“…What were those songs our mothers
sang, fitting rhythms to the
whole vast span of life?
What was it again they sang harvesting
maize, threshing millet,
storing the grain…
Why don’t we know about the
Why was it hidden so long!
This is the time we were waiting for…
Grandmother, here we are, hear us,
help us, lead us again in the dance!”
–Iris J. Steward in Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance (p. 30)
Shortly after my grandmother died and before we traveled to California for her memorial, I decided to do a guided meditation called Connect to the Red Threads: a meeting with the cosmic mothers from Lunation. I’d been wanting to do it for a long time and even though my to-do list was a mile long that day, I decided to give myself the 15 minutes to do it. In the meditation, you descend into the earth and into caves below it, while your “red thread” curls around connecting with the planet. In my “vision,” my grandma and my mom and my daughter all joined me in the caves and we were all connected by the red threads, navel-to-navel. My grandma sat there, holding her thread and smiling, but looking kind of out-of-place and I thought, she would SO have really done this. Even though it wouldn’t have been her thing and she would have felt like it was silly or not really been interested, she would have been game to sit in a cave and hold a red thread with me in real life if I’d wanted her to do that, because if it was important to me, she tried to be interested in it too. When the meditation moved out of the cave, I sort of got swirled out into the atmosphere and I held my grandma’s hand and took her with me. We hovered out in the universe together, her wearing a blue flowered jacket, white shirt, blue slacks and blue canvas shoes (I thought it was the outfit from her obituary picture, but it wasn’t actually) and the 13 “cosmic mothers” of the meditation came out to meet us. They were not easy to perceive—they were basically each a swirly woman in veils of different color, there was an orange one, a purple one, a green one, and so on. Then, we went back down to the ground, to the earth and they sat around us in a circle. My grandma and I were standing. We put our hands together, palm-to-palm, and made a kind of circular, sweeping motion. Then she said, “I am still a part of the world,” and touched my face. The meditation ended and the 13 cosmic mothers swooped away and took her with them.
One of the things I talk about with regard to journeying and visualization is that whether or not the “message” truly comes from outside of you or just from your own psyche, doesn’t really matter. It still tells you something. It doesn’t actually matter how much of the experience is “made up” or self-created, it still happens and it means something.
In the Practical Priestessing and Red Tent courses I teach, we step into Crone territory as the courses draw to a close. As we do so, we deepen into some shadowy places, looking at some of the complexities of group dynamics, asking ourselves some hard questions. When I prepared the materials for the Crone weeks of Practical Priestessing, I drew the Dark Moon, the Crone’s rune, and laughed aloud by how perfect that was. I love Womanrunes.
That weekend, I then met with my small study circle for ritual in the sacred woods behind my house. We had a really powerful time with a shamanic nature connection exercise in which you find a “power spot” in nature and then walk twelve paces in each of four directions from that spot, where you then find a “gift” or totem. We each did this individually and returned to the rocks in the woods, where we then blindfolded ourselves with our priestess robes and did a drumming exercise called “Edges” in which you explore your own “edge” using the drum. It was really potent and magical. At the same time, I was struck by the practical priestessing elements that we experienced of real life work vs. computer-based/online work. I choked on a gnat. Two of my friends found animal poop as one of their “gifts” from the woods. Flies are starting to emerge and pestered us relentlessly. We got hot and sweaty.
And, at the same time, when we joined hands to sing our last song and to re-emerge from our circle, a dark blue butterfly came and danced through and around our hands into the center of the circle.
I know I often talk about how “worth it” this is, but those are the only words I can find to describe how this work feels in practice.
If you’d like to explore more of the messy, beautiful real-life work of practical priestessing with me, I invite you to join me in our Practical Priestessing or Red Tent Initiation courses, or in our new Pink Tent mini workshop for mother-daughter circles.