It's been a roller coaster ride here lately. And it's been a while since I've written anything but what was necessary. Between our crazy mountain spring weather, gardening delights, chores, taxes, & keeping up with the day-to-day running of an art business while facilitating my sacred arts practices, I am feeling in need of a vacation. In the midst of all this spring activity, I had a deeply sacred visit from family members who live far away. It was like a gentle healing balm to my slightly ragged soul.
Our visit lasted a mere two hours. It was enough to nurture my roots, strengthening & reconnecting my heart & soul with my family's love & protection. Something I have been missing in the decades since moving away from home.
We broke bread, laughed, shared stories, photos, exchanged meaningful gifts & made new memories together. I will always treasure the gifts I have received from my family of origin. It seems that recently, the benedictions from my roots are blossoming in my life more & more.
For the past couple of months, there have been exciting prospects opening up in my inner explorations & my artwork. New & old at the same time. This year I have been inspired & guided to more deeply explore the sacred mysteries of the Divine Feminine, the Holy Blessed Mother's energies as the Virgin Mary.
New, in that, I have explored the mysteries & myths of the divine feminine in many forms, but have stayed away from this particular expression. This was due to the fact that I grew up with this example of seemingly "white-washed" motherhood in a time when women's rights, feminism, & activism were expected of any woman who wished to be perceived as powerful in a "man's world".
I innately knew that there was something missing from the whole Roman Catholic (Christian) sanitized picture of Mother & mothering. Something important. I recognized this at an early age as I listened to the sermons at church & then came home to watch my mother & grandmother be who they were; powerful matriarchs in their own right.
Where was the Wild Mother, I wondered? The one who had taught me how to be quiet in the woods, dig into the soil, be fiercely protective, get dirty with hard, sweaty, rewarding work, rebel against injustices, to feel the pure ecstasy of being alive. Who would be showing me how to embrace the freedom to be me in all my imperfections?
She was gone. As were the women's mysteries for embracing our wholeness. Hiding from the expectations of society, family, tradition. Since reaching adulthood I have been busy studying & learning about other cultures & traditions, examining the unique relationship with the Divine Mother in all her varied incarnations.
I am fascinated with how the Divine Mother's Creatrix energies of birthing, nurturing, life-affirming, & life-destroying aspects are expressed in the art, myths, & daily life of all peoples, everywhere. Paradoxes are mysteries beckoning to my curious nature. An open invitation to find the treasure hidden in the puzzle of our life as humans.
This particular inspiration came to me last year as I was reading "Untie the Strong Woman" by Dr. C. Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. In it, there is an intriguing interpretation of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary. As I read & meditated on the author's poetic version of these sacred mysteries, I envisioned using these "Swords" as points of entry into finding a personal meaning for these archetypal, universal experiences.
My artists' sense of curiosity peeked. At the next full moon, I invited a sweet & powerful circle sister to investigate the possibilities with me. We were off to a sweet & promising beginning.
The first two journeys were electrifying, thought-provoking & illuminating. They prompted imaginative & playful approaches to the creative expression piece of this adventure. Our initial artistic endeavor, prompted by a childhood memory of mine, was making rose petal beads by hand for honoring the first sword. The Sword of Surrender; for withstanding this time of learning about these mysteries.
As the second full moon arrived, our journey shone a light on the Sword of Veil's secrets. We entered this adventure to pierce the hidden meaning & illusions of these holy mysteries for ourselves. An exhilarating current was immediately active in this sacred work. Its effects were showing up in the sharing of our explorations. Afterward, we strung the dried rose beads, producing a non-traditional version of a rosary for honoring & staying connected with this energy's process as it unfolds.
On the pink full moon before Easter weekend, we added two more sisters to our circle as we researched & experienced the 3rd sword of the Holy Blessed Mother Mary. The Sword of Healing. This magnified the experience for me, adding a powerful & galvanizing momentum to the healing intention for all of us.
Our objective was for opening fully to receive compassionate healing for our Mother-wounds with the Sword of Healing. This was set into motion in our little ritual circle that night. We were now on the path of surrendering any agony within & all remaining bitterness that came from our suffering. It was met with a profound impact. I am seeing more & more intense evidence of these inner journeys showing up in my outer life.
My family, both of my birth & of my community, continue to inspire realizations of this energy as a gift. Deeply grateful, I send graces & good fortunes from my ancestors, down to the origins of my beginnings, for sharing in this time of healing, restoration & reconnection with our Earth Mother as we witness the blossoming of spring in our northern climes.
Spring brings both death & life. The new beginnings are inherent in the endings. Where it seems that there is only death, there is new life waiting to be born. Where we see only life, there in the shadows lurks death, balancing the scales of existence. That is evident as we watch the world's affairs happening & experience our personal paths unfurling before us.
Learning from Nature & from our past, to be present in the moment, no matter what that moment contains, this is healing in action. Maintaining a sense of balance in the face of chaos & uncertainty is wisdom in action. This much I know in my bones, even as I sense the spiritual presence of my mother's love surrounding me as I pursue this undertaking.
Creative expression allows us a healthy outlet for all this natural energy to flow through us. It provides potentials for healing that we didn't know were possible, giving meaning to feelings that have no words to describe them. The creativity need not be artistic in its form. It can be experienced as revelations, possibilities, & opportunities, both personal & transpersonal. Inner explorations based in pure love can result in stronger roots & more abundant blossoming that provides robust fruits for our future.
We are now witnessing women all over the globe reclaiming their rightful place in the world. With the advent of technology & social media to spur us onward, we are taking back our authority. It is long past time for us to be valued for the treasures that we bring to the table, so to speak. This is a long road, the road of evolutionary change.
A Quickening is spreading like wildfire among those who are no longer willing to continue the patterns that are damaging, to be victims of the out-worn traditional ways of subjugation & submission. It is a time of celebration, even as we grieve the losses we have borne.
May this growing season's gifts reveal our potentials for soul-blossoming evolution & the origins of healing the Mother of us all; Mother Earth - & all life upon this sacred little blue planet we call Home. <3
For those interested in commissioning original artwork, sacred tools, talismans, amulets, non-traditional prayer bead rosaries created especially for you or in discovering more about my art, courses, & offerings you can find me
www.cshepardarts.com/contact page - Exploring the Creative Mysteries with Art, Myth & Nature...
Or check out my Facebook pages at CShepardArts or Mountain Cat Creations.
(Photos, non-traditional rosary, & original art by CShepard 2019)