Though my parents were agnostic and atheist, my mother’s Catholic roots were ever present while growing up and definitely contributed to my current allergic reaction to religious dogma. As fate would have it though, today, my super-spiritual-but-not-religous-self feels the greatest connection to spirit (AKA “God”) via Mother Mary (unconditional love), and her son Jesus (forgiveness). Whenever I see an image or statue of either of them my body fills with love.
How did this happen?
Given my allergy, it wasn’t The Bible that developed my relationship to Mary and Jesus. Even if I had the inclination to read The Bible, it requires a lot of deciphering and I like my spiritual teachings to be straight forward. It was three other reads, written by women, that created my love affair with Mary and Jesus, or what some call “Christian mysticism”. I found these reads to be modern, logical, and relatively dogma-free. I highly recommend checking them out and reading them in the following order:
1) Return to Love by Marianne Williamson:This…is an exquisite book. Written in the 90’s, it is Marianne’s reflections on another book called “A Course in Miracles” (which, like the Bible, is a bit too complicated for me). I decided to read it when I was in a deep hole a few years back and it marked the beginning of a psychological shift in my life. I savored every page and didn’t want it to end. As a former student of Buddhism, I consider it the most sophisticated dharma book I’ve ever read and due to first hand experience I think it’s an especially great read if you’re going through a difficult time. Here is one of the thousands of great quotes in Return to Love:
“Love in your mind produces love in your life. This is the meaning of heaven. Fear in your mind produces fear in your life. This is the meaning of hell.”
2) Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver: If you want to understand God, Tosha delivers in spades. I took one of Tosha’s online courses a few years back and it was a profound spiritual experience. She helped me see, though most importantly trust, what was right in front of me the whole time. Here is an awesome video of Tosha resurrecting the resurrection:
3) The Game of Life by Florence Scovel-Schinn: Tosha often credits this book as the one that woke her up to divine law. I first read the book in 2008 and enjoyed it, however I just recently re-read it and now see it as masterful. I love this quote:
“Divine ideas never conflict.”
So whenever my mind is in a tussle I reach for one of these books, open to any random page, read, and re-member myself as a divine force on this planet.
I am busy creating away (something BIG is coming), but I wanted to touch base and share some powerful links that feel like the sweetest music to my eyes and ears. Click on the articles below and read how some huge feminine truths are hitting the mainstream:
‘I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, thinking it would motivate me. It only depressed me more. To me, the message was clear: put up with the choices made by a male-dominated work culture if you want to succeed. I reread Anne Marie Slaughter’s piece on “Why Women Can’t Have It All.” It just painted another reality that I had contributed to until it became my own problem.’
I’m having a love affair with the word “sorry”. Truly, we can’t get enough of each other. And it’s so, so, so good. It wasn’t always so hot between me and this wonder word, but my divine feminine obsession led me to her. Now that I’ve really gotten to know her, we’re inseparable.
“Sorry” exists to heal conflict, unleash love, and create connection. So straightforward, right? But when our ego’s lead the way “sorry” often gets tangled up with condemnation, blame, judgement and all the other intense players of either-or thinking. This means that when conflict arises, instead of saying “sorry” many folks immediately go to a rational defense which typically looks like some variation of these deflections:
“But that’s not what I meant, you’re misunderstanding”
“I didn’t do anything wrong”
“I’m doing the best I can”
“This is your issue, not mine”
It’s like stepping on someone’s foot and then saying, “Oops! I didn’t mean to do that. Good luck with your pain.” If you accidentally stepped on someone foot you would simply say “sorry,” but for some reason when we accidentally step on someone’s heart – many of us get defensive, withhold “I’m sorry”, and argue.
In the Spanish language “sorry” is “lo siento” which means “I feel it.” It does not mean “I’m wrong”. In English “sorry” is an offspring of “sorrow” – meaning you empathize with the emotional world of another. It does not mean “I screwed up and I lose.”
Used as it is was designed, sorry conveys,
“I see you,” “You are important to me,” “I feel it,” “I feel you,” “I know that my behavior affected you and it matters,” “If I could change how things went down I would,”
Wow, right? All of this divine feminine juju in one little 5-letter word.
When I catch myself in defense-land, a.k.a. when my logical mind insists I did nothing wrong,stepping forth with “I am sorry” anyway, always takes me to a greater experience of love…and isn’t that what we’re all ultimately after?
Another way to view this is to always honor the emotional world first and after it is seen, then you can process rationals.
So I hope this inspired you to research your own relationship with this power word. Notice when you say it and when you don’t. And maybe research what happens if you say it when your defenses are super high. You may discover something wondrous.
My posts seem to have an important theme this fall -> honor how you feel. Not in a self-indulgent way, but honoring how you feel on behalf of healing/health.
In the world of feminine reclamation honoring how you feel is a big deal as unhonored emotions are an immense obstacle to the flow of authentic feminine power. So with this said, I would like to talk to you about the wildly cosmic…Inner Bitch.
All women have an Inner Bitch and she is a doozy. She is at the root of all PMS jokes. She can be an incredibly effective protector, but often she slips into righteous anger and like a feral animal trapped in a cage, she paces back and forth ruminating “why, why, why?”
When the indignation of my Inner Bitch rises, my Higher Mind always gets embarrassed and tries to intervene with, “It’s all part of a divine plan. Will you just relax!” Despite my Higher Mind’s good intentions, there is not a wise word in the universe that could get her to chill. She is human animal: primal, defended, and convicted.
Luckily, my Higher Mind has had enough experience with my Inner Bitch that it has come to know this very important thing: my Inner Bitch is sacred. Like, MEGA sacred. She’s so sacred that you could even call her a divine conduit. Yep, this seemingly petty, quasi-illogical part of me, is a doorway to the other side.
When she’s in a tizzy, if I can muster up the awareness to turn towards her and say “Yes, what you are standing for right now is totally legit…” (even if my Higher Mind secretly believes otherwise), she deeply exhales.
Then, if I let her say every single thing that’s on her mind (and I mean every. single. thing.) she eventually steps aside and something very cool happens…my Inner Knowing beams bright.
After my Inner Bitch has had her due, intuition and I have a graceful and vivid dance. As if every cell in my body is connected to the currents of divine conspiracy, I can suddenly can see my soul’s code/my karma/my divine plan with significant clarity.
Trying to rationalize my Inner Bitch does nothing but inflame her, but honoring her liberates divine order. Go figure. It’s nothing short of miraculous.
This was the way of the witch. Though our society has come to associate the word “witch” with sinister old women, witches were actually divine portals. They connected to the unseen universe by consciously diving deep into their emotional world.
Witches knew what most modern women are just beginning to reclaim today: that subjective emotional truth is extremely valuable.
So here are five ways to honor your Inner Bitch:
1) WRITE – This is my favorite. I write everything down that my Inner Bitch has to say and then I burn it while reciting a prayer for divine resolution. Here’s a post about it.
2) MOVEMENT – Put on a fierce song and dance it out.
3) CREATE – Put all your betrayals and heartache into form and create a piece of art.
4) SPILL IT – Ask a trusted friend to give you some Inner Bitch time. Have her set the timer for 10 and let your Inner Bitch say whatever it wants (WARNING: THIS FEELS AMAZING). Then when your done, switch and give your friend a chance to let it rip for 10 minutes.
5) RITUAL – This one is super creative. What does your emotional world yearn for? Justice? Connection? Security? To be seen and loved? Partnership? Figure out the answer and create a ritual that symbolically satisfies that yearning.
Witches didn’t have to go to church and listen to a preacher in order to commune with the divine. All they needed was awareness, some time and space, and their Inner Bitch.
In the world of psychology it is commonly believed that anger, fear, shame, and guilt are secondary emotions. Meaning they are not what is truly happening for a person. Just scratch the surface of these four (which is what all good therapists know how to do) and you will almost always find grief.
For many reasons most humans can’t stand feeling grief (which is such a bummer, cuz grief is some magical stuff…but that’s another post.) Grief is so disliked by our logical mind that it sends in these four emotional states to distract us:
Anger: who says grief is unacceptable
Shame: who says there is something wrong with you for experiencing grief
Fear: who claims that grief is scary and dangerous
Guilt: who says don’t pay attention to grief, focus on how terrible you are instead.
Anger, shame, guilt, and fear definitely have their valuable place in the world, but if you frequently suffer from one or more of these four – check yourself for unattended grief.
Is just reading this post making a part of your body tense? Do you believe being grief-stricken is wrong or it’s not for successful/cool people? Do you ignore the (abundant) sadness of being alive? Do you believe if you allow your grief, it may never end?
This time of year, as much of Northern Hemisphere watches the leaves die, the days shorten, and the winds sweep in – grief is just in the air. This makes for a potent time to consciously be with it.
As I contemplate nature and grief, wolves come to mind. Wolves are so bad-ass for many reasons AND they rock grief. When they need to howl, they howl. No buts. No ambivalence. Just pure broken heart.
If this post speaks to you, take some time to simply be with your body and scan where some grief may be hiding out. Say hello, do a simple candle lighting ritual to honor it, feel the tenderness of your heart, write your feelings down on paper, and maybe…you know…cry.
Befriend the sadness of your heart and truly be free.
On a final note, here is an awesome video about the benefit of re-introducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park. I see it as a metaphor for grief (the wolves) and the human body (Yellowstone). Re-introduce grief and watch the eco-system of your body thrive.
If you asked me what my favorite holiday is I would have to say El Dia de Los Muertos – The Day of the Dead.
Not that I am morbid, but compared to other holidays, the really-realness of the Day of the Dead just wins me over every year. It is a complete match with my values in the following three ways:
It’s authentic: There is typically very little pretense at a Day of the Dead party. Everyone’s emotional truth is on the table: someone they loved crossed over. They are participating to honor their loved one and their grief.
It’s connected: Everyone who attends is instantly connected to each other because they have all met the incredibly surreal world of love+loss.
It’s healthy: Coming together with a small group to honor one’s grief is very healthy thing to do. Your emotional world (which greatly affects your physical, mental, and spiritual worlds) will thank you.
The Day of the Dead celebration is a stunningly elaborate creation in Mexico that requires weeks of preparation. I have some U.S. friends who go to town re-creating Mexico’s traditions: sugar skulls, homemade chocolate, traditional altars. They would all attest that the preparation is as nourishing as the actual event.
But if you’re like me – with a very fixed amount of time and energy – you can pull off a super meaningful night without all the traditional embellishments. Here’s all you need:
An altar made from a black box – You can cover a cardboard box with black material or paint it with black spray paint. If you can make a three-tiered altar (a very large box on the bottom, a medium box in the middle, and a small box on the top) that is ideal.
Candles — A dozen tea lights are sweet and easy.
Chocolate – Buy a handful of assorted chocolate bars for dessert.
Invite a group of close friends. The smaller the better, so try to cap it at twelve. Ask invitees to bring:
A picture of a loved one they would like to honor
The loved one’s favorite food for a potluck dinner
A fresh flower
After your guests arrive, have them put a small piece of the meal they brought, a piece of chocolate, and their flower (trim the stem with the scissors) on one of the small plates. Then giving everyone a turn (about 5 minutes each), invite them to:
Hold up the picture and introduce who they are honoring.
Tell a story about their awesome loved one.
Toast the loved one’s quality that they miss the most.
When they are done, have them place the picture on the shrine next to the small plate which is an earth offering to the loved one (according to Shamanism our ancestors LOVE when we make offerings of food and nature because they miss it so much.)
Finish by lighting a candle for the loved one and place it next to the food on the shrine.
After everyone has had a chance to share, the evening is finished off with the potluck, chocolate, and more informal sharing.
There it is.
I hope this inspires you to celebrate this special evening. You’ll be so glad you did.
I think one of the most difficult and detrimental aspects of modern society is the lack of rites, rituals, and reference points that help a grieving human thru.
Life’s little disappointments happen often and are provocative enough, but then there are the major losses: marriage ending, loved one dying, losing one’s innocence…to name just a few.
Considering that we all will face grief’s intensity at multiple points in our lives, modern society seems to set us up to:
1) deny grief (which then channels it into illness/anger)
2) meet our grief with fear and anxiety
Shortly after arriving to Seattle eleven years ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer. My husband and I rushed our wedding to ensure my father’s attendance. Prior to the wedding my dad and I would listen to the radio, seeking the perfect song for our father-daughter wedding dance. One day we heard “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart and we both immediately agreed it was the one.
My husband and I were married in January 2003 and my father passed away the following August. After he died I felt conflicted about my grief. While he was a nurturing father, he was also a very unhappy man and seemed without any inclination/awareness to change that.
I felt burdened by his discontent, so when he passed away, my ego developed a very thick belief that he was “better off on the other side.” This thought took precedence over my tears. My rational mind trumped my emotional world and my grief was placed in the backseat.
Fast forward to this past summer when, just before leaving Seattle, I began the process of forgiving my father for being unhappy. Then on August 10th, as my family and I were pulling into our new Colorado home, “Forever Young” played on the radio. I felt happy to hear it and that was a good test that my forgiveness process was coming along.
A month later, with a seeming bazillion transitions (new house, new schools for kids, new routines, etc.) I suddenly began feeling super anxious and afraid at night.
My passion for emotional health came in quite handy and within a week I was able to decode my anxiety. Since I had forgiven my father, the grief I refused to feel eleven years prior was finally flowing. As soon as I got my mind on board with that, the fear subsided and the tears released.
This is a good time of year to intentionally honor grief. Autumn vividly illuminates the dying cycle of life. Between late October and early November the veil between worlds is thin. Halloween and Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations are ultimately about this phenomena.
So this autumn I am making it a priority to welcome the grief around my father’s departure by:
Listening to my father’s favorite music. I’ve created a playlist called “Dad” (Bob Seger, anyone?) which includes “Forever Young” (and makes me weep every time.)
Journaling about my father: I write honestly about anything I am feeling/remembering about him.
Journaling to my father: I write him letters about whatever comes to heart and mind.
Attending a Day of the Dead party: I will gather with some friends, make his favorite meal, and share a story about his life.
Most importantly and in my super busy life, I am carving out space and giving myself 100% permission to be a blubbering, sobbing, sorrow-filled goddess, for as long as needed.
Today, inspired by the most awesome find, I am writing about the phenomenal world of self-pleasure.
A huge piece of feminine reclamation is
1) to unabashedly own the fact that the feminine essence is a highly sensual force
2) that sensual forces are designed to receive and exude pleasure
This means that exploring and revering your unique sensual terrain is a ultra bright move towards health and wholeness. The wondrous world of self-pleasure is a mighty path to this end.
Endorphins are released, oxytocin is emitted, stress is relieved, intuition is accessed, and sensuality is expressed. Instead of the ego’s harsh edges, the feminine power of connection reigns.
Self-pleasure seems pretty holy to me.
I am not a sensuality expert, but here’s the little I know about self-pleasuring options:
Hand/Fingers – As we all know, they work well.
Vibrators – I’ve never owned one, but they seem super popular.
Rushing water – If/When you can score a source, it is probably the best way to self-pleasure.
And, I am super excited to add to the list:
The Chakrub – The Chakrub is made from pure energy crystals and as I hope you are imagining…it has many talents. As soon as I laid my eyes on this divine creation it was love at first site. I bought mine in Indian Jade.
A SPECIAL NOTE TO “INORGASMIC” SISTERS: Don’t fret, loves. Sensuality heroine Nicole Daedone has eradicated the “inorgasmic” label by redefining “orgasm.” Instead of “the achievement of climax”, it is simply and profoundly “the reception of pleasure.” This means in the world of female orgasm, there is nothing to achieve and lots of pleasurable sensations to receive. Check it out;-)
There is something about woman nature that eludes you
You doubt your emotions and your sensitivity
You desire better relationships that truly see you
You are interested in decoding the messages your body is communicating
There is something about being “spiritual but not religious” that is lacking
Realizing the path of self-love seems arduous
You feel somewhat disconnected from your value as a woman
You desire to heal/restore your health
“Thank you. Your work is so powerful and healing and I flew home on my bike like I was one with all of humanity, the earth, the sky, and eternity.” A.S. Seattle, WA.
“I just had the privilege of spending three magical days in The Goddess Process where I was masterfully and joyfully guided through the re-enthronement of the Feminine Essence within myself, my relationships and my community. Thank you Dara, your work is empowering, transformative and kissed by the Divine.” Lauren Herold, Seattle, WA, Intuitive Healer
Prior to June 2012, I was among the millions of folks who would rather get a root canal then forgive. Before that fateful month, when anyone ever suggested the idea to me my inner teenager would roll her eyes and quietly scowl “wow, you really don’t understand.”
Today the tables have turned and now I am the one suggesting forgiveness and receiving the incredulous looks. When I mention the “forgive” word, people act like I just handed them a sock that was stuck in the washer for 10 years. Every muscle on their face contorts and says “ew.”
Why is this forgiveness thing such a buzzkill?
Forgiveness is often defined as pardoning an offense, but the truth is that pardoning is just part of the forgiveness equation, and more often then not, pardoning is the result of the forgiveness process. Forgiveness’ true definition is that which heals betrayal.
Betrayal is intense, right? Google defines betrayal as “…the breaking or violation of a presumptive contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict…”
All true, but I don’t really feel it.
So here’s my really-real definition: Betrayal arises when someone or something you trusted fails you, often without any notice, leaving you up against a dark void of loss that your mind fervently struggles to compute.
And if that isn’t hard enough, betrayal almost always paves the way for divine rupture (“How could God let this happen to me?”) and self-aggression (“There must be something wrong with me that this happened/I let this happen.”)
The world of betrayal is super intense and life seems to betray us often.
So as trite as the word “forgiveness” is for so many, it’s true definition is designed to tackle a world of immense confusion, incomprehensibility, and emotional suffering. Thus, this can only mean that forgiveness is…a total badass.
In June 2012, I read something on forgiveness that framed it in a way that I was able to get. I had been carrying the pain of a major betrayal for way too long and it seemed that forgiveness could help. Since I still had no clue how to forgive I said a little prayer that bascially declared I was willing to be shown. And shown I was.
I imagine you are now wondering “OK, So how do I it?” There is no exact prescription as it all depends on the person and their unique situation. However, the numero uno essential ingredient is desire.
This post invites you to answer two Q’s:
1) Do you cringe, wince, bubble with anger, flush with shame, and/or fill with fear when recalling certain events of the past?
2) Do you desire to heal them and feel peaceful again?
Often the answer to Q number 2 is “no” or “no, not now” and that’s legit.
If the answer to Q number 2 is “yes”, no need to rush out and “do” anything. Just let yourself marinate in the “yes”. It’s a major declaration and the universe is listening.
So today, to the disbelief of my inner teenager, I am a forgiveness guide. Being that I have always been a junkie for emotional health, the divine, and all things magical, it makes perfect sense that I have arrived to this point.
One piece of the ever dynamic Goddess Process Live course is to invite participants to begin a serious contemplation on forgiveness. Then any Goddess Process Live grads who decide it’s time to lighten their emotional load are invited to do a Forgiveness & Freedom 4-week follow-up course that journey’s participants down the river of forgiveness in face-to-face soul-sisterhood. It’s hot.
“Dara’s spirituality is so alive, you can almost see it, taste it and smell it. By the end of the Goddess Process, I had a very real sense of my own feminine strength and wisdom, which I realized I had lost somewhere along my spiritual path. How silly to think I could’ve carried on much further without it. Dara was the perfect muse to help me re-birth it back into the world.” Rev. Allison Anton, Author of True Healing