Messages From A Red-Tailed Hawk

There are several resident red-tailed hawks in my neighborhood. They’ve shown themselves to me many times over the last few weeks as I walk or drive about. One is beautifully large, with a cream spotted breast and giant wingspan. The other is smaller, younger I’m sure. I imagine that they are mother and daughter…..the older, wiser one guiding the way for the younger. The medicine, or power, of the hawk is to be a messenger; encouraging us to pay attention and take note of the gentle nudgings, promptings, signs, and synchronicities all around us. Sometimes we go through life on auto pilot and miss these important exchanges even when they are right in front of our noses. Hawk reminds us to listen intently to the voice of wisdom within us, our intuition, our soul’s voice. Some say we speak to God through prayer and God speaks back through our intuition. I believe this. Today I will be like the hawk and stay alert for the communications from Spirit. Today I will listen to the voice within and heed the messages.

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Diving In

Coming out of deep grief. Coming out of deep anger, or pain or suffering of any kind. Coming out of deep doo doo of our own making. Feeling as if one can finally take a full breath again. Realizing how long one has been breathing shallowly. Allowing the whoosh of air to go all the way in and come back out with an audible Ahhhhhh. Decompressing. Elements within coming back into alignment. Perhaps how it must feel to the bear as it comes out of hibernation from a deep winter’s sleep. Taking that first intense breath of clean, sweet spring air. Sometimes we are asleep for days, months, even years. What if coming out is actually diving in? Diving into the treasure that lies at the center of our hearts.  If we allow the descent, we find the pearl. The pearl at great price, borrowed from the parables of Jesus, and later used by Carl Jung to represent the archetypal journey to wholeness. Today I will recognize that coming out is actually diving in. Today I will seek the pearl. The one that has my name on it.

Today, I Am Enough

Sometimes we have to let go. Let go of the past and all of the story around it. Let go of people and the stories they choose to believe, over which we have no power. Surrender and live forward. Falling into Grace. Doing the best we know how to do. Letting life live through us in its own way and own time. Seeing what we see and standing it by not looking away. And letting that be enough. Today I am grateful for who I am and who I am becoming. And it is enough. I am enough.

Wildness Becomes Me

Women Who Run With the WolvesPicking up the tattered tome and holding it in my hands is a coming home in and of itself. So much of who I am contained in the dog-eared pages, the underlinings and the notes in the margins. A long time ago I’d decided to date my underlinings and now, years later, the patterns and cycles of my life are laid bare in the sentences that spoke to my soul during this reading or that.

In 1995 when I first read the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes I had no idea how it would inspire and shape my life. How the old folk tales and stories, the archetypes and the metaphors would become so dear to me that I would come to rely upon them with a passion unmatched before or since.  The teachings and wisdom contained in the book would become my personal bible and my compass; not only granting direction in how to live my life, but how to face my life as well. Little did I know when I picked up that heavy black book with the gold embossed picture of a woman with a wolf, I was venturing into the hitherto unknown forest of my soul, and would never again be the same.

In all of my life, the things that have mattered most have come to me with grace and synchronicity.  Women Who Run With the Wolves was no exception. In 1993, on the tail end of a bad marriage, I happened to catch a few remaining moments of an interview on Good Morning America with Clarissa Pinkola Estes discussing her book. Estes’ says that when women hear the words wild and woman it causes them to remember who they are and what they are about. When women hear those words, an old memory is stirred and brought back to life. The memory of our absolute, undeniable, and irrevocable kinship with the wild feminine, which causes us to remember, at least for an instant, what substance we are really made from, and where is our true home. It was certainly so with me. And althought I didn’t hear much of that interview beyond the title of the book,  it did indeed foster a deep longing—the yearning had begun. Several months later that longing led me to a very special woman, a passing stranger, who would introduce me to the power of Estes’ book and the treasure that could be gained from carefully contemplating the wisdom it held.  This study, undertaken back then and continued today, has forged a relationship between me and the material that unceasingly funds my work, my identity and my soul.

The wild woman archetype speaks to the essence of a woman. The word wild say’s Estes is not used in its modern pejorative sense, meaning out of control, but in its original sense, which means to live a natural life. Not wild as in crazy, but wild as in natural and free. The book, a poignant and soulful look at women’s psychology, as viewed through the lens of a master storyteller, Jungian analyst, and cantadora healer contains the numen, the mystery and divineness of women’s native feminine power and birthright. The wild nature has vast integrity in it say’s Estes’. It means to establish territory, to find one’s pack, to be in one’s body with certainty and pride regardless of the body’s gifts and imitations, to speak and act in one’s own behalf, to be aware, alert, to draw on the innate feminine powers of intuition and sensing, to come into one’s cycles, to find what one belongs to, to rise with dignity, to retain as much consciousness as we can. Amen or Awomyn I should probably say.

I was very fortunate in 1996 to have the opportunity to attend a teaching with Estes’ in Colorado. Watching her perform The Handless Maiden was like sitting on the lap of Santa Claus as a child, or being in the presence of some equally magical figure. As she embodied the elements of the story, the elements of the story became metaphors for my life. And this is the astonishing beauty and power of Women Who Run With the Wolves. How seemingly simple stories can become roadmaps for one’s own life. And having found a roadmap, one can now find one’s way through the twists and turns of life.  It is good to have a map so one can know not only where one has come from, but where one is going and how far one has to go.

In 1997 I led my first Women Who Run With the Wolves study group. Seven brave women ventured into land of La Loba, Bluebeard, and Vasalisa. Recently another courageous group of women has journeyed with me into the wildness. For eighteen years now we’ve discovered we could sing ourselves back into being, reclaim what we’ve lost, find our skin again, and listen to the doll in our pocket. We’ve come to recognize our over domestication, our captured status, and our injured instincts. We’ve learned how the traps are laid, how important our handmade lives are, and that some beards really are blue. Most importantly we’ve found eyes in the back of our heads and the ability to see what we see and stand it.

We’ve tasted the wild feminine and vowed to never lose her again, but we have, over and over again, only to reclaim her again, and again, and again; each time becoming stronger in the broken places. Tempered by the fires of life and fate we’ve found a way to live the wildness every day and make it matter to us. Estes’ says if we could only remember that the work is to remember to do the work. And I couldn’t agree more.

In 2000 I gave birth to Wise Woman Retreats, an organized way to lend my natural gifts of leadership and inspired intuitive guidance towards the empowerment of women. I’ve continued now to lead women’s empowerment groups, retreats and workshops and facilitate study/discussion groups with Estes’ work as the north star. The unmoving, unwavering center that holds the tension for all our hopes, dreams, and visions, as well as our missteps and bad bargains.

Yes, wildness becomes me. It becomes me as I live softer and gentler, and fiercer at the same time. It becomes me as I live forwards and backwards and sideways, peering into all things, and being frightened by little. It becomes me as I cultivate my intuition and creativity and value their significance more with every passing day. It becomes me as I don’t turn away from the things I don’t want to see, but rather stand it; and in that standing, make choices and decisions that serve me and honor who I am, as well as who I am becoming. It becomes me as I let die what needs to die and give life to what needs more of it.

Yes, wildness does become me. Before attending an Estes’ teaching in ’96, Psychology In the Truest Sense,  I was asked to answer this question from her to gain entry. “How well do you know yourself with certainty”?  The answer I’d give now would not be the same as the one I gave back then, for I am not the woman I was back then, nor the woman I will become tomorrow.  It is a question that begs to be revisited at various junctures of this path we call life. I invite you to ask yourself this question now. And if the answering of it causes bereftness or a longing within you, then there is a thick black book with a woman and a wolf embossed in gold on the front cover waiting for you.

And, if you are a man (or a woman who loves one) take heart, Robert Bly, poet and keeper of the wildman flame wrote Iron John: A Book About Men in similar spirit. Although, in my humble opinion, not nearly as fleshed out as Women Who Run With the Wolves, it is a place to begin for men to reclaim and strengthen the wildman aspect of themselves.

Yes, wildness becomes me and it can become you as well.

Breathwork- the power of the breath for inner healing

“Breathwork is a powerful approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world.” The first time I experienced Breathwork I was hooked! At the time I was learning how to facilitate Breathwork I was also learning other modalities of healing. And although when it comes to healing I truly believe in a model of multiple modalities I can honestly say that I see more profound transformations occuring in Breathwork than I do other modalities alone. Breathwork coupled with more traditional counseling methods works on the cognitive and spiritual levels all at the same time……a wonderful marriage so to speak.

What is Breathwork? “The process itself uses very simple means: it combines deep, accelerated breathing with evocative music.  With the eyes closed and lying on a mat, each person uses their breath and the music to enter into a non-ordinary state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individual’s psyche, bringing him or her a particular set of internal experiences. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for that particular time and place. While recurring themes are common, no two sessions are ever alike.”

Another word for Breathwork is Journying a term that implies going on an internal journey in search of that which is needed. I chose to call my form of Breathwork Path of the Heart Breathwork due to its similarity with a real vision quest wherein a person goes off alone somewhere in the wilderness in order to quiete the mind and be open to a vision of what is needed to heal certain aspects of the psyche. In Path Of the Heart Breathwork one takes the journey without ever having to face the elements.The deep meditative dreamlike state induced by breathwork then allows your own inner healer to go to work for you.

Some of my deepest personal healing has come via Breathwork sessions. Things I’d struggled with for years and applied all sorts of healings to including counseling, psychics, energy work, nutrition……you name it, began to heal with Breathwork. I have also heard this from others as well.

Eat~Pray~Love

Many of you have probably already read or at least heard of the book by Elizabet Gilbert entitled Eat Pray Love. It’s been all over Oprah and although I don’t usually tend to follow the pack I must say that I found it an enlightening read. Gilbert’s prose is both sacred and profane, hilarious and sad, light-hearted and soulfully deep. I laughed out loud, I cried real tears, I prayed to any God that would listen; and most importantly perhaps, my being expanded from the experience. I was truly moved by how well she captured the complexity of who we are. Carl Jung said we must learn to hold the tension of the opposites…..we are indeed complex, dualistic creatures…..at once frail and then invincible, vulnerable and then fierce, sorrowful, hurting and then brimming with joy, funny one moment and dead serious the next……what a beautiful melange. My absolute favorite part is the translation from Italian into English of the, shall we say, off color remarks one very passionate Italian is making at a football  (soccer)game. The Italian language sounds like lyrical poetry, but in English ….oh my…..well you get the picture. I just thought it was a fabulous piece of storytelling. In Italy she intends to eat and learn to speak Italian both of which she does in no small measure. She learns that good food is like the nectar of the god’s; and in Italy the eating of it is all a wonderful ritual of community, of slowing down and enjoying life, family, and friends. She learns the sweet Ahhhhh….of time spent consciously enjoying life and most importantly, learning to let recede that American obsession of got to get it done RIGHT NOW. It’s a wonderful read and I’d love to hear other’s perspectives as well.