occurred in the early thirteenth century B.C.E.8 The myth may refer to the overrunning of the peaceful, sedentary, matrifocal and most likely matrilineal early civilizations of Old Europe by patriarchal warlike Indo-European invaders.9

Miriam Robbins Dexter points out that ‘[t]he slaying of the demon, or demonized figure, may be a motif particular to patriarchal societies.’10 In the epic of Gilgamesh, the hero kills the demon Humbaba, whose severed head may serve as a prototype for that of Medusa. This image may also reflect the trauma of women raped during war.

Carol P. Christ sees Classical Greek images of Perseus holding the severed head of Medusa as a ‘celebration of the conquest of the civilization of the Goddess’—the shift to a patriarchal culture of war.11 This patriarchal system is described by Christ as arising at ‘the intersection of the control of women, private property, and war—which sanctions and celebrates violence, conquest, rape, looting, exploitation of resources, and the taking of slaves.’ It is ‘a system of domination enforced through violence and the threat of violence’ ... ‘in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality with the intent of passing property to male heirs.’12

As Christ points out, rape has been recorded as a tool of war since the time of Homer’s Iliad as well as in the Hebrew Bible.13 War itself, in the words of Anne Baring, is a rape of the soul, ‘a terrible wound... that can never heal because of the legacy of the trauma and memories it leaves behind, not only with the living but with the dead.’14 The Medusa myth embodies this tragedy: Medusa is both enraged and outraged. Rape is an outrage. Her eternal open-mouthed silent scream reveals the anguish not only of one individual survivor of rape, but of all those subjected to the horror of rape as a war crime and a technique to enforce norms of patriarchy—a method still in use today.

An excerpt from a longer paper entitled, ''Medusa and Athena: Ancient Allies in Healing Women’s Trauma,'' featured in Re-visioning Medusa: from Monster to Divine Wisdom.

Laura Shannon has researched and taught traditional circle dances for more than thirty years, and is considered to be one of the ‘grandmothers’ of the worldwide Sacred / Circle Dance movement. Through extensive research in Balkan villages and wide teaching experience, Laura has pioneered a new understanding of traditional women's dances as active tools for spiritual development. Originally trained in Intercultural Studies and Dance Movement Therapy, Laura is currently pursuing an M.A. in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred at Canterbury Christ Church University in England. She gives workshops, trainings and performances in more than twenty countries, and her numerous articles on dance have been published in many languages. She is founding director of the Athena Institute for Womens' Dance and Culture and a regular contributor to Feminism and Religion. In between her travels, Laura resides in Canterbury, Findhorn and Greece. www.laurashannon.net

Notes
1 Culpepper 1986:239.
2 Van der Kolk 2014:85.
3 Hillman 1979:23, Keller 1986:51.
4 Van der Kolk 2014:14, 20, 26, 12, 10, 19, 66.
5 Van der Kolk 2014:70.
6 Keuls 1985:47-49.
7 Gimbutas 1991, Eisler 1987, Haarmann 2014.
8 Campbell 2011:152.
9 This has been discussed and described by Marija Gimbutas (1991), Riane Eisler (1987), Joan Marler (2002:15-16), Harald Haarmann (2014), Carol P. Christ (2016) and others.
10 Dexter 2010:34, note 43.
11 Christ 2015.
12 Christ 2016:216. When I refer to patriarchy in this paper, I am using Christ’s definition.
13 Christ 2016:216, 219, 220.
14 Baring 2013, p 295-6.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Invocation of Lilith by Nuit Moore

Suhair Sibai Artist


I Am the Honored One and the Scorned One
I am the Whore and the Holy One
Lilith, Lili, Lilitu, Nan-Lil, Leilah
Lilith, you who once walked proud
blessing the fields, blessing wombs
blessing desire, blessing passion
Lilith, you who once guarded the Holy Tree of Inanna,
Who led the men forth from the fields
to be blessed by the royal lap of the Goddess
blessings blessings blessings
Lilith, you who once stood equal beside Adam,
Who stood firm in Her rising when Adam said
“Go beneath me, woman!”
Lilith, you who then uttered the Secret Words of power
and wings you grew, grew for flight, for refuge
You who found refuge in your dark fecund cave
beside the blood red sea
Devoting yourself as Guardian of your own holy power…
                                                                                                                         
O Lili
Lilith, who they began to claim ‘tainted’ men while in Her ‘menstrual impurity’
Lilith, who they claimed lured Eve into awareness of evil in serpentine form
Lilith, who they say came to claim in the deep dark of night,
to steal from men their ejaculate, to steal from men their power
Lilith, who they say sent Her daughters as succubi to lure men to their downfall,
Lilith, who they say was a childkiller
I SAY NO!
Lilith
You have emerged into our female consciousness,
demanding to be remembered for the Holy Goddess you are,
Goddess of Liberation, Ecstasy, Passion and Strength
Lilith
You demand that we remember that WE as women are HOLY
You call to us with the message that our wombs and our spirits are our own,
imperative we claim our right to rule over our own precious bodies and souls.
Lilith, you are the force that liberates the abused woman,
the woman in the Underworld
You are the one that says:
“Remember, you are beneath no man”
Lilith, you possess the holy righteous rage,
Wrapped in Her scarlet veil,
Phoenix born in potent flame.
Lilith, Serpentine Queen…
Bearing female wisdom, womanly magick, menstrual mysteries
Lilith, Serpentine Queen…
The Holy powers of Life and Death belong to You,
As you go into the Dark of the Moon, we go.
As you shed your scarlet skin, so we shed.
As you renew and transform, we renew and transform.
As you, Ancient Lover, dance in power, we dance in power.
As you wax, peak, wane and rest, we so do.
LILITH SAYS:
NOW IS THE TIME OF RISING.



An excerpt from the Original Resistance anthology. 

Nuit Moore is a witch and priestess whose work and temple serve the Goddess and Her return to the collective consciousness, focusing especially on the empowerment of women, the return of the Goddess temple, and the potent medicine of her path and teachings. Although she comes from mystic traditions from both sides of her bloodline, she began her personal path as priestess in the Dianic and Wise Woman traditions, and is also an ordained priestess with the Fellowship of Isis. Nuit has offered classes and ceremony on female wicce, women’s rites/rights, the harvest mysteries, trance arts, wise woman ways, serpent/shakti power, ceremonial movement and sound, liminal magick and ritual theater, etc for over 25 years, and travels frequently bringing temple and ceremony to festivals and communities. She has been a visionary/channel of the menstrual mysteries and eco-menstruation movement since 1991, and is a long standing weaver of the web of women's blood mysteries. Much of her work as an eco-feminist activist is in connection with her teachings on eco-menstruation. Nuit is also a performance artist/sacred dancer, ceremonial visual artist, and founder of the Ishtar Noir Ritual Theater collective- and is the creatrix of Shakti Goddess Arts (www.shaktistudios.etsy.com) which carries her altar art and ceremonial offerings, wise women herbals, crystals, and her writings. Her website can be found at www.scarletshakti.com and she is also on Facebook at: Nuit Moore, The Scarlet Shakti and on Instagram @thescarletshakti

This invocation was first offered in a ritual performance in 2011.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

PRANAYAMA FOR PATRIARCHAL COPING by Susan Morgaine (Devta Kaur)


Art by Arna Baartz

PRANA. BREATH. LIFE FORCE.
It's no secret thatfor women, people of color, children, and the LGBT+ communityliving under patriarchy is a struggle. There is no denying that we are devalued, demeaned, de-humanized, and destroyed little by little at the core of who we are. For some, this means death—as we are killed by our partners, by officers of the law and those in authority.
As you will see throughout this book, there are many techniques for coping with the daily struggle. 
One of these is pranayama, conscious breathing. Prana is your breath, what you bring in; it is your life force, for without breath, you would cease to be.
Your breath is a fundamental tool in being able to control your emotions and your mood. It can reduce stress and tension; give you clarity of thought; increase focus; increase patience; reduce and prevent toxins in your body that we are continuously bringing in via food, drink and air. It does this while also expanding your lung capacity; cleansing your blood and relaxing and calming you. Just a slight change in the breath creates a huge impact.
To have a daily pranayama/meditation practice, it is optimum to have a designated place in your home. You can have a small altar or just some flowers, incense, and a candle. There is some wonderful meditation music out there; find some that speaks to your spirit. Most importantly, shut off your phone. Let this become your special place a place of quiet and serenity. 
Your candles are lit, incense wafting through the room. Sit yourself comfortably in easy pose, cross-legged on the floor. If you are unable to sit on the floor, a straight-backed chair works well. You want to be comfortable, but it is important that the spine be straight.  
You want to center yourself, to be in the moment, in that time, in that place. Bring your hands into prayer position at your chest, or you may simply rest your hands on your knees. Close your eyes and gently roll them up so that they are focused upon your third eye, that space between your eyebrows in the middle of your forehead. Begin to slowly and deeply inhale and exhale. Take your time, dont rush through it. Really feel each breath; on your breath. Now, with each inhale, bring into your body a sense of peace, a sense of calm. Let it infuse your entire being, beginning with the heart chakra and working outward. With each exhale, release any stress, tension or negativity you are holding within your body, even that of which you may not even be consciously aware. Allow yourself to let it go. 
You can continue this for as long as you are comfortable. If monkey-mind thoughts come calling, gently push them away and continue with the breath. When you are finished, take several deep breaths while stretching your arms up to the skies.
This long, deep breathing is for when you have the time to sit and focus on that precious conscious breath. This breath can also be used as a "quick fix." Find someplace quiet and breathe in the positive and breathe out the negative. The perfect thing with conscious breathing, is that it is always with you. Calm is only a breath away. 
I will be sharing with you some breath techniques, all of which come from Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, which I have been honored and proud to be teaching for 20 years.
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For CalmnessInhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 8. This is a good breath to practice when you are feeling stressed or anxious. It produces a calm and relaxed state of being. 
For RelaxationBreathe only through your left nostril. The left side of your body relates to the moon, which is the calming and receptive side of your body. For women, this will connect you to the feminine energy of the moon.
"U" Breathing – Purifying breath. Try to visualize the path of the breath. Inhale and visualize light flowing down the same side of the nostril, down the spine to your first chakra. As you hold the breath, feel and see the light swirling and growing at the base of the spine.
One Minute Breath – Inhale for 20 seconds, hold for 20 seconds, exhale for 20 seconds. There will be an immediate calming of anxiety, fear and tension.
Stress Relief and Cleansing of Past Emotions Hands are in front of your heart center in a tent - fingers touching; palms not. Long, slow deep breathing, segmented inhaling for a count of 5, suspend the breath for a count of 5 and segmented exhaling for a count of 5. Eyes should be focused at the tip of the nose. 
Anti-Stress Breathing – Sit in easy pose (on floor, legs crossed, spine straight) or sit in a straight-backed chair. It is important that your spine be straight, your shoulders back and your head level. Press the tips of your thumbs and little fingers together. Extend your arms out somewhere between your heart and belly button, arms slightly bent at elbows. Focus your eyes on the tip of your nose (if this makes you dizzy, close your eyes). Inhale through the mouth with a long, deep and powerful breath and exhale through the nose. Then inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. It may take a little bit of time to start to work, but it will calm inner stress and tension. Continue for at least 3 minutes.
Mudra for Preventing Stress – Try this one to prevent stress from even starting. (The Sanskrit word "mudra," in yoga, is a hand position. Mudra is a Sanskrit word.) Sit in easy pose with a straight spine. Relax your arms, and bend your elbow, bringing your forearms in front of you and parallel to the ground. Bring your hands, palms up, to meet in front of you, a little above your belly button. Rest the back of the left hand in the palm of the right hand. Keep your fingers together and straight. Your breath will be long, slow and deep and through the nostrils only. Do for at least 3 minutes.
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All of these breaths can be done for any length of time, and/or are available for immediate use. There's nothing wrong with finding a quiet spot or even a public restroom to focus on your breath and re-gain control of yourself or a situation.
While nothing is a miracle, I am positive that, with practice of these breaths, you will find yourself feeling calmer and better able to cope with some of the injustices and atrocities that are present in the patriarchal world.
Sat Nam!
(Truth is My Identity)


An excerpt from How To Live Well Despite Capitalist Patriarchy.