The Women’s Work
What a year, no? Our first moon cycle in 2017 inaugurated a man as the leader of our metaphoric house who bragged about the exploitation and objectification of the female body. Our values supported this.
The normalization of exploitation in this house is unacceptable.
The female body. The female body. The female body.
How is your house? How are you tending your one true sacred space?
At home–here on earth, our first and most taken for granted body–what’s it been like for you? What level of your own shame stories, meaning your internal narratives about your worth, about being or not being good enough, about your rights, have you become more aware of this year?
How mindful of the stress you are carrying, its physicality, are you? The stories that your body is carrying about you and your experience?
How well have you been at declaring your own right to your own path of unique heart, spirit, soul?
From an earth-based perspective, the growing season of the year relies as much on what has decomposed being turned under, transforming to nutrients, as it does on the potentiality of wild starry fruits blossoming from a single seed. It is an endless continuum of stages and cycles, from dying and dark to birthing, blooming, fruiting, and harvesting, too.
When the moon is dark she is between the earth and the sun, and her other half sends the light of the sun back at itself. We here on earth fall still in her darkness, a holding, receptive gravity.
The moon holds all, receptive and active.
When she is active or full she is at the height of light, actually reflecting the light of the sun back on us here on earth.
Between these two polarities are the fluidity of transitions of dark and light. Metaphoric, yes. And also cyclic and specific. Both applications, and all their subtleties, are necessary. Again, the feminine holds all.
From a menstrual perspective, we track our personal moons. Chances are our personal moon doesn’t follow the actual moon. So we use the moon’s phases as a metaphor to understand both the biology and psychology of the feminine psyche.
The new moon as metaphor is day one, or when we first bleed. When we first bleed, we are dying and birthing at once, as now we re-engage the solar or ovulatory, fertile aspect of our selves. As the days of our cycle accumulate, we track where we are. We learn to re-embody the fluidity of the inter-lobal functioning of the female body, for again, the feminine holds all. For example, at stage four, the Gibbous moon, which can be anywhere from about day 7 through day 17 depending on your unique, beautiful and powerful body, we undergo an abrupt rise in the neuropeptides FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). There is a rise in estrogen level and left hemisphere brain activity and simultaneous testosterone and right hemisphere activity and increase in libido. Read Dr. Christiane Northrup’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom to learn more!
Our discharge is known at this time as E-type mucus, which is when small tubules are present in our discharge that hold sperm! This is us in our fertile, almost full cycle. At stage 5, our metaphoric full moon, G-type mucus immediately follows the release of our ovum, and this sort of mucus actually keeps us from getting pregnant. Like the moon at her peak active phase when she’s full, our bodies too lean from our full momentum back into ourselves. And so at peak fertility we start again towards the reflective, recycling, dark and dying phases.
The growing season on earth follows these 8 stages, too!
Lammas, again using the metaphor of the phases of the moon, can be understood as stage 6, the Disseminating Moon. Like for the year! Disseminating moon, according to Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon is the “first stirring of dark,” when the seed has become what it was meant and the “life impulse must fulfill, distribute energy and disseminate and share the value of the meaning.” From a menstrual perspective, it is “the luteal phase” when “we turn more inward, preparing to develop or give birth from something deep within ourselves.” (Northrup, 2010)
Disseminating moon is the fruiting phase, or harvest. Whether an ovum has been fertilized, or it was the fertility of a new idea that peaked, maybe a transformed inner narrative, or however it was that you lived out this growing cycle psychologically, biologically, spiritually and creatively, the disseminating moon phase from a menstrual perspective is the fruiting time, our first harvest. After peak fertility phase.
And so it is we celebrate Lammas, the First Harvest of the earth’s natural growing year. People who tend these concepts, embodying them and staying close to nature, outside with feet grounded upon her and skin and blood and biology and body in one rhythmic inhalation exhalation of all that is, recognize this as connected to a variety of different anthropological rites. Traditions the world over acknowledge with celebration the bounty of fruit on the vine at summer’s height.
From a lunar perspective, which for me is the feminine-embodied perspective, we celebrate Lunar Lammas when the moon is in the sun sign of Leo and full.
So, ya with me? We learn to track the phases of the moon, and then to metaphorically apply these phases. They can inform the dark and light aspects of our biology, and of the seasons of the year. We too learn to hold all, to think quantum or multi-dimensionally, to hold our still point within, and All At Once at once!
Lunar Lammas is the full moon on Monday, August 7, this year. Already the sun-made shadows of heaping breathy green tree walls here are muddled, that certain angle of soupy dark I so love.
Mind what this moon cycle brings. It is your harvest. What will you reap? Mind what stories live, what experiences happen. Mind your light and your dark. Mind your experiences this month from a reflective viewpoint that holds the continuum of the year, all those spirals of moon around the far side of the earth and back to between the earth and sun, again and again.
What is illuminated under the active light of her reflecting back the height of the summer sun? For that is what happens on Lunar Lammas.
Unplug from your computer or other e-devices. Leave your phone in the car and get outside. Restore your natural circadian rhythm from all that electronic interference.
Give yourself back to yourself. Back to your body. Back to the earth. The natural perfect spheres of rhythm. Happy first harvest season friends~!!
To understand more, make some time and visit my Facebook page. We will spend this month learning more about the moon’s 8 phases.
Today’s New Moon, around 5:30pm in California, marks the end/start of a new cycle. In addition, this evening the sun reaches its furthest point from the earth’s Northern hemisphere, granting the shortest amount of daylight, the longest amount of darkness, and our entry in to winter. We know this as the Winter Solstice.
On the mystery path, we recognize Nature and inner nature as intrinsically connected. Inner nature I refer to here as soul. Outside, excess harvest has gone to rot, the rot turned under will cook and turn to nutrients and rich soil. Life energy wanes, appears still, happens mostly underground.
When the moon is dark, as in the past two days, deep tending of personal darkness happens naturally, rhythmically…Of course as we are human we resist this though! Which lends even more to that holiday feeling of restlessness and exhaust. Seek surrender, embodiment of emotions, of our up down waxes and wanes, soften unto you. With the apex of Night this evening, understand that we have walked hand in hand with our shadows, burrowed deep in the mire of our individual and collective unconscious, all week.
Last night was, literally, the Dark Night of the Soul.
Harried bones and souls seek solace right now, a soul-tired significant of the Sun’s long journey to the furthest axis of sky. Depending on your personal circadian cycle, maybe you do best in the dark! For some this becomes the most creative time of year. For others life energy wanes and increased rest is important. No matter what, the decrease of light has its effects.
Traditionally the Solstice was a time for the women to gather and ceremoniously mark the losses they experienced for the year. As the soul wanes, this is a traditional and normal aspect of the dark phase–acknowledgment of the areas where your inner self or soul is colored by its capacity to grow and integrate more wholly specifically because it has experienced pain. With loss comes the embodied experience of forgiveness, strength, compassion, hope. Ritual bathing, quiet honoring of the journey of this year and your own personal darkness, honoring of the power of death and dark as part of the sacred journey are all intrinsic to the Solstice. On the wisdom path we practice this dropping in and tending with every monthly aspect of the dark moon.
Take heart! Life is a continuum, a long spiral. The Winter Solstice, just as the moon in her new phase, marks the return of the light! Tonight we honor Hope, the return of life. In her darkest phase (the past two days) when life energy and light disappear, it is out of this momentum that the new spark of consciousness stirs. This most precious spark must be nurtured, held warm in hibernation now through the toil of the season of dark. Doing so is how the momentum for life will grow strong. Rest, tend quiet in an active way. The beingness of doing nothing, of activeness of waiting, yearning, and tending. The active embodiment of Hope.
My own embodiment of this path brought me in relation to a personal and ancestral archetype this year. Tending her has been difficult, painful, and deeply wholesome. She has helped me nurture Eros by bringing me to face my most fundamental wounds. This has helped me, most importantly, to understand that I judge and resist my own injured parts, and it is the judging and resistance that makes me most human. As always, wisdom begins here, with deep love, and gentle, unconditional acceptance for these hard, rigid judgy parts inside my own mind and heart. Unconditional love and acceptance for my own broken humanness. Right relations begin within.
To be in a harmonious way with these most shadowed, or disembodied parts of me that I seek to hate or judge, I made the top shelf of my alter an homage to my Ancestresses this week. These women, my grandmother on the side of my most familial wound specifically, became the living spirit of the dark goddess. Grammy is gone from this life, and in death I can recognize in an embodied way the wisdom of loss and how we grow and learn in perspective to this. This sort of dark tending makes the women’s work come alive for me in an incredibly sacred and day to day way.
Tending the sacred with personal sacraments like these extend into my daily life and all my relationships. This is what I mean by embodying and right relations.
Sleep now the dream of winter, hibernate as souls stir underground, in the void, and grow strong in their own essence by being held amid the winter still. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Love, accept, gentleness.
Rest well, honoring the rhythms of birth and growth and life and death and rest, until rebirth. Happy Solstice! Happy Sacred Return.
Valkyrie, at my alter. Norse Death Goddess; image by Susan Seddon Boulet
And it is here: heart of summer, hearth of soul.
I am ovulating, or pre-ovulation, which as a woman I know means I am at the height of my vitality. I am sparkling, vivacious, full of energy and ideas and intuitive, big-eyed ideas that seem to naturally connect like a live line of fire sizzling through me. My body, my very being is readying to give life, and as I enter ovulation my whole being reflects this aspect of me. What is ripe in me, of me, prepares itself…these energies are real and whole with or without making an actual child. My being offers forward to the world the most fertile forms of me still yet to be.
Because I work consciously with these energies in me, in a way that has been explorative and mindful of the women’s work for many years now–I understand that there is no separating out the parts of me that are blind, repressed, or numb to this knowledge. That in fact, right along side the ovulation-power within me comes too the social, familial, and ancestral programs of my Psyche, the stories that tell me this true, authentic power and feminine strength is poison, bad, wrong. Such an important part of the women’s work is being mindful of these stories or tapes in my head, how and where they play in my body, and how I shut down or close my eyes to them. Meeting these shadows with love, gentleness, and true compassion for my self is such a deep and important part of my work.
This week also brings us to what I will call Full Growth moon. This is my name for the cycle that comes after Summer Solstice. Honoring the cyclical way in which our bodies, as women, follow the tide and chart of the larger ecological systems from which we come, and to which we will return grounds us in wisdom: rather than dominion over Nature, spiritual, psychological, and even scientific traditions teach that we as humans actually share an exact reflection of life’s larger, ecologically natural nature. When we enlarge our way of being and seeing to encompass this wider understanding, symbolism can inform us and help make real the wisdom work of our soul’s path.
So it is that we consider–the first moon cycle of summer makes its way towards full this weekend. Full Growth moon cycle–if we have been mindful of our cycles we know well what we are growing, and have worked to be in flux with the natural forward flowing, regressing ebbing of the tides of life. The moon is a symbol of our soul, for which our psyche is the vehicle of communication. Psyche speaks in voices, the many voices of which our Ego is only one. It also speaks in images–those mind pictures you see vividly, suddenly, OR an artistic image that stops your tracks out in the world. This might be in the form of a commercial which speaks to you, a line from a song that wont leave you. Maybe a tree or bird that grabs your attention on the way home from work.
This week, as the Full Growth moon shines brighter and brighter, all around we actually see this pure and potent physical growth in the natural world. The images are strong! What images come forth from you, your soul right now under this clear light? What images in the world around you are really alive and personal for you? If, like me, your are entering your pre and ovulation phase, it is such an exciting time to be open-eyed, mindful of the inter-connecting web, the mystery of how the inside life and outside life reflect each other. What a holy and sacred relationship, this creative dance! The women’s work reminds us that we get the choice to be mindful in how we show up to it.
This is the week of the year that your own growth–or in other words, what it is that is meaningful and real to you and wants to be, or maybe has just been manifested !!–and is prevalent and on display. Witness it! Take time to be reflective and remember you have a choice to do so. What life are you growing? How are you nurturing the fertility cycles of your own soul? If you are ovulating this week, the work you put in will really show itself in the world under the full moon of August–first Harvest Moon. By then, as the tide begins to change and the light of growth begins to wane, we will turn the discussion more towards how to nurture your bounty, harvest seeds from it, and plant them deep in the psyche in the unconscious darkness, to prepare for rest and nurturing in the year of growth to come….
Happy Full Growth this week, with love.
Two Thursday’s ago, in the low, monastic candle-lit room here in the hobbit house in the canyon wall, I prepared wordlessly for an important initiation. Not that of an ancient rite or mysterious sect. To all appearances, in fact, it was little more than a scholastic necessity. I prepared to drive to Santa Barbara, to take and pass my clinical oral exams as a counseling depth psychologist.
I made my rounds about my sweet space, in and out in measured scurry. Returning to my front door from my compost out under the deck, I stopped in an almost trip, fell into immediate silence, and pause. Beetle was at my entry. Sacred Scarab.
What a harbinger this was, and my body knew it, the way it responded deep in my blood. A subtle entrancement, the kind that comes from awareness–in a daily, cultivated way, of reverence for a deeper appreciation of life and its meaningful ways.
Should we choose this deeper awareness, this open and ongoing relationship with all things, it is always there to engage us.
Perhaps this alone is the women’s work. A reverent, open-hearted awareness, cultivated, of the multitude of depths and meaning to behold in this mysterious place. With the passing of the exams, a knitting together came for me. All those life moments that have led me here, to California where I’ve surrendered to my calling. Of studies of the women’s psyche and soul, of the meanings and passings of this being human thing, of the nature of Nature. All the things I said goodbye too, an accounting of each and every loss, and simultaneous blessing that resulted, on the journey that led me to the Rite of passing those exams.
Sacred Scarab, who represents the end of an old way of being.
She showed up last night, again. I’ve had no previous experiences with her until these last two weeks. Buzzing around my head as soon as I turned the light off in my bed. I am touched by what the significance of her timing today means. In deep and worshipful awe, arms open heart wide, I am willing to say YES. And to also embrace the necessary, accompanying goodbyes.