A few weeks ago I was invited by my Publisher Nicola Humber of The Unbound Press, to submit a piece for a book she is publishing early next year. It will be called 2020Vision and will be a compilation of women authors and writers telling thier 2020 story.
The piece that follows is my contribution.
In February of this year I attended a three-day writing retreat with 5 magical women. On our first morning together, we sat around a table adorned with Goddess oracle cards, and began to get to know one another, to explore what we were being called to write, to dive into the song of our soul’s.
I had initially resisted going to the retreat. I thought the resistance was that the setting did not resonate with me, I felt a contraction in my body when I looked at the details of the hotel. BUT I knew the women going would balance this and my intuition was saying loud and clear ‘Go!’.
And I did immediately feel held and loved by the beauty of the five magical women on our first morning together, we were already becoming soul sisters.
There was also something else going on.
Next door was a room full of aged men, in suits, listening to other aged men in suits speaking at the front of their tidy rows and rows of seats. Sounds pretty innocuous perhaps, however for me, the energy coming from that room next door became overwhelming, it triggered something very deep in my soul. I began to feel fury, rage and grief racing through every cell in my body.
I began to shake and cry as I described my feelings of discomfort to my soul sisters. I told them how the men next door represented to me everything that has brought devastation to Mother Earth and to humanity. They represented the patriarchy, the old, tired, worn out systems and structures upheld by disconnected and damaged men, wounding and destroying and dismembering all of life. This was the real source of the resistance I had felt, the ‘good girl’ shadow asking ‘who am I to think I can confront, challenge and dismantle the patriarchy through my writing?’
The book I was at the retreat to write was ‘Re-Claiming the Crone’, so I was strongly ‘plugged in’ to the ancestral oppression of women by the patriarchy. The witch who was burnt at the stake was sitting beside me that morning, unafraid, potent and powerful.
Looking back at the strength of my feelings in that moment I realise it was the moment in which I unknowingly, at a conscious level, sensed what was about to unfold in the world.
It was also the moment in which I began to step over the threshold into the initiation we were all about to experience; ready or not.
And so just a few weeks after the retreat, the UK was put into lockdown. The initiation had begun, the disintegration was beginning, the chaos and confusion was seeping into our lives.
Even here, in beautiful, safe, rural West Wales I felt confused about the virus and the growing restrictions. Was Covid-19 as deadly as we were being led to believe? Was it really unsafe to hug my neighbour who lives at the end of my track? Was it honestly dangerous to sit round the kitchen table and have a cup of tea with my best mate? How long was I going to have to hold onto my daughter’s arm to stop her hugging other people, because there was no way she would understand through language. Would I be able to hold space for women again?
And at the same time, I breathed a sigh of relief. The frenetic, life sapping, un-natural way of life for so many of us was being slowed, stilled, quietened.
As I began my journey into the unknown, I lost my will to write. I could not put pen to paper, no journaling, no notes, no thoughts and feelings that I could untangle, nothing would come. I couldn’t find the words to express myself creatively. I needed time to be able to lift the veil in order to see with any clarity what was unfolding.
There was too an energetic overload, a scramble to replace the known and the comfortable with something else. I felt a need to fill the gaps, to find new ways to reach out and support others, new ways to stay connected, to stay in community, to feel that I still belonged. The only way to do any of that was to be online, a lot. Besides my family, Zoom became my primary source of being in relationship with others. This felt alien to me. I’m not particularly comfortable with technology, so I wanted to resist it, but I also needed it. I felt annoyance, inadequacy, left behind and a panic to be part of something. To ‘do’ something in response to the crisis.
The questions, the doubt, the anger, the grief, came and went, rolled in and out, took hold and dissipated almost on a daily basis for several months.
I am fortunate though, that through my writing, I belonged already to a community of soulful sisters online. Women who are creative, authentic, and connected to their wisdom. We gave space to one another to be heard, to be witnessed in our unravelling and vulnerability, in the sludgy, messy darkness and in the crystal, clear light. We sisters allowed each other to explore what we did not know, to ask difficult questions, to cry, to rage and to be silent.
As we all grieved for the loss of human contact, in doing so, I connected ever more deeply to nature.
I am surrounded by nature; I chose to be so many years ago.
I experienced the healing power of nature when I arrived here at the beginning of my menopausal journey and it was through relationship with Mother Earth that I learnt to welcome, embrace and fall in love with my own cyclical nature and becoming Crone. The alchemy of menopause, my transition and transformation, was an initiation; a death and re-birth experience. And because I had experienced that, I remembered that I was equipped to navigate the journey 2020 was taking me on. I began to let go of my need to ‘do’ and surrendered into ‘being’.
The land I live on is deeply nurturing and nourishing. I feel my ancestors in the land, there is magic and wisdom here which roots me and grounds me, and at the same time connects me to spirit, through the elements, through the birds and the bees, the tree’s and the stream, the sky, the moon and the stars. The land helped me to hear the quietening of the world, to feel the collective slowing and stopping. Within that spaciousness I heard the whispering of my ancestors, ‘We are here. We are holding you’.
So, I spent my days in conversation with the land, listening to her wisdoms, being reminded of why I had chosen to be here. And because we could not work, Rob, my husband, and I had space and time together to revisit the vision and dreams we had brought with us when we moved from the city. We planted new crops for food in the polytunnel together. The woodland we had planted together, we were now coppicing together. We had more time to play, to dance, to talk and just to be. And when grief or anger or fear nudged us, we looked at them and shared our thoughts and feelings with each other.
On these days I felt blissful.
The days became weeks, in which I found great joy. Through being in alignment with the rhythm of nature, I became excited and hopeful for a new world to be birthed. I rejoiced for nature while she rested and healed from the greed and destruction of human behaviours.
There was too, the polar opposite of this. Stepping out of alignment and into the vibration of fear as we were told death tolls were rising and no sight of restrictions being lifted. I chose not to listen constantly to the news, something I had allowed myself to be sucked into in the early days of lockdown. I listened less and less, and then not at all, feeling the anger rise when-ever I did, ending always with me shouting at the radio. It felt unhealthy, pointless, and submissive to listen to what I increasingly believed to be distorted truths at best and blatant lies at worst from the people controlling us. There were days when I felt utter despair. My body, heart and soul ached for those people living with abuse, with hunger, with violence, trapped in their homes, no access to support, no way out.
The question I kept returning to was ‘How do we change this?’ ‘What part do I need to play in creating the change?’
As we each witnessed the world falling further and further away from love and relationship as a result of being isolated from one another, forbidden to touch one another, left to die alone, children separated from parents, access to health care and to earning a living eradicated, the layers of grief I felt manifested into the physical.
I had been feeling some discomfort in my left breast for many months, I realised just recently, it had in fact been since March, when we went into lockdown. I became fearful that I had breast cancer and having learnt from past dis-ease in my body, I understood that my heart space, the centre of how we feel and express love and relationship, was giving me a message to pay attention to, to be curious about, to have the courage to look at what was going on. The thought of maybe having cancer was inviting me to look at death; my own and the death of the world as we know it. I had no desire to die at this time, but I felt surprisingly calm thinking about it. I honestly thought, ‘If this is my time to go, so be it’. What my body guided me to do was to stay in connection with my heart space, to stay in connection with my intuition, to stay grounded in connection with Mother Earth and in so doing, follow the thread of my ancestral wisdoms, the voice of the feminine rising, the call to raising the vibration of love in the world.
And so, within that container, I began to sit with both the known and the unknown.
The unravelling of what I had felt safe in, the poke to look at my own mortality and the necessary death of our world structures before we can experience our collective transformation, ignited a beautifully spacious focus for journeying, visioning and dreaming; these becoming a source of joy, insight and creativity, bringing me back always to Mother Earth and hearing the messages she offers to us.
She shows us we are inseparable.
She shows us that everything must die.
She shows us re-birth.
She shows us the abundance we can share when we are in a caring relationship of reciprocity with each other
I have received so many beautiful messages from nature over these past 8 months.
I go to my soulful space down by the stream, I sit on the bridge dangling my legs and feet just above the icy water and dream into the flow. I am in love with what Mother Earth teaches me. I see in the water, even as the stream flows, there are spaces of stillness where the water is held by the bank and boulders and fallen branches. Within the stillness is the dark, an invitation to be quiet, to reflect, just as the tree’s and sky are reflected in the water. I notice how the water moves around the boulders and stones, bubbling, stirring, taking debris with it as it moves on and on and on.
I see too how clear the water is and how the shapes beneath hold no form as she endlessly flows over them; the stones and shingle, reeds and foliage seem to shape shift, but are only really changed over time and time and time, from the gentle touch of the water.
Just as nature takes time to grow, change, disintegrate and be born anew within her never-ending cycles, so it will take time for humanity to change; it will take time for us to shape shift into more conscious beings. We are yet to witness the full death part of the patriarchy. There is still so much healing to be done. There is still so much re-membering to happen.
It is time.
Time for us to be courageous in our vulnerability and step over the threshold, into the portal of a new paradigm of healing and love.
When we have collectively re-wilded ourselves, when we have re-claimed the true nature of who we are, when we raise our vibration to resonate with the heart-beat of Mother Earth, when we open our hearts and align to the song of our souls, it is then that we will see, feel, live, in love, in peace, in harmony with Mother Earth and one another.
That is my dream. That is my hope.
I will leave you now with the words I wrote that morning back in February; it was written for women in that space and time, the words are now also lovingly for men.
Honouring my Sisters and Brothers
Let me hold this space for you,
I am holding space for you
I will witness you
I will honour your courage
My tears will fall and flow with yours
You are not alone dearest one
Look behind you
You will see them all
Your sisters, your ancestors standing strong
Hand in hand, in hand in hand
Let us catch you as you fall
We are holding space for you,
For your rage, your pain, your grief
For your undoing, your searching, your discovering
We will dance with you around the fire of your disintegration
We will enter the cave with you and hear your wailing
your laughter and your joy
We will lay naked with you
As you crawl, re-birthing from the Earth
You are reclaiming that which was stolen from you my love
You are rewilding the true nature of who you are.
With the end of 2020 approaching, I suspect that many of you will be thinking back over this extraordinary year. A year that has impacted on the entire world population, doesn't that make you shiver? It does me! Each and every one of us will have a unique story to tell of how we have been effected, the changes we have made to our lives, the hardships, the celebrations, the mundane, teh exciting. I don't think there will be a single human emotion that isn't a part of our collective experiences.
I would LOVE to know how 2020 has been for you, please do feel welcome to leave your comments, your story, your hopes and dreams for 2021.
With very much love to you all