Stand up and be counted for you are being recognized in the Spirit world. Joanne Shanandoah
The voice of despair says we cannot learn from plants and animals, let alone the wind or the moon. They do not share our language, nor, it says, our level of consciousness. The voice of despair says that to think so is evidence of magical thinking, irrationality, even madness. Yet listening to the voice of poetry instead of the god despair, we might feel free to ask . . . of the plant “what is your tribe and your eminent leafage? From Earth Recitals, Melissa Kwasny
The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world. Joanna Macy
I want to share a dream with you that came to me during the few days I was working on this invitation, struggling to give you a sense of where I am speaking from and the focus of this year’s work.
I am with a woman I know whose medicine thread, a very long piece of beaded sinew stretching quite a distance out in front of us, has broken. In an adjoining room is a small group of women. The woman wants to take her broken medicine to the women’s council for healing. I leave her and enter the small group telling them of our task and saying that more women will be joining us and to please make a larger circle for them and prepare the altar for our work. On the periphery of the circle sits someone considered an expert in such matters. I return to my friend and ask her if she wants to consult this person. She says no. When she and I enter the large room, many women are gathered and waiting quietly, but the altar is in complete disarray. There are dirty candle holders, the water bowl is tipped on its side and dirty. Surprised, I ask one of the women to ask two small boys to clear the altar so we can begin. It is clear to me that I/we do not know how to heal the medicine. End of dream.
This, good women, is the focus of this Council. Our altar, the place where we make communal offerings to spirit, is unattended; the place where spirit enters is not ready, perhaps even forgotten about. This dream speaks of the necessity to carry the question of how do we heal the medicine. First we gather. In my understanding, medicine includes our relations with each other, the invisible realm of Spirit, and the realm of the non-humans, with whom we are kin. These relations are broken and we don’t know how to heal them. And the healing must be for all beings or there can be no real healing or wholeness.
In this understanding, we must develop the capacity to carry the grief of how it is, and to continue to council and open to wisdom. We have to develop the capacity to ‘not know.’ There is more work to do than we have time for, yet we must continue. This call to council is rooted in certain ideas, in no particular order:
- Council is a Spirit. Like a village, each woman’s commitment and voice are necessary to sustain the community of Council. While it depends on our commitment, and cannot come into manifestation without us, Council is more than its members.
- Council requires nourishment and tending even when we are not gathered together. The work is ongoing.
- Council is does not have the human at the center of concern, but is a work of remembering, redeeming, and reweaving ourselves as real human beings into the web.
- Council is not about transcending, fixing, or bypassing spiritually the way things are. It is rooted in the grief of these times, not the search for solutions or fixes. Things that were important to us, how we focused and spent our time, may have become indulgences the continuation of life can no longer afford.
- Council gatherings include our ancestors (of all species,) the elementals, the animals and plants, and the future beings.
- The essential work is one of changing the way we think and see. To practice listening to how the dreams, stories, events and mysteries reveal what we are carrying and the path we are being asked to walk.
- Dreams and visions may be the ways in which Spirit speaks to us.
- All the ways and gestures that make real-human-beings-in-relation are ways of Feeding the Holy.
- Council is healing, but it is not psychotherapy. In this work I am asking us to stretch beyond our well-honed ability to understand the stories and dramas of our lives as personal and psychological. To adopt an ‘and also’ curiosity about the stories and events of our lives and those we encounter. To look at how those events, dreams, thresholds might also be life trying to bring into life what is needed to heal the medicine.
How will each Council proceed?
We will begin each Council with calling to the Spirits and a brief personal check-in focused on what you want the other women to witness, know, or hold about your personal life since we last sat.
Then we’ll spend an hour in silence on the land, contemplating the ways in which we are trying to respond to our soul’s and spirit’s calling. This silence is a time for us to deeply listen into our hearts and the ways in which we are being called, so that we can do the down-to-the-bone, focused work we need to do. Dreams will be a big part of this exploration as well as events, stories, the particular grief we carry and its intelligence. We’ll re-gather for another Council of deep listening and working to weave our various voices and experiences. I will always throw the I-Ching before we gather and offer a question of focus that may be helpful to you in your silence.
How do you prepare for Council? You might begin by asking for dreams that offer guidance for what you need to carry into Council, or guidance for Council itself. Look over your journals and dreams, think about the events of your life between Councils. Consult the oracles.
To each gathering we bring the qualities of kindness, compassion, and spaciousness. I ask you to enter Council as someone who needs and who is needed, to proceed as if your presence, your wisdom, your experience, even your unknowing, are needed by all present, visible and invisible. All sharing is held within the circle and is confidential. If someone shares a story that is a ‘teaching story’ that we are intended to carry out into the world, we can check in with that woman. Each gathering is dedicated to the healing of all beings, all species, everywhere, with no exception.
Council is a form in which all our voices are honored and each woman is given opportunities to speak. We are listening for the inherent wisdom coming through each woman and her stories and the questions she has carried.
Because I have called this particular Council, and because I am called to shape it in a particular way, I will be stepping more deeply into the role of teaching and speaking to the themes I see emerging from our stories, dreams, events, and oracles.
Like so many through time, we will gather as near as we can to the Holy Days that mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Solar days are the dance of earth and sun – Spring Equinox (balance moving toward regeneration), Summer Solstice (peak of light), Fall Equinox (balance moving into darkness and dormancy), and Winter Solstice (peak of dark, moving into light).
Cross Quarter days reflect the birth, growth, harvest, and death cycles—Candlemas (birth/initiation), Beltane (emergence/growth), Lammas (harvest), and Samhain (death/descent).
Nitty Gritty Details
Sundays from 11:00am to 5:00pm. We will also gather in between Council days for a short check-in Council on Wednesdays, from 7:00-9:00pm.
I am asking you to commit to all eight gatherings, including the Wednesday groups between gatherings. (We can find a more suitable time than Wednesdays. if need be after we know who is gathering.)
Cost: A slide between $350 – $450, for the year. Open to ten women, maximum.
Imbolc – January 31, 2017
Spring Equinox – March 19
Beltane, April 30
Summer Solstice – June 18
Lammas – August 6
Fall Equinox – September 17
Samhain – October 29
Winter Solstice – December 17
Imbolc – January 28, 2018
Recommended Reading (for now). I am asking you to read at least some or parts of these texts.
deranged, by Nora Jamieson
My website at www.norajamieson.com
“19 Ways to the Fifth World,” by Deena Metzger, www.deenametzger.net
Entering the Ghost River, by Deena Metzger
Dark Matter: Women Witnessing. Wonderful online journal www.darkmatter:womenwitnessing.com
Die Wise, A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul (selected chapters) by Stephen Jenkinson or listen to his various video teachings on Orphanwisdom.com
Shakti Woman, by Vicki Noble
Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm, by Stephen Harrod Buhner
The Wisdom of the Mythtellers (introduction), by Sean Kane
I will share other resources as time goes on.
Because we really are limited to ten women at the most, please read this and consider whether or not you can make this commitment, and then get back to me by December 15. Please call 860-693-9540 or send me an email using the contact button on the menu bar at the top of the page.