Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Secret inside the Secret

just back from the Gaspe and a bucolic wedding at Lac Bijou, wee man-made lake with a tiny island and a bridge to the island. lit by torches at night, fairy like. the giant white tent with 3 peaks, big enough for 170 people, the dancing 'villagers', musicians and singers and talent, the family love, the huge heart-filled space we created as we celebrated my brother-in-law and his wife/love.

driving back 11 hours yesterday, it was sun and rain, sun and rain, huge banks of cumulous clouds, black nimbus, green marshes and flowers blooming along the roadside in clumps of yellow, blue, white and purple.

the St-Lawrence river by turns slate coloured or blue, shining or misty, curving or straight, and the mountains we drove through, winding and smooth-paved new roads easing our delivery back to Montreal

there are travel days like that when time is suspended, punctuated by french fries, doughnuts and iced cappucinos or Tim Horton's homemade soup....watching the Tudors on dvd in the back seat....or chewing gum to stay awake at the wheel

and the many stops for Mollie the shitzu mix to stretch her wee legs....

and now we're home, the pool needs filling, the flowers were watered by rain, but bedraggled, the wash is in the washer, smells of bleach in the kitchen and I'm here, writing about the return to normalcy after being suspended in a 4-day party mode.

what I want today is to travel deeply into the thirst for quiet that has surfaced, the need for re-collecting, re-vising, re-viewing, settling into thought and words again. the white room that is empty of all stimuli is not available, the chalet or cabin in the woods not ready yet, but there is this inner space, this separation from time and 'doing' and 'going', this place where I receive myself, sit and listen attentively and find out where and what the impulse is, the in-pulse.

Bella has reminded me of Rumi's heart-logic, so here's what I read just now:

Food for the soul stays secret.
Body food gets put out in the open

like us. Those who work at a bakery
don't know the taste of bread like

the hungry beggars do. Because the
beloved wants to know, unseen things

become manifest. Hiding is the
hidden purpose of creation: bury

your seed and wait. After you die,
all the thoughts you had will throng

around like children. The heart
is the secret inside the secret.

Call the secret language, and never
be sure what you conceal. It's

unsure people who get the blessing."

from Coleman Barks' the Soul of Rumi

I am hungry for the secret heart's revelation. Back to the bakery, then,


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Laundry and Writing

Canadian hero folds laundry

Today, CBC radio listeners have nominated Terry Fox as
an outstanding Canadian hero. May 10, 2004

Folding laundry, with quiet
I understand that chaos
and its theory need to be folded and put
in its place.
That the poet and artist’s role
is to fold chaos and put order
into words is a given,
that the housewife’s role is
to fold laundry and put
order into her house
is a given,
that the poet/housewife has a role
and that both of these roles
are equally essential to the universe
for they promote order
over chaos
is equally true, thus

as long as there are housewives and poets,
the laundry of the world
will never be left in dirty piles
and the dirty chaos lying await
in the basements of the world
will be neatly cleaned and folded
one more day.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Back from New York, Books I've been reading

While in New York with my daughter, and without access to Internet, I actually lived day to day without blogging, without emails, without surfing the net. But thankfully, I had several new books with me, one The Cleft by Doris Lessing, an amusing and fictional account of the origins of a people who at first birthed only girls, and who gradually get used to seeing male children be born....treating them as misshapen monsters at first and killing them. She imagines a highly segregated society, with the men living over the other side of the mountain, brought up on deer's milk and learning to hunt, while the women live near the sea and swim and fish all day.

Another historical perspective was gleaned from Marilyn French's overview of women in From Eve to Dawn....a history of how women are treated, what status and privileges they enjoy (or mostly not) from prehistoric matrilineal clans to the creation of the major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Fascinating and crammed with bizarre facts and treatment of women as virtual slaves without rights, this book is a must read for anyone wondering why it took so long for women to rise up and demand equality.

The sad thing is, our myths and metaphors, our spiritual narratives and origin stories do define us. They delineate what is 'normal', permissible and usual. My strongest reaction in reading these two books is how strong 'story' is for the human mind. In order to believe something is real, we need to have a story to lay it out for us, a beginning story. The original mother myths where women are honoured for their birthgiving and lifegiving powers are mostly buried under the father myths of origin. Who was Eve's mother, I wonder, knowing that Eve is a construct, a myth created to aid the subjugation of women. How undo the 'curse' laid on her, and bestow honour and beauty on the feminine mysteries once more?

All through the Marilyn French book, there are references to women mystics and our propensity for intuitive types of knowing. Another powerful book, Blood Bread & Roses, which I also had with me, posits that women's menstrual cycle is the basis for all ritual and religion, and even culture. It is a fascinating and plausible re-creation of the early prehistoric mind, searching for meaning and connection to the world outside it, but without the power of language to create meaning.

Women secluded themselves during their bleeding times for very practical reasons : wild beasts are attracted to the scent of blood and it is a life-threatening occurrence to be outdoors leaving a trail of blood behind one. Much safer to stay in the cave, but this creates a messy environment to share with children and men, so women created little seats or chairs to raise themselves off the ground and collect the blood, or they removed themselves completely into tents or huts made especially as shelters for bleeding women.

Women also tended to bleed together: this is known as entrainement. You've probably noticed if you live with other women that your cycles start to be in synch with each other. Women had more exposure to the moon, and no artificial light for thousands of years. So the link between their monthly 28 day cycle and the moon's was easily recognized and venerated. The first 'holy' sacred deities were moon goddesses. Women created elaborate rituals to protect their connecton or 'power' at this time and segegrated themselves in what became a kind of secret society of women (which in later centuries became threatening to men and considered witchcraft).

Women in native american cultures were often seen as having greater powers of Dreaming or having visions for their people during their menstrual time. And at least one modern author, Alexandra Pope, encourages women to use this enhanced sensitivity and cultivate solitude or stillness to create a sacred time for themselves, paying especial attention to their dreams and intuition. It appears that women do have special healing powers, when they allow their rational minds to slow down and allow the unconscious forces to guide them.

Of course, our rational scientific world and its emphasis on external proof of truth denies that there is power coming from within, or knowledge internally based without 'proof'. But most women who allow themselves to get in touch with it can vouch for its authenticity. In peri-menopause, many of us begin to weary of the solely outward focus of modern life and either experience nervous breakdown or simply a strong desire to be alone, to quit unsatisfying jobs or change careers, to allow this creative, healing power to manifest.

Have you felt the call? do you recognize that your menstrual cycle may be the barometer of your wisdom, your inner knowing? there are many good books now by women researchers and historians. This blog is my attempt at synthesizing this 'new' but ancient information.

happy reading,

Friday, July 04, 2008

Knowing what you know as a woman

I find this book so comforting. It's a companion book to the Circle of Stone by the same author. There are times when we are beginning to birth something, a new idea, a new book, an essay or work of art, or even just a new phase of our life such as menopause, when we are unsure. And it's tempting to have someone else tell us what to do, what to think, where to go. It's easier to rely on outside authorities to shore us up.

But as Duerk says here, if we always rely on someone else, someone with 'authority', someone else will author our existence. We want to be our own authors. We want to spread our own wings, and for that, we need mirroring from a positive source. Often, in our birthing, we need the support of other women.

from I sit Listening to the wind:

"How might your life have been different, once, long ago, when you had worked very hard to know what you knew inside, and were ready to bring it forth....but were suddenly filled with fear and guilt and unable to express yourself...and you felt utterly alone? If there had been a circle of women waiting to receive you, eager to listen to your understanding of life.

If the women had known, from their own lives, that whenever a woman dares to bring forth the deepest meaning from within, she will be attacked by an old force inside, whose only purpose is to keep things as they are ...and the fact that those women existed made you feel less lonely.

And if the women had helped you, supported you with their warmth...and by the wisdom and daring of their lives, given you the courage to speak.

how might your life be different?

Judith Duerk

So, dear women reading this blog, take heart, take courage, and find that circle of women, in your community, in your city, or in your on-line community.