Lemurian City of Ladies

A Lemurian City Built in Memory of Christine de Pizan

Archive for the ‘High Priestess’ Category

If I look again, what will I see?

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I am about 18 months old and the baby of the family. I have 2 older brothers – Dan who is 5 and Richard who is 7. At this time in my life they don’t really figure enough to exist in my memories. On this day I am sitting in my high chair in the kitchen, which is positioned just behind the kitchen door, to the right of the fire place. There is no fire lit in the grate today. It must be summertime. Mammy is feeding me my dinner. She is sitting on a chair directly in front of me, holding a dish of dinner in one hand and a spoon in her other hand. She wants me to eat faster, but I am not co-operating. Unusually mammy is wearing her good clothes. She smells fresh and clean, and she is wearing lipstick. She looks pretty. I like it when mammy looks pretty. Right now I have her attention, sort of. Usually she never rushes me when she is feeding me, and often smiles her tired, slow smile. But today is different. There is almost an air of impatience about her. The woman who helps her out sometimes comes rushing into the kitchen and announces loudly that she will feed me and that it is time for mammy to go. Mammy rarely goes out anywhere, even to the local shops. She starts to get up, half-heartedly handing the bowl and spoon to the other woman. I cry out. I don’t want my mammy to go. I don’t want her to leave me. I don’t want to stay with someone who has no love for me at all. The woman grows more insistent. Mammy is indecisive. She wants to go. She is under pressure from this other person to do what she said she was planning to do, but I am crying, and she doesn’t want to leave me sad.

And then the realisation hits me. My first memory is one of separation. Mammy and I are not one after all. Mammy is one person and I am another. And I have the power to either stop my mother from going to Dublin, or to allow her to go. It has nothing to do with the other woman at all. If I keep crying, mammy will stay. I want her to stay. I don’t want her to go. My stomach is churning at the fear that mammy might leave me behind. I want to scream, ‘Don’t go mammy. Don’t leave me with this woman who I don’t like and she doesn’t like me’’. But I don’t say these words. I keep them inside of me where they live on forever. Instead I stop crying and smile a watery smile at mammy. She hands the bowl and spoon over to the woman, and kisses me on my cheek and walks out the kitchen door. I hear the front door opening and then it is very gently pulled closed behind . I weep, and wait.

—-Working on the above memory has completely altered my life long interpretation of what happened on this day. I have always believed that the primary point here was my sense of power over my mother; that it was down to me whether she went to Dublin on that day, or not. But in writing down the events of that afternoon, I can see now that that was not the significant factor at all. What really mattered, what entered my soul that day was a sense of loss and loneliness that has never left. Did this mark the break in the symbiotic relationship between mother and baby, and the consequent emergence of the individual? Is the ego based on a sense of lack?

Written by Edith

August 14, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Posted in High Priestess

Only Women Bleed

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It is ‘’that time of the month again’’ we whisper to our friends, who look sympathetically at us and nod their heads knowingly. During these special days Mother Nature calls us back and embraces us once again in her fold. It is as if an invisible force pulls us out of the everyday realities and we are transported to another realm, a place where we just seem to sit and watch. There is no sense of a need of having to do something, or go somewhere, or achieve anything.

These are good days, special days, days that remind us women that we were born connected to the earth and that this connection is part of the very life force that continually creates and re-creates the world. But the paradoxical thing about this special time is that even as we feel more connected to the life force of the earth we also simultaneously feel that our very life force is draining out of us.

During these days it is as if I am sinking deeper and deeper, lower and lower into a dark, cavernous space; a female place, a place where only women can go. It is a womb-like space — blood flows from the woman’s womb downwards into Mother Earth’s womb, the Womb that is the matrix of the world and all the life contained within it. Bleeding women co-create within the cosmic matrix. This is the secret, silent time of the month. There is nothing to say. All words drop away to leave behind, in their wake, a presence within the absence. The blood of women: a metaphor for life on earth, for the Sacred Feminine. The hours of the bleed move forwards. Sinking into moments of oblivion as the flow becomes heavier. Deep, bone-marrow tiredness. Cramps to remind us of how our lives are closely connected to our bodies.

Women, unlike men, can never forget that they are not merely spiritual beings, but are rather spiritual entities encased by bodies, living elements from the centre of the matrix. Our bodies and our spirits are never more united than at this time of the month, apart from those other special times of female embodiment like pregnancy, child-birth and breastfeeding. But the difference between those times and now are that the times of bleeding extend from puberty to menopause, and so they lay a special claim to a particular type of female knowledge — womb-knowledge, which gathers wisdom as the girl-child grows and develops with her changing body altering almost imperceptibly through the seasons of her life, until she eventually grows into her wise self, her authentic being, which has always being there, but takes many moons to excavate.

The flow goes on and seems to move through my body like a river, a river that carries me along with it. The river is my life force, the juice of my marrow. It comes from me even as I seem to float along on it. The river is a deep red and I begin to feel that there is only this redness, only this river. Life and blood are all of a piece. Now I begin to fade. My life light is extinguishing. I am becoming transparent. I look into the mirror and I don’t seem to be there. I have grown unreal, perhaps surreal. Maybe I have entered the other realm, the other side of here and now. Perhaps I am merging with the spirit world. As I gaze upon my reflection I wonder who this being , this vision of paleness and waness is, standing directly in front of me, even as I know that it is I, yes me, although the sheer lack of energy and apparent lifelessness renders me quite unable to attempt any understanding of what I have just come face to face with — am I here or am I not? Still complete and utter exhaustion can be so very , very grounding — the fertile place that I am inhabiting is deep, dark and peaceful. Oh I am so awfully tired, so lifeless, so lacking in energy, that it is almost impossible to do anything other than simply look, and somewhere deep in the recesses of my shadowy mind, I wondered briefly if this image was real or an illusion, before turning away to return to the reality that is my life, to do whatever it was that needed doing at that particular moment. And if that particular and especial thing didn’t need to be done at that particular time, then something else would have quickly moved in to fill a potentially empty space. Time? What does time mean, or even matter, when you cannot even catch hold of an image of yourself in the mirror?

Written by Edith

August 12, 2006 at 4:29 pm

Posted in High Priestess

Red Clay Meditation

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The rising sun came streaming in through the partially drawn curtains, as I slowly opened my eyes to greet the dawn of a new day. Today was the first day of my retreat in the City of Ladies and I couldn’t wait to get started on the initiation rites that were forming a major part of this spiritual experience. As I lay back, sinking deeply into the plumpness of the goose feather bed and pillows, wondering what lay ahead, there came a gentle knock upon the door. Sitting upright I called out to whoever it was to come in. A beautiful Lady appeared in the doorway. She was tall, with long hair all down her back, and she wore a flowing white gown. Around her neck she wore a set of crystals and beads, and in her hand she carried a small bowl. Walking over to the edge of the bed she smiled graciously and told me that the time to begin had come. She directed me to arise and wrapped a simple pale blue gown around me. Then she took me by the hand and led me into another room, through a doorway that had not been evident the previous evening. The room was dark and empty, apart from a stone structure resembling a table of sorts which was up against the furthest wall. The floor itself was wooden and covered with a light sprinkling of red clay, similar to the clay that was in the bowl she carried. The Lady instructed me to sit on a small cushion that she pulled out from behind the table. She told me to make myself comfortable as I would be meditating here for some time. Placing the bowl of red clay on the floor in front of me, she told me to close my eyes and breathe long, slow, deep breaths .After some time and when I had settled into a rhythm, she placed the bowl in my hands and directed me to run my fingers through the clay. This I did. As the cool earth touched my skin, I found my inner being began to respond to the feel of Mother Earth’s riches.

At first the feelings were purely physical and external, although they did relate on some level to the place I had reached in my meditation. But then the vibrations began. Uncertain whether they were internal or external, I remained where I was. It seemed then that I opened my eyes, although looking back I am uncertain of whether what I saw entered the room or whether it was a vision. It mattered little either way. What I saw was real, whether it was visible to the physical realm, or only manifested in the invisible worlds.

This is what I saw:

A group of women were gathered around in a circle. Each held a torch whose light flickered brightly in the darkness that enveloped them. They all wore similar long, flowing dresses, all in white. They swayed gently as they walked around a set of stones built to form a small cairn in the centre of the circle. They chanted quietly and in unison. One of them turned and looked my way. She beckoned me to come and join them. As I approached they shifted slightly apart to make room for me. Then they each caught each others hands so that I too held the hands of those who stood on either side of me. Amazingly I heard and knew the words that they were chanting so that I too could join in. Following their rhythms I recited with them these words: ‘Hail Mary, full of grace, The Source of All is with you, Blessed are you, along with all women, And blessed is the fruit of all you do’’. And then the room suddenly filled up with a host of women, all of whom I knew were related to me, but most of whom I had never met, simply because they either preceeded my time, or were to come after me. It came to me that I was one of a whole lineage of blessed women. And in that moment I felt full to overflowing with gratitude, and so I began to sing a song of praise and thanksgiving to the Sacred Feminine for the gift of life, the chance to be one with all of these and with all of life. And when I lay down, stretched out full on the red earth, prostrated before the Divine, it was then that I opened my eyes and saw that I was alone. The vision was gone. Even the Lady was gone. I was alone. I was not alone.

Written by Edith

August 11, 2006 at 2:43 pm

Posted in High Priestess

Entering The City of Ladies

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Entering the City of Ladies was like coming home after a long, long sojourn in a dry, dusty and unwelcoming desert. For many years I had been searching vainly for springs of water to quench my thirst. As soon as the gates swung open I knew that this was home. The sense of relief and happiness was palpable and completely infused my being from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. So this is what heaven feels like! A group of gracious ladies descended from the stairs and one of them kindly relieved me of the burden of my baggage. Then another gently steered me up the marble staircase and along the fresco lined corridors until she came to a large wooden door. She removed a bunch of keys from the folds of her dress and with them opened the door, pushing it back so that almost the entire room became visible. And what a splendid room, or rather apartment, it was. The wooden window frames held decorated glass within, some of it stained glass panels. Huge draperies hung from the sides, swathes of plush red velvet that called one to reach out and touch its softness. The bed was a large four poster bed with numerous pillows and cushions strewn across its back, and satin and silk coverlets and sheets upon it. The carpet underfoot was so thick that immediately upon entering I threw off my travelling shoes in order to feel it’s comfort, warmth and softness. The walls of the room were almost completely covered in a series of tapestries, all of which illustrated the lives of women. But these were women the kind of which I had never met yet, women whose lives were obviously not circumscribed by the desires and whims of any male. One wall was covered in book shelves rather than tapestries. My lady informed me that any book I desired to read would be provided for me at a moment’s notice. In one corner of the room was a dressing table on which lay small porcelain bowls and jugs, silver candle holders and gold combs and hair brushes. A tiny bowl was filled to brimming with precious gems and crystals. In another corner was a most exquisite writing table, and chair, upon which were placed a pile of empty writing journals and notebooks. Alongside these lay pens, pencils, quills and ink. The table was set up so that a small turning of the head would reveal the activities of the courtyard below. Directly under one of the tapestries lay a very simple little wooden bench. Instantly upon seeing this I realised that this would be where I would set up my altars. It was perfect, being nothing more than a simple, unadorned piece of wood lying across four simple undecorated legs. A perfect base from which to begin to build a series of altars to the Sacred Feminine.

Written by Edith

August 8, 2006 at 6:38 pm

Posted in High Priestess

Awaken to the Divine Feminine

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This was originally in Baba Yaga’s House, but I felt it really belonged here in my rooms in The City of Ladies, so she very kindly allowed me to borrow it.

Written by Edith

August 8, 2006 at 5:56 pm

Posted in High Priestess

Priestesses of the Sacred

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As the product of an Irish Catholic upbringing I have been well steeped in the lives of virtuous female saints whom I and every other girl was supposed to emulate. Years later and with many feminist theological and spiritual books read in the interim I have finally realised that sainthood is not, and never has been about perfection. Instead the common link between all the saints has been the simple one of seeking the face of God/dess wherever that may be found. It is about facing our shadow side, and acknowledging it’s presence, and then learning from it so that we can extend the compassion we show ourselves to others. Sainthood is about illuminating the face of God/dess in the manifestation unique to the individual. Saints are role models, heroines if you like. And that is what my ‘circle of beauty, and wall of strength’ are to me — my own very particular and special group of female heroines who are always there for me. All I have to do is to call their names and I can feel their presence hovering nearby.

My initial study of this group of female saints, mostly medieval mystics, was to read as much as I could possibly find about them. The more I read and discovered, the more I loved them. The next stage was to incorporate them into my daily meditations and visualizations, and this practice has been invaluable in bringing them to life for me, so that I can feel them resonate in my soul. These are real cool gals! They are the original feminists, although of course they didn’t realise that themselves! They are strong, authentic, courageous, independent, hope- and faith-filled women who continue to inspire — priestesses in a long line of holy and whole women. These women are enthusiastic, that is they are filled with the love of the sacred (the original meaning of enthusiasm). When I call on them they join me in a circle and sit nearby as I meditate. They smile much, but never speak, or rather as yet they have not uttered a word. I wait….

Recently I began to work a series of embroideries that I call my ‘reclaiming series’, as in reclaiming the voices of the lost dimensions of these women saints. In this vein I think it especially important to recognize that they oughtn’t to be confined within a narrow religious understanding. These women are bright stars in the sacred firmament and have much to teach us all, whether we consider ourselves religious or not. They are manifestations of the goddess, each one shining her own particular light into my soul. They have much to teach me, and I have much to learn. But to learn I need to first open myself to hear their voices. It is this practice that I will be focusing on here in Cyberia.

Written by Edith

August 8, 2006 at 5:49 pm